Last week we spoke about the RPG Era: The Consortium of Shades of Vengeance (SoV later), and their live Kickstarter Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions! While I write these words, the KS has reached another stretch goal (at around 200% of the funding goal): if you back it now, you will receive 3 more free books. Go for it!
Today we go into more details and speak of two of the many foreseen Expansions, possibly 18 or more: The Fifth Race and The Secret War!
I suppose that you are as curious as I was, while reading the titles and thinking what to say to present these two Expansions to you. The predictable answer is that I should use SoV words and do not insinuate that it is because I am lazy!
So, for The Fifth Race: “This expansion brings the next 4 years of Consortium history, from 447 to 450 CE, to life. With that comes a new playable alien race, the Pliangrathilon, and a huge amount of new equipment!
With this expansion, any player can begin at level 1 as a Pliangrathilon, craft enhancements onto their weapons and equipment, install new implants and experience another dimension to the game!”
Do you remember? Era: The Consortium history stretches over 5 centuries! Ed Jowett, the leader of SoV, claims that he already knows a long stretch of history time after those 5 centuries. So, only 4 years for a 50 page Expansion, 4 exciting years, I’ll say!
And for The Secret War? “This expansion allows your character to take on the role of a Shade or Phantom, the secret “Special Forces” of the Consortium and the Resistance. This responsibility brings new technology, new equipment and new sacrifices.
Any Level 3 character with a Notoriety of less than 3 can become a Shade or Phantom – expand your Era: The Consortium game by joining the ranks of these elite operatives!”
An elusive kind of agents indeed! So elusive in fact that you already saw one, without even realizing it … do you know when and where? 😉
There are many other Expansions already on the way, but I suggest that you see the description in the Kickstarter page (and videos … a lot of videos …): Rapier (with the rules for hacking, virtual environments, and, in particular, “immersive hacking”), a Time Travel Campaign (repair the past to repair the future of the Consortium), A New Dawn (psionic powers for the races of Consortium), Revival (a real Survival Horror campaign), and many more under construction!
Let’s speak a bit more of The Fifth Race: first of all, the history is fascinating and I won’t spoiler it! I told you of the 5 centuries of history in Era: The Consortium and the 4 years in this Expansion, but I didn’t speak of the way to present it, of the style. The dry facts are there, as you would expect in a timeline, but there is also the real story, the narrative of how and why the Consortium met the Fifth Race! Here an excerpt of it …
“Incoming!” shouted Corporal Collins.
One of the gliding reptiles approached them. “Hold your fire!” yelled Samantha, holding up her hand in front of the soldiers, as they reached for their weapons. The alien creature glided to a halt and grabbed onto the rock above the airlock as if it had done so a million times – which, quite possibly, it had.
“Greetings, fellow chosen race! We have waited many generations to be here with you,” it said in an Ancient Eulutian dialect. The soldiers looked at her, confused, when she didn’t reach for the translator. Sam smiled to herself. She spoke this language perfectly.
Everything happens for a reason.
The Pliangrathilon, or Plians for short, are a race of flying reptile-like beings and they are from a world far from the Consortium.
They are a race with a mission, with a Fate with a capital F, because from a Prophecy of old, they are are fated to save the Universe from something known only as the Titans! The Unnamed Traveller, the one who told the Prophecy to them, also instructed them to search for six other chosen races, then he went quickly away promising to come back when he (she? it?) would be needed.
If you counted well – easy, the Expansion is The Fifth Race – they found four in the Consortium, the work is not completed yet!
I will not tell you more but the background of the 4 years and the Plians’ story, take up half of the module, a thing that clearly speaks well of the quality of this work, good background stories, no useless filler!
In the PART 2: CHARACTER CREATION, you learn the stats of the Plians, their skills and different points of view, their role in the Consortium, and useful details about names, language and so on.
Then there are new useful pieces of Equipment, invented in the last years by the Resistance, the Consortium, or due to the sharing of the Plians’ technology: their physical nature and the long trip to find the other races, gave them an advanced grasp for manipulating gravitational waves! New light weapons were developed (e.g. plasma cannons), implosion grenades or the, very useful, microgravity generators! Some of the augments, implants, weapons and armors are specific for Plians, but the vast majority can be used by any race. Plians are also able to build and put on some enhancements, I will not go into details, but you can customize most of the existing equipment.
My preferred piece of equipment is a quite large scale one: the newly built planetary core mines, using Plians’ gravity technology to stabilize the tunnels and also to dispose and destroy any kind of dangerous garbage in the molten center of a planet, far away from living beings and under an enormous pressure and temperature!
The last part of the book, for GM eyes only, contains the info to run a campaign in these exciting years and a character sheet for Plians.
The second Expansion has a totally different tone than the previous one: while the Plians are friendly, open, ready to share technologies because they searched the other races for centuries, The Secret War is the reign of secrecy, spies, hidden conspiracies and advanced, cutting edge, technologies! I imagine it a bit like a sci-fi 007 in space. The book is wholly dedicated to the most elite operatives in the Consortium and the Resistance, namely the Shades for Hayden Bank and the Phantoms for the Resistance. Hayden Bank, the preeminent company of the Big Eight, and the biggest in the Consortium for centuries, is another thing I had to skip in our Era: The Consortium review: it is a huge megacorp with huge interests, and not always aligned with the ‘common’ interests of people (which reminds me of something of our own world maybe, with Seven instead of Eight …). It is not “bad”, many developments came from its investments, for instance several of today’s best technologies, but it is only interested in profit, so it created the Shades, with the best Hayden Bank’s technology to further their (black) ops. The Resistance responded by creating the Phantoms!
I really have not the time to elaborate further the background story that takes half of the Expansion and I will only say a few other things about Shades and Phantoms! The Shades can only be humans (why? See it for yourself in the book) in the service of Hayden Bank, while the Phantoms are of any race, but they have to be part of the Resistance. The Shades always work alone and the Phantoms too, unless they are trying to take down a Shade! They both are skilled, minimum level 3, more probably 5+, and quite well reputed, with Notoriety 3+. They both have some special top notch equipment and implants, not available to anybody else, some impressive armors, weapons, drones and, off course, stealth technology!
In the Game Master section there are suggestions on how to use Shades and Phantoms, on how to let the PCs to become one of them and, in perfect Era: The Consortium style, example NPCs, sheets and two complete campaigns!
I add that I had a LOT of new ideas on how to mix and use these two Expansions with the Core book and if I think to 18 Expansions my mind goes BOOM! I’ll say no more since we have our last questions to Ed and SoV team!
3) Hi again guys, your Kickstarter is already funded, with over the double of the funding goal now, so congratulations from Entire Party Killed, and all the best for the last week of your project! We hope to enjoy a similar success for our coming Kickstarter. Did you expect such a success? Do you have some advice for people wanting to follow a similar path?
I am absolutely thrilled that we’re doing so well. Honestly, it’s not something you ever get “used” to, just something you hope for. Every time you make a new Kickstarter, you look at what’s been successful and you try to bring new ideas to the mix rather than just following the same formula. So no, I didn’t “expect” it, but I hoped for it.
I have a lot of advice for people who want to run a Kickstarter – so much that I actually help people with the process! I run a part of my company called imaginerpg.com which helps people to create their own games.
My primary piece of advice is always, when researching, to scroll down to the very bottom of the list of active Kickstarters in your category and assume that your first Kickstarter will look like that. A lot of people set their goals much too high the first time – something I also did myself!
So be aware, the people you see with successful Kickstarters: they have large, established audiences before they begin. If you don’t, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to succeed, but it’s much harder to achieve a huge goal.
4) It makes sense, we have a few followers as well, after almost 1 year of blogging! Regarding your many games: if I remember correctly, they are set in the same universe. Do you care to tell us something more about this concept? What are the relationships and implications? Which advantages do you have if you own more than one of them?
That is not something I am yet certain of. Certainly, some of them exist in the same universe: Era: Lyres and Era: Silence have a very strong link to each other, for example – Era: Silence is based on the same world as Era: Lyres, these are the “Barbarian Tribes” to the East mentioned in the Guide to Yarnolth and the Surrounding Lands.
Currently, the advantage of having more than one game is the opportunity to explore a brand new universe with a detailed story while still using the same, familiar rule set. Each of the games shares a very similar core paradigm for the rules, with modular differences to suit the genre.
I’m very proud of the Era d10 Rule Set: it provides both a low barrier of entry and a challenging enough system to keep experienced roleplayers engaged.
In the future… well, perhaps there will be more benefit to owning more than one game, but I can’t say yet! I can only point at Era: The Consortium’s Revival expansion and tell you to gather your own conclusions about it as a proof of concept for a crossover between Survival and Consortium.
5) Very nice, as I already said, I am fond of the Parasite and Contagion idea of Era: Survival! Going further into Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions!, please tell us something new about it, not covered into your KS page, yet, or something of the future. A small scoop for our readers, in short!
Well, you don’t ask a lot, do you?!
Era: The Consortium‘s Core Rulebook was the first book out of what is at least three times the length of story. A lot of people know this. What most people don’t know yet (but may deduce from the videos) is that, as the Consortium grows, they will encounter new alien races. Right now, the seven “Chosen” races are even illustrated on the Fifth Race introduction which begins at about 2:40 in the main Kickstarter Video.
Your exclusive is that there are definitely more than 7 races out there. These 7 are the ones you’ve had hinted at, but there is at least one other, which is very different.
Rather than describing them right now, I choose to quote one of my heroes (in writing terms) in answer to what they are like:
“There are things in this universe… vast, timeless, and if they are aware of us at all, it is as little more than ants.”
Be wary, for the Consortium’s fight for survival is far from over.
6) Wow, I am a Babylon 5 fan too! It is the first Sci-fi series I watched undubbed and I constantly argued with friends, B5 is better than DS9 or BG … Ed told me I will really like the coming Era: The Empowered (you can have a primer in the KS), but I won’t spoiler why 🙂 I can only tell you that my preferred B5 characters are G’kar and Mollari … Anyway, there are far too few people today thinking of a whole story arc, like in B5 or Star Wars (in the pre-Disney Cataclysm times …), and my impression is that SoV guys are doing the same! Ok back to us, past, present and now the obvious question is about the future of Shades of Vengeance: what are your plans for the future, which parts do you want to expand, where do you want to go next?
We have loads planned for the future. We love making games, comics… being creative in general.
In the immediate future, we have a lot planned: a card game called Champion of Earth, a new RPG called Era: Hitman, more for Era: The Consortium, we’re working through our first Era: Survival Source Books now, as I mentioned earlier.
We’ve launched a new webcomic just recently, http://sitsofstiletto.shadesofvengeance.com/, as well as an entire comic division, which has finished one comic already (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sovcomics/penumbra-an-era-the-empowered-comic) and is working on its next, which will be about the noted Consortium character Hai-Xang Hayden and, we hope, will be the first in a series of comics about the Bug War which shook the Consortium to its very foundation.
We’re also working on an Era: The Consortium audio drama, which is coming along nicely and we’re hoping to demo to fans pretty soon.
In terms of external games, we’re helping others at the moment with 4 separate RPGs and 1 card game.
All in all, we’re really very busy, and loving every minute of it!
And that’s all, folks! Well, not really, we spoke only of two Expansions out of the 18 already planned and, partly, realized. I also wanted to remember you that there is only one week left to back the excellent Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions Kickstarter! If you back them you will receive 3 free books or even more, if the KS reaches other stretch goals.
For the news you can look to the KS page or the website of Shades of Vengeance and remember that you can support them on Patreon too! We thank Ed and Shades of Vengeance team for their help and we wish them a lot of success with their Kickstarter and endeavors. We hope to enjoy the same kind of success for our Kickstarter too, if you missed the presentation of our project, you can find all info in this page.
Stay tuned and see you soon!
Disclaimer: the pictures, or parts of them, used in this post by permission of Ed Jowett, are taken from the Era: The Fifth Race and Era: The Secret War pdfs and are from the artists Johnathan Chong, Keith Draws and Sofia Michailidou