Firefly Rules Primer

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  • NPCs are called GMCs - Game Master Characters.
  • They may be Major GMCs, Minor GMCs, or Extras.


Traits in Firefly are rated in dice, from d4 to d12.

  • When you roll to do something, you build a dice pool using the die ratings of various applicable Traits.
  • There are no ±1 modifiers - instead, the size of a die may be stepped up or stepped back to the next die size.
  • Doubling a die means to add another die of the same type into your dice pool .

Character Traits

Characters are made up of the following Traits .

  • Attributes: Physical, Mental, Social. The three basic ways to approach a problem.
    • Attributes start between d6 and d10, but can later be reshuffled between d4 and d12.
    • A character’s dice pool will always include one Attribute.
  • Skills: Various ratings in nineteen different Skills, from Craft to Fight and Trick.
    • Characters start with a d4 minimum in each Skill. Skills are stepped up during character creation, or can be advanced as high as d12 later on.
    • A character’s dice pool will always include one Skill.
    • Skills may also have Specialties that represent areas of expertise.
      • Specialties need to be purchased during character creation.
      • If a Specialty applies, the character adds a d6 to their dice pool .
  • Distinctions: Three roles, personalities, or backgrounds, in any combination.
    • Distinctions add a d8 to the character’s dice pool when they are advantageous.
    • If a Distinction is problematic, the character can add a d4 to their dice pool and gain a Plot Point.
    • Distinctions also have Triggers that take effect when something specific happens.
      • Example: Don’t Get Him Riled: Step back your Notice die to step up your Fight die for the scene.
    • Distinctions have three listed Triggers. The first is always “Gain 1 Plot Point when you roll a d4 instead of a d8.”
    • Characters start with a total of five Triggers across their three Distinctions.
      • Three are “Gain 1 Plot Point when you roll a d4 instead of a d8.”
      • Two are chosen from the six remaining possibilities.
      • Additional Triggers can be acquired later on.
  • Signature Assets: Optional - An Asset that the character has a strong connection to.
    • Example: Jayne’s gun, Vera.
    • Signature Assets start at d6, but can be increased to d8.
    • Signature Assets can gain Triggers like Distinctions later on.

Ship Traits

When piloting a ship, the character and ship Traits work in tandem.

  • Attributes:
    • Engines: How fast and agile the ship is.
    • Hull: The body of the ship - how tough, fragile, large, or small she is.
    • Systems: Computers, sensors, features - technical sophistication.
  • Distinctions: One Class, and any two from the History or Customization lists.
    • Ship Distinctions also have Triggers , which are chosen as for characters.
  • Signature Assets: Choose two special ship features from the list.

Other Traits

  • Asset: Contacts, resources, or temporary situations that can be used to a character’s advantage. GMCs can’t take advantage of Assets.
    • Example: Well-aimed chair, I know someone ‘on the inside’, Sudden distraction.
    • It costs a Plot Point to create an Asset at d6 which the character (or another crew-member) can use for the rest of the Scene.
    • Spending a second Plot Point causes the Asset to remain in play for the rest of the Episode.
  • Complication: A temporary situation that can hinder a character or be used against them.
    • Example: Gunshot to the leg, Last-season’s fashion, Dazed and confused.
  • Scale: A die representing an overwhelming difference in force, usually between ships.
    • Example: Serenity vs an Alliance Cruiser.
  • Location or Scene Trait : Something about the environment or scene that can be used to (generally a GMC’s) advantage.
    • Example: Slippery Floors, Alliance Squad, Fried Engines.
  • Big Damn Hero Dice: A pool of dice gained from extraordinary successes . Unlike other dice, these are only rolled and added after the rest of the roll’s been performed.



  • First, the GM frames the situation.
  • The defender creates a dice pool (see below) and rolls first to set the stakes (see further below).
    • Generally, the GM will be the one rolling to set the stakes.
  • The acting character creates a dice pool and rolls to raise the stakes .
  • If the acting character’s total is higher than the defender’s, they succeed! If lower or equal, they fail.
  • Framing the Action
    • When an Action roll is called for, the GM:
      • Describes the action around the roll.
      • Determines who’s the acting character and who’s the defender.
      • If no direct opposition, the GM rolls to set the difficulty.
      • Defines what’s at stake.
      • Announces if it’s a high-stakes roll.
        • This is something that could result in the loser being Taken Out of the Scene.
  • Assembling Dice Pools
    • To add any die to a dice pool, its associated Trait must make sense in the fiction - you should be able to explain why you’re adding a die for a particular Distinction, Asset, Complication, and so on. If the GM thinks your explanation stretches the bounds of credibility, they have the right to veto it or suggest something more appropriate.
  • Players create dice pools as follows:
    • A player’s dice pool always contains one Attribute and one Skill . Any of the following dice might also be added depending on the circumstances:
    • If flying a ship, use a ship Attribute instead of the character’s.
    • A Skill Specialty (d6).
    • A Distinction (d8, or d4 and they gain a Plot Point ).
      • If flying a ship, you can also add a ship Distinction .
    • A Signature Asset (d6 or d8).
    • Assets in their favour (d6).
    • Complications in their favour.
    • Scale die if they have the advantage (d8).
    • Skill dice lent to them by other Crewmembers.
      • The assisting character has to describe how their Skill is helping. They also open themselves up to fallout from jinxes .
  • The GM creates a dice pool as follows:
    • If the opposition is a major GMC, their dice pool starts with one Attribute and one Skill , and any of the following as appropriate:
      • Scene or Location Trait.
      • Distinction or Distinction trigger .
      • Signature Asset.
      • Complications that work against the player.
  • If the opposition is a minor GMC or the environment, start with a Difficulty die (d4 to d12). Any of the following dice might also be added (and the dice pool must include at least two dice):
    • Trait die representing the situation or location.
    • Minor GMC or Extra die.
    • Scale die.
    • Complications that work against the player.
  • Rolling Dice
    • Roll all the dice in your dice pool and add the two highest results together for your total .
      • If you have a Scale advantage, add the three highest dice.
    • Any dice a player rolls that come up 1 are jinxes . Set them aside - they cannot be added to the total.
      • The GM can give the player a Plot Point to turn jinxes into a new Complication or step up an existing Complication.
      • The Complication starts at d6, and steps up for each additional jinx in the player’s pool (which doesn’t cost any extra Plot Points ).
      • New jinxes can also be used to step up existing Complications .
      • A Complication that is stepped up from a d12 results in the character being Taken Out , even if it’s not a high stakes roll.
    • If they roll all 1’s, they botch - fail automatically, and the GM gets to make a Complication for free (as above) and also make the situation much worse.
    • Any dice the GM rolls that come up 1 are Opportunities . Set them aside - they cannot be added to the total.
      • Any player can pay the GM a Plot Point to step back any Complication in play by one step for each Opportunity in the GM’s pool.
      • A Complication that gets stepped back to d4 is removed from play.
    • After rolling, and without limit (Plot Points and Big Damn Hero dice allowing):
      • Players can pay a Plot Point (or the GM can pay one from the bank ) to add another die from their pool onto the total.
      • Players can pay a Plot Point to roll a Big Damn Hero Die and add it to their total.
      • If a Big Damn Hero Die rolls a jinx , the player can choose to take it back (and not gain a Complication or Plot Point ).
    • Success & Failure
      • If the acting character’s total is higher than the defender’s, they succeed! If lower or equal , they fail.
      • If the winner’s total beats the opposition by 5 or more it’s an extraordinary success .
        • A player gains a Big Damn Hero Die equal to the highest-rolling die type in their opponent’s dice pool.
        • The GM can remove one of the PC’s Big Damn Hero Dice equal to or lower than the highest-rolling die type in the opposition’s dice pool.
    • If it’s a high-stakes roll, the loser gets Taken Out and can generally no longer act in the Scene.
      • If a PC or Major GMC is Taken Out , they can choose to pay a Plot Point, accept a Complication equal to their opponent’s highest-rolling die, and remain active in the scene.
      • A character who’s Taken Out may still attempt Limited Actions that make sense given the context.
        • It costs a Plot Point just to roll the dice.
        • During a Limited Action, you only get to keep the single highest result (although you can add more dice to your total with additional Plot Points).

Plot Points

These are a form of currency that the players can use to alter the way the game plays out. They’re sort of like Savage World’s Bennies, but have more uses.

Players and Plot Points

Players can use a Plot Point to:

  • Keep an additional die from their pool and add it to their total after they roll.
  • Activate a Distinction trigger that requires a Plot Point.
  • Create an Asset at a d6 that lasts until the end of the scene.
  • Make an existing Asset last until the end of the Episode.
  • Roll a Big Damn Hero Die and add it to your total after you roll.
  • Stay in the fight when a high stakes roll results in you being Taken Out .
  • Doing so also means they have to take a Complication .

Players begin the Episode with one Plot Point but gain more of them when:

  • They activate a Distinction trigger that gives them a Plot Point.
    • Example: Rolling a Distinction as a d4 instead of a d8.
  • The GM buys a Complication after they’ve rolled a jinx (a 1 on a die).
  • The GM decides they deserve one for great play, a snappy one-liner, or a scene description that impresses the Crew.

GM and Plot Points

The GM can use Plot Points to:

  • Buy a d6 Complication (or higher) when a player rolls a jinx .
  • Step up a Complication when a player rolls a jinx .
  • Reward players for great moments in the Episode.

The GM also begins every Episode with a bank of one Plot Point per player. This limited supply can be used to:

  • Add additional dice into your total during an Action.
  • Activate a Distinction or Signature Asset trigger for a Major GMC.
  • Allow a Major or Minor GMC to stay in the fight instead of being Taken Out.
  • Plot Points gained by Major GMCs’ Distinction and Signature Asset triggers go back into the bank.

Detailed Explanations


  • Assets can be just about anything that provides an advantage - a tool, a feature of the location, a character, a relationship, a temporary situation, and so on.
  • Normally the game doesn’t make you keep track of equipment. Defining an Asset brings it to the fore, and gives it dramatic weight in the story. It’s no longer just a piece of background colour.
  • The GM can also offer Assets for free.
    • Examples: The crew tackles a problem successfully. The crew earns the gratitude of a GMC with connections or resources.


  • The purpose of Complications is to increase drama, tension, and suspense.
  • A Complication should follow naturally from the Action that caused it.
  • Complications stick around as long as it makes sense for them to.
  • Some are temporary, or associated with a location.
    • Examples: Flash-Blinded, Slippery Floors, Sweating Bullets.
  • Others tend to stick around longer.
    • Examples: Gunshot Wound, Laughingstock, Seeds of Doubt.
  • The PCs can try to remove Complications by making a recovery roll to overcome them.
    • The player rolls a pool as usual, against the Complication and a Difficulty die.
    • If the recovery roll is successful, remove the Complication completely.
    • If they fail, step back the Complication die one step to represent the progress made.
    • Any Complication stepped back to a d4 is fully recovered and removed from play.
  • A Complication that gets stepped up past a d12 can result in a character being Taken Out even if they still have Plot Points left. This can happen in several ways:
    • The GM buys a jinx that steps up a d12 Complication.
    • The GM creates a Complication from a botch with five or more dice.
    • Your opponent in a high stakes conflict decides to step up a d12 Complication when you pay a Plot Point to stay in the fight.


A Difficulty die forms the basis of the GM’s dice pool whenever a PC is facing opposition from the environment, a difficult situation, or a Minor GMC/Extra.

  • d4 : Very easy
  • d6 : Easy
  • d8 : Challenging
  • d10 : Hard
  • d12 : Really hard


  • Whenever there is a large scale difference between both sides in an Action, the side with an overwhelming advantage in the contest adds a d8 to their dice pool and a third die to the total for


  • The Scale die is used any time one side significantly outmatches the other — not just when your ship’s weapons are ineffective against a larger boat!
    • Examples: Using personal firearms against a hover tank, Trying to outrun a horse on foot, Attempting to intimidate a dozen ships with your lowly Firefly class boat.

Scene and Location Traits

  • Scene and Location Traits can be added to GMC dice pools . They are generally not used by PCs, who get to use Assets instead.
  • They can be introduced by the GM for free, at any time, as appropriate to the situation.
  • They can be given any die rating appropriate to their importance or efficacy.
  • Scene Traits are descriptions that apply to the entire scene in general.
    • Examples: Reavers on the Hunt, Full-On Warzone, Suspicious Contact.
  • Location Traits are descriptions that apply to a particular location.
    • Examples: Slippery Floor, Interrogation Room, Bustling Market.

Act Guide

Acts can be used for either training up or callbacks


Refer back to an act and you can use it just like a plot point. Callbacks refresh during a new episode.

Training Up

Train up your charcter by spending Acts permanently

  • 1 Act: Turn an asset from an Act into a D6 Signature Asset
  • 1 Act: Switch out a distinction for a new distinction
  • 1 Act: Add a signature Asset Trigger
  • 1 Act: Add a new specialty to a D6 or higher skill
  • 2 Acts: Step up a D6 Signature Asset to a D8
  • 2 Acts: Unlock a new distinction trigger
  • 2 Acts: Step up a skill from a D4 to a D6
  • 3 Acts: Step up a skill From a D6 to a D8 or from a D8 to D12
  • 3 Acts: Step up one attribute and step back another
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