The Babylon 5 Companion

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The Babylon 5 Companion

Postby MongooseMatt » Sun Aug 24, 2003 8:09 pm

Hi guys,

We have a new project coming up and I want all of you to get involved!

As things stand, you will be aware of the various race/season supplements and forthcoming sourcebooks for the Babylon 5 RPG. However, once we have covered the 4 main races and the seasons up to the Earth Year 2260, I want to release a Babylon 5 Companion book - basically a rules supplement full of useful and interesting material for both players and GMs.

For example, this would be the perfect book to cover the smuggling of weapons on to the Babylon 5 station, the Drazi name generator elsewhere on this forum, planet/system generation rules, expanded equipment lists, spacecraft modification, etc. . .

So, I want to hear suggestions and ideas - what do _you_ chaps want to see in the Babylon 5 Companion. We will be working on these rules for the next few months and posting many of them as PDF downloads on our web site, giving you the chance to comment and make further suggestions. This is your chance to make Babylon 5 _your_ roleplaying game.

A little later this week, we'll be posting some new rules that expand the Worker class a little further, and would welcome comment on them as they are a possibility for inclusion in the Companion.

Alternatively, if you fancy a little B5 rules-writing yourself, you are welcome to post articles on this forum and truly make it your book.

The Babylon 5 Companion is going to rely on you chaps - so let's hear your ideas!
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Postby KDLadage » Sun Aug 24, 2003 8:47 pm

This is, indeed, exciting news. A few things I would suggest:
  • Do not place the d20 logo on it. By making this OGL only, you can include those two areas of the d20 system that cannot be included when the d20 logo is attached to it.
  • Include the 40-odd pages of material from the SRD that (in my opinion) should have been in the main book. I know you guys probably feel as though I am beating a dead horse on this one, but I think this is important enough a dead horse to keep beating. Not including that material was a mistake, and the fact that things like "ambidexterity" have gone the way of the dodo in v3.5 only underlines my point on this one. This means add in all of the skill descriptions, with examples of how to use them in this game; add in all of the feat descriptions with examples of how they are used in this game.
  • Make some changes/corrections in this book (or perhaps as a downloadable companion to the companion) that would be the things you would change in the core book when the second printing/second edition comes about. Makes these changes official changes to the game and don't look back afterwards.
  • Remove the LURKER class. It is really a designation that does not belong in the game as a "class" any more than D&D needs a class that indicates "criminal" -- sure, you have Rogues, but this covers everything from Agents of the King to Robin Hood (who stole only the taxes that had been stolen from the people). Don't worry, I feel the same way about the FRINGER class in Star Wars. This is a role playing distinction, not a class/game mechanic distinction. Heck, there was a time when Dr. Franklin would have technically been a Lurker.
  • Either (a) rename the Officer class to EA Officer and add some other officers for various other services; or (b) remodel the officer class much akin to the classes in D20 Modern -- this way you have one class of Fleet Officer with various ability trees that define the type of officer (EA Pilot, EA Fleet, EA Gropos, Narn Fleet, Narn Gropos, Minbari Warrior Cast and so on).
  • Add a section for Background Skills and Background Feats (see below). This will allow you to model the Telepath better, in my opinion. This will also allow a few feats currently in the game to be moved to the Background area. Again, please see below.
  • Rename the Worker class to Citizen, and like the D20 Modern system, have ability trees for the various paths that the Citizen Class can have -- be that EA Blue Collar, EA White Collar, Centauri, Narn, Minbari Worker Cast, Minbari Religious Cast and so on.
I will add more later... but first, let me present the BACKGROUND FEATS rule I have been working on.
Last edited by KDLadage on Sun Aug 24, 2003 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Neo » Sun Aug 24, 2003 8:49 pm

Trading Rules for Freighter captains and merchants

Rules for handling promotions and awards in the military

Modifying personal equipment (cover jury rigging, but also permanent enhancements to guns and electronics, improving efficiency, range, number of shots, accuracy etc..)

Founding new colonies and jump points (colonising rules for handling surveying, setting up the colony, building and maintaining facilities etc..)

Starship Construction rules (want to try and do some of these myself for Bab 5 at some point when I get some free time).

Planet, system generation rules...very much along the lines of the T20 style.

Some detail of places off the beacon in jumpspace and jumpspace lifeforms, as these things are seen in crusade.

Suggestions for handling The First Ones in play

would be the main things I'd like to see.
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BACKGROUND SKILLS AND BACKGROUND FEATS

Postby KDLadage » Sun Aug 24, 2003 9:16 pm

These rules are used much like the regional feat rules in books like the FORGOTTEN REALMS CAMPAIGN SETTING.

BACKGROUND SKILLS: Each character, at character creation, is allowed to select two skills that are to be considered CLASS SKILLS for them, no matter what class they advance in. This represents cultural background, childhood upbringing, and/or initial training before entering their current profession. These skills will be presented in a few packages to show a few examples of how this can be used to aid in fleshing out a character. A couple of examples might include:

JESUIT UPBRINGING (i.e.: Jeffery Sinclair) -- the character has studied under the Jesuits. This training has allowed them to gain a level of inner balance and peace. Skills: Concentration, Knowledge (Religion)

THE CORPS IS MOTHER (i.e.: Raised by Psi Corps) -- the character was raised by Psi Corps, with them paying the bills and providing the nurturing. Skills: Knowledge (Legal, Psi-Corps Regulations), Profession (Commercial Telepath)

This sort of thing. Of course, many racial specific packages are possible, and a sidebar on creating your own could be included.

BACKGROUND FEATS: Each character is able to select one background feat at character creation. The background feats are generally not as potent as normal feats, but provide some flavor for the character. Background feats can be prerequisites for regular feats, but not the other way around (for obvious reasons).

At character creation, a background feat slot can only be used to purchase a background feat; a regular feat slot can be used to purchase either a background or regular feat. After character creation, a character cannot normally take any background feats; some Background feats are listed as being able to be taken multiple times -- these may be taken after character creation, but only if they already had the first one at character creation.

The feats currently in the book that would be moved to BACKGROUND FEATS would be:
  • Blood Oath
  • Blood Rage
  • Dense Scales
  • Devoted Sibling
  • Enhanced Speed
  • Family Ka'Toc
  • Green or Purple
  • Hobby (?)
  • Independently Wealthy (and it should be renamed -- this feats does not provide enough income to have this name)
  • Liturgies of the Heart (1)
  • Might Makes Right
  • Noble Birth
  • Prehensile Tentacles
  • Silent Tread
  • Way of the Warrior
  • Wind Sword
  • Telepathic Sensitivity (see below)
Other background feats can be added (and those brought in, may be given a normal feat equivalent that may or may nor require the background feat as a pre-requisite).

Notes:
(1) this feat requires DEVOTION, but I have not seen this feat/skill/trait anywhere.
Last edited by KDLadage on Sun Aug 24, 2003 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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TELEPATHIC SENSITIVITY

Postby KDLadage » Sun Aug 24, 2003 9:28 pm

Above, I have a feat called TELEPATHIC SENSITIVITY. This feat, I think, underscores the idea of the background feat. Start with this one. The feat would look something like this:

TELEPATHIC SENSITIVITY
You have the genetic marker for telepathic abilities. You abilities at this stage are severely limited.
-- Benefit: You are a P0. You have access to one of the following telepathic abilities: accidental scan, mind shield, sense telepathy, or warning. As a P0, the ability may only be used at a range of Touch.


Then add two more that are Background Feats as well:
  • Latent Telepath -- make this one almost identical to the one in the book now. Add a prerequisite of 'Telepathic Sensitivity' to it. Change the P-rating to 0, 1 or 2 (say, 1d6-4 with a 0 minimum). Again, I reiterate that Ivanova stated she was "probably not even a P1" meaning she was not sure, and thus believed there to be a possibility of her being higher as a Latent Telepath.
  • Awakened Telepath -- make this one the entry feat required for the Telepath Class. Make the P rating variable from 1 through 12 (for humans) and go as high as you need to go for other species (for example, I cannot recall, but I believe Vorlons are described as P15s, but this may be B5Wars talking).
Voila!
"It really doesn't matter what I think. In the end, I'm just one of a million insignificant cogs, and the machine is going to do what it meant to do. No matter what."
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Postby Neo » Sun Aug 24, 2003 10:10 pm

The Babylon companion isn't a re-write of the main rules its new content I believe, so I doubt classes will be removed or feats redone as that is tantamount to re-producing already printed material.

Regarding background feats, smilar to Regional feats from the FRCG you should check out the Earthforce sourcebook once its released as something very akin to what your after can be found there.
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Re: The Babylon 5 Companion

Postby Darke » Sun Aug 24, 2003 10:48 pm

msprange wrote:However, once we have covered the 4 main races and the seasons up to the Earth Year 2260, I want to release a Babylon 5 Companion book - basically a rules supplement full of useful and interesting material for both players and GMs!
Uhm, I want a "League of Non-Aligned Wolrds" Book first pleeease!

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Postby jadrax » Sun Aug 24, 2003 10:57 pm

I would like to see ship customisation rules/guidelines. (preferable with costs) so that people could customise there Hermes or whatever and make it a little more individual. (would be nice if you included thouse underwing starfury missile racks from Thirdspace in this.)

Actually you could include episode write-ups for all the movies and include stats for some of the odd stuff from them. (Mimbari rings of narn choaking, soul hunter guardian ships, victory class ships, it's all good stuff.)
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Postby Morden » Sun Aug 24, 2003 11:26 pm

KDLadage wrote:This is, indeed, exciting news. A few things I would suggest:
  • Do not place the d20 logo on it. By making this OGL only, you can include those two areas of the d20 system that cannot be included when the d20 logo is attached to it.
  • Include the 40-odd pages of material from the SRD that (in my opinion) should have been in the main book.
  • Remove the LURKER class.
  • Either (a) rename the Officer class ...
  • Rename the Worker class to Citizen, and like the D20 Modern system, have ability trees for the various paths that the Citizen Class can have -- be that EA Blue Collar, EA White Collar, Centauri, Narn, Minbari Worker Cast, Minbari Religious Cast and so on.
I will add more later... but first, let me present the BACKGROUND FEATS rule I have been working on.
*I disagree with the no D20 logo and the inclusion of the OGL bits that were missed. Why bother?
*I also disagree with removing the Lurker class. I think its an excellent class and its place in B5 is supported by the show.
*Again, I disagree with renaming the officer class. Limiting classes to their specific government or allegiance make it too difficult to play characters that are officers of other races and/or organizations.
* I agree that the Worker class needs help. Virtually any change will be an improvement.
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Postby Morden » Sun Aug 24, 2003 11:32 pm

A few things I'd like to see:

Rules for all things Crusade: The Excalibur, drakh ships, a compilation of the stories that take place from Crusade through to the death of Sheridan.

An alternate hit point system for more combat oriented games (yes, I do know that combat oriented games is not what is intended, but it would be nice if you could if you wanted to.)

Information on 3rd space aliens.

Thats all for now. I'm sure I'll have more later.
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Postby KDLadage » Mon Aug 25, 2003 12:12 am

Baraendur wrote:*I disagree with the no D20 logo and the inclusion of the OGL bits that were missed. Why bother?
I feel like a broken record, but here goes: because this is advertized as a Role playing Game, not a Campaign Setting. As a Role playing Game, it should stand alone (or at least as alone as is legally possible, if the d20 logo is to remain).

By not including the 40-odd pages of material that is in the Player's Handbook (that could have legally been included even with the d20 logo), for example, we now have the problem of the fact that the AMBIDEXTERITY feat (to name one very simple example) no longer exists in the current incarnation of the Player's Handbook, yet is presented as an option in the Babylon 5 Role Playing Game -- only with no explanation of what it does, what its effects are or how it is used in the game at all.

This can be circumvented by downloading the SRD for version 3.0 of the rules, but this hardly seems fair. After all, I have paid $45 for a book with excellent overall production values that tells me that I am required to go up to another company's web site and download some selected material, edit out the parts I no longer need, print that and keep in next to my $45 book in order to have all of the rules.

That, sir, would be why I would say it would be a good idea to "bother" doing this.
Baraendur wrote:*I also disagree with removing the Lurker class. I think its an excellent class and its place in B5 is supported by the show.
OK... without looking in the book, define Lurker? As many times as it was defined on the show, it is simply someone that is homeless and living in down below.

Now, look at any other d20 game. Why is there no "homeless" class? Certainly in any modern setting, or even fantasy setting, there has to be a homeless person running about somewhere, but they have no class for these people. Heck, D&D does not have a Serf class, or a Slave class -- why?

Lurker is a social condition -- a lack of funds and resources. This condition is hardly deserving of a class. If anything, most of them should be out of work workers, and stated up as such. Heck, in the case of Dr. Franklin, at least one Lurker for a long time was a Doctor on Walkabout.

This is not a class. It is a condition. Albeit, a social condition, but a condition non-the-less.
Baraendur wrote:*Again, I disagree with renaming the officer class. Limiting classes to their specific government or allegiance make it too difficult to play characters that are officers of other races and/or organizations.
Again, I would hope to not have to rename it either -- but the class needs to be much, much, MUCH more flexible in its application.

Right now, I would have a hard time seeing it as anything other than an Earth-force Officer involved in the Fleet. In other words, it is far too Earth-centric, relying on earth ranking convensions and assumptions that in my mind simply cannot be assumed to be universal.

They began with a good idea (the Fleet/Pilot/etc. designations), I am just suggesting that it be taken further to be more in tune with the other races. Or, if that becomes too much work, make a new class for the other races... I can go either way, myself. I would prefer to have the Officer class modled after the base classes in d20 Modern so that it can have a tree that models the type of officer in question.

In a related note, how do you make an enlisted person? After all, as a chief warrant officer, Garibaldi had to have been one at some point in his career. Yet this portion of the typical earth military structure is cimpletely absent. Seems a bit harsh.
Baraendur wrote:* I agree that the Worker class needs help. Virtually any change will be an improvement.
Agreed.
Darke wrote:Uhm, I want a "League of Non-Aligned Wolrds" Book first pleeease!
Also agreed. Whole-heartedly.
Last edited by KDLadage on Mon Aug 25, 2003 1:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Bekenn » Mon Aug 25, 2003 1:30 am

Obviously, I want better ship combat rules, but I feel that would be better suited to a more ship-oriented supplement rather than thrown in with general rule tweaks.
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Postby Guest » Mon Aug 25, 2003 3:38 am

KDLadage wrote:By not including the 40-odd pages of material that is in the Player's Handbook (that could have legally been included even with the d20 logo), for example, we now have the problem of the fact that the AMBIDEXTERITY feat (to name one very simple example) no longer exists in the current incarnation of the Player's Handbook, yet is presented as an option in the Babylon 5 Role Playing Game -- only with no explanation of what it does, what its effects are or how it is used in the game at all.

... Snip

This is not a class. It is a condition. Albeit, a social condition, but a condition non-the-less.

Snip... Snip

Right now, I would have a hard time seeing it as anything other than an Earth-force Officer involved in the Fleet. In other words, it is far too Earth-centric, relying on earth ranking convensions and assumptions that in my mind simply cannot be assumed to be universal.
OK, I'll conceded the first point to a certain extent. I do think that due to 3.5 and the malleable nature of D20, including skills and feats in the core book would be a good idea. Less flipping through books and the ability to actually find the material you are looking for. On the other hand, there is still some general system stuff that I still don't see being necessary. In short, I see it as a good thing for people who buy this book to also have to own the Player's Handbook. My concern is that I want as much of this book used for Babylon 5 goodness, and as little as possible defining the D20 system again.

Point 2, I think the class works just fine. In fact, the class redefines the definition for Lurker. I agree that in B5, lurkers are generally those down on their luck who are homeless or living in places where they get the cheap rates. Regardless, if this needs any retooling, it is only the name of the class, not the function of the class. I don't recall at the moment, but did they ever give Dureena an actual professional title in Crusade? Was she just a thief, or what? Obviously this class is the rogue of B5.

Point 3, I agree that it wouldn't be a bad idea for the race books to redefine this class a little bit by giving them unique ranks and puting them in context, but the class, as it stands now, works in a very generic way for enlisted officers from any race.
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Postby KDLadage » Mon Aug 25, 2003 1:36 pm

Anonymous wrote:OK, I'll conceded the first point to a certain extent. I do think that due to 3.5 and the malleable nature of D20, including skills and feats in the core book would be a good idea. Less flipping through books and the ability to actually find the material you are looking for. On the other hand, there is still some general system stuff that I still don't see being necessary. In short, I see it as a good thing for people who buy this book to also have to own the Player's Handbook. My concern is that I want as much of this book used for Babylon 5 goodness, and as little as possible defining the D20 system again.
As indicated in the B5RPG, we are talking about, approximately, 40 pages or so of material. Given the page count of the core book, I do not see this as a significant barrier.
Anonymous wrote:Point 2, I think the class works just fine. In fact, the class redefines the definition for Lurker. I agree that in B5, lurkers are generally those down on their luck who are homeless or living in places where they get the cheap rates. Regardless, if this needs any retooling, it is only the name of the class, not the function of the class. I don't recall at the moment, but did they ever give Dureena an actual professional title in Crusade? Was she just a thief, or what? Obviously this class is the rogue of B5.
Been a while for Crusade, so I cannot say at the moment. But I do think the class needs a bit of re-tooling. It needs to be toned down. 90% of the people down there did not look anywhere near as capable as the class would seem to suggest. But that is more opinion. Again, I think that the vast majority of those down there should be stated up as Workers that are currently out of work.
Anonymous wrote:Point 3, I agree that it wouldn't be a bad idea for the race books to redefine this class a little bit by giving them unique ranks and puting them in context, but the class, as it stands now, works in a very generic way for enlisted officers from any race.
I assume you mean "enlisted and officers" here since these are two very different things. And sure, tweaking the class in the race books to have packages that are more in line with the race in question would work.

But consider, the officer class right now seems to be designed to specifically model Sheridan (i.e.: motivational speaches) in higher levels, with abilities that should (in my opinion) be either (a) feats, or (b) a particular ability tree within the class. Using the d20 Modern ability tree concept seems the easiest way of making sure that you have fewer classes with the most customizability.
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Re: The Babylon 5 Companion

Postby spezbaby » Mon Aug 25, 2003 1:57 pm

msprange wrote:Hi guys,

We have a new project coming up and I want all of you to get involved!

As things stand, you will be aware of the various race/season supplements and forthcoming sourcebooks for the Babylon 5 RPG. However, once we have covered the 4 main races and the seasons up to the Earth Year 2260, I want to release a Babylon 5 Companion book - basically a rules supplement full of useful and interesting material for both players and GMs.
I would like to see more of the following:
  • Props and handouts. Blank Universe Today pages, blank Earth Alliance and PsiCorp letterheads and maybe even blank ident cards.

    Background listings of different governmental and non-governmental organisations. Included should be their aims and plans, capabilities and key personalities. An example of this would be when Bester shows up in a PsiCorp Starfury. Who knew PSiCorp had access to their own fleet of fighters.

    The Universe Today Guide to Babylon 5: a sort of travel guidebook to the station and space. It would include shop listings, prices, contact listings for alien governments, sights to see, etc.
On a related note, I would like to second the idea of a League of Non-Aligned Worlds sourcebook.

Thanks
Peter
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Postby HeresJohnny » Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:35 pm

It would seem that if the plan is to release this supplement after all the major races are detailed, then perhaps some form of consolidation would be in order.

I for one would not want to go hunting through various books and modules for new or modified feats that have appeared in this other material, so one of the possible inclusions could be to pool this 'new' material into this companion product.

As for what else would I like to see? Well, lets have some detail on other threats within the universe, be they a full blown race, planet, technology etc. Having watched 'The Legend of the Rangers', it seems to me that this other race would be interesting to know about.

The 'League' needs to be detailed before this companion, it's too major a part of the B5 universe to be left until after the companion.
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Postby Guest » Mon Aug 25, 2003 9:33 pm

Anonymous wrote: Point 2, I think the class works just fine. In fact, the class redefines the definition for Lurker. I agree that in B5, lurkers are generally those down on their luck who are homeless or living in places where they get the cheap rates. Regardless, if this needs any retooling, it is only the name of the class, not the function of the class. I don't recall at the moment, but did they ever give Dureena an actual professional title in Crusade? Was she just a thief, or what? Obviously this class is the rogue of B5.
Dureena would almost certainly be a prestige class, or very high level. At times her abilities seemed to rival Galen's.

A prestige class I would save for the Crusade book, BTW. Crusade had a different feel than regular B5, far more fantastic than hard SF, and it would be better to keep it separate.

I don't think the Lurker class needs fixing at the present time. Let me run the system for a while, and I'll let you know more.

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The "Lurker"

Postby Rigil Kent » Mon Aug 25, 2003 9:47 pm

For those of you who seem to have such problems with the Lurker class, simply rename it and carry on. Initially, I was disappointed with it as well but plan to just rename it "Grifter" or something similar and use it as presented.

I would very much like to see some sort of enlisted "Crewman" or "Spacer" class that fills in the non-Officers in the navy. Sure, the main characters are officers, but the vast majority of people in the military are NOT.

Despite how much I hated it, I'd like to see the Legend of the Rangers thing stated out.

Add in my vote for a League book or section.
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Postby KDLadage » Mon Aug 25, 2003 10:26 pm

As I noted in another post (in the translators thread), I find the lack of a "Raider" class just as jarring as the inclusion of the "Lurker" class.

So... I would like to see a "Raider" class, either in the companion or as a download on the site.
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Postby Kizarvexis » Mon Aug 25, 2003 11:37 pm

More equipment. Or even better a conversion for credits to real money. Then you could pick up old catalogs (say for an outdoors store, gun mag, sunday sale papers for clothes/electronics, etc) and have all the equipment you need.

The money system needs work as mentioned above. The Independantly Wealthly feat IMO, needs to have the credit amounts multiplied by 10 to make them work.

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