Sometimes I feel like I have some form of Gamer A.D.D. Being a gamer that always open to trying new games, I keep finding myself jumping between the games I do own while looking at others that have or have yet to hit the shelves. For example, The other day, I was psyched about getting my hands on the new Battelords GU book. I still am to some degree. But now my brain has, for no explainable reason, bounced into a renewed interest for the Serenity RPG.
“I’m the brains of the operation.”
For those who are not familiar with the Cortex system, it’s a fairly simple system to use. You roll 2 dice based on your trait and your skill (Ranging from D2s to D12s. not a single D20 in sight here) and aim for a target number. Fairly simple.
There is a drama die system (Plot Points) like what is seen in 7th Sea that allows you to try and hit that number if you find your pee goo in a sling. Depending on when you choose to spend a Plot Point, you can either add a specific Die type to your total roll (Before the roll), or +1 to the total per point (after the roll). The more Plot Points spent, the higher the die type/bonus. Players can also spend Plot Points to change the story in some small way, assuming the GM approves the change.
“I just get excitable as to choice, like to have my options open.”
Character generation is done through a point-buy system, the total starting points dependant on what heroic level you want to start at (Greenhorn, Veteran, or Big Damn Hero). you spend the points to purchase your traits on a per die type basis as well as skills.
Skills work a wee bit different in this system than in any other system I’ve seen. You can purchase a general skill up to a d6 which covers the skill in a general sense. However, beyond that (d8 and up) you but based on specialties, such as Rifles under the Guns skill.
My favorite aspect of the system is the Asset/Complications (Merits and Flaws). I love this part of the system not only because I enjoy merit/flaw systems, but because the rules state you MUST pick at least 1 Asset AND 1 Complication (Max of 5 of each though). This way, characters come out a little more unique and a little less cookie cutter.
“Start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a ninety pound girl. ‘Cause I don’t think that’s ever getting old.”
The combat system is 1 part simple and 1 part confusing. The basics are fairly straight forward with rolling initiative and taking actions in turn. Multiple actions are possible at cumulative penalties. However, even after your turn, per the rules, you can take additional defensive actions which count against your next round. My understanding is that it counds as a multiple actions penalty applied to the next round.
Damage is handled a bit differently as well. On most character sheets, a player keeps track of Shock damage and Wound damage (The difference between getting his with a meaty fist or a shotgun slug). When your Shock and Wounds total your Life Points, you pass out. Kind of a nice way to represent the different damage types.
“You can learn all the math in the ‘Verse, but you take a boat in the air you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turning of worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she’s hurting ‘fore she keens. Makes her a home.”
Well, it’s a space game. And fortunately, the book comes complete with ship making rules as well as a few statted ships to get you started. The book tends to look at ships as beings/NPCs in their own right and the rules on making them reflect this as you make ships similar to how you make characters, purchasing stats that reflect certain ship aspects. There’s even a few ship specific Assets and Complications. For additional ships and rules on them, check out the newest suppliment, Six-Shooters and Spaceships (Picking that one up today).
“I aim to misbehave.”
The book’s contents wrap up with a few things typical of an RPG book and few things specific for the setting; a nice section on running a Serenity game, some NPC stats (With names hinting of firefly References. Yes I bite my thumb at you Fox), setting information, and a small chinese/english translation section. All in all, if you’re looking to take a trip round the verse in yer browncoat or are just looking for a sci-fi/western themed game, I’d say look no further than the Serenity RPG. The system is simple enough to understand and is a pleasent change from all the d20 rolling going on out there.