Trampas: Okay, James, roll a 4-sider….
James: Wait, which one is the 4-sider?
Trampas: It’s that triangle-shaped one.
Carolyn (impatient): Can I attack now?
Trampas: Yes, just wait until your initiative.
Carolyn: What’s initiative?
Trampas: (frustrating scream)
Have you ever been in this situation? You’ve watched Firefly and thought it would be fun to play in one of those role-playing games you’ve heard about. You found a group to play with, but the rules read like Greek and the game master is none too forgivin’ to greenhorns. So what do you do?
The Serenity Role-Playing Game can be a lot of fun to play, but you need the right tools to get started. Perhaps the toughest part is finding a crew. If you’re already a role-player, you probably already have an established group. You could ask them if they would like to try something different, at which time you mention Serenity.
If you don’t have a group, though, the task can be harder. You might check with some friends to see if any of them role-play. If not, find a local comic book or gaming store and inquire there. Sometimes they have bulletin boards where gamers seek other gamers. The people who work at the store might be able to point someone out, or you might check some role-playing message boards. Once you find people to game with, you might want to see about meeting them in a neutral location, such as your local hobby shop. This way, you can get to know who you will be gaming with. Meeting a stranger for gaming purposes may be intimidating at first, but you may very well be meeting a new friend.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Hey, little one. Understand your part in all this?
River Tam: Do you?
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: This is what I do, darlin’.
[River walks away]
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: This is what I do.
Okay, so you have a crew. Now for the fun part. Deciding who is going to be the game master, and what sorts of roles you want to play. For you greenhorns, a game master is the guy who sets the stage. He paints a picture of what’s going on. The players are the folk who play a role within the ‘verse, whether it be a hired gun, a shepherd, a spunky little mechanic, and so forth. Check out Gaming in the ‘Verse from season two for some ideas.
Jayne Quote (Serenity): Shiny. Let’s be bad guys.
So what do you need to play this game? Got to have some rules, right? First and foremost, you will need a copy of the Serenity Role-Playing Game by Margaret Weis Productions. This book will provide you with the rules to get started, and a wealth of material on the Serenity ‘verse. Whether you actually use this rule system or not, this is a great book to have. The Game Master Screen will give game masters a shiny tool to work with as well as a map of Serenity. And, if you’re needing an adventure, be sure to pick up Out in the Black by Tracy and Laura Hickman.
Some folk might prefer a different system, and there are plenty out there. The d20 system has several good sourcebooks that can serve as a foundation for Serenity. d20 Modern and d20 Future are popular favorites among fandom. Google d20 Firefly or d20 Serenity, and you will find a few fan rule conversions for Serenity. The d20 Star Wars system would also be good, though you may want to wait for the release of the upcoming d20 Saga edition for Star Wars. GURPS is a good non-d20 system that covers a multitude of genres, so it should work nicely for a space western like Firefly.
Whatever rules you pick, remember that the rules should come second to the story and that they should serve to enhance the game, not make it more complicated. Each rule book should have a section on how to role-play, so I won’t repeat that info here.
You will also need a set of dice, which you can find at your local gaming store, a pencil, and paper. You might want to download a character sheet from SerenityRPG.com as well.
That’s all you’ll need to get started. If you have the chance to learn from an experienced player, great. If not, then ask on a message board. Remember, the ‘verse is yours now, so have fun with it. It’s your characters, not the crew of Serenity, who are the center of the ‘verse.
So have fun, and sleep with one eye open.