Fading Suns D20
Fading Suns D20 Capsule Review by Tori Bergquist on 12/01/02
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)
Fading Suns D20 does a good job of bringing space fantasy to the D20 system, and remains faithful to the source material.
Product: Fading Suns D20
Author: Bill Bridges & Andrew Greenberg
Line: Fading Suns
Page count: 192
Year published: 2001
ISBN: 9 - 781888906325 - 02500
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Tori Bergquist on 12/01/02
Genre tags: Fantasy Science Fiction Far Future Space
This is intended to be a short, modest review of the Fading Suns D20 system. I happened to pick this up within a week of the new Dragonstar setting, and plan to review that, as well.
Fading Suns D20 is going to interest two audiences, those of you who are looking forward to variant non-fantasy settings for the D20 system, and those of you who are not sufficiently infatuated with the existing Fading Suns system to pick it up and learn it. Given that the current bulk of support for Fading Suns is for the original rules, I would suggest that\\\'s the wisest investment if you\\\'re keen on this campaign background, but if you love D20, then you\\\'ll be happy as well.
If you are new to Fading Suns, I\\\'ll summarize the background: it is the impossibly distant future, and a new dark age has swept over a once unified galactic empire. Now, long-established guilds are a prominent force in the universe, not unlike the houses in the Dune series. Occultic magic, powerful crusading religious authorities, and an oppresive background threat caused by an unknown force which is slowly extinguishing the suns of the universe through some unknown means are all part and parcel of Fading Suns. A handful of prominent alien species play an important role in galactic politics, and your characters must learn to strive in this tough as nails environment. It\\\'s not very cyberpunk, however, though cyberware is available; there\\\'s a kind of gothic far-future romance going on in Fading Suns that is closer to a kind of dark Star Wars than anything else.
Graphically, the game is nice on the eyes. The artwork is black and white internally, with much of it taken from prior FS books. It looks good, it carries its image well.
The bulk of Fading Suns\\\' text is effectively the same material seen in the original rule book; the background chapter features almost word-for-word the same setting inroduction, with some minor changes according to the new conversion. In fact, unlike Deadlands D20, which (IMHO) provided a superior D20 rulebook to the original rules, Fading Suns is essentially the same package, different flavor.
The setting provides completely new character classes for PCs to start with, and species profiles of the Fading Suns aliens (Ur-Obun, Ur-Ukar, Vorox). New classes include the Beastfriend, Brother Battle, Guilder, Knave, Living Weapon, Noble, Priest, Psychic, Soldier, Starwolf, Techie, and Theurgist. The Yeoman is a new NPC class. The classes provide an excellent representation of the kinds of PCs you would find in the Fading Suns worlds. Skills are detailed with updated stats, and a wealth of feats that take advantage of the setting\\\'s unique sci-fi occult environment are provided. All of this material is internally consistent and balanced, at least on the surface. I am not sure I\\\'d mix and match any of this with a conventional fantasy campaign (that would be, well.....odd) but if you play it for what it is, the internal balance of Fading Suns carries over well.
The occult powers of Fading Suns are lifted from the original game and dropped in to the D20 system, providing powers marked by degrees of strength, requiring an expenditure of wyrd points and a difficulty check to perform. The powers represented in the original rule book all appear to be here.
The equipment rules cover the range of equipment for the setting, and provide some brief spot rules on handling firearms in combat, as well as some interesting rules for vehicle combat, expanding on the hardness ratings for damaging objects from the core D20 system. Not the way I\\\'d go, but it\\\'s concise and it works. Starships are briefly addressed but effectively glossed over, opening this up for a new supplemen (just like the original FS approach). I was impressed with the way force shields were adapted, as the system utilizes an activation roll system that revolves around how much damage is done in a strike against a shielded opponent; the essential Fading Suns axiom of a duelling culture remains sound here, with the need to merely nick your opponent and not activate a force shield still intact.
The DM\\\'s section is the briefest portion of the book, providing a medley of creatures, worlds, and suggestions for plot development. This mirrors the original rules, too, which I felt were sparse in this section.
If you are looking for a good introduction to space-fantasy gaming in the D20 system, I\\\'m going to have to suggest that Fading Suns will work well for you. If they start to support it with future products, then the more the better. I am personally happy that this exists; when you are often confronted with game groups that are unwilling to try something new, it is much easier to lure them in to a game of such a different flavor as Fading Suns so long as it has the D20 stamp on it.
If you have already invested in, or prefer the original Fading Suns system, stay there. Much like Dragonlords of Melnibone, this is just a rulebook with a system swap, and proponents of the original rules need not apply.