The Firefly RPG made quite a splash when it dropped earlier this year. The game, powered by the latest iteration of the wildly popular Cortex Plus system, was custom-built for the kind of wild action and over-the-top heroics that were the hallmarks of the TV show. I’m happy to report that the game’s first major sourcebook, Things Don’t Go Smooth, extends the line and adds even more details, options, and adventures to the original game.
Things Don’t Go Smooth is, essentially, a classically-done, top-shelf sourcebook. It’s over 200 pages of NPCs, gamemastering advice and new, optional rules. The whole package is rounded out with two complete adventures. Between these two episodes and the one in the corebook, a group could easily divide up the pre-made Serenity crew and have a fun, satisfying mini-campaign up and running in mere minutes. The book is done in the same charming style as the corebook: stills from the TV show, mixed with original artwork, mixed again with original photography, all blending together to make the game not only a great homage to the show, but logically building on the universe of the show, as well.
My favorite new additions from the sourcebook are the new rules that add new triggers and distinctions to scenes. This allows a GM to wonderfully emulate the environmental chaos common in a good action adventure: things like swinging on chandeliers, punching bad guys through a glass window, or shooting an explosive barrel. Of course you can do all of those things without the new rules in Things Don’t Go Smooth, but these rules, like most good RPG rules, underline and codify what exactly you’d like to see happen in your game. They are the tabletop gaming equivalent of Chekhov’s Gun: if you have rules for throwing someone out of a building, someone is going to get thrown out of a gorram building!
Another smart inclusion in Things Don’t Go Smooth are the examples. Two massive, full-detail examples using the Serenity crew, the new NPCs in the book, and all the new rules tie everything together. They’re a fun read by themselves, and they give a crystal-clear picture on how an ideal set piece in the Firefly RPG should be run. This makes Things Don’t Go Smooth an ideal purchase not just for veterans of the game and the Cortex Plus system, but for rookies looking for some more direction, too.
Between all of this content and the fair price of $13 on DriveThruRPG.com (as of this review, anyways), Things Don’t Go Smooth is practically a must-own for anyone who owns the corebook.
My copy of Things Don’t Go Smooth was provided free for review.