First Impressions: Echoes of War – Thrillin’ Heroics for Firefly the Roleplaying Game

Echoes of War – Thrillin’ Heroics (check it out at Amazon or DriveThruRPG) is aimed at starters — and makes a couple missteps for it — but it couldn’t possibly have nailed the ‘Verse any better, and it’s surprisingly complete.

Echoes of War: Thrillin' Heroics for Firefly Roleplaying Game

Echoes of War: Thrillin’ Heroics for Firefly Roleplaying Game

It has:

  • The first round of Firefly RPG PDFs, which includes the entire Serenity Crew as well as the adventures (“Episodes”) Wedding Planners, Shooting Fish, Friends in Low Places, and Freedom Flyer.
  • A pretty complete overview of the rules plus 12 Crewmember Archetypes, so you could easily play your own character aside from the crew of Serenity and handle any situation that would come up in an RPG.
  • The “look and feel” of the ‘Verse in all its glory: the scenarios veer across the spectrum from being playful hijinks to serious life-and-death gunfights, much like the show.
  • The open-ended nature of the scenarios make it easy to tailor, and most offer more than enough open space to stop them from feeling like a railroad, but still retain a clear storyline.
  • All scenarios offer (at least) an entire page of follow-up adventure ideas and loose plot threads to expand for future heists, cons, jobs, hose-jobs, and anything else the crew of a boat might face.

It’s missing:

  • Substantial GM advice outside of the scenarios. The scenarios are very good for this, but if you’re looking for a lot of “how to be a good GM” in the rules section of the book, you won’t find it there. (Hint: it’s in the Firefly RPG Core Rulebook (at Amazon and DriveThruRPG), and it’s incredibly well done.)
  • Substantial character customization options. (Hint: Also in the Firefly RPG Core Rulebook, so this is hardly a criticism at all.)
  • More in-depth examples. While the scenarios provide examples of what the Crew (the Player Characters) might do and plenty of outcomes, there are times when a walk-through might have been useful (or clearer, in the cases where there is one). The big example is the boat race scene in Shooting Fish, where each leg of the race is open to an awful lot of options (grenades from other boats or the crowd, boarding parties, other crowd shenanigans, etc.). There’s a lot going on in that part of the scenario, and it just feels like a case where “more would be better.”
  • Another editing pass. Some of the “Way of Things” and “Lowdown” sections of various scenarios are awfully similar, and could have used a better way to convey the information more succinctly. It’s nice to have everything you need, but it’s hard to parse at the gaming table when it’s split over a couple different sections, both of which can get a bit wordy.

It features:

  • An arranged marriage (that can’t possibly workout) and a wedding attacked by pirates. (Wedding Planners)
  • A pedal-to-the-metal boat race with absolutely no rules against blowing up the other boats. (Shooting Fish)
  • A dirty profiteer and a scummy wolf-in-Shepherd’s clothing getting rich off indentured servitude…and they just crossed Mal’s old war buddy, Monty. (Friends in Low Places)
  • A mechanic with a dark history who just wants to be free…but faces a jilted lover, a bad-ass bounty hunter, and an Alliance Major on the road to freedom. (Freedom Flyer)
  • And all of these have tons of room for your Crew to get as personally involved as they ever could…for better or worse.

Conclusion: A

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neuronphaser is an editor, eCommerce consultant, web producer, and analyst living in sunny Hollywood, CA. He's been playing tabletop RPGs of all kinds since 1985.

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