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?

Who in the Known Worlds

Nobles, priests, merchants, and freelancers: these are the social and professional roles people enact in our “Dark Ages in space” Known Worlds society. Those who rule, those who pray, those who trade, and those who try to fill the niches in between.

Nobles are lords who rule fiefs; duelists who win honor and fame through swordfights; courtiers who politick at high courts and elegant balls; sybarites who throw legendary parties; Questing Knights who serve the emperor on the frontiers; and enthusiasts who obsess over art, butterfly collecting, or the latest fashion trends.

Priests might be traveling mendicants who spread the word of the Pancreator; mystic monks who seek the truth behind the veil of materiality; templars who defend the faithful with sword and blaster; healers who martyr themselves for others; and inquisitors who search out heretics and dark sorcery.

Merchants are traders in exotic marketplaces; pilots to the far stars; mercenaries putting down revolts; lawyers defending the innocent and guilty alike; reclaimers digging through ancient ruins; and techno-wizards wielding the strange technologies of the long-lost Second Republic.

As for the freelancers, they eke out a living on the margins, as guns-for-hire, alien rights activists, space hobos, or barbarians from distant star systems.

None of these people go it alone. They form into troupes, in echo of the Prophet and his band of Disciples who traveled the Known Worlds in the Age of Miracles. The most common troupe is the noble entourage: an itinerant noble and their advisors, bodyguards, and hangers-on. While Fading Suns books are written with this default in mind, there are other troupe types, from the wandering priest or saint and their faithful followers to the traveling merchant caravan earning coin with their skills.

What in the Known Worlds

Troupes can get into all sorts of trouble. They can:

  • Adventure: From kidnappings to murder mysteries to defending villages from marauders, there are many people who need the help of skilled heroes. What noble can resist such a call? What priest can turn away from pleas for help? What merchant can fail to make coin from other’s needs?
  • Explore: The Known Worlds and the neighboring barbarian worlds host all manner of strange creatures and phenomena, just waiting to be encountered and sung about in epics. They who find it get to name it.
  • Conspire: The true coin of the realm is power, and everybody is always jockeying to ascend to it and conspiring to throw down their rivals. Nobles are born to such intrigue, but priests must also play the great game to maintain the Church’s hold over hearts and minds. Merchants exploit any loophole they can find.
  • Crusade: A new border has opened up and the barbarian worlds await the civilizing force of the Known Worlds. They must be shown the example of noble rule, Church scripture, and the new markets their resources can open.
  • Defend: The powerful ever exploit the weak. Someone must stand in their way. Whether they be serfs suffering under a tyrant’s heel, barbarians wronged by colonizers, aliens robbed of their heritage, people cry out for heroes. Will the troupe answer that call?

Where in the Known Worlds

Fading Suns is centered in the Known Worlds, a collection of star systems linked by jumpgate routes, reaching back to Holy Terra, the cradle of humanity. The jumpgates were built by a long-dead, mysterious alien species, and their routes create the interstellar geography that defines the power blocs of the empire.

The Known Worlds are surrounded by other civilizations. The Vuldrok Star-Nations present the most active border at the moment, since the emperor married a Vuldrok and claimed her homeworld as dowry. Nearby the ever-present threat of the symbiot worlds looms in many people’s nightmares: these shapeshifting aliens can transform other sentient beings into their own kind. On the far side of the empire is the Vau Hegemony. This enigmatic, high-tech species has closed its borders to humanity, and waits and watches.

The Known Worlds is currently at peace, thanks to the rise of Emperor Alexius and his claiming of the throne, ending the decades-long Emperor Wars. The changes that have occurred since then were discussed in a previous update, The Times They are a Changin’. The newest troupes have opportunities open to them that were unknown to their war-ravaged forebears. It’s up to them to make the best of the new hope.

Read the most recent designer diaries:

The Class Struggle is Real

Fading Suns Core Mechanics

5 thoughts on “The Who, What, and Where of The Known Worlds”

  1. Smurf says:

    Intresting fact, that the Emporer married a Vuldrok.
    In my Campain from 2007 to 2014 we had a Vuldrok Princess from the Skey Nation who had to follow an old tradition by marring the Guy who defeats her in combat. Funny thing: No one could. After a long, long epic story she reunited first all Vuldrok nations and gave birth to a child from her love who died by her hand and was the only one who could have beaten her but refused to do so in the final punch and let her win. Second she made an alliance with Iver and a big Inner world secret Society (The Grey Council) to bring peace and democray to the inner worlds. Finaly she had to face the truth, that you cant unity Humanity by war and in a final battle against an old Annunaki created Race she sacrafiesed herself. This was in 5005. Her Child got married and they got two childs these where some kind of strange ones as they grew up much faster and now are both about 20 in the Year 5020. There is a very fragile peace and a lot of people think it might be a got idea to have a marriage between the girl and the emperor.

  2. carpenter117 says:

    This installment says nothing new for anyone familiar with the FS universe. Plus:

    > “The most common troupe is the noble entourage: an itinerant noble and their advisors, bodyguards, and hangers-on.…Fading Suns books are written with this default in mind…”

    Makes it obvious, that the corebook (at least) will try to channel “Ye FS of Olde”.

    Maybe this is good, or, at least, not bad, given that you, basically, have to reboot and start again the entire setting after years of abandonment, but…

    … but what about taking into account previous editions developments? Don’t you think, that “noble + retinue” as a basis for the “party of adventurers” stretches it too far for this day and age? What about yet another, fifth “class”?

    Okay, no more hinting of oblique language on my part. What about playing “the Imperials”? Previous books have been building up the fact, that Alexius is reforming the Known Worlds and builds up his own “House”, so as not to be beholden to other power blocks. Questing knights and their cohorts – that’s just not serious. You need not wondering wild-card troubleshoots, you need reliable professionals up for the job. Namely:

    1) How about playing the Imperial law enforcers? Given the hodgepodge nature of the Known World’s “lawscape”, making it all work (let alone ensuring that new laws will work!) is an adventure in itself.

    2) Some kind of “Ecumenical Council on Intra-Faith Dialogue and Scripture Compliance”. While consisting mostly of clerics, get its members appointed by the Emperor, and is tasked with reintegration (preferably – without bloodshed) of the “lost brethren” from Hargard, i.e. the people from the Ostmark (and, if successful, maybe of Iver in the future).

    3) Professional diplomats. Not your usual feudal practice of picking one of the senior nobles and tasking with a particular mission, but a fully trained, professional, full-time diplomats, to use both within the Known World and without.

    4) Now, lets not pretend that “The Legions of the Empire” never happened. But how about writing a playable version this time? Some people DO enjoy military adventures, despite their more rigid and stifling structure and default limit on player’s possible choices.

    5) Updated Spies and Revolutionaries.

    That’s just the fist five at the top of my head. Playing as the member of one of the default “classes” as one of these 5 if possible, but… eh! There should be other character archetype designed for that kind of play specifically. I understand, that the corebook is already written and does not include anything like that, so… till the Players Companion?

  3. Colin Chapman says:

    Can we get some details as to how combat is being handled, specifically distance, movement, and range, please?

  4. Ben says:

    The only thing I found was hard to fit into a game were Reeve lawyers. Maybe they’ll be better now that the social mechanics are more robust. Still, they’ll need things to do in a traveling adventure.

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