I first discovered Shades of Vengeance when I covered their Era: Hitman Kickstarter for my blog. The idea behind the game – “Be a super-powered assassin” – spoke to me because it’s charmingly action movie and engaging. Who doesn’t want to be the bad guy and mind blast someone? Discussing the article with Ed Jowett, owner of SoV, led to working on an adventure for him and we’ve stayed in touch since. When he launched Era: Balam, I knew I wanted him to lead my new RPG Kickstarter interview column. So, let’s talk Ed, SoV, Era: Balam and more!
ED JOWETT – Era: Balam is the latest in our series of Era games, the seventh entry in the group. It’s a game which focuses on the theme of a pilot and their ship being an entity together. It provides exploration, and alien threat to fight against and the chance to save Humanity from invasion!
This game is also offering something new for us – a version in Era d10, but also one in FATE and one in Savage Worlds! You can choose which you prefer from the Kickstarter.
ED JOWETT – When Kickstarter launched their Project of Earth initiative for the anniversaries of the Voyager probes, I was inspired not by what Earth is today, or what kind of message I might send into space, but by what might happen to a probe when it arrived on an alien world. What reaction would aliens have to it? How would they respond to this thing appearing? I took that one step further – what would happen if it accidentally did damage to their society?
On the surface, that seems bleak, but while I wanted to make an interesting story, bear in mind everything that this implies – our probes reached other solar systems, travelling across the vastness of space and no matter what happened afterwards, it contacted an alien race for Humanity. Is that not what we all dream of when we send probes like Voyager into interstellar space?
EGG – How does Era: Balam relate to your other sci-fi setting, Era: The Consortium?
ED JOWETT – It relates in the sense that both originate with colony ships from Earth – the colonies in the system where Era: Balam is based are an offshoot of a main colony ship that was nearby.
The rules are extremely compatible, though, and Era: Balam offers one of the few things that can expand the Sci-Fi experience of Era: The Consortium – while the latter game offers space combat, it’s primarily focused around larger ships with crews. You can fly a fighter, but it’s not usually an even match and most of the larger ships have great point defence. In Era: Balam, you get the chance to conduct dog fights on a relatively equal footing with the aliens – huge fleets of fighters exist on both sides and it gives the chance to face a different sort of threat to what you’re likely to face in the Consortium’s region of space.
EGG – As the publisher, can you highlight one pledge level/backer reward that you think is the standout for Era: Balam?
ED JOWETT – I’d have to highlight the £55 or more pledge, “SPECIAL REQUEST – All the Sci-Fi Eras!”
I’ve had a lot of questions about Era: Balam and how it relates to Era: The Consortium. There’s a lot of possibility there for cross-play. It gets better – you get not only the physical of Era d10 Balam and Era: The Consortium, but you get the Definitive Edition Rulebook of Era: The Consortium, with loads of extra content, along with your choice of rule set for Digital Era: Balam!
It’s giving you loads of amazing stuff for just £55, along with the discount on retail prices on that entire bundle.
EGG – What inspired you to create the Era d10 gaming system? What makes it stand out from other RPG systems?
ED JOWETT – Era d10 was the answer to what my group and I wanted out of rules: I roll terribly, so I hate single dice systems. With Era d10 providing multiple dice, along with flexibility of matching any Attribute with any Skill built into the system itself, you both combat the “I roll badly” factor and min-maxing at the same time – a min-maxed character with no Intelligence could well struggle in certain situations!
It also provided a combat system, particularly around Brawling, that was playable to a greater degree than other things out there: any Brawl action can be described in a single-page flow chart.
I think it stands out because it’s easy to learn, extremely flexible and intuitive – everything works in the same way and once you know the core of the rules, it’s not hard to guess. I’ve had a lot of people comment that they could not find a rule so they guessed and when they found it later on a read-through, they were completely correct.
EGG – What was the game that changed you into a gamer?
ED JOWETT – A combination of things, but I’d probably have to say somewhere between Paranoia and World of Darkness.
Paranoia was the first game I played and then GM’d 2 weeks later. We used a non-standard rule set – not that any of the players knew that, of course (because, for anyone who doesn’t know, it’s against the rules for the players to know the rules in Paranoia…).
That got me into gaming, but what secured my attention – because the Paranoia rules we used was a one dice system! – was a World of Darkness homebrew we made which will be very familiar to anyone who knows Era: The Consortium. It was very much the predecessor of the game you’re playing today, created by those of us who were running a local 24-hour game!
EGG – Tell us why you jumped from gamer to publisher and created your company, Shades of Vengeance?
ED JOWETT – It was a friend of mine, actually, who convinced me to publish! I’d finished my first campaign and my brother wanted to try running one, so I was writing down the rules. Dru, my friend, was chatting and I showed him what I was working on. He said I should publish it, and things just spiraled from there!
EGG EMBRY – Shades of Vengeance has completed Kickstarters for both RPGs and card games; are there any difference in how you run a RPG Kickstarter versus a card game Kickstarter?
ED JOWETT – Good question! The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that I don’t know entirely what that difference is and don’t yet consider myself as much of an expert on card game Kickstarters as I do on RPG ones…
I have a lot more card games in the works, so I expect to continue learning!
EGG – As a Kickstarter veteran, what advice would you give others thinking about launching a gaming Kickstarter?
ED JOWETT – Know your domain on Kickstarter. Know what the bottom end of projects get before you start, because that is where you will sit with your first Kickstarter. Don’t look at Seventh Sea for RPGs and expect to get that, look at the new people. That means scrolling all the way to the bottom of the Tabletop Games list and looking at those. Set a realistic goal for where you are at.
And, if you don’t know what you’re doing, get some help! One of the things Shades of Vengeance does is assist people with getting their games on Kickstarter.
EGG – What projects are you currently developing?
ED JOWETT – When I counted just recently, I realised I had 9 projects on the go, so I have quite a bit going on.
The next one people will see is the Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2 Kickstarter. The last one we did funded 8 expansions to Era: The Consortium, but I had 26 ideas at the time. I’d like to get more of those out there, and I’m looking forward to the chance to do it!
After that, you’ll start seeing Era: The Empowered, our superheroes game, Era: The Chosen, our brand new horror game and Era: Legends, a Fantasy game, popping up. We’ve also got more card games, including a “sequel” to Champion of Earth, called “Evil Overlord”, Era: Survival Colony and one based in the Era: The Consortium universe!
We’ve got loads more on the way, including a matrix-inspired cyberpunk game, a JRPG-style game and a High Fantasy game. We’re definitely hard at work here, with an ambitious 2-year plan and a desire to see it fulfilled!
EGG – Any parting thoughts? Where can we find out more about Shades of Vengeance?
ED JOWETT – I’d like to thank Egg for his time and the chance to talk about the thing I enjoy most – gaming! There’s a lot more to come from Shades of Vengeance and I hope you’ll consider keeping an eye on us, because we’re doing great things.
If you want to know more about Shades of Vengeance, you should glance at our Kickstarters, or at our website blog (http://www.shadesofvengeance.com/blog/) or Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/shadesofvengeance)!
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Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com.
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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™
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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:
- Sasquatch Game Studio’s Primeval Thule for 5e available at DriveThruRPG.com – Writer
- Ember Design Studios’ Yrisa’s Nightmare for 5e and Pathfinder available at DriveThurRPG.com – Writer
- Ember Design Studios’ Rats in the Street for 5e and Pathfinder available at DriveThurRPG.com – Writer & Artist
- Kobold Press’ Tome of Beasts for 5e available at KoboldPress.com – Playtester
- Kobold Press’ Deep Magic 9: Ring Magic (5e) available at KoboldPress.com – Playtester
- EN World’ Gaming at the Kids’ Table Column – Journalist
- Total Party Kill Games’ Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge – Writer
- Total Party Kill Games’ Fifth Edition Fighter Folio – Writer
- MidCity Comics’ Soon-to-be-Announced Comic Book Mini-Series – Writer