Recently I was given a copy of Burning Games Faith RPG for review. The game had come across my radar but at the time I was working on my Rifts Review. Fresh off my Savage Rifts review I was able to give the game a once over for a review. Well, I gave it much more than a once over and I am pleased to present my review for you all today of FAITH the Sci-Fi RPG.
To start off FAITH is something of an enigma wrapped in a conundrum. On the surface, FAITH is a Roleplaying game presented in a box much like a board game. When you open the box and look inside you become more certain that you have a boardgame. You have several decks of cards, equipment, counters, and tabs as well as player boards and a rulebook. Yet that is where the “boardgame” ends. Everything that remains is a very unique and pleasant take on a roleplaying game experience.
The look of the game is beautiful rivaling that of Fragged Empire and may even use the same artist. Surpassing it only in the pure volume of art. Once you look at the massive amount of artwork that has gone into the project its hard not to agree that this game will look amazing at the table. Anyone walking by your game as it is underway would likely scoff at you if you told them you were playing an RPG. Visually it is impressive eye candy, as none of it is required to play the game. But without it you lose a part of the feel of the setting that Faith is trying to capture. As the creator says
“Faith is a game that brings art to the table with cool enemy and equipment reference cards. And a simple yet powerful card mechanic that allows players to manage their luck.”
The character board is a unique and interesting way of making a much more artistic character sheet. You can use a normal character sheet if you like or do not have the boards. The board reminds me of a better thought out version of the Shadowrun Crossfire board game cards. With the cards, the whole thing makes for a beautiful experience at the table.
So what is FAITH?
FAITH is a sci-Fi RPG, where the Gods live side by side with technology inside the “Labyrinth”. The Labyrinth is a gigantic web of wormholes that interconnects the universe. Allowing for travel across the vastness of space. In that vast space, there are several races to be found.
There are five races in the world of FAITH,
Hyper-expansionist, technologically advanced, and individualistic species. Once the dominant force in the Universe, they found their Achilles heel in the Iz’kal, with whom they share a tenuous peace while undermining each other with black-ops and guerrilla warfare.
Collectivist, highly bureaucratized society ruled by the totalitarian and hermetic State. They join their minds in hyperlink to communicate. Former conservatives, they are now forced to expand to keep up with the Corvo. They survived a centuries-long oppression by the Korian (now extinct).
Nomadic, clan-based species. Their home planet Heimis is covered in everlasting frost and snow. They travel the Universe in ice fortresses looking for supplies. They retain contact with the Iz’kal, once enslaved by the same oppressors, the Korian.
Savage step-species that feed DNA to their Queen to create new spawns. They roam the Labyrinth looking for new genetic material. They are prone to internal conflict as dangerous Heralds rise to power and try to overtake their current Queen.
Rose and fell as a civilization centuries ago. They resorted to subsistence until the Corvo found them. Since then they are highly sought after as mercenaries, security contractors, and bodyguards. The terrorist group known as The Human Front seeks to regain former glory and independence, often allying with pirates and criminals.
What about the Gods ?
In FAITH the gods take an active role in the world but they are only able to affect the world through their followers. So each god has a strict code of conduct that must be followed or the player will lose access to their Divine Upgrades. This can be significant so it is in a player’s best interest to pick a god that suits how they wish to play their character. Or look to change gods as part of their story at some point.
FAITH is a roleplaying game without dice?
FAITH’s mechanics revolve around the use of cards. Each player has a hand of illustrated playing cards, which can be used to resolve actions and confrontations during game. This system allows for “Luck Management” gameplay to arise: players can decide when their “bad rolls” happen (by playing low cards) and when the moment has come for their characters to shine, playing their highest cards and succeeding against all odds.
In addition to using cards to resolve actions in FAITH. FAITH also uses the “Yes and” mentality as part of its core mechanic. Meaning any action that a player wishes to do is considered to be an automatic success unless it is “confronted” by another player or the GM.
If a confrontation occurs then you make a skill task check. Or proceed to combat depending on the reason for the confrontation. Combat is at its core a series of skill tasks and handled the same way as a skill related test. To complete tasks you have 7 cards in your hand, 8 if you are a human. Your attribute that you have related to the task determines how many cards you may play to resolve a task. Your skill gives you a bonus reflecting how good you are at that task.
Here is an example of FAITH combat in play.
There are six different attributes: Agility, Constitution, Dexterity, Faith, Link, and Mind. There are also numerous skills, including, Ballistic, CQC, Hacking, Initiative, Survival, Cunning, Piloting, Athletic, Eva, Medical, Technical, and Profession. Each of these skills is intended to cover a very broad spectrum of what you can do with each skill. Ballistic for example, covers all forms of weapon usage from shooting, reloading, aiming and suppressive fire and so on.
One key thing’s that I find very interesting in FAITH is how actions are handled. Actions should only need one “Verb” to be described. If the word “and” is included this probably is going to require more than one action to do and take several turns to be able to do. Their template is
I [verb] [preposition if needed] [target]”
Sessions & Scenes & Leveling up are also worth mentioning in FAITH. In a game of FAITH you do not refresh your discard deck between scenes. This is due to the Leveling Up mechanic. Once a player has exhausted their deck and needs to reshuffle this is the point where the player may gain experience. His fellow players will decide from his gameplay what skills are best for him to level up. He then will shuffle the deck and gain two experience for advantages. One concern I have is that to level up you must exhaust your deck of cards and need to reshuffle. This worries me that between games the players must keep their current discard deck separate from the rest of their cards as the games go on. I think a divider inside the player deck would make this easier from game to game but for players that do not have the players decks might be a minor annoyance.
NOTE: It has come to my attention that this is no longer the case and level up is no longer dependent on exhausting your deck. I love when a game system is proactive in this manner. I believe as I was doing research and reading for my review it was an old YouTube video that I got this info from. Thank you Burrning games for not only reading my review but being quick to tweet me and let me know of this change!
Well, this one took some thought. I really like a great deal of the game and the cards and character board are innovative and really make the game pop off the table adding a ton of depth of immersion to the gameplay. This is all good but not everyone will have the cards or character boards. I found myself in this situation. I could have printed out the cards and the boards if I so chose but in the end, they are just extra parts to the game.
Foremost to be a good roleplaying game the game must be able to stand on its core Mechanics and play well not just look good. If you pull out standard Character sheets and poker cards and play FAITH. Does it still play well and is it still fun? That is the biggest question I have to ask myself when I look at this game. As looking at other reviews I think I may be the only reviewer that looked at FAITH this way.
My verdict, yes at its core stripped down from all the extra bells and whistles that FAITH comes with to make it look so beautiful at the table. It is a good game. Congratulations Burning Games!
In the case of Burning Games FAITH RPG I give it a Runkles Rank of …
OUTSTANDING! These products are major successes. Any product with a rank of 16-19 is a cut above the rest. These are must have products. Often products of this level strike a chord with their audience. They are literal page turners that you find yourself reading from beginning to end.
With the high level of awesome art wrapped in a solid and interesting play mechanic that removes much of the randomness of standard Dice system. This is a great addition to a gamer’s collection. Also, this would be a wonderful introduction tool to bring board game lovers into the RPG hobby.