Posted by: markfender | August 21, 2012

Fading Suns Bootleg – Character Genesis

The fact that this chapter is called “Character Genesis” annoys me on so many levels.

Character Genesis
It’s nice to see the Lifepath method of character creation survive into the new edition, as well as the freedom of the freeform system. I’m just going to assume that all the totals on the Lifepaths add up correctly (which was not the case in the 2nd edition book), but if I was one of those fifteen editors I’d definitely be looking at that.

The first to cover is Stats and these are a major change, and one for the better. Gone are the Paired Attributes. Now, we’ve only got 6. This is an important step to fixing the system as you now have to spend less points to be better at every potential die roll. That goes a long way towards making the system work.

There’s a whole paragraph about how important it is that everyone move at a different speed and that the GM only needs to compare the Pace of a character in order to determine who is faster – except that the base human Pace is 10. Across the board. Brilliant.

We’ve also got Characteristic Pools as a new thing. These work just like Willpower does in White Wolf games – there’s a Permanent Track and a Temporary Track. As points are gained or lost, the Temporary Track changes. If the Temporary Track ever raises to 10, the Permanent Track increases by 1 and the Temporary track is set to the new Permanent Track value. Likewise, if the Temporary Track ever reaches 0, the Permanent Track loses 1. An important note here is that Experience Points can’t be spent to change these Characteristic Pools.

But what are Characteristic Pools? The primary one that everyone possesses is the Faith Pool. Spending points from it allows you various bonuses – +2 to a goal roll, lowering the difficulty of a Theurgic rite, or rolling an extra die. That seems pretty useful and I would like to purchase as much of this as possible. Good thing the starting value is buried at the end of a list of starting values for all the other Attributes. The cost to improve it in character creation is also buried in a chart (double what an Attribute would cost). Would have been nice to have this information near the actual description.

The other Characteristic Pools are all negative and only affect your character if you have one of the traits that gives them. This is where the Urge and Hubris systems went. Also added is a Glitch Pool (for Cybernetics) and a Stigma Pool (for Changed). More about those systems when we get to them.

Next we’ve got the Lifepath system. All the major sects get their write-ups as well as minor House Keddah because they’re arbitrarily the most important Minor House now. Extra Tours have been expanded as well, so that’s cool. The Gannok and the Etyri are also included in the alien write-ups, as well as the usual suspects because people wanted to play monkey people or bird people I guess. The Kurgans and Vuldrok also get some love. Their Lifepath options are somewhat abbreviated than what was available in Star Crusade, but I’m just happy they were included in the main book.

We’ve also got a bunch of premade characters, which is handy. This is actually where I first found what the base Faith Pool was before doing more searching. There’s not quite one of each faction, but there’s enough variety here to give you a good idea of how a character will look when it’s finished. It’s good to see that the Brother Battle Lifepath still ends in a combat monster.

Skills
Skills have been cleaned up as well. There’s far fewer of them (Discipline, for instance, covers both Stoic Mind and Stoic Body). Lore and Culture skills have been added, which cover your basic knowledges and are your most common sources of Skill Synergies. There’s also Restricted skills – skills that only a member of a particular faction can learn. Nobles get Etiquette, Clergy get Doctrine, and Guilds get Helm, Tech Redemption, and Think Machine. Personally, Doctrine and Etiquette seem like Lore skills. In fact, the Influence skill seems to cover everything that Etiquette is doing. I’m okay with the Guild-only skills, however.

Benefits & Afflictions
These used to be called Benefices & Afflictions. I’m not sure why the name was changed.

These cover all your merits and flaws. Strangely, I can’t find a limit on how many Afflictions you can purchase. It used to be 10, but that’s not stated anywhere. Most of these are exactly what was in the old game, so I’m skimming here. The Veteran Benefit seems problematic in conjunction with the Edge rules as presented earlier. Seems like any combat-focused character will be buying that one. The costs on Rank also changed. It’s cheaper to have a lower Rank in a Faction but more expensive to have a higher Rank.

The newest inclusion are combat styles. These are organized into particular flavorful fighting styles, providing a few Benefits a person trained in that style can purchase. These are an improvement over the old system, which was problematic to say the least. I can’t necessarily speak to the usefulness of all these, but overall I like them. Rashtan Distraction seems particularly good for example:

Instead of taking the Edge after winning a conflict turn, the stylist can force his opponent to adopt a Defensive stance on the next turn (though his opponent gains the Edge).

If I’m understanding how the Edge thing works in conjunction with the Stance system (and I can’t guarantee that), this basically prevents your opponent from being able to damage you on the next turn. Keep winning the Edge back and you’ve got an auto-win button.

Coming up next! Psychic Powers! Theurgy! Anger!

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