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Into the Fire

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 1


Into the Fire

Contents
2 Introduction

3 The Ships of
Into the Fire
A peak at the lost ships of the cancelled
Welcome you, Zathras does Into the Fire computer game

Zathras welcomes you here, yes,


Zathras does. Zathras is oldest living
18 Born of Fire:
caretaker of Great Machine... now Draal say The Babylon Project -
Great Machine open to all that would know Release 2
its secrets. Zathras knows many of the A review of the Babylon 5 Freespace 2
secrets of the Great Machine... ahh... Zathras conversion.
be showings you these secrets for Draal,
yes? 21 Prometheans
This issue I shows you about the ships A first look at new Centauri warships
of Into the Fire. The cancelled Sierra game from the Legions of Fire trilogy.
it is, yes... some thought it was our last, best
hope for peace! But Zathras, Zathras know 23 The Terran Concordat
it was not to be. But no one ever asked Jason Stadnyk’s offers a glimpse at the
Zathras. Zathras would have answered, but Terran Concordat, a branch of Humanity
no one ask Zathras... rescued by the Vree.
Oh, yes, other great things available
at Great Machine for visitors to see! Great 27 The Drawing Board
records of long ago they are, yes, very great Paul Brown and Tyrel Lohr take a look
records. Zathras thinks you will like them. at the important questions facing those
Many scrolls, with information about Centauri brave souls that set out to design new
from Legions of Fire trilogy, and a lost Human races for the Babylon 5 Wars game
band rescued by Vree. Oh yes, Zathras system.
remembers that, or at least Zathras tell
Zathras he remembers that. Never trust 36 The ak-Tai Republic
Zathras... but don’t tell him I said that! An Escalation Wars sneak peak at the
The Great Machine also has ak-Tai, the Circasian’s primary opponent
information on how to design new races for during the War of the Seven Stars.
Babylon 5 Wars. Yes, learn much you will.
Zathras has designed races that even Draal
does not know yet.
Oh, Draal is calling me! Call Zathras
if you need any help!

ZATHRAS,
CARETAKER

2 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire

A Look at the Lost Ships many different Babylon 5 products backs, including a full move of their
that were initially put on the slate. offices during the game’s
of the Sierra Computer
The first to be released would be The development. Finally, with Sierra’s
Game “Into the Fire” Official Guide to Babylon 5 CD-ROM license apporaching its renewal date
By Tyrel Lohr developed in-house by Babylonian and only a single product released
Productions. Also on the roster was thus far, Sierra (who had since been
In 1998, with Babylon 5 an RPG and a combat flight purchased by Havas) decided to cut
winding down its five year run, we simulator. The RPG died shortly their losses on the license and
as fans were just starting to see the after its inception, getting only a cancel Into the Fire. The project’s
glimmer of expanded merchandising small amount of press before fate was tied to that of Yosemite, and
on the horizon. The Babylon Project disappearing from the radar. The the production studio was sacked
and Babylon 5 Wars had both space combat sim, however, along with the game.
graced our gaming tables, but continued to move forward in This action raised the ire of
otherwise there was very little development and eventually earned the fan community who had
development of other Babylon 5 a name: Into the Fire. desperately pinned their hopes on
related licenses. Into the Fire soon appeared the simulator. Attempts to get
The acquisition of the to be the fan community’s last, best someone – anyone – to pick up the
Babylon 5 license by Sierra marked hope for Babylon 5 computer nearly finished game met with early
a major step forward. Babylon 5 gaming. The screenshots and success, but it was not meant to be.
fans everywhere were finally going trailers seemed very promising and, The fan interest did however spark
to see an extension of the Babylon despite multiple delays, the game a flurry of development since for the
5 universe on their computers, looked like it would in fact come out. creation of game modifications,
allowing another avenue through But it didn’t. Yosemite conversions, and entirely new
which to immerse themselves in the Entertainment, the game’s applications to fill the gaping hole left
Babylon 5 universe. There were developers, had suffered several set by Into the Fire’s cancellation (one

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 3


Into the Fire
such conversion for Freespace 2 is
reviewed on page 18).
Into the Fire may be
vaporware but before its demise it
did give us a small peak into the
Babylon 5 universe, including slight
glimpses at races that had at the
time never been developed in any
other licensed work. The surviving
artwork from the game is the focus
of this issue of The Great Machine.
Looking at these graphics we have
to sit back and wonder “what if?”
What if the game had come out?
What kind of new and alien ship
designs would we have seen within
Babylon 5 Wars and its spin offs?
How would Agents of Gaming’s
development of the races have
changed due to the influence of the
computer game? And what kind of
story did we miss out on?
On the following pages we
take a look at how some of these
ships could have appeared in
Babylon 5 Wars. As it is these few
ships are a lasting legacy of a game
that died when it was almost ready
to be born.
For more information on Into
the Fire or the projects that emerged
after its cancellation, please visit the
First Ones website at
http://www.firstones.com.
* * *

The Official Guide to Babylon 5


Developed in house by Babylonian Productions, The
Official Guide to Babylon 5 was the one and only
computer product released by Sierra during the Scenes from the Into the Fire
length of their Babylon 5 licensing contract. computer game. The ship models
used in the game were directly based
off of the models used to produce
Often derided by fans, the product did provide an the CGI for the television show, their
interesting mix of additional racial backgrounds and complexity reduced to make them
video files pulled from the series itself. Also bundled suitable for in-game use.
with the Guide was a special “Best of Babylon 5” music CD featuring a mix of
Christopher Franke’s excellent music. Also featured on the CD were two
themes created especially for the Into the Fire computer game.

4 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire

Dilgar War Cruiser Within the context of the adorned, earthen tone Dilgar motif
Of all of the ships created by Babylon 5 Wars Dilgar, the Into the for their own Dilgar miniature fleets.
Sierra, the Dilgar War Cruiser stands Fire Dilgar War Cruiser is entirely out
out as one of the most interesting – of place. The War Cruiser Dilgar Fighter
and the most troublesome. In fact, demonstrates an entirely different As with the Dilgar War
the release of images of the new ship design methodology and Cruiser, the Dilgar Fighter is a design
design caused a flurry among aesthetic. Whereas the Dilgar lost to time. An interesting design,
Babylon 5 Wars fans. AOG had Fighter is easier to accept as a Dilgar this fighter shares many design
already released their Dilgar War design, the War Cruiser is so characteristics with the larger
playtest pack, the first to be available fundamentally different from the cruiser. Both accentuate curves and
as a pay-to-playtest packet, but the existing Dilgar that it really is hard open space in their design. The
product had not yet gone to press. to find a good way to reconcile the Dilgar Fighter is perhaps most
Fans of Babylon 5 Wars were angry differences. Would it be a new notable for the fact that it is designed
when it became apparent that generation cruiser? Maybe a to be operate in a vertical rather than
Sierra’s Dilgar materials was poised potential modern Dilgar design? Or horizontal alignment. This setup is
to become first to market, and that maybe it was a late-war testbed for often a rare find in science fiction,
as a consequence all of AOG’s new technologies? There is no good where the writers and designers are
material may need to be re-thought. answer, but it does leave a lot to the trying too hard to emulate modern-
Most of this anger was born from the imagination. What we can tell from day atmospheric fighters.
attitude taken by continuity editor the battle image is that the Dilgar
War Cruiser fires two beam
Fiona Avery that made it quite clear Pak’Ma’Ra Ship
that Sierra had the money and weapons (of a similar color to those
This Pak’Ma’Ra ship was
therefore Sierra could publish fired by the Yolu cruisers) from either
featured in the Into the Fire game
whatever it wanted. wing pod.
promotional insert that was to be
In the end this Dilgar cruiser The one thing that the Dilgar
printed and included with Agents of
design saw little life beyond Sierra’s War Cruiser can be given credit for
Gaming’s future game supplements,
website. AOG opted to keep their is establishing an alternate color
acting as a cross-promotion attempt
existing designs rather than adopt scheme for the Dilgar in contrast to
by Sierra. The illustration suggests
this new standard and the ship all the minty green AOG Dilgar. Many
that the ship is simply another
but disappeared into obscurity. fans have adopted the decoratively

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 5


Into the Fire
combatant in battle, and provides a upon close inspection, I notice that Mysterious Vessel #1
less than perfect view of the craft. the two ships have several striking The most enigmatic craft in
As there was never any data differences. Firstly, the indentations the battle scene has to be the one
released on the ship, and it in fact at the ends of the forward hull that is firing the very large yellow
doesn’t exist outside of this one projections don’t match up to the beam across the battle. This beam
graphic, it is hard to determine T’Rakk. Secondly, the Narn ship has coloration is in stark contrast to the
anything about the ship’s the green banding at the base of the rest of the weapons fire evident in
capabilities. Its general size can be projections where the T’Rakk would the scene. Whose ship could this
partially determined if we consider instead have a silver crossbar. It be? Is it a Dilgar vessel? It certainly
that the closest of the two Pak’Ma’Ra almost looks like there is a nose is sitting behind the main Dilgar
ships is in close proximity to the segment between the projections as battle line, and there are no other
Hyperion Cruiser also in the well, but it is hard to tell whether it is allied units visible in that area. It
foreground. However, as many such indeed part of the Narn ship or some could also be another unknown ship
promotion graphics are created with other vessel peeking through the belonging to one of the co-
an eye towards enticement rather explosions. belligerents, but given the setup of
than accuracy, this type of inference What can be determined the image I find this unlikely. After
is dubious at best. from the graphic is that this Narn all, it is firing on the allies!
ship is the source of the two large
Yolu Ship laser beams firing through the
middle of the battle scene. So, just
Three instances of this
particular Yolu vessel can be found like the G’Quan that would follow, Other Ships
in the Into the Fire illustration. Unlike this early Narn ship was equipped
the Pak’Ma’Ra vessel, the Yolu ship with a pair of laser cannons of some Abbai Ship
provides some actual evidence kind mounted on the forward Not featured on the Sierra
related to its capabilities. Two of the section. Babylon 5 games website, the Abbai
three Yolu ships are actually seen Perhaps one of the biggest ship was one of the designs that was
firing in the graphic, giving an questions involved with this on the drawing board but did not
important insight into their mysterious Narn vessel has to be come to light until after the game’s
capabilities. Four long, purplish-pink “why are the Narn fighting the cancellation. The ship was to be the
beams are being fired from each of Dilgar?” Based on statements by first real view of an Abbai ship, and
the two craft, with each beam Ambassador G’Kar during the first to say that the craft is unconventional
emanating from one of the four season episode “Deathwalker” and would be putting it lightly. Spindly
purple dots located on the bow of subsequent accounts of the Dilgar and visibly frail, the Abbai ship would
the ship. War it has become apparent that the have been far different from Agents
The aesthetics of these Yolu Narn did not engage in hostilities of Gaming’s own Abbai ships.
ships are in many ways very close against the Dilgar Imperium. And
to the top-down views found on what of the Frazis? Assuming that
AOG’s own Yolu ships. Again, it may the illustration depicts a Dilgar
be another instance of AOG giving War era battle then the
a tip of the hat to the Sierra designs Frazi, by AOG’s
and attempting to maintain continuity reckoning, would
between B5W and the dead not yet have been
computer game. deployed. Either Sierra
believes the Frazi was
development much earlier, or
Mysterious Narn Vessel
they included a similar design
At first glance I assumed this
to appeal to the Babylon 5
ship to be none other than the
fanbase. Could this be an early,
T’Rakk Frigate, one of the few Into
experimental Frazi unit?
the Fire ship designs to be directly
translated over into the game. But,

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Into the Fire
The Hyach Gunship
As with most of the
The Dilgar Connection?
By Paul Brown
alien warships released by
Sierra’s game team, this
The battle scene at the
Hyach ship was classified as heart of this issue raises a few
a “gunship.” This classification questions. Aside from differing
is nebulous and can have ship designs, one major issue
multiple interpretations is the involvement of the Narn
depending on your point of view. in an apparently Dilgar era
The ship itself bares a battle, a war which by all
startling aesthetic similarity to one accounts they did not take part
of Agents of Gaming’s own Hyach Minbari OSAT in. That makes two
ships: the Alichi Kav. The hull striping assumptions however, that the
The Minbari OSAT design
on this model is replicated in large
was the first real look at a rendition battle takes placing during the
part on the Fleet Action-scale Alichi
of a Minbari fixed defense element Dilgar war and that the Narn
Kav miniature, and the basic top-
other than the Norgath Starbase are on the allied side. Let me
down hull shape is very much the
from “War Without End”. The propose another idea: We
same.
Minbari OSAT is yet another of the know from the first season of
In any event, the Into the Fire
forgotten designs to be born of the
Hyach ship is close enough in design B5 that the Narn are trying to
Into the Fire computer game.
to the AOG ships that it isn’t too hard
Interestingly enough, many of the
gain every advantage they can
to imagine this vessel flying and during In the Beginning
Babylon 5 game conversions include
alongside the likes of the Irokai Kam G’Kar offers asylum to
this type of Minbari OSAT.
or Urutha Kal. Sheridan. With neutral ties to
* * *
the Dilgar, what if the Narn had
Hurr Gunship offered them asylum before
As with the Hyach Gunship, war’s end? Showdowns-6
the Hurr Gunship is an easy fit with rumours that the Descari used
the existing B5W Hurr ships. Ever
Dilgar scientists to advance
since viewing this graphic I have
thought that the Hurr ships were at
their technology, what if the
least based in part on this design. Narn had done the same
In fact, this design from Sierra was thing? They have made leaps
the first glimpse we ever got at a and bounds in the decades
Hurr ship design, as Militaries of the before the show. Is Bor’goth a
League of Non-Aligned Worlds-2 secret Narn research facility,
was developed and released much or is it the last Dilgar colony?
later. The battle, in my
interpretation, shows a Narn
Narn OSAT cruiser firing at a formation of
The Narn defense Earth vessels and several Yolu
satellite was one of the cruisers firing at Narn ships off-
many Narn designs to be screen. Perhaps the Dilgar
created for the Into the Fire
designs are so radical
game. Little information is
known about the intentions
because they’re decades
of the Narn OSAT, and like older. I believe that there are
many of the Into the Fire some interesting alternate-
units it remains a mystery. history possibilities that may
be worth exploring.

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Into the Fire

Icons of the Imperium


By Paul Brown officer who had achieved the rank units which served to protect the
of Warmaster was honoured government, honour the militaries’
The Jajuka Cruiser and the through a symbolic representation leaders and to bolster pride and
Korrath Heavy Fighter at home by a Jajuka Imperial morale throughout the Dilgar
represented two radical Cruiser in addition to their normal ranks. The fleet participated in the
departures from traditional Dilgar rewards of a personal flagship. final battle at Omelos and was
doctrine. Not conforming to the The extent of the fleet was thus completely destroyed during the
utilitarian, military efficiency of limited by the number of Dilgar engagement. Due to the rare
other Dilgar designs, they are who were appointed to the rank deployment of the design, few
instead models of elegance and of Warmaster. people are aware of its existence.
extravagance. The reasoning Along with each Jajuka Some scholars have claimed that
behind this design departure lies Imperial Cruiser was a squadron the allied governments have tried
in the roles of the two craft. The of ceremonial fighter craft. The to suppress any knowledge of the
expensive Jajuka Imperial Cruiser Korrath Heavy Fighter was built in two craft’s existence as the
served in a role comparable to that the same extremely stylised elegance of both designs would
of a royal or imperial guard, most fashion of the Jajuka. Comparable not conform to the party line that
recognisable within the Centauri in capabilities to the more the Dilgar were an evil and ugly
fleets who utilise elite Vorchans to common Thorun, they differed in people bent only on conquest and
escort the Emperor’s Transport. their use of a single Heavy Bolt xenocide.
These cruisers formed the sole Cannon. This weapon, * * *
components of a defensive fleet though more destructive
permanently assigned to the than the Thorun armament,
Dilgar ruling council. They acted was too expensive for
as transports for top government practical, widespread use. An
officials and participated in formal imperfect design also
military ceremonies. Each vessel led to frequent
was composed of a central core maintenance
attached to a larger dorsal hull. problems even
The expansive top hull was then through periods of inactivity.
adorned with a symbol Due to the expensive and
representing one of each of the impractical nature of both designs
Dilgar Warmasters. Each Dilgar they remained solely as garrison

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Into the Fire

The Tarthikur
Project

technology. The capabilities of Abbai up for the larger reactor that this
By Tyrel Lohr shielding had stymied Dilgar necessitated, cutting into the ship’s
attempts to finish off the Abbai and crew accommodations and making
History remembers the some believed that it was a living conditions on the ship even
Dilgar as one of the most ambitious technology of interest to the more spartan than usual.
races to have appeared in the Imperium. The first Tarthikurs were built
galaxy. The fact that they were so The Tarthikur Shield Cruiser with Heavy Bolter weapons in their
successful in achieving their was developed as a part of the Dilgar side weapons pods, but these were
objectives and wreaking terror advanced weapons programs during quickly refitted to experimental
across the League was their the war. The ship was to be the first Heavy Laser Cannons as soon as
excellent research and development shield-equipped starship in the they became available. No Tarthikur
capabilities. In the span of two Dilgar arsenal. Larger than a equipped with Heavy Bolters ever
decades the Dilgar had managed to Targath Strike Cruiser, the Tarthikur saw combat, so this is little more
make technological leaps that would would act as less of a strike carrier than an interesting historical
have taken the other races a century. and more of a heavy cruiser hull. footnote.
One of the largest late-war The shielding system would help The Tarthikur Shield Cruisers
military development projects preserve the ship’s integrity in battle that were constructed before the
undertaken by the Dilgar was the as it worked to wear down the final Battle of Omelos were all
Tarthikur Project. This project was opposition’s own capital ship units. grouped into a single fleet,
charged with the duty to acquire, Not unsurprisingly the Dilgar something that was very unorthodox
reverse engineer, and put to use encountered several problems along considering their potential value
promising alien technologies the way. Their knowledge of gravitic spread throughout the fleet. The
captured during the invasion. Many shields was good enough to Dilgar instead believed that the
hulls were planned for eventual replicate a passable version of the Tarthikurs would be more effective
production, but only the Tarthikur technology, although it required an operating together as a true ship-
was built before the defeat of the exotic hull configuration to pull off. killing squadron for breaking down
Dilgar. The problem was with their ability to the allies defenses. The Battle of
maintain a coherent gravitic shield. Omelos proved the wisdom of the
Tarthikur Shield Cruiser Too often the shield would collapse War Council’s decision as the
During the Dilgar Invasion, unexpectedly due to an overtaxed Tarthikur squadron was one of the
Dilgar scientists applied their reactor. The Dilgar compensated by most notable Dilgar combat units to
uncanny scientific knack towards doubling the amount of power participate in the fateful battle,
reverse engineering the weapons of directed to the shielding, allowing the single-handedly breaking through an
other powers. One of the first ship to at least maintain partial EA/Pak’Ma’Ra cruiser line before
systems to be pursued by the Dilgar shielding at all times. Other systems being taken down.
was the Abbai gravitic shielding were adjusted accordingly to make

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 9


Into the Fire
It is very likely that weapon. A laser assemblage was were not deactivated to offset the
construction of Tarthikur Shield constructed and mounted to the front drain on the ship’s reactor.
Cruisers would have been of the ship and tied directly into the It is doubtful that the Dilgar
accelerated had the Dilgar’s war ship’s new reactor, drawing as much would have been able to work out
against the League gone as power as required. all of the bugs involved in the hybrid
planned. It is fortunate for nearby This situation did have its alien technologies. In any case
races that this plan was not realized, drawbacks. The Spinal Laser was history did not give them the chance.
as a fleet laden with Tarthikur Shield continually hooked to the reactor, The prototype Tarthikur-X stood with
Cruisers would have been more than causing a continuous power bleed the Dilgar forces at Omelos and was
a match for even the best warships that could not be corrected without destroyed alongside the rest of the
of the EA and Narn, and proven a entirely deactivating the new laser Dilgar fleet.
competent opponent for the system. The shields also proved
* * *
Centauri. finicky and were prone to simply
collapsing if additional ship systems
Dilgar Tarthikur-X
Advanced Cruiser
In the months leading up to
the final Battle at Omelos, the Dilgar
War Council knew that the Imperium
was doomed. Their only hope lay in * * *
creating a stalemate in the war.
Victory was no longer a realistic goal,
but if the Dilgar could once again
secure the initiative there was at
least the chance of survival for the
Dilgar species.
During these chaotic last
days the Dilgar began experimenting
with massive modifications to one of
their few Tarthikur Shield Cruisers in Dilgar Torvasa Pulse Fighter
an attempt to convert it into an Based on notes by Jeremy Ward and Charles Taylor
advanced fleet command cruiser.
The Torvasa Pulse Fighter on a good hit. The Light Pulse
No expense was spared on the
was one of the many secret Bolter uses a special Flight Level
conversion of the ship. All of its
projects being developed by the Hit Chart to determine the number
major systems received sweeping
Dilgar during the last years of the of pulses that hit the target, setting
upgrades as part of the refit
war. The Thorun Dartfighter was it apart from typical fighter units.
process.. The reactor was improved
an exceptional fighter and had won The Torvasas were not
and the Medium Bolters upgraded
the Dilgar many of its early constructed soon enough or quick
to heavy models. The shields were
victories, but the War Council enough to make any real
likewise hardened, the equals of
desired a stronger, better fighter difference in the Dilgar War. Few
even the best shielding operated by
to help turn the tide against their know of this design due to their
the Abbai.
enemies. restricted deployment within the
The most striking upgrade to
The Torvasa Pulse Fighter Imperium fleets.
the Tarthikur was the installation of
is equipped with a Light Pulse
a Spinal Laser. Most ships could
Bolter, a weapon capable of firing
never hope to incorporate such a
several successive weapon
weapon if not built from the ground
charges per recharge cycle. This
up around the gun, but the
gives the fighter the potential of
Tarthikur’s spacious aesthetic lent it
doing more damage than a Thorun
to the mounting of just such a

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Into the Fire

Tavori Kam
Hyach Heltat Kar tuned to emit less background
radiation, reducing the ship’s
Gunship
Attack Frigate overall defense profile. This
By Charles “Danesti” Haught
After referring to the Into
By Tyrel Lohr technology would be greatly the Fire statistics for the ship, I felt
The Hyach need for a fast expanded when incorporated in a that a Blast Laser sounded more
attack unit culminated in the very similar Hyach warship, the like what the game designers were
production of the Heltat Kar Attack Alichi Kav. calling a Medium Laser.
Frigate. These fast and I actually really like this little
* * *
maneuverable frigate units were ship. In numbers they would be
heavily armed for their size. The hell and even as part of a fleet it
Hyach intended the Heltat Kar to gives the Hyach a touch more long
operate in groups of three to six range, non-Spinal Laser punch.
frigates each to maximize efficiency
and tactical effectiveness.
Heltat Kars were
primarily operated in an anti- Fraza Heavy Fighter In combat, the Fraza Heavy
piracy role, escorting valuable By Tyrel Lohr Fighter proved
convoys or performing During the Narn’s to be largely
reconnaissance sweeps early expansion period they ineffective.
through friendly systems in relied heavily on the Gorith The Gorith was a
search of raider activity. Those Medium Fighter as their much better fighter
raiders foolish enough to prey primary fighter type. However, with better dogfighting capabilities
on Hyach shipping were beginning in 2227, the Narns and similar firepower. The lack of
targeted by Heltat Kar flotillas introduced their first heavy fighter thrust on the Fraza limited its
and easily destroyed, often design: the Fraza Heavy Fighter. The usefulness considerably. The extra
dissuading future raider Fraza Heavy Fighter is physically port and starboard armors on the
operations in Hyach space. identical to the more advanced Frazi Fraza were one of the few
Perhaps the most and served as a testbed for many of advantages that the fighter had over
notable feature of the Heltat Kar the technologies which were the Gorith. This lackluster
is its incorporation of early incoporated in the later design. performance was the major reason
stealth technologies and Standard sensor detection methods for the Fraza’s limited deployment.
techniques. It was felt that a cannot tell the difference between the As stated on the ship control sheet,
certain degree of stealth would Fraza and the Frazi. Their true nature during the period 2227-2249 only
be required for its anti-piracy can only be determined when they one flight of Frazas can be
mission and the to that end the perform actions that the other would purchased per four flights of
Heltat’s sensors are specially be incapable of. fighters.

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 11


Into the Fire
Abbai Shykara
Defense Frigate
By Tyrel Lohr
The Shykara design project
was a marked departure from
standard Abbai fair and was quite
ambitious in its aims. Using state of
the art gravitic technologies, Abbai
scientists hoped to design a new
ship which could have abnormally
Abbai Byalla strong gravitic shields. The
requirements of the project forced
Corvette the Abbai to adopt similarly unique
By Paul Brown ship design schematics in order to
In the mid-nineteenth enhancements to the accommodate the implementation
century, regional tensions of the sensor grid. The unusual of the advanced shielding arrays.
time were causing the Abbai to feel design however did not lend itself The end result was the
a certain amount of unease. well to the inclusion of shield Shykara Defense Frigate. The
Increasing raider activity in technology and so the ship fell out frigate uses a distributed network of
particular was being born from of favour with the Abbai military as shield generators to reinforce the
small conflicts and the then-chaotic the years passed. The design was gravitic shielding. The ship was only
state of the Drazi. In an effort to eventually decommissioned in the able to mount two of the improved
protect their merchant shipping early 2100s and is believed to have shield generators, and they took up
lines, the Abbai set about creating had an influence on later Tiraca most of the ship’s internal volume.
a light warship to perform the roles and Shykara Frigate designs. Entire sections of the ship’s hull are
of escort and pirate hunter. The filled with only shield related
relatively new shielding technology equipment.
of the time was thought too cost Armed almost soley for its
prohibitive for what was essentially own defense, the Shykara was
an auxiliary warship. The Byalla planned to be used for general
Corvette would instead rely on its police duties in the fleet, and most
thin profile to avoid taking were implemented in that form. The
damage while engaging pirates Shykaras that survived the Dilgar
with a relatively strong Invasion were all scrapped, as that
armament for the day. Two conflict proved that the lack of
laser cutters along with a pair offensive weaponry on the Shykara
of particle beams provided the was a detriment to its service and
main offence while a sensor spear the price of the improved shielding
gave the ship the added edge was simply too high in terms of
against ill-equipped pirates. As the production costs.
Orieni-Centauri war broke out and
threatened to spill into
neighbouring territories the
corvette began to see use as a light
support ship for larger fleets. In
2032 the class received a refit, with
the laser cutters replaced by
second-line medium laser
weaponry as well as

12 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
among Hurr forces. Thus far the Hurr
have been unable to reproduce the
Plasma Accelerator in a cost-
efficient manner and so the number
of Vorka they produce remains
dependant upon what the
Pak’Ma’Ra are willing to sell. The
Vorka, for its part, still retains the
problems of poor manoeuvrability
and lack of rear anti-ship weaponry
common among Hurr ships. This
coupled with the fact the Vorka has
no inherent fighter-support will likely
prevent the Vorka from becoming a
more prominent ship in the Hurr
Hurr Vorka new, more efficient main thrusters.
Two Class-S racks were installed in
navy.
Heavy Frigate the wings facing forward and several
By Paul Brown different missile types were made
As the Hurr gained a greater the standard loadout to improve their
knowledge of starship construction flexibility. But the key to a more
through their own experience and flexible design was still missing. The
through the study of the philosophies Hurr had observed some of the multi-
of other races, they began to re- mode firing weapons employed by
evaluate some of their own design other races, particularly the Centauri,
practices. The first few ships of the and wanted to utilise these systems
Hurr fleet were based upon simple, on their new ship but they didn’t have Hurr Ortacca
easy to construct hulls which could the technology. Fortunately for the Ballistics Frigate
be modified with a minimal amount Hurr the Pak’Ma’Ra, who had sold By Tyrel Lohr
of effort. But the Hurr found that them the Plasma Streamer, were In an attempt to distance
some variants were unsuited for the willing to supply them with Plasma themselves from Pak’Ma’Ra
situations they found themselves in, Accelerators like those the Hurr had weapons dealers, the Hurr
resulting in substandard witnessed on the Vorchan. The initiated a program in the late
performance. The Hurr decided that weapon was installed in the nose in 2250’s to begin retrofitting their
they would try a new philosophy, of place of the common Heavy Plasma Vorka fleet with more
building a new ship that would fill the Cannon, providing a lethal and yet conventional, homegrown
“jack of all trades” niche that many flexible punch. The Vorka Heavy weapon systems. The most
other races had employed to great Frigate entered production in the successful of these was the
success. The common Orak hull was 2240s and has seen limited Ortacca Ballistics Frigate.
used as the base, which was then d e p l o y m e n t The Ortacca trades the
expanded and reinforced to create plasma accelerator for two more
a larger and stronger hull. Many of Class-S Missile Racks and a
the components remained single medium plasma cannon.
essentially the same as The Ortacca is an effective
they existed in the basic ballistics support platform but the
Orak, as the Hurr aimed to Androma Republic was unable to
conserve production costs. finance the construction or
The basic four particle conversion of many new hulls of
beams were installed, with the class. This construction
an additional fifth beam limitation left the Ortacca as a
facing rearward between a pair of rare variant.

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 13


Into the Fire

Narn T’Dok
Escort Carrier
by Tyrel Lohr
Following several
campaigns against neighboring
worlds, the Narn began relying
armed for combat. These bases are more and more on their larger
Minbari Ashraal typically deployed in numbers and T’Loth cruisers for power
Guardpost are commonly supplemented with projection. This left the older
T’Rakk Frigates to fill in the
By Paul Brown
unmanned Sheganna OSATs. With
their lower construction costs, the gaps, providing support for the
Whereas the Sheganna
Minbari are able to more effectively more valuable cruisers.
OSAT is a deployable, cheap static
cover a planet’s orbit with multiple The T’Dok Escort
defence unit the Ashraal is designed
Ashraals than with the more Carrier is a modification of the
as a more permanent, smaller
expensive and restricted Norgath. T’Rakk designed to provide
substitute for the Norgath to only be
Serving onboard an Ashraal, as with Narn fleets with additional anti-
deployed deep within Minbari
any defensive installation, is fighter support. Providing
territory. Typically found around
considered disdainful to the Warrior excellent Twin Array coverage,
colony worlds, the Ashraal is most
Caste, though there are those as well as a flight of Goriths, the
prevalent within the Protectorate
among the caste who realise the T’Dok is meant to escort T’Loths
systems where the cost of a Norgath
greater honour and sacrifice in into battle and protect them
is far too prohibitive to warrant its
performing constant from enemy fighters at all costs.
construction. The small base is
vigilance over This variant was easy to
constructed with a central
Minbar and her produce, and effective for its
habitation hub encircled by
sister worlds. lower cost. Despite this the
a rapidly rotating outer
T’Dok was largely replaced by
section. The outer ring
the growing numbers of T’Loth
contains most of the
and newer Narn ship hulls being
armament in the
deployed by the Regime.
form of four
neutron and
fusion cannons at
various points, located
along the ring.
Secondary armament
consists of three Electro-
pulse guns on the central
section. The Ashraal has no
fighter capacity and must instead
rely on planet-based facilities or in-
system fleets for fighter cover,
though each base does carry a small
compliment of flyers that may be

14 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire

Narn Ja’Korr
Heavy OSAT
By Paul Brown
Forming the centrepiece
of any defensive network, the
Narn T’Sok Narn Na’Tal Early Ja’Korr is the heaviest
Heavy Cruiser unmanned installation fielded by
the Narns. Unlike the prevalent
Destroyer By Tyrel Lohr
The Na’Tal Early Cruiser was T’Gan, the Ja’Korr relies on
By Paul Brown one of the first military design projects direct-fire weaponry for most of
Coming into service in the to emerge from the Narn Regime its offensive firepower rather than
early 2230s, the T’Sok was following the successful guided and proximity munitions.
created as a long range patrol implementation of the END Project that Main armament consists of three
craft for the Narn Regime. Using spawned such ships as the T’Rakk and heavy weapons: one pulse
the T’Rakk as a starting point, the T’Loth. Following the Narn’s early cannon and two laser cannons
hull was heavily modified from the conquests it was determined that a mounted along the same spine
ground up with additional new light cruiser was needed to of satellite. Flanking this trio of
structures added, significantly supplement the existing early T’Loth deadly weapons are two small
beefing up the structure. Few can Assault Ships. missile racks that are designed
tell that it is related to the T’Rakk The Na’Tal is larger than a to destroy incoming fighters.
without the help of prior T’Rakk and similarly better equipped Though both the Ion Torpedo and
knowledge. The T’Sok entered to handle the enemy threat. Two Energy Mine are effective at
only limited production, and medium laser cannons and one heavy destroying enemy fighters they
though a vessel appreciated by plasma cannon make up the majority ultimately lack the long range
her captains, it failed to gain of the ship’s anti-ship firepower. The accuracy against smaller targets
serious popularity. One of the ship’s secondary arsenal of five twin and so the Ja’Korr was equipped
main failings was seen as its lack arrays provides close-in defense with highly manoeuvrable, low-
of hangar capacity for fighters, against fighters and small combat yield warheads. Its weaponry is
such as that of the Ka’Tor Battle ships. Visually the Na’Tal betrays rounded out with a pair of twin
Destroyer. Lacking fighters, it was design aesthetics similar to those arrays on the central body. The
ill suited to combat most raiders found in the G’Quan, T’Rakk, Dag’Kar Ja’Korr is an effective ship killer
and other opponents who and Bin’Tak. The basic shape of the and is a prime target for most
favoured cheap fighters over ship resembles a synthesis of the races making assaults against
larger ships. Most T’Soks were T’Rakk and G’Quan hulls, though the Narn holdings. Due to its size,
soon relegated to auxiliary forward prongs have a quality similar the Ja’Korr sees deployment
positions or training facilities. Its to the Dag’Kar and the dorsal spire is only in larger, more important
greatest achievement was to similar to that of the Bin’Tak. areas and is typically coupled
serve as inspiration for the The Na’Tal Early Cruiser did with T’Gans and minefields. Its
venerable Var’Nic destroyer which not serve for long in the Narn fleet cost, however, has limited its
entered service in 2241. All T’Soks before being replaced by other more deployment to approximately
which remained in service during capable combat craft. The Narn one unit for every five other
the War of Retribution are moved away from fielding light cruiser OSAT units though the makeup
believed to have been destroyed. hulls in the future, instead investing of individual defence grids will
their assets in either smaller, cheaper vary.
destroyers or larger heavy cruisers.

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 15


Into the Fire
Pak’Ma’Ra Pes’ta’lu
Destroyer
By Tyrel Lohr
An early Pak’Ma’Ra destroyer design,
the Pes’ta’lu is much more combat oriented
than some Pak’Ma’Ra ship designs. The
Pes’ta’lu is equipped with enough cargo to
run short priority shipping runs, typically
transporting a small quantity of valuable parts
Pak’Ma’Ra Tar’tek’zon Long or goods to individual buyers. Most of the
time, however, the Pes’ta’lu Destroyer serves
Range Cruiser on the edge of Pak’Ma’Ra space, defending
By Charles “Danesti” Haught Pak’Ma’Ra traders from raiders and other
Pak’ma’ra curiosity inspired them to travel all over opportunists looking to capture some of the
the galaxy, many making their way beyond the borders of valuable Quantium 40 shipments making
the Centauri, Minbari and Hyach. In these travels they came their way out of Melat.
across several newly established governments, many of The Dilgar War was the great conflict
which had been former Centauri subjects, including the for the Pes’ta’lu Destroyer and many of the
Territorial Annex of the Xothan Autocracy, the Nashani, and craft served as heavy escorts for the
the Medushaans, as well as the Orieni Empire. Through Pak’Ma’Ra relief convoys breaking the Dilgar
exploration into these areas of space they expanded their blockade to bring emergency supplies to the
trade operations. Due to the remoteness of these new trade embattled League worlds. The Pes’ta’lu
partners, the outgoing cargo from the Pak’ma’ra homeworld proved a worthy adversary for the likes of
was often restricted to highly valuable processed ore and the Jashakar and Ochlavita and helped to
Quantium 40. But as this traffic increased so did the amount preserve Pak’Ma’Ra lives and cargo during
of Pak’ma’ra shipping that fell prey to raiders. those treacherous days. Many Pes’ta’lu
The Pak’ma’ra decided to build a long-range cruiser Destroyers were conscripted into Alliance
capable of carrying decent amounts of these precious duty to help during the final push to Omelos,
cargoes and delivering them to their destination safely. The providing fast reaction support for the larger
Tar’tek’zon was born from this need for a large cruiser capital ships of the Earth Alliance and Yolu
capable of defending its valuable holds. These ships were forces.
quite an unpleasant surprise to the first raider groups that The Pes’ta’lu Destroyer served within
attacked them thinking they were nothing more than the Pak’Ma’Ra navy for decades after the
ponderous Pak’ma’ra freighters. And despite the shortage Dilgar War, eventually being replaced by the
of Pak’ma’ra pilots, these ships always carry fighters if they newer Urik’hal Fast Destroyer. The Urik’hal
are traveling any distance from Melat. has many design characteristics in common
As the war with the Dilgar reached its peak and the with the older Pes’ta’lu, notably the emphasis
Pak’ma’ra were becoming more desperate to get supplies on speed and a heavy hitting armament.
through Dilgar-controlled space, more and more Tar’tek’zons Pes’ta’lu Destroyers remained
were recalled from their previous duties. While they proved in service after the introduction
more successful in completing their runs than any other class of the Urik’hal but were
of Pak’ma’ra ship, they often sustained heavy losses. Still, relegated to secondary
in any battle that the Pak’ma’ra took part, Tar’tek’zon Cruisers positions and less
led the charge. important duties.
As newer and more powerful warships were
commissioned the Tar’tek’zons were typically scrapped,
mothballed or stripped for additional cargo space. What had
once been the mightiest ship in the Pak’ma’ra Navy faded
into obscurity over the next 40 years.

16 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
Yolu Gelnarte Devaskur War Cruiser
Heavy By Jeremy Ward

Battlecruiser During the turning of the Dilgar War in


2231, the Dilgar War Council began to see a
By Tyrel Lohr desperate need for a front-line cruiser to lead
The Yolu at one point in medium and heavy pentacans against the
their history experimented with Alliance. The Mishakur was too rare and
the possibility of deploying valuable to risk, and none of the other designs
Heavy Molecular Disruptors fielded by the Dilgar had the direct firepower to
within their fleet. These larger lead the pentacans in attacks on enemy cruiser
versions of the standard squadrons. Earth vessels, while technologically
Molecular Disruptor have inferior, possessed immense amounts of
enhanced range and damage, resiliency, allowing them to shrug off Dilgar heavy
allowing the Yolu vital mid-range weapons fire. This allowed Earth to negate the
firepower. Heavy Molecular Dilgar’s range advantage, allowing them to reach
Disruptors are also more damaging than standard close range and blow Dilgar ships to pieces using
molecular disruptors, providing even more destructive plasma and particle fire. The Dilgar did not enjoy
potential to the existing Yolu fleet. The promise of both fighter superiority over the Alliance as well, which
extended range and higher damage was simply too great meant that the Dilgar would eventually lose in a
for the Yolu to turn down. war of attrition. A new unit was needed to break
The Gelnarte Heavy Battlecruiser was the first the deadlock. So construction began on a new
vessel to be equipped with these new weapons. Larger heavy front-line cruiser, incorporating Dilgar and
than an Aluin Gunship, the Gelnarte is equipped with four EA design methods. Dilgar ships tended to be
Heavy Molecular Disruptors. The ship’s weapon emitters light on structure, favoring firepower over
occupy the entire forward section of the ship, leaving little resiliency. The Devaskur was designed to
room for other weapons, let alone the ship’s forward supplement the Mishakur, acting as the pentacan
mounted jump engine. The four guns do however give leader, and eventually replacing the Leskrati as
the Gelnarte enough forward firepower to destroy most enemy the main jumpship. She carried 18 fighters, giving
mainline cruisers in a single salvo. her an advantage over most other heavy cruisers
The Yolu ultimately decided against the use of the of the League and Earth. The Devaskur
Heavy Molecular Disruptor. Despite this, the Gelnarte concentrated on the use of an intensive heavy
Heavy Battlecruisers that had already been produced were weapon armament, using three heavy bolters
kept in service to provide heavy fire support to existing and two quad pulsars to blast ships apart. Her
Yolu war fleets operating along their border. These craft three squadrons would overwhelm the capital
saw conflict during the Dilgar Invasion, taking part in many ship units of most opponents, and gave devoted
engagements, including the Battle of Omelos. Few Dilgar fighters support to Ochlavita strike groups. They
ships could stand up to the damage output of a single also added two missile racks for mid-range
Heavy Molecular Disruptor, and it was the Gelnarte Heavy power and support, as well as eight scatter-
Battlecruisers that proved invaluable in cutting through pulsars and four energy pulsars to engage
Dilgar cruiser lines during the last battles of the war. fighters and small ships. The Devaskur was an
impressive design, but the Dilgar never had
enough resources to construct them on a large
scale. They served to strengthen the Dilgar
defensive lines, doing especially well against
Hyperion squadrons and Markab cruisers.
Eventually there were no resources left, and the
last Devaskur was destroyed ramming the
Markab command ship for the Drol sect at the
battle of Omelos.

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 17


Into the Fire

Born of Fire:
The Babylon Project - Release 2

systems to adapt them to the Babylon 5 Wars fans will be well


A Review of the Babylon 5 universe. One of these acquainted with, Release 2 was
total conversions utilized the released early and consequently
Babylon 5 / Freespace 2 Freespace 2 game engine. contains several if not many errors.
Conversion When the first release came The first thing I needed after
By Paul Brown out I was as excited as anyone else downloading and installing the main
and downloaded it immediately after file was a small patch to make the
The cancellation of the hearing news of it. But, while initially missions playable as it was
Babylon 5 Simulator Into the Fire impressed, my interest waned impossible to pass the opening
fuelled a lot of dissent among because of the limited range of ships, mission despite achieving all
Babylon 5 fans who were hoping to lack of exciting or involving missions objectives within. Luckily for the
jump into the seat of a Starfury to and it generally wasn’t as fun as I player, there are several other
blast boneheads and Raiders just as was hoping it would be. So when I campaigns designed by third parties
Star Wars fans were able to fly X- heard that Release 2 was available to download as well. But the one
Wings and Tie Fighters. While the for download I was not as excited, campaign I downloaded, the Tale of
movement to revitalise the game but in the end I decided to give it a the EAS Janus, is not without its own
ultimately failed, the dream for a shot. problems. For instance there is a
Babylon 5 flight simulator did not. A As it turns out my reserved mission depicting the Black Star’s
group of dedicated fans began approach would not be without ambush of the Lexington fleet. The
working on modifying existing game justification. In a manner that all ship that the player is assigned to, a

18 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
Nova Dreadnought, is supposed to as artistic
flee the battle area but instead stays license. As I
within range of the Sharlin and slowly have some
destroys it because the Sharlin, experience
without orders, simply sits there and designing missions
takes it. Meanwhile the player is myself, I would have
suppose to defend the Nova, mainly probably done things
against asteroids, but this mission is differently.
ultimately futile because the Nova But negative
never leaves the asteroid field and comments aside, the
so just as the Nova will eventually positives in this release far
destroy the Sharlin, so will the outweigh any inherent problems. A Centauri Sentri
asteroids destroy the Nova. Several The first thing people will notice attacks its target.
of the Release 2 missions also to my which is improved over Release 1 is
mind have poor design choices the amount of available ships, in enjoyable. In
integrated into them. Particularly with particular, player-flyable ships. The particular, those missions where the
ships arriving or mission objectives. player is able to fly Zephyrs (Delta- player flies Narn or Centauri fighters.
One mission where the player is Vs), Auroras, Thunderbolts, Sentris, Though I absolutely loathe the
supposed to defend a G’Quan while Frazis and probably Nials, though no Centauri in Babylon 5 Wars I must
it escapes an ambush has the ship missions feature the player as a say that the Sentri was by far the
transmitting a final ‘we’re doomed’ Minbari. In addition to these fighters, most enjoyable fighter to pilot.
message when the hull hits one there are new ships for the Centauri Possessing a high rate of fire, good
percent. Yet the problem is, the ship and Narn plus about a half-dozen missiles and nice manoeuvrability
isn’t dead at one percent, the Earth Alliance and civilian vessels. I’ve found myself replaying the Sentri
designer only assumes it will be. And The release seems to be geared mission several times over. Now if
so during one of my attempts at this mainly towards Earth-Minbari the description of the fighter I gave
mission the ship actually escapes conflicts or Earth Civil War battles. you doesn’t sound entirely accurate
with one percent hull remaining and Consequently, most of the third-party then you’re right, it isn’t. The most
technically I complete my mission but campaigns in development are accurate fighters in terms of weapon
I still fail my objectives because the geared towards these conflicts. sounds and rate of fire are the
primary goal is to not have the Though I must say that several Aurora, Thunderbolt and the Zephyr.
message sent rather than having the notable ships, including the Minbari The rest vary somewhat from what
ship leave alive. There’s just a few White Star, are absent from the we see on the screen and all fighters
odd choices in the mission design release. have the ability to carry missiles,
department. Some of them aren’t Problems with the campaign though the guns remain the primary
actually problems in the mission as structure aside, several of the non- weapons. I quite like what they’ve
above, but can be simply put down campaign missions are very done with the fighters as some

Two Hyperions fly through the night


with their Starfury escort.

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 19


Into the Fire
included, and anyone who has the
game will also have FRED2 which
allows them to make new, better
missions. Thus anyone can
overcome the one problem of the
release itself with a few hours of
work. You, the reader might be
saying, “this is all good and stuff but
I don’t have Freespace 2 so I can’t
play it anyway”. But that isn’t a
problem, with the source code
released and people working on it
anyone can download the game. As
far as I’m aware the source code is
still somewhat buggy and the
Babylon Project has not yet been
released for the Source Code Project
but with enough work it can be. I
have however heard rumours of
waning interest among The Babylon
Project members because the traffic
variety would ultimately be needed. as simple as adding a new model on their forums has decreased
The bottom line with this and weapons for said ship. Another compared to what it was in the past.
release is not that it is necessarily problem lies in pulse weaponry. The Though these rumours are simply
phenomenal in its own right, but that only ship weapons that are fired in a rumours, there is the obvious danger
it has the potential to be so. The series of pulses are swarm missiles. that if people aren’t interested in the
greatest contributing factor to this A problem arises because of the fact work TBP is doing, that the work
has been the public release of the that the engine code expects the simply won’t continue. That’s a
Freespace 2 source code. What this pulse weapons to home in on their danger in any fan-made project.
means is that the code can be target, so they are not fired exactly What you the reader can do to
improved to adapt the engine to at the target and thus miss. The prevent this is to go to their forums,
Babylon 5. As it stands at the player for instance can fly straight at express your support, download the
moment, several things are quite a Centauri Vorchan without fear of materials and possibly even
obviously missing. First is the need being hit because its twin array fire volunteer to become involved in the
for a “gunship.ai”, or in other words will fly right past the fighter. project. Because I am a firm believer
the game needs programming for Overall I’d give The Babylon that this project will only get better
the computer to accurately fly small Project Release 2 a four out of five. and better with each new release,
manoeuvrable ships such as the Many of the problems lie in mission the only problem is keeping the
White Star and the entire Drazi fleet. design, not the fundamentals of the interest between those releases but
As no ships in FS2 act in the way game. The ships, the music, and as I’ve stated that’s easily fixable with
that these ships would act, it is not sounds are all great for what is a visit and a few kind words for their
work.
* * *
Related Links:
The Babylon Project homepage: http://freespace.volitionwatch.com/babylon/

Freespace Source Code Project: http://freespace.volitionwatch.com/fsscp/


Hard Light Productions: http://www.3dactionplanet.com/hlp/

20 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
My first problem players developing the Nashani and
came pretty quickly. I had Mendushaan to coordinate our work
always been of the opinion and avoid duplication. And the work
that AoG had badly down- they have done so far is really good
played the Centauri. While (thought I would work in a plug for
I understand that there are you guys).
game balance issues, I This project has been in the
believed it went beyond that. makings for a very long time and
So I laid down the direction while it is close to completion, it does
in which I would proceed require more playtesting and
and began to construct a adjustments pending feedback. I am
couple of ships. I was not excited by the prospect of both being
totally pleased with the near completion and finally getting
outcome, so I contacted a out something that I feel could help
Prometheans couple of players for input
(again, great thanks go out
bring about the next “phase” of the
game (OK, maybe I am being a
to Tyrel and Hyperion). touch over-confident, but what the
We worked to make hell).
Centauri ships for the sure the tech developments I was Alright, to the good stuff, the
“Legions of Fire” Trilogy steering the Centauri toward were first ship to see the “light”. The
By Charles Haught a.k.a. consistent with some of AoG’s Diabla, a ship originally envisioned
portrayal of the Centauri and with and named by Hyperion. This ship
Danesti
what we had read and seen on the began life much like Hyperion’s own
series. We capitalized on the version, as a moderately powerful
I have loved Centauri ships flexibility of the Centauri fleet, Centauri cruiser. As I drew up the
since I watched the first Vorchan torqueing it up a notch. I also felt other ships I recognized the need for
squadron attack a G’Quan. They are that the Centauri would continue with a support cruiser both for large
certainly the race I use most often stealth development (much like Centauri fleets and for the wolf packs
when playing B5W. When I found Reid) and while the Centauri were of Demos, Demos upgrades,
Hyperion’s site my love only not ready for Hyach style sub replacement and wolf pack
increased, his kit bashing adding fire technology, they did deserve a step command ships (now if that is not
to the flames. Thanks to him and up from the CSS. bait I don’t know what is). Designed
my own tinkering with Illustrator I It was recently that I began to provide medium range support to
probably have as many, maybe even thinking about the lack of “targets” these units, it is capable of laying
more, ships for the Centauri as AoG for my ships. In the trilogy they never down advanced fire to soften up a
designed for the entire game (and if engage the Interstellar Alliance. I target as well as possessing a
you think I am exaggerating just ask had entertained the idea of decent amount of the up close and
him or Tyrel). introducing some new ships for the personal firepower one would expect
I had started several projects established B5W races (which will from a ship designed to fight along
involving the Centauri over the years, probably still happen) as the tensions side a Demos/Vorchan.
only to have them languish in leading up to the ending of the books Have fun with it. Go blow the
obscurity. Then Reid published his would certainly cause military build innards out of a Narn cruiser or two
article in Babcom about the direction up amongst the members of the IA. and let me know how it fairs. While
that he felt the Centauri would take While pondering the lack of I am open to any comments, I would
in the “Legions” books. I really liked practical exercise for my creations it please ask you to refrain from
the article and it spurred me to action dawned on me that the Centauri had commenting if you have not used the
(much thanks Reid). I looked at what indeed “tested” their newest toys by ship. I have often found the forum
he had written and what I had expanding back into their territories to be destructive of new ideas simply
created over the years and instantly held during the war with the Orieni. because someone does not like the
realized that creating the ships would I decided to develop a couple of look of something. If that is the case
be fairly easy. these races. I also contacted the I will listen to/read whatever

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 21


Into the Fire
feedback you can give me, but it will
be weighed in the regard it was
given. Play test info and general
Diabla Cruiser
comments can be sent to
Danesti1@aol.com or posted to the
forum. Special thanks to everyone
that has helped me with this project
(I appreciate it more than I can tell
you), and to those that will provide
feedback. Let’s keep Babylon 5
Wars going. And long live the Lion
of the Galaxy!
* * *

This new class of warship their smaller size and the Ranged
started life as a new attack cruiser Array was chosen over the Heavy
competing with the Dargan for fleet Array. These ships proved to be far
acceptance. The first Diabla was more effective in combat than their
commissioned into the Centauri fleet predecessor.
in 2257. This ship was armed with As the Centauri began
two Heavy Arrays, two Battle Lasers expanding Spinward into their former
and two Matter Cannons. During the territory the Diabla served as a
War of Retribution those that command ship for wolf packs of
participated were often used as Demos, Devorex, and Xeroset class
heavy cruisers, a mission to which warships, pending the introduction of
they were not well suited, resulting the Atereax and Incedrus classes.
in high combat losses. These ships were highly valued,
While the design had not adding long-range firepower and
garnered the attention the designers fighter coverage to wolf packs, while
had hoped for, it did continue to be also providing support fire to larger
produced in ever increasing Centauri war fleets. Though not as
numbers after the war. Few were still advanced or powerful as the newer
in active service when the conflict Centauri capital ships, these vessels
with the Interstellar Alliance erupted. are still entering production at a
After the Centauri surrender, a steady rate and are considered a
substantial number of Diabla worthy post by Centauri Captains. A
Cruisers were nearing completion. number of variants of this popular
Work on these hulls was stopped hull exist with several starting to filter
and the majority were mothballed. down into Centauri House Fleets.
When the Republic began By Charles “Danesti” Haught.
rearming itself, these hulls were
pulled from mothballs. Several new
technologies were available and the * * *
weapons load was changed. The
new Engagement Lasers could be
mounted in larger numbers due to

22 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
It would take 20 years of

The
The Terran
Terran combined effort from the
inhabitants and their Vree friends
to construct cities and the
Concordat
Concordat infrastructure necessary to be self-
sustaining.
The GoC was proud of their
accomplishments and realized the
humans have become partially
dependent on them. To break this
dependence, they began to instruct
the humans on the technology
needed to become a space faring
race. Equipped with a few obsolete
ships, these humans, who had
begun to call themselves the Terran
Concordat, began to explore
nearby asteroids in search of
precious minerals.
Located in an asteroid-
dense system, I wanted them to find
my reality of an offshoot human race something valuable enough to make
The Terran Concordat: in the B5 Universe. Over next few them self-sufficient. Instead of just
A Glimpse into the issues, I will give an overview of the planting Q-40 in the system, I
History of an Offshoot TC history and development. I will decided to devise the discovery of
also include some scenarios using Q-60. Unlike Q-40, Q-60 is a
Race of Humans TC ships, as well as those of their radioactive mess that has proved
By Jason Stadnyk opponents, in hopes of generating too problematic for previous races
interest in playtesting. Feedback is who attempted to harvest it . The
always appreciated. (stad@shaw.ca) TC’s determination and
“We give you a choice. Return to
The Guild of Conservation foolhardiness allowed them to
your world with only a vague
(GoC), the Vree’s version of Green attempt an experimental refining
memory of this encounter. Or Peace, made it their mandate to save process to convert the ore to Q-40.
come with us to a new world. several species from extinction. They The payoff was great as the
Help us start a new civilization, were fooled into believing the influx of Q-40 allowed the TC to
saved from your war-ridden world humans were about to be annihilated begin trading with their Vree allies
that is soon to crumble and fall.” by the Streib so they organized a for additional goods to improve their
long term evacuation that lasted lot. However the consequences of
- Vree Telepath Message of the Guild nearly 60 years and transplanted their wealth were also grave, as
of Conservation to Human over 2 million humans from around working with such an unstable
Abductees (1950 to 2010) the planet. material had poisoned several
These founders traveled to thousand workers with radiation.
The Terran Concordat’s the Evergreen System to the second Many also died in freak work-related
existence lies on the premise of the planet, where they would call home. accidents. One such mysterious
joke started between Vree Guilds. The planet’s climate had originally accident awakened the gene
Ever since I watched the episode ranged from deserts to rich forests. responsible for telekinesis in some
“Grail” wherein we were introduced Since originally discovering that of the population, and an
to the Vree, I wondered if there was world, the GoC transplanted three organization not unlike Psi Corp was
truth in the human prosecutor’s ice asteroids and plunged them founded.
claim of alien abduction. The Terran down upon the desert surface,
* * *
Concordat (or TC for short) became creating new oceans of water.

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 23


Into the Fire
The Outside World Torata Raider evolve into the Heltaka), the Zendus
filled a valuable role for Torata
(From the TC Sourcebook)
In 2138, a Markab
Units Privateers. Equipped with a jump
drive and a formidable forward
Raiding group opened a jump armament, these vessels could lay
point into Concordat space. seige to enemy fortifications. Many
Many races employed commanders felt these vessels were
Outcast by their society, these privateers in hopes of reaping
Raiders hoped to profit from invincible and began to place them
resources and technologies from in harms way more and more often.
Vree shipping. Taking the radar their neighbours without the military
blimp as nothing more than a As defences of targeted systems
retaliation that typically resulted from increased, stronger fighter support
GoC survey group, a TC patrol such actions. Many host empires
ship ran up against the raiding began to disprove these incorrect
pled ignorance if a raider was caught assumptions and these hulls began
barge unprepared. While both using their hulls. Attempts to modify
were initially surprised, the barge to be lost in greater numbers, which
the loadout of weapons and led to the extinction of this design.
was able to power up her components helped to make such
weapon and destroy the raider units more like cobbled-
guardship before it could together scows than cutting edge
Raider Hactrus Corvette
escape. warships. Base Hull (Unlimited
The TC was shaken by The Torata were no different Deployment)
this attack and attemped to hunt and financed their own privateer A precursor to the Atlac
down the raiding barge. operations. The discovery of the Corvette, the Hactrus was originally
Unfortunately, the barge was Evergreen System by way of the the Torata Lactruss Corvette (which
able to escape. The raiding Markab Pirates was a blessing and supported three quad-groupings of
party returned in 2140 and was curse in disguise. Evergreen was a light particle beam cannons). The
able to make off with a small considerable distance from the Lactruss shined as an anti-fighter
quantity of Q-40. The Markab Torata. The Uala’s low population vessel, but the raider version
group tried again in 2141, but TC resulted in few ships that could be replaced two pods with the stronger
patrols were now reinforced and spared for such a journey, and medium plasma cannons. Having a
prevented serious attack. These conquest was ruled out following bigger, more destructive weapon
Raiders settled in selling the rumours that the Terran Concordat made these vessels strong in packs.
coordinates for the system to the had the protection of a Vree Guild. The effectiveness of the Hactrus
Kor-Lyan and Torata Actions against a Vree protectorate helped to guide the decision to
governments. Those could shatter the Torata’s Vree trade convert the Lactruss to the Atlac
governments in turn, began to aggreements, depriving the Torata design used today.
sponsor raiding groups of their of access to much-needed Torata designers have done
own to obtain the Q-40. advanced technologies. The Kor- little to cover up their Raider
This continued and Lyans had also begun sending prototype design. The Hactrus is still
constant raiding would last from raiding units to the Evergreen used by Raider Bands today
2145 to 2190. Towards the end system so, not wanting to be left out, (although using the Atlac hull for the
of this period, the TC’s Navy the Torata quickly modified what few addition of newly available
would grow to respond to these ships they could so they could join technologies).
threats until Raider material in the raiding incursions.
losses became too high. Raider
activity in the future would still
Raider Zendus
exist, but raiding attempts were
few and less likely to succeed. Requisition Cruiser
Base Hull (Restricted
Deployment 10%)
Based on the Torata Heltosk
Supply Cruiser (which would one day

24 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
Terran in packs, these vessels allowed the
TC to effectively patrol the entirety
Providence Station
Base Hull (Unlimited
Concordat and of their holdings. They served
Deployment)
faithfully for over 150 years, but by
Protectors the time the Dilgar invaded the Fabrictaed at the same
technological gap had made these docks that would later produce the
vessels nearly antique. The first EA Guardian, the Providence Stations
Vree Zynta Guard Saucer are rotating habitats equipped with
invasion decimated their numbers to
(3rd Upgrade) 30 percent. The Minbari escort meager defenses. Providence
Base Hull (Unlimited groups reduced the number further. Stations are located wherever Q-60
Deployment) The more advanced Tigerhawk mining operations are present.
replaced the Rook Patrol Frigate These stations act as a home for the
The Zynta was the first
shortly after that point in time. miners and a processing facility for
gravitic saucer hull to be fielded in
their valuable ore. Several light
great numbers by the Vree.
Batstar Light Fighter particle cannons were mounted
Operated since the 1800’s, Zyntas
across the hull for defense, but the
have served faithfully as both a Base Hull (Unlimited station must still rely on defense craft
garrison craft attached to important
Deployment) for protection.
outposts and a short-range warship.
Before the Delta-V became As the Ge’ka’dian war
The Zynta’s days were numbered
popular across the galaxy, the TC heated up, these stations were the
when the first turretted weapon
relied on the small Batstar for local first to feel the wrath of Shloc shock
systems began to be deployed.
fighter defense. Proven to be unsafe troops as breaching pods had no
Many were sent to be recycled and
in combat conditions, pilots suffered problem attaching themselves to
a few ended up in the hands of those
a high casualty rate throughout its these installations.
trading partners who had close
operational history. Sadly, necessity
relationship with the Vree.
pushed the design passed its
usefulness and the Bat Attack line
Rook Patrol Frigate of fighter craft that followed was
Base Hull (Unlimited actually a step backwards in space
Deployment) fighter design.
The Rook Patrol
Frigate was the most
common vessel employed by
the TC before the Dilgar War.
The Rook was designed to
give TC crews a vessel with
Attention Centauri Males:
which to patrol their space
Just get a promotion? Need to
without having to rely on
wear your crest a little higher for your new
obsolete Vree craft for
place in society? Are you not sure
defense. These early
what product will make the cut?
vessels mounted two light
Try Noble Essences hair gel. The
particle cannons and two
choice of rich, incompetent ship captains
light particle beans as their
everywhere. Rumoured to have been used
only means of defense.
by Emperor Jeflo the VII. It will protect your
While able to
hair from zero gravity, vacuum and
contend with a small Raider
whatever else space has to throw at it.
vessel, these vessels were
easily destroyed by a larger
foe or by adequate numbers
of enemy fighters. Working

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 25


Into the Fire
Fighting the Bullies NOW AVAILABLE!

Overview Defender: Terran Concordat BARNEY FIFE


With the discovery of 3 TC Rook Patrol Frigate WARS MINI-
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Concordat civilian mining stations shutdown and surrender, usually pewter and industrial dross.
in attempts to take them by jettisoning whatever cargo had been
surprise. collected. Watch for the special holiday
This scenario was a typical BFW mini-chair release
one incorporated into the training Victory Conditions: coming early in November.
regimen of up-and-coming Terran This will be your first chance
Concordat Cadets. Many recruits Raider Victory to purchase the Thanksgiving
felt invincible with the new Total Victory: Destroy all TC military Battle Warrior Aunt Bee,
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Promoted to Officer Training)
w/ 24 Dragon Light Fighters If so, call:
1-800-SAWCYLON

26 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire

a power whose ships rival even races? When creating a new alien
From Concept to those of the Vorlon Empire you know race from scratch the implications of
you have a problem (I hope). the racial appearance are
Execution: Once you have a good staggering.
Designing New Races grounding in the universe in which Even if you aren’t a very
your race is going to exist it is time good artist it can be a valuable asset
for Babylon 5 Wars to quite literally go to the drawing to sit down with a scratch piece of
By Tyrel Lohr board and begin brainstorming. paper and begin doodling what the
Grab a drawing pad, clipboard, aliens look like. This will help you
One of the questions that paper, and some writing instruments get a good feel for what exactly the
has been asked time and time again and set to work. In most cases you race may look like, or at least
over the years has to be “How do will already have several ideas highlight some of their more
you go about designing your own regarding varying aspects of the new important physical features. As long
race for Babylon 5 Wars?” Of alien race. You will use this vague as you aren’t drawing stick-aliens
course, this question is most often imagery during the first phase of the you should be able to see some of
followed by the other perrenial design process to figure out who or your new race’s characteristics
favorite: “Is there any way to what exactly your new race is and come out in the drawing. In fact, the
calculate the point values of new where they are coming from. Here worse your drawing skill the better
units?” No, Virginia, there is no are some of the things that you the insight you will probably get into
magic point calculation system. But should consider at this step of the where you are going with your aliens
don’t let that hold back your creativity design process: as you will have a tendency to
when it comes to designing new exaggerate their key features,
races. Point values can be plucked
from the air through guesstimation;
Physiology calling them out. Someone with
greater artistic skill can sometimes
the hardest part is getting the ideas What does this new alien hurt their cause by trying too hard to
off the drawing board to begin with. race look like? Or are they aliens at doctor up their image or make it
When I first sit down to all but rather a new faction made up ‘perfect,’ and in the interim obscure
approach the creation of a new race of members of another race or the kinds of details that they are
– whether it be for the Escalation looking for by doing the drawing in
Wars universe, Babylon 5, or Star the first place.
Trek – the first question I have to The outward appearance of
ask myself is “where does this new the alien race will help to clue you in
race sit within the context of the to the kind of world that they came
existing material?” It is easy to get from. If the race has thick, wooly
carried away and only realize once hair then it is a good bet that they
you are deep in the development aren’t from a desert world but rather
process that some of your initial a world with a colder climate. It also
decisions don’t make sense or don’t lets you know what kind of hardships
fit within the context of the universe the race could have expected during
you are working with. Oftentimes it the development of their civilizations
is good to look back at the units and from their equivalent of the Stone
An eel-like Borillian. Originally a
technologies of the other powers Age up to the modern period. It will
low-tech protaganist of the Centauri
that this new race will be interacting in a small campaign, the Borillians also inform you of some potential
with to get a good grounding as to eventually were co-opted into the social hang-ups or quirks for their
what you are trying to accomplish. Escalation Wars universe. This is race. If the race was from a desert
If you are trying to design a small the intial concept art completed for world, water might be more valuable
the Borillians to demonstrate their
EA client state and end up creating basic appearance. to them and they have begun

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 27


Into the Fire
worshiping it as a sign of divinity. Or, Another thing to consider like a balloon. The egg sack then
if their homeworld was covered with exploring is the alien’s sexual fills with hundreds of eggs before
craggy mountains the race may processes. For most races this can finally hardening and falling off. At
have adapted in some way, either be a little extreme, but it can also be this point the egg sack is immersed
being able to scale shear rock faces an important element of fleshing out in water and the tadpole-like Antician
or climb like a mountain goat. who exactly the race is. How many children are given their chance to
In regards to appearance, sexes does the race have? Who hatch. Infant mortality is incredibly
one of the biggest mistakes that carries the children after high, and out of any one pregnancy
people can make when designing conception? What length is the only a handful will survive to maturity
their race is to borrow too heavily gestation period? All of these (which is good, as otherwise the
from terrestrial lifeforms. Too much questions can have important Anticians would be severely over
of science fiction is filled with races ramifications on both the physiology populated!).
that amount to little more than “the and society of the alien race. After What does this information
bug men” or “the bird men.” While all, look at the Centauri; we didn’t tell us about the Anticians, other than
these can sometimes be fun and need to know that they had six how they ‘get it on?’ It has important
appropriate in some situations, they sexual appendages or anything social ramifications. The Antician
have been done to death. So, about their sexual nature, but by its society ended up with the notion that
though you might start with your inclusion the Centauri became that expectant mothers should return to
alien race having a specific much richer in background. the oceans of Anticia to give birth in
terrestrial analog, it is important In practice there are very few the birthing pools of their homeworld
when fleshing out your new race to alien races with which I have if at all possible. The concept also
add additional layers of complexity explored the sexual aspect. One of became an important part of their
until you have created something the first was the Anticians, a race that religious beliefs, with the birthing
truly different, but with the original eventually ended up in the pools actually operated by various
species that the race was based on Escalation Wars universe. The religious groups with water
shining through. Anticians are your typical ‘fish head priestesses presiding over the births
What kind of evolutionary guys.’ Humanoid in shape with and caring for the developing young.
process led to this sentient being? green, scaled skin and black eyes
Tracing the genetic lineage of your
alien race will help to flesh out where
(similar to the Greys from the
popular UFO mythos). Atop the
Society
exactly they came from and some Antician’s head is a thick crest, much Now that we have identified
of the basic instincts or skills the race smoother and less fish-like the important physical traits of the
may have. For example, an alien compared to those of Babylon 5’s new race it is time to delve into the
race descended from a nocturnal Abbai. When I was first designing psychological and sociological
predator would likely retain the keen the race I had considered what the elements of the race. Every race
night vision of their ancestors. Or a function of the crest should be. I values different things, and it is
race whose ancestor ’s diet knew from my mental picture of the sometimes important to see if there
consisted primarily of hard shell race that the male crest would be are any important traits or quirks in
mollusks could have strong, very colorful, a kind of mating this regard that could endear
crushing jaws originally intended for plumage as is common among
breaking the mollusks’ hard shells. birds. But what other purpose would
Investigating the evolution of the crest serve? After much
your race over the years can also deliberation I decided that the crest
help you to identify what other kinds was actually the location of their
of lifeforms inhabit your race’s sexual organs and that the Antician
homeworld. Whether they be large, sexual act amounted to two
plodding herbivores or small, Anticians head-butting one another.
dangerously intelligent predators, After conception, the Antician female
you will at least know what kind of then begins developing an elastic
critters your race has had to deal egg sack at the base of the back of A ceremonial
with on their road to sentience. her head that looks and feels much Sshel’ath battle dagger.

28 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
them to other races or cause
potential conflict.
History for what the base desires and
motivations of the race could be.
Within the context the Perhaps one of the most From this point we begin the
existing Babylon 5 races, there are important facets of your race’s process of mapping out a cursory
many examples of racial social background is their history. Because path from these early beginnings to
themes. The Abbai are pacifists, the of this it is one of the aspects of race the perceived modern era. What
Brakiri dislike comets, the Centauri design that you should (and will) major developments fundamentally
are decadent, and the Minbari are spend the most of your time working changed their existence? The race
reserved and introspective, just to on. couldn’t have simply jumped from
name a few. Usually the overriding When you first sit down to their Bronze Age tool making to
theme for a race is easier to develop your race’s back history building starships overnight (barring
determine than the more individual remember that everything you put to mysterious black Monoliths). There
details, but if the race is to have a paper is not written in stone. In fact, has to be a rhyme and reason to how
theme then this is a good time to you should continually be they got to the point they did, and
choose it. Again, refer back to your questioning the dates and events of the race likely learned from the
initial concepts for the race and your race’s history. If they don’t lessons of the past, or at least were
decide if there is anything that really make sense in the context of your unconsciously shaped by them.
sticks out about their personality. An later development then you need to For example, the political
arrogant race with very short- do something about it, but that can entity that you envision your race
tempers are not likely to have tea happen later, once more of your being governed by: where did it
time as one of their racial past times. world is fleshed out. It is because come from? Is it a new
“How is that important?” you of this that developing a new power organization? A synthesis of some
might ask. Well, if the short- within an existing fictional universe past ruling body? Was this a radical
tempered race isn’t up for a nice (Babylon 5 et. al.) is much easier departure from typical governance
fireside tea party then their leisure than creating one from scratch. You on the world, or does it draw on past
time is going to be spent elsewhere know the history of the universe from historical precedents? Nothing
doing activities more conducive to the other race’s perspectives, so you should exist in a vacuum, and there
their personalities. Perhaps they can more easily develop your own should be at least a little bit of
enjoy competitive, combative sports history using that as a reference thought put into how the alien race
to pass the time, or singing point. Did the Minbari fight a got their start.
improvisational ballads about the massive war with the Ghura The history leading up to the
sun, the moons, and the local bar. Matriarchate over the Sol system in beginning of the race’s space faring
The more you know about your 2232? No, so if try putting that into days is mostly back history that
races the better you are, and the the Ghura’s history then people are helps to add extra flavor to the race
better prepared you will be to decide going to scoff and ignore everything and greater depth to their
what they would do in any given else that you have done. You can characterization. It isn’t needed, and
situation. take some artistic liberty with your in most cases you can get by with
Depending on how far you source materials, but be warned that only a few short paragraphs
want to get into the background of when playing in someone else’s explaining what the primitive
the race it can always be fun to begin sandbox you should attempt to use Huckluvians were doing before they
developing a cursory outline of their their sand and not import your own built their first fusion reactor (and
popular culture or racial myths. and call it theirs. promptly blew themselves up due to
Myths are especially fun as it lets you For my more important races a measurement conversion
know what kind of racial legend they I typically start at the dawn of mistake… pesky Imperial system
have opted to bring forward with recorded history and move my way anyway).
them into the modern era. Creation forward. What were the early alien The more important part of
myths are often the best, as they can civilizations like? What did they the race’s history – at least more
often cut to the core of the race’s value? What kind of economies and important to us, the war gamer,
basic beliefs and provide valuable lifestyles did they enjoy? It becomes perhaps less important to others –
insights into the race’s mindset. easier at this point to get a feeling is the modern history that begins
with the race’s entry into space. It is

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 29


Into the Fire
at this point that we typically begin gaffes out before you get to much took part in should be put in their own
exploring the epic rise, expansion, further into the history. write ups and not integrated into the
and decline of our race’s power and With the timeline done it is history of the race unless you have
influence within the galactic time to start converting your rough a very good reason to do so. In such
community, providing the historical historical notes into an actual cases make note of the war and its
background for our ships to exist. background history. Start wherever consequences in your race’s back
When doing this, I often you are most comfortable and just history, but place the blow-by-blow
decide up front who exactly is the start writing down and expanding commentary (such as that for the
race’s primary opponent. In Babylon upon your history. It is Narn/Centauri War found in
5, the Earthers have the Minbari, the understandable if your first draft or Showdowns-5) in its own document
Centauri have the Narn, and the two of the history is not game separate from your race’s
League has the Dilgar and Centauri. supplement quality. It isn’t expected background text.
In Star Trek, the Federation, to be. You will have all the time in
Klingons, and Romulans are
continually at odds with one other.
the world to go back over it and
rearrange, edit, and modify the text
Why is this
Star Wars has a black and white copy, but at this point it really is just Important?
conflict between the Imperials and important to get all of your thoughts Most of you probably wonder
the Rebels. The list could go on and down so that you don’t forget them. why any of the above is important to
on. What foe has your power been At this stage of development designing a new race. For a one-
in conflict with for the longest period it is vitally important that you make off race this level of detail is probably
of time? Who was their toughest different versions of your historical not necessary, however if you have
opponent? This will become texts at each phase of development. any vested interest in the race or
important when designing your ships Ideally you should never overwrite want them to be more than a two-
and technologies, but it also lets you previous versions of your race’s dimension cardboard cutout you will
begin drawing up a rough timeline historical notes or background have to walk at least a few steps
of events by placing the years of the history text. You never know when down this path. Without some sort
conflicts. As you assemble these you will want to refer back to your of racial identity or background to
dates on the timeline remember to initial concepts or historical associate with the race they are little
jot down the reasons for the conflict underpinnings. If you destroy them more than a name. What would your
and the resolution, as these will be in the process of writing future drafts reaction be to the Narn ships in B5W
very important parts of your race’s then they will be lost and you will if the Narn had never been seen or
history. inevitably find yourself wanting to mentioned on Babylon 5? If they
The timeline approach to refer back to them when a piece of were simply a name and nothing
your race’s history will help you to your history seems out of place. more, without even a shred of
sort out the major events and When writing up your background material to go with
determine if there is enough time background fluff it can be helpful to them? Chances are that you would
between Event A and Event B, or if refer back to your favorite game look at their ships and say “hey, good
the timeline needs adjusted. This supplements and take a look at their designs there, keep up the good
let’s you see all of the major events writing style and/or text layout to work” and proceed to promptly
in your race’s history in one place decide where and in what order ignore them. Background materials
so that you can make sure things information should be put. I highly are very important, even if they
look right before you spend the time recommend The Dilgar Invasion and amount to “the Vulla Vulla are bug
writing all of your background text. Wars of the Centauri Republic as men with six eyes, eight legs, and
Oftentimes you will realize that there two B5W supplements to refer to for wear big floppy shoes and big
was not enough time for your race putting together your background berets.” That is better than nothing
to rebuild after the last war, or that sections. Both provide two similar, and, in most cases, will actually
the new super weapon just couldn’t yet different, ways of putting your suffice for at least clueing people in
be developed in the amount of time information together. to what these guys are supposed to
given. The timeline makes it easier As a last note on your race’s be like.
to pick things kinds of mistakes or history, remember that the complete
histories of the wars that your race

30 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
Ship Design and Piercing you shouldn’t compromise
your vision for convenience sake. In
your call as to how you incorporate
their criticism. As I said above, if
Technologies this case, the best option would be the weapon is setup so as to match
Now we know a little to create a new weapon that has a very specific vision or set of
something more about our new race stats much like the Medium Laser imagery you have in mind for the
and can proceed with what is but also has a Piercing option. weapon then you should be more
perhaps the guts of the situation: Whether this is feasible given your inclined to try and find some middle-
their ships and technology. When race’s technology level, not to ground between what other people
first sitting down to map out a race’s mention the technology level of your have suggested and your existing
ships and technology it is important background universe, is something ideas. In the Piercing Medium Laser
to take an inventory of the types of else entirely. example, if critics rebuff the weapon
weapon you see them operating as Now, if the weapon you were saying that it isn’t technologically
well as the general aesthetic of their trying to model was nothing more feasible for a power of your race’s
fleet. than a simple laser weapon, then it tech level, then you should sit down
is fine to make use of these existing and really take a look at your
weapon systems. In most cases, background as well as your existing
Weapons mid to lower tech races (pre- stats and see if the weapon really is
In the case of weapons, you Centauri in tech level in most cases) too high tech for your race or if the
should approach the weapons by will probably make use of many of effect is still justified.
looking at the intended effects rather these basic weapon systems. There In such cases where the
than the weapon stats. Do your is no point in reinventing the wheel technological level of your race is
ships fire beams, pulses, or a when an existing weapon fits your called into question in relation to a
combination of the two? Do any of intended role and effect. Need a new weapon system you should re-
your weapons have an explosive short-range particle weapon for anti- evaluate the stats and consider
discharge similar to a tactical nuke fighter use? The Light Particle downgrading the weapon’s abilities
or an energy mine? By approaching Beam is always a good choice. Can by adding more disadvantages to
weapons design from this angle you it get bland when a lot of the races the system, or taking away
can take stock of just what kind of all use the same weapons? advantages. Again, in regards to the
weapons you will need to match your Sometimes, but it is better than Piercing Medium Laser example,
own personal ‘onscreen’ evidence. creating fifty-seven varieties of Light people have told you they hate it. It
After you know just what kind Particle Beam when the original will is too high tech for your race, they
of weapon types your race will be do. say, especially as they have only
using it is time to begin looking for Perhaps one of the most been in space for a very short time
weapons that fit the bill. You can important parts of developing new after it was developed. In this case,
choose to use either stock, off-the- weapons is to seek outside the damage or fire control could be
shelf weapon models created by consultation as to whether your new reduced to make it a little worse, or
Agents of Gaming or others of your weapon stats are believable or not. maybe make the weapon suffer from
own creation your own. As a caveat, There have been enough high attenuation represented by
it is always best to use an existing unbalanced weapons to grace the giving it a shorter range, increasing
weapon system if at all possible, but B5W community over the years that the range penalty from –1 per 2
only so long as it mimics the type of it is clear that what is reasonable to hexes to –2 per 3 hexes or –1 per
weapons fire that you are trying to one player will be a heinous crime hex.
model. If the weapon you had in against nature to another. Some
mind seems to act a lot like a
Medium Laser, but in your mind’s
leeway is granted to those races that
have achieved a higher level of
Systems
eye you see it piercing through an technology (Minbari and onward), You should use a similar
enemy’s hull and feel that it should but even then these weapons should process as described above under
have the Piercing ability, then you be able to stand up to criticism. the weapons section for determining
really shouldn’t settle for the Medium If peer review leads to what kind of special ship systems or
Laser. Since the weapon that you derision of some of your weapon racial design quirks your ships will
are trying to model is capable of types remember that it is ultimately have. Create a list of the special

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 31


Into the Fire
abilities that the ships will have and bulkheads (Gaim). If the concept for
then match these up with existing your race’s ships lends itself to
abilities or else create rules for new special design quirks then you
systems. Jammers, Computers, should consider implementing them.
and Shields are good examples of The downside to introducing new
systems that you can decide quirks is that it can be very hard to
whether your race has available to properly balance the abilities, and
them. the special layouts can lead to
When designing new problems for certain ship designs
systems I can’t stress enough that that don’t properly fit the mold. The first ever piece of Circasian
you should have a very good reason concept art. Note that the ships
were still much more Narn
for doing so. For the most part
among the Babylon 5 races, special
Ships inspired than their current
incarnation.
ship systems are reserved for more Now that you know about
advanced races that have been in what kind of weapons and often I have ended up sitting down
space for an extended period of technologies your ships will be using in front of the computer and playing
time. Few if any of the younger you can begin taking a harder look around in Illustrator creating
races have special ship systems at the actual ship designs for your numerous silhouettes in an attempt
available to them. race. The first step before you delve to find one that clicks. This kind of
Other abilities that you may deeper into the ship design process random designing can lead to some
consider making available to your is to simply grab a piece of paper outlandish (and ugly!) silhouettes,
race are command bonuses (such and start drawing like you did when but every once in awhile you will
as those for the Dilgar pentacan), working on the race’s appearance. come across a true gem that can
limited stealth abilities, chameleon Again, don’t worry about your artistic end up setting the flavor for an entire
sensor suites, and the like. These abilities – just take some time to race’s space navy.
abilities are not represented as draw several different concept art Another pitfall of many
damageable systems on the ship pieces for you new race. These designers (including many
sheets but it is important to decide drawings can vary in complexity from professionals) is to pick one ship
whether or not your race has the simple top-down silhouettes or side design as the basis of the racial ship
technological or psychological views to full-blown concept line art. theme and then only do minor
criteria necessary to make them In either case, create many different modifications to ship elements to
available to your units. As with actual concept studies using the ship differentiate them from other
ship systems these abilities are also design themes that you intend to use classes. Star Fleet Battles is
typically reserved for the more for your new race. By doing a wide perhaps the worst offender in this
technologically advanced races. variety of concept drawings you will area, creating entire fleets of alien
The final system related area be able to decide which ones look ships that are bland and
to consider is adding actual ship the best before moving on. There emotionless. Try taking your theme
design/layout quirks to the designs. is nothing worse than going with your in different directions and coming up
These include special engine first ship design aesthetic or theme with some truly unique looking
placement (Dilgar split engine only to find out down the road that it designs that still have a lot in
systems or Hurr aft-mounted doesn’t look as good as you thought common, but are still different. Take
engines), special hull configurations it would. If you had only finished one the EA Hyperion and Omega; both
(Drazi side/side hit charts), or SCS you won’t be out much time, of these ships are produced by the
but if you have completed several same power, yet each reflects a very
than it can become very different design aesthetic.
disheartening. Now that you have done your
As an alternative to pen and drawings and selected a few to
paper drawings, you can pursue it is time to do a few more
always simply go to your drawings of it, trying a few more
A quick piece of art for an EA Dilgar War drawing program of choice variations on the theme while
Era Carrier, the EAS Bismark and start doodling. Quite starting to develop basic stats for the

32 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
ship. What classification is the ship sheet. From personal experience I building the skeleton of your race’s
you are working on? Battleship? have found that the more statistics fleet structure.
Frigate? Garbage scow? What type that I write down when designing the
of weapons do you intend for the
ship to have? When determining the
ship on paper the less likely I am to
ever create the ship control sheet.
Afterward
abilities of a ship, especially in Creating the statistics on the fly is, Never be afraid to question
assigning its arsenal, you should rely at least for me, part of the fun of your initial assumptions. In many
more on “What beam or pulse is this putting together the SCS in the first cases these assumptions can be
ship firing?” than approaching it from place. Your own working habits will flawed or simply flat out wrong.
the “Should I put a Light Particle of course vary, but it is something to Don’t be afraid to leave your ideas
Beam or Light Pulse Cannon on it?” keep in mind nevertheless. and SCS sit and simmer for weeks
angle. Making decisions based Typically I will record the or months before revisiting them.
solely on weapon names and basic weapon mounts, calling them The longer you wait the clearer your
performance can often cause your out on a top-down view of the ship, mind will become and you will be
designs to be less what you had assigning cursory arcs of fire to the able to ask yourself one of the most
imagined them to be and simply weapons for future reference. I then important questions a designer can
what would be most effective in the assign a ramming factor to the ask him/herself, “Why in the !@*%
game. Don’t replace that forward design. Out of the B5W stats, the did I do that?!” If you can’t
missile launcher with a pulse cannon ramming factor is perhaps the best remember why you did something
if the only reason you have for doing gauge of basic size and sturdiness then it is time to look back in your
so is because the pulse cannon will and acts as a good yardstick for notes and see if there was a reason.
make the ship fight better. In cases comparing the size and girth of your If you did write a note to yourself and
like that you should always go with ship designs without locking down it makes sense, then you know that
your first instincts. If nothing else the amount of structure per section. it might be an okay thing to keep. If
be true to your initial intentions and If when designing the ship you have you still don’t know why you decided
be sure to keep notes on what your thoughts as to some of the ships to put that extra gun on your
intentions were with each ship abilities (“this ship is a big slow slug, Kleev’cha Battlecruiser then you
design – they will be invaluable in and butt ugly, too”) it is good to jot in could probably just take it off. Same
the future. a note to this effect along with your thing with your race’s background:
As with the weapons, don’t other ship notes. In these cases it if it doesn’t make sense, rework it. I
pin yourself down yet as to the is okay to put down specific ship have found from personal
specific ship statistics. While you stats for maneuvering and the like if experience that, over time, the
are in the early planning stages you know what you would like the details will fade slightly but your
applying such things as defense stats to be and don’t want to forget. intentions will stick with you. If you
values, EW amounts, and thrust Once you are done creating find that your memory clashes with
costs can sometimes be your basic ship designs you will be what was written on the page then it
counterproductive and stifle your ready to move on and tackle filling is probably time to go back and see
creativity when you go to actually sit in the details of your ships and which of the two is better. There
down and create the ship control have been many times going back
over the racial histories of Escalation
Wars races that I have remembered
things occurring differently than I had
written, leading me to realize that I
probably needed to rewrite and
rework some of my background
materials.

Coming Next Issue: Part-II,


providing an in-depth look at ship
and fleet design strategies.

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 33


Into the Fire

is always a reason behind it. obligation to spread their religious


Species Design - Whether it be mistrust, fear,
misunderstanding or even the other
views throughout the galaxy and
crush non-believers. The current
Part 1 typical reasons such as economic, government has been in power for
“Resolution through political, religious or maybe one side nearly a century and was formed as
just is lusting for power and wealth one of the main Churches filled a
Conflict” and sees the other as simply a power vacuum caused by a massive
By Paul Brown people to be subjugated or civil war. Many of the people are
exterminated. Once you’ve decided strong believers in the faith, but there
How does one go about upon a reason for conflict, start to are radical dissidents who do not
creating a new race for Babylon 5 extrapolate why each faction feels conform with the government’s
Wars? I’ve made a few in my time the way it does. How did it get there? teachings and wish to see it
and though many, if not all, have yet For instance if a species replaced, or something to that effect.
to reach completion they still exist simply wants to expand their empire, Once the society and history
on paper and in some cases in ship their own planet may be resource begins to take shape, you can focus
control sheets. But where does one poor or they may see themselves as on less important things such as
start when creating a new species God’s gift to the universe and in turn physiology. Usually, the easiest way
or faction? In some cases, it may the universe as God’s gift to them. to think up a new species is to
simply start with a ship design and Power and wealth are key motivators compare it to an existing animal,
fleet methodology and then I work to conflict, though other, perhaps such as Cats with my Tolkid/
to fit those into a story. But the more interesting, avenues do exist. Rawnjok. Cats always make
factions which I really care for, those But essentially from this one stance
which are well thought out, begin with an entire societal and physiological
one thing: conflict. development can be extrapolated.
What would be the point of These are, I believe, a few
designing warships without a war in key things to determine: How did the
which to fight with them? That’s one current government come to power,
reason I stray from designing races how long has it been in power, and
within the context of the Babylon 5 how long and for what reason has
story line. I enjoy conflict and in order the conflict-promoting foreign policy
to create a new race in B5 I may also been in place. Also what’s the state
need to create a conflict which of society and what are the views of
doesn’t necessarily suit the context the common person? If the common
of the universe. and governmental views don’t mesh,
So I begin with a conflict, or has there been internal power
a war if you will. I prefer the centre struggles or suppression of the
point as being an epic, cataclysmic people? and so on. And from this
war and then to have the little information, you can extrapolate
skirmishes and little wars can be even more ideas such as how did
developed later. So we have a war the current conditions develop and
with two or more factions involved, what prompted them?
and now comes the development of As an example, let’s take the
new species. classic model of a theocratic (religion
First thing to do is decide driven) government and society. The
upon a reason for conflict. Why are race we’re looking at is called, say,
the two sides fighting? Two people the Bobbuns. They’re in conflict
don’t simply hate each-other, there because they believe it is their

34 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
necessarily directly-opposing This should give you a firm
reasons (one wants to spread the starting point for developing the real
faith, the other wants to gain wealth). heart of your new faction. And right
From there, determine the from the get-go, your faction now has
governmental and societal beliefs, motivation, character and,
conditions which prompted those perhaps most importantly, conflict
reasons. And finally, determine how and the chance to develop through
the current conditions came into this conflict. You can always change
being through an extrapolation of the things after you’ve started, even in
history of that race. Other details, these most fundamental ways. I’ve
tend to follow later. Remember you changed my own races many times
lovely aliens, though I’ve noticed that don’t even need to have determined for the sake of improving them. But
no one ever chooses dogs (maybe the winner of the conflict by this point. once you have the heart of your race,
its because dogs are stupid???). After designing your factions you other things should follow quite
Just look to the Dilgar and the Kilrathi may discover that you prefer one to easily . Which doesn’t mean you
for a few examples. From this the other and decide that they will won’t have decisions to make; in fact
selection you can determine their be the winners, or for the time being, there’ll be a great many more
general strength, agility, mental they may even be the decisions to follow. But the important
capacity and other characteristics losers if you find that thing is that those decisions now
should you find it important. The path more have a basis and reasoning behind
Gaim for instance are very strong so interesting. them which helps to keep your
they get marine bonuses while the faction consistent and more
Pak’ma’ra are a bit slow-witted so believable.
they have organisational problems.
From here you can flesh out Stayed tuned next month for
completely irrelevant items. For my some more insight into species/
Tolkid for example, I determined their factional development through the
style of dress, some hand-held beady eyes of Paul Brown.
weapons and close combat knives * * *
for marines, uniforms and so forth.
This is the kind of material which you
don’t really concentrate on doing, but
as you become more interested in
your creation these ideas tend to Design sketches for the
surface. Be sure you have some advanced nebula bases of the
paper and pencil to write them down! Tol’Rawn Unity
Oh and then perhaps finally, give
each faction a name. I always find
names some of the most challenging
parts of designing new species, the
trick is to make it sound kind of cool
without making it sound kind of
stupid. Usually I land somewhere in
between.
So to summarise today’s
lesson:
First, begin with a conflict
and determine how many factions
are involved. Next determine the
reasons for that conflict, remember
each side may have different and not

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 35


Into the Fire
THE
THE ESCALATION
ESCALATION WARS:
WARS:

The ak-Tai Republic


would come to be their namesake.
A Sneak Peak at What’s The Republic stood strong, building
to Come in The War of ever more opulent fleets as a
the Seven Stars testimony to the ak-Tai people.
These “glory fleets” were common
By Tyrel Lohr
among the surviving nations and
acted as a point of national pride. It
A Brief History of the ak-Tai was because of the glory fleets that and their Th’sook allies and became
In this Escalation Wars the ak-Tai built their first battleship members of the Hegemony in name
sneak peak you will be introduced and began the adoption of the only. The Lleskath withdrew from
to the ak-Tai Republic, an avian heavier warships that would become the Hegemony completely. The
species hailing from the outward their mainstay combat craft a century Lleskath felt betrayed and harbored
sectors. The leading power in the later. a deep hatred and desire for
region, the ak-Tai were the principal The ak-Tai Hegemony at the vengeance against the scheming
opponents of the Circasian Empire time of the War of the Seven Stars ak-Tai, setting into motion the bloody
during the War of the Seven Stars. was a faltering alliance. The other outward campaign that would
The ak-Tai Republic worlds resented the ak-Tai’s destabilize the entire region during
emerged from the Great War economic and political dominance the Escalation Wars.
against the E’chekri stronger than over the body. The Lleskath, who
their neighbors, in large part due to were the ak-Tai’s equals militarily, ak-Tai Weapons
their distance from the conflict’s front remained in the alliance primarily out
The ak-Tai have developed
lines. The ak-Tai holdings at Rostata of pride and a sense of duty to the
advanced particle weapons as the
and Vreo had been attacked and oaths taken by their forefathers.
primary starship armament. Basic
brutalized by the E’chekri forces, but Meanwhile, both the Ghotekhens
meson weaponry was developed
their primary production centers and the Solassi were thankful for all
during the Great War in an effort to
never came under fire. Only the the ak-Tai had done to help rebuild
counter the E’chekri’s own advanced
Lleskath could boast the same their worlds, yet they too grew weary
technologies. Early meson weapons
among the worlds that would later of the Hegemony. The ak-Tai for
were primitive and little improved
form the Defensive Alliance of their part ignored the warning signs
over more conventional particle
Worlds, more commonly referred to that support for the Hegemony was
weapon types. The weapons slowly
as the ak-Tai Hegemony. The eroding. The ak-Tai Republic was
improved and the ak-Tai came to
Ghotekhen were all but broken by at its height. Never before had the
appreciate the meson weapons’
war’s end, and the Solassi had ak-Tai borders extended so far or the
ability to bypass limited amounts of
suffered beneath a similar planetary ak-Tai economy been so strong.
enemy armor.
siege. The ak-Tai alone held the It was ak-Tai arrogance that
In addition to their meson
resources and infrastructure to would put an end to the ak-Tai
weapons, the ak-Tai have
launch a quick recovery from the dominance in the region. The ak-
traditionally operated a mix of
devastation of the war. They were Tai’s actions in instigating the War
standard particle, ballistic, and
the first to rebuild and their fleet was of the Seven Stars would cause the
plasma technologies. Most of the
the first to be replenished, made final fracture in the Hegemony. With
ak-Tai’s early technologies were
stronger than ever before. the ak-Tai’s secret agenda revealed,
purchased from other sources,
It was in this cautious the will among the other members
including the Ukal and Solassi. It
atmosphere of reconstruction that to fight disappeared. The
was not until the Great War and the
the ak-Tai slowly but surely assumed Ghotekhen and Solassi ended their
development of meson weapons
the leading role in the alliance that losing conflict with the Circasians

36 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire
that the ak-Tai began devoting large Huras to significantly weaken the ruthless killers for their slaughter of
amount of money and resources to enemy before they entered optimal Circasian cruisers. The Kolanis
the development of proprietary weapons range. Cruiser in particular was unable to
hardware types. The Hura Light Cruiser tangle with the Rytarra and come out
The ak-Tai guard their proved to be a solid light cruiser hull alive. Newer Circasian cruisers
technological advances, even going when operated as intended. The faired better when combating the
so far as to limit the amount of combination of its Ranged Meson Rytarra, but they were always in
information made available to fellow Cannons and close-in anti-fighter short supply and could not be
Hegemony members. Very few arsenal allowed the Hura to suitably wasted taking on ak-Tai frigates.
have managed to finnagle meson protect the fleet from harm. Huras The ak-Tai knew this and tried their
weapon technology out of ak-Tai are unable to carry the battle on their hardest to tie up enemy cruiser
hands, one of the few to have done own, however, and those light squadrons with strike waves led by
so being the Tikan, an ak-Tai client cruisers left to fend for themselves Rytarra frigates.
state on the Lleskath border. most often met a swift death at the
hands of enemy strike units. Thor’usal Heavy
ak-Tai Ships and Fighters Cruiser
The ak-Tai have tradtionally Rytarra Heavy Base Hull (Limited
fielded craft that emphasize speed Frigate Deployment 33%)
above all else. From the ak-Tai’s Base Hull (Unlimited
earliest frigate units to their most The last of the great
Deployment) battleship hulls, the Thor’usal Heavy
modern battlecruisers, the ak-Tai
ships are capable of some of the A new generation of ak-Tai Cruiser is a heavy cruiser in name
most amazing feats of frigate designs began to emerge just only. The Thor’usal is descended
maneuverability that any power has before the War of the Seven Stars. from the ship lineage started with the
ever seen. The ak-Tai craft operated More aggressive and deadly than Pro’tith Battleship during the ‘glory
during the War of the Seven Stars their predecessors, these ships fleet’ era of Hegemony ship
were no exception. The quality of incorporated a century of construction and is in fact more of a
the ak-Tai navy again forced the technological advances, creating a pocket battleship than a real heavy
Circasians to rely on their greater cutting edge warship design capable cruiser.
numbers and better training to gain of besting those of other races. The ak-Tai love for the
an even footing. One of these new frigate battlecruiser led to a gradual waning
The ships detailed below hulls was the venerable Rytarra of interesting in battleship hulls.
provide a broad look at the types of Heavy Frigate. This jump engine Despite being dressed up as a heavy
vessels operated by the ak-Tai. A equipped frigate was meant for long- cruiser design the Republic’s leaders
complete order of battle and history range attack missions during times knew a battleship when they saw
of the war will appear in The War of of war, or as fast reaction patrol units one. Despite this they accepted the
the Seven Stars supplement. along the ak-Tai borders. The craft, a lasting legacy of the days of
Rytarra’s four forward-mounted the glory fleets and their menacing
Meson Bolters gave it an impressive centerpiece units. Because of the
Hura Light Cruiser first strike ability that would leave ak-Tai outlook on battleships in
Base Hull (Unlimited most enemy destroyers and light general, and Thor ’usal Heavy
Deployment) cruisers in flames in short order. The Cruisers in particular, very few
The Hura Light Cruiser was inclusion of decent anti-fighter Thor’usal Heavy Cruisers were ever
designed to take full advantage of defenses also ensured that the built.
the new Ranged Meson Cannon that Rytarra could not easily be swarmed The Thor’usal itself is an
had recently been developed by ak- and subsequently destroyed by admirable warship, the strongest
Tai scientists. Long-range fire enemy fighter units, a flaw in the craft in the ak-Tai fleet at the time of
support units, the Hura Light heavy frigate designs of other its construction. The ship is both
Cruisers were used to escort other powers. equipped with the best in ak-Tai
larger cruiser classes into battle. The Rytarra Heavy Frigate weaponry and armored using the
The ak-Tai’s intent was to use the earned itself a reputation for being densest, most expensive composite

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 37


Into the Fire
alloys available. Few ships of the
day (barring the Ukal or Kholran)
could take on a Thor’usal on an
IN BRIEF...
individual basis, and during the war
it often took multiple enemy cruisers Fleeing the Cylon
to take down a single Thor’usal. Tyranny...
Lasal Strike Fighter
Base Hull (Unlimited
Deployment)
The quintessential ak-Tai
interceptor fighter design, the Lasal Battle Spoo Updated
Strike Fighters were the primary Todd Boyce has updated his Battle
fighter units based on ak-Tai ships Spoo site, adding several new
during the War of Seven Stars. Battlestar Galactica ships. Be sure
Nearly 80% of all fighters that saw
service during the war were of the
to check out the site and take a look
at the new Colonial and Cylon units.
The Great
Lasal class, the balance comprised Crusade
of either older or highly specialized URL:
fighter designs. http://ravensbranch.allen.com/
The Lasal Strike Fighters battlespoo.html
excelled at interception duties, using
their high thrust and heavy hitting
Paired Meson Bolts to take down New Babylon 5
enemy light and medium fighters in
a single pass. The heavy armor of
Project?
the fighter also helped to protect the
craft from damage from the weaker JMS reports on two new B5
guns of foreign contemporaries. projects in the works
“...To the many questions
Full details on the ak-Tai Republic, that have arisen here of late...yes,
along with the other members of the as I mentioned before, there is the
Hegemony, will appear in The War possibility of something Babylon 5
of the Seven Stars supplement. related on the horizon, but again I The Rebirth of the
* * * don’t want anyone getting excited Orieni Empire
until we know if either one of these From the minds that
two projects is going to actually brought you the Free Human Union
come to fruition. We should know come a new supplement to the
where this lands in the next few Babylon 5 Universe detailing the
weeks. The only thing I will say is rebirth of the Orieni Empire and
that they’re not print projects, so if their Great Crusade against the
you were to assume it’s for TV or enemies of the Gods. Includes
film you wouldn’t be too far off...but modern ships for the Orieni Empire
that neither of them are series. And in addition to a detailed history of
that’s all I’m going to say about the conflict.
them for now.”
Download Now:
URL: http://planetside.firenebula.com/
http://www.jmsnews.com babylon5/

38 THE GREAT MACHINE ISSUE 1 November 2003


Into the Fire

Credits Coming Next Issue...

Editors
Paul Brown
Tyrel Lohr

Layout
Tyrel Lohr

Proofreading
Paul Brown
Tyrel Lohr

Submission Address
submissions@firenebula.com

Distribution Point
planetside.firenebula.com
The Ur-Quan Masters are preparing for war...
Babylon 5 Wars! The Great Machine takes a
look at the craft of the Star Control universe.
Finally players will be able to join in the epic
The GREAT MACHINE is
struggle to defeat the Ur-Quan Hierarchy and
an unofficial, fan-based
their legion of battle thralls. Or perhaps you
electronic publication
are more interested in crushing the feeble
dedicated to the Babylon 5
resistance of the Alliance of Free Stars? In
Wars game system.
either case, get ready for fun!
BABYLON 5, BABYLON 5
WARS, the B5W Core Rules, Send your design ideas and ship submissions
FLEET ACTION, GROPOS and to submissions@firenebula.com. We can’t do
all related material are copyright it without you!
 2002 by Warner Bros. The
contents of this unofficial
publication are for personal, non-
commercial use only. Any use of
these product identities,
Building a Better Sovereign
copyrighted material or
trademarks anywhere in this
document and its associated files Join Tyrel as he re-examines
should not be viewed as a the Federation Sovereign
challenge to those copyrights or Dreadnought and its
trademarks. capabilities in this Star Trek
Original concepts and mechanics
Conversion article.
remain the intellectual property of
their respective authors.

ISSUE 1 November 2003 THE GREAT MACHINE 39