Babylon 5 and Star Frontiers

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 27, 2012 - 1:26am
I've read a lot of comments on here which mention Babylon 5.

I don't know how many people here are aware of this, but JMS played Star Frontiers.  He was (and presumably still is) a gamer.  He ran a hybrid Spelljammer / Star Frontiers campaign, and pieces of it made it into his show.

The series is peppered with obvious references and "inspirations" from Star Frontiers.
Comments:

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 27, 2012 - 5:58am
We should get an interview.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
October 27, 2012 - 5:10pm
I'd like to see this interview where he gives the revelation.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 27, 2012 - 8:19pm
He just changed the names (in some cases, not very much).


The Link is a chronocom.

The Changeling Net is a holobelt.

The insectoid gangster N'Grath is meant to be a Vrusk, but JMS didn't like how it turned out.  It's only in season 1.  He had Neil Gaiman design a more humanlike insectoid species that is seen throughout the latter part of the series - it's even named after him - the Gaim.  Take a good look at the Gaim's face when it has its mask off.  The eyes are taken right from the original Jim Holloway Vrusk illustration.

There is an apelike alien bartender in one scene in the pilot movie.  It only ever appears there, and does not speak, although Londo speaks to it.  Yazirian?  My kids are convinced that it is, but it could be just an unnamed apelike alien in a show obviously based on Star Frontiers.

The Drakh Plague is the Blue Plague, and the Earth has to be quarantined, just like the plague worlds.  In addition to taking this concept from Zebulon's Guide, the plot of B5 Crusade is Star Blazers.  They have a limited time to get the cure, or Earth will die.  Only one ship can do it, and it has technology given to them by benevolent aliens.  The ship is basically a big gun, and it takes a long time to recharge in between shots.  The aliens who oppose them have organic technology.

The Ipshna are the Ifshnit.

They mention "The Rim" lots of times, and they are not always referring to the edge of the galaxy, but the edge of explored space, or "the frontier".

Psi-Corps isn't even changed one bit.  It's taken almost word for word from page 40 of Zebulon's Guide.  Distinctive uniforms.  Special insignia, by law. 

The One.  They live for the One, they die for the One.  The One Who Was, the One Who Is, the One Yet to Come.  The One Who is Many.  Sound familiar?  Ul-Mor religion, anyone?

Zathras is the Zethra.  Same personality, but different appearance.

The Eorna are the Vorlons.  Where are they from?  Volturnus.  What is their city?  Volkos.  They worship art & beauty.  When Kosh has taken Sheridan under his wing, and is teaching him, he shows him "one moment of perfect beauty".  They cannot show their faces because their children would recognize them as the divine ones.  They uplifted everyone long ago, and everyone sees them as holy beings, just like the Eorna & their "children".  Their voices sound "unearthly". 

The Shadows are the Sathar & Clikks combined.  They are creepy, insectoid creatures.  They can hypnotize people, just like the Eorna/Vorlons.  They work through agents, and manipulate events.  They leave behind black monoliths with weird writing on them.  They blend their technology with unwilling people or animals.  They have a servitor "ally" species (the Zuraqqor/Drakh).  The war against them is the second (SWII), and they return to their old stomping grounds (Volturnus) before attacking in earnest.

From Spelljammer, the Minbari are the elves with their beautiful butterfly/fish ships, and the Pak'ma'ra are the Illithid (aka Mind Flayers) - that one is painfully obvious to any gamer.  Everybody always notices the Pak'ma'ra.  Hyperspace is the Phlogiston & Ethereal Plane.  It even follows a lot of the same rules.  What else is from Spelljammer?  Let's see... thieves guild, rangers, technomages...

Oh, by the way, where do you think the Minbari get their caste system?  Let's see, worker, warrior & thinker (religious)... yes the Mechanons (and, to be fair, also the androids from Gamma World).

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 27, 2012 - 8:36pm
Other than Star Frontiers, the bulk of the series is The Lord of the Rings, and King Arthur.


Kosh represents both Merlin & Gandalf.  He guides the main character (Sheridan) on his quest, and sacrifices himself so that the hero may succeed, yet does not truly die, and returns at a critical time.

The Shadows represent Sauron.  An ancient evil that is returning to its ancient place of power, aided by orcs & goblins (or in this case, Drakh and other dark aliens).  All the different races united long ago to defeat this great evil, and it was expelled.  The rangers wait and watch for its return.  The great eye (or in this case, many Shadow eyes) watches for those who oppose them.

Z'hadum (pronounced "zah-ha-DOOM") is obviously Mount Doom.  Sheridan has to journey to Z'hadum in order to fulfill his destiny, and stop the great evil, which will cause his own eventual demise.

Lorien fulfills the role of both the Elf King and Gandalf the White.  He is immortal, and guides the main character near the end of the story.  Sheridan has to leave before his time, and people cry as he gets on his ship.  Sheridan and his immortal guide sail off beyond the horizon together, along with the First Ones (Tetrarchs) because the world now belongs to the younger races.

Oh, here's another obvious one:  B5 Legend of the Rangers = LOTR.

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 27, 2012 - 8:41pm
Back when he did this, RPGs were considered fair game (no copyright issues), and others stole from them as well.  However, once WOTC got their hands on everything, that practice slowed to a crawl (not a halt).

It's not like he was trying to hide that he did this, and often bragged about it.  However, it is possible that he might be a bit more taciturn about it these days, since he did receive some criticism in the media.  I remember one journalist asking, "Can't you write anything original?", which made him pretty mad.

Specifically, the mind flayer was deemed intellectual property by WOTC, and you could not use it without permission.  B5 was before that.  So, who knows what he'd say about it now.

Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
October 28, 2012 - 7:04am
A journalist asked if he can write anything original? That's a joke. There is nothing original any more. You could even tie Roddenberry's Starfleet in Star Trek to E.E. "Doc" Smith's Galactic Patrol from the Lensman series. Which the Lensman are very much like the influenced idea behind the Jedi and Green Lantern Corp. And that's my beef with it. Once these creators get big fame they act like their ideas were original and never give credit to their influences, Roddenberry and Lucas are the best examples of this and believed in their own greatness and inflated ego. And the media just feeds them more. At least JMS was willing to mention what and where his ideas came from.

There is nothing new under the sun.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 28, 2012 - 7:15am
@ Sargonarhes comments: Hah! we're all idea whores. Some of us are simply more honest about it.

So, speaking of Babylon, who wants to do a SF rip off of the Epic of Gilgamesh?

I'd actually be interested in reading an analysis of the Epic of Beowulf and its roots in the Epic of Gilgamesh despite the millenia of time separating the two. Enkidu and Gilgamesh battling the forest monster could be a forerunner for events in the latter epic.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 28, 2012 - 10:59am

Don't even get me started on Avatar.


jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 28, 2012 - 11:06am
bossmoss wrote:

Don't even get me started on Avatar.

Avatar is Volturnus with a few new wrinkles from other sources thrown in.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
October 28, 2012 - 12:34pm
To me Avatar was Disney's Pocahontas with out the singing.
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 28, 2012 - 1:57pm
iggy wrote:
To me Avatar was Disney's Pocahontas with out the singing.
ROTFL
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

OnceFarOff's picture
OnceFarOff
October 28, 2012 - 3:00pm
iggy wrote:
To me Avatar was Disney's Pocahontas with out the singing.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
October 28, 2012 - 3:20pm
Actually I have heard that same remark from a few people who are not gamers. Seems once everyone watched for the fifth time and got over the visual effects the story was pretty familiar.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 28, 2012 - 5:04pm
that glosses over the whole: "some people are using mechanical bodies (the power armor;/mech) and some are using the avatar bodies" contrast which is not something we've seen in main stream entertainment.

He actually set up a lot of symbolism and contrasts in the movie, the fact that the main character is always wearing a shirt with wings on it (US marine logo, Harley Davidson shirt) until he finds himself

but the Pochantus comment was funny!
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
October 28, 2012 - 5:12pm
I still watch Avatar over Pocahantas.  In the end they make peace by killing the bad guys.  Much more exciting to watch.
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 28, 2012 - 5:20pm
iggy wrote:
I still watch Avatar over Pocahantas.  In the end they make peace by killing the bad guys.  Much more exciting to watch.
it is a little bit more thrilling than Pocahantas
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
October 29, 2012 - 3:54am
iggy wrote:
I still watch Avatar over Pocahantas.  In the end they make peace by killing the bad guys.  Much more exciting to watch.



Yes interesting comment when you consider the bad guys are the Europeans who then went on and created America so you want the current America wiped out.

Yes I understand what happened to the Native Americans both North and South and also Native Africans and also Hawaii Islands and several parts of the Orient was mass exterminations and stealing of their lands but the good guys and bad guys determination can be vague.

Take the SF adventure where basically the plot is for the "heroes" to steal the natives religious artifact to use for their own purposes. Who are the good guys there?
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

iggy's picture
iggy
October 29, 2012 - 7:45am
I'm not getting philosophical about either movie.  I'm poking fun at unoriginal story ideas.
-iggy

OnceFarOff's picture
OnceFarOff
October 29, 2012 - 8:00am
iggy wrote:
I'm not getting philosophical about either movie.  I'm poking fun at unoriginal story ideas.


Funny. When I watched it for the first time, I said to my wife "It's 'Dances With Wolves' in spaaaace"



Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
October 29, 2012 - 2:23pm
I just simply refused to watch Avatar, all I saw it as was a wet dream for enviro-freaks. As his mech suits go, his ideas suck. A group of Heavy Gears could have cleaned house on that planet.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
November 2, 2012 - 7:16pm
The Na'vi are an obvious hybrid of the Kurabanda & Ul-Mor.  They have the mystical culture of the Ul-Mor, but the alien monkey appearance of the tree-dwelling Kurabanda.  They even quote from the module.

The part that puts it beyond question is the mind-link.  They use a tentacle to mind-link with their mounts??  Um...

How about that quickdeath that battles they guy in the mech at the end?  Too obvious or what?

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
December 6, 2012 - 6:37pm
Here's another example of something ripped off from Star Frontiers:

Geonosian

Look familiar?

Zuraqqor

They're even holding the same weapon!

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
December 6, 2012 - 6:38pm
Apparently the Death Star was designed by Zuraqqor.  Who knew?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 7, 2012 - 6:39am
Where did the picture of the Zuraquor come from?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
December 8, 2012 - 7:24pm

Good question.  Your guess is as good as mine on that one.  All I know is that it has been floating around the internet for years.  It is in the Star Frontiers Wiki and on Ragnarr's site.  Seems like it came from somewhere else before that.  Maybe Ragnarr knows.


Malcadon's picture
Malcadon
December 9, 2012 - 1:49am
From the looks of it, a user called "Gergmyster" added the pic to the wiki.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 9, 2012 - 6:16am
Malcadon wrote:
From the looks of it, a user called "Gergmyster" added the pic to the wiki.


Dont we have a gergmaster on this site?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
December 9, 2012 - 9:26am
Yeah, the spelling is slightly different but it may be the same person.  He's not active any more, although I'm still friends with him on facebook.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

iggy's picture
iggy
December 10, 2012 - 10:10pm
I remember this creature from a later D&D or Alternity book or some resource like that.
-iggy

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
December 13, 2012 - 9:02pm
So it may not have been drawn as a Zuraqqor originally, but simply "borrowed" to represent one.  That still leaves the question of which came first, the Geonosian image or the "zuraqqor" image.