Fading Suns Designer Diary – June 2018

It’s a Living

Previously, we’ve talked about class — noble, priest, merchant (and there’s also yeoman) — and faction — houses, sects, guilds. This time, let’s talk calling, a character’s profession, the things they actually do for their faction.

That’s Classist!

But first, let’s not get caught up in the word “class.” Here it refers to social class. It could just as well be called standing or status or even caste. The society of the Known Worlds is a tripartite structure between the nobility, the Church, and the Merchant League. Some include the Emperor as a fourth or presiding estate, but others see the Phoenix Throne as just the top of the nobility caste. There is also the stateless estate, the freemen with no firm ties to power; they’re called yeomen.

Your Fading Suns character is one of these four types. Your class gives you access to a number of factions. Those familiar with previous editions already know these guys. They’re the Royal Houses, minor houses, Church sects, minor sects, heretical sects, pagans, League guilds, and the minor guilds. There are also the societies that yeomen join, from F.A.R. (the Frontier for Alien Rights) to the Dispossessed roaming mercenary outfit to the Vagabonds and even the Vuldrok barbarians.

Calling Out Around the Known Worlds

For now, though, let’s take a look at the callings, our new way in this edition of helping you figure out just what your character does. Is she a Charioteer Star Pilot or a privateer Pirate? Is he a Mendicant traveling priest or a Dreamtender therapist? What about a Decados Sybarite or a Hazat Duelist?

For those familiar with the lifepath method of character creation in previous editions, you’ll recognize it here. Your class tells you your upbringing, your faction gives you your apprenticeship, and the calling you choose when you begin play shows you your early career.

Unlike class and faction, your calling can change frequently as you move from one job to another, seeking new horizons. Most people tend to stick with one through their careers, but some people don’t want to be tied down that way and will try new things as they advance. You might be a noble Commander who finally decides to muster out, seeking a new endeavor in politics as a Courtier, or a priest Confessor who is tired of getting pushed around and joins the Order of the Shroud as a Templar.

In game terms, what calling does is give you access to perquisites, or perks for short. Once again, previous-edition mavens will recognize some of these in their earlier incarnation as Benefices. But here they’re broader, covering more ground, and can even give characters special ways to bend the rules with their calling’s special training. Generally, you can choose perks from your calling’s list, but not from other callings’ lists. (That’s why some people sometimes change callings, when the thing they’re doing no longer gives them what they want.)

Each calling is favored by a particular faction. It’s what helped build the stereotypes people have of that faction. This puts them on a faster track to promotion, wealth, and recognition.

Duty, Honor, Decadence

So what kinds of callings can you play? You’ll have to wait for the release of the book to see them all, but here’s a sneak peek at the callings open to nobles.

Commander — You’ve spent your life as an officer in your house’s military. (Favored by House Hawkwood.)

Conspiracist — You weave webs of intrigue while escaping others’ webs.

Courtier — You are practiced and knowledgeable in the delicate arts of courtly affairs and etiquette. (Favored by House Li Halan.)

Duelist — You’re a sword or pistol fighter who (ostensibly) follows the rules of honorable dueling. (Favored by the Hazat.)

Enthusiast — You’re an expert in one or more of the obsessions of the idle rich. (Favored by the al-Malik.)

Incognito — You must hide your true noble identity and pretend to be someone else. You follow a “cover” calling, the profession you pretend to be (this could be from a different class or faction). (Perhaps you’re a lost heir to House Chauki!)

Knightly Order — You’re a member of an Adventurous or Church order, such as the Order of the Shroud or the Swords of Lextius.

Lord — You rule a fief, a town, city, and/or a class of people.

Questing Knight — You are sworn to serve the Emperor and the Company of the Phoenix.

Ronin — You work for a house, sect, or guild not your own. The loss of lands and traditional fealty ties during the Emperor Wars unleashed a host of Ronin to wander the worlds, serving whichever powers would have them.

Spy — You’re a secret agent. Each house has its own spy agency. You have a “cover” calling you pretend to be.

Sybarite — You’re a hard partier and legendary host. (Favored by House Decados.)

Universe Without End

These are not the only callings a noble can follow; they’re just the one’s we’re concentrating on for the new edition. You can certainly make up your own, along with the special perks your unique calling gives you access to.

There’s so much more to say, but alas, it will have to wait for another diary (or for the book itself).

May the Pancreator bless your job!

— Bill Bridges, Product Line Manager

7 thoughts on “Fading Suns Designer Diary – June 2018”

  1. DPrime says:

    So where do psychics fall into this equation?

    1. Bill Bridges says:

      Most anyone can awaken psychic powers, but you need to follow the Psychic calling to gain the powers (as special perks).

  2. Kabend says:

    “to wait for the book itself”. Yes, is there any clue for the overall roadmap now ?

  3. carpenter117 says:

    No, no, nonono. No. Guys. Guys! I like you soooooo much for FINALLY reviving Fading Suns in the proper manner… BUT… some lines ought to be drawn, and some thing (never said before) ought to be said.

    Nobles are, first and foremost, the WARRIORS. All other pursuits of theirs are either secondary deriving from the military matters, or are so tertiary so of being of no concern. The authority to rule growths from the barrel of the blaster. If this system fails to work you have a crisis of the feudal system – with everything that entails.

    Now – can we PLEASE have proper nobles in the FS this time?

    Now, want quick’n’dirty, grossly simplified analogy as to what was the nobility of old? Think… Mafia. Not bad for an analogy, given that it really doesn’t matter what suits wear the guys that chance upon you one sunny day and say: “A fine village you have here. Pity if something bad happens to it”.

    Since early 4900s the Known Worlds knew mostly war. All society is heavily militarized especially after the Emperor’s War. Not to have some kind of military background while belonging to the noble family is impossible. Even after Alexius Peace there are many ongoing conflicts happening in the here and now as to not to allow anyone (least of all – the Royal Houses) to lower their guard.

    Does it mean that I’m ranting against these new “career suggestions” offered? Of course not! I’m only asking for a reasonable (even sidebar wide) explanation as to – WHY? Look – I understand game-mech angle. I get it. But how about providing an explanation that is more coherent than “old players already expect that” or “we MUST offer obligatory 5-option diversity”? Namely:

    – House Hawkwood for Commanders. Great! Splendid! Why? Why only Hawkwoods? I can offer sever explanations just right now:

    a) Lots of idealists/landless Hawkwoods joining Alexius’ bid for power and finding afterwards that they are now more loyal to the new status quo as members of the Imperial military – it’s commanding officers to be precisely.
    b) Alvarex loyalists and disillusioned idealist for whom the renewal of hostilities is assured thing and so they must keep themselves in the prime and in command of their respective forces.
    c) “Proper” Hawkwood nobles, who, while invested in the current status quo favoring them, also understand that alliances tend to shift and… stuff… happen. So, whether doing an Imperial tour of duty, serving in the House Navy or even rubbing shoulders with the Muster hoi polloi in the Vercingetorix military academy – you’re here only for the knowledge, experience and… stuff… for the greater glory of your House.

    – House Li Halan for Courtier. This I don’t get. Li Halan? Of all people? Sorry, sorry, by my idea of the proper courtier is irrevocable shaped by Il Cortegiano by the great (and unjustly overshadowed by Machiavelli) Baldassare Castiglione. And, btw, I frankly has no idea how to pigeonhole Li Halan re: Preferred calling. Knightly Order?

    – House Hazat for Duelist. Great! Splendid! That means one thing for me – everything is Really, Really Bad in the House of Talon. Why? Because if their “calling” of choice is not Commander, but a Duelist it shows, that the re-conquest of the rightfully Hazat planet of Hira (don’t listen barbarian propaganda saying otherwise!) is not a serious matter for the entirety of the House – it’s more like of a private War. How come? One explanation comes to mind – the Families within the House are feuding. If the common identity suffers a humiliation of the defeat in the Emperor’s wars, if you fail to unite the whole family against new external enemy… you will inevitable turn upon yourself. That’s why duels – only a symptom, only a release valve for the many-many issues. SAD for Hazat.

    – House al-Malik for Enthusiast. Ah… But… why?! Why trying to upset the status quo that favors you? Why wishing for the pie in the sky that might cost your (already very factious) House everything? We are repeatedly told about how progressive al-Malik are… yet, they endorse slavery and not exactly “progressive” when it comes to Ukar or Shantor. Besides, having a gaping bloody hole of Stigmata right here on the border tends to concentrate your own mind on military things. And proper military is rather conservative thing.

    – House Decados for Sybarite. Great! Splendid! But… What that hell?! How can it be more even more stereotypical? We are talking about a House that was THE chief rival for Hawkwoods in their climb for power for – literally – millennia. To boil down it all in “sybarite” (don’t forget to add – “degenerate”) is the epitome of lazy thought. Noble “sybarite” is an oxymoron. Noble is a noble, meaning – a warrior first and foremost. Nobility is a corporation that tolerates no slackers. Btw – why not Spy as a calling for Decados?

    “The society of the Known Worlds is a tripartite structure between the nobility, the Church, and the Merchant League. Some include the Emperor as a fourth or presiding estate, but others see the Phoenix Throne as just the top of the nobility caste. There is also the stateless estate, the freemen with no firm ties to power; they’re called yeomen.

    Your Fading Suns character is one of these four types. Your class gives you access to a number of factions.”

    Tell you what? I like this honesty! I absolutely adore and would totally recommend everyone to embrace with abandon, fully understanding all possible implications that in the FS you are playing 5%-ers. That’s right! You ARE the only people that really matter. Serfdom all across the Known Worlds just mumbled to itself during the Emperor Wars – they have no say. *You* have a say. Just… let this sink to you. Feels good, right? Right?

    1. Bill Bridges says:

      Let’s all not get too hung up on things this early. These are all sneak peeks, and they cannot show all the info. Callings aren’t writ in stone. You can be a military commander in any house without actually even following it as a “calling”, which isn’t an official job title; it’s a way to represent how, by doing that thing, you get access to certain special abilities. A Decados military commander by day might be a Sybarite by night, and since he himself is more interested in his nighttime activities, that’s the calling he puts on his character sheet.

      To be clear (because I realize it’s not from this write-up): callings do not assign skills. _You_ assign skills (and characteristics). What callings do from a rule standpoint is give you _access_ to special abilities that are typically developed by those who do the sorts of things associated with the calling.

      “Favored” status does not deny all the other callings. It simply means that the house’s culture tends to reward people who follow that calling with more attention, fame, infamy, whatever. It’s not that the other callings are denied these things, it’s that, in rules terms, they aren’t offered them on such a fast track. But — and this is an important proviso — it also doesn’t represent the house as a whole. For character creation purposes in the core rulebook, yes, it’s a shorthand way to represent the stereotypes that house develops. But as we get into more details later, we might find that one branch of the Li Halan on Midian prefers Hidden Martyr Spies (giving them favored status — which is a “meta” rules shorthand), while another family sends all their knights to join the Swords of Lextius (Knightly Order).

  4. ConstantConnell says:

    I’m just going to say that, in my opinion, being overly critical of the direction this game is going seems a bit out of place. We’re talking about a game that has been completely dead in the water several times over, through several companies. Revised editions, reprints, & an couple of admittedly excellent adventures is really all we’ve gotten in YEARS.

    This game is being done by one of the original designers, who has, better than anyone, & understanding of the core principals of the game. You couldn’t tell Gygax he was wrong with his take on Dungeons & Dragons, it could just not be to your taste. Again though, that’s just my opinion.

    Ultimately, I’m just happy to see ANYTHING being done with this game. It’s one of the best sci-fi properties out there (or science fantasy, if you prefer), & it deserves better to just languish in obscurity.

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