Book Review: Firefly Role-Playing Game

Firefly Role-Playing Game, Gaming In The ‘Verse:  Core Book, by Monica Valentinelli, Mark Diaz Truman, Brendan Conway, Dean Gilbert, and Jack Norris

For those browncoats who are sufficiently passionate about the world of Firefly [1] that they are willing to play a die-based tabletop game that takes that television as the basis of adventuring in the format of episodes [2], this game offers a large amount of information to creating new adventures from the Firefly universe as well as ways that the episodes of the television show–not including the events from Serenity, it should be noted–would look as a role playing game adventure with various major and minor characters, various complications, rules on the use of dice ranging from d4 to d12, as well as a great deal of practical advice in the different roles the GM has as a writer, a director, a producer, and as an audience member judging the entertainment the players provide in order to give plot points to reward good play with the possibility of re-rolling and other benefits.  It would be difficult to imagine a more helpful or complete guide based on the groundbreaking and immensely entertaining television show, and will likely provide many hours of entertainment to the show’s legion of fans.

The book’s contents, as a core book, are as to be expected about making it possible for a somewhat novice GM and group of players who are nevertheless fond of Firefly to make some evenings of gameplaying at the pace of an episode a night, showing an attention not only to the structure of each episode but also attention made to multi-episode story arcs and even season-length campaigns that allow characters to develop and grow.  The book opens with an introduction to the ‘Verse, then contains a detailed episode guide, including character breakdowns for the major NPCs in each episode, detailed information on finding crew, including sample character sheets for 24 different kinds of characters of all manner of loyalties and skills, organized by what part of the universe they are likely to be found–the core, the border planets, and the rim.  Then there are discussions about finding a ship, finding a job, dealing with complications and keeping flying, sailing into the black, a detailed breakdown of an unaired and unfilmed episode called “What’s Mine Is Yours,” and some supplementary information including a detailed Chinese vocabulary for the game, frequently asked questions, a glossary of terms, a master distinction list, schematics for Serenity, system maps, and a sample ship sheet and crew sheet.  With this book in hand, someone could pretty easily run an extended set of pretend episodes of Firefly, and that is certainly an enjoyable way to spend evenings with friends, to be sure.

It is clear that this book is mainly oriented that that intersection between fans of the Firefly series and fans of tabletop role playing games.  That happens to be a large group of people, not least because Firefly had such an inventive and rich worldview in mind with its blend of Western and Chinese culture with elements of the Western and the struggle between the desire on the part of the Alliance to control and tax the universe with the desire of business to exploit territories for profit and the desire on the part of some people to be free from burdensome restrictions and regulations.  The cultural and political worldview of Firefly, with its tension between a paternalistic state engaged in deeply corrupt behavior, and various libertarian and anarchic opposition to effective government on the part of gangs, freedom loving settler colonists, or even the chaotic Reavers, is one of great relevance in our particular day and age.  It is a shame that the series did not even manage to complete its first year, as it had a lot of promise, promise that remains for fans who remain loyal to the show even after all these years.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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