Fading Suns

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Fading Suns
Fading Suns 2nd ed cover small.jpg
Fading Suns (2nd edition) cover
Designer(s) Bill Bridges, Andrew Greenberg
Publisher(s) Holistic Design, Inc.
Publication date 1996 (1st edition)
1999 (2nd edition)
2001 (d20 edition)
2007 (2nd edition Revised Rulebook)
2012 (Revised edition - Player's Guide)
2013 (Revised edition - Game Master's Guide)
Genre(s) Science fiction
System(s) Victory Point System, d20 System

Fading Suns is a science fiction space opera role-playing game published by Holistic Design. The setting was also used for a PC game (Emperor of the Fading Suns), a live action role-playing game (Passion Play), and for a space combat miniature game (Noble Armada).


After the computer game Machiavelli the Prince, Holistic Design decided to do something new - a space strategy computer game, which would eventually become Emperor of the Fading Suns (1996).[1]:322 Holistic brought on two experienced world designers, Andrew Greenberg and Bill Bridges, to create a cohesive and interesting universe for the game, which would also be used as the basis for a tabletop roleplaying game to be released simultaneously with the computer game.[1]:322 Greenberg and Bridges had helped define the style of White Wolf Publishing's World of Darkness, and according to Shannon Appelcline, people noticed this game's similarity to the "White Wolf style".[1]:322 Appelcline comments further: "Fading Suns is unique mainly for its distinctive setting. It is a hard science-fiction game, but much of the universe has fallen back to Medieval technology. Noble houses, guilds and a monolithic church control most of the power in the universe. Many people compare the universe to that of Frank Herbert's Dune, though Bridges points to Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun, Isaac Asimov's Foundation and others as his inspiration."[1]:322 Over the next few years Fading Suns was supported extensively with supplements, and for a time, the line did well.[1]:322 Holistic released the tabletop miniatures game Noble Armada (1998) – co-designed by Ken Lightner and Chris Wiese – a spaceship combat game compatible with Fading Suns.[1]:323 Passion Play (1999) was a LARP for Fading Suns.[1]:323 Holistic printed a d20 version of Fading Suns (2001), and then dual-statted later Fading Suns supplements to use both d20 and their own "Victory Point System".[1]:323 Over the next few years Holistic announced a third edition of Fading Suns as well as new games called variously Diaspora, Dystopia, Inc and Sathranet, which would have been designed using d20 Modern and would have looked into different periods in the Fading Suns history however, none of these products saw the light of day under Holistic.[1]:324 In 2007 Holistic Design licensed Fading Suns to RedBrick Limited.[1]:324 In 2012, the license passed to FASA Games, Inc.

Game setting[edit]

The action is set in a future medieval-analogue empire built on the remains of a previous, more sophisticated human galaxy-spanning civilization made possible by ancient "Jumpgates". The Jumpgates are relics left over from an ancient civilization or civilizations, the mysterious Anunnaki, who seems to have influenced the evolution of the lesser species (such as humans) for their own end, and waged a devastating war many millennia ago using the lesser species as tools of war.

The atmosphere is strongly reminiscent of Frank Herbert's Dune and of the Hyperion stories by Dan Simmons, but borrows from many other science fiction books and movies as well.

Power is administered by noble houses, guilds, and a monolithic Holy Church. Psionic powers exist but psionicists are often hunted down and killed by the Church (or led back to orthodoxy and enrolled in the Church's ranks). The Church is also capable of producing miracles through Theurgic rites, a kind of divine sorcery.

While most roleplaying situations arise from the strict codes regulating the everyday life of the empire's citizens, the imperial age is rife with opportunities for adventure: following the fall of the old regime and the following centuries of darkness and warfare, many worlds have slipped back to a pre-civilized state, and a number of alien threats lurk in the shadows.

Players take the roles of members of the aristocracy, of the various merchant guilds or of a number of religious sects, and alien characters are also available.

A large library of supplements provides description of locales (planets, space stations, whole sections of space), alien societies, minor houses, guilds and sects, monsters and secret conspiracies, thus expanding the thematic possibilities offered by the setting.

Game system[edit]

The Fading Suns engine uses a simple attribute and skill, level and classless, dice pool-powered system, called the Victory Point System (VPS). The second edition of the game rules solved many of the issues raised by the earlier rulebook, while increasing the amount of data available. The current Revised Edition further updated and streamlined the VPS mechanics.

While generally stereotypical in their template-like form, characters are easily personalized.

In 2000, an adaptation of the setting to the popular 3rd edition OGL system was also been published - D20 Fading Suns. For several years, supplements carried rules for both systems.

Holistic Design has released a LARP version of Fading Suns entitled Passion Play.


Fading Suns was written by Andrew Greenberg and Bill Bridges, known for having been involved with the original Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse role-playing games which were published by White Wolf Publishing.


Victory Point System:


  • 2000 Lords & Priests, ISBN 978-1-888906-24-0 (contains Lords of the Known World and Priests of the Celestial Sun)
  • 2002 Aliens & Deviltry, ISBN 1-888906-33-2 (contains Children of the Gods and The Dark Between the Stars)
  • 2003 Worlds of the Realm, ISBN 978-1-888906-35-6 (contains: Hawkwood Fiefs, al Malik Fiefs, Hazat Fiefs, Li Halan Fiefs, and the previously unprinted Imperial Fiefs)

d20 System:

Passion Play:


RedBrick Limited Publications[edit]

  • 2007 Second Edition Revised Rulebook. (Not to be confused with 2012 Fading Suns Player's Guide Revised Edition Core Rulebook )
    • Editors: Alex Wichert, Carsten Damm, Kathy Schad, James D. Flowers
    • Description: Mostly identical to Second Edition main rulebook. The layout was changed slightly, the index was expanded, important tables were gathered and printed in an appendix. Another adventure (called Pandemonium Unchained) was added.
  • 2007 A Road So Dark (PDF; now part of the Shards Collection, below)
    • Author: Angus McNicholl
    • Description: an adventure about a previously unknown jumproute between two stellar systems.
  • 2007 Imperial Survey Vol. 7: Church Fiefs
    • Author: Mat Wakefield
    • Description: this details the Church planets Artemis, Holy Terra, Pentateuch, De Moley, and Pyre
  • 2007 Kraken's Loom (PDF; now part of the Shards Collection, below)
    • Author: Angus McNicholl
    • Description: this adventure leads the characters into barbarian space in search of a lost heirloom, but the situation is complicated by being the strangers in a strange land.
  • 2008 Arcane Tech
    • Authors: Bill Bridges, Alan Bryden, Brian Campbell, Andrew Greenberg, Lee Hammock, Dave Harrison, Samuel Inabinet, Bill Maxwell, Angus McNicholl, Angelus Michaels, Laura Poplin, Rustin Quaide, Sandra Schneider, Nicky Rea, Jay Verkuilen, James Walker-Bumcrot, Mat Wakefield, Martin Welnicki, Alex Wichert, Gabriel Zarate
    • Description: this sourcebook contains reprinted and refreshed material from "Forbidden Lore: Technology", as well as new technological items, ranging from alien technology to weird tech to new weapons and gear.
  • 2008 Ruinous Folly (PDF; now part of the Shards Collection, below)
    • Author: Angus McNicholl
    • Description: this adventure takes the characters from a private auction to the turbulent atmosphere of Gargantua in search of a lost treasure, but the treasure has ideas of its own.
  • 2008 Dead End (PDF; now part of the Shards Collection, below))
    • Author: Thomas Baroli
    • Description: this adventure takes the characters from a religious ceremony, to an obscure plot of murder and intrigue
  • 2011 Fading Suns Shards Collection Volume One (Print and PDF Release)
    • Author: Thomas Baroli, Angus McNicholl
    • Description: compiles and updates the previously released PDF adventures Dead End, Ruinous Folly, Kraken's Loom, and A Road So Dark into one volume.

FASA Games Publications[edit]

  • 2012 Fading Suns Player's Guide - Revised Edition Core Rulebook. (Not to be confused with 2007 Fading Suns Second Edition Revised Rulebook ) -- produced by RedBrick LLC, published by FASA Games, Inc.
    • Author: Todd Bogenrief, Vidar Edland, Chris Wiese, Andrew Greenberg, Bill Bridges, Phil Cameron, Richard Ashley, Thomas Baroli, Ruben Ramos, Mark Stout, James Sutton
    • Description: Similar in places to the Fading Suns Second Edition, with rules extensively re-written (especially combat rules). Updates and additions throughout.
  • 2013 Fading Suns Game Master's Guide - Revised Edition Core Rulebook
    • Author: Todd Bogenrief, Vidar Edland, Richard Ashley, Thomas Baroli, Brandon van Buren, Phil Cameron, Tristan Lhomme, Ruben Ramos, Mark Stout, James Sutton, Dennis Watson, and Chris Wiese, with reused material by Bill Bridges, Brian Campbell, Andrew Greenberg, Robert Hatch, Jennifer Hartshorn, Chris Howard, Sam Inabinet, Ian Lemke, Jim More, Rustin Quade
    • Description: Chapter 1 - Game Mastering; Chapter 2 - Hazard; Chapter 3 - Antagonists; Chapter 4 - Fiefs & Planets; Chapter 5 - Hawkwood Fiefs; Chapter 6 - al-Malik Fiefs; Chapter 7 - Hazat Fiefs; Chapter 8 - Li Halan Fiefs; Chapter 9 - Decados Fiefs; Chapter 10 - Imperial Fiefs; Chapter 11 - Pandemonium;


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 

External links[edit]