I was reminded by a friend’s facebook post about putting socks and shoes on about the dialog between Sinclair and Garibaldi in Season 1 of Babylon 5. Due to sheer greatness, I’ll post the entire bit of dialog from WikiQuotes:
Garibaldi: This is the part I hate most: the waiting.
Sinclair:Hmm. (There’s a moment of silence.)
Garibaldi: Mind if I ask you a question?
Garibaldi: Okay, it’s morning, you’re getting ready for work, you pull on your pants –do you fasten and zip, or zip and then fasten?
Sinclair: What kind of question is that?
Garibaldi: Well, look, we’ve got two hours to kill —
Sinclair: Forget it.
Garibaldi: Just a question.
Sinclair: Why do you want to know?
Garibaldi: Why do I want to know? Because I think about these things sometimes. I was getting dressed this morning, I couldn’t remember how I did it, and I started thinking about it. Does everyone do it the same way? Is it a left-handed/right-handed thing –?
Sinclair: (incredulous) You think about this stuff a lot?
Garibaldi: Yeah. Look, okay, I’m sorry I asked. You’re always so serious all the time. Not every conversation has to be the end of the world as we know it.
Sinclair: I didn’t mean to —
Garibaldi: Never mind. It’s okay. I’ll just — watch my console. Don’t worry about it. (After a long pause, Sinclair sighs.)
Sinclair: Fasten, then zip. You?
Garibaldi: Fasten zip. (Sinclair chuckles.)
Sinclair: How much longer?
Garibaldi: One hour, fifty seven minutes. (pause) Want to talk socks?
Garibaldi: Just a question.
Sinclair: I’m not having this conversation.
Why is this even a tiny bit relevant?
Let me get back to you on that.
Still, I was reminded that the plotting style of Babylon 5 was my model of a successful roleplaying campaign for years, and it was easy to understand why it served that purpose.
- Each season of the TV show had a pretty defined “ooo!” major arc that was revealed slowly over 20+ episodes.
- Each episode of the show had a defined story that would be exposed and mostly closed – some sort of climax or mini-climax reached – during that one hour
- It had a key group of characters that each got notable screen time and impacted the plot in a significant way; even “minor” characters who weren’t featured every time had major impact (G’Kar, I’m looking at you!)
- “NPCs” were occasionally promoted (Zack Allen)
- It had a whole host of bad-ass villains, all of whom had a rational reason for being “the bad guy.” Even the Shadows.
Even now, in my dreams when I have time and a group to actually run a game again one day, I aspire to that level of integration, from character to macro story, in my campaigns. The above wasn’t any particular campaign, but B5 served as a checklist of how to try and think of how plot arcs fit together.