Publisher: Burning Games
Game Designer: Carlos Gómez, Helio de Grado & Mauricio Gómez
Artwork: Milan Nikolic, Aleksandra Bilic and Aleksa Bracic
Ages: 13 & up
Playing Time: 120-180 minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $69
FAITH the Sci-Fi RPG is an exciting new Kickstarter project that seamlessly blends board game mechanics and components into an intriguing sci-fi role playing universe, giving the gamer the best of both worlds. This is not your typical pen and paper RPG with endless dice rolls and references to tomes of rules and lore, nearly all of the bookkeeping has been simplified to enable streamlined gameplay with plenty of flexibility for groups of all sizes.
Creating your character is the only time you will put pen to paper, when you record your PC’s name, age and profession on the character mat. All tracking from then on is done with tokens to signify character attributes, upgrades and advancements. Dice are replaced by cards that both players and the GM use to outscore each other to complete or deny actions, while other cards represent gear, weapons and NPC’s. It’s a clever take but does it work?
I received a demo copy of the major components of FAITH for this review; the physical player decks, gear, weapon and player cards were used in conjunction with the PNP manuals to give me some plays and a good enough feel for the game. The only physical piece I did not have were the tokens but I can see them working out very well to ease bookkeeping and give the game a nice, clean look on the table.
First impressions are as important to reviewers as they are to any gamer because we all love to be wowed when we open the box. Although not yet on every component, what I saw of the art left me in awe. The artwork is stunning with an organic, otherworldly look that is both beautiful and at the same time dreadful. Everything from weapons, to gear, to characters and locations just oozes beauty and theme, sucking you right into the game universe.
The funded Kickstarter version will come with a printed rule book, 4 player decks, 4 character mats, gear deck and NPC deck along with a boatload of tokens for tracking multiple items.
There are also some planned stretch goals yet to be announced but two campaigns have already been designed, tested and are complete so I expect those to be among the first stretch goals available.
Setting the scene for FAITH are the two alien races; the Corvo and Iz’kal. Unbeknownst to each other, both races discovered The Maze, a massive wormhole network littered with hundreds of exit points which the two began exploiting numerous star systems found within for profit. While exploring the expanses of the network, the Corvo found a ravaged future Earth upon which they established a colony and began using humans as soldiers. The two alien races have since found one another and realizing a direct conflict was not in their best interests, fell into a state of cold war which is where the game universe is now.
The Corvo are technologically advanced, making them the most adept at hacking which plays a big role in this game. They begin the game with the ability to physically attach to any device with a cortex connection and while they are digitally strong, they’re physically weak.
The Iz’kal have a limited hive mind ability, allowing small groups to communicate and work together telepathically while in close proximity. They are a very social species and not as advanced technologically as the Corvo.
Humans make up the third race and are better suited at physical tasks, which is why the Corvo use them for soldiers. For this reason, human players draw 8 cards to their hand instead of just 7, which we’ll look at next.
FAITH uses a diceless system of card play to settle events and actions that are known in the game as confrontations. Confrontations are the main conflict resolution mechanic in the game and are done any time you want to perform an action. The cards used in these confrontations are from a seven card hand drawn from the 54 card deck that each player and the GM have, each deck comes with four suits and two jokers.
Each of the four suits in the deck represents a location; nature, space, urban or OS (operating system/technology) where the cards give you an affinity bonus if the suit played fits the location the confrontation takes place in. Confrontations happen between other players or the GM, acting as the NPC’s or the situation the PC is facing.
If there are multiple characters wishing to carry out an action at the same time, an initiative order is established by each player placing a card from their hand face down. Simultaneously, all cards are revealed and their value is added to the characters Initiative value and actions are carried out in descending order. PC’s can also work together to accomplish a single goal as well, teamwork eases the burden on everyone.
During a confrontation, players will be able to play from their hand the amount of cards equal to the ability used by their character. For example, if you needed to accomplish a task on the hull of your spacecraft and have an EVA ability of 3, you can use three cards from your hand to try and win the confrontation. The GM plays the role of the circumstance itself in this instance and plays cards from their hand against the player.
The system design of FAITH allows for great flexibility for the GM to drive the narrative forward, without worrying about endless or random rolls mucking up the story telling and losing the interest of the players. The GM also controls the level of tension as they see fit, playing a high card to force the player to use some of their better cards, leaving them maybe not as well prepared for the next situation they face. Conversely, the GM can reward good role playing by easing the difficulty of a given task. I really like this system for an RPG, this simplicity makes the story the focus rather than random dice rolls derailing things.
Character creation is very simple and an advanced character creation option is also available which just expands on the basic option slightly. Neither are difficult to do or follow. Constitution is generally going to be 2 on the basic character with the potential to increase it to 3 using the advanced setup, these are the base for your hit points.
Your characters hit points are double the value of you CON, giving you a maximum possibility of 6HP using the advanced creation and you’ll need every one of those hit points. Many of the weapons in FAITH are deadly, meaning character death is a very real danger if you rush headlong into combat unprotected and unprepared. So think before you act amd remember there are many potential conflict situations that you can role play your way out of by acting as your character would or should, the story is the thing!
True to its title, FAITH also has a religious bent at its center, sporting a universe where six different Gods vie for power through you, their sentient proxies. Players will choose a deity and faith for their characters to follow, similar to other RPG’s, GM’s are urged to use these spiritual guidelines to assist the players at staying in character and doing actions befitting a follower of each deity.
If you follow the tenets of your characters chosen God, they will bestow upon you great powers and likewise if you act against them you can be cast aside by your God and lose all of your powers. This makes for interesting role play opportunities where a player can fall out of favor with one God and switch his allegiance to another due to their actions. Come to the Dark Side!
As mentioned earlier with the Corvo, hacking is a big part of the game as any type of technological device can be hacked, whether it’s for information or control of an object. Devices can be hacked from great distances which is very timely since news just came out this week that some cars are susceptible to being hacked from anywhere in the world. Funny how life imitates art, or in this case, art imitates life.
Character advancement is both clever and smart; advancement is decided by your play group. After going through your entire deck of cards, the group discusses what you have done best in the game to that point and you are awarded one point in the skill you used most. Your actions in play will directly affect how your PC develops, either by design or by circumstance. I really like how the whole group is involved here. The GM also has the option to bestow XP as well for player actions throughout the game.
Whether you are an RPG fan already or are thinking of trying one out, this is one to give a good, hard look at. Burning Games has done a great job at creating a beautiful design in FAITH that is meaty but easy to learn. Board gamers will find it attractive because the mechanics will make them feel right at home while experienced role players will love how the game is heavy on storytelling and role play over stats and handfuls of dice. The rules lay out a solid framework for a creative GM to deliver many memorable adventures without being bogged down in minutiae and can be adapted to other settings with a minimum of fuss.
FAITH is a solid, easy to play sci-fi RPG that offers a lot of adventuring right out of the box and with the planned addition of two campaigns as stretch goals, will offer even more to backers than I saw in the demo. Add to that the phenomenal art that really draws you into the setting, I cannot wait to see what the final product looks like with all of the components in place.
While the game recommends 3-5 players as best, to keep things moving along briskly, you can easily add more players to your group using just a regular deck of playing cards. It’s an inexpensive way to expand your adventuring party.
Burning Games diceless system in this title will work well for board gamers looking for an RPG to play but who may be put off by more complex rules of other systems. If you’ve been thinking of expanding your horizons from board games into the RPG realm, I’d say give this one a serious look. You don’t have to take it on faith, this one is good enough to back.
Company Website: http://faith.burning-games.com/
Company Twitter: https://twitter.com/burning_games
Note: A preview copy of this game was provided to me.