BROWNCOAT (Trampas): “Michaels, you take point. Smith, you’re with me. Okay, let’s go!”
OFFICER (James): Freeze, Browncoats! Lay down your weapons. Nobody moves!
BROWNCOAT (Trampas): Well, now. Looks like we’re gonna have ourselves all sorts of fun.
The ‘verse is a vast place, filled with all sorts of adventure. Though most adventures take place flying a rusty old boat from world to world on the Rim looking to find the next job, there are other ways to adventure in the ‘verse as well.
Six years before the Firefly TV series, the ‘verse was at war. It would later be known as the Unification War, as wars are often named by the winners. It was a time of great loss, and great sadness, but it was also a time of heroes and adventure.
The Unification War can serve as an alternate backdrop for your Serenity game. Though it is the same setting, there are some differences as well. The heroes will likely be on one side of the war or the other.
Those fighting on the side of the Browncoats are fighting a losing war. Game Masters should feel free to allow the occasional victory, but keep the feel that of a losing war. From the Browncoat point of view, the Alliance is unjustly trying to take land and tell people how they should live.
Those fighting on the side of the Alliance believe that their cause is just. They seek to improve the quality of the human condition, only to have Independents stop them from helping others.
As Firefly is modeled highly off of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, it may behoove a Game Master to look into the American Civil War for themes to use in his game. One of the greatest themes from this time is “brother against brother.” The Unification War undoubtedly split up families who were torn between the side of the Browncoats and the side of the Alliance.
Despite the conflict, there will always be those who seek a profit during a time of crisis. Those that do may have adventures more like a typical Serenity game, save that there should be a constant threat of war making it harder for a dishonest man to earn a living. Eventually, the war may force a crew to choose sides.
What can also be cool is if a Game Master uses a Unification War campaign as background for the modern era. This can be done in-game with a time jump, or when a Unification War campaign has ended, a new campaign in the modern era can begin that uses the Unification War as background.
For those that like miniatures battles and wargaming, this is the perfect era for you. Mock space battles and troop movements during the war can be simulated with the right gear. While there are no Serenity miniatures, you might look into miniatures from other sci-fi shows. Mongoose Publishing produces miniatures for Babylon 5, and Wizards of the Coast produces miniatures for Star Wars.
So have fun with your Unification War campaign, and with all your Serenity games. Stay shiny, and sleep with one eye open.