On the first day of Gen Con 2013 Terrible Gamers and Rentagamemaster were lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to Margaret Weis Productions‘ Out Reach Facilitator Christi Cardenas and game designer Tony Lee about their upcoming titles–Firefly: The Role-Playing Game and Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide. Both of these guys were so excited about Firefly: The Role-Playing Game that our conversation lasted for almost an hour. While we discussed a lot of topics, mostly we focused on the creative process that went in to creating the new Firefly RPG.
For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last decade or so, Firefly was a television series created by Joss Wheadon (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Doll House) and his production studio Mutant Enemy Productions. The television show, which first aired in 2002, was canceled after airing only 11 episodes of its 14 episode season. After the show’s cancelation Firefly built a gigantic cult audience, which in turn led to the continuation of the Firefly universe in other media–Serenity (film) in 2005, Serenity (game) in 2005, Serenity (comic) 2007, etc.
What struck the two us from Terrible Gamers and Rentagamemaster during our Gen Con chat was the way in which both Christi Cardenas and Tony Lee spoke so passionately about their new game. If they are to be taken at their word (we do) both Margaret Weis and the entire Firefly: RPG design team went to great lengths to stay true to Joss Wheadon’s universe and Firefly fans.
The game was built on the premise that people who are fans of the Firefly universe should be allowed the opportunity to participate in compelling stories that match the Firefly ethos. This meant that Margaret Weis had to develop a system that lends itself to episodic narrative while also being welcoming to people with little to no role playing experience. A great example of this design philosophy in action is both Christi and Tony’s admission that women mattered to the Firefly: RPG design team. The finished product represents a conscious attempt to build a game that appealed to Firefly’s female fans. This is why the Cortex Plus system on which Firefly: The Role-Playing Game is built lacks faire typical of many other RPGS like blood, guts, and overly sexualized female NPCs.
Let us stop here a moment to really drive this point home. Margaret and the Firefly: RPG development team actually considered female gamers, and potential female gamers, when designing the game. This is something that is, in our experience, very rarely done in the gaming industry and something we at Terrible Gamers and Rentagamemaster support.
Now this isn’t to say that all, or even most, other role playing games purposefully try to exclude women or are blatantly exploitative. In fact, role playing has been pretty egalitarian since its inception when it came to gender (particularly when it comes to game mechanics); however, the fact that the gaming industry has largely failed to see women as an important part of the gaming community is something that we at Terrible Gamers and Rentagamemaster think is an ongoing and endemic problem.
In the end though, there is one important question: did Margaret Weis Productions succeed in making a game that is compelling to a broad audience of Firefly fans while also allowing the players to spin tales which capture the “feel” of the television show and Firefly universe? And what a wonderful question it is! Unfortunately, we cannot actually provide you with the complete answer. We just have not had the opportunity to actually play the game. When we do play Firefly: The Role-Playing Game our fellow Terrible Gamers will be the first to know. A detailed assessment of the game will follow shortly after that announcement. In the mean time you can check out Scott’s first impressions of Firefly: The Role-Playing Game and the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide : HERE
the reason we have not gotten around to playing Firefly: The Role-Paying Game is that we are too poor to not have day jobs (seriously the donate button guys!) This means we just haven’t had the opportunity to get in any playtime with Firefly: The Role-Playing Game. And unlike a lot of reviewers we are uncomfortable reviewing a game based only on our impressions of the publications–one of the many things that makes Terrible Gamers completely different than most other game review websites. Now donate so we can quit our day jobs, or at least our weekend ones, and bring you more stuff!
Margaret Weis Productions Blog: Here
Serenity RPG: Here
Firefly: The Role-Playing Game Gen Con 2013 Preview: Here
Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide: Here
(c) Scott Mills 2013