FIREFOXBORN: THE ROLEPLAYING GAME
Featuring the following featureful features!
- FULL-COLOR INTERIOR ILLUSTRATIONS!
- OBSCURE TECHNICAL HUMOR!
- A REALLY DERANGED PARODY OF AN RPG SYSTEM THAT MAYBE 12 PEOPLE HAVE PLAYED!
1. BACK COVER BLURB
Struggle in a modern age of sung music and faraway adventures.
Dominate in a mythic age of tiled artwork and tuft-eared cats.
Reclaim lost caches and awaken mysterious easter eggs.
Uncover the Page Within™, and become the browser!
You are a legendary Web browser of a lost mythic age, reborn in modern times in human form. (Mumble mumble majiqck mumble. -Ed.) You are FIREFOXBORN. This book contains the rules for an all-new, dynamic role-playing game, and if you don't know what a role-playing game is, please Take 20 on your Emerge From Dank Basement check. We'll be here when you get out.
YOUR DREAMS HAVE TROUBLED YOU ever since The Boom Times began.
Since September 1998, Silicon Valley has felt the touch of wild and primal forces. Whispered rumors abound of a force called "search engines" shaping everyday Web browsing. Tales of venture capitalist sightings appear in the tabloid press. Superstitious managers draw pentagrams in boardrooms to invoke the IPO and ward off the hostile takeover.
You dream of earlier times. Simpler times. When you stalked the earth as a giant green lizard, and other, lesser browsers trembled at your bloated passing. When e-mail and newsgroups and instant messaging and bread toasting were all within the grasp of a single mighty application. When there was money in web portals, when a "weblog" meant a collection of visited links, and when User Friendly was badly drawn and incomprehensible.
But something happened. A dark and ominous force rose up, and almost consumed the world. The Pre-September™ vanished in a flood of clueless newbies and automated spam. And with it, your legacy.
NOW YOU HAVE AWAKENED, amid editable encyclopedias and badly captioned cat pictures, a scion with memories far exceeding 640K. And if you can survive the phishing, the pop-ups, and the crash-happy plugins, you might get a chance to remember who you once were.
3. ATTRIBUTES AND DICE USE
All FIREFOXBORN characters, whether scion or programmer or Boring Mundane™, are described by four core aspects - the heart and soul of a browser. Of course, we're not suggesting that all living beings are actually composed of these four elements, but this is a game about reincarnated web browsers, so deal with it, Mozdammit.
Render - Loading speed
Represents raw processor power; i.e. quick thinking and awareness.
Acid - Standards compatibility
Represents coding finesse and capability; i.e. dexterity/strength.
Wards - Protection from malware/exploits
Represents toughness and endurance.
Resolution - Page size
Represents available memory; i.e. intelligence.
This aspect system has the benefits of simplicity, flexibility, and a really kickin' acronym.
To resolve challenges ("load pages"), you need to roll enough successes (each success is a 4-6 on a six-sided die) to meet the Kickback ("KB") of the challenge. Roll a number of dice based on your score in the relevant aspect. You may also use skills to shift dice from your other aspects into your dice pool according to the following set of elegant and simple rules:
NOTE: Playtesters have advised us that it's necessary to have a Render of 7 to properly interpret the above paragraph. However, we need to rush this book to press, so we'll fix it in the errata.
4. CHARACTER CREATION
First, divide 31 Build Points between your RAWR aspects; each of your RAWRs should be an integer between 0 and 6 inclusive. Buying an aspect at a certain level requires (0.1*x^3 - x^2 + 5x -3) Build Points, rounded to the nearest multiple of sqrt(2). Make certain to use all of your Build Points! (Keep in mind that, while having multiple scores of 0 makes the math more comprehensible, we don't recommend it, as it can quickly lead to unplayable characters.)
NOTE: We're also told you can also simply divide 16 Aspect Points between your four Aspects, with the sixth point in an Aspect costing double, but that doesn't have the elegance and simplicity of the official system.
Next, you need to decide on a character concept - both who your character was before they awakened to their browser self ("Background"), and the coding philosophy that guides how they integrate their awakening into themselves ("Fork"). These choices will determine your starting Skills, Features, and Patches.
When you choose a Background, take ALL of its Primary Skills at rank 4, ALL of its Secondary Skills at rank 2, and ONE of its Features at rank 1. When you choose a Fork, choose one of its Features at rank 1 (if you pick the same one your Background gave you, upgrade it to Rank 2), and one of its Patches at rank 1.
4.01. SAMPLE BACKGROUNDS
We don't need to describe the hobo. You know what a hobo is. In fact, we know you've already roleplayed several, and that's the first thing you looked for when you flipped to the Backgrounds section. What's a modern-age roleplaying campaign without at least one PC with a cardboard box for a home and an utterly improbable skillset? Crappy, that's what.
Primary Skills: Awe-Inspiring Larceny, Surgery, Time Travel
Secondary Skills: Buttkicking, Hedge Fund Investment, Knowledge (Facebook), Majiqck
Features: Exorbitant Wealth, Googlemancy, Hardened Codebase
You always knew you were different. Once upon a time, you attributed this to having the soul of a proud, noble dragon, and you hung out online with like-minded would-be nonhumans. But when the Boom Times hit, you turned your focus to your true browserkin roots. People call you a different kind of crazy now.
Primary Skills: Endure Contempt, Knowledge (Irrelevant Crap), Majiqck
Secondary Skills: Dance Dance Revolution, Grokking, Knowledge (Livejournal), Social Overcompensation
Features: Active Imagination, Googlemancy, Online Friends
You're a street tough. It's in your blood. Gotta be frontin'. However, you grew up on the right side of the tracks in white-bread Santa Clara, and you're too smart to show your face in any of the actual gang turfs like Oakland or Alameda or the Jack In The Box at 34th and Technology. "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)" was written about you.
Primary Skills: Buttkickin', Gunhavin', Social Overcompensation
Secondary Skills: Awe-Inspirin' Larceny, Dodgin', Knowledge (Myspace), Rollin'
Features: Gleeful Brutality, Gunpoint Diplomacy, Hardened Codebase
... I could go on, but now that I've described the maladjusted combat class you Mozdamned munchkins are just going to play wiggers anyway.
4.02. SAMPLE FORKS
Forks are primal forces that have existed since the ancient prehistory of browserdom. They tap deep into the collective unconscious of both Mankind and Browserkind. When picking a fork, you are not just choosing mechanical advantages for your character - you are choosing an entire life philosophy. So choose carefully.
Scions who follow the fork of vi are direct and headstrong. But they try to stray from home as little as possible, and avoid social gatherings, preferring to minimize characters. They often seem like they have two separate personalities, but you won't know which one they're in until it's too late.
Philosophical Concepts: Minimalism, portability, hardcore geekdom
Features: Deliberate Obscurity, Hardened Codebase, Snappy Subroutines
Patches: Cookie Devourer, Multi-Platform Binary, Optimized Renderer
Scions who follow the fork of emacs are endlessly optimistic novelty seekers - and why shouldn't they be? Everything they want in life is just a Meta key away. So what if they're a little too loose with their typing? Sometimes you have to spend keystrokes to save keystrokes.
Philosophical Concepts: Versatility, luxury, more different hardcore geekdom
Features: Exorbitant Wealth, M-x Eliza, There's A Plugin For That Too
Patches: Psi-stent Connections, Sourceforged, Webcrawler
Look, boyo. Don't take this fork. Just ... don't. An editor that tells you which keys to press to access its commands? The other players will never take you seriously. Shut up. Nobody likes you.
Philosophical Concepts: Friendliness, straightforwardness, avoiding endless flame wars
Features: A Life Outside Computing, Every Game Has Bards, Online Friends
Patches: Early Adopter's Darling, Modal Dialogue, Mythic GOTO
4.03. FINISHING TOUCHES
Take a number of bonus skill ranks equal to your Resolution - this can be used to add new skills, or improve existing ones, up to a maximum rank of 4. Then buy any one new Feature at Rank 1, or improve one of your existing Features by one Rank.
Your character also starts with a Hack pool equal to double their Render. You can spend Hack on any roll, up to a maximum of the Aspect used in that roll, to add dice on a 1:1 basis.
Due to your character's dual nature as a person and a program, Hack refreshes up to the pool maximum at the end of every scene. Spend it like crazy.
4.04. SKILLS AND FEATURES
Section Not Found
Patches (which can range from Rank 1 to Rank 5) represent special abilities gained from your browser heritage that are unavailable to ordinary mortals. And yes, we're aware that this is starting to mix technological and majiqckal metaphors in a silly way. Chalk it up to Clarke's Third Law.
Channeling Firefox's instincts for privacy protection and data termination, you can enter a rage state in which destruction is your only goal. For each Rank you have in this Patch, you can ignore 1 die's worth of Wound Penalties until the end of the fight where you received them.
Early Adopter's Darling
There's something about your presence that inspires those who interact with you. You can add a 1-die bonus to all rolls made by friends within your line of sight. For every Rank you have in this Patch, you can affect one ally simultaneously.
You can bend mortals to your will with but a look and a few words. When you interact with an opponent, you can make a Social Overcompensation test, opposed by their Endure Contempt. If you succeed, they are unable to do anything other than respond to your speech for as long as you continue talking. For each Rank, you can dominate one opponent simultaneously.
You have adapted your soul to run on more than one piece of wetware, and thanks to some sort of majiqckal mumbo-jumbo you can effortlessly flip between those platforms at will. Translation: You can shapeshift to one other form per Rank you have in this Patch. And before you gleefully munchkin this power into ridiculousness, that form has to be a real Earth animal, and in that form you can't talk or use opposable thumbs.
Most people consider GOTO harmful. Not you. You leap around code with impunity. For every Rank you have in this power, your jump distance doubles.
You process situations so quickly that you react to danger even before you consciously understand what's going on. Before rolling initiative in combat, you first roll 1 die for every Rank in this power. If you get any successes, you automatically act first (if more than one combatant has this Patch, use the number of successes rolled to break ties). However, your first action must be a physical attack at the nearest opponent.
Okay, that's a painful pun, but if we named it something like "Psychic Keep-alive" everyone would misunderstand us. At Rank 1, you have a permanent mental link to your fellow browsers. At higher ranks, you can do awesome stuff like share your mental Skills with them, but nobody ever upgrades this Patch so I'm not going to bother with the details.
Your codebase is hardened far beyond the ability of any individual developer, as if entire international communities were ironing out your security holes. For every Rank you have in this Patch, increase your wound thresholds by 1.
Deep in the primitive ancestry of your codebase lies the heart of a spider. No, not the animal. You know how the "World Wide Web" was originally just a metaphor for pages that were interconnected in a spiderweb-like fashion? And then people started taking the metaphor seriously, and so a program that traversed pages to index them was called a "spider," and -- what? No, no, METAPHOR, look it up. You Mozdamned people. *sigh* FINE, let's do this your way. You can stick to walls at Rank 1, ceilings at Rank 2, and with each Rank beyond 2 you can ignore 2 dice worth of climbing penalties from wind, slick surfaces, etc.
6. YOUR BROWSER CHARACTER
The heart and soul of FIREFOXBORN is the duality between your modern character and the mythic-age browser that their spirit is descended from. You will play both during the course of a typical game, with the Pagemaster switching back and forth via the "History Menu" mechanic.
However, because it would double the size of this parody, we're leaving the rules for Browser Creation out. Just trust us that it's really similar to modern character creation, except your browser is MORE BADASS TIMES A MILLION.
This is a game about reincarnated web browsers, and you want combat? Are you kidding?
Oh, fine. Blah blah dangerous malware, blah blah malfunctioning virtual reality, blah blah taking over mechanical devices, blah blah by grand coincidence you happen to be a black belt in eight different martial arts.
... Wait, did that not work again? Sigh.
When attacking, string together a sequence of fighting Subroutines, and make an Acid roll. Your opponent strings together a sequence of defensive Subroutines and makes a Wards roll (both of you optionally adding in the skill governing your attack or defense - refer back to the Dynamic d6 rules in Chapter 3). Subtract the loser's successes from the winner's successes, and the winner gets to perform that many Subroutines in their sequence.
Subroutines can be things like attacks, movement, dodges ... look, seriously, this was tough enough for the Fireborn team to explain in a whole chapter. I'm not going to try to summarize the whole damn thing in a paragraph this size.
You can create your own sequence, or use one of the predefined ones governed by your Fighting Style. The benefit of Fighting Styles is that if you complete one of the listed sequences of Subroutines in a single attack, you receive the Payoff for that Style.
Oh. Did we mention your character gets to choose a Fighting Style? And did we forget to include any? Another one for the errata.
Ever since the Boom Times began, there have been whispered rumors that ancient arcane Majiqck spells have been stored on the Web - knowledge that characters with the Feature of Googlemancy can retrieve and put to use.
Majiqck is totally unlike Patches, because Majiqck does not require being reincarnated from a powerful Mythic-Age program into a superpowered godlike revenge-fantasy figure. (So basically, feel free to make your boss, your older brother, that jock from sophomore year, etc., into black-Majiqck cultists for you to beat up. We won't tell anyone.)
Just to add to the gleeful sadism factor, the Majiqck of Googlemancy is an esoteric and dangerous art: powerful, but prone to backfiring. And by "backfiring" we mean "causing brains to boil when you fail". And by "fail" we mean "succeed."
It works like this: You can cast spells with a Rank less than or equal to your Googlemancy. Every time you cast a spell, roll an Acid test (optionally adding in the dice from your Majiqck skill) against a KB of double the spell's Rank. If you get EXACTLY that many successes, you cast the spell without incident. If you get FEWER successes, accumulate those toward your KB and re-roll next turn. If you get MORE successes, or if you abort the spell midway through, your brain boils out through your ears.
Exactly how any Majiqckers have managed to survive to the present day is left as an exercise to the reader.
We don't actually expect any FIREFOXBORN characters to be Majiqckers due to the insane lethality rate, but here are some sample spells you can have your bos-- uh, black Majiqck cultist villain -- try to cast at your characters before his brain boils out through his ears.
Range: Self Only
Also Known As: Why Prolong The Inevitable; Instant Karma; Take That You Stupid Boss
Description: This simple spell - the first one that every Majiqcker must research and invoke in order to gain understanding of their new field of study - causes the caster's brain to boil out through their ears.
Detect Player Character
Range: 1 Plot Unit
Duration: Instantaneous; looks 1 Scene into the future
Also Known As: Pagemaster's Little Helper
Description: Ever wondered how black-Majiqck cultists seem to unfailingly set up their operations exactly where the PCs can stumble across their dread rituals? Easy - they just cast this spell! (Don't forget to have them also cast the Rank 3 spell "Detect Virgin Sacrifice" before they begin their brain-boiling.)
Range: Exactly 1,920 miles
Duration: Several years of agonizing legal wrangling
Also Known As: The Spell Whose Name Is Forever Accursed; This Is Really Not A Good Idea
Description: A black incantation known only to the lawyers of Fantasy Flight Games. It has never been uttered in the history of human civilization due to rumors of its hideous, terrible, apocalyptic effects. We sincerely hope we shall never have occasion to elaborate.
Also Known As: I Can't Believe It's Not Majiqck
Description: After years of dedicated study, the serious student of Majiqck can learn this powerful and supremely useful spell. When successfully cast, it has the reason-defying effect of not causing the Majiqcker's brain to boil out through their ears.
9. A FINAL WORD
If you've made it this far, you're probably thinking at least one of two things: "What the hell is this FIREFOXBORN thing?" or "I feel totally cheated - this isn't a complete role-playing game!"
The answer to both of your questions is: FIREFOXBORN is merely a loving send-up of Fireborn, the RPG of reincarnated dragons. A lot of the parody's failings as an RPG are intentional jabs at some of Fireborn's incomprehensible and/or poorly edited parts. (Despite that, Fireborn is a genuinely cool game with a small but dedicated following, and the parodist's gaming group is 20+ sessions through a lengthy, epic, dearly beloved Fireborn campaign. More on the game here; some resources here.)
If you're seriously insane enough to want to play FIREFOXBORN, the missing parts can most likely be filled in by reading through the source material's rules. But if you're really, really serious about FFB, like to the point where you have friends willing to tolerate you running a game of it ... dude. Roll your own, and tell me about it later so we can snicker in hindsight.
FIREFOXBORN is the product of a long weekend, a restless muse, and the Really Atrocious Idea that grew from tangyabominy's innocent-sounding seed. Thanks also to Goldkin for inspiration on the "Cookie Devourer" Patch.
But they're not to blame for this monstrosity. That would all be me.