I’m pretty sure that more than a few people might find this particular article interesting as it goes into what people can expect from the upcoming Fading Suns Revised Player’s Handbook coming out from Redbrick on GenCon 2012:
What’s in a book? As we approach Gen Con Indy 2012, this is the first preview of some of the game products that RedBrick will be releasing at the convention.
This article summarizes the major changes from Fading Suns Second Edition that you will find in the Fading Suns Player’s Guide (Revised Edition). A copy of the book’s comprehensive Table of Contents is attached to this post as a PDF to give you an idea of what’s in the Player’s Guide (and for comparison with earlier editions).
The Fading Suns Revised Edition was not written to obsolete years of Fading Suns material, but to streamline the game system, while maintaining compatibility with the sourcebooks players are already using. There is an active player base for Fading Suns Second Edition that have complete collections. The changes made in this edition may not be enough for you to consider migrating to using it. However, this edition will be available in print format to trade and distribution channels within the next few months, and therefore readily accessible to both new and existing Fading Suns players (whereas the First and Second Editions are out-of-print).
The universe is still the same as described in Fading Suns Second Edition, but the timeline has advanced to the year 5002. Emperor Alexius has steadily worked to increase the strength of the Phoenix Empire. Minor houses are beginning to play a more important role, both as puppets of the Royal houses and as strong supporters of the Emperor. By placing sons and daughters into the Order of the Phoenix as Questing Knights, the minor houses have been granted new access to land and titles.
The Victory Point System (VPS) has been modified to use Victory Points as both the number of successes and as a quality of success. VPS still uses a “roll as close to the target goal number as possible” mechanic. The system can be used to generate a simple pass or fail roll, with traits and skills being added together to determine a goal number. Victory Points are used to determine the level of success, and in situations like combat, to generate effect dice or wound points. Effect dice are still six-sided dice rolled in combat to generate damage levels (wound points) and determine how well armor protects a character (armor points). The rules of the game have been modified to reflect the revised Victory Point System.
Body and Mind traits remain the same as in Fading Suns Second Edition, but there are new Spirit traits: Presence, Will, and Faith. These traits are not the opposed Spirit traits of Fading Suns Second Edition, but mirror the Body and Mind traits. Spirit traits can be tapped to allow characters to perform acts above and beyond what they would normally be able to perform. Will can be used to focus on a task in the face of distraction, Faith allows a character to tap into their passion and ignite the fire within themselves, and a character can use Presence to inspire others in their group to perform at their full potential. Wyrd fuels theurgic rites and psychic powers, but can also be used by any character to reroll a failed goal roll or to reroll effect dice.
Character generation still uses the Lifepath System to quickly generate characters that are sufficiently well-equipped to jump right into the action of Fading Suns. The Lifepath System is designed to give players a quick method for creating well-rounded characters who are competent in a number of areas, but still customized enough to be uniquely their own. There is no longer a distinct separation between natural and learned skills, but every character still starts with some basic skills that they already know as part of their upbringing. Lore skills have been primarily removed in the character generation system to make room for other skills. The option to create a fully customized character exists (the Custom Creation System), with more options provided for starting characters younger, older, or at different stages of their career.
Blessings, Curses, Benefices, and Afflictions all remain in the game. A few points have been changed to fit in with the Lifepath System and to balance some of the options. Fighting styles have been added as a trait to allow characters to choose a fighting style for their character and to provide a guideline for Game Masters or players to create their own unique styles.
Skills have been streamlined and narrowed in focus. In some cases (such as combat) there are more skills, instead of relying only on a few skills to perform all combat actions. The Lore and Science skills have been combined to allow characters to quickly specialize in technology and science skills without sacrificing skills in other areas of the game.
Psychic powers are more flexible, as they can be modified by spending extra Wyrd before the power is used, or by spending Victory Points after the power is complete, to reduce the effect but make the duration longer. Theurgic powers are still static, but tend to have more powerful effects. Both Urge and Hubris remain as a counterbalance to using these abilities.
The combat system has been overhauled. Characters have a derived Initiative trait, and each combat turn add a d6 to it to determine their starting order. Combatants can choose different stances, based on whether they want to act aggressively, defensively, or balanced. Those characters that specialize in fighting styles have special stances available to them that can add to or improve the standard stances. Each turn in combat represents one action; multiple actions have been removed, though some actions may act like multiple actions, such as striking or shooting more than once, or drawing and shooting. Instead of dodging attacks, all characters have a Defense trait that represents their ability to avoid harm. The more attacks they face in a turn, the lower their Defense.
Armor and weapons remain the same as in Fading Suns Second Edition by having effect dice for armor or damage respectively. Once a character is hit or hits they roll effect dice to determine armor points and wound points. Weapons and armor also have optional properties that can be used to make weapons more dangerous by reducing the effectiveness of certain types of armor or to make armor more resistant to some types of weapons. Finally, energy shields remain the same as they were in FS2, but option rules have been provided to make them easier to overcome. When a shield is hit with excessive damage it burns out for a number of turns, leaving the character unprotected. Options to change the way shield thresholds work are presented in the book.
Starships have remained nearly identical to Fading Suns Second Edition in this edition. Charts and tables are presented for modifying ships or for piecing together your own, but no formal construction system is presented in the Player’s Guide. The forthcoming Noble Armada game (separate) is where you will find a unified starship construction and combat system, either for use as a standalone system for starship combat, or for use with Fading Suns to supplement roleplaying dramas. Rules for roleplaying starship chases and battles at an abstract level are presented in this chapter.
Overall, an effort has been made to make this edition of the game a new and exciting version of Fading Suns, one that remains true to the history and feel of the milieu. The Game Master’s Guide (due out in December 2012) will present more rules on dangers to the characters, creating interesting NPCs and challenges, and flesh out more of the game universe by presenting information on worlds, factions, and other organizations in Fading Suns.
If you have any specific questions related to this release, please feel free to post them in the Fading Suns forum and we’ll answer them as best as we can!
The Fading Suns Player’s Guide (Revised Edition) will be released at Gen Con Indy 2012 and is available only from the RedBrick/FASA booth #1935. Holistic Design Inc. will also have limited quantities of the Player’s Guide for sale at Dragon*Con 2012, in Atlanta, GA. The book is perfect-bound, 6.125×9.125″, b+w interior, MSRP$34.99. A PDF version will be available for purchase soon from OneBookShelf (details to come). Trade print and distribution to come after Gen Con (details to come).
It’s a lot of information to take in at this point, but it does seem promising. Since I can’t make it to GenCon (seeing as I live halfway around the world) I’ll have to wait until the PDF comes out on DriveThruRPG. That said I’m also eagerly awaiting any new preview news for Blue Planet, another sci-fi game that I’m extremely interested in.
For those watching Darthgus, he’s still been posting updates on his spinoff system Infinity Core, and is hopefully slated to do some play testing in GenCon as well. I’m very eager to see the rest of his work, and I believe that in the long run, his independent gig will actually pay off in spades. If you’d like to check out his work, do visit his Gamers Dev blog, and the Vagrant Workshop forums if you’d like to be included in his playtest as well!