The Firefly and Serenity Database
Serenity Role Playing Game
Author Jamie Chambers
Published by Margaret Weis Productions
Publication date September 19, 2005
ISBN 1931567506

Limited Edition Black hardcover.

The Serenity Role Playing Game was released in 2005 and set in the universe of the movie Serenity and television series Firefly. The game's mechanics became the Cortex System.

Cortex System[]

The Cortex System is based on the Sovereign Stone System. The dice used in the Cortex system are d2, d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12. Die steps are used as difficulty modifiers: a difficult action might have a two-step penalty, reducing a skill from a d8 to a d4. The next step up from a d12 in this system is an additional die, starting with d2: d12+d2, d12+d4, etc. Skills and attributes are each rated as a single die type, and both dice are rolled versus a target number.

One distinguishing feature of the Serenity RPG is the use of "plot points". Plot points are gained as rewards, and used to modify rolls, affect non-player characters (NPCs), or modify a situation for the benefit of the crew (usually for survival) or for cinematic effect. Some points also convert to advancement points (like experience points) at the end of a story or session. Advancement points are used to improve a character's skills, abilities, or attributes.

The Cortex System has become the House System for Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd.


The game is licensed with the film and not with the television series. It includes information from the show but because of licensing agreements, cannot include episode titles. However, they are able to refer to events that happen within that episode; therefore, they can't say, "In the episode 'The Train Job'..." but can say, "When Mal first encountered Niska".


The book is in full color (primarily brown) and also includes full character bios and statistics of the crew, and of Serenity, as the ship is often referred to as the 10th character of the show. It includes full character creation rules and sample characters for those who want to play in the Firefly universe without playing the main crew. The three options are: play the Serenity crew, the crew of the Aces and Eights, or an all-new crew. It also includes ship creation rules.

The GM chapter has pre-made "stock" characters such as a typical bartender, Alliance soldier, etc., and specific ones (The Operative, Mr. Universe, etc.). Reavers are also detailed in this section.

The RPG also contains a guide to Chinese in Firefly. This is a toned-down version; a more mature, strong language version can be found on the Internet.


The original game book is missing some useful features. As of 2009, the 5th printing of the book includes an index and character sheets, although earlier printings did not. Additional missing items are:

  • an example of character generation (as a learning aid);
  • an example of actual play (to help get a feel for the game).

An example combat between characters was included in the game, but was presented in the same format as game fiction, making it easy to overlook (and was doubly hindered due to the lack of index). Some claim that the game leaves far too much material left to the GM's discretion. This can be overwhelming for a GM, and often leads to argument with the players.

These omissions were meant to be rectified with content from the publisher's website (which has since been taken down). No such content has been presented. The book also has a large number of typos and other editorial flaws, including missing text in one section of fiction. As a whole, these suggest that the game was rushed through production, possibly to coincide with the movie's release date.

Other Products[]

Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd has also released a Game Master's Screen as well as specialty d2 dice for sale on their website.

External links[]

Update Feb 13 2013[]

It appears that Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd. are planning to revisit the Verse. This time with a licensed Firefly RPG rather than a Serenity RPG (meaning that they can now use material in the series, but not material exclusively in the film rather than the other way), using a new system.  It was previewed at GenCon 2013.