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[Dogs In The Vineyard] Anyone else used it for Serenity/Firefly?


Pretty Pink Prince(ss)
Validated User
I bought Serenity, and ran a few sessions using it. While I like the book for source material, I just don't have fun with the system. The constant need for houserules aside, the system itself just feels clunky, and doesn't feel like it fits the theme of the show or movie.

Having played a Delta Green game of Dogs run by EvilBrennan, I'm really loving that system, and I'm now planning on using that for my upcoming Firefly game.

Has anyone else done so? Any suggestions, or just fun anecdotes from your games?


New member
I'm going to derail the thread for two seconds to say that I've tried combining Trinity and Serenity with great results. I haven't tried Dogs in the Vineyard, however. I've actually never even seen it. xP


Registered User
Validated User
We tried it once. It created some great characters, but the game didn't fly as well as a regular Dogs Town. And it's down to one reason: Town Creation.

Following the rules for Town Creation in DitV is essential to create a properly fucked-up situation where the Dogs get to do their stuff. But for our Firefly variant, as the PCs are not Dogs, we ignored the Town Creation rules and just winged it. Big mistake. Without anything for us to get our teeth into, it didn't get into gear the way a real Town would.

All those threads that stilltwilight posted above are gold. I would add this great thread as a good guide to messing around with DitV successfully, giving it a Firefly spin.


Pretty Pink Prince(ss)
Validated User
I haven't run Serenity Dogs personally, but there are a few threads available you could sift through for resources. :)

Dogs in the Black
Firefly in the Vineyard
Firefly in the Verse AP
Firefly in the Vineyard
Thanks for these, I'm going to check them out when I get home.

We tried it once. It created some great characters, but the game didn't fly as well as a regular Dogs Town. And it's down to one reason: Town Creation.

Following the rules for Town Creation in DitV is essential to create a properly fucked-up situation where the Dogs get to do their stuff. But for our Firefly variant, as the PCs are not Dogs, we ignored the Town Creation rules and just winged it. Big mistake. Without anything for us to get our teeth into, it didn't get into gear the way a real Town would.

All those threads that stilltwilight posted above are gold. I would add this great thread as a good guide to messing around with DitV successfully, giving it a Firefly spin.

Thanks for that link as well.

The people I'll be running this for haven't played DitV yet, so I know they won't have any expectations based on how the actual game itself goes down. I've been taking a look at the Town Creation section though and plan on utilizing it somewhat for the planets, space stations, and what-not they'll encounter.


Pretty Pink Prince(ss)
Validated User
I've only skimmed through those links so far, but one thing immediately that I like-creating Jobs instead of Towns. It's a perfect idea, so fitting. I'm making my own test character at the moment, to get a better feel for the system. Looking forward to this game more and more.


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Validated User
I couldn't stop thinking about this kind of thing overnight, so I've put some notes down on how I would do such a conversion. I hope it is of some interest!

Pretty regular character creation. No need to require the players to pick a Relationship with the Dogs or to take an "I'm a Dog" trait, obviously. Instead, make each player take one Trait which explains why their character is perpetually in need of more money. This could be a lavish lifestyle ("Ale & Whores!") or something to do with the ship ("The ship is in continual need of repair") or whatever ("I give all my money to the Church"). Something which will always explain why the character will always accept a Job :)

(Possible Idea: You could also require the players to "donate" one of their Traits or Relationships to the ship. Any player can then draw on the shared "ship" traits & Relationships when the ship is involved in a scene. Dunno about this tho')

These work in the same way as normal, but instead of being set during the character's Initiation, it should be something the character hopes he accomplished as part of this crew. Again, it shouldn't be something which will break the character if it goes the wrong way. And at the end, you still get a d6 Trait, no matter what.

This is a pretty basic modification of the Town Creation rules in regular Dogs in the Vineyard, so it works in pretty much same way. The tweak in character creation should ensure that the PCs all need money, so simply presenting them with "You need some money. Here's a job where you can get money" should be enough to get them involved, and then the rest of the messy situation plays out.

You can imagine that the Jobs which go smoothly, and the time between bouts of poverty are shown "off-screen", and it's only these interesting ones which we actually play out :)

Step 1a: Someone is Excessively Wealthy. Being just wealthy isn't enough, they have to be rich enough to rob from :) Write down the nature of the wealth (money, drugs, information, etc.) and the name of somebody who is responsible for that wealth (a rich noble or the local Alliance commander, for example). Generally, the PCs will all know of this at the start of the Job.

Step 1b: If somebody is Excessively Wealthy, then somebody else is going to be worse off because of it. Someone is sick when someone else has all the medicine, or an industrialist is keeping his employees in poverty, or something. Attach a name or names to this injustice to it. If the situation seems grabby enough to you, which it probably won't but if it does, you can stop. Skip ahead to step 6a.

Step 2a: Unaddressed, this injustice leads to problems. The advantaged person becomes bold or the disadvantaged person becomes resentful -- either way, they do something that is obviously crappy. This includes violence, deceit, profiting from other's misfortune, getting drunk and being unable to support your family, and so on. Pick something, and attach a name for the person doing this, and also a name of somebody who is the 'victim' of this problem.

Step 2b: When things were in this pressurised state, something went wrong. Some bad luck, or an unexpected complication happens. Imagine the worst possible thing that could happen to people in this situation, and that's what happens. Make a note of what it was. If you've got enough NPCs to keep the PCs busy and you're happy with the situation, you can stop. Skip ahead to step 6a.

Step 3a: When things go bad, people rarely put it down to "one of those things". Either the person causing the problems blames somebody else or the victim decides to respond in kind. They find some justification for either continuing do what they are doing, or to be equally as bad in response. Write down who, and their self-justification for doing so.

Step 3b: This self-justification becomes popular, and attracts more who agree with it. This justification lets them do antisocial things in order to "sort things out". What do they do, and who is the target of it? If you're happy with the situation, you can stop. Skip ahead to step 6a.

Step 4a: Somebody decides that they would have a better chance of getting what they want if the Alliance were alerted to the situation. Note down who, and what they had to do to get the Alliance to pay attention to them -- this usually means betraying a trust or worse.

Step 4b: Now the Alliance get involved. Who do they sent to deal with this problem? Write a name and what they want to do here. It's a good idea to tie this back into the Excessive Wealth you had at step 1 -- how do they try and secure this Wealth for themselves? If you've taken the situation as far as you want to, you can stop. Skip ahead to step 6a.

Eventually someone kills someone. The Alliance especially like it when 1) possible threats get murdered and 2) they use the murder to gain more control. Attach names to the murder and write a paragraph. Go to step 6a now, or continue with more murders until you are happy with the situation.

Step 6a: What does each named person want from the PCs? Write a sentence or two for each. Also, do a quick double-check to make sure only the person you identified in step 1a has enough money to steal from.

Step 6b: What does the Alliance want in general? What do they want from the PCs? What might they do? Write a paragraph.

Step 6c: If the PCs never came, what would happen -- that is, what's the next step up the "what's wrong" ladder? Write a sentence or two.

And you're done! As in regular Dogs, I think the first few games should go all the way up to Hate & Murder, so the situation is at it's most "grabby" and obvious.

Where you get "Demonic Influence" dice in regular Dogs in the Vineyard, you will get "Alliance Interest" dice here. It again, depends on what the PCs have discovered about the situation. What's the worst thing the PCs have seen here?

Injustice: the Alliance Interest is 1d10.
Complications: the Alliance Interest is 2d10.
Blame and Recrimination: the Alliance Interest is 3d10.
Alliance Intervention: the Alliance Interest is 4d10.
Hate and Murder: the Alliance Interest is 5d10.

In this version you should still use the Possession and Sorcery rules in DitV for the "Big Bad" of the Job (otherwise the conflicts will get lame). The way Job creation is set up, this will tend to be whoever the Alliance sends in Step 4b (Not necessarily an Operative, but it's catchier to use that terminology).

Give that person a 4-die Relationship to "The Alliance" (i.e. the Demons) above and beyond the above and beyond the Relationships listed for the NPC. They can therefore Get Alliance Support: Add the current Alliance Interest to his preferred side of any conflict, as though it were a Trait, by introducing some Alliance involvement into a See or Raise, such as special technology, air support, generic purple bellies, or whatever.

You can obviously extend this to Possessed People (Alliance Sympathisers) by making Possession more like "using Alliance resources" and describing it appropriately.

You could, for a different spin on things, use these rules for Reavers instead (which I have left out of the Job Creation rules, as I wouldn't want Reavers being part of that structure.)


Pretty Pink Prince(ss)
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That job creation ruleset is very interesting, i'll definitely be utilizing it in my game, thanks Warren.


Registered User
Validated User
And a worked example; It's quite simple (just 4 major NPCs), but I still think this would work quite well, even if I do say so myself :)

"The Aberdeen Job"

1a) Benson Hibliss is the executive manager of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Refinery. The refinery is one of the few places that anybody can refuel without too much Alliance presence. And it also has a significant amount of lightly guarded tanks full of high-value Superdense Hydrogen Fuel Blocks which will fetch a handsome price on the black market...

1b) To keep the Refinery working at maximum output, Hibliss works his employees harder and harder, working long hours to keep up with demand. Mandatory unpaid overtime is put in place, causing fatigue and unhappiness amongst the workforce.

2a) The stress and long hours put upon one worker -- pipe-fitter Jake Dranner -- is getting to him, and he takes to drinking and drug binges. His work suffers and his relationship with his young wife, Xueyan, starts to suffer.

2b) There is an explosion at the Refinery, killing several workers and destroying the most recent batch of Superdense Hydrogen. Hibliss is livid at this loss of productivity, and the surviving workers are outraged. Dranner is overwhelmed with guilt -- it was his pipework that blew.

3a) Dranner decides to put his guilt squarely at Hibliss. It was his fault for demanding so much. Hibliss should be blamed for the explosion -- it was him who made us do all this work, after all! He's the one at fault here!

3b) Dranner's vocal outrage at Hibliss falls on several friendly ears on the refinery floor. He and a few others start quietly sabotaging production and intimidating other workers to join them in calling for Hibliss' arrest. Occasional beatings are dished out by Dranner and his cronies against those they regard as "suck-ups" to management.

4a) Naria Falconer, an ambitious self-serving shift supervisor, thinks things are getting out of hand, and requests external help from the Alliance. They agree to "help" in return for her testifying against Hibliss and her coworkers -- including Jake.

4b) Winter Starkos, Blue Sun executive, arrives at Aberdeen and takes executive control of the plant away from Hibliss "to stabilise the situation for the Alliance". She also uses her personal squad of purple bellies to arrest the "ringleaders", using force if required.

5) The Alliance soldiers fail to arrest Jake, as he is holding out in the service area of the refinery. To try and get his compliance, Starkos has his wife, Xueyan, brought to her. Starkos then shoots Xueyan in cold blood, broadcasting the whole thing to Jake.

Opening Scene:
The game opens on the PC's detecting the broadcast of Xueyan's murder as they make a final approach to the Refinery's landing pad (which is just above where Dranner and his cronies are holed up) ready to steal (or buy) the fuel. Unfortunately, due to the explosion and continued sabotage, there is only a limited amount of fuel available until somebody gets the Refinery up and running properly again.

What people want from the PCs:
Winter Starkos, the Blue Sun representative of the Alliance wants retain control of the plant and stop any disruption of her plans. So obviously, she wants Jake Dranner and PCs killed or captured, and the workers rounded up and sent to prison.

Benson Hibliss wants the PCs to get rid of Winter Starkos for him, so he can regain control over the plant. And then, he wants them to get out of his business and leave him alone.

Jake Dranner is overcome with anger, grief and frustration. He wants the PCs to kill both Starkos and Hibliss in revenge for his wife's death. He also knows he is in an unwinnable situation, so he wants them to get him off-world and away from this plant. Also, some more drugs wouldn't hurt :)

Naria Falconer wants the PCs to keep her safe from recrimination by the rest of the workers. If Jake found out, her life wouldn't be worth living. She also doesn't want them to find out that she was the one who brought the Alliance into this.

What the Alliance wants:
The Alliance wants production to resume as soon as possible under control of Starkos. This refinery is worthless as it is. If the worker revolt and that fool Hibliss don't make it through this, then that's no bad thing either.

What would happen next:
Jake Dranner would lead a doomed attack against the Alliance purple bellies, with predictable results. Starkos would gain control, and use Falconer to get Hibliss arrested on trumped up charges. Blue Sun would then control even more of the outer worlds and restrict movement by controlling the sale of fuel to non-Alliance vessels.
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