Leveragin’ the Black – Gettin’ to the Point

Fate is a fickle mistress (that’s Fate, not FATE; I refrain from hazarding a guess as to the gender of the RPG) and were the success or failure of the PCs totally in the hands of the dice, we might not see so many of those critical, arriving just in the nick of time, big damn hero moments as we would like.  Plot Points help give the players an edge when it matters.  But when you haven’t got meta-currency to spare, you can always rely on help from your friends…

…probably…

Team Building

We took a look at teaming up rules in the United We Stand articles, and in particular in part two we identified the mechanics we would be using for Serenity Plus.  To briefly recap: all participants assisting in the task roll all of their relevant dice (plus any extra they buy with their Plot Points) and the combination of all the dice are considered to be one “pool” for the purpose of identifying the two highest values.  It is also considered one pool for identifying the highest “unused” die for purposes of calculating Stress.  When using Plot Points to buy extra dice to include in the total, treat each players rolled dice as their own (so you can only buy your highest unused value with your Plot Points, even if another participant has a higher unused value on their dice).

Plot Points

Plot Points in Serenity Plus take some elements from both the Leverage (page 13) and Smallville rules (page 9).  You can buy Assets for the length of the scene for one Plot Point, or spend two to gain the Asset for the rest of the game session.  These usually start rated at a d6, although some Distinctions may result in them starting at a higher die rating.

As with other Cortex Plus games, you can use Plot Points after you roll the dice to include the next highest value into the total result, and you may do this as many times as you have both Plot Points and unused dice left in the pool.

Before rolling, you may also pay a Plot Point to add another Value or Stylin’ to your pool beyond the one of each you roll for free, but, of course, the additional attribute must be applicable to the situation or task at hand.  If you’re adding a Stylin’ that has an appropriate Refinement attached, you can add both the Stylin’ and the Refinement for just the cost of the Stylin’.  For example, for Mal’s write-up, in a roll leading a group into battle and he’s already rolling Finaglin’ and Leadership, for one Plot Point he could also get both Fightin’ and War Veteran.

Each session, every player starts with one Plot Point (as default anyway; this can be bought up by using experience).  Unlike with Smallville and Leverage, you don’t lose any unused Plot Points at the end of the session.  Instead you’re starting number of Plot Points works like a Refresh level in some versions of FATE: If you have less than your starting level leftover from last session, you gain a number of Points to bring you back up to that starting value; if you have more Plot Points, you don’t get any more at the start, but you don’t lose any either.

You can earn new Plot Points either by rolling your Aspects for d4s, or when the GM activates any 1s you roll for Complications, just like in Leverage (page 67).  As a GM, you may activate multiple 1s rolled by a single player with a single Plot Point, but activating 1s rolled by multiple players in a group test requires paying a Plot Point each to whichever players rolled the 1s you want to activate.

Opportunities

When the GM rolls 1 on his or her dice, the players get an Opportunity.  At this point, if they pay a Plot Point, they get a number of extra d6s to add to their pool for the rest of the Test or Contest equal to the number of 1s the GM rolled.

For Flashbacks?

Another use of Plot Points in Leverage is to fuel Flashbacks, where some seeming twist of misfortune for the Crew turns out to have been part of the plan all along.  For anyone who has seen the show, this is a particularly apt addition to the game and really lets the players display genius level heist planning without needing to be criminal masterminds.

This isn’t quite as appropriate for inclusion in Firefly: plans not only don’t survive contact with the enemy, they often don’t even survive contact with the crew.  In Firefly, the story is more about how the crew of Serenity copes with the complications and deterioration of their plans in the heat of the moment, not how they planned for all eventualities, so for Serenity Plus, we generally won’t have Flashback mechanics available to the players.

Which isn’t to say the action won’t flashback to an earlier time frame on occasions: in a number of episodes of the TV series (Out Of Gas and The Message in particular) we see flashbacks with the purpose of fleshing out character background, and such uses should be encouraged in the game.  This may be particularly suited to characters with Reveal Triggers in their Distinctions.

On the other hand, if you happen to be running a particularly heist heavy campaign (lots of episodes along the lines of The Train Job, Ariel, and Trash) and the players end up spending significant portions of play devising plans and contingencies for every eventuality, you should probably reintroduce the rule.  Maybe consider allowing each player one “dramatic editing” Flashback for the session if heist episodes are a bit more of a rarity.  Essentially, fiddle with the dials until you manage to achieve a level that best gives your game the swift, action-filled, punchy pace of the show.

Up Next…

We’ll be taking a look at NPC creation, as well as other dice the GM assigns for opposition to the characters.

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.