Independent Faction

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Independent Faction
"Ol' Colorblind," the Browncoat flag.
NicknamesCoalition of Independent Moons, Browncoats, Jossies, Whedonites
Home BaseSerenity Valley, Ganymede
Population (2015 rough)Unknown; not possible to take a meaningful census
Political InfluenceMajor in the Jupiter subsystem, minor elsewhere
Major AchievementsSettlements on Ganymede and Callisto
Blue Sun manufacturing facility
StereotypeRugged Individualists, either gallant swashbucklers or quiet Waif-Fu mystics.
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The Independent Faction (also known semi-officially as the Coalition of Independent Moons, and more generally as the Browncoats or Whedonites) is the smallest of the major factions in the Fenspace Convention. It is also the most isolated of the factions, being based in the Jupiter sub-system rather than in the inner Solar System or Main Belt.[1]

With the Independent Faction being concentrated in the Jovian subsystem and the Heinlein Society having a sizable presence on Ganymede, the Browncoats have majority but not total control over the Galilean moons.

The Browncoats are best known for their agricultural exports - the Jupiter area has become the de facto breadbasket of Fenspace.


The Browncoats first headed Up in 2009-2010, settling on Ganymede and Callisto. A few "spirited arguments" with the Heinlein Society about who "owned" Ganymede were quickly nipped in the bud[2] with both factions sharing the moon. The Jossies who didn't want to even pretend to be at odds with the Juvies quickly moved to Callisto, speeding the settlement of both moons. Both factions have since developed a respect for each other's worldviews and skills, becoming staunch allies, but the "rivalry" lives on at sports tournaments and the occasional barroom brawl.

The Browncoats started making agricultural shipments to the inner system (Mars, Luna, Venus, Cislunar Space, and the luxury "more-money-than-sense" Whole Foods market on Earth) in early 2012. Their shipments getting interdicted by the Reavers was one of the casus belli for the Boskone War.


It's sometimes said that “Independent Faction government” and “Jovian subsystem government” are interchangeable terms. This is a simplification, but not a large one.

Browncoat government is loose, handled in a more “frontier” style than most Fenspace government, where the only real perceived need for it is to maintain the settlements and to have a way to deal with the more intense sort of troublemakers.[3] Officially, it's a representative democracy, but in practice it's an oligarchy; the same people tend to be re-elected.

It is incredibly direct as these things go; if one has a problem with the way things are being handled, one rides into Serenity Valley and talks with someone actually in the government... or one runs for office oneself. Otherwise, unless one takes the effort to at least vote, most attempts to complain are usually given a glare of disapproval from those that are involved in some way. Most people tend to abide by the principle “let others be, we're all just folk” – except where the predations of the Reavers are concerned.


Independent culture reflects the culture shown on Firefly... but, like so many other things in space, does so in an adapted and altered manner. Thanks to the Indonesian influence on the Jovian subsystem (see the sidebar), fashion is both more and less flamboyant than what's depicted in the source material.

Sartorial Matters

Certainly, a lot of men own a "Sunday Best"[4] outfit that includes a fancy vest, a gold pocket-watch, and tooled-leather boots. But the Indonesian Muslim influence means that vest is fancy because it's silk and has intricate threadwork throughout,[5] not because it has a pattern dyed into it, the tooling on the boots is geometric instead of represenational, and that gold pocket-watch isn't heavily decorated.[6]

Browncoats and Indonesia
Unlike the local Heinleinians' ideal of “gentleman farmers” each responsible for his (or her) own “forty acres and a mule,” the Browncoats see farming as Big Business. This mixture of “plenty of agricultural work” and “Rugged Individualists™” creates a major market for skilled farmers. Indonesia has a lot of people, many of whom are skilled farmers... and the Browncoats pay well.

There's a lot of both contract work[7] and southeast-Asian immigration to the Jovian subsystem, to the point that Indonesian is slowly replacing Chinese as the local “exotic” language of choice. The two major “Indonesian” domes are Little Jakarta[8] and New Palu, but there's a “Little Indonesia” district in every sizable settlement on Ganymede and Callisto[9].

A woman's fanciest outfit is likely to be a long silk gown in a single color, with long sleeves and either a hat or a head scarf.

The stereotypical daily wear for both sexes is remarkably similar - a long-sleeved shirt or blouse in a lightweight but opaque material, denim slacks, sturdy leather boots, a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun out of the eyes (and, for the Muslims, to preserve a woman's modesty), the same pocket-watch that goes with the formal outfit, and the ubiquitous "duster" longcoat. While the outfit is both practical and in accordance with both the source material and Muslim sensibilities, the real reason for its widespread adoption is that it's easy to wear a spacesuit over it once you take off the hat and duster.

Daily Life

SECTION NEEDS CLEANUP: Not many horses - no real place to put 'em, plus they don't take the haul from Earth as well as other livestock. Just watch the show for a take on that.


SECTION NEEDS CLEANUP: Light, mostly set up for dome construction & repair. Jupiter Mining Corporation does some ice mining and a little hydrogen/helium mining, but is better-known and busier with its transport work. (Any time one would think “Hermes Universal Deliveries” in Cislunar, one thinks “JMC” in the Galileans.) Blue Sun is the general products/retail giant in the area, though as of 2015 still more Ma's General Store than Wal*Mart.


The Jossies are relatively few in number[10] but deeply devoted to their cause. Broad brush painting gives us a group of people who are, at least technically, libertarians; their greatest desire as a person is “leave me alone, man.”

In Fenspace, there’s a fundamental schism in the Browncoats, leaving us with three subfactions. They’re not named or recognized as units, but they do tend more to their own.

The first group is the more militant side of the Browncoats. These are the Captain Mals[11] of Fenspace, tending towards swashbuckling and gallantry. The horrible interpersonal relationship skills are not mandatory.

The second subset of Browncoat are the spiritualists, those who identify more with Book and (not surprisingly) River. Some of their members have been experimenting with mental augmentation, with varying results.

The remaining Browncoats are not so easily distinguished. They’re the “rank and file,” the people who run shops and ship freight, working at building a new world.


  1. While the Warsies are even further from Earth, being based on Mimas, they have a presence throughout the System that the Jossies lack.
  2. Nobody wanted another Tomed Incident.
  3. This is one area where the local Heinleinians agree wholeheartedly with the Jossies... and are happy to leave the headaches of government to those who want them.
  4. Or "Friday Best" for the Muslims
  5. As does the shirt that's worn under the vest.
  6. The watch is also likely to be digital, with a cellphone or at least an emergency beacon built in. Jossies are romantic, but they aren't stupid.
  7. Many Indonesians have found that "two years work on Ganymede or Callisto, then home" pays very well.
  8. Where you can get the best goat satay in the Solar System.
  9. Instead of the more common “Little Italy,” “Chinatown,” or “Gone-Walkabout Australian” districts found in the larger cities throughout Cislunar and Mars.
  10. Although there are still enough Whedonites to form a workable Major Faction on their own, unlike the Senshi.
  11. No, not that Mal - the other one.