I originally came up with this idea on Eldritch Fire’s blog (now relocated to efpress.net) where he was working up his own conversion of the Cortex Plus rules for Firefly/Serenity. Credit where it’s due: without EF’s post, I highly doubt that much of my own ideas would have taken flight. I’ll certainly be interested in seeing where his ideas go, and his FATE project sounds rather intriguing too, but for now, here’s some of my own take on Serenity Plus: Leveragin’ the Black…
It’s Not What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It
In Smallville, what’s most important is “Why are you doing it?” and “Who are you doing it for?”; hence the main attributes used by the system are Values and Relationships. Leverage is a bit more traditional with Attributes (note the capital this time) and Roles, because the characters have very well-defined jobs to do. My thoughts on the “primary pairing” to capture the feel of the Firefly series were that the system should be about “Why are you doing it?” and “How do you do it?”. For the latter of these, I turn to a “new” stat of my own creation: Stylin’s.¹
Stylin’s are the following five categories: Fightin’, Fixin’, Flirtin’, Finaglin’, an’–sorry, and–Finessin’. We’ll break these down as follows: –
Fightin’ Obviously the main areas this covers are any involving violence and attempts to do grievous bodily harm upon others–whether by fists, knives, or guns–and preventing them doing likewise to one’s own person, but this also covers such actions as intimidation, arguing, and in some cases (a rarity in Firefly/Serenity) ship-to-ship combat. From the show, this is a strong area for Jayne, Zoe, and Mal.
Fixin’ Again, this has the obvious implication of an area of use: mechanical repairs. However, this Stylin’ is intended to cover Fixin’ of all types, whether mechanical, medical, emotional, or spiritual, so this makes it a strong area for Kayley, Simon, Book, and Inara.
Flirtin’ This covers charm, sincerity, persuasiveness, attractiveness. The name implies interaction with persons you find attractive, but also covers smooth talking clients or Alliance patrols, and general shiny-ness. This is a strong area for Inara and Kayley.
Finaglin’ Smarts, cheating and lying, being able to quickly adapt to a situation and the double talk needed to get yourself out of it. Malcolm is pretty strong in this area (although his own sense of honour restrains him in some ways), while Wash has some talent himself.
Finessin’ Doing things with style and flair, dexterity, and fine manipulation. Flying ships, dancing, picking pockets, or swinging from chandeliers would all be examples of Finessin’. This is the main area for Wash for his piloting, and also for River.
There are two levels of character creation, similar to the different levels of point buys in the original Serenity rules. Veteran characters have two d4s and three d6s to distribute between their Stylin’s. Big Damn Heroes, such as the show’s cast, get one d4 and four d6s.
You may be considering that this doesn’t really account for Wash’s crazy piloting skills, and thinking how this makes Kayley as good at heart surgery as Simon, and vice versa for replacing the phase couplings on the engine. We therefore have an extra layer on top of these called Refinements, which we shall explore in the next post.
1 You may have detected by this point my predilection for the occasional strong theme in naming conventions on my character sheets. If you haven’t, I’m sure you soon will!