As you may have noticed, in the last month I've been busily reading a number of "Serenity" books. These are actually supplements for the "Serenity RPG" by Margaret Weis Productions, a short-lived RPG based on the film "Serenity", which was itself based on the short-lived "Firefly" TV series.
At Christmas, I had the opportunity to run a one-off adventure using the "Serenity RPG", and although it was really not a great adventure, it was enjoyed by all present, and there was some interest in kicking off a campaign. And so, I hunted up the books, and got stuck in to the reading.
I've also been doing a far amount of musing about game design, and have been doing a fair amount of reading of late, largely into those blogs that are part of the "Old School Renaissance". A lot of what they have to say is really quite interesting (and a lot is nonsense, of course), but particularly of note is their emphasis on Doing It Yourself, rather than relying on publishers producing adventures, and settings, and other material to bloat out the setting.
In that regard, the fact that both the RPG, and indeed the "Firefly" series itself, was rather short-lived is actually a boon. There's just enough material to inspire campaigns, but not so much as to further constrain the group from making The 'Verse their own.
So, where am I going with this?
Well, firstly I think I'm inclined to actually throw out the rules system in use in the Serenity RPG. It's actually not very good. I'm probably inclined to go for Savage Worlds - it's pretty close, and it's a very good fit, but it also has a bit more robustness to it. (That said, I understand there's now a "Cortex 2.0", which takes the Serenity system and vastly improves it; perhaps that warrants a look?)
Secondly, if the crew are going to have their own ship (which of course they are), then they're going to be fairly mobile. This suggests to me that the best thing to do is a 'sandbox' style game - they can go wherever they want, and adventure will find them there.
This in turn suggests that, thirdly character advancement should be fairly slow, or indeed static. This is fine, since both the Serenity RPG and Savage Worlds use fairly slow advancement schemes anyway. Still, I may even be inclined to just not bother giving out advancements at all - characters are created at Veteran level, and stay there.
Fourth, since there is a fairly small amount of source material available, and a grand total of six published adventures (mostly short), I'll need to do a fair amount of leg work coming up with interesting things for the crew to do. I had hoped that the "Serenity: Adventures" book would be more useful in that regard, but it was not to be. Amusingly, the Star Wars Saga Edition book "Sum & Villainy" may be more use.
Fifth, I really need to watch "Firefly" again!