FS3.3 - Choosing FS3

With just a few tweaks to fit the setting, FS3 can be used for anything from Wild West to Battlestar. In this way, it is similar to generic RPG frameworks like D20 or FATE.

However, FS3 is designed and optimized for games that are:

  • Near-Modern - Regular humans in a tech level not too unlike our own (no magic, super powers, augmentation, energy shields or death rays).
  • Cooperative - Players who are on the same team (PvE).
  • Focused - A narrow focus on what action mechanics can be detailed and/or automated through code.

This article will discuss those three points and why they’re important when considering whether FS3 is a good choice for your game.

Table of Contents


FS3 allows players to start out at different power levels. Thus it works best when players work together against a common enemy. When one character can be a Navy SEAL and another a raw recruit, it’s not really fair to pit them against each other.

FS3 also has very “soft” mechanics. It is a lightweight conflict resolution system designed for cooperative-storytelling games, and it deliberately leaves a lot open to player interpretation. If you’ve got an environment where folks are constantly at odds, you’re going to end up with a lot of disputes.


The combat system was designed for a near-modern technology level (mid-1800s to present). Ballistic weapons are the focus. Explosives, vehicles and armor are all designed with modern tech in mind.

Near-future sci-fi works, as long as your weapons and armor can be modeled similarly to modern guns. Battlestar works great because it’s basically WWII in space with armored humanoid robots. Star Wars is more problematic due to lightsabers and energy shields.

Medieval settings work just fine, though there are fewer combat options available. You don’t have burst fire, explosions, suppression, etc. to add variety to the fights.

FS3 is not designed for superhero/supernatural/magical games. It simply has no concept of “powers” or “spells”, and the rating system breaks down when you start rolling superhuman abilities. Many a game has thought they had a “Big Bad” beastie ready to give the PCs a hard time, only to have it felled in a single turn. The numbers just don’t scale for beyond-human abilities.


FS3 works best with a small (~10-12 skills) Action Skill list. More than that and you start to dilute the distinction between Action Skills and Background Skills, and you lose the fast-and-easy character creation. Keeping your skill list small requires a narrow focus on what action mechanics you’re going to detail and/or automate.

The default FS3 configuration utilizes about 6 skills related to the combat mechanics. Now imagine adding to that another half-dozen skills for a detailed crafting system, and another half-dozen for your social/political system, and another half-dozen for a research/knowledge system, and… you get the idea. The more systems you have, the more Action Skills you need. FS3 just isn’t built for that.

← Previous | Next →