11 "Firefly"/"Serenity" Adventure Seeds
Lookin' for some jing chai ideas to use in your next bout of Firefly or Serenity-themed RPG match? Maybe you're one of them folks that just needs a little inspiration to get your brain a-movin' on a space-cowboy adventure of a mighty grand scale. Either way, you don't need to look no further than here—even if your game isn't set in the Firefly/Serenity universe or isn't anything close to a good old-fashioned space western in flavor, you might find something mighty pleasing here you can twist or that might give you just the push you need to come up with the ultimate adventure for your go se ship and it's intrepid crew of kuh wu frontier types.
1. The Basics
Every spacer worth his mi tian gohn knows that when you're running a ship in the ‘verse, you got to make money any way you can. Here's a few ideas for "legal" assignments your crew might be able to get to earn a few credits when things get tight, or when they're saving up for that part they just can't quite afford. Payment is generally divided into two halves- the half you get when you pick up, and the half you get when you deliver.
- Haul Ass: (any world to any world) Some union hauler busted his boat and left his load on the world the crew is on! (Random shipping company) The shipment is 250 tons, and needs to be delivered as fast as possible! Payment is 120 cr. with an extra 100 cr. bonus if the delivery is made on-time. If delivery is a week or more overdue, the company blacklists the ship.
- Postal Run: (any world to any world) The post has more than it can handle and is looking for shippers, independent or union, who are willing to help out the state. Payment is 1 cr. /ton for 1d20 tons of available weight. Failure to deliver on time forfeits second half of payment. Week or more overdue is a federal crime (Alliance puts out a warrant for the ship).
- The Big Oops:(any world to Beylix.) Looks like some chwen big union shipper ran into some trouble and smashed up his boat real good. Oh well, right? More credits for the crew. The insurance paperwork has come through, the shipper has declared the rig totaled, and some scavenger on Beylix has bought what's left for parts. A towing harness (halves the speed of your boat) will be affixed in orbit and cut loose in orbit of the destination planet. Payment is 2 cr./hour with a 50 cr. bonus upon delivery if on time. Payment stops at maximum amount for time allotment. If three days overdue, the ship is blacklisted with the scavengers (and makes enemies)
- Pulling Pork: (from border world to core) The boys at Allied Pork need a shipment of genetically-engineered hogs shipped to some core world, and all the union haulers are tied up at the moment. The pigs are crated and self-contained, so as long as the ship keeps atmo and the temp don't get too extreme, they won't spoil. Allied Pork is willing to pay 1 credit per ton of what's shipped, and if the hogs are delivered on time, there'll be a 50 cr. bonus waiting for the crew when they arrive. If they arrive late, Allied Pork won't pay the second half, and the crew gets no bonus. If the pigs are a week or more overdue, Allied Pork will blacklist the ship and sue her captain for damages.
- Get Along Little Doggie: (Any world to any world*) On the core worlds, folk tend to think of real live, un-tampered meats as delicacies, but on the rim, there ain't no easier way to get meat than to raise it on the hoof. Either way, it needs shipping, and that means jobs for ships with cargo space. When shipping animals, it requires that you purchase the animals (cost of support gear figured in) from the farmer and get reimbursed (plus the shipping fee) when you arrive. Note: Some worlds will pay more for live meats in smaller quantities.
- Cattle: 15 cr./head
- Sheep: 10 cr/head
- Pigs: 10 cr./head
- Chickens: 1 cr./head
- Turkeys: 2 cr./head
- Dogs: 4 cr./head
- Snails: 20 cr./ton
Livestock Shipping Cost: (weight includes support equipment)
- Cattle: 1 cr./head. 2 head/ton
- Sheep: .5 cr./head 6 head/ton
- Pigs: .5 cr./head 6 head/ton
- Chickens: 1 cr./ton 400 head/ton
- Turkeys: 1 cr./ ton 100 head/ton
- Dogs: 1.5 cr/ton 100 head/ton
- Snails: 1 cr/ton 100,000 head/ton
Rim world: none
Border world: Animals must be papered.
Core world: Animals must be papered, vaccinated, and pass a health inspection on arrival. (Rejected animals are worthless in the core, but can be incinerated for a cost of 1 cr./head)
2. Target Practice
A friendly doctor approaches the characters and tells them he needs a starship to test his newest invention! Turns out it's a weapon- a high-frequency laser, one that's decades ahead of anything the Alliance has, and he can't think of a better ship (or a better crew) to test it! The reward? Well, other than the distinct honor of being at the forefront of science, is $500 in straight, untraceable credit chips he'll hand over at the end of the trial. If they agree, he gives them the coordinates for the test and tells them he'll see them tomorrow, when his team will do the install. When they return in the morning, there's already another ship there, a shiny new boat parked just outside the landing pad. As they put down, the doctor rushes out to meet them, a group of seven rough-and-tumble looking spacers a couple of paces behind him. Turns out the other ship (and crew) are the boys who'll be carrying the laser, and our heroes are just being hired for target practice! If they start a firefight, someone gets to the other ship, fires her up, seals the doors, and starts carving holes in whatever he/she can hit. If they try to leave, the doctor goes ahead with the test anyway. There's no dissuading the shee-niou bastard- they agreed to do the test, and he's got a voice recording of the agreement (which makes it a valid contract.) If the crew decides to do anything but get back to the ship, the doctor will either take legal action (using the local sheriff,) or he'll threaten to blow up their ship right there. No matter what happens, the weapon can only fire a few times before it shorts and fries itself, obliterating the ship that it's on. (A good mechanic is likely to realize this, if the laser somehow ends up on the ship the players are flying. Once the test is over (if the players agree) the doctor isn't happy about the loss of his prototype, but he keeps his end of the deal and pays up without a fight.
3. Purple Haze
A client who runs a mushroom farm wants to get his latest crop of Criminy and Shitake to his distributor on Ariel (core). He's an old friend of one of the crew members, so he's probably trustworthy, even though he's always talking about peace and love and ending his ta ma duh sentences with the word "man." If they take the job, he'll fill up their cargo hold with his mushrooms, and it's not until they're well on their way to Ariel that the crew finds out that at least one crate of mushrooms he packed is actually a super-hybridized form of psilocybin with spores that will eat through the feh wu crate housing and fill the ship with heavy hallucinogens. This could make for a lot of fun encounters, real or imagined!
4. The Debt
A happy client takes the crew out for drinks and things get a might bit wild. One of the crew members wakes up in a dark room with one cheong bao ho tze of a hangover and a couple of goons staring down at him. Turns out when he got really drunk, he gambled and lost so much that he's not only completely out of money, but in debt, and the owner of the establishment managed to convince him (while he was drunk) to be the next big cage fighter so he can pay off his debt. Trying to get out of this tsway niou situation without going through with the cage fighting is going to cost the crew a lot, but there might be fun alternative ways out of this mess. For maximum fun, make the character going into the cage the captain or the pilot. Someone who the boat won't fly without.
5. Against the Lawman
While parked on some niou se backwater rim world, a local rich man puts the squeeze on the men and women working in his mine (higher taxes, harder work, longer hours, etc.) and it erupts in a bloody strike that the local lawmen get involved with. Only problem? The tah mah duh hwoon dahn rich fellow owns not only the mine, but the whole tah ma duh town, including every judge, sheriff, and deputy in the system. In fact, the only thing he doesn't own is the crew or their ship, and since they've got guns, the miners are bound to come to them for help. What they do is up to them, but it could turn into a really exciting run along the lines of Heart of Gold. Or they could just leave- or maybe even take the rich fellow's side in the hopes of making a handful of dirty, dirty money.
6. Reavers? Why Did It Have to Be Reavers?
Some locals on a rim or a border world approach the characters and ask them for help. Turns out they've been raided- several times, and by Reavers. Though these Reavers are different- they only kill when they have to, and they seem to have some kind of rank and file, which is very unlike any Reavers anyone in the ‘verse has ever run across. Those folk who've seen them report that they're led by a girl, a "half-breed," they call her, who is about as vicious as they come. The locals want to make a stand, but the local alliance military camp isn't interested, and the folk round about town don't have enough guns or hands to use them, and they're ready to make a deal with outsiders if it means having the characters and the ship on their side. In truth, the kuh wu woman leading these false Reavers is a half-breed, a miraculous survivor of a Reaver's brutality, and her band is actually a pack of corrupt soldiers from the local Alliance military camp with nothing better to do than pick on the local colonists, so there'll be no cavalry to speak of, especially since one of the ranchers is in cahoots with the false Reavers, and he's been supplying inside information to them since day one...
7. Find the Finder
A major archaeological firm contacts the characters while they're either on-route to a rim world or parked on one, and offers them a job tracking down a wayward archaeologist who's gone missing on that planet while looking for something stashed there during the war, something that might be valuable. If they find him and he's found the stash, then the firm is willing to cut them in for twenty percent of the loot, but if he's dead... well, that might be grounds for a little renegotiatin'! There's a lot you can do with this- maybe the guay tuh guay nown archaeologist found the stash and realizes he can get a better cut by selling it to someone else, and maybe he got himself killed trying to do just that, and now the site's swarming with huen dahn gang-folk trying to figure out the best way to fence the cache...
8. Long Arm of the Law
The characters are flying along on some relatively uneventful run between worlds when a ee da tuo da bien Alliance cruiser intercepts them out of the blue. And not just one of those little ones- one of the big, official, and extremely well-armed ones. They're told to power down and prepare to be boarded- why is never made clear, but the fact that they'll be blasted out of the black if they try to run for it is. Once the commanding officer comes on board, a detachment of alliance soldiers tears the ship apart from top to bottom, looking for something. (What is it? That's up to the Referee, but it should be something they can't find, like fugitives or a shipment of weaponry stolen from an alliance research outpost.) They might turn up all kinds of illegal things while they're tearing the ship apart, but it doesn't matter- they've got one thing on their mind, and that's it. The kuh wu commanding officer might even get violent or resort to torture to get the info he needs, but whatever happens, by the time they realize it's all a case of mistaken identity (I guess there's a lot of ships like yours out there, folks!) the whole boat is a mess, and none of the alliance goons feels like sticking around to clean it up. This might be a way for the characters to pick up a tip on a new way to make money as well, either from a soldier who needs something done or just from overhearing the details of what the officer is after.
9. Ten Pounds of Trouble in a Five-Pound Saddlebag
One of the character's contacts has a job offer for the crew, and it's a take-it-or-leave-it kind of job with no questions asked that needs to be done yesterday. There's a crate he needs delivered half-way across the ‘verse, and it's big enough to fill the whole cargo bay (or one whole cargo bay.) The contact tells them to make sure not to open it, to not even touch it, but if that isn't enough to convince the crew to take a peek in flight, the fact that a couple of fat, inquisitive kids start appearing on the ship might. Turns out that the crate is full of fat little kids packed into tight little enclosures, complete with food, water, and in-flight entertainment. Why they're there is up to the Referee- are they another wong ba duhn Alliance experiment on psychics, or are they something more insidious, like product being shipped to people with a taste for a meat that doesn't grow on the hoof or wing...
10. Take My Love, Take My Land...
A friend of the characters gets in touch with them and tells them that some chai neow people calling themselves the "Church of the New Science" are trying to convince him to join their bizarre, new-age religion and give up his land to the church... and they're awfully persistent. Why, just the other day they sent the local sheriff (who they seem to own) up to his ranch to "check things out" in an awfully suspicious way, and after that, there was that wong ba duhn coreworlder he caught sneakin' around in the bushes... anyway, he needs their help, figures a starship and a handful of guns might scare off these silver-suited creeps before things start getting out of hand. (Whether it does or not is up to the referee... it might just make them that much more persistent about trying to convert people to their bizarre faith...) Maybe, if bullets start flying, what he'll discover he really needs is some help shuffling furniture real quick, and the fastest ticket offworld he can get.
11. Two by Two...
The characters are chartered by a bureaucratic-type who's a guay tuh guay nown da shiong la se la chwohn tian if the characters have ever seen one. He's paying for passage for himself and three others- a pilot, a shady soldier type (maybe a merc from the war who fought for the Alliance and then got dumped when they won the war) and, laugh all you want, a paleoxenologist. (Everyone knows there's no intelligent life but humans in the ‘verse, and even some of them ain't too intelligent.) She doesn't care that they're laughing- she has a job to do, but what that job is exactly, is kept pretty secret. Anyway, the bureaucrat pays the charter and offers a retainer to keep the ship and crew on site to pick them up or ferry in equipment as necessary. Somehow, during the trip, it gets leaked that the reason why this group of passengers is going to that particular middle-of-nowhere is because something's been found there that's old... really old, and it's probably non-human in origin. When they reach the site, they figure out the value of the item, and it is mighty juicy, so the arguing and the persuading begins. The Bureaucrat wants to sell the thing to the highest bidder or acquire it for his corporation, the paleoxenologist wants to see it cataloged and put in a museum, the merc's been instructed to acquire it for a private collector, and the pilot, who is secretly a government agent, has been given instructions to kill everyone involved and seal up the site so this particular secret stays a secret. If he can't manage it in time, that's okay- it won't be long before the agents of Alliance government show up and start liquidating people.
The ‘verse is home to whole slew of ideas- just think back to books you've read or movies you've watched and pick out that one series of plot twists you could turn into something to make your jaunt through the black just that much more interesting. You might also check out my 11 Steampunk Adventure Seeds, 11 Cyberpunk Adventure Seeds, or 11 Horror Adventure Seeds for some other downright nifty ideas you might be able to twist or change or even use raw next time you take your boat through atmo.
Just remember, keep flyin', ‘cause it don't matter how far out in the black they put ya, ain't no one who can take the sky from you.