Serenity Role Playing Game
by Jamie Chambers
Review by Paul Haggerty
Margaret Weis Productions Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 1931567506
Date: August, 2005 List Price $39.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Using the familiar crew and spaceship of the Firefly series, the Serenity Role Playing Game gives concrete examples on how the dice and other mechanics of the system work. For example, as fans of the series know Jayne is an expert at firearms, while Kaylee is ... not, this makes it easy to understand why Jayne's gun usage skill is scored so much higher than Kaylee's.
The dice rules seem to be to be some kind of mutant offspring of the old World of Darkness game where skill and attribute dice are paired up and rolled against a ranked difficulty threshold, and the D20 system where various "size" dice are used to give larger and more complicated statistical spreads. So, to fire a gun, a person's Agility score is matched with his Gun skill. Both dice are rolled and added together. The bigger your dice, the higher maximum you can get and the more difficult the tasks you can accomplish. For example, while both have a d6 in Agility, Kaylee rolls a d2 whenever she's trying to shoot someone with a gun, and Jayne has a d10 with his assault rifle, Vera. So while Kaylee can get a maximum of 8 (d2+d6), Jayne is sitting pretty with a 16 (d6+d10). It's pretty obvious who is going to have the better chance of hitting the broadside of a spaceship if the game master says it's a hard shot (difficulty 11).
Of course the rules also cover exceptional situations in addition to the everyday ones. What do I roll if I want to slide down a rope while shooting my assault rifle into a crowd and trying to hit just the squirrel that stole my wristwatch? Sound difficult? Sure it is, but the chapter on game mechanics covers this nicely (though perhaps not that outrageously). Still in the end, a lot of this is still just advice. It's up to the game master to give a final decision on what to roll for what. In fact, the source book is chock full of both hard rules and good advice concerning the various dice, ability scores, skill scores, and adjudication rules necessary to unambiguously decide whether Zoe gets the drop on the Reaver, or not.
Of course that last sentence only makes sense if you know what a Reaver is and the designers obviously couldn't take the chance that everyone wanting to take a try at the game would be an expert on the show. And so there are chapters devoted to characters, planets, history, technology, and of course space ships. There's even an Appendix on creative swearing in Chinese so that you'll feel right at home out in the black.
If you loved the TV show and the movie and enjoy role playing games, you'll find this a great way to continue with adventures of your own.