Fading Suns Designer Diary – July 2018

Lucky tyrants — the perquisites of power! Ruthless power to do and say whatever pleases them.

— Sophocles, Antigone

In last month’s diary we talked about the callings, the professions you follow in Fading Suns. This time, we reveal the perquisites of office that those callings give you, otherwise known as perks.

Those familiar with previous editions of Fading Suns will recognize some of the perks in their prior form as Benefices: Noble Title, Church Ordination, Guild Commission, Riches, Diplomatic Immunity, Passage Contract, Retinue, etc.

Perks represent the privileges that come with class standing and your calling. They can also represent special abilities you have acquired by dint of your calling, and even occult powers — psi, theurgy, cybernetic implants, etc.

During character creation, you’ll collect a number of class perks and some calling perks. Then, when you next level up, you’ll get another calling perk. When you level up again (3rd level), you’ll get another class perk and a calling perk, and so on as you keep improving.

There are a lot of perks to choose from, but there are restrictions on which ones you can take. Class perks are restricted by class — only a noble can attain a Noble Title, and only a priest can become a Chartophylax of the Church.

Callings provide access to their special perks, the tricks of the trade. For instance, a Questing Knight can take the Imperial Charter perk as well as Deputize, Fencing, and Rise from the Ashes, among others. A priest Friar can take the Armor of Sanctity or Peasant Hero or Tend the Flock, and more.

Really, it is this access to special perks that define the effects of a calling. You can actually practice many professions at a time, but you choose one among them as your calling, the one from which you learn special things. You might be a noble lord in charge of a fief, but rather than take the Lord calling, you secretly practice your psychic powers through the Psychic calling — or maybe you’re actually a Spy, a Hawkwood Rook using your lordly position to learn secrets (such as who in your fief is a secret psychic).

Archetypal Perks

Each class has a single perk that represents an essential ability, something that others associate mainly with that class, something that typifies the myth of nobles, priests, merchants, and yeomen in the public mind.

Below are the four archetypal perks for the four classes presented in the new core book. THESE ARE ROUGH DRAFTS ONLY. A sneak peek. They are subject to change as the book works its way through development.

Each of these perks provides special ways to deal with victory points. Not all perks do that — some give you a social rank or an advantage on certain types of actions or economic privilege (money, passage contracts on starships, etc.).

You’ll note that the noble perk and the yeoman perk, despite their separate names and explanations, have the same game effect. This is intentional, to highlight that there’s a hair’s breadth of distance between high and low, despite all the riches and etiquette. A freeman can claim as much bounty from the Pancreator as a duke.

Noble Perk: Imperious

The estate of the nobility was ordained by the Pancreator. You carry that authority in your bearing.

Benefice: Once per span, you may spend a secondary action to assume a regal bearing and imperious mien to shield yourself from an influence action or occult power. You spend VP to boost your Mind or Spirit Resistance, but you draw the VP from the well, instead of from your own bank, up to a limit of 5 + your level. Example: At 3rd level, you can draw up to 8 VP from the well.

Priest Perk: Inspiring

Your presence and words are a balm to your companions.

Benefice: Once per round, through inspirational behavior and sermons, you can give other characters VP from your bank, even when it’s not your turn in the initiative queue. They must be able to either see or hear you (and vice versa), although distance doesn’t matter — you can even Inspire over a vid- or holo-transmission. You can divvy up this VP gift among other characters in any combination, although the maximum number of players and/or NPCs who can receive your blessings in a single use is equal to your level (one person at 1st level, two at 2nd, and so on).

Merchant Perk: Ingenious

You know how to turn the sudden windfalls of daily life into long-term gains.

Benefice: Once per span, on a roll that generates temporary VP, such as a critical, you can bank and/or vault those VP rather than losing them at the end of the turn.

Yeoman Perk: Independent

You are free from the constraints imposed on most members of society.

Benefice: Once per span, you may exert your freedom from control, whether it’s an influence action or an occult power. You spend VP to increase your Mind or Spirit Resistance, but you draw the VP from the well, instead of from your own bank, up to a limit of 5 + your level. Example: At 5th level, you can draw up to 10 VP from the well.

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I hope to see some of you at Gen Con. Come by the Ulisses booth (#3059) and say hi.

For the rest of you, I’ll reveal more peeks into the core book next month. Until then, may your soul mirrors never tarnish.

— Bill Bridges, Product Line Manager