Followin’ Yonder Star

 

Imagine Games and Hobbies, all ready for Winnipeg Harvest Game Day.

Imagine Games and Hobbies, all ready for Winnipeg Harvest Game Day.

Yesterday was the Winnipeg Harvest Game Day at Imagine Games and Hobbies, here in Winnipeg. It’s an annual day when the store hosts a number of games, collecting donations for Winnipeg Harvest. As has been my tradition for the past few years, I was down there all day, running a game. This year, it was a Firefly RPG adventure.

Lots of other stuff going on, too:

A Wings of War game, with airships and - I believe - Snoopy.

A Wings of War game, with airships and – I believe – Snoopy.

An asteroid field for X-Wing. The game involved some chocolate spacecraft.

An asteroid field for X-Wing. The game involved some chocolate spacecraft.

A table of boardgames for people to pick up and play.

A table of boardgames for people to pick up and play.

Snacks! You need to have snacks if you're going to be playing all day. Thanks to Wendy for keeping us all fed!

Snacks! You need to have snacks if you’re going to be playing all day. Thanks to Wendy for keeping us all fed!

And here's my post - all ready and waiting for my players to arrive.

And here’s my post – all ready and waiting for my players to arrive.

So, I had a sign-up sheet at the store for about a week, letting people sign up and reserve their favourite Serenity crew member to play. I was slightly concerned, because there were only three people signed up on Friday. But by the time I got in to the store around 11:30 on Saturday, we had seven people signed up – only Simon Tam and Inara Sera weren’t claimed.

Game time rolled around ((We actually got a bit of a late start – two players called and said they’d had car trouble but would be at the store soon. One other player just didn’t show, so no Shepherd Book.)), and we jumped in with a quick briefing on how the rules worked. It took only about fifteen or twenty minutes to give folks a rundown of the system – enough so that they understood the basics of building dice pools and spending and earning plot points.

There’s a twist to these games – Cheat Tokens. To encourage donations, for every dollar worth of food ((Or money.)), a player gets a Cheat Token. These can be used in the game for special advantages. For Firefly, I decided that the Cheat Tokens could be used to re-roll any die, even a jinx.

One final twist is the prize. Wendy ((Owner and manager of the store.)) always goes above and beyond, creating amazing edible prizes for each game. But because there’s a prize, there must be a winner, and that’s always challenging in an RPG. I fell back on the technique I used in previous such sessions: I divided the game into three acts and, after each act, the players voted ((By giving their choice a jingle bell.)) on who had done the coolest stuff that act. At the end of the game, whoever had the most jingle bells was the winner ((Seems simple, but just wait for it.)).

This is the prize made by Wendy for the Firefly game. It's made of fondant, and is edible.

This is the prize made by Wendy for the Firefly game. It’s made of fondant, and is edible.

And here's our crew, ready to misbehave.

And here’s our crew, ready to misbehave.

And so we started the adventure.

The adventure was pretty simple: the owners of three moderate-sized corporations hired Serenity to ferry them in secrecy from Bellerophon to St. Alban’s. They had heard that someone on St. Alban’s had managed to create a satellite power broadcast system that could revolutionize life outside of the Core Worlds. These three businesspeople wanted to form a joint corporation to help the creator bring his prototype into production. Of course, Blue Sun had also heard about this development, and were just a step behind our heroes.

I had three pages of rough notes for this adventure – one of the great things about Cortex Plus, especially its Action iteration ((That’s Leverage and Firefly, so far.)), is that a lot of the interesting stuff comes out of complications in play. It’s a simple system to improvise in ((After a little practice, of course.)), so I just needed a rough outline of events and a few notes about the kinds of things that could go wrong.

It helped that MWP has released a number of adventures in the Echoes of War line, full of eminently lootable NPCs, scenes, roll examples, and other resources. I had them all in a big binder at the table, so I could look up useful bits on the fly.

Some highlights from the game:

  • Zoe blowing up the batteries at the engineer’s cabin to distract the Blue Sun forces. The cabin burned down.
  • Wash plotting a fast course to St. Alban’s to beat the Blue Sun pursuit ((It didn’t work, but it was a damn good try.)).
  • Kaylee and River working together to hide their passengers from a search of the ship.
  • Jayne shooting the Blue Sun thug who was holding a gun to the engineer’s head, thus ending the hostage situation.
  • Mal leading everyone in a complex, sneaky plan to distract the Blue Sun salvage ship while Jayne and Zoe stole the functioning power satellite right out from under their noses, and Kaylee shut it down before it fried everyone.

We all had a great time, and, at the end of the game, each player had three jingle bells. Yup. Six-way tie. They’d been spreading the votes around pretty evenly. So, I tossed a d6, and Karen won.

At which point, Nathan threw down his last Cheat Token, and said, “Reroll that!” There was some grumbling, but in general, everyone was good about it – we had decided that Cheat Tokens were good for rerolls, after all. I tossed the d6 a second time and the prize went to Sarah ((Fortunately, not to Nathan. I think that might have resulted in a riot.)).

Here's the crew, with Sarah proudly holding her prize.

Here’s the crew, with Sarah proudly holding her prize. Nathan is eyeing her rather jealously.

All in all, a fun day.

Thanks to the folks who came out to play Firefly with me:

  • Steven as Mal
  • Karen as Zoe
  • David as Wash
  • Nathan as Jayne
  • Sarah as Kaylee
  • Kelsie as River

Thanks also to Wendy, Pedro, Perry, Matt, and Mike ((Technically Kelsie, too, but I’ve already thanked her, and she doesn’t get two thank-yous. Nor does she get a mind-controlled army of mutant orphans like she did last year.)) at Imagine for organizing, running, and provisioning this awesome day.

And thanks to the good folks at Margaret Weis Productions, especially Christi Cardenas, who eagerly jumped in with some great support for those who participated in the game. This is just one more reason I love MWP – they’re great people, who also make great games.

I haven’t got a total of what was raised this year, but the box of donations was pretty full when I left. Thanks to all the gamers, whether they played my game or not, who brought a little something to help make sure that everyone has a better holiday season this year.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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