Leveragin’ the Black – A Touch of Refinement

Last time we had a new type of attribute for our Cortex Plus version of Serenity, but on their own, they don’t quite cover the range of the crew from the show.  As it stood, Wash was as good at dancing a jig as River, while Shepherd Book could do as well in the med bay or the engine room as either Simon or Kayley respective.  That’s not going to quite work, so we need to add a little more granularity to the system with Refinements.

Job Descriptions

Each character in Serenity Plus gets some extra dice to assign on top of their Stylin’s.  This is a little like the system of Specialisations in Leverage, except they work almost the other way around.  As we noted last time, Simon and Kayley should not both be equally good at medicine and mechanics; there is a small degree of overlap, which is why they should both have a d6 in their Fixin’, but they respectively have larger dice in Doctor and Mechanic Refinements under that Stylin’.

As was the case with our Stylin’s, the dice we get to assign to Refinements depends on the starting power level of our campaign: Veterans get a single d8 to distribute, while Big Damn Heroes get a d10 and a d8.

In most cases, you’ll want to assign these to a Stylin’ where the character has d6, but it certainly doesn’t have to be the case.  Having a Fixin’ of d4 but a Doctor d10 may be appropriate for  surgeon with an extremely bad bedside manner or a particularly prominent “god complex”.  As in all Cortex Plus games, a d4 doesn’t mean a bad area for the character, just an area that’s likely to generate more trouble and Complications.

There is also no reason that a Big Damn Hero level character shouldn’t be able to add both their Refinements under the same Stylin’: the argument could be made for Jayne having everything fall under Fightin’, for example.

Refined Palette

Let’s look at each Stylin’ and some possible options for Refinements to add to those areas…

Fightin’: Some of the most obvious here highlight individual weapons of choice, such as Pistols, Shotguns, Sword Fighting, or even Fisticuffs.  We could go beyond that though and steer toward Refinements that indicate a background, such as Soldier, Mercenary, or Ex-Operative.   Not to mention that the Stylin’ can go beyond physical scrapping, so we could have Argumentative or Stubborn (although both may be a bit more appropriate as Aspects, which we’ll look at in a future post), or perhaps PoliticianCombat Pilot and similar could also fall under this area.

Fixin’: As already mentioned, this covers a range of various areas, not just being a Mechanic.  Other options of professions include Doctor, Psychiatrist, and Shepherd.  It could indicate your field of expertise instead: Medicine might be more appropriate for someone who hasn’t officially trained at Med School, such as a soldier showing an aptitude for first aid, or a veterinarian.  Perhaps your refinement indicates more of an approach than a vocation: Spiritual, Upbeat, or Supportive.

Flirtin’: The immediate example from the show being Companion, Flirtin’ could also be demonstrated by a Salesman (or Saleswoman, or Salesperson).  Again, maybe it’s your approach of being Smooth, Suave, or even just Shiny.  Or maybe for you Flirtin’ is much more literal, and your character is a Ladies Man?

Finaglin’: Being the Stylin’ covering lying and cheating, Refinements such as Con Artist are good one’s to fall in this category, but as it covers quick thinking and fast adaptation, other options may be Tactician or Captain.  Maybe it refers to your approach with Fast Talker, or just highlights you status as a Genius.

Finessin’: The likely Stylin’ used by a Genius Pilot, or a Dancer.  Maybe you’re an Acrobat or a Ninja.  You could be Stealthy or Nimble, or unleash your inner-Errol Flynn Swashbuckler.

As may be apparent from these examples, sometimes some of the Stylin’s have a bit of “bleed” into other areas, in the same way that tasks in Leverage such as driving can fall under a variety of Roles depending on the approach of the character.  In this manner, you can create such concepts as the dashing swashbuckler using Finessin’ both for swinging on light fittings and sword play, but perhaps has a d4 in Fightin’ representing his trouble if it comes down to fists.

Next time, we’ll actually apply these concepts and work up the first portion of the character sheets for each of the show’s main cast members.

About craggle

Despite being born tone deaf in one ear, Craig has risen above his disadvantage to achieve the lofty position of spending most of his free time mucking around on the Internet, tinkering with RPG rules, and failing on at least seven occasions to finish writing a novel.
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6 Responses to Leveragin’ the Black – A Touch of Refinement

  1. EldritchFire says:

    Keep up the good work, craggle! Can’t wait to see what comes next!


    • craggle says:

      Thanks EF. I’ve had a lot of great feedback from Adam here on his blog, and plenty of interesting ideas from other posts such as Rob Donoghue’s, your own, and various other places; one of the huge advantages of working on such projects in the “digital space”! 😀

  2. Adam says:

    Yes, synergizing great ideas from all over is what I find so alluring about hacking. New combinations are just waiting to emerge allowing new types of play.

    Great progress craggle. I’m also excited to see your sample show characters, your thoughts on using Aspects, in Cortex Plus and everything else. Keep it up!

  3. Nice work. Can’t wait to see the second “axis”.

  4. Pingback: Leveragin’ the Black – Stylin’ and Refinin’ the Crew | Exploring Infinity

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