Firefly-like campaign game choice

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Hornblower

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If you wanted to run a game campaign in the style of Firefly meets Star Wars' criminal underbelly where the crew is a ragtag group doing odd jobs to keep the ship flying and in hopes of one day earning enough credits to be able to retire rich, which game would you choose between the ones below? These are the games I've narrowed it down to.

Traveller 2nd. edition 2022 Update
Death in Space
FrontierSpace
Stars Wihout Number Revised
 

Moonglum

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Depends a lot on what kind of DM is in charge; if you are happy to take responsibility for setting a tone and detailing the locations and characters in your campaigns, then I'd just pick a relatively well play tested and widely applicable sci fi system like Traveller. If you like more specific support you'll have to find a game that tries to mimic the themes of the show, and just deal with the fact that such games often take a line that doesn't match how you feel about the setting. This is more or less how I feel about all games based on settings from books or other media. E.g., I like running middle earth or hyborian age campaigns, but not with middle earth or 'conan' game systems.
 

Hornblower

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I own Scum & Villainy but was looking to use a more straightforward system.
 

David Johansen

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Well, that's Traveller in a nutshell isn't it?

There's a lot of variations on the theme but Mongoose Traveller 2 or Cephus Engine is probably the right choice there unless you've got a deep love of GURPS, d20, or HERO. Personally I prefer T4 but I'm pretty much contrarian by nature.

I've got tools for it in Galaxies In Shadow, trade, professions and so on. Heck Spacemaster could do it too.

If you really want to go off the cuff, Mechanoid Invasion Book 3 is very serviceable, not much for trade rules beyond a skill percentage but the Mechanoids are just about ready to blow up the universe so your bank balance won't matter in the end. In the mean time there's a great demand for supplies and weapons among the adventurers and scientists on their abandoned homeworld.
 

Rob Necronomicon

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Can't go wrong with Cepheus that said I think SWN might be a better option as it's a bit more flavourful which might suit firefly and starwars.

You could always reskin one of the savage Worlds sci-fi games.
 

3rik

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FrontierSpace or Mongoose Traveller 2E.

One not on your list I'd personally also consider would be HardNova II Revised & Expanded.
 

BigJackBrass

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Firefly is suspiciously similar to Traveller in many ways, right down to some of the locations. I’d probably use Traveller in whichever version you prefer, although if you want an alternative then Bulldogs! from Galileo Games is perfect.
 

Dammit Viktor

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I really like FrontierSpace and I really want to like Stars Without Number, and keep meaning to give it a real shot.

They both have the advantage of having extremely compatible games to poach to do weird interstitial genre shit with them.
 

Nobby-W

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If you wanted to run a game campaign in the style of Firefly meets Star Wars' criminal underbelly where the crew is a ragtag group doing odd jobs to keep the ship flying and in hopes of one day earning enough credits to be able to retire rich, which game would you choose between the ones below? These are the games I've narrowed it down to.

Traveller 2nd. edition 2022 Update
Death in Space
FrontierSpace
Stars Wihout Number Revised

Scum and Villainy could do this with one caveat (see below) - you can see a couple of PbP S&V games I've been running on this site.


How applicable S&V is would depend on how much you wanted to use trading mechanics for the game. S&V is mainly built around capers, and this assumption is embedded in its stress and downtime mechanics, and there is no actual system for interstellar trade published in the game. How good a fit this would be is a judgment call, and depends on what style of game you have in mind.

Firefly was apocryphally based on a Traveller campaign that Whedon ran in the 1980s. You can even see where some of the characters might have started out life in Traveller - the pilot with no combat skills, the engineer with the low education, the noble doctor, a couple of ex-army adventurers, the 'other' career criminal and so forth.

Stars Without Number has a merchant supplement called Suns of Gold, and could also be used for this type of campaign. It's well regarded and I have the material, although I've never run or played it. From reading it through it looks like it would also work fine for this type of campaign.
 

Raleel

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While the firefly game itself is no longer made, cortex is and keeps the mechanics. Essentially the plot points gives a good tv episode feel.

however, if you don’t care about that, the other options up here are less work ;)
 

PolarBlues

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WEG Star Wars and the above mentioned Bulldogs! are my go to space opera games (though, I've not run Bulldogs! in a very long time).

The benefit of WEG Star Wars, other than the very inuitive system, is how it requires no exposition or introduction. Saying "Star Wars" is like a massive short cut getting everyone on the same page. I still have a tattered copy of Freight Trampers somewhere if I really felt I needed extra imspiration for a Firefly campaign.

Bulldogs! has some of the best alien player-races I seen since Babylon 5. It hits the right zany tone of 5th Element or Space Truckers. I have the old Fate 3.0 version. I think it was one of the best, most comprehensible and least intimidating Fate games out there,

The dark horse in the race could be Fires of Amatsumara. This is a D6 Space setting book which is very clearly Firefly-inspered in with the space-cowboy trapping and the plantes are colonies in the same solar system way. Just bear in mind that (1) the layout of the book is terrible (2) the default play mode is for the characters to play Rangers (law enforcement) so some assembly may be necessary.
 
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I'd choose either Traveller (Cepheus Engine in my case), or SWN with the Suns of Gold supplement. My preference is for the former but I'd base my decision on what the group is most comfortable with. You can't really go wrong with either choice -- they're made for this kind of game.

EDIT: Forgot to say that Bulldogs! is also a fantastic choice for this kind of game, if you dig Fate.

KoOS
 

PolarBlues

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EDIT: Forgot to say that Bulldogs! is also a fantastic choice for this kind of game, if you dig Fate.

There is also the original D20 version of Bulldogs! for anyone who doesn't get along with Fate. I picked as extra source material as it very cheap.
 

Skywalker

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Of the games listed, Death In Space. Simple yet powerful rules for this style of gaming.
 

lategamer

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I wouldn't use Traveller RAW (because I think I'm done with their Jump Space).

I'd actually use the Alien RPG. Has the corporate feel. Dodgy dealings. Can totally avoid the Xenos if you need to. And there are some deck plans for the Betty...
 

Fenris-77

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SWoN is almost always going to be my choice here for two reasons. First, the aystem is dead easy to hack if its not exactly right. Second, there's so much good material for it. Kevin Crawford is a genius. :grin:
 

Ravenswing

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I've done Firefly with GURPS, successfully; honestly, I think GURPS handles near-future low TL SF a great deal better than it does Trek-level uber-tech. Part of it, though, is to embrace simplicity whenever possible (never you bloody mind, GURPS Vehicles, bleh). One of the mechanics I used came from the old Waves In The Black forum, where one discussion thread hinged on the classic RPG problem -- how do you balance PCs getting their hands on loot with a milieu like Firefly, where privation and running on a shoestring is the driving paradigm?

What one smart cookie came up with is instead of a party being paid in hard numbers, they were tacitly paid in "KRFs" (for "keep 'er flying"). One KRF would keep the ship going for a week/month/whatever.

Anyway, can't claim to be familiar with any of the other systems mentioned above but Traveller, but it seems that Traveller would do fine with a fair bit of tweaking.
 

Torque2100

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TBH one of the best choices for this model of game would be Star Wars WEG D6 or Open D6 Space. I have found that this game system has just the right amount of Crunch for my taste and keeps things moving without bogging the game down in loads of minutiae.

Having played Traveller, my main complaint is that the trading mechanics RAW can make the game into a Space Accountant Simulator.
 

AsenRG

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If you wanted to run a game campaign in the style of Firefly meets Star Wars' criminal underbelly where the crew is a ragtag group doing odd jobs to keep the ship flying and in hopes of one day earning enough credits to be able to retire rich, which game would you choose between the ones below? These are the games I've narrowed it down to.

Traveller 2nd. edition 2022 Update
Death in Space
FrontierSpace
Stars Wihout Number Revised
Traveller, not even close... or Cepheus Engine.

Also, SWN always felt like "D&D combat system artificially tacked on to Traveller"...which works about as well as it did for Frankenstein:thumbsup:.
 

PolarBlues

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Also, SWN always felt like "D&D combat system artificially tacked on to Traveller"...which works about as well as it did for Frankenstein:thumbsup:.

I recall reading, either in the into to SWN or a post somewhere, where the author explained how his interested was purely in creating sandbox tools. He choose a D&D derived sort of system for SWN because, in his views, most readers would be instantly familiar with the concepts, but the focus was always about the tools, not the system.
 

AsenRG

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I recall reading, either in the into to SWN or a post somewhere, where the author explained how his interested was purely in creating sandbox tools. He choose a D&D derived sort of system for SWN because, in his views, most readers would be instantly familiar with the concepts, but the focus was always about the tools, not the system.
Yes, I was in that conversation (on TBP) or one exactly like it...in fact I was one of those asking the question:grin:!

And if you look at the list of backers of SWN, you'd find my name as well. I'm actually a fan of the author's sandbox tools and setting material.
Just, you know, not of the system he uses:thumbsup:.
Despite that, I own a not-insignificant part of his games and supplements. Granted, Bundle of Holding helped a lot, but definitely not for everything:shade:!

Anyway, the author also stated that he is deliberatel making the tools as system-agnostic as possible in order to provide value to customers like me (he was assuming, with good reason, that I'd switch the system). Which I count as a real class act!

And to this day, I've never found either a) a good reason NOT to use his sandbox tools, unless we count "I don't feel like it" as a good reason, or b) anything in the tools that requires using the system!

I'd still use Traveller or Cepheus. But importing the sandbox tools in addition to that is definitely possible:angel:!
 

PolarBlues

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Yes, I was in that conversation (on TBP) or one exactly like it...in fact I was one of those asking the question:grin:!
Heh! Now that's a funny coincidence. The thing is, I haven't even played SWN, I just remember that quote because you could just sense the author's clarity of purpose. That's a rare thing. His posts on the economics and realites of working as small, indie publisher are also really illuminating.

Me, I am sticking to my day job.
 
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AsenRG

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Heh! Now that's a funny coincidence.
To clarify, I strongly doubt I was the only one asking the question, or that the conversation hasn't played elsewhere as well. In fact, it seriously seemed that there were a couple other posters who wanted to ask the same thing...:grin:
 

Ben Adams

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I would go FrontierSpace or D6 also. Each give a wee bit more survivability without being beholden to classes.
But if you want to squarely define each character's job like Firefly than SwoN w/the heroic PCs option.
 

Veidt

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Another vote for Stars Without Number and its supplements Suns of Gold (merchant campaigns), Skyward Steel (naval campaigns), and Darkness Visible (espionage campaigns). SWN a wonderful toolbox and the system is dead-easy to learn, to customize to one's needs, and to use in play.
 

AsenRG

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Of the choices given I'd go with SWN, though admittedly this is mostly because I'm in love with the random charts and planetary tags more than anything else.
Well, they are lovable...:thumbsup:
 

Fenris-77

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One of my favorite things about Kevin Crawford's stuff (and I own all of it, or close) is that it's still really useful even if you aren't using the default system.
 

AsenRG

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One of my favorite things about Kevin Crawford's stuff (and I own all of it, or close) is that it's still really useful even if you aren't using the default system.
Same here. It would have been useless for me otherwise, seeing as how all my attempts to get the default system to work for me failed miserably...:thumbsup:
 

Fenris-77

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Same here. It would have been useless for me otherwise, seeing as how all my attempts to get the default system to work for me failed miserably...:thumbsup:
What parts of the system did you bounce off of? It's pretty standard OSR fare generally speaking. Just curious.
 

AsenRG

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What parts of the system did you bounce off of? It's pretty standard OSR fare generally speaking. Just curious.
The parts of the combat system (and the advancement system, though that almost didn't have time to show up) that were too much like D&D:thumbsup:?

Seriously, like you don't know what parts of it I have problems with...:grin:
 

Fenris-77

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The parts of the combat system (and the advancement system, though that almost didn't have time to show up) that were too much like D&D:thumbsup:?

Seriously, like you don't know what parts of it I have problems with...:grin:
There's enough difference between his different IPs that it could have been a lot of different things depending on exactly which one you tried. For example, the issues one might have with his Mythos game are potentially different in kind that the ones you might have with SwoN.
 

AsenRG

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There's enough difference between his different IPs that it could have been a lot of different things depending on exactly which one you tried. For example, the issues one might have with his Mythos game are potentially different in kind that the ones you might have with SwoN.
Yeah, that's why I only mentioned the issue that persisted regardless of the IP. There were others as well in the different IPs, but I feel that if I can't resolve the persistent part, there's no point in trying to address the genre-based ones.
 

Fenris-77

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Well, calling out Crawford's stuff for being too D&D is mostly stating the obvious. His system is indeed very close to D&D, and by specific design. :grin: So yeah, YMMV there for sure.
 

AsenRG

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Well, calling out Crawford's stuff for being too D&D is mostly stating the obvious. His system is indeed very close to D&D, and by specific design. :grin: So yeah, YMMV there for sure.
Sure, and I already stated in post#25 that I use only his tools, and some setting ideas, precisely because I don't see myself using the D&D-based system. But Kevin Crawford is still thinking about customers like me, and making an effort to provide something for them as well:thumbsup:.
 

Lord Dynel

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Out of those listed, I'd probably go Traveller. As mentioned earlier, Traveller was made for this kind of game. It almost seems like many folks I've talked to (myself included) played a Firefly-esque Traveller campaign before Firefly was a thing - a bunch of free traders taking on job after job (and getting into a little trouble here and there) in an attempt to make ends meet. Progression feels a bit more natural to me with Traveller than it does in SWN, but to each their own. Personally I'm not a big fan of level-based progression in games not named D&D. I don't know why...it might have something to do with in D&D I'm expected to go from zero to hero, whereas in a modern or sci-fi game I want to it to feel more like I'm a regular guy (or gal).
 
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