Monday, 30 April 2012

Fading Suns 3, Game Mechanics 1

As previously announced (on official forums), Fading Suns Third Edition (FS3) continues to use the core mechanics of the VP system. As a result, there are many similarities between FS3 and the First and Second Editions (FS1/2) of the game. Converting NPCs from older adventures for use in FS3 should be very easy.
Let me take you through the basics of the dice mechanics in FS3, so that you can see how the newly revised VP system operates.
The dice mechanics still use a d20, with the objective being to roll as high as possible, but not so high that you exceed your goal number. If you roll your goal number exactly, you score a critical result. This is where the FS3 VP system starts to deviate from the older VP system. Goal rolls no longer automatically fail on a 19, and critical fail on a 20; these have been removed. In fact, there is no longer such a thing as a critical fail. Instead, a roll of 1 might result in a mishap -- essentially a Pyrrhic victory, in that you succeed, but something unexpected and potentially bad happens as well.
Goal numbers that exceed 20 increase the critical threshold. For example, a goal number of 22 would result in a critical on an 18, 19, or 20. So goal numbers can now be higher than 20, thus improving the chance of getting a critical result.
The final simplification for the basic mechanics was to reduce the amount of maths required. In FS1/2, the VPs scored on a goal roll equaled the dice roll /3. Dividing by 3 was a bit of a pain, so this has been changed to the much simpler dice roll /2. (Yes, I will still be able to calculate VPs in my head after I've had a couple of beers!)

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Fading Suns, my back story

Everyone has there favorite games, and I am of course no exception. But when it comes to role-playing games I have one that stands out beyond the rest... although (SLA Industries, and Tribe 8 deserve honorable mentions). For me the greatest role-playing game has to be Fading Suns. It's a space fantasy set against the back drop of a new dark age that has fallen over the once great Second Republic. Democracy, was stifled by corporate interests, and finally put to the sword by the rise of a new feudal order. Now the Known Worlds are ruled by power of five royal linages (the Houses), the Universal Church, and the Merchant League, all ving against each other.
It is a game that has everything and yet that variety enhances the setting rather than stifles it. The Known Worlds of the newly risen Phoenix Empire are some 40 strong, giving a massive backdrop for games, which can either focus down on a single shire on a single world, or blaze across the stars as the characters hop from world to world. As if that wasn't enough there are worlds beyond the Phoenix Empire, the barbarian nations of the Vuldrok, and Kurga encroach on two fronts. As do the powerful alien empires of the Vau and the Symbiots, giving even more opportunities for adventure and conflict.
About 6 years ago Fading Suns had dropped off the planet, Holistic Design had gone quiet as their writers had moved on to other companies and other projects and Fading Suns was getting no love. At that time I had a fortuitous encounter with Redbrick, a small New Zeeland based publishing group that had had some success licensing and re-releasing FASA's EarthDawn role-playing game. I got onboard with them just at the time they were licensing and re-releasing Fading Suns. What an opportunity! A chance to actually work on my favorite role-playing game of all time.
In 2007 I flew out to Germany to attend the Spiel 2007 convention, and it was my first opportunity to physically meet the other members of the team. It was also auspicious because the "Core 4" of us all sat down together and thrashed out a plan to write and develop Fading Suns 3rd edition. Within a couple of months we had written a proposal and sent it to Holistic (the owners of the intellectual property) and we got the go ahead to move forwards.
There have been a few speed bumps along the way. The project has taken a lot longer than expected, and I am the last member of the "Core 4" still on the team. I have risen from "writer", to "line developer", and I have recruited new talent to help me. I did publish a development blog for a while over on the RedBrick website, but the recent change over in the company has ment that that has gotten lost. My intention now is to republish those blog entries here... perhaps even update them slightly.
I hope my readers, will not be put off by the addition of this material in to what has been until now a miniatures blog. I'm not abandoning my original audience, I'm just expanding the range of stuff that I'm going to be covering.