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.

Those familiar with previous editions of Fading Suns will recognize the core mechanic:

Skill + Characteristic = Goal Number

When you do something that requires a roll, you figure out what skill is needed and what characteristic bolsters it; add your ranks together and then roll that number or less on a d20. If you roll higher, you miss. If you roll exactly that number, you get a critical hit!

The die-roll result, assuming you succeeded and didn’t roll over the goal number, awards you victory points equal to the number on the die. If your goal number is 12 and you roll an 8, you succeeded and gain 8 victory points (VP).

You spend VP for all sorts of things: overcoming the defenses of a foe or compensating for environmental conditions (squeaky stairs when sneaking); increasing the damage your weapon delivers; improving your next shot; and avoiding attacks.

You don’t have to spend all the VP you get on a roll. You could bank some of them, by putting them into your VP Bank. This gives you VP resources to use even when you’ve failed a roll and don’t get VP for that turn.

This is a major difference from previous editions. VP aren’t just extra damage dice; they’re points you choose how to spend — or save for later.


As in previous editions, characters have skills and characteristics, rated from 0 to 10.

New to this edition are capabilities: areas of study and practice that modify your skill use. If an action requires a capability and you don’t have it, you can still make a roll, but it’s at a deficit.

Examples of capabilities are the various knowledge lores (History, Occult, House al-Malik), which were represented by separate skills in previous editions. They’re now streamlined into capabilities, so you don’t need to learn a gazillion different skill ranks just to know what sort of cuisine they prefer on Cadavus.

There are also equipment capabilities, because while you might have a great Melee skill, swinging a wireblade is not the same thing as wielding a rapier.

Also new are perks, the special abilities and privileges available to the classes and callings. Many of these are recognizable as what were previously called Benefices, although they’re amped up in the new edition. Rank, for instance, not only gives you a title and the social standing associated with it, it also provides the basis for your mental defense against influence attacks (see below). It’s harder to daunt a duke than a knight.

Some perks allow you to do special things with victory points, such as creating coffers (a sub-bank) or giving your VP to your troupe mates (the priests’ Inspire perk).

You can also choose a character flaw, just like the Afflictions from before, although this time around we advise only one per character, to make the flaw a roleplaying and story

focus rather than a means for raising your Shoot skill. In return for taking an Affliction, you can choose an extra perk.


Fading Suns’ rules have traditionally highlighted the combat and adventuring side of affairs, leaving the courtly intrigue up to pure roleplaying. The new edition introduces a system so that characters can affect their rivals with words as well as swords and blasters. We call it influence.

If you’re trying to convince someone to buy your wares, use Charm skill. If you’re trying to make someone tremble before your advance, use Impress. Or maybe you want to make someone believe your lies with your Knavery skill.

The gist of it all is: instead of inflicting damage, you inflict a mental or social state. The descriptions of the various states (such as Convinced, Daunted, or Deceived) list some possible rules effects but they also act as roleplaying prompts, giving you guidelines on how the state affects behavior.

Influence can rout enemies or make friends of enemies. It is the refined weapon of the courtier, the clergy, and the trader, effective in ways no crude blaster could ever be.

19 thoughts on “Fading Suns Core Mechanics”

  1. Bill Bridges says:

    A frequent question concerns rank, so let me try to clear up how it works: Rank is a perk. It’s tied to class (but NOT level) in that a noble gets a Noble Title, a priest Church Ordination, etc., much like in previous editions. You get to choose a number of perks throughout character creation (and later as your character advances through play), and you can take Rank multiple times to get higher ranks, similar to how in previous editions you could spend points to get the Rank Benefice multiple times. There are no level requirements for rank.

  2. Shawn says:

    Will this new vp system, use and banking, be a follow up preview in the near future?

    Weapon/gear capability bonuses: will this be a +/- to your roll based on the piece of gear used?

    This preview is exceptionally, and seemingly purposefully, vague and hopefully gets fleshed out pre kickstarter campaign.

    1. Bill Bridges says:

      Capabilities don’t provide bonuses. Instead, they represent that you’ve had sufficient training/learning on a topic so that you can make rolls without a deficit. If you don’t have the Energy Guns ranged-weapon capability, your roll when firing a laser or blaster suffers. Many actions don’t require capabilities. Everyone can swing a club, but not just everyone can wield a rapier (this is one of the dividing lines between serfs and nobles, for instance). Capabilities tend to be broad, affecting categories (like Military melee weapons, not individual capabilities for rapiers).

  3. Colin Chapman says:

    What I’m curious about is how is movement, combat, and range handled? I’m a strictly Theatre of the Mind guy these days, so only allowing for mat-n-minis, or going the D&D legacy route of having, “You can move X feet, the range is Y feet, your foe moves Z feet/round” leaves me cold. While the latter can be handwaved, it then beggars the question of why go that route at all if a) most folks can’t accurately or quickly visualise distances, b) tracking them is a pain, and c) if that kind of accuracy matters, you might as well go for a mats-n-minis approach. I’m all about broad, loose range bands and movement rates these days (with maybe bonuses/penalties for opposed rolls in pursuits/races), even if presented as an option.

  4. Ben says:

    I have two concerns:
    1) Will running NPCs be complicated and require as robust an interaction with the system as it will with PCs 2) I have a concern as to how clunky grabbing potentially a dozen or more VP is going to be. If my understanding of the system is correct, it’s possible to gain (as but one example) 24 VP at one time. Between banks and vaults and another “wyrd VP”, it seems like it may be very slow in play, especially if running NPCs is .complicated

    1. Bill Bridges says:

      NPCs come in three types: Headliners (full traits, like PCs), Agents (streamlined traits), and Extras (bare traits). The latter two don’t get banks; they just use their turn-by-turn cache for VP.

      On a turn-by-turn basis, you cache will have whatever VP you get from a successful roll, which equals the number you rolled on the d20. At the start of the next turn, unspent VP go away (except those you can fit into your bank, the capacity of which is based on your level). So, if your goal number is 12 and you roll a 9, you’re dealing with 9 VP for that turn, plus what you might have in your bank.

      Once you grok the basics, it runs pretty fast.

  5. Angelos Angelides says:

    I am pretty satisfied by what I see here, but there is one thing that was not mentioned at all. How will initiative be handled in combat? I must say that the initiative system of previous editions was one of the best initiative systems I have played with and I would hate to see it replaced by a simplified boring turn by turn initiative system.

    1. Bill Bridges says:

      The initiative is meant to empower the troupe to work together. It’s “popcorn” initiative: the troupe leader declares who acts first, then that person says who acts next, and so on. Some actions allow you to have an initiative edge, so you can act first, and some put you hindmost (acting last). Some character types have exceptions, such as a Brother Battle can always interrupt with a combat action and take their turn then and there. A noble can overrule and designate themselves or someone else, etc.

  6. Kiju says:

    Tell me, for us europens, and rest of world exept imperial origin countries. What system of units you will be using in corebook (metric/imperial)?
    Second thing: do it will be compatible with previous, optimally 2nd, editions of FS, do there will be some method of conversion?

    1. Bill Bridges says:

      Just like previous editions, we use metric. So futuristic!

      The core dice mechanic and traits (characteristics, skills) are the same, so conversion shouldn’t be hard. Benefices become perks.

  7. Rob says:

    Is there any reason you changed Benefices and Afflictions to Perks and Flaws? All recent RPGs seem to have Perks and Flaws, very ordinary now; while Benefices and Afflictions – now that has that medieval nuance and oh so very “Fading Suns” unique sound to it. You really should keep same vibe.

  8. DonHuberto says:

    Is there any chance you can talk more about changes in combat system in new edition? Is there a power difference between melee and ranged weapons caused by automatic pistols and rifles and their rate of fire that allows them to shoot more than once in a turn? Is there any changes in the way energy shields work?

  9. Greg says:

    Damage dice are still D6? Mechanic is still the same ?

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