Meet Jack Shaw [Serenity RPG Character]

Eric Schweig as Jack Shaw

Actor Eric Schweig, my inspiration for Jack Shaw

Here’s the writeup I recently found for a character I played in a long-term campaign of the Serenity RPG that was run by Mark Kinney several years ago. I really enjoyed this character and this campaign. Serenity, based on the Firefly/Serenity sci-fi franchise, was the first iteration of the Cortex System.


Jack Shaw (real name: John Crow Pope)

Nationality: Chillicothe-Piqua Band Shawnee

Homeworld: Paquin

Hometown: A prairie settlement officially known as Remnant, though most outsiders call it Shawneetown

Profession: Freelance spacecraft pilot

Appearance: 6’4”, muscular, imposing presence. Black hair, dark complexion. Jack wears his hair somewhat long but not stereotypically long. It is less than shoulder length. He generally dresses comfortably – denim, t-shirts, boots, He also has some leather “action gear” clothes, similar to Zoe’s.

Personality: Imposing as he may seem at first, Jack is actually pretty centered and steady. He might almost be seen as stoic. It’s hard to get a rise out of him – or for him to show it, at least. He keeps things close to the vest and knows how to use that knack to his advantage. He’s not a loner – he’s just not big with the emotions. Occasionally he’ll say something witty or wise, often some sort of saying or truism related to his heritage. And when he’s flying, he’s laser focused.

Quirks: Jack is superstitious. He likes to gamble, particularly with cards, but has a whole list of things that, if they happen, will make him leave the table because they mean bad mojo. This is also true when he’s flying a ship. If certain patterns occur or certain things happen, he sees it as a portent that his luck is changing. He doesn’t make a big deal out of it and most people never know what his motivation is. He just cashes out and leaves the game at the first opportunity. I’m not sure yet what some of the specific “portents” are, but I’ll come up with some.

Character Traits: Agility d10|Strength d8| Vitality d6| Alertness d10| Intelligence d6| Willpower d8

Assets: Born behind the Wheel; Intimidatin’ Manner; Fightin Type; Steady Calm; Talented Pilot

Complications: Loyal; Memorable; Superstitious; Deadly Enemy (Niska); Overconfident

Skills: Athletics d2| Discipline d6| Mech. Engineer d6| Perception d6, Gambling d10, Tactics d8|    Pilot d6, Mid-Bulk Transport d12, Astrogation d8| Planetary Vehicles d6| Tech. Engineer d4| Guns d6, Rifles d10| Unarmed Combat d6, Brawling d8

History: John Crow Pope was born and raised in the Remnant settlement on Paquin, a village of people of Shawnee heritage who keep somewhat to the spiritual and tribal traditions handed down to them. His grandmother, Nellie Pope, is a tribal elder and shaman. John grew into a young man who, it turned out, had an incredible talent for flying small craft. At one point, a recruiter for the fledgling Alliance told John he ought to attend academy and train to be a military pilot. He wanted to go but his family (except Grandmother Pope) was against it. A local preacher who had befriended John gave him the funds and arranged transport to the academy in the Core. He got his schooling and went into the service of the Alliance just as they began to put pressure on the worlds that were reluctant to come under the Alliance’s wing. This escalated into a rebellion, and John was torn between duty and conscience. Eventually, conscience won. John went AWOL and turned Browncoat. He fought loyally for the Independents until the end of the war. Owing to the fact that the Alliance looked to execute him for desertion, John went underground and got a new identity. Now he calls himself Jack Shaw. He is a freelance pilot who has worked for some good folk and some bad folk, like Niska. In fact, he has crossed Niska and now the crime lord is after him, too. Jack now rarely interacts with folks from his former life, although he has visited Grandmother Pope a couple of times and also has a couple of contacts who know the truth about him.

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