Friday, 13 March 2015

Salvation RPG (Firefly ruleset)

 A few years ago I played in a Firefly-style game using the Cortex Serenity rules. I wasn't impressed, but have heard that the Cortex+ system that it now uses is better.

Regardless, I designed this system at the time as an alternative. Though I'm using Firefly, it would work for many settings, particularly those with a TV series format (such as the principles of Prime Time Adventures).

I hope to develop this more one day. All references to owned properties is thoroughly intentional and not intended as a threat (there's no point suing me anyway).

Chapter 1: Character Creation.
All characters have two Strengths and one Weakness. You get to make these up. Keep them broad and interesting. Strengths help your character overcome Obstacles, where Weaknesses can become Obstacles in your way.

Examples of Characters
Mal Reynolds. Strengths: Captain, War Veteran. Weakness: Code of Honour.
Kaylee Frye. Strengths: Mechanical Savant, Everybody’s Little Sister. Weakness: Innocent.
Jayne Cobb. Strengths: Tough Sonofabitch, Bad Ass Fighter. Weakness: Selfish.
Inara Serra. Strengths: Registered Companion, High Society. Weakness: Obligations.

Chapter 2: Chips
Setup: Get a bowl (or better yet, a cowboy hat) and fill it with poker chips. You should have twenty white chips, ten red chips, and five blue chips.

At the start of the game, each player draws a chip at random from the Hat and adds it to the Chip Pool (in a central area). Chips are used to overcome Obstacles (see Part 3).
  • White Chips are Role Chips. You may use a Role Chip to invoke one of your Strengths to overcome an Obstacle.
  • Red Chips are Stunt Chips. You may use a Stunt Chip to overcome an Obstacle even if you don’t have an appropriate Strength. Simply justify it through narrative.
  • Blue Chips are Revelation Chips. Each player may only use ONE Revelation Chip per session. Use a Revelation Chip to overcome an Obstacle AND gain either a Strength or Weakness. (As in the series, characters don’t really grow as much as they reveal previously unseen elements of themselves. Shepherd Book and River Tam both use a lot of Revelation Chips).
Chips stay in the Hat until drawn, whereupon they are added to the Pool. Once they are used they are discarded into Trash.

Chapter 3: Obstacles

One player is designated as the Director for the session. Their character plays a minor role for the session (or merely a cameo). The Director is effectively a GM.
As the story develops Obstacles are added to an Obstacle List. These are challenges the group must overcome. Examples; Someone is kidnapped; the ship is out of fuel; there is a killer on board; someone needs medical attention; authorities are closing in. The PCs must use Chips to overcome these Obstacles.
Adding an Obstacle: Anybody can try to add an Obstacle by stating the nature of it and seeking a second to support it. If the Director moves the Obstacle, any one other player must second it to go ahead. If a player moves the Obstacle, the Director must second it to go ahead. The group may choose to adapt or change the Obstacle through discussion. Every time an Obstacle is added, a random Chip is drawn from the Hat and added to the Crew Pool.

Using Weaknesses as Obstacles: If appropriate, you may use a character Weakness to add an Obstacle. Your character’s unique personality have harmed the mission; here’s hoping your crewmates can help. This works the same as a regular Obstacle.
Overcoming an Obstacle: Obstacles can be overcome (removed from the Obstacle List) with the use of Chips. To use a Chip, select one from the Crew Pool and explain how you will use it. If the action you choose is seconded by any other person (player or Director) the Obstacle is overcome. See Chapter 2 for more detail on the nature of Chips.
Leftover Obstacles: At the end of a session, most of your Obstacles should be overcome. However, remaining Obstacles can form the basis of the next session. Or become part of a long-running metaplot. Consequences are important to the Firefly world.