Where to begin?


Greetings to the RPG guys,

I've been a big fan of B5 since I first saw it, bought the DVDs, ACTA etc, and nabbed the "Babylon 5 Roleplaying Game and Factbook" as it was in the sale of the local Waterstones (and Im saving for an Omega and the Earthforce fact book).

Now heres the clincher - where the hell do I start? I've convinced a few friends to give it a go (we're all RPG virgins) after our Uni exams are over, but as I say, we have absolutely no idea where to begin! All fans of the show, so at least we don't need to explain the background, but thats it.

Any and all help, advice, and general rambling appreciated :D
If you mean where do you start story wise, then you really need to make sure that the PC's all have a reason to stay together (they don't have to like each other, just have a common goal). It's tricky to set it on B5 and have anything major happen unless you are not following canon.

You could have the party all be members of Earthforce, Psi Corp, ISN, or IPX. Or alternatively you could have them all be aboard a passenger shuttle when a major catastrophe occurs which they are the only survivors of.

One thing is for sure, it's a good idea to come up with one major campaign story arc, decide what you want to happen in the beginning and decide what will happen if the players do not interfere (i.e. the intended goal of the assassins or whatever).

It's also a good idea to have each of the players make as in-depth a background as possible (no longer than war and peace will do), get them to detail family, friends/enemies, lovers, lost loves, motivations, personality (very handy for gauging how they are going to play their characters).

You should get them to do this at least a week in advance of the game start so that you can plan (or at least begin to plan) side adventures or situations around their characters.

suggestions for the beginnings of a campaign plot:
The players are members of EF and are part of an exploration vessel on the outer rim when the vessel becomes severely damaged, perhaps they are attacked by an unknown vessel and they are the only survivors, EA then tries to silence them
The players are part of a Psi Corp Black Ops team and are undercover in EF.
The players are members of an ISN crew and are sent to investigate a particular incident which they somehow get implicated in.

The campaign plot should not be easily resolvable, they shouldn't just be able to call in a friend high up in Earthdome and have the charges dropped for instance.

I would suggest planning a specific number of campaign specific scenarios, even if it's just an outline of them. be sure you know where the story is going, if you plan ahead you can leave them little surprises that are revealed much later in the campaign.

I for instance made a Universe Today report about a vessel discovered drifting in hyperspace with no markings of any sort, 9 months later the PC's discovered that it was their own ship that was found after an incident with time-travel and B4.

I'm rambling a bit but you get the idea. If this isn't what you wanted then sorry for wasting your bandwidth :)
Hey Sneaky,

Where to start:

1) Figure out which printing of the core book you have. Likely first ptinting, but check at the bottom right of Page 2 of the book. If it is 2nd printing it'sll say so there.

2) If you have first printing (or even if you have 2nd but it is less important), go to the Babylon 5 section of the Mongoose website and nab yourself all the errata and FAQ downloads (at the bottom of the page). Also the character sheet and other nice gubbins. Especially previews of all the other lovely books in the line. The 2nd printing has a lot of errata and some accidentally missed from the 1st printing rulles in it. most of this is covered by the downloads though. Off the top of my head the only one that isn't is that there is no XP penalty for multiclassing.


3) Have a look through the core rulebook and figure out if any particular aspect of the show interests you. If there are, see if there's a supplement for it like the race books (Watch ou, ony some league races (the major ones) are in the League book), the Psi Corps, The TechnoMages.

4) If you want to play in a particular timeframe I strongly reccomend the relevant Season sourcebook. Lots of campiagn hooks for each episode, major NPC stats for the main season and major ep characters from each ep.

5) If you'd like a premade campaign you could get The Fiery Trial (Set in Season 1) and it's sequel (but can be played seperately) "Into the Crucible) set in Season 2.

6) If you wish to preserve your hardback, get yourself a copuy of the Pocket Edition of the B5 book. @ £15 it is a good way to get yourself a spare copy of the main rules (without most of the pictures and fluff) that you don't mind so much if it gets spilled on or dogeared). Plus it has all the changes in the second printing.

7) Buy the Rangers supplement. IT rocks. all those lovely White star variants!

8) If youwant to venture off the beaten path, get the Galactic Guide. information on almost every planet on the System Map, updated for 2262 and includes various rules applicable to bumming around the Galaxy.

If you have any more specific wquestions on a supplement, I'll be more than happy to answer them. I have all the RPG books for the Mongoose B5 d20 RPg (and some of the old Chameleon Eclectic Babylon Project RPG books) so I'd be happy to let you konw what's in each book to aid you in your purchasing decision.

PM me with your e-mail addy and we can discuss.

The hints given so far are pretty good, but let me just weigh in here.

First off you do want a definite idea for your campaign, in this case talk to the group to see what they want to do and then try to incorporate that into the campaign. Of course if no one has any ideas there will be a campaign book for Earthforce out a little later this year.

As far as the story goes do what you can to be consistent but don't forget to factor in the group wandering off in their own direction so be flexible.

Another thing to help people out with is getting them to figure out what they want to do as far as character concept. Who's going to be a pilot (if one is needed), a medic, the muscle of the group, etc. In this case it is ok for people to overlap somewhat just as long as everyone gets a chance in the spotlight. Give everyone a chance to take center stage at least once in the game and just be fair to everyone.

All in all the best way to get good at running games is by running games, you get a better feel for what people like and what kind of characters they like to play more often that not as well as how to deal with troublemakers you come across as players.
What I did:
Since my players like to try different races and classes, and that can be a problem in some campaigns (try getting a Pak'ma'ra in a EF group...) I decided to create a secret organization (it's so secret it didn't show up in the show :D ) that the players work for.

This organization is based on earth and it employs both humans and aliens, since some can go where others can't. They get missions from their employer now and then, but they are also free to do stuff for others, since they aren't (on the paper) employed by anyone, ie they are freelancers.

This lets me come up with all kinds of adventures and can also throw in the characters in the adventure plots that are in the year books. I like this and so does my players, since this lets them play almost anything.

That was my two credits, hope it helps.
Another point to consider is whether you want to run a strictly canon game or not. This will affect the type of missions you run. Obviously the more on station you are, the more important canon becomes. It is quite possible torun an off station campaign that barely touches on the canon plotline apart from the bigger aspects, Shadow War, Civil wars, etc.

If your players don't necessarily want a canon game, then pick what you want to do but don't let them know whether you are following canon or not!


*Resurrects in hope of more input*

I've finally got 2 vague outlines from the group (remember again, NONE of us have done an RPG before in your comments/help/etc)

1. Narn group in the war against the Centauri, scouting, stealing, blackmailing, and trading for technology and allies (or rather, trying to!), and trying to learn the secret of the Centauris resurgent power. Would probably follow cannon a lot, but has room to play with minor races, and the Centauris previous conquests and other fronts within that (Q: How many races were the Centauri at war with at once? 12ish I think, but can't remember).

2. Technomage group left behind to attempt to quietly remove Shadow Tech and influence from the hands of the younger races. Time period undecided.

I think both have great potential, with a simple but strong arc, and plenty of room for flexibility, but may be more than a little advanced for a first go!

Advantages of each as I see them

* Simple out line.
* Room for iteraction with many races and factions.
* Constant threat of Centauri attack / discovery.
* High starting resources for players, but ever diminishing as the War progresses.
* Possibility of dark ending (we're an odd bunch, so being a prisoner on board a Centauri vessel as the bombardment of Narn commences would be a sad but quite possibly popular ending!).
* Option to continue campaign post-war with a "resistance" theme.
* Option to continue campaign post-war with an "on the run" theme.
* Chance for an encounter with a human and his "associates"
* Chance to visit B5 if players wish to.

* Broad out line.
* Flexible to the players desires
* Room for iteraction with many races and factions.
* Constant threat of Shadow / Drakh attack / discovery.
* Chance for an encounter with a human and his "associates"
* Chance to visit B5 if players wish to.
* Doesn't need to interact with cannon much, if at all.
* Timeperiod is very open, and can last for a long time given the Shadows preparations and the huge cleanup post-ShadowWar.
* High starting resources for players
If you're completely new to this whole thing, I would not suggest you allow the players to be technomages because the rules for technomages add another layer of complexity to the game that can be daunting/confusing for newbies and also because the power of being a techomage in your first campaign would make any character in another game seem weak and underpowered which can be disappointing.

The Narn one sounds like an easier one to start with, but you should watch out for canon getting in the way of the game and also players using their knowledge of events to their character's advantage. (player knowledge vs character knowledge).
There's a lot of opportunity for variation and roleplaying in the Narn story.
If your group likes a dark ending there is one idea I've been toying with running at some point. Basically it's an Earthforce campaign starting towards the end of the Dilgar war (it's mentioned in a couple of places) and running up through the Earth Minbari war. Basically you can start out the group serving on an Olympus Corvette and have them work up the chain of command.

The campaign can include:
The occasional ship combat (with some work you can use the stuff in the book)
Dealing with Raiders
Diplomatic issues with the League of Non-Aligned Worlds
The occasional patrol/exploration duties
And of course promotions to bigger and better ships as they complete missions

Of course it would help if you have the League fact book but with some work I'm sure you can come up with some type of plotline. And the dark ending that your group would like would come when an EF task force kills the leader of the Minbari ruling council sparking the worst war the Earth Alliance was ever in. Basically the crew could be killed while bravely defending a system from the Minbari onslaught.

If nothing else it's a thought.
I would stay away from TM PCs for the reasons listed above.

I'm running the Anger of the Righteous (Restarting soon guys I promise) which is all Narn involved in the Assualt on Ragesh II from "Midnight on the Firing Line". where we go after that I don't know yet.

Our next adventure is going to set right at the start of Season 1 during the first episode. Luckily my group is pretty easy with nothing fancy. I too would probobly not allow Technomages or maybe Psi-corp if the Gm and/or players have never played much or at all.