19 Feb The Who, What, and Where of The Known Worlds
Let’s answer some questions frequently asked by those who are new to Fading Suns: Who do you play? What do they do? Where is it set?
Who in the Known Worlds
Nobles, priests, merchants, and freelancers: these are the social and professional roles people enact in our “Dark Ages in space” Known Worlds society. Those who rule, those who pray, those who trade, and those who try to fill the niches in between.
Nobles are lords who rule fiefs; duelists who win honor and fame through swordfights; courtiers who politick at high courts and elegant balls; sybarites who throw legendary parties; Questing Knights who serve the emperor on the frontiers; and enthusiasts who obsess over art, butterfly collecting, or the latest fashion trends.
Priests might be traveling mendicants who spread the word of the Pancreator; mystic monks who seek the truth behind the veil of materiality; templars who defend the faithful with sword and blaster; healers who martyr themselves for others; and inquisitors who search out heretics and dark sorcery.
Merchants are traders in exotic marketplaces; pilots to the far stars; mercenaries putting down revolts; lawyers defending the innocent and guilty alike; reclaimers digging through ancient ruins; and techno-wizards wielding the strange technologies of the long-lost Second Republic.
As for the freelancers, they eke out a living on the margins, as guns-for-hire, alien rights activists, space hobos, or barbarians from distant star systems.
None of these people go it alone. They form into troupes, in echo of the Prophet and his band of Disciples who traveled the Known Worlds in the Age of Miracles. The most common troupe is the noble entourage: an itinerant noble and their advisors, bodyguards, and hangers-on. While Fading Suns books are written with this default in mind, there are other troupe types, from the wandering priest or saint and their faithful followers to the traveling merchant caravan earning coin with their skills.
What in the Known Worlds
Troupes can get into all sorts of trouble. They can:
- Adventure: From kidnappings to murder mysteries to defending villages from marauders, there are many people who need the help of skilled heroes. What noble can resist such a call? What priest can turn away from pleas for help? What merchant can fail to make coin from other’s needs?
- Explore: The Known Worlds and the neighboring barbarian worlds host all manner of strange creatures and phenomena, just waiting to be encountered and sung about in epics. They who find it get to name it.
- Conspire: The true coin of the realm is power, and everybody is always jockeying to ascend to it and conspiring to throw down their rivals. Nobles are born to such intrigue, but priests must also play the great game to maintain the Church’s hold over hearts and minds. Merchants exploit any loophole they can find.
- Crusade: A new border has opened up and the barbarian worlds await the civilizing force of the Known Worlds. They must be shown the example of noble rule, Church scripture, and the new markets their resources can open.
- Defend: The powerful ever exploit the weak. Someone must stand in their way. Whether they be serfs suffering under a tyrant’s heel, barbarians wronged by colonizers, aliens robbed of their heritage, people cry out for heroes. Will the troupe answer that call?
Where in the Known Worlds
Fading Suns is centered in the Known Worlds, a collection of star systems linked by jumpgate routes, reaching back to Holy Terra, the cradle of humanity. The jumpgates were built by a long-dead, mysterious alien species, and their routes create the interstellar geography that defines the power blocs of the empire.
The Known Worlds are surrounded by other civilizations. The Vuldrok Star-Nations present the most active border at the moment, since the emperor married a Vuldrok and claimed her homeworld as dowry. Nearby the ever-present threat of the symbiot worlds looms in many people’s nightmares: these shapeshifting aliens can transform other sentient beings into their own kind. On the far side of the empire is the Vau Hegemony. This enigmatic, high-tech species has closed its borders to humanity, and waits and watches.
The Known Worlds is currently at peace, thanks to the rise of Emperor Alexius and his claiming of the throne, ending the decades-long Emperor Wars. The changes that have occurred since then were discussed in a previous update, The Times They are a Changin’. The newest troupes have opportunities open to them that were unknown to their war-ravaged forebears. It’s up to them to make the best of the new hope.