Behind the Screen

Let’s talk about gamemastering. The gamemaster plays the NPCs the player troupe encounters in their endeavors. To lessen their load, not all NPCs are created equal. Fading Suns presents three types: Headliners, Agents, and Extras.

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I Spy with My Imperial Eye

The upcoming Fading Suns Kickstarter (coming March 24th!) includes the big, full-color, brand-new edition core books, chock full of background and game rules. As a gift from the Pancreator, it also includes some additional sourcebooks that give us the skinny on the factions of the Known Worlds: the Imperial Dossiers.

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Calling Out Across the Universe

Since we’ve already talked about class and faction, let’s talk about the third major decision you’ll make when creating a character: calling. It’s your character’s profession. (Although that word might be well and good for a guilder, it’s certainly not fit for a noble — it implies “work”, for Pancreator’s sake! And a priest has a calling, not a job. So, to placate the ruling classes, let’s just call it “calling”.)

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Warring Factions

The Known Worlds is rife with factions. Some have risen and others have crumbled over the centuries since the Fall, but many have proved quite durable.

Society cannot share a common communication system so long as it is split into warring factions.

— Bertolt Brecht, “A Short Organum for the Theatre”

These factions, the major Royal Houses, Church sects, and Merchant League guilds, pretty much rule the Known Worlds. Of course, the Emperor is the nominal ruler, but he cannot dramatically change the status quo without riling the existing estates. Emperor Alexius has spent years slowly cementing his power, knowing that upon his death, his family’s hold could crumble if he doesn’t appease those who will choose his successor. When Alexius must anger one, he must first placate two others to back him.

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The Who, What, and Where of The Known Worlds

Let’s answer some questions frequently asked by those who are new to Fading Suns: Who do you play? What do they do? Where is it set?

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Fading Suns Core Mechanics

In our last design diary we talked about the core assumptions of characters with the Class Struggle is Real.

It’s been a while since we talked about the core game system. We’ve streamlined it since that time, so let’s review it again. (more…)


The Class Struggle is Real

The Known Worlds of the Fading Suns are rife with class struggle. Not between the lower and ruling classes; unless you’re a heretical Third Republican, you know that the lower classes deserve their place. The struggle is between the three classes that vie for power and privilege: the houses of the nobility, the sects of the Universal Church of the Celestial Sun, and the guilds of the Merchant League.

A Fading Suns character is a member of one of these classes: noble, priest, merchant. (There’s also the yeomanry, the freemen, but they have little power in society; still, you can choose yeoman as your class.) Your class determines which factions you can join. A noble can be a member of House Li Halan, but not a practicing priest of the Eskatonic Order. A merchant can be a guildmember of the Scravers, but not a noble of the Hazat. (Okay, okay: there are exceptions; see below.)

Your class also gives you access to a number of different callings. A noble can be a Lord or a Duelist or a Sybarite, but not a Banker or a Bounty Hunter (those latter two are merchant-class callings). But you don’t have to be just one thing! You can change your calling over time, as many times as you wish. You can even change your class and faction, allowing you access to that classes’ callings.

For all the restrictions this system of social class privilege brings, there are always loopholes. Fading Suns characters can break the mold through a system of favors: debts owed to another faction in return for access to their privileged practices and secrets-of-the-trade. Are you a priest Mendicant who wants to learn how to pilot a starship? That’s normally a guild-restricted skill, but you can learn it — in return for owing your guild trainer’s faction a favor. “Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me.”

Or maybe you were born into House al-Malik but then sent to the abbey to become a priest (thus ensuring your entire house’s spiritual salvation). You can do this by mixing and matching the pre-figured lifepath upbringing and apprenticeship stages of character creation — or you can just use the custom character creation method and be a motley mix of many backgrounds.

Leveling with You

Previous editions of Fading Suns used a “point-buy” method of character progression. The new edition throws out the calculator think machine and provides a simpler but still-quite robust method: yes, it’s levels. But before you join an antinomist cult to curse our names, know that these levels don’t restrict your access to anything. There is no trait that says: “you must be 5th level or higher to use this”. Levels simply dole out new skill ranks, characteristic ranks, new perks (think amped-up Benefices), and more. As you gain a new level, you get to choose how you allocate those new trait ranks, and which perks you’ll choose (from your calling’s list, plus an “open” list anyone can pull from).

You can also change your calling from level to level. At 1st level you might be a priest Confessor, but at 3rd level you might become an Inquisitor, and at 4th you might switch to Occultist or Templar. Your choice. Your calling gives you access to certain perks. For instance, an Occultist can get the Wyrd Knowledge perk, while a Templar can get Marksmanship or Martial Arts. (While you can’t follow a different class’s calling, you might learn a perk from one of them, in return for — you guessed it — a favor.)

One last thing. Look for the Fading Suns: Pax Alexius Kickstarter, starting March 24th!

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