Archive for August 2011

The Rules: Aspects   Leave a comment

Heroes have six Aspects that define who they are. Each Aspect is a trait with a brief description of what the Aspect is directed toward. Under Passion, for instance, the player must specify what their Hero is passionate about.

Passion/Loyalty: represent people or factions to which one is attached. Passion represents an emotional attachment, while Loyalty is more ideological. Specify for each Aspect the identity of the person or faction.

Specialty/Aspiration: Specialty describes what one does for a living (duelist, engineer, confessor, diplomat, etc). Aspiration describes what one hopes to accomplish (avenge my father’s death; get my own ship; become filthy rich).

Ego/Society: Ego represents one’s personality, while Society represents the community of which one is a member. Ego should be defined with a one-word personality trait; examples include Proud, Stubborn, Cautious, Duplicitous, Optimistic, Sycophant and the like. Society should be the faction or group with which you identify: your noble house, your guild, your sect of the Church, etc.

If you’re in a scene and one of your Aspects is relevant to what’s going on, you can add three dice to your roll. Doing this means checking off the Aspect. A checked-off Aspect can not be called on. You’ll get an opportunity to uncheck Aspects later.

[You’ve noticed that the Aspects all fit into paired categories. I originally intended for these to trade off with each other: relying on one’s Passion meant ignoring one’s Loyalty, etc. However, I found a much better use for that with Virtues. Aspects are now just a source of dice: check one off, provided it’s relevant, and get three dice. Pairing them off with their opposites does nothing mechanically, but it reinforces the dualism that’s central to the game’s theme.]


Posted August 29, 2011 by John Perich in Uncategorized

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Prologue: Lion, Gear and Chain   Leave a comment

Prior to embarking on the pilgrimage to Nowhere, each of our three heroes underwent a small test of their personal character. All emerged intact, though some skirted the edge of disaster in doing so.

[PCs are BOLD AND CAPITALIZED; NPCs we’re likely to meet again are bold and lower case]

CAPTAIN HALFORD MANX was called on the carpet for a court of inquiry by the Muster. Notes of complaint and disciplinary notices had been flooding Aragon for almost a year, but Manx had not been responding. All his attention had been focused on finding his missing son, Halford Jr. (commonly “Hal”). Manx could no longer avoid responsibility, however, and was summoned to the Muster Enclave in Leagueheim.

At the court of inquiry, Manx was disheartened to find that Major Lexa Cassardi, a rival of his for the post on Aragon, was in attendance. As the Colonel read out the list of faults held against Manx, Major Cassardi added several pointed questions. She grilled him on using Muster resources to find his son, last seen on Vera Cruz.

Major Lexa Cassardi, Muster Guild

Manx’s long years of service earned him an honorable discharge from the Muster, rather than a dishonorable boot to the rear. Further, Major Cassardi let slip a valuable piece of intel. “Can we trust Manx in a position of authority?” she asked. “Vera Cruz was bad enough. What if he sends a team off to Ukar next time? It …” She shut up, realizing she’d said too much. But the hope that his son had been seen on Ukar lit up Manx’s eyes.

[We really played up the corporate aspects of this drumming out: Manx was summoned from Aragon to “re-evaluated his priorities”; he was grilled over “misallocation of assets”; etc. I foresee some gentle middle management satire in the future.]

APPRENTICE FARRAGUS HAWTHORNE was studying an ancient think terminal when he was called to a meeting of his own. Engineer Hazuki Long had heard of Hawthorne’s correspondence with senior members of the Order on A.I., particularly on the lost programming language Suprema. Engineer Long let Hawthorne in on a secret: the pilgrimage to Nowhere was being revived, and he had “good information” that a low-ranking Engineer might be allowed to go. Hawthorne was charged with applying for the pilgrimage. He was then given … a depressingly picayune question about a long-dead Second Republic researcher.

Engineer Hazuki Long

Realizing the import of his assignment, Hawthorne negotiated to be put in charge of any research team that sprung from his findings. Long agreed, with reluctance, provided that Hawthorne bring a senior member of the Order with him as a guardian (read: babysitter). Hawthorne made the case for his fellow Apprentice Ferizio, fudging the truth a little to get Long’s approval.

“I didn’t realize Ferizio was considering Brother Battle orders before joining the Engineers.”

“Oh, yes. Very tenacious. Saved us several times, er, yes.”

Finally, VICTOR HYPERIUS SWINDON, a distant cousin of the Hawkwood lineage, was confronted by his mother after showing up late to a dinner party on their Ravenna estate. Swindon, a sarcastic scholar, preferred to while away his hours in theological debates with Fr. Flavian, an Eskatonic monk studying at Castillo Theological University. His mother, Baroness Beatrice Swindon, had bigger things in mind for him: a marriage to Lady Maryam Windsor, another distant cousin of the Hawkwood lineage.

“She’s clever,” his mother said, “and absolutely gorgeous. Think of it: a line of children with the Swindon nose and the Windsor jaw. They’ll be the toast of the galaxy.”

“So long as they don’t get the Windsor nose and the Swindon jaw,” young Victor replied.

“That was uncalled for.”

Baroness Beatrice Swindon, of the Ravenna Swindons

Swindon consented to the marriage, but only on the grounds that his younger brother take over the duties of house stewardship. “Fine; you’ve been neglecting them anyway.” He also skirted out from under his mother’s request that he stay put on Ravenna for the foreseeable future, using a bit of his nascent telepathic talents to do so. This would allow him to research the theory that had embarrassed the Swindons so much: that Emperor Alexius was not legitimately descended from the Hawkwood line.

[I used the name “Windsor” on the spot, remembering that I’d read about them under the minor houses. Only after the fact did I page through the book and realize that the Windsors are an extinct minor house. Retroactive continuity! The Windsors are now a small but surviving minor house, clinging to power by having married into the Hawkwoods. The Swindons were made up by Victor’s player and are in much the same boat.]

Chapter One.

Posted August 23, 2011 by John Perich in Uncategorized

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The Rules: Introduction   2 comments

FSR2N uses a custom rule set different from that published by Holistic Design. When I first got into Fading Suns, I fell in love with the setting. The scattered cultures of the Known Worlds allow for a variety of scenarios: high-tech arcologies, medieval villages, backward tribes, alien ruins. Overlay all of that with the mythos of a fallen Golden Age (the Second Republic), the metaphysics of a true religion (the Church), creator-myth aliens (the Annunaki) and you have some epic drama available to you. But the rules were never quite there: a jury-rigged mix of White Wolf’s success pools with d20 target numbers.

So I did my own jury-rigging, of course.

Anyone who’s gamed with me knows that my favorite GMing technique is to force a player to choose between two unpleasant options. I wanted a system that would enforce that mechanically. So I decided this would be a system where the GM didn’t roll any dice. When the heroes confronted a challenge, I would announce the difficulty and then back away. Whether the heroes overcame the difficulty or not would be a function of how many resources they were willing to burn. You only win if you want it bad enough.

I also wanted the rules to reflect the theme of the game. Fading Suns is a universe where the stars are literally growing dimmer. This is commonly believed to be a result of humanity turning away from the light of the Creator. The best days of the species are behind them, and the race can hope for nothing better than to salvage the most useful tech of prior epochs. The natural tendency of the world – and of the playable characters – is toward vice, apathy and corruption, unless they make a concerted effort.

I’ll go into further details of how the rules work in future posts. For now I’ll just acknowledge the most obvious thefts:

And I’m sure I’m forgetting some, and I’m sure those guys stole from other designers in turn. More rules stuff coming!

Posted August 23, 2011 by John Perich in Uncategorized

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The Road to Nowhere   Leave a comment

In the dawn of the sixth millennium, the human race is scattered across the stars. A very loose empire has been formed within the last ten years, after a fifty year period of civil war and nine centuries of chaos. The most powerful factions in the galaxy are the Great Houses whose fiefs span multiple star systems, the Merchant Guilds which monopolize all trade and production and the Church which gives solace to the common people. Due to the discord that preceded the Empire, the cultures of the Known Worlds are disparate and unpredictable: some are little better than medieval Europe, while others are dense arcologies of unimaginable technology.

For the first time in over a century, the Church has authorized a pilgrimage to the world of Nowhere. Lying at the far end of a little-used jumpgate, Nowhere is covered with ash wastes and warring tribes. It has little to recommend it except the Gargoyle: a colossal Annunaki statue in the desert. It is said that the Gargoyle will answer any question posed to it.

The pilgrimage, long abandoned during the Emperor Wars, has been reinstated. This year’s pilgrims include you.

Posted August 23, 2011 by John Perich in Uncategorized

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