I’ve been rather discrete about it but I had significant doubts about how the Firefly RPG would turn out and be perceived by gamers. By that I don’t mean the usual jitters of the insecure designer, as I was just one cog of many in an all-star team working on the Gen Con Preview book. What I was worried about is how the rules would fit the genre given how little time we had to design them, and how it would be received by prior Firefly/Serenity fans.
I ran 2 sessions at Gen Con. I didn’t want to run the adventures in the book but I had limited time to write one before leaving for Indianapolis. I decided to roll one up instead so I grabbed the Leverage RPG book, flipped to the Instant Job tables and rolled one with enough cool elements to fuel a 3 hour adventure.
I mashed the results in what I hope would catch the Firefly spirit while still bearing my signature mark (a convoluted plot , head-scratching weirdness and tortured choices). I got Cam and Dave to give me advice on it and I dove in with nothing but a page’s worth of notes and confidence that 30 odd years of GMing experience would help fill the gaps.
Both sessions were a lot more successful than I expected. The players took up to the game within minutes. The rules have an elegant simplicity to them that transcends all previous iteration of Cortex Plus games in my opinion. The low barrier to entry and the existence of 12 pre-generated characters archetypes made the players buy into the story near instantly.
During play, I was amazed how well the rules allowed players to do everything you would expect character on a snarky TV show to do. In fact, I took a more passive approach to running NPCs, making the players roll based on how they reacted to NPC actions. It worked perfectly!
(Think Apocalypse World. Chatty: “The deathly scared executive levels a short-barreled shotgun at your face and screams that he’ll shoot if you take one more step. What do you do?”)
From hacking a planetary network to move a doctor’s appointment to surviving a shotgun blast to the gut, from removing a virus from the ship’s computers to breaking one’s wrist on a NPC’s face, the Firefly RPG delivered the exact experience I expect from a game that emulates action-oriented TV shows. And it does so without the use of extensive gear rules nor any type of hit points or stress tracks.
There’s no simpler way to say it: It. Just. Works. I hope they don’t change anything major in the core book.
I’ve run a few demos in the exhibit hall and every time, I got the players excited and engrossed in a scene within minutes of picking up their character sheet and dice. There’s no stronger signal that the game will be a huge success at the table of those who chose to try it.
I hope I can get to write about my experiences of the game more as I already have cool stories and advice to share.
If you have questions about the game or wanna share your own expectations and experiences, don’t hesitate to do so here, on Twitter or on Facebook.
Thanks for reading.