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Fading Suns is a space opera sci-fi role-playing game inspired by other works of fiction such as Star Wars and Dune, featuring several alien species based on animals.
After humanity discovered an ancient jumpgate behind Pluto in the late 22nd century, space exploration took up rapidly, no longer hampered by slow and unwieldy STL space travel as the jumpgates allowed for instant travel between systems as long as you had decrypted the right code. Around 4999, humanity has rapidly slided back into a new dark age.
Several alien species reminiscent of animals co-inhabit the universe together with humans, who remain the dominant species throughout the known universe.
The Empire is the overall government of the remaining civilized Known Worlds, although the Emperor has yet to consolidate its power and influence. While all other factions technically swear allegiance to the Emperor, Alexius has yet to try that support. The second and new Emperor has been sitting on the throne for a decade when the game begins. The former Hawkwood noble managed to outmaneuver the other pretenders to the throne and finally secured everyone's blessing, or at least grudging acceptance, to his claim to the throne.
Vladimir, the founder of the Empire, united the scattered Known Worlds against the barbarians hundreds of years ago, and managed to rally a defence. During his ascension to Emperor, his crown burst into flame. It is still unknown who was behind this assassination, but it sparked a simmering civil war as noble after noble held the title of regent in the absence of strong candidates for a new Emperor, until Alexius.
The Imperial government incorporates the newly bolstered Imperial navy and Imperial Legions, stationed around the Known Worlds borders and hotspots, the Imperial Eye, an ancient security agency and various buerocratic instances such as the Imperial Court. The powerful Stigmata Garrison has been added since the Symbiot threat surfaced, and consists both of Imperial legions and levies taken from all Houses stationed in the Stigmata system to protect the rest of the Known Worlds. The garrison contains several unorthodox units, such as open psychics, robotic golems, chemical warfare units and planetary fire bombardment due to the threat of the warping, body-snatching powers of the Symbiot invaders.
The noble Houses
The Known Worlds is a feudal society, with hereditary nobles on top of the societal pyramid. Nobles are divided among bloodlines, with 5 major Houses. House Hawkwood (British, aristocratic and with their former head now on the Imperial throne), House Li Halan (southeast Asian, confucian and heavily religious with Orthodoxy ties), House Decados (Russian, two-faces, spymasters), The Hazat (Spanish/Mediterranean, strong martial traditions), House al-Malik (Turks, merchant and tech interests with League ties) and several smaller ones (Torenson, landless etiquette advisors, Xanthippe, mercenaries and moonbase builders, Trusnikron, animal breeders), plus various defunct, fallen Royal Houses.
The Universal Church
Since the Fall, the Universal Church has been the only allowed religion in the Known Worlds, with 5 major sects and many smaller covering everything from withdrawn mystics and alchemists, konfucianists, templars, fakirs, monks and many others, all followers of the Pancreator, and the words of the Prophet. The Orthodoxy (majority sect, Church founders, conservatives), Sanctuary Aeon (healers, liberals), Temple Avesti (ascetic fundamentalists, believes the Holy Flame is a literal flame, for example the one in a cleansing flamegun), Brother Battle (templars, elite warrior monk order for hire) and the Escatonics (mystics, alchemists, astrologers, occult investigators, geomancers and other students of the arcane). The Church is funded through its own land holdings, tithes from the faithful and contributions. In 4999, the Church has risen as a major power, not just spiritually but militarily through the vast but worn-down and old Patriarchal Fleet. Roughly 75% of the faithful belong in the Orthodoxy, but a growing minority is seeking new sects and paths.
The Merchant League
The League is the major freeman organisation, compromising 5 major guilds, each with one major monopoly. The Charioteers (space pilots and jumpgate navigators, the only known people that can still code the arcane jumpgates, also including powerful interstellar trading syndicates, or Hongs), the Supreme Order of Engineers (scientists and high tech, including vital industries such as spaceship yards, fusion plants and terraforming engines), the Scravers (tech artefact reclamation and overall crime syndicates, divided into several families under the cover of a legit guild), the Muster (mercenaries, contracted skilled labour and slavers) and the Reeves (banking, lawyers and loans). Several hundreds of minor guilds such as the Apothecaries (high-tech medicine), Purgers (pest control, waste treatment), Stewards (etiquette and gossip advisors) or Courtesans (personal entertainment) have been licensed on Leagueheim, the central high-tech world-city of the League, or operate as local enterprises around the Known Worlds. Some guilds are unaffiliated with the League.
Several alien races has made first contact with humanity, and can now be found spread throughout the galaxy. Overall, humanity has tried to stamp out native cultures and replace them with their own norms, be they Republican, Universal Church or else. Humanity remains the dominant species throughout the stars.
Species more closely based on humans, inspired to be high elves in space. The Obun practice their own local government for, subjugated by one of the human Imperial Houses claiming their homeworld as a direct fief.
Related to the Ur-Obun, sharing their bonds with the Annunaki precursors. Ur-Obun are equally humanoid, but live both underground in a series of caves and above. Ritual scarring marks the life and history of an individual Ur-Ukar over his or her skin. Inspired by dark elves. The Ur-Ukar are equally subjucated by a noble Imperial House, with even stricted controls.
Extremely tall and muscular furred carnivores (somewhat akin to wolves, vorox are the native inhabitants of the planet Ungavorox. Vorox native tech is at stone age to medieval level. Their primary societal system is tribalistic packs. Any Vorox that wishes to leave the planet (or even take part in the puppet regime) has to go through a Li Halan-modified "civilising process" ending with a ritual declawing. Native Vorox are still holding out in the djungles, were they still follow the old ways and retain their full claws. Clawed Vorox are able to produce a powerful paralysing poison.
Native, chimpanzoid, furred aliens with elongated fingered and prehensile tailed native inhabitants of the planet Bannockburn, controlled by the Merchant League. Gannok quickly learned how to use human speach and tools from the first exploration teams, and just as quickly rose from their previous status as little more than clever local wildlife. They have quickly assimilated into human culture and even produced several geniuses of their own. Most non-gannok agree that the smell they emanate is far from pleasant. Gannok also have a rapid healing process. There's little trace of a culture of their own, except for a strong appreciation of practical jokes.
Insectoids sharing a hive mind. The ascorbites are native inhabitants of the planet Severus. Technologically, they are at tribal level, with some medieval tech (with some exceptions). Ascorbite society and religion is closed for humans, with most of them remaining deep in the Severus djungles as house Decados has colonised parts of the world. Ascorbites are one of the most alien xeno species to humans, as they lack most emotions held by mammals. Most of what they know, from customs to religion to skills, they learn during a short period after leaving the pupae state. Ascorbites seems to perceive some universal connection, which they refer to as the "song".
Humanoid cold-blooded reptilians living in a theocratic caste society under their god-king, which has been pushed back to a single reservation-city. Their society is roughly divided into a priest caste, a mandarin-buerocrat caste, a warrior caste, a crafts caste and a merchant/worker caste with several sub-castes within each.
Avian species, divided into four sub-species from tall and physically impressing eagles to smaller avians and ground-bound birds. They developed as a society in fierce competition with another native, sentient reptilian species of carnivores. Human first contact and the influx of human technology favoured the Etyri, and the reptilians are long extinct.
Etyri religion is a complex belief system involving a deep respect for death and the dead, and odd notions such as anyone venturing beyond the upper atmosphere of their homeworld technically being wandering dead (including any visiting humans and other aliens).
Intelligent horses without opposable thumb-like appendages on their front hooves. The Shantor lived in a tribal society, but has since been heavily exploited among with the planet for the rich mineral deposits under the surface. Most of them now live in reservations on the planet or scattered in similar reservations throughout the galaxy after a civil uprising.
Shantor originally lives in tribal, nomadic, low-tech societies worshipping the sun and its movements. They have a native speach reminding of whistles and sounds, most of them outside the human hearing range. Electronic voiceboxes can crudely translate some of the concepts.
Amphibians, most resembling scaled, gilled and webbed humanoid fish in physiology. Their civilisation has just been discovered as wide seas of their homeworld has been explored, and they are now in peaceful regular contact with the surface-occupying humans.
The oro'ym describe a history of servants to a superior race of progenitors, from which they have degraded to their current state after being left to tend to themselves. Their priest-king caste retained some secrets of their masters, but fell for rebellions and social disorder. Their current priests remember some of the passwords and incantations that might activate Annunaki artefacts, but have problem correlating them to the right function.
Fading Suns uses the Victory Point System. Each stat is ranged 1-10 (with some exceptions for aliens and cybernetics users who can sometimes boost their stats past the human norm, or remain under it), including opposed "spirit" stats such as Extrovert/Introvert, Passion/Calm and Faith/Ego. The other stats are the usual Strengh, Dexterity, Wits and so on. The Tech stat stands out, and represents the character's familiarity with technology. A user trying to operate equipment higher than her Tech stat suffers from a negative modifier. Any attempt to invent new tech of a higher level than your Tech-2 is also impossible.
Skill rolls use stat+skill, rolled against with a d20. Damage and armour are rolled as a dice pool of d6, with each succeeding dice turning into a damage or armour point respectively. How effective a skill roll is depends on the victory points accumulated by the roll.
Character creation is entirely point-based, with 30 starting points to divide on stats, skills, abilities, starting equipment, guild, house or church status, psionic powers, cybernetics, theurgic powers and other advantages, with the option to buy a negative bonus with disadvantages.
- Fading Suns - Official website and forum