The Babylon Project RPG
Reviewed by General Tangent.
£14.99 / $25
Titan Books in association with Chameleon Eclectic.
Ok, first off the book has a picture of B5 on the cover. My first impression of this book was that is very impressively laid out. The text is spaced 5cm in from the edge of the book, while the margin has a "deck-plate" look, fake metal studs on a grey background. Side-bars for the book are done in a box titled Babcom.
The next thing that strikes me about this book is the lack of an index and the contents page has the main information but not what you would need to find out about the PPG (for those interested parties its on page 164).
This is a licensed product from the show and it attempts to appeal to 1) fans of the show or 2) new gamer's. Since this is a licensed product, you expect it to have stills from the show. This is not the case, aside from 18 pictures, you have some truly awful drawings!
So as not to interfere with the time-line in the show, the game is set in 2250.
Creation of characters is a diceless thing. First you take a work-sheet, either photocopied or downloaded from their website. The work-sheet is white on black, so they are very printer unfriendly and if you have an inkjet printer you are likely to end up with a damp page that will probably tear when you get it out of the printer.
Then you take a an average member of your race and modify the attributes up or down by up to two points. However, for each increase you make, you have to make an equal decrease. Then you start to work through your characters early years picking skills and characteristics. Once you have finished you then transfer the skills into their respective places on the work-sheet. A quick word about the skills, this game has some of the strangest skill lists known to man. Take biology for example, you take as a speciality "kingdoms within a biosphere", so you will have to take Insects - Earth, or Mammals - Narn.
Ok, that's a minor gripe with the system, so lets move onto the meat of the system, the task resolution. This game requires nothing more than two six sided dice, the usual sort found in a backgammon set, but you need two different colours, one green and one red. The green is positive and the red is negative, now I know what you think, you roll the bones and add the positive and subtract the negative - WRONG! What you do is roll them and take the lowest of the pair, so for example I roll a +3 and -2, you take the -2. So, I will move on to the determination of the tasks themselves.
You work out the controlling attribute and skill and any speciality you have. So for example, you find a strange looking insect on Narn. The GM decides the attribute is Perception, the skill is Biology. So if you have Narn - Insects as a speciality you are well away!
Bob has a perception of 4 and level 2 in biology, plus he has the speciality, so we add 2 to four and add another 2 for the speciality and then roll those dice.
Combat works in the same way, although with ranged combat, stay out the way or you could be dead real quick. One glaring omission is starship combat, that is in a separate book.
A small column is given over to this ability but glossed over completely as to what the telepath can achieve.
The chapter on campaigning offers some good advice about long term campaigns, the section on character improvement is ok.
The star map is average, it misses off a few locations and has an awful colour! I know of several people claiming this map is useless because they are colour-blind.
I could go on, but you are too young for this sort of pain!
A nice idea, but it is let down by very dodgy artwork and the website address on page 2 has changed since the book was published! Buy it if you wish to roleplay in JMS's world, but beware, to play in the time of the show you will have to do some serious work.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Value For Money: 2/5
On to The Babylon 5 Security Manual...
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