Fading Suns and Flaming Heresies
Benefices and Afflictions
While many people in the Known Worlds prefer to have as little contact with other people as possible, others embrace the worlds around them. They join the clergy, run the guilds, maintain ties with aliens, seek out lost technology, and learn secrets others don’t want them to discover. By the same token, mixing with others can cause a person to gain enemies, lose money, acquire obligations or worse. Benefices and Afflictions represent the most important of these. While Blessings and Curses represent features inherent to an individual (directly modifying characteristics or skills), Benefices and Afflictions are based on the individual’s place in society.
Blessings and Curses will almost never go away, but characters can lose their Benefices and Afflictions, though this should only happen after epic-level adventures.
Characters begin with 5 points of Benefices (Already accounted for in Character Generation). They can use Extra points to get more points of Benefices or they can gain Afflictions. Afflictions are negative Benefices; the character has some social problem which gives him additional Extras to spend on more Benefices or any other trait.
Players should think of these traits as something more than just a way to get more points or powers. The primary reason we include them in the game is as an aid to roleplaying. Choose those that most fit the personality you want your character to have. Really, it doesn’t make much sense for a meditative priest to spend the points to get a flux sword. It does make sense for him to take the Cloistered Affliction to represent all those years spent in the monastery — and the way he blushes whenever he talks to a woman.
What follows is only a sample of some of the Benefices and Afflictions a character can have. Players and gamemasters should feel free to come up with their own. They should take care to focus on those that most fit the drama.
Also remember that characters will get some of the effects of Benefices through gameplay. Just because a Scraver doesn’t spend the points to buy an energy shield doesn’t mean he can’t take one from a dead Decados. Of course, that is theft, and if other Decados find out about it (or see the Scraver wearing a shield with the house’s crest on it)…
Categories of Benefices and Afflictions
These traits represent events or circumstances of a character’s past which affect him to the current day. They include things he knows, things other people know, his history and events from his past.
Finding someone to trust has its risks in Fading Suns, but success has no end of rewards. These Benefices and Afflictions represent how the character relates to specific members of her community. Players do need to be careful how their characters treat these people, however. Today’s committed allies may well become tomorrow’s sworn enemies.
Priests may try and get people to look beyond their material condition, but many characters want little more than lots of stuff. While characters may feel that they can buy anything if they have enough money, many items of interest are exceptionally hard to find. Even if the character can find one, the owner might not want to sell it — at least not to someone who’s not in his guild or a fellow noble. Characters can begin the game with these objects if they buy them at the start of play as Benefices. Of course, any possession can some day be lost.
Artifacts and Relics
Characters can begin the game with many different kinds of rare and valuable items. While most equipment is bought with firebirds (see the Riches Benefice, below), some are simply too rare, unique or expensive to put a price tag upon. These include Second Republic weapons (wireblades, flux swords), powered armor, a sentient think machine, occult artifacts and anything else the player can think of. Details for such items can be found in The Rulebook.
Ownership of these sort of items can come through family inheritance (“Son, now that you are of age, I bestow upon you Deathreaper, the family sword, a wireblade carried by five generations of our family.”), lucky scavenging (“Hey, look what I found on that abandoned asteroid base!”) or destiny (“Get a load of this: That old monk insisted I carry this rosary; he said the end times will come if I don’t.”).
Since each character may come into money in different ways, a variety of methods are described below; players should tailor each option to best fit their characters’ histories.
Starships are among the most expensive things in the Known Worlds. The ability to travel to other worlds at will is not only greatly desired by nearly everybody, it is rare — spacetech is simply not what it used to be. The prohibitive cost of building new ships keeps their commissions exclusive to the highest ranking members of the noble houses, Church and League. Others must maintain older ships; some have been kept running for centuries (thanks to durable Second Republic tech).
It is not recommended that players begin gameplay with spacecraft — they should earn a ship through roleplaying. Even if they can’t afford to buy their own ship, they may be able to convince a patron to loan them one in return for missions or duties performed for that patron. For details, see Starships, in the Rulebook.
Status is one of the most important things a character in Fading Suns can have. In the eyes of most people, a person is valued by her rank, not her individual accomplishments. A duchess can get away with almost any vile act, while a commoner had better not even steal a loaf of bread to live.