Got a look at the Serenity rpg last night. Overall, it looked pretty cool and I was favorably impressed, but there were some nitpicks.
The system appears to be that you have some target number, which you must equal or exceed in order to do whatver you’re trying to do. All of your attributes and skills are assigned a value by way of the size of the die you roll when you use them–that is, if you’re Jayne your brawn gets d10 and your smarts get a d4; if you’re Simon it’s vice-versa. Bonuses and penalties happen by changing the size of the die some number of steps. I have never encountered this mechanic before, but I rather like it; it makes it so an expert can still fail, but does so less often than a novice, and that this happens with a frequency that’s easy to see. It’s pretty clear that someone rolling a d4 is only going to beat a 3 half the time, while someone with a d12 will do so 5 times out of 6. I’d have to see it in play to know how well it works, but on the whole it looks promising.
I must also confess a liking for any game which includes such ads and disads as “Leaky Brainpan”, “Moneyed Individual”, and “Sweet and Cheerful”. But this leads into one of my problems: the whole book is written in the Ole West Hick dialect, including explainations of mechanics and examples of play. It gets gratin’ right quick, if you catch my drift.
I didn’t have time to take a thorough look at all the background info they provided, but one bit I did see was the money system. Turns out a Firefly “credit” has about the buying power of $25, for shades of B5 (though if I recall correctly the disparity there was less). There’s also coin, which disdains such intuitive systems as “straight decimal” in favor of something that works out to the smallest coin being worth 40 cents–it was along the lines of $25>1 credit>2.5 platinum (1 p=$10)>5 gold (1 g=$5)>62.5 silver (1 s=40 cents). I may be misremebering, because, well, nonintuituve. I know that the British Empire got along with a horrendously nonintuitive currency for literally a thousand years–remind me again how many shillings in a guinea?–but still. This is gaming, I don’t want it to be accountancy too…