Old, but unresolved topic: Nature in a Firefly Hack

Maybe it’s not an interesting topic anymore, but I came across a couple old threads about Firefly hacks with a lot of varying opinions on Nature in such a game. There didn’t appear to be any kind of consensus, and this sums up the issue…

It was interesting to see in multiple threads, posters suggested that it’s in the nature of people to be loyal and/or work together. While that’s true in specific ways, 1. there’s a definite struggle there, and 2. I don’t think that’s the story Firefly tells.

Rather, I think the nature of an independent is to be exactly that: independent. They’re disenfranchised and suspicious. In a lot of ways, if you wanted to be the most efficient smuggler (or simply a Browncoat who makes a living beyond the Alliance’s reach), you’d have to be completely heartless. It’s always the acts of charity and love that get the crew into more trouble.
So, if I were going to offer a Firefly Nature solution, your nature would be along the lines of Save My Own Hide, People Are There to Be Used, and Get What’s Comin’ to Me.

High nature makes you a cool customer who can lie, smuggle, kill, earn a living, remain unattached, and steer clear of the Alliance. Lower nature means you value family (friends, life in general) and it’s harder and harder for you to see those you care about put in danger to complete a job, so it’s harder for you to be efficient, keep from getting caught, and take good enough jobs to survive. If your Nature goes too high, you become an all-out sociopath mercenary. If it goes too low, you can’t take the risks anymore and you become settled.
In this hack as well as the original, nature is about saving your own neck, which is opposed to the valiance required of the crew or the Guard.

Just some thoughts in case this hack was still of interest.

I like Firefly. It’s a tough concept to port because the story isn’t just about Mal, Zoe, the browncoats, and so on. There’s Wash, Shepherd Book, that whore, Jayne, Kaylee, the crazy chick, the doc. You have to shift the concept of recruitment because a Firefly game without Jayne aint worth playin’.

Nature… It’s also about the drama in relation to the obstacles, not just the concepts of character. Things that make free traders good at keeping the ship flying? They don’t belong in Nature because they also de-escalate the drama.

I’m thinking the full 7 Nature condition should be to join the Central planets as a safe merchantman/citizen, and 0 is to rush off & be a crazy ass dreamer/browncoat-with-a-death-wish.

So, Aspects? Stuff like Milk Runs, Law-Abiding, Citizenship… the things that make you both a bad browncoat & a poor free trader out on the Rim.

I might change my opinion again if I think about it much longer. You sort of have to define Obstacles to make the Nature thing make more sense.

Like for Mouse Guard, Luke didn’t write up the thing to be Nature (Guardmouse), with Aspects of Preserverence, Nobility, Sacrifice, and Defending the Weak. It’s Nature (Mouse), with all the frailty that mouseflesh is heir to. Escaping & Hiding suck when you have to get the snapping turtle out of the town square.

I’d just avoid marking Nature with obstacle-defeating Aspects if you’re going with Nature (Profession). It’s counter-productive. So getting those Obstacles down might help.

Dong-le mah?

(I cannot guarantee that I didn’t contradict myself with my write-up of Nature (Jedi) at the present time…)

Well, the show is pretty formulaic. Starts with a smuggling job or an effort to stay un-caught by the Alliance. Usually both. They get into trouble, frequently because somebody on the crew has a heart of gold. Rinse, repeat. It doesn’t matter whether the whole crew is made up of browncoats, or not a single crew member is a browncoat. The point is, smugglers who are on the dangerous side of the law, but are on the righteous side of governmental corruption and injustice. How you complicate that further is up to your own game.

I fully agree that the point of Nature in MG is that it’s ignoble, however, it’s also useful. Not specifically in a mechanical sense (although, that too), but it’s a set of simple survival skills. Writing Nature for Firefly as the Nature of Criminals is in the same spirit. It’s not about loyalty or bravery, but, rather, survival. Take what you can get and live to fight another day. And working that way will often save your ass, but won’t help anybody else, including your own crew. Same deal for mice. It’ll get you hid and fed, but won’t solve anything complex and will very rarely help others.

To me, the obstacles of a Firefly game are blatantly hard-coded into the fiction and setting: Mission for money and/or to right a wrong (usually revealed later) - fraught with threats to your relationships, morality, and mortality. Firefly’s template is remarkably close to MG in this way. One Guard mission might entail a lot of survival tasks for which Nature is a force. But you have to sacrifice and risk your survival to solve somebody else’s problem. In the Firefly equivalent, a mission might be all about making sure you get paid, but one of your crew is in danger or getting paid means hurting the innocent. These are fundamental choices in both worlds that match.

To me, making nature about Citizen vs. Wildman assumes that the characters in Firefly, whether as a group or any given individual, are really having a crisis about whether they ought to go Cubicle or Quixote. I don’t see that in the fiction and I don’t think the Nature of a Citizen is interesting. Instead, I see a see-saw between making the choice that’s most profitable and the choice one can sleep with at night. Usually, in Firefly, neither of those options aim towards the Citizen or the Wildman.