In an RPG, it is expected that the events will be happening in the players’ imaginations, and that any visual reference will be there mostly for flavor. And then there are games that have art and ideas that seem to draw you in, envelop you, and make the world you were imagining that much more vibrant and real.
Welcome to the world of Faith.
1) ‘What Is It?’
Faith is a space opera-type game, published by Burning Games, set in the mid-future, a few centuries from now (human dates are not usually used for reasons that will be discussed below). Sentient races travel our area of the Galaxy using a naturally occurring network of wormholes called The Labyrinth, and there’s the usual trade/border skirmishes/hacking/sci-fi-ideas-of-the-day.
2) ‘That Sounds Interesting! Are There Aliens?’
Yes! There are 4 sentient races in this game, all with intricate backstories and incredibly detailed surroundings. They are (and this will be a MASSIVE simplification): The Corvo, rampant capitalistic Technocrats; the Iz’kal, telepathic and supporting, but ruthless to those who don’t follow the greater good; the Raag, big bulky aggressive space farers; and the humans, who blew themselves up in WWIII at some point in the 21st century and now live on a blighted Earth, (which is now a Corvo protectorate) and who mainly serve as mercenaries. From the start, the fact that humans are a weak minority in this space civilization is something that deserves a closer look. Also there are the Ravagers, pretty much a biological version of the Borg from Star Trek, destroyers and absorbers of planets (powerful but not invincible, at least so far…).
‘Ok That’s pretty interesting so far, but how is this different from a Legion of other similar RPG’s.’ Well, it’s down to two things really, the Cards and The Gods.
3) ‘Gods?? I Thought This Was Sci-fi?’
In the universe of Faith (clue is in the name) there are 4 gods. The authors make it clear these are not anthropomorphic personifications (Best. Words. Ever.) but rather sorts of entities (even calling them such is stretching it a bit) that arose due to sentient beings’ beliefs. Not only does every character need to believe in one of the Gods, this belief allows the character to access quasi-mystical abilities, IF they behave constantly in a way consistent with their God’s dictums. There are no religious wars and the Gods themselves don’t require worship, just that its followers behave in a way consistent with their commandments.
4) ‘I’m Sorry, CARDS?’
Yes. Faith works with cards, normal poker deck. At the start of every scene (like you are playing in a sci-fi movie), everyone draws a hand of cards, usually 7. These are your ‘rolls’; these are the numbers you will have to play with. Like in most other RPG’s, to these numbers you add your stats, and you can only play a limited number of cards, depending again on your stats. But this is the key point: For every scene, you have all your ‘rolls’ in one go. Trying to do something simple? Play a low card. You might get away with it, no point using your high cards, you might need it for the big monster later on! Used all your cards? (you always draw one if you run out) Well, now your character is tired as heck (he/she’s been working hard all scene, and played all her 7 cards, no wonder!) and will not be as effective in gaming terms. There are other mechanisms, to do with suits, for example, that allow you to draw more cards onto your hand. Your hand is what your character can do in a scene. Lots of cards, lots of things. Lots of low numbered cards? Lots of small things. You get the idea. It is very much managing your luck as you go along.
5) ‘Oh I See! So What Can You Do?’
Basically, anything. Any action that is not opposed (by the GM or another player), is considered to be successful. Meaning, unless your clue is inside a box, under a pillow, inside a cupboard, on fire, on the Moon (inside a dome, I’d wager), the characters will probably find it, eventually. Now, if they were on a restricted time frame…. THEN you force them to play for it. Effectively, the GM opposes the players with a number of cards, proportional to the difficulty of the action. And who has the highest number wins. And things can get awesome. Due to a couple of high draws from my players, their ship (a pretty much weaponless cargo freighter) now has an improvised metal slingshot on top that shoots space mines, that out hacker character hacked, switched off, and decided to take with him. Our engineer then drew masterfully for the slingshot and here we are.
6) ‘Ok, So What Do You Think Of It?’
When I described the game to my players, I said the words ‘It’s like Firefly with aliens.’ Faith is probably the best RPG rule system I ever ran. It is fast, streamlined, and the card mechanics are inspired. It is a game that lends itself to roleplaying, as narrative details (called advantages and disadvantages) can give you numerical bonuses or penalties. It works really well for newbies, as cards are easier to wrap your head around than multi-faced dice, but veteran players will be able to tactic the heck out of the ‘managed luck’ system, once they realize that ALL of their ‘rolls’ are in their hand. And like I mentioned way up at the start, every scrap of art in this game could and should be framed and put in a museum.
Conclusion? Have a look, you’ll love it.
All you have to do is have Faith.
Free Rules: https://www.dropbox.com/s/xeqqa0h22kx7t9a/EN_FAITH_Core_Rules_2.0.pdf?dl=0
Free Abridged Lore:
Rui is a Portuguese scientist that, after ten years doing strange things in labs, decided to become a teacher. Then, three years ago, like he was bit by a radioactive D20, RPG’s came into his life, and he’s now juggling teaching, playing and GMing quite happily. He lives in the UK with his partner Joana, an ungodly number of potted plants, 4 to 5 RPG’s at various stages of completion (and across as many rule systems), and maps, cursed idols, evil necklaces, and any other props he can get his hands on. He’s been writing for HLG for a few months, and is one of the resident vloggers. He can be reached at @Atomic_RPG.
Artwork reproduced with the kind permission of the publishers, Burning Games.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.