Era: The Consortium has been on a roll. Beginning with successful Kickstarter three years ago and followed up with a slew of expansions last year, Shades of Vengeance has been rolling with their time-stretching science fiction universe and is continuing with yet another set of expansions on Kickstarter right now. Ed Jowett of Shades of Vengeance was kind enough to fill us in on what the new expansions have to offer.
For those who are not familiar with Era: The Consortium, what is the game about?
Era: The Consortium is an Epic Sci-Fi RPG with 500 years of playable history. It follows the story of a group of Humans who have left Earth and travelled for over 1000 years to reach a new region of space.
500 years sounds like a lot to read and understand, but the reason that this weight of history exists is that the core of the game is enabling the players to explore any sub-genre of Sci-Fi that the GM wishes to implement. If you’re interested in colonisation of a new planet, for example, you can start near the beginning where the colonists have nothing but the ship which crash-landed on a new planet. Alternatively, perhaps you’re interested in exploring space and encountering new species… again, the history allows that slightly later in the timeline. From facing an alien race hell-bent on the destruction of the Consortium to transhumanism, from cyberpunk to resisting an evil and corrupt government’s schemes, every form of Sci-Fi which you can imagine is available within this historical timeline.
Of course, it can also be interesting to experience multiple events! One campaign I ran involved the players experiencing the last of those, resisting the Consortium’s schemes, then had them jump 250 years back in time, forcing them to defend the same institutions which they had fought against so vigorously from an alien force so overwhelming that it looked like their ancestors would be destroyed.
These options mean that it’s very hard to explain in just a few words what Era: The Consortium is about! However, I hope that people who have read this understand what I mean when describe it as an Epic Sci-Fi RPG!
The new Kickstarter is offering at least three new expansions, the first of which is Free Trader which focuses on shipping throughout the Consortium world, including piracy and new trading posts. What’s your favorite new trading post?
Free Trader is a book which has changed a lot during its development. I think that if you’d asked me this a year ago, my answer would have been very different to what it is now! Of the 30+ Trading Posts, one in particular stands out to me from a roleplaying perspective, and that is the one in orbit of Nodens.
Nodens is a planet which is owned and controlled by a religious sect which is very private, very demanding and almost totally isolationist. Being posted on Nodens as a member of Hardcastle Haulage, the company which owns the Trading Posts, is considered the worst possible scenario. The people of Nodens have expectations about how they, and aliens who approach their planet - they are fiercely xenophobic - and they make frequent demands of the personnel there. The story which was written for that location is one I am particularly happy with… and I think it has a lot of possibilities for some awesome roleplaying to take place, if you’re playing as the crew members of that station!
Also featured is the Predictive Genetic Algorithm expansion, which provides a new system for designing new alien player species. What has been the weirdest alien you’ve designed with these rules?
Predictive Genetic Algorithm is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. In the very first draft of Era: The Consortium (which only contained Humans, Eulutians and Ximians - no Vilithii!), I was given the feedback that more alien races were needed. I created the Vilithii as I expanded the storyline to a more complete history and I’ve since added the Pliangrathilon in “The Fifth Race” Expansion.
However, these are my visions of what abilities alien races should have. Predictive Genetic Algorithm allows you to create your own race with the abilities and drawbacks that you want to see. It offers 90 different options at the moment, and the book is not quite finished yet - it may reach nearer 100 by the time I am done!
I’ve made a few races, of course, to balance the points system properly. As a life-long Sci-Fi fan, I’ve enjoyed making the sorts of races you encounter in Star Trek - from enhanced health and violent tendencies like the Klingons to shape-shifting abilities akin to the Founders from Deep Space Nine.
The craziest I think I’ve made, though, is an ancient race of decadent, but fast-moving creatures. It was inspired by an image which Sophia, the artist for much of Era: The Consortium’s images, gave to me during my development of the book. These creatures have a decadent background, wasting their money on material pleasures, and are an ancient race with knowledge of the universe… with lightning-fast reactions and increased speed which will leave most species standing still! It’s a rather odd mix, but it comes out pretty cool, I think.
You’re also expanding the ongoing universe as part of the stretch goals. Can you provide a relatively spoiler free synopsis and perhaps give a teaser for what’s next?
The Fifth Race Expansion, which was unlocked a year ago by our last Era: The Consortium Kickstarter, gave an indication of what is to come: “Only the Seven Chosen Races can stand against the Titans...” says the Prophecy which caused the Pliangrathilon to leave their world and travel across space. We know of five races - it’s very clear that illustrations carried with them are supposed to represent the Pliangrathilon, the Eulutians, the Humans, the Ximians and the Vilithii. The other two races, for now, remain a mystery.
In the next 500 years, a lot will change. The conflict between the Resistance and the Consortium will not last for ever - it will end, and it will end through treachery, as you would expect from the Consortium. That said, it’s very hard to destroy a movement like the Resistance entirely. The technology discovered on Sirona also has an important part to play, as does the Caladbolg weaponry which is featured at the climax of the Core Rulebook.
These books which I am creating offer a huge amount of history and gameplay… but they are far from the end of the story.
Check out Era: The Consortium’s new set of expansions here.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.