Leveragin’ the Black – Stylin’ and Refinin’ the Crew

The crew of Serenity at the start of the film,...

Promotional cast image from the film Serenity. (Left to Right: Jayne, Kaylee, Wash, Zoe, Malcolm, Simon, River) - Copyright Universal Studios. Used without permission.

We’ve now looked at the first of our new mechanics for a Cortex Plus version of Serenity: Stlyin’s and Refinements.  This time, we’ll apply these new ideas to the crew of the Serenity herself and have a look at one way in which we could portray the cast of Joss Whedon’s show.

Malcolm Reynolds

Fightin’ d6 War Veteran d8
Fixin’ d6
Flirtin’ d4
Finaglin’ d6 Leadership d10
Finessin’ d6

Being captain of the Serenity and a sergeant in the Unification War, Mal has a good amount of leadership ability.  He even has his moments in terms of working up smart plans (even if they do sometimes end up with him naked in the desert).  He also proves adept at pretty much any sort of combat (except sword fighting), so his War Veteran is there for his brawling and guns.  Mal’s perhaps not the most dexterous, but I think it can be argued that his attempts to turn on the charm are perhaps the most trouble-generating area for him, mostly since he can’t resist getting in a sly jibe or two.

Zoe Washburne

Fightin’ d6 War Veteran d10
Fixin’ d6
Flirtin’ d4
Finaglin’ d6
Finessin’ d6 Covert Ops d8

Another crew member with a background fighting in the Unification War, Zoe is one of the strongest characters to have around when combat breaks out.  Perhaps shown a little less frequently in the series is that she employed much more of a covert ops style (although almost anyone would blend into the background next to Mal’s loud and boisterous battlefield “technique”).  She can seem a little hard and cool (this mostly to those yet to get to know her, or maybe just those staring down the barrel of her hogleg), and the original rulebook marks her out as “memorable”, so again, Flirtin’ seems an appropriate attribute for her d4.

Hoban Washburne

Fightin’ d4
Fixin’ d6
Flirtin’ d6 Comedian d8
Finaglin’ d6
Finessin’ d6 Flyin’ d10

As one of the “best damn pilots in the ‘Verse”, naturally Wash gets his highest Refinement for his piloting skills under Finessin’.  He also can help put people at their ease and keep their spirits up with his jocular nature.  He’s not so adept in combat when not behind the stick of a ship however, so his d4 is going into his Fightin’.

Jayne Cobb

Fightin’ d6 Mercenary d10 Tough d8
Fixin’ d6
Flirtin’ d6
Finaglin’ d4
Finessin’ d6

There’s no two ways about it: Jayne is along for the muscle, either to look intimidating, or to actually bring the pain (and possibly lead) raining down on the unsavoury sorts… that is to say, the unsavoury sorts on the other side.  Sad to say, when it comes to thinking, Jayne has a spot of trouble; when he attempts to be cunning, it seems as though his plans will backfire pretty spectacularly on him (assuming he makes it as far a formulating a plan).

Kaywinnit Lee Frye

Fightin’ d4
Fixin’ d6 Mechanic d10
Flirtin’ d6 Shiny d8
Finaglin’ d6
Finessin’ d6

A truly gifted mechanic, there’s really no contest as to where Kaylee’s highest ranked Refinement belongs.  For her second refinement, her nearly irrepressible good nature, and sweet and cheerful attitude can be best summed up with Kaylee’s own phrase of choice: “Shiny”.  It’s an attitude that doesn’t suit her to combat situations (indeed, she’s most likely to freeze up when the bullets start to fly), so there’s little doubt where her d4 Stylin’ is going to fall.

Inara Serra

Fightin’ d4
Fixin’ d6 Empathy d10
Flirtin’ d6
Finaglin’ d6
Finessin’ d6 Graceful d8

There may be some surprise at to not having any Refinements in Flirtin’ for Inara, but associating with self-proclaimed “criminals” and being a registered Companion can have both positive and negative applications and so we’ll keep that back for the Aspects, as we shall with regards to her allure and beauty.  She does provide some emotional support and almost acts as councillor to some of the rest of the crew at times.  She is also undeniably graceful, and we should probably check with our GM as to whether we can allow the use of Inara’s bolt thrower under Finessin’ rather than Fightin’.

Derrial Book

Fightin’ d4 Military Background? d8
Fixin’ d6 Shepherd d10
Flirtin’ d6
Finaglin’ d6
Finessin’ d6

Being something of an enigmatic character, it’s hard to ascribe Shepherd Book’s stats (although, The Shepherd’s Tale from Dark Horse reportedly answers many of the questions surrounding the character).  We do know that he proves surprisingly adept with guns and combat, but his adherence to the Ten Commandments does mean that going into a gun fight does pose some interesting potential for Complications, hence the coupling of a high dice Refinement with the d4 in his Stylin’.

Simon Tam

Fightin’ d6
Fixin’ d6 Doctor d10
Flirtin’ d4
Finaglin’ d6 Genius d8
Finessin’ d6

No doubt about Simon’s main Refinement of being a Doctor any more than there was with Kaylee being a mechanic.  For his second Refinement, we’ll go with his genius intellect (only overshadowed by his sister) as he proves a rather adept criminal mastermind when the need arises.  Simon also tends to be a little prone to the old “foot in mouth” syndrome (particularly around Kaylee), so we’ll assign his d4 Stlyin’ to Flirtin’.

River Tam

Fightin’ d6
Fixin’ d6
Flirtin’ d6
Finaglin’ d4 Genius d10
Finessin’ d6 Agile d8

As with the original Serenity RPG book, we’ll portray the character from the series here, rather than the movie, when they’ll have all picked up some experience points to buy some new options (such as River taking “Crazy Kung-Fu Skills” in her Fightin’).  For the pre-film version then, we can focus more on River’s remarkable intellect (but with the potential trouble that comes from her unstable nature represented by her d4 in Finaglin’) and her agility.

Next post: we’ll put a Value to our hacking.  Five of them, in fact!

About Craig Payne

Despite being born tone deaf in one ear, Craig has risen above his disadvantage to achieve the lofty position of spending most of his free time mucking around on the Internet, tinkering with RPG rules, and failing on at least seven occasions to finish writing a novel.