Fans of Joss Whedon’s cult classic Science Fiction/Western television show Firefly might look at the picture above and think to themselves, “Man…those guys at d20 entertainment have a lot of nerve ripping off Joss.” They’d be wrong in that off the cuff assessment. When Firefly came out in 2002, the Sci-Fi RPG community often commented on either how much Firefly was like Marc Miller’s classic Traveller role playing game, or how Traveller would be the perfect RPG in which to play Firefly.
When Marc Miller – and the rest of the folks at GDW – designed the Traveller RPG, they created a universe which mixed together genre conventions from C.L. Moore’s Northwest Smith stories and Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation series. There were odd races and smugglers akin to Moore’s classic rogue Smith and there was a dying empire that could easily have been torn from the pages of Asimov’s classic. Where Gary Gygax’s and Dave Arneson’s Dungeons & Dragons had drawn from the dark depths of Sword & Sorcery fiction (with a dash of Tolkien), Traveller drew from an equally morally gray set of Science Fiction tales. Whedon likely drew on some of the same sources – as well as some Heinlein, Van Vogt, and Michael Shaara – when he came up with the concept for Firefly. Being a geek, it is even possible – though by no means I am stating this as a certainty – that he has played a session or two of Traveller in his life. That said, it is unlikely that Tim Minear or Jane Espenson played the game…though Ben Edlund (who did art for Hero Games products) might have.
Anyway…this is a round about way of saying that Traveller and Firefly are both original products that share some elements that might make it worth your while to support the upcoming series Spinward: Traveller when the Kickstarter launches on June 1. We’ll see if we can get some of the folks from d20 Entertainment to visit our podcast. In the meantime, here is a description of the show:
Based on the best-selling role playing game.
Jon Spinward is a prominent starship cargo broker, kidnapped by a spaceship crewed by lady pirates. But making a living raiding other starships is a hard life, and Jon must navigate this group of rogues and misfits in hopes of turning them into a legitimate far-trader business. Together, this band of unlikely allies must dodge competing pirates, navigate labyrinthian Imperial procedures, and the dangers of the empire’s border sector. Once they do, then maybe Jon can turn a profit and finally get a passage ticket back home.
Or maybe he might discover something more important than money out there in the frontier.
Starring: Samantha Swords, Brian Lewis, John Wells, Kristin Pelletier, Alexandra Whitman, Jenny Simmons, Sawyer Krause & Jessica Russo.
Producer: Ken Whitman
Executive Producer: Marc Miller
Studio: d20 Entertainment
And before I forget, one of the lead characters is played by Samantha Swords…you know…the badass longsword champion.