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RPG - Serenity - Any takes/reviews of it

TheYeti1775

Adventurer
Anyone here play with the Serenity RPG?

Saw it at the FLGS on Saturday, and almost picked it up. But budget dictated only minis for that trip.

Thanks in advance.
Yeti
 

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Crothian

First Post
I feel it is a very good resource for playing a game based on Serenity. But I am not a big fan of the mechanics they use. I feel it is a little too random for determining success. They use a die plus die system. The character improves the die gets bigger. I have the game and the first module but I think I would use a different system or house rule the current one.
 


Crothian

First Post
I don't feel broken is the right way to describe it. Broken seems to mean that something is too powerful like it broke the system. This is the system we are talking about and in my experience the characters have a hard time doing things they should be able to because the of the randomness of the rolls. A character good at something might have d10 + d8. And it is just too easy to still roll low and fail at many things. And they system makes it too hard for a character that wants to be a jack of all trades type.
 

Eh, 'broken' to me means 'non-functional'. It's too random, the 'sub-skill' element is poorly thought out and a PITA, and worst of all, I think the balance between stat and skill is badly mismatched. A high die in a stat is far, far more cost effective than a high die in a subskill that may never get used.
 


evildmguy

Explorer
In the fwiw category

I was also not impressed with the game mechanic. The idea is that d10 + d8 means a success but depending on the target numbers, which I don't know off the top of my head, it isn't the case. You can still get low numbers with that.

The productions quality of the book, though, is quite high and it is a great resource. I would probably use Alternity (use your own favorite SciFi mechanic) and use the RPG as a good resource for the Firefly 'verse.

Take care.

edg
 

maddman75

First Post
I've heard the same thing, that it was a decent source of material, but the mechanics didn't really make it feel like Firefly. You could do just was well using d20 future or GURPS or something. If I were to do it, I'd cobble something together with Unisystem.
 

Crothian

First Post
TheYeti1775 said:
I might go ahead and pick it up then, even if I don't use it in full. I'm pretty sure I can pluck ideas from it's fluff.

I should say I am happy I have the game. I might not use it exactly as is but it is not a purchase I regret. I know I say more bad things then good about the game.
 

Meloncov

First Post
From my limited expierence with the game, I liked the skill system. It was easy to learn, fast paced, and I didn't encounter any of the problems others have mentioned. However, the combat system didn't capture the feeling of Firefly to me; notably, bullets weren't lethal enough.

Personally, I want to adapt Kenzer's Aces and Eights to Firefly, once they finally release the full rules.
 

Prophet2b

First Post
I'm in the minority, I know, but I actually like the system a lot. The problem with it is that if you like rolling dice a lot, then it's probably not for you.

It's incredibly, heavily roleplaying oriented. You shouldn't roll dice for most things at all. In general, if you have the skill level, you can do it. It's only in cases where your failing could have dramatic consequences that you have to roll die, like shooting at the bad guy and such.

It's also not a very action heavy game. But neither was Firefly or Serenity. Well, Serenity was more action packed than Firefly, but over all, they were very drama oriented. If you take a good shot to the chest, you will die in this system - no doubt about it.

I like that. It's more realistic, I think. It also forces the players to think about what they're doing, and figure out ways to get around things apart from just combat.

I will say this, though - you need a group that loves the Firefly TV show and wants to play like that. If all of your players aren't on the same page, then nobody really has a lot of fun - not them, and not the people who are really into it. That's why we stopped our game - two of the four players just didn't really like it all that much.

Anyway, that's my two cents worth. The less dice rolling you have in any given game, the better. Oh, and players really need to rely on the Plot Points when they do roll. That's another big thing - plot points are important. My players never used them nearly as much as they should have... they're not just for rolling dice. They're for all kinds of things. But, yeah, the players didn't quite view it that way.

It's different. I love it. But that's just my opinion...
 

molonel

First Post
TheYeti1775 said:
I'm pretty sure I can pluck ideas from it's fluff.

If I buy it, that's going to be the reason I get it, too. During our last conversation, one of the designers for it gave some very interesting answers. He impressed me with his willingness to disagree charitably, and was very up front about his design principles.

I liked the guy. I'm especially watching for the Battlestar Galactica RPG, where he said they were going to implement some of the lessons they learned while playtesting the Serenity RPG.
 

Unkabear

First Post
I picked up the book for the fluff. But my wife picked it up and though she didn't really get d20(I just don't think she tried) she picked up the serenity system in one read.

I also agree that the game should be more rp oriented, though when it should count throw in the plot points...that's what they are there for. I lucked out and the GM was liberal with them as we were liberal in their use. But then our group tended toward the dramatic and encouraged cinematic playing.
 

Prophet2b

First Post
Unkabear said:
I lucked out and the GM was liberal with them as we were liberal in their use. But then our group tended toward the dramatic and encouraged cinematic playing.

Well... I think you're supposed to be liberal with them. :) I found this out as a GM, when I wasn't as liberal with them as I should have been... which also might have been a reason my player's tended not to use them much...

As long as the Plot Points are used as they should be, though, then the "too much left to chance" complaint is dramatically reduced.
 

molonel

First Post
Prophet2b said:
As long as the Plot Points are used as they should be, though, then the "too much left to chance" complaint is dramatically reduced.

This is an honest question, because I haven't played the system.

It seems, from what people have said, that the mechanics are so borked that you simply MUST have plot points falling down like rain because otherwise success is extremely difficult.

I guess I find myself wondering, then: why have the system at all?

What has your experience been?
 

Prophet2b

First Post
molonel said:
It seems, from what people have said, that the mechanics are so borked that you simply MUST have plot points falling down like rain because otherwise success is extremely difficult.

I guess I find myself wondering, then: why have the system at all?

What has your experience been?

Well, I guess I don't really consider that a fair statement, simply in as far as plot points are part of the mechanics. It would be like saying, "The d20 system is so screwed up you have to have modifiers to make up for it." But the modifiers are part of the system.

I mean, sure, the Serenity system would probably suck without Plot Points. But D&D would suck without numerical bonuses and stuff, too. It's all part of the system.

That's not to say that Serenity is perfect. It definitely has its flaws, though in my case, I think the biggest one is simply how poorly they reviewed their book before releasing it. They make WotC look like Shakespeare or something, considering how often they contradict themselves and mess things up.

But the actual game mechanics, I believe, are great. They could be refined a bit - but Serenity was their "test" game for that. The mechanics will keep getting refined and better. They're not (in my humble opinion) as bad as others make them out to be, though.

Oh, as a last note, I wouldn't say Plot Points need to fall like rain. GM's just shouldn't be stingy with them. Players should definitely have to earn Plot Points - but that should be easy enough to do, and the GM should always be sure to award them for it! As long as that's done, players should be fine. And some sessions or instances will need more plot points used than others. It really all depends - and the GM should be willing to adjust for those situations.
 

molonel

First Post
Prophet2b said:
Well, I guess I don't really consider that a fair statement, simply in as far as plot points are part of the mechanics. It would be like saying, "The d20 system is so screwed up you have to have modifiers to make up for it." But the modifiers are part of the system. I mean, sure, the Serenity system would probably suck without Plot Points. But D&D would suck without numerical bonuses and stuff, too. It's all part of the system.

My understanding, which may be incorrect, was that plot points sort of overrided the mechanics and simply trumped the system.

How do they work? (If explaining it doesn't require you to write a dissertation.)

Prophet2b said:
Oh, as a last note, I wouldn't say Plot Points need to fall like rain.

That was actually a quote from Margaret Weis on their forums:

http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=193573&page=2&pp=40&highlight=serenity

Prophet2b said:
GM's just shouldn't be stingy with them. Players should definitely have to earn Plot Points - but that should be easy enough to do, and the GM should always be sure to award them for it! As long as that's done, players should be fine. And some sessions or instances will need more plot points used than others. It really all depends - and the GM should be willing to adjust for those situations.

Hmmm. Interesting. Thank you for your thoughts on the matter. I haven't played the game yet, but I'm considering it.
 

Prophet2b

First Post
Heh, I just had one other thought real quick...

I don't even think it's true that Serenity leaves more to "chance" than D&D. In fact, in the end, I think they're both quite comparable.

For example, in Serenity when you shoot your gun, you might roll a d8 for Dex and d12 for Ranged Weapon/Pistol. That's all you roll. Because there are no numerical modifiers to those numbers, though, people seem to think that it leaves too much to chance.

However, in D&D, just because the Fighter has a +10 to hit does not mean it gets easier to hit things as time goes on. The creatures you fight at each level get higher and higher AC's - so he STILL has to roll high. His chances don't really get better as he levels, because he's always fighting tougher opponents.

The D&D system gives the illusion that you're chances are getting better all the time, because by the time you're 10th Level you're not even comparable to when you were 1st Level. But when you fight that Fire Giant, there's still a huge amount of chance involved, and it's going to be just as difficult as when you were a 1st level character fighting those two kobolds.

The other illusion comes from the world itself. In D&D (or other fantasy games), you get very powerful magic items that your opponents don't usually have. This gives you a boost beyond your normal capabilities.

In Serenity, you aren't likely to get that added boost. That's not the system's fault, though - that's the world. They're two entirely different worlds.

I don't think D&D eliminates chance - it's just very good and creating an illusion of little chance involved. In Serenity, there is no illusion, nothing to mask the roll. But then again, in Serenity you shouldn't have to roll as often, either. If you have a d12 in rock climbing and you want to scale that mountain cliff, the GM ought to well and good let you. It's only when some bandits start trying to shoot at you that you have to make your climb check. And in those cases, you've got just as good a chance as falling as you do in any other system, no more no less.
 

Prophet2b

First Post
molonel said:
How do they work? (If explaining it doesn't require you to write a dissertation.)

Heh... sorry, I do like to write a lot! But I'll try to keep this short.

You can have at any time a max of 12 Plot Points.

You can spend one Plot Point on a roll before you roll to add a die to the roll. So spending 1 PP = +2d to the roll, 2 PP - +4d, 6 PP = +d12, 14 PP = d12+d2, etc. Example: Joe has to roll his d8 Dex for a Dexterity check, spends 3 PP, so he rolls d8+d6 (now he has a better chance of making the check).

You can spend one Plot Point after a roll to add +1 (per PP) to the roll. So if Joe only rolls a 10, but needed a 12, he can spend 2 PP to make it to 12.

You can also spend PP in a huge variety of ways (too many to list here) for roleplaying situations. They have a big list in the book.

That was actually a quote from Margaret Weis on their forums

Oh, hey, well, that's cool! I did not know that at the time. :)

EDIT: Oh, and you earn Plot Points a variety of ways, but usually for playing your character very well, doing heroic things, or if the GM is generally going to make things especially difficult for you he might give you some Plot Points to "ease your pains" just a tad.
 
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molonel

First Post
Prophet2b said:
Heh... sorry, I do like to write a lot! But I'll try to keep this short.

Oh, that wasn't a criticism of your writing style. I don't mind lengthy expostulation. But I understand, in rules discussions, that sometimes explaining something almost requires that you retype the book, and I didn't want to feel like I was pressing for that.

Prophet2b said:
You can have at any time a max of 12 Plot Points. You can spend one Plot Point on a roll before you roll to add a die to the roll. So spending 1 PP = +2d to the roll. Example: Joe has to roll a d8 Dex check, spends 3 PP, so he rolls d8+d6. You can spend one Plot Point after a roll to add +1 (per PP) to the roll. So if Joe only rolls a 10, but needed a 12, he can spend 2 PP to make it to 12. You can also spend PP in a huge variety of ways (too many to list here) for roleplaying situations. They have a big list in the book.

Ah. So they actually work a lot like Action Points in d20 Modern:

http://www.wizards.com/d20/files/msrd/msrdactionpoints.rtf

Okay, I misunderstood the mechanic somewhat, then.
 

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