I Aim to Misbehave - The Browncoat Subclass

I Aim to Misbehave - The Browncoat Subclass

I love the TV show Firefly.

I love the movie Serenity even more, as it provided a certain amount of closure to the ill fated TV series (An amazing movie review by Movies with Mikey can be found here). Malcolm Reynolds is the embodiment of the Chaotic Good alignment and plays the role of a Rogue/Gunslinger. The remainder of the crew all fits into some sort of D&D class category: Fighter (Zoe), Barbarian (Jayne), Cleric/Healer (Simon), Bard (Wash - ok, he’s comic relief but I found that he inspired the crew and his wife with his lighthearted ability to provide the party with options other than fighting), Paladin (Shepard Book), and Artificer (Kaylee). I left Inara out since I couldn’t quite figure out what class she would fall into, so let me know what your thoughts are.

Also missing is River. In Firefly, it was obvious that she was a 2nd/3rd season character development plot line, but since the TV series never made it that far, it was a godsend that they were able to do the movie. In Serenity, she was some crazy dual class Monk/Psion (3.5e) that we all knew she would be… and it was fucking awesome.

Before I go any further, I have to admit something. I’ve been jealous of all the amazing content Stephen has been putting out lately: Runic Weapons, Smith’s Tools, Downtime Days, etc. While I love writing the more philosophical articles, player/GM content material is also fun to do, and I figured it was time I get off my ass and provide something tangible for players, just as Stephen has done for the GM. That said, he did contribute to this homebrew subclass so, as much as it pains me to say, he gets some of the credit.

For those that don’t want my thought process behind the Browncoat:
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The Browncoat - A Rogue Subclass

Starting at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in firearms and tinker’s tools. Tinker’s tools allows the browncoat to spend some of his downtime repairing his weapon and creating ammo so that he’s not always looking for someone that can do it for him. I thought about limiting it to just pistols, but after watching the movie again, I realized that Zoe often uses a rifle, and since she was also a browncoat, I left it open for all firearms.

Master of Vehicles

Also at 3rd level you gain proficiency in either land or water vehicles. The Serenity was basically a cast member, as it served as home for the crew and was crucial to how they made their living. Since you can’t have a badass spaceship (that is constantly falling apart), I thought it only fair to allow the player choose a set of vehicles to assist in their endeavors. More importantly, the Browncoat gains advantage of Deception and Sleight of Hand checks when using these vehicles. In the TV show, the crew uses a variety of secret compartments to stash illegal cargo, so it seemed only fair that the player should get some sort of bonus to keep their goods safe. If your GM is really nice, you could even choose Airships!


At 9th level, the Browncoat gets the Troublemaker ability. In the TV show, bad luck and misfortune follows the crew no matter where they go. But as the show progressed, and especially in the movie, Mal always seemed to be one step ahead of the impending doom. In the movie, Mal goes to see Inara, even though he knows it a trap. Before doing so, he makes sure that things are in place to be able to survive his encounter with the BBEG. He takes the beacon so that the Alliance cannot find Serenity and blow it out of the sky, and upon their escape, he makes sure that he confounds the Alliance so they can’t be followed. Mal also takes the first shot at the BBEG, and even though it didn’t work out as he planned, I would argue that he still had the initiative in this encounter.

As far as not being able to be charmed, I felt that it was fair to give the Browncoat this ability at 9th level. Sure, in the TV show, Mal succumbs to the seductive charms of Christina Hendricks’ character, but in later episodes he is able to see her for what she really is. It takes him a while, so that is why I feel that 9th level is a good place to gain this ability.

Sometimes You Just Have to Run

One of my favorite lines from the movie is “You run when you should fight, and fight when you ought to deal”. Mal isn’t stupid and he understands that sometimes running is your best option. In the TV show, while the crew tries to stay one step ahead of the Alliance and other threats, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. They always manage to escape, and they usually do so by running away, not by fighting their way out. Yes, I know there are some exceptions, especially the end of the movie, but for the most part, they only fight so they have the chance to run.

Therefore, it only seemed fitting that at 13th level, the Browncoat gets the Sometimes You Just Have to Run ability. Being able to take the Disengage action and immediately move up to up to half your normal movement away from the threat seemed perfect to me.

Fight till the End

Finally, at 17th level, the Browncoat get the Fight till the End ability. This ability is based mainly on the ending of the movie. The crew is fighting off the Reavers in a no win situation, and everyone gets shot or wounded in some way, yet they manage to fight on as long as they can. Meanwhile, Mal is fighting the BBEG and getting his ass kicked all over the place. But no matter how badly he is getting beaten, Mal always seems to be able to dig deep and keep on fighting, even when he should be down for the count.

The Fight till the End ability allows the Browncoat to use their reaction when an attack would drop them to 0 HP to instead drop them 1 HP. The Browncoat also gets to roll their sneak attack dice to gain temporary hit points based on the result of the roll. At 17th level, a rogue has an average of 80 HP with a +0 Con modifier. By rolling your sneak attack dice, the browncoat has the potential to get up to 54 temporary HP, with the average being 32 HP. Plus it gives the Browncoat something to do with their sneak attack ability other than inflict pain.

So there you have it, a roguishly handsome Browncoat!

As always, any constructive criticism (not bitching at me… looking at you, Stephen) is always appreciated.

Header Art Credit: Daniel Dos Santos

I'm John Constantine, I do Stupid in Spades  -  The Laughing Magicians Bloodline

I'm John Constantine, I do Stupid in Spades - The Laughing Magicians Bloodline

Creating Sub-Optimal Characters Is Not A Bad Thing

Creating Sub-Optimal Characters Is Not A Bad Thing