There's a lot here: new rules, new places to visit and two complete adventures to play. Primarily aimed at game masters, there is a wealth of material to enhance an existing campaign or spark off a new one. It's all presented in the casual conversational style that has characterised all releases in the Firefly line, jarring for some but somehow fitting to the style of the original show.
The rules stuff is mostly to do with Reputation. What are you known for? And how well are you regarded? There's plenty of detail about how to get a good Reputation... and how easy it is to lose it. Note that Reputation only affects how NPCs view you, fellow player-characters are free to make up their own minds, no matter what the numbers say. The four 'factions' found in the 'Verse are also introduced: Alliance, Browncoats, Corporations and Criminals. Each one is a collection of assumptions (right or wrong) about the folk lumped into that category, and most people do not actually view themselves as belonging to one anyway. It mostly serves as a mechanic for determining how NPCs will react, but there is a lot of detail here to help you get a feel for how different groups think and feel. Some of it's useful, some of it may come over as rather too mechanical - but it can serve a use, perhaps as a 'rule of thumb' for determining reactions or even bringing out just how polarised society can be in the wake of a civil war. As examples, the Reputations of the characters from the show are analysed in detail. You can do the same for your own characters (or if you've chosen to play the show ones, well, it's done for you!).
There are also twelve new archetypes for those looking for new characters to play. They are grouped by faction, which may influence your choice. The notes take you through the steps from archetype outline to full-blown character, and then each one gets a full page including basic statistics, a run-down on what makes them tick and even a portrait. There are a lot of new Distinctions to choose from as well, and it is even possible to retrofit existing characters if you want. The process of adding Reputation to them is also covered here. If that wasn't enough, there are also a whole bunch more of Signature Assets that you might wish to have.
Once characters are dealt with, there's a similarly copious array of material for your ship. Different classes of vessel, history, signature assets, distinctions and customisation options - everything you need to make your ship a whole lot more than a means of transportation. There are some ready-made examples too.
Next comes the Good Shepherd's Run, a route through ten planets which are all described in sufficient detail to make a visit interesting. Notable people, what the different factions are doing, places to go... even ideas for adventures to be had there. A wealth of snippets of information to make each location come to life in your game.
This extensive section is followed by two complete adventures, All in the Family and Circling the Wagons. These are laid out in the pattern established by earlier published adventures, and both give plenty of scope for profit and trouble... or maybe that ought to be the other way around. The stakes are high. They are beautifully detailed and easy to run, although you have to edit a bit on the fly if your players have their own characters rather than the ones from the show (mine always want their own characters!). Resources are provided to help you deal with characters who do something other than the intended, seamlessly and without derailing the entire plotline. Nicely done.
There are several Appendices, including a whole lot more Chinese, some rules FAQ (and answers), maps and charts, colourful phrases typical of the various sorts of folk you might encounter, summaries of personal and ship Distinctions and a regular army of NPCs all ready to use (complete with complete character sheets).
There's a wealth of stuff here that will enhance your game - who could want more than that?"
Return to Smuggler's Guide to the Rim page.
Reviewed: 26 February 2015