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I'm going to be running a one-shot Serenity game and I'm not sure if any of the published adventures fit what I want to do. I've thought about mining some older modules (e.g., Traveller), but I've done very little Sci-Fi gaming and I'm not sure where to start.

Are there any SF modules that are generally considered to be top-notch in the way that Keep on the Borderlands, Village of Hommlet, etc. are in D&D? Since it will be for a Serenity game, settings like Star Wars wouldn't adapt as easily, so I'd prefer something a little closer as a starting point. That said, I can always change it around to fit the setting if the structure is really good.

I'm looking for something that is more towards the open-ended rather than the scripted end of things, and would ideally include both ship and planet-side action.

Maybe I'm being to picky, but figured I'd throw it out there.

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There's actually a question over on scifi.se that's pretty related - turns out Firefly may very well be based on a game of Traveller that Joss Whedon ran in the mid-80s, and @aramis answered that one too :) –  Tacroy Apr 17 '12 at 19:01
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7 Answers 7

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Many of the Classic Traveller adventure materials could be easily adapted.

easily adaptable:
Adv 8 Prison Planet
Adv 9 Nomads of the World Ocean
Adv 11 Murder on Arcturus Station
Most of Sup 6 76 patrons
CT D02 Double 02a Across The Bright Face/Mission On Mithril - both halves!
CT D04 Double 04a Marooned/Marooned Alone

Some "rather iffy - bends the 'verse" Traveller adventures:
Adv 2: Research Station Gamma - intelligent aliens; otherwise, a rather doable conversion
Adv 7: Broadsword - the adventure itself is suitable, but most of the module isn't the adventure.
Adv 10 Safari Ship - again, more about the ship than the adventure
CT D01 01a Annic Nova/Shadows - both deal with aliens pre-current imperium.
CT D05 Double 05a The Chamax Plague/Horde - Alien life.

Ones that don't fit well
Adv 1: Kinunir - it's a "show off the system mechanics" issue.
Adv 3: Twilight's Peak - intelligent aliens; ancients. Strongly OTU
Adv 4: Leviathan - another "show off the mechanics"
Adv 5: Trillion Credit Squadron - Not an adventure
Adv 6: Expedition to Zhodane - Aliens, specific-to-OTU theme.
Adv 12 Secret of the Ancients- Aliens, specific-to-OTU theme.
Adv 13 Signal GK- Aliens, specific-to-OTU theme.

The Traveller Adventure is chock full of useful stuff, but the campaign metaplot is unusable due to both being too OTU, and involving too many aliens. Many chapters, however, are perfect fits... Zilan Wine comes to mind immediately.

MT didn't have many separately published, tho' many were in Traveller's Digest or in Challenge. Both Knightfall and The Flaming Eye are so OTU focused that conversions would be unrecogniable and lots of work.

Mongoose's Traveller has a few that could be easily adapted... In general, tho' only 760 Patrons really is worth the time.

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I played a lot of the classic TSR space opera game Star Frontiers back in the day, and the many published adventures for it could easily be adapted to Serenity. And, you're in luck, TSR allowed all the Star Frontiers stuff to be published for free on the Web! (registration required)

The Alpha Dawn adventures tend to not involve the PCs having actual spaceships/piloting skills, but the Knight Hawks ones do. The first three Alpha Dawn adventures involve being stranded on a frontier planet so aren't super "Serenity"-y but the rest, including Mission to Alcazzar and Mutiny on the Eleanor Moraes, are pretty directly portable.

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Traveller would be ideal for this. If you can get 101 cargoes, 101 travellers, and 101 plots, 101 XXX then you are a winner. They are awesome sources books. "What do you mean they are LIVE animals? I thought the cargo manifest says "dead". It does, look. You don't care. Well, that's just grand..."

The old ICE Spacemaster game world had a very similar background to Serenity -- maybe a little more Dune-esque. Many of the modules were well written and as all ICE modules very open ended.

Since Serenity is clearly based of westerns, go and have a look at western source books and adventures. After all, this is the main source of inspiration. GURPS Far West would be a good start, so would be Goldrush games' Gunslinger. If you wanted to, pick up Sengoku since most of the Chanbara genre was inspired by Westerns -- and reciprocally.

More modern, there is Eclipse Phase but that transhumanism does not fit well with the western aspect of Firefly. Ditto with GURPS transhuman. Rogue Trader may have some interesting things but I would not recommend it. However, the added flavour may make it worthwhile...

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Gnuslinger! cheezburger.com/View/1660118784 –  SevenSidedDie Aug 3 '11 at 16:58
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"Tatooine Manhunt" for Star Wars was very good; it still is, in fact. Also, a copy of "76 Patrons" for Traveller is invaluable for what you seek.

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While they would need some adjustment I remember a couple of the old TSR Star Frontiers modules having a very run n' gun feel to them.

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I would recommend the MechWarrior/Battletech RPGs, and do some scaling back on the universe (IE no battlemechs, and limit factions to Davion, Marik, and Capellan) since it has the high tech/futuristic thing going for it, and Mechwarrior 3e has a pretty good ruleset involving a lifepath that you can easily adapt to the Unification War.

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Serenity is in one sense a space opera. If you can find any modules from the Space Opera RPG they’re quite fluid and can be lots of fun.

Space Opera Role-playing Game

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the Space Opera RPG's adventures are poor fits to the Serenity 'Verse... the tech is too Trek-like, and the adventures I've seen have all made use of aliens for their particular aliennesses. –  aramis Aug 6 '11 at 7:15
    
Ideas, not follow blindly. It never occured to me that someone would find it too hard to change alien to human. But it doesn't seem to occure to you that several plots revoling around pharmaceuticals could be adapted for play. –  user179700 Aug 6 '11 at 23:45
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