We’ve covered what dice the players roll for their characters, from the assignment of their statistics to covering which dice to roll and when. But what about the GM: what dice does the GM roll in opposition to those rolled by the players? This post is going to explore assigning dice for the bad guys, the antagonists, the NPCs, and the general cannon fodder.
Just as Leverage has different levels of detail for Extras, Agents, and Foils (pages 125 to 127), so too will Serenity Plus have a variety of character outlines and templates for the NPCs. And just as the Leverage rules discuss on page 127, you should feel free to mix and match and blur the boundaries of the different tiers: use what feels right, what works, and whatever keeps the game moving and fun!
Minions, and Lackeys, and Goons, Oh My!
At the simplest (often in more ways than one) end of the spectrum, we have the almost inconsequential characters, the ones there to fill out a crowd scene, or to act as the cannon fodder for the heroes to lay out or mow down in a hail of bullets. They probably don’t even get a line of dialogue in most cases. These are the bar flies in The Train Job teaser or the majority of Rance Burgess’ men in Heart of Gold.
At this level, they may not even need dice at all, but if the situation does call for a roll on their behalf, they get a single die: d8 for the average type, decent at what they do, but nothing special; a d10 if they have something that makes them stand out from the crowd, but only slightly, like a group of well trained Alliance commandos; or a d6 if they are a pretty poor example of whatever it is they are meant to be doing.
Sometimes though, these guys team up, or at least oppose the PCs in the same manner at the same time. In these cases, form a pool of all the dice for the individuals to represent the mob, crowd, or gang. They may oppose the players just as a mob, although they will often be supporting a more significant character, providing their backup muscle.
The majority of characters are likely to be statted out at the level roughly equivalent to Agents in Leverage, having several traits and characteristics, each with an assigned die. If they are a little more significant to the plot than most, they may even have some Aspects, Resources, or Distinctions of their own, and sometimes have a few single-die lackeys to provide a bit of support or a looming presence. These characters are the Badgers (“Businessman” d8, “Roots in the community” d8, “Very fine hat” d10), the Hands of Blue, and Commander Harkens of the ‘Verse.
The Full Monty…’s Wife
At the most detailed end of the scale, we have the characters with a full crewmember-style write-up, potentially with a full list of Stlyin’s, Refinements, Values, Aspects, Resources, and Distinctions. I say potentially because, again: go with what you need. Values are good for when you want characters that the Crew can mess with by turning their beliefs back against them, but d8/d4 Aspects are another way you can model that sort of situation with less complicated write-ups.
This level of outline is for the lone villains that carry an episode on their own (Jubal Early or the Operative) and the returning characters (Niska or Yo-Saf-Bridge). In the latter instances, you probably want to start with a less detailed write-up and develop their “character sheet” further when and if they prove popular with the group.
It is sometimes said that Serenity herself is the tenth character in the show, so should your ship have its own character sheet, or at least a set of statistics? Well, that somewhat depends on how much you want to focus on what the ship does. There’s no denying the rusty old ship has plenty of character, but for the majority of what we see in the series and film, we can model the flow of events with rolls made by the characters with Serenity (or elements of her) being Resources on their character sheets or Assets bought during the game.
While you may or may not give your crews ship game statistics, you may at least want “real world” specifications for your ship: average and top speed, fuel capacity and economy ratios, and so on. If you do, you will probably be best served with the rules for statting and costing a ship as presented in the Serenity Role-Playing Game original core rulebook, or you could check out the excellent fan resources on the Ship Building section of the Cortex forums. You can completely ignore the die value statistics after using them for setting the price of the boat, or they could provide guides for a mid-complexity “character” write-up for the ship.
It’s been mentioned in passing in a number of posts now, but next time we actually turn to looking at the rules for Stress in Serenity Plus.