Revised Review: FASA – Player’s Guide (Fading Suns)


Fading Suns: Player’s Guide
Player’s Guide is a space opera core rulebook for Fading Suns written by Todd Bogenrief, Vidar Edland, Chris Wiese, Bill Bridges, Andrew Greenberg, Richard Ashley, Thomas Baroli, Brandon Van Buren, Phil Cameron, Tristan Lhomme, Rubén Ramos, Mark Stout, James Sutton, and Dennis Watson and published by FASA.
By Aaron T. Huss

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The following is a review of the Revised Edition of Fading Suns and will highlight the differences between this edition and the 2nd Edition. A review of the 2nd Edition can be found at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=12829.

After a brief hiatus, Fading Suns comes back to life in the form of a Revised Edition (as opposed to a 3rd Edition) and within the hands of the renewed FASA (bringing all titles from RedBrick over to FASA). But this is not a simple tweaking of the core mechanics or a repair of any errata, this is an actual revision that remains backwards compatible (with a few minor adjustments) while cleaning up those core mechanics. Fading Suns already has a rich history and an in-depth setting that has seen a fair amount of life. The core aspects of the setting have not been changed, rather they have been expanded and the timeline has been moved ahead ever so slightly. The result is a beautiful update to a fantastic game with an even more fantastic setting.

If you’d like additional information on how the core system works, please read through the first review by following the link posted above. The changes have been summarized below in regards to comparing the 2nd Edition to this new Revised Edition.

CONTENT

Introduction contains the basic roleplaying introduction found in 90% of the core rulebooks out there. Not much stands out here except for calling Fading Suns a futuristic Passion Play, describing the exotic themes, blending sci-fi with fantasy/historical elements. This section has remained primarily unchanged.

Universe is an extremely in-depth look at the Fading Suns setting in regards to what historical aspects led to where the setting is now and how humanity lives throughout the known worlds. Minor houses have been significantly expanded on along with information that explains what makes a noble, a noble. Additionally, the section on the Universal Church has seen an expansion.

Rules is a description of all the core mechanics including dice rolls, traits, characteristics, damage, healing, and experience. The rules have been cleaned up and streamlined since the previous edition. Multiple actions has been removed along with Victory Points being streamlined. Characteristics have been moved from Traits to Rules. The Spirit characteristic has been overhauled to closer represent the other characteristics along with changing from Extrovert/Introvert, Passion/Calm, and Faith/Ego to Presence, Will, and Faith. This section has also been expanded upon to include a look at other core mechanics covering occult powers, damage, and healing.

Characters is the actual character creation section following the life path method whereas you choose what type of character your are creating along with attaching their upbringing, apprenticeship, early career, and finally the tour of duty. Additionally, notes are included for creating custom characters outside of the life path method. The life path method has been cleaned up to match the changes to characteristics and skills.

Traits are the next step of character creation to attach blessings and curses, benefices and afflictions, and fighting styles to your character, further fleshing out what makes them unique. Traits have been significantly expanded on to include additional options and the addition of categories. This new edition of Fading Suns removes the different types of fighting actions (and their attributed levels) for combat and introduces a new system called Fighting Styles. These are part of character creation and add bonuses or abilities to the character during combat.

Skills are the detailed explanation of every available skill, including a listing of characteristic + skill examples, coinciding with those available during character creation. Skills see a pretty good overhaul, starting with the removal of Natural/Learned Skills. Skills are now all considered as skills with some having definitions of how they can be obtained. Some skills have been removed, some have been added, and some have just been further refined.

Psi contains all the mechanics needed to acquire and use psionic powers in Fading Suns. Psionics have been expanded on to include more history and source material along with all powers being cleaned up due to the changes to characteristics.

Theurgy contains all the mechanics needed to acquire and use theurgy powers in Fading Suns. Theurgy has seen similar changes to Psi with expanded content including history and source material along with powers being cleaned up due to the changes to characteristics.

Combat contains all the mechanics surrounding combat including the different stances, actions, movement, modifiers, and advanced options. Combat has been overhauled fairly significantly starting with the removal of Martial Arts and Fencing (slightly moved to Fighting Styles in character creation or as an optional Advanced Combat Action, similar in form and function but tied to skills instead of character level). Additionally, there are no more multiple action options; characters have a single action, movement, and defense each round (although defense is more passive than active as an active defense affects the character’s action). Shield and Firearms actions too have been removed, relegated to Advanced Combat Action tied to skills instead of character level. The result is basic combat meant to be quick and advanced combat available for additional options.

Technology is a discussion on the various technology levels present throughout the Fading Suns setting along with a listing of non-combat equipment available. Technology has been expanded with an extensive discussion on how the different tech levels are defined while at the same time dividing the original Technology section by moving Armory, Transport, Cybernetics, and Starships into their own section.

Armory is a lengthy listing of melee, ranged, and thrown weapons and armor. Armory sees a significant expansion in the number of weapon and armor options available along with handy charts to better organize and present those options.

Transport is a short section discussing vehicles and mounts. Transport sees a significant expansion in the number of vehicles available along with the inclusion of mounts.

Cybernetics is a detailed listing of cybernetics available along with how to use them. Cybernetics sees a significant expansion in the number of devices available along with a total reorganization to the content in a much more readable format.

Starships details all the mechanics for including starships into a game along with including a handful of examples. Starships sees an expansion to options available along with additional details on how starships are constructed (such as a look at the crew). Space combat has also been expanded on with additional details and options.

OVERALL

The Revised Edition of Fading Suns is absolutely brilliant! The writers obviously did a thorough scrubbing of the entire game and probably did so with the backing of the Fading Suns community. As such, they have removed all the clunky mechanics, cleaned-up the available options, streamlined character design, and made combat quicker by once again removing clunky mechanics. Additionally, the Player’s Guide sticks to the core aspects of Fading Suns and definitely does the game and the setting justice.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The Player’s Guide is a beautiful black-and-white book. Most, if not all, of the original art has been retained (because it was good artwork to begin with) along with some new ones added. However, it’s the general layout and formatting that have seen a significant overhaul (in addition to the smaller form factor) with improvements to general layout, ease of referencing, ease of reading, and the flow of the content. It could benefit from additional illustrations depicting the character equipment available, but otherwise the book is a fantastic read.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
This rating is in regards to the cleaned-up mechanics of the Revised Edition over the 2nd Edition. Some of the mechanics from the 2nd Edition were a bit bloated and sometimes a little confusing. In addition, the combat system was extremely bloated and needed a lot of TLC. This has all been fixed and the system is definitely trim and should play a lot faster than previous renditions allowing you to focus more on the storyline and less on the lengthy combat and deciphering dice rolls.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
The best part about this Revised Edition is that its still the same game as before and GMs and Players can optionally add some of the advanced material back in without breaking the system. Being backwards compatible with only minor changes makes for a truly excellent game-play environment as all your old supplements and adventures are still valid. Yes some of skill names have changed and the Spirit characteristics have been cleaned-up, but none of this is so different from before that the two are not compatible. I think fans of Fading Suns are truly going to enjoy this Revised Edition.

Overall: 10 out of 10
A definite homerun for Fading Suns fans and FASA. The writers appear to have gone through the old content with a fine-toothed comb, listened to their fan base, and sat back to think how can they truly make the game better without making the old material obsolete. The result is the Revised Edition and although the core rulebook has been divided into a Player’s Guide and Game Master’s Guide, there are WAY more options here than before and player’s may be in awe of how much more they can do with this one core rulebook compared to before. This is a definite revision that was necessary to keep a great game existing by supporting their current fan base and reaching out to a new one.

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