Fading Suns Designer Diary — August 2018

The Great Leveling

It’s a short diary this month, slotted between Gen Con and Dragon Con (come see me there!) — which makes it a good time to address the method of character progression (or advancement, or experience, or whatever you want to call it) in the new Fading Suns core rulebook.

One of the basic tenets of tabletop RPGs is the idea that characters get better at doing things — and learn new things to do — as they experience various encounters, combats, and dramatic twists and turns through their careers as protagonists in an ongoing story (campaign, epic, etc.). In previous editions of Fading Suns, the system for this progression was by the GM awarding experience points, which were spent to improve existing traits or gain new ones.

Fading Suns uses what we call the Victory Point System. In the new edition, we really rev up the role that victory points have in the game, increasing their number and their uses. You can collect quite a number of VP during play — and spend just as many. In light of this, I really didn’t want to have a whole separate type of points — experience points, or XP. I wanted VP to be the sole type of points that you need to deal with in the game. (Well, okay, there is another type of VP — wyrd points, but they pretty much work just like VP except that they apply to occult phenomena.)

Hence, the new edition adopts a level system in place of XP to represent characters’ progression through experience. Unlike certain other level systems in certain other RPGs, this one is not used to limit or restrict what traits a character can have — there’s no rule that says you have to wait until you’re 7th level before you can learn, say, psychic powers. Levels are used to award your character with new traits (perks) and new ranks to allocate among existing traits. You decide what perks to choose and where to put those new ranks.

Level is tied to your character’s class: noble, priest, merchant, or yeoman. Whenever your character advances a level in their class, they gain the following:

  • +1 Vitality
  • Increased skill ranks, alternating between +3 ranks at 2nd level, +2 at 3rd level, then +3 again at 4th and so on. You allocate these tanks however you wish. At 2nd level, you might add 1 to your Sneak skill and 2 to your Fight or put all 3 into Academics — your choice.
  • Increased characteristics, alternating between +2 ranks at 2nd level, +1 at 3rd level, then +2 again at 4th and so on. As with skills, you allocate these ranks however you want to.
  • 1 calling perk, chosen from your calling’s list (or the open list).
  • With every odd level (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.), 1 class perk.
  • With every even level (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.), +5 victory-point vault capacity.
  • 1 capability, usually associated with your calling. (This is a new type of trait that modifies your use of skills. We’ll discuss them some other time.)

Note that perks aren’t restricted by level. When choosing a class perk, you can gain any perk from your class list (or the open list). Some perks, however, must be gained multiple times to gain increased benefits. Noble rank, for instance, is represented by the Noble Title perk. When you first learn the perk, you gain the rank of knight. If you want to be a baronet, you’ll need to gain the perk twice, and three times to become a baron, and so forth. (Much like the previous editions’ Noble Title Benefice.)

Don’t worry — there are multiple chances to gain repeats of a perk during character creation, so it is possible to begin play with a high-ranking character. All nobles begin with one free instance of the Noble Title perk — you begin as a knight and can choose to rise higher before play begins by devoting your extra perks toward higher-degree Noble Titles.

That’s it for this month. Stay tuned for more diaries as we march ever closer to the release of the core rulebook. Thanks for reading!

— Bill Bridges, Product Line Manager

14 thoughts on “Fading Suns Designer Diary — August 2018”

  1. Bill Bridges says:

    Addendum: The GM determines the rate of progression, using the guidelines we’ll provide in the core rulebook. It’s more about dramatic beats and pacing than about collecting points. There are also options for partial progression during dramas, so portions of the sorts of trait boosts you get with each level can be gained during play, if that’s how the troupe wants to do it.

  2. Stephen R says:

    This actually makes me feel better. I was a bit disturbed when I heard FS was moving to a level system. It seems you’re doing it in a notably flexible way

  3. Bearman says:

    So far all I can realluy say is :”Shut up and take my money” though I’m not the type to ask others to clam up.

    I’m more of a confessor *making* people talk.

  4. Michael wolf says:

    I’m happy that the leveling isn’t rigidly defined but I’m less pleased that vitality progresses with level. Without more detail about how Class figures into character development or what options are available for callings the new edition still feels very confining.

  5. Markus Justinian´s apprentice says:

    Only posting to ask about september´s diary being missing. Is it a sign of game going to being released soon? Would be a october design diary? Thank you in advance.

    1. Bill Bridges says:

      Sorry, running behind. I am working to get the core book _done_ and ready for a copyeditor. I will work up a fresh post here once that’s done.

      1. Markus Justinian´s apprentice says:

        Thanks a lot for the update Mr Bridges. Keep going with the good work and I am sure we will enjoy it.

        1. kabend says:

          but a little bit more visibility would be appreciated

  6. kabend says:

    Very good news indeed, thanks Bill.

  7. Angel Angelides says:

    Yes! Our prayers have been answered! I approve of this kind of level system. Please keep us posted on the development of the game, it is number one on my most awaited things ever, right now. If you take it on kickstarter, I will be first pledge.

  8. Markus Justinian´s apprentice says:

    Dear all,
    I was reading again all the diary logs and, considering the one in levelling makes me wonder how exactly characters advance from one class rank to the superior one. It is said not to want to use XP.
    Which currency will be used?
    As this is a work in progress project: If some kind of XP is going to be used, can it be changed the way of making the Levelling?
    It seems to me more organic to Level up when you improve + 3 ability ranks and +2 characteristic ones that the instant level burst. It seems too more equilibrated combine the higher ability increment with the lower characteristic one.
    Finally ask too, if it is going to be a limitation in the ability and characteristics improvement. From now (limited info provided) seems that one characteristic o ability could be increased ad infinitum (for example a 5th level character can maximize fight with a +10). Is it related with capabilities and perks requisites?
    From now it seems more to Fallout way to work than Elder Scroll one.
    Best Regards and keep the good work.

    1. Sébastien Gamache says:

      I am with some here. How about a little more visibility or information for your fans?

      The Ulysse forum is quite dead. It would be good to see someone from the staff starting some activity.

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