I chanced upon this image, the other day.
Unless I’m mistaken, it’s from the French edition of the Game Master Screen for Fading Suns.
And I thought back at Fading Suns.
Now, the second revised edition of Fading Suns, the hardback published through Lulu, is here on my “special” shelf – the one where I keep my “special” games – those that I cherish particularly1.
I first discovered Fading Suns way back in 1996, thanks to a magazine called Arcane. I read a review, and was intrigued by the hard SF/space operatic setting. And by the idea of deep time that was obviously part of the setting.
For the uninitiated: Fading Suns is set in a distant future. Humans have conquered space, created a golden age of technological marvels, met new races, discovered ancient artifacts. Then a dark age came, humanity fell, and now, after centuries of struggles, human civilization is re-emerging from the shadows.
Fading Suns is a space renaissance game, with a strong setting and lots of different angles – players can face court intrigues, alien invasion both brutal and subtle, lovecraftian horrors, mysteries, exploration, diplomacy.
A master so inclined can also play on the science/faith confrontation, and on themes of personal freedom, passion, horror.
Various supplements added further material – more strange aliens, more noble houses and priestly classes.
I admit I have a soft spot for the Gannok, a race of mechanically-inclined, monkey-like aliens that might not be truly intelligent (maybe they are just very good at imitating us).
The system is straightforward and fast, and the second revised edition is a sturdy hardback that can survive pelting from falling asteroids.
The look and feel of the game is absolutely great, and anyone lucky enough to game with a team of science fiction fans would probably find this game quite solid.
The game references a lot of great, classic SF (apart from Herbert and Dan Simmon‘s Hyperion, I think about the future history by Poul Anderson), while remaining quite original – and if the players are in tune with the setting, stories are likely to come alive with a minimum of effort.
As I said, Fading Suns is on my Special Shelf.
Will I ever get back to it?
I don’t know – right now, should I feel the need for some high-grade, highly intriguing SF, I’d probably go for Numenéra.
For sure, the Fading Suns setting is highly inspirational, and right now I’d like to write some space opera more than play some.
But who knows, maybe in the future…