#RPGaDay Serenity

Day 7 Most impactful session.

Well, how do you define impact? Here's how I'll define it: a session that I remember, not for rolling a crit at the right time, or a fumble at the wrong one, but for roleplaying.

We were playing Serenity, the first attempt at a game set in the 'Verse of Firefly. Though, because of licensing restrictions, this was actually the 'Verse of the movie only, with references to things that happened in the TV series only so disguised as to keep Fox's lawyers off the scent. It wasn't a great system, that first iteration of Cortex. It played like a sub-par savage worlds, with an incredible wiff-factor, because at the time, it lacked the dice-pool concept of later iterations, and the wild die of Savage Worlds. We weren't massive fans of the system, but we were huge fans of the 'Verse so we persevered, two of us running campaigns.

We were nearing the end of Dave's campaign, and I was playing one of my favourite characters, Bobby Rashid, the "Indenture Trustee" (a sort of bounty hunter), with family commitments, that I'd already played in a long running on-line campaign. Part of his concept was that he had years ago been tasked with tracking down a "reader" (with early-River-like intuitive powers), who he had fallen in love with, married and hidden on a backwater moon somewhere. In that first online campaign she hadn't featured much, except when the details of location became a sort of maguffin for another story. But in Dave's campaign he'd done what I'd always expected – had her, and the kids, captured by her indenture owner, thus kicking off some thrilling adventures including blackmail and then at some point a rescue. After which Bobby bought them back to the township that had become our base of operations, and tried to settle down to a quiet life of farming.

Which of course was not to be. An off-world gambling operation had eyes on our little town to become the new Vegas, and had set up a casino in town. Dave decided that Bobby's wife had a gambling problem, and was sneaking off to the casino. At some point Bobby confronted her in the casino bar with every intent to bring her back home. What followed was to most intense conversational roleplay I think I've ever experienced, with Bobby professing his love for his wife and she, in return, expressing her frustration at the life he'd given her, and her contempt for him and the place he'd brought her to. She wanted out, she said, if she ever had loved him, she couldn't remember, but she had no feeling for him now. The marriage was over.

The fact that all this was played out by two fat forty-something men, without a die being rolled, makes it all the more extraordinary. This was 2012 or so, and I'd just got myself a new mic I could connect to my iPad. I'd brought it with me to the session, hoping I might persuade the others to let me record it. I didn't want to push the idea though, so as soon as somebody expressed a doubt, I put the mic away. But we all agreed afterwards that we should have recorded it.

As a coda, it's worth pointing out that she was used as a pawn/hostage by the bad guys, and in the final shootout, one of them threw her off a cliff, breaking her back. Bobby rushed to her aid, but she was paralysed. We agreed that giving up your adventuring career to look after the every need of loveless wife who despises you and your home made for one of the best roleplaying character arcs ever.

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