The 'Firefly' RPG is a great game with a strikingly different design philosophy from many other RPG's (and it's also worth mentioning that the game mechanic used in the 'Firefly' RPG is significantly different from the system used in the 'Serenity' RPG a few years ago, also published by Margaret Weis Productions). In fact, this game system is so different from most other roleplaying games that many experienced gamers struggle a bit with its basic concepts, while people new to roleplaying often 'get' it almost immediately. Essentially, the difference is that die rolls drive the game's narrative-- creating character advantages or complications in the process which can become major plot elements in their own right-- instead of simply determining success or failure and then leaving it to the GM to weave that result into his or her existing narrative. This very slight tweak does a couple of interesting things. First, the prospect of gaining complications actually makes the game better-- don't ask me how, but the game just seems to get more fun as your character gets hosed by multiple complications. This is the thing that veteran players seem to have the most difficulty with when they play 'Firefly' for the first time, but if you've ever seen the TV show, it makes perfect sense: the show is at its best when things don't go as planned. You don't get to be a big damn hero unless you face unexpected wrinkles and complications, and building random setbacks into the game somehow tends to make characters all the more epic. This runs against the grain of most gamers' previous game experiences, since the norm in roleplaying games is to try to stack the deck so that your character always has a winning hand. The other thing that this mechanic does is that the process of assigning assets and complications through gameplay gives the players a degree of agency within the storyteller's overall narrative, which isn't as disruptive as it might sound, but also invests players in the way that story develops and unfolds. This system has a unique feel to it, making roleplaying a much more collaborative experience, but admittedly it isn't for everyone. People who take a very analytic, numbers-oriented approach to roleplaying-- experiencing it as a game-- will probably like it less than narrative- or character-driven players who primarily see roleplaying as a story.
Because of this "not for everyone" factor, it's worth noting that another product in this game line-- "Echoes of War"-- contains most of the basic rules mechanics found in the core rulebook, plus four complete adventures in which players are assumed to play characters from the TV show (but can be run with the players' own characters, if desired). Picking up "Echoes of War" is a great way to give the game a try without too much of a financial investment. The core rules, on the other hand, add a system for character and ship creation, information on the planetary systems of the 'Firefly' setting, GM advice for running longer campaigns, and a number of additional rules that you'll want to have if you love this setting and system as much as I do.
Every now and then an RPG for a media franchise comes out which really captures the flavor of that setting. The 'Firefly' RPG does this almost effortlessly, with rules which make it seem like the 'verse is out to get you sometimes. Those are also the times when your players will get to be big damn heroes. Do yourself a favor and pick up the 'Firefly' game, so that you can do a job, get paid, and keep flying.
[5 of 5 Stars!]