By Ed Etkin

Ed Etkin's complete house rules


Sometimes it's crucial to know which character acts first in a given turn, such as when two characters simultaneously dive for a nearby weapon. In such cases, the character with initiative gets to act first. Initiative is determined by rolling the characters Initiative Factor (IF) (see below to find out how to determine the IF) and then adding and/or subtracting applicable initiative modifiers.

The characters then declare their intended actions for the turn starting with the character with the lowest initiative roll and going in the order of increasing initiative. The character with the highest initiative then acts first. Ties are resolved in favor of characters with the highest Wits - if Wits are equal, the actions are simultaneous (in the example above, both characters grab the item and must now make Strength + Vigor actions to attempt to wrest it from the other's grasp). A high initiative roll has another important benefit - it can reduce the character's multiple action penalty. (See below under "Initiative and Multiple Actions").

Calculating the Initiative Factor

Every character in Fading Suns has a base Initiative Factor (IF) of d6 plus a bonus that varies depending on some of the character's traits. A character's ability to act quickly in a turn and to anticipate and react to others' actions is determined by three traits - Dexterity, Wits and Perception.

To determine a character's IF, these three traits are added together and compared to the VP chart as successes. For every 3 full VP thus generated, the character's base IF of 1d6 is increased by a d6. Leftover VP are added as pip bonuses. Thus, a character with 6 Dex, 5 Per and 6 Wits, would compare 17 to the VP chart to get 5 VP. This means that the character would have an IF of 2d6+2 (3 VPs give an extra d6, and 2 VPs translate to +2 pips). If the character's Per was 6, he would have an IF of 3d6.

Common Initiative Modifiers

-2 to -10 Wound Penalty
+/- variable Combat Actions and Weapons
-4 Second Action in the turn
-8 Third Action in the Turn
-2 Action is being complemented by another skill
+1 and up Opponent surprised

Multiple Actions

A character may attempt up to three actions per turn, but additional actions levy a penalty to goal numbers (-5 if attempting two actions, -7 if attempting three). Furthermore, the same action may not be performed multiple times in a turn: a character cannot swing a sword three times, but may swing a sword, dodge the return blow, and kick at his foe's kneecap (all at a -7 penalty). Firearms are the exception to this: A gun may be fired a number of times equal to the rate of fire.

Initiative and Multiple Actions

When a character wishes to act more than once in a turn, his first action happens at his normal initiative, his second action happens at his initiative -4 (+/- applicable modifiers), while his 3rd action happens at his initiative -8 (+/- applicable modifiers). Thus, if a character has rolled very well it is possible for him to act several times before his opponents.

A good initiative roll also reduces the penalties associated with multiple actions. For every 5 full points of the initiative roll (modified only by wounds and other global bonuses / penalties that don't depend on expected actions in the turn) the multiple action Goal Number penalty is reduced by 1. Thus, if a character rolled an initiative of 15 and there were no other modifiers, she would be able to perform 2 actions at -2 each or 3 actions at -4 each. (COMMENT: this is the reason for changing the base Multi-Action penalty to -5/-7 instead of -4/-6)

Task Resolution

(comment -- this has been tested over several session and seems to work very well) It seems to solve the single die problem and we are quite happy with it. Accenting works especially well because you can always be rolling at least 2 dice.

When resolving a task, you roll the number of d20's indicated by the chart below and select the best result. One die is designated as a control die and it determines critical successes or failures (which work differently from the normal FS rules and which will be posted in part III of my House Rules)

Skill level 1-2 1d20
Skill level 3-5 2d20
Skill level 6-8 3d20
Skill level 9-10 4d20
Skill level 11+ 5d20

Thus, a brother battle with a Dex of 7 and shoot of 6 will roll 3d20 with a base goal number of 13, and pick the best result (applying the critical or fumble to it if either comes up on the control die) This approach removes the reliance on a single die roll -- as skills increase, highly skilled characters can expect to succeed most of the time.

Non-stressful Skill Use

Most non-combat skill resolutions start with a bonus of +2 to the goal number for a moderate task (the bonus does not apply if the skill is used under stressfull conditions such as combat). I.e. trying to open a lock would normally start at +2 for base difficulty, but trying to do it as decados guards are turning the corner guns blazing would lose the +2 bonus.


Accenting works differently. You can accent only one action per turn (although you can still act more than once) and you take -3 to the global initiative roll (see Part I of my house rules)

You can gain an extra die for negative accenting, but then you get 1 VP per 4 successes. OR you can accent positively and lose a die, but you get 1 VP per 2 successes. (obviously if your skill is only 1-2 you cant accent positively).

Example: Dante, the brother battle has Calm of 4 and Stoic Mind of 5 so he gets to roll 2d20 with a goal number of 9 (he is in combat so he does not get the base +2 bonus). He decides that he wants to accent negatively. He now rolls 3d20, but he will only get 1 VP for every 4 full successes. His best roll on 3d20 is a 6 and so he succeeds with 1 VP (he would have had 2 VPs if he did not accent)

In another example, Dante shoots at a Kurgan, his Dex is 7 and his shoot is 7. He normally rolls 3d20 with a goal of 14. he really wants to hit hard so he accents positively and gives up a die. He now rolls 2d20 with a target of 14. His best roll is a 10 which nets him 5 VPs (he would have only had 3 VPs if he did not accent)


IMPORTANT NOTE (in my task resolution rules in the previous post I mentioned that one of the dice rolled for the skills is designated as the control die which determines critical success or failure. However very recently we changed that rule (and thus the rules in my previous post were not updated)).

**>>The Critical Succes / Fumble rule: The skill dice rolled do not determine critical successes or failures. An extra d20 of a different color called the SFX die is rolled along with each skill roll - When a 1 comes up on the SFX die, it indicates a critical success and a good special effect (Good SFX), when a 20 comes up it indicates a fumble and a bad special effect (Bad SFX). Rolls of 2 to 19 on the SFX dice are ignored (However the Gamemaster can have fun with it -- a character may have his SFX die adjusted temporarily by a blessing (he gets good SFX on 1 or 2, or by a curse, he fumbles on 19 or 20 on SFX)

These effects are applied to the best result of all the dice rolled for the skill. To find out the exact effect you roll another d20 and compare it to the Good SFX or to the Bad SFX chart as appropriate (see below)

Example: Dante rolls 3d20 +1 d20 SFX die for shoot with a goal number of 14. His results are a 1 on the SFX die, and on 3d20: a 3, an 18, and a 12. Since the roll of 12 generates the most VPs, the effects of rolling a critical on the SFX die are applied to the roll of 12.

My critical / fumble system allows you, in some cases, to have a critical success while still failing the main roll (you failed, but something good comes out of the failure) and to have a critical failure and still succeed (you hit the enemy with your shut but then your gun jammed). We found that this works FAR better than most critical/fumble systems.

The Good SFX Die

A Good SFX die is rolled to determine just how well the Fate decided to reward this particular task:


1-10 A minor good effect - +2 goal on the next roll with that skill or some other small nice "extra"

11-15 If the main skill roll failed is becomes a success with 1 VP. If already a success then - a very nice effect - +2 goal with that skill for a short duration, an initiative bonus for a round or two, etc.

16-19 If the main skill roll failed is becomes a success with 1 VP and a very nice effect as

above. If already a success then -- a very cool effect - +2 goal with that skill for rest of scene, or a bigger bonus for a short duration, etc. 20 Auto-success with 2 VP and a super-great effect!

Example 1: Dante rolls 3d20 + 1d20 SFX die for shoot with a goal number of 14. His results are a 1 on the SFX die, a 3, an 18, and a 12. He rolls the Good SFX die and gets a 13. Since already succeeded with the 12, he gets a very nice effect -- (he is so inspired with his awesome shot that he gets +2 goal to all his shots for the next 3 rounds)

Example 2: Dante rolls 3d20 + 1d20 SFX for shoot with a goal number of 14. His results are a 1 on the SFX die, and on 3d20 a 15, an 18 and a 17 -- ALL failures. He rolls the Good SFX die and gets a 13. Since he failed the main roll, his failure turns into a success with 1 VP -- the bullet hit the wall where his target was hiding and blew a chunk of stobe into his target causing damage.

The Bad SFX Die

A Bad SFX die is rolled to determine just how much the Fate decided to screw with this particular task:

1-10 A minor bad effect: -2 goal on the next roll with that skill or some other small annoying thing. Skill still suceeds if the other dice show a success

11-15 The other dice become failures. If already a failure then - a bad effect: -2 goal to that skill for a short duration, an initiative penalty for a round or two, the character falls, drops something, etc.

16-19 The other dice become failures with a bad effect as above. If already a failure then - a very bad effect: -2 goal to that skill for a scene, equipment failure, etc.

20 The other dice become failures AND a super-awful effect!

Example 1: Dante rolls 3d20 + 1d20 SFX die for shoot with a goal number of 14. His results are a 20 on the SFX die, a 3, an 18, and a 12. He rolls the Bad SFX die and gets a 16. Even though he succeeded with the 12, it becomes a failure AND something bad happens -- he drops his gun.

Example 2: Dante rolls 3d20 + 1d20 SFX for shoot with a goal number of 14. His results are a 20 on the SFX die, and on 3d20 a 15, an 18 and a 17 -- ALL failures. He rolls the Bad SFX die and gets a 16. Because his main roll was a failure, something very bad happens -- his gun jams or he hurts his shoulder with the recoil and has -2 to shoot for the rest of teh scene or until given first aid.

The Hero Pool

The Hero pool was my first modification to the FS System. I dont use it anymore -- I have a much better system with Tarot Cards, but its not yet in postable form. I really wanted to give players something along the lines of karma points in SR, force and character points in Star Wars or possibilities in TORG. Something that the players could use to help them in those pesky stressful situations.

A note first: I did not allow players to increase their Human stat at will -- they had to earn the right to increase it by doing heroic and important things. With 2nd edition, Instead of human, Iadded a new stat (not opposed) called Destiny which basically works like the old Human except that it is unopposed. As before players must earn the right to increase this stat.

Being a pivotal figure is quite an honor, and fate does help such a character quite a bit. This is reflected in the Hero Pool. Each character has a pool of hero points equal to his Human characteristic. A hero point may be spent to reroll the result of any action attempted by the character allowing the character to keep the most favorable roll. A second reroll may be made, but at the cost of 2 additional hero points. One hero point may be spent to add an action bonus -- a +4 GN modifier to all actions a character takes during a round. However, this modifier may not be applied in non-round-by-round situations. A roll of a natural 20 may be rerolled with the expenditure of 5 hero points (but not 5 character points). The Hero Pool refreshes every span.

Healing Damage

At the morning following 1 full day of rest you roll your Endurance + Vigor (round down) -- if you succeed (success level does not matter) you recover 1 endurance level. If you do not spend the full day resting - just sleep at night, you roll at Endurance. If you engage in some strenuous activity (such as hacking your way through the jungle) you roll Endurance -4. If an entire day was spent in strenuous activity you cannot make this roll at all.

A complementary Physick roll may be made each day if supplies are available (bandages, ointments) to increase the above goal number. First Aid may also be used, but at a -4 difficulty modifier.

After a week of rest, assuming all your endurance levels have been healed you automatically heal 1 vitality level (and regain 1 per week of rest thereafter). If you do not rest for the week, you can still recover 1 vitality level after a week by making an endurance roll as described above.

Allegiance More

Every character that is a member of some organization (such as a noble or a guildmember) has a free Lore skill with knowledge related to his organization equal to the benefice cost of his rank. This Lore skill may only be increased when the character raises in rank.

Occult Sensitivity

Psychically aware characters have an innate sensitivity to occult phenomena. Any time an aware character is near an active psychic phenomena of a strong rating (e.g. a power or rite of level 6+being used or an area with a strong psychic impression, the character may make a Psi or Theurgy + Observe test. Victory points do not matter - the character either senses the occult presence or not.