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The Lost King - Star of the Guardians Vol. 1
by Erik G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2015 10:52:34
I really liked this book. I thought the entire series was fun and always thought it would make an interesting universe to RPG in.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lost King - Star of the Guardians Vol. 1
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Dragon Brigade: The Affair of the Orb Adventure
by Walter H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/14/2015 21:33:47
I acquired the Opening Salvo book a long time ago, back well before I picked up Firefly. I was looking for a system that was different from the games like Pathfinder and Savage Worlds I was playing. I fell in love with the system even though I never managed to get a game going other than a one off. For a long time, I was hoping that MWP would come out with the Dragon Brigade RPG. Hopefully this is the next step.

This uses a similar system to Firefly, Leverage, and Smallville. It is a narrative system so it's not crunchy like Pathfinder and games like that. Instead, it's more like everyone is an actor. Because of the loose restrictions, anything is possible. I will be running a group shortly using these rules. I can tell you that it blends the old Cortex Classic System and FATE.

If you've picked up the Opening Salvo, a bit has changed. Unlike in the Opening Salvo, MWP has explained the Character Creation System very well. It doesn't take long to create a character and you can have your players in the action very quickly.

I don't remember Flourish Dice being in Opening Salvo, but they are a welcome addition to the system. If you are familiar with Firefly, these are the Banked Dice.

This book is enough information to get started. It has a little bit of background but could easily expand on it. I won't go into the adventure so I won't spoil it for someone, but I will say it's pretty good.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Brigade: The Affair of the Orb Adventure
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Firefly Interactive Crew and Ship Sheets
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2015 07:54:13
These are a very elegant yet simple tool to help you maintain your records. Using the form-filling technology available within PDFs (and using it well!), this download contains a blank character sheet and a blank ship record sheet that you can type on and print out.

It's a lot better than trying to read your handwriting mid-game, it makes it a doddle to update as your character advances or your ship is improved, and - provided you remembered to save a copy after filling it out - you can print them out again and again if someone spills a drink at the gaming table or you keep having to scribble on it to keep track of combat damage and make almost as much of a mess of the sheet as the brawl has done to your character!

The one thing you will still have to do by hand is draw your ship schematics. There's no facility to add a drawing or draw on the space provided on the ship sheet.

Naturally, they can also be used by the Game Master to keep NPC details and ship records in order... and if you have the sort of GM who asks for a copy of your character sheet for plotting purposes between games, why you can print out another one.

It's the sort of useful resource that all game publishers should think about providing - the technology is there so why not use it?

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly Interactive Crew and Ship Sheets
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Firefly Role-Playing Game Corebook
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/13/2015 08:41:27
This book opens by introducing the Firefly TV show, and does so well even if you have watched it before (likely you have if you are interested in a game based on that show... although the Leverage game from the same company actually started me watching that show, but I digress). This overview is linked neatly into what the game's about: you will form a crew similar to the Serenity one (if you are confused, Firefly is the name of the show, this game and the class of ship they went around in; Serenity is the name of the ship, the movie spin-off from the TV show and a previous RPG...), and have adventures similar to the ones in the show. Indeed, if you want you can play the characters from the show. The adventures will be new, though. It would be rather dull to play out ones you've already seen on TV! This opening section finishes with there's some background on the place you'll be adventuring in, the 'Verse, and basic notes on what you need to play.

The next chapter is an episode guide of all fourteen episodes of the show that were broadcast. Naturally it's a bit more than that, with notes on how things work in the game - e.g. what dice would be rolled by a given character to perform some stunt that he did in the show - ideas for adventures spinning off from what's already happened, stat blocks for people who feature and more. Weapons and items, for example, are both described and given their game statistics, should you want to use them yourself. It's all lavishly illustrated with screenshots - alas uncaptioned. Each episode ends with several full-blown adventure outlines you could use, and there's plenty and enough detail there that you could throw the episode itself at your characters and see if they can do any better than the originals!

This is followed by Find A Crew, a chapter that explains all you need to know to create your own character. It also has full work-ups in game terms of all the show's characters if you'd rather play them and a set of archetypes that provide a half-way house, most of the hard work has been done for you and all you need to do is personalise them for yourself. If you have Serenity Crew, you'll already have the show characters and archetypes, but here you also get to find out how to create a character from scratch, if that's your preference.

Next comes Find A Ship, which provides a similar service for working out the details of the ship that will be your characters' home, transportation and business. There's even a handy technobabble chart for those who want to sound like they know what's happening in Engineering! There's plenty of material here for you to design a ship from scratch as well as a range of ideas about all the other ships that are out there in the black... not to mention other modes of transportation that you'll find when you land as well.

Ship and crew sorted, all that remains is to Find A Job: and the chapter of the same name starts with the basics for novice role-players, explains how the game is played and how the rules work, and ends with more customisation, how to create your own options and how characters advance once they've been played a bit. This continues with the next chapter, Keep Flyin', which is aimed at whoever wants to be the Game Master (GM). This looks at the rules from the GM's point of view before delving into the running of adventures, how to keep the excitement high and the pressure on, and how to create and run the myriad NPCs needed - for Firefly is, above all, a game in which interactions with other people is central.

The penultimate chapter, Into the Black, looks further into that black art, game mastering, showing you how to use those gamemaster characters to best effect, create the atmosphere and the surroundings and bring it all to life. If it all sounds a bit hard at first, everything soon becomes plain - it's a good solid overview of the game master's art. These skills learned it is time to put them into practice with a complete ready-made scenario to run: What's Yours Is Mine. In this, the party's help is enlisted by someone wrongfully gaoled for murder who wants to get their company back from the individual who framed them... well, you would, wouldn't you.

There's an Appendix jam-packed with useful bits and bobs, including enough Chinese to sound authentic (but perhaps best not practiced on the local Chinese takeaway!), schematics for a Firefly-class ship, system maps and blank sheets for both characters and ships.

Overall, it's a fine introduction to the game - go enjoy yourself out in the black!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly Role-Playing Game Corebook
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Firefly Role-Playing Game Corebook
by Francis D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/12/2015 10:56:05
Firefly vs Serenity - because there are plenty of good reviews here but none go into the detail of the two systems. Production values and research are excellent for both, of course, and if you want a coffee table book then both work.

The obvious is that they are two separate licenses. If it was in the series but not the film there will be no official stats in Serenity. If it was in the film but not the series there will be none in Firefly. (Because MWP owns the system there are some dual-statted adventures). Less obvious is that Cortex and Cortex Plus are very different systems.

Serenity is a solid traditional RPG. One where the GM is in control of almost everything, and one where there's sufficient grit that leads dying occasionally is expected (which of course matches the film but not the series). Combat is moderately long with tactics and explicit rules for taking cover and the whole thing is if anything a bit grittier than the Serenity movie. Weapons are handled by stats such as range and reloading. Ultimately it's a fairly consistent generic system with a tone that's pretty good for the movie.

If Serenity is a stately waltz, Firefly normally starts with some idiot (normally a PC) setting fire to the third bar and the whole thing turning into a jam session. Things don't go smooth, and even GM plans should be cooked rare because they will be derailed. Scene assets and complications, frequently introduced by the players, are almost as important as the skill of the acting PC. That said, the system is designed to handle any wacky plans the players can think up to the point that making The Destroyer into something made of marshmallow is not a problem (seriously, Firefly is a near perfect system for 80s comedies like Ghostbusters or Police Academy or even more modern comedies like Guardians of the Galaxy where it's blatantly obvious the GM doesn't know what's going on although it does work for more serious games). PC death doesn't often happen except by consent in Firefly - but there are so many other ways for e.g. Saffron to leave Mal wishing he'd never met her with Complications (mechanical representations of in game problems) that this rarely matters. Combat is short and sweet, over in only a few die rolls that use the same system as everything else and weapons are handled with a single number each (with Vera being really effective, although Jayne's pretty good with any gun).

Which is better? What do you want? Something planned out in detail? Or high octane mayhem with everything going wrong and the wheels always on the verge of falling off the wagon.

Me? I prefer Firefly (both series and game). But they are different games, reflecting the different tone between the series and the film.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly: Things Don't Go Smooth
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/12/2015 08:56:23
This is a resource for a Firefly RPG Game Master (GM), whose role is of course to ensure that thing's don't go smooth for the characters... er, that they may live in interesting times. After all, who wants a game where all plans execute as intended and the bad guys never show up? Keep that for real life...

The Introduction lays this all out, in the rather slangy approach that is standard for Firefly resources. Whilst the book is mainly intended for GMs, there is material that players can use, however - like new distinctions, signature assets and ships. You may prefer, however, to introduce these in a controlled manner rather than letting them loose in these pages, particularly if you intend on using the army of antagonists or the plot suggestions to be found here.

Antagonists are not necessarily villians. They're just people whose interests or inclinations run contrary to those of the characters and so can be relied upon to object to or counter whatever they are trying to do... or whose own schemes will impact in a negative way on them. Some are out-and-out bad guys, but even villains don't necessarily see themselves as evil: they may have a quite reasonable (to themselves, at least) rationale for whatever they are doing.

The bulk of this book, then, is a collection of antagonists who can be relied upon to ensure things don't go smoothly for your characters. They are divided into various categories, so you can pick ones appropriate to what you have in mind... and of course, reading through all the details presented sparks ideas for stories if you haven't a plan in mind already. Spies and crime bosses, rival crews and gangs, and assorted other potential opponents are to be found here.

The first lot - the spies and crime bosses - are all individuals although most command a fair few minions to do their bidding. There are notes on what makes a good - great, even - crime boss, which you can apply to individuals of your own design as well as appreciate in these ones. Each one comes with detailed background information and some atmospheric illustrations - not just them but things like appropriate advertisments or scenes - as well as full stat blocks. Notes include typical locations and details of their followers, but the main focus is on the individual in charge. If you are wondering about the spies... well, strip away the followers, tone down their activities a bit and any one of these people could make a career out of espionage, if that suits your plans better. The individual details are followed by some appropriate signature assets. Some might be appropriate for your characters... or they may, ahem, liberate them from a passing crime boss in the course of an adventure. The chapter rounds out with some plot seeds that would work well with these antagonists.

Then come the rival crews and gangs. After all, it is extremely unlikely that the characters are the only bunch of somewhat questionable types crusing around the 'Verse in a ship looking to make a score. There's bound to be other groups with the same idea in mind. Some may be intrinsicly similar to your crew, with enough differences to make them interesting and challenging - their cortex hacker maybe enjoys a good brawl whereas yours hides under a table when a fight breaks out, for example - others will be completely different with their own motivations. Ideas for how to present them in interesting ways are provided before descriptions of several groups are provided, with full stats for the leader and summaries of everyone else in the crew or gang, along with copious background notes replete with suggestions as to how to incorporate them into a good plot. Again, illustrations and notes bring them to life, adding atmosphere to the listings. The chapter ends with a neat system for coming up with a rival crew on the fly (which will work just as well if you are short a few ideas but know you want a rival crew...) and a selection of plot outlines to embroil them in.

The final collection of antagonists are quite strange - things that might be completely unexpected. There are some guidance notes on setting up the right circumstances to introduce them and what makes them tick, too, which empower you to weave them seamlessly into whatever's going on. And they are weird indeed - a rogue AI, perhaps, which has got religion or maybe someone who is a nice person who just happens to be (unbeknownst to themselves) a programmed assassin... or even someone - something? - that may be a ghost or is it merely an urban legend that the unscrupulous are capitalising on? More new signature assests and a whole bunch of stuff about the Reavers and how to bring them into your game with the right amount of terror and confusion that they should generate.

The next chapter presents a veritable fleet of enemy boats. A memorable enemy has to have a ship to match, after all. Several are described in detail all ready for the using (or the stealing if your crew is anything like mine...) and there's also a complete system for designing your own ships, based around devising new signature assets and new classes of vessel.

This is followed by a chapter called Scheming and Narratin' - this is jam-packed full of hints and tips on game-mastering and in particular how to give your antagonists every bit as much life, individuality and interest as your players lavish on their characters. There's all sorts of stuff here including combat, location and much, much more... material that could easily be retooled for any game and so is well worth reading whatever ruleset and genre you run games for. Spend a lot of time reading and rereading this chapter, it will reward you amply.

Finally there are two complete adventures ready to run - Merciless and Thieves in Heaven. The first involves a heist in a museum and the second a collective of shipyard dogs who have fallen on hard times and are coming down with a mysterious illness to boot. Of course, there's plenty more to each of them and they should prove interesting entertainment for you and your group.

If you are serious about GMing Firefly, this book should be snuggled up next to your copy of the core rulebook.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly: Things Don't Go Smooth
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Firefly Echoes of War: Freedom Flyer
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/09/2015 08:35:03
Like the rest of the Echoes of War adventures, the beginning of this book is devoted to explaining the Cortext Plus system in sufficient detail to enable you to play the adventure without reference to any other rules. You'll need characters - Serenity Crew provides both the leading characters from the TV show but a dozen 'archetypes' ready-made, or if you do have the core rulebook that has all the information you need to create characters from scratch. The odd comment and quote appear to assume you are playing Serenity's crew, but it doesn't really matter provided that the characters you're using have a similar range of skills and a ship. The rules notes are clear and easy to follow, and explain the role of the Game Master (GM) well enough that a first-time GM ought to be able to run the adventure without too much difficulty. Novice GMs are further supported by side-bar comments throughout the adventure that give hints and tips on running it to best effect: indeed, even experienced GMs could benefit from them. This is the only part of the book that players should read, the rest is GM territory.

The adventure proper is organised with an introduction - The Way of Things - which presents an overview and a clutch of NPCs, a Prelude and four Acts, with some closing notes (Roll Credits) which include ideas for follow-up adventures. The NPCs come in two sorts, the main ones get a full-page write-up and a complete character sheet whilst lesser ones come with more condensed information. Throughout the emphasis is on giving the GM what they need to role-play each and every NPC as an individual.

The plotline involves a reformed thief whose past includes stealing ships from one side in the recent unpleasantness and selling parts to t'other side which means there are bounty hunters as well as the authorities on her tail - the 'reformation' is only in her mind, she wants to start a new life without any of that tedious stuff like answering for past offences. Oh, and her Mama's not too well and there are hospital bills to pay. She claims she has the money and a ship, but needs help to access them... it gets complicated but to cut a long story short, can the crew help? For a fee, of course. On the other hand, the bounty might look like a better proposition.

A really neat part of the briefing for the GM is a collection of subplots aimed at characters who are playing the archetypes from the Serenity Crew book. There's something to hook each more more closely into the adventure, so there will be a lot more going on than just aiding the former thief (or collecting the bounty on her head). Of course if the characters being played are from the TV show, there are a set of sub-plots tailored to them as well. Read them thoroughly and incorporate them to have a mulit-level adventure that all your players will feel really involves them. Even without this, there's a lot going on and plenty to keep them occupied with interactions and the possibility of a brawl at virtually every opportunity.

It's a good adventure and one which captures the spirit of the original TV show well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly Echoes of War: Freedom Flyer
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Firefly Echoes of War: Friends in Low Places
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/08/2015 08:42:55
Like all adventures in the Echoes of War series, this one opens with a comprehensive run-down of the basic rules for playing and Game Mastering the Firefly RPG. These are introduced simply, novices ought to be able to get the idea whilst experienced gamers new to this particular system can pick up its salient features. This adventure is designed to be played with characters from the Serenity Crew supplement (who may be either the main characters from the TV show or ones based on the archetypes provided), but will work just as well with characters generated using the core rulebook. This part of the book (only) can be read by both players and GMs.

Next is a section called 'The Way of Things' which explains what the adventure's all about and provides major and minor NPCs. It is full of hints about role-playing the various NPCs, particularly important in this adventure as it is one involving a lot of interaction. There's detail on how to embroil the party, with the suggestion that it might be easiest with the original Serenity crew as the player-characters and a run-down of how the archetypes mentioned above can be woven into the story if that's what your players have chosen. A wealth of detail on the main locations that might feature in the adventure is provided here as well, the nature of it being such that most of the action will happen where it happens rather than being tied to a specific location.

So, on to the adventure proper which comes in a Prelude and four Acts. It all starts in a bar, where an old friend and drinking buddy tells the crew that his wife has gone missing... and then things degenerate into a bar-room brawl which for once actually makes sense as part of the story rather than just being an excuse to flex muscles and smash things up. And that's just the Prelude!

Naturally, things go downhill from then on. The crew will have to defend themselves as well as try and find out what's happened to their friend's wife - who, it turns out, is not the only person to have gone missing. Twists and turns follow thick and fast, and the crew will have to decide who to trust... and how far. Intrigue and interaction mixes with threats and outright violence gives a good balance to the adventure: whatever each player-character's strengths are they will get a chance to shine. And it all ends up with a three-way showdown that should have everybody on the edges of their seats, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.

After the dust dies down, there are some suggestions for further adventures, as well as a couple of maps that ought to come in handy when running the adventure.

If quite intricate plots, villains to foil, choices to make and a few good brawls make a good game for you, this is one to take a look at.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly Echoes of War: Friends in Low Places
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Firefly Echoes of War: Shooting Fish
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/07/2015 08:47:40
This is the second adventure in the Echoes of War campaign, which serves to introduce you and your players both to the Firefly RPG and its setting. As such, the first section explains how the game is played - in terms simple enough for people new to role-playing, never mind this game - with the assumption that you either have characters from Serenity Crew or created using the full core rulebook. This includes advice for Game Masters, so even if it is your first time running a game you have some guidance about what you should do to get everything to work well for all involved. If you are an experienced GM but new to Firefly there's plenty of detail showing you how to both apply this ruleset's game mechanics and how to run a session in a way that catches the essential flavour of the game. Most of this first section can be shared with players if they need to learn how to play this game.

All that out of the way, the next section is called 'The Way of Things' and tells the GM exactly what is going on in this adventure and a likely course of events once the crew takes on the initial challenge. It also introduces two key NPCs, Shepherd Mordecai Rust and Roscoe Lake, complete with full character sheets as well as notes on how to play them. Other lesser - but no less important to the overall adventure - NPCs are also given in less detail, with notes on how to play them and embed them into the adventure as well.

So on to the adventure itself, with a Prelude in which the crew meets up with Shepherd Rust who asks for their help - an orphanage he supports is under threat of being closed down by Roscoe Lake, to whom they owe a fair bit of money. The good Shepherd has come up with an idea to save them by entering a speedboat race and winning the substatial prize on offer, but he needs some help - like people who can maintain and pilot a speedboat, for example! He's got one, but it is in a state of disrepair and needs a lot of work before it will float let alone give a good showing of itself in a race.

The adventure continues from there with a sequence of four acts that take the crew through getting ready for and participating in the race. Naturally, it's not quite as straightforwards as that. Suggestions and options are well-highlighted along with ideas about what would happen should the characters decide on a certain course of action. It all makes it a very dynamic adventure with a lot going on and plenty of scope for using a range of skills and role-playing... and of course some fighting as well. The way the text is written assumes that the players have chosen characters from the Serenity's crew, but there's nothing that cannot be tweaked if they have different characters. The adventure ends with some suggestions for further action.

It's a fast-paced interesting adventure with plenty going on, presented in a way that should make it easy to run with loads of options and suggestions at every turn so that it can appear tailored to the crew's actions - neat. Even so, make sure that you have read it thoroughtly beforehand, it is probably too much to try to run straight out of the box. As an introduction to both game system and concept, it's excellent.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly Echoes of War: Shooting Fish
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Firefly Echoes of War: Serenity Crew
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/06/2015 08:52:47
This book, which came out well before the main Firefly RPG core rulebook, is designed to enable you to leap into action with the adventure series Echoes of War. For those who fancy playing the crew of the TV series, they are presented in detail, whilst those who'd rather play their own character in the setting have a selection of archetypes on which to base their own creations.

Then we move on to each of the main characters, the crew of the Serenity. Each has a good portrait (now I can figure out who is who... yes, I did watch the show but was more interested in the stories than the characters!) with plenty of background about how they came to be there and what makes them tick - all useful stuff if you want to role-play them effectively. This is followed by a full character sheet. The complete information fits onto two pages, so quite easy to print out back-to-back and have everything you need on one piece of paper. Printer-friendly versions are provided, basically on a white background rather than the coloured one in the main text. They mesh well with the characters on TV although they go no further - things that the characters didn't like to talk about there are not explained any further here.

For those who prefer designing original characters there are a dozen archetypes. These are almost-complete characters with scope for personalisation - you'll need a name and although there's a bit of background provided you may tweak it, change skills and such like to make it your own. It's a cut-down version of the full character generation system, and enough to produce a playable character. There are printer-friendly versions of these included as well, but they will end up rather messy by the time you have finished your customisation - pick up the free Interactive Crew and Ship Sheets download and use that for your character sheet instead, or you can use the rather more basic blank character sheet at the end of the book.

Finally, there's a section on that other essential you're going to need before you start playing: a ship. Just like characters, ships have various characteristics in numeric form that can be used to roll dice when the need arises, and this is explained here. The equivalent of attributes are engine, hull and systems; and ships then have signature assets. For the party's ship, you use the characters' skills as appropriate, GMs use a fourth attribute called crew to replace the characters on other ships. There's a blank sheet for writing up ships provided at the end too.

This is a good 'get-you-started' tool, and once you have your characters there are a range of compatible adventures around to try them out on. It's a bit more expensive than the average 'quick-start' package but a lot of care and attention have gone into it, although some people may find the rather casual text a bit off-putting. It's pretty much in character for the game itself, though. A good way to get started.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly Echoes of War: Serenity Crew
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A Players Guide to Castlemourn
by Sylvia R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/30/2014 14:18:25
This wonderful new fantasy world from Ed Greenwood contains everything the player needs to create a character who will fit right in to the mystical setting. It starts with a short story to set the scene, the continues with a comprehensive guide to the setting including gazetteer, maps, magic, religion, astrology, calendar, currency and history. The artwork is superb too.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Players Guide to Castlemourn
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Leverage Roleplaying Game
by Samuel K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/14/2014 00:14:24
As a huge fan of the show, I originally bought this thinking only to plunder it for setting info and adventure ideas to use with a different system. Since then, I've become intrigued by the Cortex Plus system, and have been plotting to run it out of the book. In preparing to do so, I've come to find that the core rules, while solid, are often unclear, and perhaps not as complete as I would like, even as a fan of rules-light games. I eventually bought the Firefly RPG, which also runs on the Cortex Plus Action system, but a more, shall we say, evolved version of it, and plundered it for a few things, and now feel as though I have a solid set of rules under which to run Leverage.
Rules aside, the rest of the content of the book is fantastic. The random Job (i.e., adventure) generator is a thing of beauty, and all the Fixer (i.e., GM) advice is worth the price of the book alone. Even if you aren't interested in the Cortex Plus system, the vast majority of the book could still be of great use to you as you develop your own Leverage games using your favorite system (I could see it working very well with Savage Worlds, for example). I've seen some complaints that the episode guides at the end of the book are filler, but I prefer to think of them as adventure seeds and inspiration.
The whole book really comes off as a labor of love. If you're a fan of the show, you'll instantly recognize all the detail and references by writers who are clearly fellow fans. The PDF is fairly cheap too, so you're really getting your money's worth.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Leverage Roleplaying Game
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Firefly Role-Playing Game Corebook
by Sophie L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2014 14:45:48
This is the game I had hoped the Serenity RPG would be, back in 2005. The thoroughly non-groundbreaking Cortex Classic system has been overhauled into the now quite interesting Cortex Plus system (also behind the Leverage RPG, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, and Smallville RPG.) The thick, meaty book contains a lot of information about the Verse, and useful game-mastering advice. A collection of customizable character templates provides lots of ideas and allows simplified character creation if you don’t want to play the original cast.

Characters have attributes, skills, distinctions, and assets, each assigned a die type from d4 to d12. The more important or beneficial the characteristic, the larger the die size. Whenever rolling to accomplish something, you roll at least two dice (one for attribute and one for skill), plus any number of bonus dice for favourable circumstances, distinctions and assets you can bring into play, keeping the total of the two highest in the roll Results of 1 on a die can be “bought” as complication by the GM by offering a Plot Point.. You can also earn Plot Points by taking risks or getting yourself in trouble in various ways; Plot Points can be used to do a variety of things such as keep more dice, add an asset, etc.

It’s all fairly intuitive in play, and allows for nice ups-and-downs as well as narrative power (every die added must be explained by the player’s narration). The downside is that all rolls are opposed, i.e., the GM needs to roll against every player roll. The system allows for five levels of NPCs, from most powerful and detailed to sketchiest and least threatening: Heavy, Medium, and Light Major NPCs, Minor NPCs, and Extras. But the necessity of rolling for every action made me want to stick to Minor NPCs and Extras, which have fewer mechanical bits to worry about.

In general, I prefer games that lighten my task as GM since I throw in a lot of improvisation, for example games that require no rolls on the GM’s part (like Hollow Earth Expedition, and Apocalypse World and its many hacks) or games that have streamlined stats (like PDQ, Fate, and many story games.) If I ran this for a series, I would probably use the mean roll values to create flat scores, like in Hollow Earth Expedition so I would not need to roll. For example, an attribute at d6 and a skill at d8 would result in a score of 8 (mean value of rolling d6+d8) against which the player’s roll result would be compared. So all in all, not a system that actively promotes letting go of the plot since you may have to scramble to find NPC stats and other info, but not one that opposes it either.

Visually, the book is very attractive, and the paper and binding are of high quality. NPCs that were not in the original television show are portrayed using photographs that are given a visual treatment similar to the show stills, providing continuity. I appreciate that a serious effort was made to add a lot of female and non-white characters this way, and especially Asian-looking characters, something that was always underplayed on television. The writing is good, though it periodically tries too hard to sound like Malcolm Reynolds. For example:

Equipment in the FIREFLY RPG is only important if’n it affects the outcome of an action you want to take. It’s easy enough to fall in love with the ’Verse, but spendin’ all your time describin’ a fancy six-shooter don’t amount to a hill of beans unless its pearl handle and monogrammed initials matter to your story.

I get rapidly tired of this but once I get past the mannerisms, the writing and advice are solid, as Adelai Niska would say.

One of the cleverest features of the book is also a source of a bit of trouble for the GM. A sizeable section of the book walks through every one of the 14 Firefly episodes and treats them as if they were games run using the system, showing how the rules would have been used to produce this particular result. Each episode is followed up with a collection of ideas for future episodes that would tie back into the story, thus rooting an on-going campaign in the Verse background. It’s an excellent way to introduce a fan to role-playing, and provides tons of useful examples of rule use. Unfortunately, it means that many of the examples, NPCs, plot ideas, and rules adjudications are scattered through that section and hard to find in the middle of an adventure, especially without an index.

At $50, the book is not exactly cheap but it’s reasonably priced for the overall quality. MWP offers the PDF free for those who purchased the print version through their Preferred Retailer Program. The PDF is of high quality and fully bookmarked, something not all publishers have grasped is a necessity. However, it will not allow to re-print pages to a new PDF, such as if you want to upload the character sheets to a place like FedEx Kinko’s.

Overall, it’s a very good book, well written and well laid out, but a tad tricky to find things in during play. Highly recommended for fans of the show.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly Role-Playing Game Corebook
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Firefly Echoes of War: Wedding Planners Cortex Plus
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/10/2014 07:59:39
Designed to introduce players to the Firefly RPG as well as to give them a cracking good adventure, this work opens with an overview of how the game is played including an introduction to the Cortex ruleset. If you understand all this already, you can skip it, however it does make a good introduction if someone new to role-playing or to Cortex joins an existing group.

The adventure proper begins with full character sheets for several notable major NPCs including the would-be bride and groom. The assumption is that the players will be taking on the roles of at least some of the Serenity crew, but the adventure would work equally well with characters of their own creation if you happen to have the necessary rules. A neat trick is gamemaster hints scattered throughout the adventure, showing you how to maximise the fun.

The plot is simplicity itself. The party is hired to transport a young lady to her wedding. What could be difficult about that? Naturally there's more - far more - than meets the eye, with a fair few sub-plots and other twists along the way. Everything is laid out very clearly for the GM, indeed the whole thing is designed with a novice GM in mind, as well as being presented in such a way as to make it accessible for new players.

There are plenty of opportunities to use skills other than combat. The early stages, in particular, show the benefits of doing a spot of research on the people you'll be meeting and the places you'll be going to; with various snippets being available based on questions asked and how good your die roll is. Interactions are detailed well, with likely responses from the NPCs presented to whatever the party may say or do, often complete with a typical quote that you can use to make them come to life. There's a lot going on and nobody should get bored - at least, not if they are prepared to role-play. Opportunities for combat are limited during the opening stages... but as events unfold there is soon plenty of opportunity for heroics, with a boarding action to contend with before the Serenity reaches his destination, a rendezvous with a luxury liner.

Here the party will have to put on some good behaviour, but there still are plenty of opportunities for getting into trouble. There are lots of things that can happen, even alternate sequences of events based on what has happened so far or even what the GM prefers, plenty of scope to make this adventure your own. And shall we say that not all the guests at the wedding have peaceful celebrations of wedded bliss in mind? This is a wedding day that nobody will forget.

It's a nice adventure, well-rounded with plenty of opportunities to interact, investigate and scheme as well as occasions when violence is the best solution. Presentation is excellent, I only found one typo ('captures' instead of 'cameras' when the press turn up at an inopportune moment, but its easy to figure out what was intended!), and the layout is conductive to easy running. Good in its intended role as an introduction to the Firefly game, or indeed it would make a good adventure to add into an on-going campaign.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly Echoes of War: Wedding Planners Cortex Plus
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Firefly Echoes of War: Wedding Planners Cortex Plus
by Todd C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2014 21:38:11
Played through the first part with some people using FATE Core rules during lunch. Lots of fun. Really felt like we were in a Firefly episode with our characters and take on the Verse.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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