I looked through the games on my shelf, and thought about the games that had appealed past and present, and I think I have to go with Margaret Weis Productions. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for most of the Cortex Plus lines, I’ve been using Cortex classic since Serenity came out, then locked in on the Battlestar Galactica/Supernatural/Cortex Core version once it was released. It’s easily my favorite set of mechanics. Funnily, even though I don’t particularly like most versions of Cortex Plus — from the odious Smallville to the meh Leverage, I am somewhat fond of Firefly and think it would handle both Star Wars and Star Trek better than it does the ‘Verse.

I always found the Reavers of the Firefly universe intriguing until the movie ruined it. Oh, look, space zombies… Or maybe “space Crazies” would be more appropriate. I understand the movie was an attempt to wrap as many plotlines from the far-too-early-axed television series, but making the Reavers simple a science experiment gone bad was…lazy.

Worse, it too away the agency of a group that had been built up to be a terrifying, almost existential, terror for space travelers in the ‘Verse, the equivalent of trolls under the bridge.

One of the things that made them so interesting was shown in the episode Bushwhacked. Here, the reavers had killed the crew of a transport, yet left one of the crew alive…why? The man is suffering from traumatic bonding, and starts to see himself as one of those that had tortured and killed his crew. But what if it were more than that..? What if, periodically, they leave people alive to see if they will come find them? What if they recruit..?

What if this was a culture, instead of simply space zombies?

These are people who can pilot ships, navigate, operate tactically, who lay traps…not the behavior of animalistic nutballs. Instead of drug-addled space crazies, what if you have a culture of people that have taken body modification, anarchic tendencies, and counterculture ghettoization to a point where they simple don’t quite fit as “human” anymore? We are talking about a period, post war, where there would be a lot of disaffected and damaged folks looking for…something. What about those kids that want to rebel, or are damaged from their childhood — the sort that fled to the likes of Charles Manson and every other low-rent messiah? They don’t just torture their victims; they do it to themselves! They recruit from their victims, like the character in Bushwhacked, but they also have people out there collecting the vulnerable, the young and stupid, the disaffected war veterans, or the power-mad that cannot succeed in the political systems in place.

They prey on ships, but where do they get that flight data to intercept? Space is big; you’d miss your prey without intelligence. What if some of these folks look and act “normal” (’til they ask you, Hannibal Lector-like, to dinner) and work jobs that allow them to find prey or to recruit. you could be friends with one and never know that the erudite fellow you have drinks with after work would torture, rape, and eat you, were you on a spaceship in the black.

Maybe, like other subcultures, it is fragmented and tribal — they fight each other, as much as “the man.” What if you got that one charismatic leader that pulled the disparate crews together?

This version of the reavers could be more than a campfire ghost story, but a much more dangerous and driven group that doesn’t just seek to terrorize for terror’s sake, but might look to eat its prey — in this case civilization — from the inside, as well as out.

 

One of the bits I particularly liked about Mindjammer, the RPG, as well as Atomic Robo was the way they built organizations up (factions in the latter.) As Firefly is a Cortexified version of Fate, or a Fatified version of Cortex — take your pick — I thought it might be fun to introduce this in the Big Damn Game.

Pretty much any kind of organization can be represented — from an army unit to a military organization, from the local PTA to a company to a government. Like characters, they have the three attributes, but these have slightly different connotations:

PHYSCIAL: This is the extent of the manpower,  physical holdings, or presence of a company. An organization with a local/less than planetary presence is a d4, a planetary presence is d6, presence in one of the star systems of the ‘Verse d8, multiple systems d10, and ‘Verse-wide d12. Blue Sun, for instance, has a Verse-wide reach for its products, but does not appear to be present on every world and moon of the ‘Verse, so it would be a d10 (or a d8, if the GM decides that the company has offices and factories only in a select few worlds of each sun.) The Alliance is just about everywhere in the Black, so it runs a d12.

MENTAL: This represents the brainpower of the organization, and  is the ability to gather economic (or other) data, utilize that for its advantage, to create new product or do other forms of research. The average government of a moon is lucky if it can muster a d6, but the Alliance has a d10 and is striving for d12.

SOCIAL: This is the public relations wing, the reputation of the organization and represents the extent of its reach in society. While Blue Sun might barely make a d10 for their physical locations and manpower, they are a definite d12 Social for their near ubiquitous impact on product and culture, from food to entertainment, to medicine. Likewise, the Alliance is very powerful, but the impact of the War has not yet been overcome and many worlds still look to avoid dealing with the Alliance or actively oppose their operations. That puts them at a d10.

A character working with these groups could, for a plot point, exchange their attribute for the attribute of the organization when dealing with a situation, or to create an appropriate asset. Near some men to help you open that Kuzko Shop-Mart on Regina? A plot point and you’ve got yourself a posse of SHOPHANDS d6 ready to help you establish franchises all over that backwater dirtball! You’ll be home on Ariel in just a few weeks, at this rate! Need a bunch of men with guns to catch those fugitives you’ve been hunting? Good thing you’re working for Maximum Impact Security Services — MISS has offices all over this system and a quick call on the Cortex got you HIRED GUNS d6. Yahoo.

Problem is, if you’re working for these groups, they expect results will be shiny. Screw it up, and your use of their assets can cause a Complication for the company — that Kuzko setup went swimmingly and now you have a presence in the few towns worth a squint…and possibly just raised Kuzko’s footprint in the Border worlds, raising them from a d6 to d8 Physical. Sounds like someone’s getting a promotion!

Shame that hunt for those fugitives went pear-shaped. Might not have been so bad, save for the very public use of MISS mercs in town. Did you really have to take down a schoolhouse? MISS is bracing for the WHERE’S THE OVERSIGHT? d6 complication you got slapped on them. Great work, greenhorn; we wish you luck in your future endeavors…’course, we’ve also slagged your name from here to Blue Sun, so good luck finding legitimate gunwork.

If an organization is hit for more than a d12 complication, it’s “taken out” — if this was a physical operation, like a military operation, this means the unit is either destroyed, or routed and no longer a threat. If a mental one, the research might have wound up a dead end, or bad management led to a hemorrhage of talent. A social event that took out a company so badly damages their credibility as to impair their operations. The organization steps that die down. If they go under d4, the organization is destroyed.

Organizations also have skills — the GM should decide with are appropriate for the organization. They should also have some kind of MISSION STATEMENT distinction (Kuzko’s “Best prices on the border”, for instance…) and two others that are appropriate like Blue Sun’s “Biggest Corporation in the Verse” or the Alliance’s “We’re from the government….” they can use.

An example of an organization might be Kuzko Shop-Mart…

Kuzko Shop-Mart

Mission Statement: Best Prices on the Border d8

Distinctions: Terrible but Cheap Labor Practices d8, Largest Logistics Network in the ‘Verse d8

Attributes — Physical d8, Mental d8, Social d8

Sills: Influence d8, Labor d6, Survive d6

Kuzko started as a purveyor to the Independent movement, but toward the end of the conflict quickly shifted to a commercial focus to avoid any repercussions from the War. Their large Border network of suppliers and buyers allowed them to swiftly gain a foothold in several major markets, and the perception of their having been Independent allowed them to build a loyal customer base. The company is know for having the best prices, for always hiring, and for being a royal pain to work for, with lackluster pay and an aggressive cost containment strategy.

So there’s a quick hash-up of rules for organizations in Firefly. Feel free to comment or make suggestions for how to make them better.

One of the few complaints that we had when we tested Firefly against Serenity was the monolithic quality of the attributes — Physical, Mental, and Social. We felt that this didn’t allow the characters to be unique enough in some ways. So here’s my “fix” for the attributes in Firefly…use the attributes from Serenity.

When making a character, use Agility, Strength, Vitality, Alertness, Intelligence, and Willpower, and build the character for 48 points — that gives you the same d6, d8, and d10 (x2) dispersion of Firefly. You can use these more varied attributes to customize your characters even more. Some maybe your character is very strong, but can’t walk through an empty room without tripping. In Firefly, you might have chosen a d8 to balance these traits, or gone with d10 to model the big bruiser you wanted to build. With this you can give the character a d6 Agility and d10 strength.

What about Social? Here the old attribute would be Willpower.

Otherwise, you roll the same way as you do with unadulterated Firefly.

The latest supplement for the Firefly RP dropped this morning as a PDF; the print book is a few weeks away (my guess.) I had a chance to skim the book well enough to do a quick review of the product. Smuggler’s Guide to the Rim is primarily a GM resource and pre-generated adventure supplement. At 291 pages, almost half of it is a pair of adventure campaigns, maps, appendices with Chinese comments for players to throw off for verisimilitude. The rest of the book is primarily a new reputation mechanic, new templates using these rules for character and spacecraft creation, and the “Good Shepherd Run” — a cargo/passenger run that provides locations, GMCs (GameMaster Characters), and ships for your campaign.

Style: 4 out of 5 — it’s the usual high quality MWP has had since the Cortex Plus lines started rolling out. It’s well written and edited, the art is mostly screencaps from the show, photos of characters in appropriate dress, and some good quality “game art.” The whole thing is nicely hypertext linked so you can bounce around the book as you need. The print version, I suspect, will be softcover and should be a nicely done as the Things Don’t Go Smooth supplement.

Substance: 3 out of 5 — For me, this wasn’t the best supplement I’ve bought, but it wasn’t the worst. If you like to run pre-generated campaigns, bump the Substance up to 4 out of 5. The reputation mechanic is nicely done, the templates for character creation is very useful, and the settings of the Good Shepherd Run is good material to use in a pinch.

Is it worth it? The PDFs on Drive Thru are usually marked down to $17ish bucks. For that, yes, it’s worth it; the print book/pdf combo was $30 for me. Is it worth it? If you use the adventure material, it’s a definite buy; if you don’t….meh….

However, the Firefly line is definitely a labor of love for the people at MWP, and it shows. I haven’t done more than run a few adventures, but I haven’t felt bad supporting the line, thus far. Since it’s pretty easy to tweak the material for the original Cortex rules, if you prefer, I’d say buy it.

Somehow, I’d missed that Margaret Weis Productions were kicking out Firefly supplements at an amazing rate this year. I picked up the corebook about a year ago, and our gaming group did an A/B tet between Firefly and the older Cortex Serenity game to see how they compared. Later, I played in a pickup game with one of the designers of the game, just to see how it ran with someone who really knew the system. Follow the links to see the original review of the game and other observations.

Knowing there was an opportunity to spend money I didn’t have to, I ordered up Things Don’t Go Smooth and Smugglers’ Guide to the Rim for the game. I should be receiving hardcopies soon, but USPS is apparently in full-blown FUBAR mode this holiday season, so they got bounced back. However, MWP provides buyers of the book with a free .pdf of the game, and while the Smugglers’ Guide is not out, TDGS was. This review is going to concern itself with the e-book version of the supplement.

First off, the book is essentially a sourcebook for GMs — the first three chapters are a catalogue of new bad guy NPCs and their organizations, henchmen, and hideouts or ships. There’s a chapter on new ships and distinctions for the same, and a chapter specifically on running the game, and fleshing out towns and cities. There are two adventures that I haven’t read through (I don’t tend to run canned adventures), and an appendix of the new rules and distinctions. The book weighs in at 238 pages, and two pages of character/ship sheets.

The writing is solid, and the editing — which used to be a weak spot in early MWP productions — has caught most, if not all, errors.  The art design and layout is similar to that of the corebook: it’s full-color, pretty, and uses almost no “game art” — that middling quality stuff gamers expect — in favor of screen caps from the show, CGI art, and photos of characters in setting-appropriate garb. The pdf is well-designed, with heavy linking from the table of contents, and hyperlinks on key terms throughout the book. This is one of the big strengths of MWP e-books; they are excellent for use on a tablet or laptop, if that’s how you access your books in play.

The collection of NPCs are good. They are well-designed and fleshed out, as are their support networks. There’s a nice choice, from corporate spies, to crime bosses, to privateers and pirates. There’s a section on using Reavers effectively. The new ships are good, but the artwork does not alway match the description of the vessel — if you’re going to do ship art, make it match the vessel on the page.

The Scheming and Narrating chapter is particularly good for helping new and inexperienced GMs, especially in dealing with the use of assets or complications. In play, one of the issues I’ve seen with Firefly is that the complications can become a bit overwhelming for newcomers. You are encouraged to make them…a lot of them, and tracking and using them was one of the consistent complaints I saw in various play sessions. Unlike Fate, where you often have to spend a Fate Point (plot points in Cortex and Cortex +), Firefly lets you use any one that makes sense in play. This can give you Shadowrun-esque dice pools, but more to the point often “systematizes” elements of play that might be better handled in narration.

Case in point: There’s some great stuff on using the setting to create appropriate complications — like “The Building is on Fire d6” which could definitely be used to help or hurt you, or “Dark and Spooky d6”, which could be used to help a stealth roll or create mental stress from fear or unease. But there was an example that immediately highlighted the issue with just making complications or assets for everything — “Calling for Help d8”. The characters a trapped and calling for help…wouldn’t this be assumed to be the case? Do you need to systematize “Walking in a Straight Line d6”? Without having to use plot points to invoke these complications, as you might in Fate, requires the GM to really sit on the players when they get out of hand. However, that is against the stated goal of Fate like systems, which seek to have the players have more narrative control.

For all these observations, Things Don’t Go Smooth is an excellent, and well-made sourcebook to help GMs bootstrap their campaigns, or fill them out without having to do all the heavy lifting. I suspect, if I run a campaign, i will be using several of the bad guys and their organizations. The GM guidance is good for those who aren’t accustomed to running a game, but will be mostly weak tea for the experienced one. The adventures looked lie they would be good for pickup or convention games, and probably could be mined for material for a self-created campaign.

The physical book is a softcover, but judging from the pdf will be a handsome thing. It’s retailing for $35 (with free pdf download if you buy on the MWP site or from a “preferred retailer.”), and Drive Thru has the ebook for $13. So is it worth it? If you are playing the game, absolutely to either format. If you’re playing occasionally or just need to snag a few things from the book, electronic version might be better

Style: 5 out of 5 — it’s a gorgeous sourcebook, much better production values than necessary for a splatbook. Substance: 5 out of 5 — I was surprised I gave it this, but there’s a whole acre of bad guys and groups to choose from, new distinctions for players and ships, and some good GM advice. It’s a buy.

Here’s a website with a nice set of utilities for the Firefly RPG. There’s a probability generator for the dice pools, starship complications charts, travel time calculator, an interactive map that’s a bit twitchy, and a name generator.

Have at!

So, I got an opportunity at the local Meetup group in Albuquerque to play Firefly with one of the system leads, Mark Truman. I was interested to see if someone with familiarity in the game would run it dramatically differently than I had, and whether my opinions regarding the game would change. We ran through one of the canned adventures from MWP, and he had obviously run the game a few times. It was well tailored to the selection of characters we had. The experience as a player was much easier than that of GM for the game. I found I was having a good time (as I did running the game), but was able to focus on the mechanics and how they played because I only had to focus on one character. (I played Zoe.)

So how did it play? I thought the players dove in well and utilized the rules much more enthusiastically than my group had. This is a typical experience for one-shots and convention games, I’ve found. The simplified character attributes and skills (as compared to Serenity) worked well for the pacing, and the distinctions allowed for some good mechanical advantages for the dice pools. As the night went on, especially in the main action piece, the dice pools ballooned and were hard to keep track of as assets and complications were created. At one point we had over a dozen stickies with notes on the table to keep track of the action. In the hands of a gamemaster with experience in running the game, it seemed to flow no better or worse than it had for me.

So in the end, what is the verdict as a player, rather than a GM? One — it’s still a good game, and I think the rules could be adapted very very well to other settings (Star Trek or Star Wars particularly!) Two — the assets and complications quickly get out of hand, even if players are spending plot point to step them back. Three — the asset/complication mechanic seems is supposed to enhance player contribution to the narrative, but I found it hampered the gamemaster while only allowing a little extra power to the players. How? I noticed that the asset or complications on the table felt, often, like they had to be taken into a account…whether that was the case or not, the sticky was there, crying to be used. Four — the assets and complications, and the plot points, are much, much more manageable than they were in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

The final verdict: Firefly is a good game that is potentially a great one for new players. There are still a lot of moving parts to the game at times, and I think that could swamp a new gamemaster. It’s a buy.

[p.s. A lot of people are getting frustrated (myself included) by the constant delays in the release. This seems to be tied to coordinating all the publishing nonsense that goes with a simultaneous international release — copyrights, shipping, yadda yadda…]

We’ve finally had a chance to finish our A/B test of Firefly and Serenity. The original idea was to run the exact same adventure and characters one after the other and do a comparison for those who might be interested, as well as to assess which rules set might be preferred by the group.

The mission (game seed idea, kids!): The characters get hired by Zeo Genomics, a biotech company out of Silverhold to do a bit of corporate espionage — steal a bunch of newtech bio-engingeered organ replacements from Advanced Humanics on Ariel, and get them to Silverhold. Through a bit of sci-fi technobabble, it’s not feasible to transport them in a cooler for the 10 day trip or so; they are going to be bootlegging these organs in a donor body (ala War Stories). The characters played were a former Alliance colonel and his sergeant, and a hacker. The doctor and pilot characters that were also made were later played as secondaries after the first two of the characters were incapacitated.

There was a bit of negotiating with the sponsor, then getting the team together on Ariel. Much of this happens in the “blackout zones” — areas where war damage or simple urban decay has sections of cities or whole towns off the grid. (Think Detroit…) There is a healthy underground movement(s) in the area, and the characters get the team together, including a med student in his last year of residency and up to his ass in drug and gambling debt.

They planned the raid on the hospital/research center, execute it with some issues of guards discovering them and a car chase involving a Tachikoma-like smart tank, followed by betrayal by the man that was supposed to get his guts scooped out ratting them out. Big firefight in the back-alley hospital they were to do the operation, massive destruction, then a desperate attempt to get out of the zone.

We wound up cutting the adventure in half and running the first half in Serenity (Classic Cortex), and the second half in Cortex+ Firefly. Afterward, we sent about half an hour or so comparing notes and dissecting the experience. Much of the talk centered on certain aspects that are common to Fate and similar products (of which Firefly bears close resemblance.)

K was the one most on the fence over which system he preferred. Our familiarity with old Cortex was, he thought, a major reason to find in favor of the older mechanics; we’re used to them. He found the dice pool mechanics fun — and I think this is one of the major draws to Cortex+ is the dice pool with multiple types (as compared to Fate’s -/0/+ d6s.) It’s fun to throw the bones. He also thought the ability to pick up assets and complications on the fly was enjoyable, and describing them was part of the fun. (During our big fight, we had things like Hemmed In d6, and Burning Building d10, and Stun Grenades Suck d6. The characters used skills test to have Defensible Position d6, and hero points to have Explosives d8, and the like…)

M found the basic mechanics were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer number of things you could do with plot points, and the subsequent increase in complexity due to assets and complications to be an impediment to play. The flexibility that these mechanics give Cortex+ is, to his mind, both a draw and a bug. However, he liked the ability to chose to take a d4 distinction and gain a plot point vs. rolling a d8 to be an excellent way to keep the points flowing back and forth. However, he found the larger dice pools made the mechanic of the GM buying fumbles or botches with plot points to defeat the purpose of big dice pools.

“You roll five dice and get a big success, but then you have to count one or two 1s and got through the buying complications thing…”

He thought that the character design with the generalized attributes and everyone having at least d4 skill was more applicable to small groups, where having overlap between skill sets compensates for characters that are highly specialized, but thought in larger groups, this would dilute the utility of a single character.

His big complaint was that complications and assets quick cancel each other out, or stack to lead to a “death spiral” where characters are injured or so hampered by complications that they are finally crushed under the weight of them and can do nothing. Yes, you could choose to concede a scene or get “taken out”, but that seems not to be the natural impulse of players I’ve encountered.

J found the simpler rules of Serenity to be easier to manage for the player, and the asset/complications of the older system, along with the wider array of attributes allowed for a much more tailored and nuanced character. He did like the speed with which the plot points were gained and spend (something echoed by M) and found it less awkward than some of the free from rules of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Being a mathematician, he was looking at the utility of the assets and complications, and how they play out. Rolling five or six dice to choose two or three, he pointed out, did not create great statistical variation, and M — based on this — wondered if the bookkeeping required to track all the various complications and assets gave a better return than just rolling fewer dice and letting the GM set difficulties based on the scenario.

Some of these thoughts mirrored mine. I find the number of assets and complications that can get added to a scene ned to be limited. I chose to step up complications, rather than create new ones for the sake of easier bookkeeping. There’s a certain draw to having a metric for what’s happening in a scene (oh, this is a d6 hazard! cool!) but I found it sometimes made me feel I had to take the complication into account, even when the story felt like it should be flowing a different way. The let the chips fall type GMs would think this is the way it should play, but sometimes, there’s a movement to a scene that tells you where it should go. That’s the difference, I suppose, between a referee and a storyteller-style GM.

I also found that tracking the fails and botches from 1s to get annoying. If you are rolling enough dice, it’s bound to happen, and if your rolled spectacularly well, it seems unfair to slap a complication or bank one against the players. I do like rolling a bunch of dice, and think that — in moderation — the asset/complications of Fate/Cortex+ can be a cool addition to a game, but I get the feeling that this mechanic (especially when the players are setting the asset or complication) is more appropriate to beginner GMs or those gamers who like a more collaborative experience.

Frankly, I think too many cooks spoil the soup. Case in point, nearly every Hollywood movie or collaborative book series with a bunch of writers sucks. The more there are, the worse it is.

So, in the end, what was the verdict? K thought the game had potential and wanted to try it again, but grudgingly leaned toward Serenity (with the asset/complications rules from Battlestar Galactica [or Cortex 1.1]) over Firefly. My position was similar — I really want to like the game, and I think if we limit some of the use of the moving parts it will flow better — but i lean toward Classic Cortex, as well. M was in the old Cortex box from the jump, and while he liked select things Firefly was doing, he thought these could be effectively ported over to Serenity. J was also in the old Cortex docket. Unanimous, Serenity (caveat, with the 1.1 version asset/complications rules) wins over Firefly.

That said, the game has got good mechanics and would do well mated to the right setting. My mind immediately jumps to Star Trek, where all the characters are ludicrously cross-trained (“Quick, counsellor, drive this big f#$%ing spaceship!”) and the Firefly skills system of everyone gets at least a d4 models that well…but I’m less convinced that works well for the ‘Verse. The book is also beautiful and has a wealth of show information that might help a GM, and is worth it for that.

 

 

Here’s a selection of the characters created for the A/B test of Serenity vs. Firefly RPGs. I think we’re going to start with the Serenity version first, since it’s the one we know, then hit Firefly.

Colonel Atticus Wynn

40 years old, he was born on Persephone to a good, somewhat well-off gentry family that supported Unification. He was a graduate student in politics and history with a promising future in local government when the war hit. He was an officer in the 901st Scout Brigade (Persephone) and rose to the rank of colonel by the end of the war. He was known for his lead from the front style and for speed and tenacity in his operations. By the war’s end, he had moved up to commanding the brigade. 

   While skilled in social niceties, which had helped his career, he was increasingly horrified by the treatment of the Independents by the general command, and made a few impolitic statements that dead-ended his career in the military, and have hampered him since the war. Most of this is due to the animosity of then-General Lao — now the minister of security for the Alliance.

   His family is led by Sir Trevor Wynn, and his family were one of the original investors in Persephone. While his father has not disowned him, he has had to scale back his expectations until the issues with Lao have been resolved.

Attributes:  Agility:d6, Strength:d8, Vitality:d8, Alertness:d8, Intelligence:d8, Willpower:d10; Life Points:20

Assets: Fightin’ Type: d6, Friends in High Places d4, Military Rank d4, Patient d4 (homebrew asset, adds to Discipline, Tactics), Tough as Nails d4

Complications: Branded d4, Credo d4 (loyalty to men, never leave a man behind), Deadly Enemy d4, Things Don’t go Smooth: d4

Skills: Animal Handling d4, Athletics d6, Covert d6 (Stealth d8), Discipline d6 (Leadership d8), Guns d6, Heavy Weapons d4, Influence d6, Knowledge d4, Perception d6, Planetary Vehicles d4, Survival d6, Unarmed Combat d6

…and the Firefly version…

AttributesMental: d8, Physical: d8, Social: d8

SkillsCraft d4, Drive d4, Fight (Dirty) d8, Fix d4, Fly d4, Focus d6, Influence (Leadership) d8, Knowledge (Politics) d8, Labor d4, Move d6, Notice d6, Operate d4, Perform d4, Shoot d8, Sneak d6, Survive d8, Throw d4, Treat d4, Trick d6

DistinctionsMercenary Leader d8 —  Gain 1PP when rolling d4 instead of d8. Lead from the Front: Spend 1PP to loan Influence die to his subordinate on any task.

Vet of the Unification War d8 —  Gain 1PP when rolling d4 instead of d8. War Stories: Can shift up an Asset or Complication if it is related to his service.

Smooth Talker d8 —  Gain 1PP when rolling d4 instead of d8.

Signature AssetsStealth Suit d8, Alliance G-36 w/ GL d8, Family Ties d6 —  (Spend 1PP to create a contact asset for a scene.)

Next up —

Michael Sands

Sands was conscripted straight out of school into the Unification War; his family was not wealthy enough to pay for a surrogate, like those rich people… He shipped out from DeSantis on Ariel as a rifleman in the 509th Infantry. After a particularly nasty battle with the Browncoats on Persephone, he was transferred to the 901st Scout Brigade under then Captain Wynn. The more fast and loose command structure got rid of much of the nonsense that made the military so unbearable, and by the end of the war, Sands couldn’t really think of anything else he wanted to do.

   Downsized out of the military as a sergeant with several commendations for valor and combat, he found he was having a hard time adjusting to life as a civilian. He got into security, then into the protection racket with some questionable folks in the blackout zone on the edge of Molina. He was nicked by the security service for assault and spend six months in the Charleston minimum security and labor prison facility.

Attributes:  Agility: d8 Strength: d10, Vitality: d10, Alertness: d8, Intelligence: d6, Willpower: d6; Life Points:18

AssetsFriends in Low Places d4, Intimidatin’ Manner d4, Steady Calm d4, Tough As Nails d4

Complications:  Criminal d4, Chip on His Shoulder d4, Loyal d4

Skills:  Athletics d6, Covert d6, Discipline d4, Guns d6 (Rifles d8), Heavy Weapons d6, Influence d4, Linguist d4, Melee Combat d6, Perception d4, Planetary Vehicles d4, Survival d6, Unarmed Combat d6 (Brawling d10)

…in Firefly 

Attributes:  Mental: d8, Physical: d10, Social: d6

Skills:  Craft d6, Drive d4, Fight d10, Fix d6, Fly d4, Focus d4, Influence d4, Knowledge d4, Labor (Lift/Carry) d6, Move d6, Notice (sight) d6, Operate d4, Perform d4, Shoot (rifle) d10, Sneak (Stealth) d6, Survive d6, Throw d6, Treat d4, Trick d6

Distinctions:  Friends in Low Places d8 (You come from dirt, you’re friends are dirt…) — Gain 1PP when rolling d4 instead of d8. 

Vet of the Unification War d8 (Alliance gave you skills, tell you not to use ‘em…) —  Gain 1PP when rolling d4 instead of d8. Fightin’ Type: Spend 1PP to double or step up fight or shoot.

Living in the Cracks d8 (You what you have to to get by…) — Gain 1PP when rolling d4 instead of d8. Fell Off a Truck: Step up/create a social complication for a d8 Asset.

Signature Assets:  Streetsweeper 12gd8 (Step up die for auto fire, but weapon is empty next turn.); One d6 asset to define.

…lastly,

Jun Li

A native of Jiangyin, she is the eldest daughter of two to a shop owner and his wife in Jiang Shan. She joined the Independents out of a sense of duty to keep her world free and was a gunboat navigator and pilot with the 12th Assault Fleet out of Silverhold. She was captured during the Battle of Red Sun and was interred at Camp Robison under horrible conditions. She suffered infection from the terrible sanitary conditions and had to have her legs amputated. She has a set of prosthetic legs of middling quality, but is still traumatized by the events. She is now a contract pilot for whoever will hire her.

AttributesAgility: d8, Strength: d4, Vitality: d6, Alertness: d10, Intelligence: d10, Willpower: d10; Life Points:16

Assets:  If It Moves, I Can Fly It d6  (Adds to Pilot & Planet. Vehicles. Can spend 1PP like it was 3PP.)

Complications:  Amputee d4, Prejudice, Alliance d4, Traumatic Flashbacks d4

Skills:  Athletics d4, Craft d6, Discipline d4, Influence d6, Mech Engineering d6, Perception d6, Pilot d6 (Blockade Runner d8, Navigation d10), Planetary Vehicles d6, Survival d6, Tech Engineering d6, Unarmed Combat d6 (Brawling d10)

…and in Firefly

Attributes:  Mental: d10, Physical: d6, Social: d8

Skills:  Craft d6, Drive (Cars) d10, Fight d4, Fix d10, Fly (Navigation) d10, Focus d4, Influence (Placate) d6, Knowledge d4, Labor d6, Move d4, Notice d6, Operate (Sensors)  d10, Perform d4, Shoot d4, Sneak d4, Survive d4, Throw d4, Treat d6, Trick d4

Distinctions:  If It Moves… d8  (Doesn’t matter what it is, if it moves, you can fly/drive it…) — Gain 1PP when rolling d4 instead of d8. Push the Envelope: Roll d4 to gain a Big Damn Hero d8 next round.

Prisoner of War d8 (I was in Camp Robison…) — Gain 1PP when rolling d4 instead of d8. Kept My Humanity: Spend 1PP to step up a die loaned for a task or when treating someone.

Amputee d8 (…that where I lost my legs…) — Gain 1PP when rolling d4 instead of d8.

Signature Assets:  Part of Me d8 (1PP steps down a complications on her vehicle.); Asset d6 to be defined

The distinctions on this last one were all customized to try and emulate the Serenity version…