New Firefly RPG Release: Freedom Flyer

Cover for Freedom Flyer - Copy

    Folk do what they can to scratch out a living in the ’Verse. Seems like some folk push their luck to scrape by in these tough times. Maggie Miller’s bad history and rotten luck are keeping her from achievin’ her dreams. She wants to get out of the Georgia System to make a fresh start out on the Rim, but she needs three things to do it: a hidden pile of cash, a ship she’s hidden with an old flame, Hollis Mason, and enough leftover credits to wipe Ma Millers’s medical bills clean before she goes.  The Crew will have to dig for treasure, outwit a wily Alliance officer, and steal a ship hidden in orbit to help Maggie safely on her way. Trouble is, there’s a kind of hitch: Hush Jackson, a tough-as-nails bounty hunter who’s hopin’ to cash in on Maggie’s head. Will the Crew turn Maggie over for the bounty? Or, will they help Maggie out and pray there is enough cash left over to cover their costs?

    Friends in Low Places is part of the Echoes of War role-playing adventure series, which is centered on a common theme: the Unification War. Echoes of War adventures include basic rules to get you started. Main characters are found in the Serenity Crew, which is available separately. All releases in the Echoes of War line are compatible with the FIREFLY ROLE-PLAYING GAME, which is based on the television series by Joss Whedon.

This new release for the Echoes of War line is the brainchild of Nicole Wakelin. She wrote about her experience working with us on her blog. Here’s what she said:

Like so many of you, I fell in love with Firefly when it first aired. It was my new favorite show and I was nothing short of heartbroken when it was cancelled. The end, but not so fast. Fans asked, demanded, screamed for more and more we’ve been given.

There was a movie and there are comics and games and now there’s a new RPG that I had the joy of getting to work on over the summer. I wrote an adventure called Freedom Flyer and I am still giddy that I got to play in that universe. I got to not just dip a toe in the wonderful world created by Joss Whedon but I got to take a full-on swim. It was amazing. — Nicole Wakelin

I hope you get the chance to check Freedom Flyer out. It is, as they say… SHINY!

New Release: Friends in Low Places

Friends in Low Places_Firefly RPG_Valentinelli

    Sometimes meeting up with old friends in Serenity View is cause for celebration—but not this time. Over drinks, you and your Crew discover that Monty’s new wife Daisy has gone missing. Worse, your pal thinks that Virgil Morningstar, a Guild trader with a heap of Alliance connections, had something to do with her disappearance. By the time you find out Daisy ain’t the only one who’s vanished, you and your Crew’ll be neck-deep in trouble and hard-pressed to find your way out of it. Thing is, if you do unravel this little mystery, you’ll claim a big reward and be heroes to boot.

    Friends in Low Places is part of the Echoes of War role-playing adventure series, which is centered on a common theme: the Unification War. Echoes of War adventures include basic rules to get you started. Main characters are found in the Serenity Crew, which is available separately. All releases in the Echoes of War line are compatible with the FIREFLY ROLE-PLAYING GAME, which is based on the television series by Joss Whedon.

I’m really excited to see this new Episode go live today. I had a lot of fun writing and playtesting this Episode with the following people in two, separate playtests: Matt M McElroy, Bill Bodden, Maurice Broaddus, Robert Farnsworth, Dylan “that bastard” Birtolo, Kelly Swails, Molly Findley, Donald Roberts, Mark Tassin, Douglas F. Warrick, Kyle S. Johnson, Danielle Friedman, and Gary Kloster.

What I found through GM’ing the Episode for two differently-sized groups, was that smaller groups might tend to hone in on the setting more, because there’s less banter happening at the table. This resulted in an enhancement to the Episode structure to address a concern Margaret and I had early on, about adding in setting. Since this is a very character-driven game, each location I developed incorporates a new character or “Extra.” Combined, those tweaks ensure that the setting helps flesh out the overall plot instead of distracting the Crew from their goal.

For larger groups, I saw how the system facilitated a full cast of nine players, and how important it was to clearly direct scenes. By using the phrase “cut to commercial” at the end of a scene, the group could wind down some while I managed the Assets and Complications on the table. Then, when we faded back in to the new scene, I offered the players a chance to recap what happened so far (to earn a plot point) and then set the next location.

So why all the playtesting? First, understand that while we do have a systems lead, I love this game and it’s my responsibility to be able to play/run scenarios so I can offer feedback from my perspective. The team did a fantastic job; the way the system was designed really, really lends itself to the feeling like you’re on the set of a Firefly television episode. Here, playtesting was a “must.” This Episode has five acts, true, but it also has a unique plot structure where (not spoiling anything by saying this) the players choose their allies over the course of the adventure. The decisions they make in their encounters with other characters, from the Prelude onward, impact the final showdown — and it’s a doozy!

I hope you have fun playing this Episode. There’s a lot more Firefly fun coming and I’m very excited to share with you what’s next for the line. The entire team has been head down for the past few weeks as we wrap up the corebook and continue working on the first supplement. Enjoy!

It’s A-LIVE! New Comic Release

LastZombieStanding

I am thrilled to announce the debut of my first comic Last Man Zombie Standing!

This comic kicks off a series of single issues for UNFASHIONED CREATURES: A Frankestein Anthology published by Red Stylo Media. This is part of a digital rollout that’ll be in advance of the full anthology.

The comic is available on the Red Stylo Media website and DriveThruComics.com. Only $1.99!

I hope you enjoy my first comic. There’s a lot of Easter Eggs in this for anybody who likes 1960s pulp. It was a blast to write and I’d love to write more of these!

New Game Release: Gaming In The ‘Verse: Gen Con 2013 Exclusive and FAQ

gaming-in-the-verse

If you recall, we announced the pre-order for this convention rulebook back in April. Today, I am pleased to announce that we delivered Gaming in the ‘Verse: GenCon 2013 Exclusive, as promised, on Thursday, August 15th. This preview for the Firefly RPG line, both the corebook and Echoes of War, are now available at DriveThruRPG.com.

By now you should have a good idea what this rulebook is for, so let me address some questions we’ve received to help you understand more general information about the line I’m managing and designing.

1) What is the difference between the Serenity RPG and the Firefly RPG?

The Serenity RPG debuted in 2005 and employed a rule system which is now known as “Cortex Classic.” Based on the movie, this game was licensed through Universal Studios.

The Firefly RPG, which debuted in 2013, employs the Cortex Plus engine which has been the foundation for Leverage, Smallville, and Marvel. The game is based on the Fox television series. This is not a new edition of the Serenity RPG; these are two, separate games and play very differently.

This also means there are setting-related decisions we made to create a strong foundation at the beginning of the Crew’s story arc. As we show in the Exclusive, we’ll first reinforce the television series by providing all rules for secondary characters and dive into actual play examples for every Episode. We will start faithful to the show and will slowly expand into new canon — which we’ve already done by providing new ‘Verse-related locations, characters, ships, etc.

2) Shouldn’t River be more powered than she is? Why is Book presented as secretive? Wait… Where’s Miranda?

We provided rules for the main cast at the very beginning of their story arc. River is still extremely mysterious — no one knew she had combat-related powers until Kaylee witnessed her fighting skills at Niska’s skyplex in “War Stories,” which was the tenth episode in Firefly. Even then, Kaylee did not reveal her skills right away. This also means that we will not be diving into the origin of Reavers due to the boundaries of our licensing agreement. They will be the mysterious boogeymen who haunt the black in their modded ships.

There are marked differences for many of the characters at the beginning of the show versus what we know about them in the movie. So, the reason why you’re seeing that distinction, is because we intentionally provided their character descriptions and rules to line up with the TV series.

3) Do I have to run the Episodes as they are presented?

Our adventures were designed for folk who’ve never run Cortex Plus before and for GMs who prefer a ready-made scenario. The system is incredibly flexible and no two gaming groups are alike. For that reason, I would gauge your decisions (both as a player and as a GM) according to the needs of your table. I’m finding that larger groups (I ran this for a cast of nine Crewmembers) will focus on banter more than smaller teams who’ll emphasize setting.

Our role as a publisher is to provide as much material as possible so all types of GMs and players will get what they want out of these new stories. The sample Assets, Complications, and results table are just that — samples to help guide you as your Crew travels through the ‘Verse. For example, if you were to run Wedding Planners “as is” you’d get two to three sessions of play out of the scenario.

4) Is this the same rule system you’ll use in the corebook?

Yes, absolutely. What our systems team created is amazing and we have no intention of altering game play. I’ve instructed our new folk, led by Mark Diaz Truman, to be faithful to what’s been presented in the Exclusive. My role on the mechanics side is to continue reinforcing canon in the system-related context. So expect new Distinctions in the corebook, advancement, more rules clarifications, game play examples, sample Assets/Complications, and a few new aspects like what happens when you botch. (Hint: players earn a Complication without getting a Plot Point.)

We are going to take the Basic Rules chapter and split that up between player and GM so we can expand on certain points. These rules are the basis for Echoes of War adventures, so if you like Wedding Planners or Shooting Fish — I think you’re really going to dig the new Episodes we have in the pipe by some fabulous writers. Just fabulous.

5) What’s next? When’s the corebook coming out?

First up, we’re releasing the stand-alone editions of Wedding Planners, Serenity Crew, and Shooting Fish that debuted in the Exclusive on September 3rd. To be clear: this has much of the same content. (The Exclusive has more, which is related to the corebook.) We’re separating these out to match the publication schedule for the Echoes of War line, and to provide fans with different options. For example, we anticipated that fans who picked up the Wedding Planners Cortex Classic Set, may prefer not to buy the Exclusive and just try a stand-alone Episode.

Before I left for Gen Con, I finished the third Echoes of War adventure called “Friends in Low Places.”

***SPOILER ALERT*** Mouse over to read the synopsis! ***END SPOILERS***

We will continue to release Episodes in digital ahead of the corebook and this is next in line. Now that that’s over with, my attention is on the corebook and the other, unannounced products we’ve got coming up. I’m really, really excited about this.

If you have other questions, feel free to ask them here. We have already incorporated feedback into what we’re working on; though our time frame is short, we are listening. It’s tough because we have to balance comments with getting games out on time — and that’s something I am hyperfocused on.

Thanks for your interest in this shiny, new game!

New Game Release: Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide

Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide

Today’s new release is the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide. Here’s some information about this project:

We asked creators, amateurs, and professionals alike to share new mechanics, settings, and entirely new games based on our popular Cortex Plus roleplaying games: LEVERAGE, SMALLVILLE, and MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING. An army of authors contributed their own ideas to the project, which we dubbed the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide. Emboldened by a highly successful Kickstarter project and the investment of over a thousand backers, the Guide has blossomed into a fully featured sourcebook for all things Cortex Plus!



My essay is about role-playing like you’re starring in your own television show. It had two parts. First, I wanted to have a section where I addressed thematic issues about this style of game. Second, I took the Cortex Classic character sheet and modified its contents to put more emphasis on roles and relationships. Combined, the essay will likely be more helpful for newer Cortex Plus fans who have roots in Classic than those who’ve played through this system since the very beginning.

Enjoy the book! There’s a lot of great material here!

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