8 Questions with Ed Jowett (Shades of Vengeance) about Era: The Chosen

I’ve interviewed Ed Jowett of Shades of Vengeance four times before, each one about one of his games – Era: Balam, Era: The Consortium, and Era: The Empowered on the Tessera Guild as well as Battlecruiser Alamo RPG (Powered by Era d10) on the Open Gaming Network, so it only makes sense to talk to Ed about his latest RPG on Kickstarter, Era: The Chosen. As you can see from the title of games, they are rooted in the same system, yet cover a lot of ground because Ed is one of the hardest working folks in RPG.

That said, Ed will challenge you (in a good way) at, and away from, the gaming table. When I sent him the questions for this interview, I had a note that said I’d write the introduction to the article later. I get the answers back and Ed’s one-upped me by telling the world I explained the game in an “excellent introduction.” Now I have to figure out what Era: The Chosen is?! The horror!!! 😛 So…

Era: The Chosen is a horror tabletop RPG that pits humanity against an inhuman enemy that has the upper hand in every situation. For the Chosen that can perceive these monsters, the stakes are all or nothing. It’s not about survival, it’s win or our dimension is doomed.

[So, how’d I do, Ed?]


EGG EMBRY – Ed, over the years we’ve talked a good deal and always about your Era d10 games. Before we get into the latest one, let’s catch everyone up. What are the Era games, and how are they related, and not related?

ED JOWETT – Firstly, for anyone who hasn’t seen one of these interviews before, welcome! It is always a pleasure to talk about the games I create and I hope you find this interesting!
The Era games fall into two distinct categories: ones with “Era” in the title and ones “Powered by Era d10“. The latter sort (such as Battlecruiser Alamo!) are not settings created by me, but games made in other universes which other people created and then worked with me to bring to life through the Era d10 Rule Set. As a result, they are not linked to any of the other games in terms of story – the Triplanetary Confederation Universe (Battlecruiser Alamo RPG), for example, is linked to a series of novels by Richard Tongue. I took the feel of his universe and created mechanics which supported that style of gameplay to make this game, and worked with him to write the setting material.
The settings which have “Era” in the name (there are 8 so far – Era: The Consortium, Era: Lyres, Era: The Empowered, Era: Survival, Era: Silence, Era: Hitman, Era: Balam and now Era: The Chosen) are a slightly different story. These settings were created by me and have a common thread which connects them, if you look relatively carefully. I have not publicly revealed yet what it is, but I am certain some people have picked up on it from various hints I have dropped over the years in Kickstarter updates, panels and interviews.
Era: The Chosen, actually, builds on this quite heavily, and is the biggest clue I have given to how these settings link up since Era: Survival.
Ignoring the links, each game explores a genre thoroughly:
Era: The Consortium offers the chance to play any sub-genre of Sci-Fi you can think of with its 500 years of playable history – you just jump into the time period which suits the style of your game and then, when that story is complete, you choose the next one and have the chance to play ancestors or descendents of previous characters as well as brand new ones!
Era: Lyres offers players the chance to tell literally any story they want in the low-fantasy setting it offers. The GM plays as an audience who will assess their story while they attempt to earn the gold and glory due to adventurers. But, as they don’t really have experiences, they have to be careful of inconsistencies! This game lets the players really express their creativity and provides endless opportunity for stories (as well as giving the GM a rest!)
Era: The Empowered, similar to Era: The Consortium, offers every sub-genre of superhero story within its timeline. Choose whether you want to be a newly-emerging individual, finding your powers for the first time, or work as part of a large, world-spanning team, or stand against invasions by the Old Gods or Atlantis, or joining the “Empowered Department” in their attempts to police supervillains in a co-ordinated, government-led way.
Era: Survival offers a post-apocalyptic setting – a hundred years after the cataclysm – where the last days of Humanity are approaching fast. Unsure how to survive, the people of Gaia have splintered into 14 different factions… and each has their own alliances and enemies. I am sure you can imagine that this provides a difficult world to step into. Will You Survive?
Era: Silence is based on an island which is a High Fantasy testing ground. Entering a portal to the mythical Isle of Silence, you will have to earn your name if you expect to escape… by completing challenges and working together. The catch here is that no person is able to speak on the Isle of Silence and, being barbarians, you cannot read or write very well. So, how do you work together when you cannot communicate so easily?
Era: Hitman is based in modern times, and allows you to step into the role of a team of assassins. The twist here is that many of the assassins in this world have superpowers! These are fast-burning and reduce in effectiveness as you use them, so you will have to be extremely careful about when you activate them. And, of course, your target might have powers as well! You never quite know what is around the next corner in this game, so you have to plan carefully!
Era: Balam asks you to step into the role of a fighter pilot. No pilot is truly complete without their craft and this game is based around that duality: without your fighter (which is highly customisable), you are not a complete character and could be easily killed by the alien hordes which roam HX-7371. As a small squadron, you will have to adapt your fighters and work as a team if you hope to save Humanity from this threat and protect Earth…
And Era: The Chosen you already know something about, thanks to Egg’s excellent introduction above… and I will be talking more about it below.
The link between the settings of these games is perhaps more evident than another important aspect: the rules are module and can be combined. I am going to talk more about that in a later question, so read on to know more!

Our world is not safe. It is besieged by creatures from another dimension...

EGG Era: The Chosen is a move into straight-up tabletop horror roleplaying. You did Era: Survival before, which had horrific elements. What made you decide to go full horror?

ED JOWETTEra: Survival has a different focus to Era: The Chosen. Era: Survival is about a zombie apocalypse and a divided humanity, which doesn’t know or believe in itself or each other any more – to a high degree, no-one trusts the people they meet on Gaia. Humanity is, in reality, its own worst enemy and the truth is that they could probably survive if they worked together.
Era: The Chosen is quite different. It is a game about the horrors of war when fighting against enemies you cannot understand. Humanity is united against this threat – those that perceive it, anyway!
But that doesn’t make it less terrifying. The Anonassi are biologically superior, intelligent and tactical… and know more about Humanity than you would like them to… especially when it comes to the fact that they enjoy eating us.
This game is about fighting a descent into madness and loss of control as you fight the Anonassi to protect our dimension. The horror aspect is much more psychological than in Era: Survival, making it a very different kind of fear to “when will I run out of ammo”, or “is a zombie waiting for me around the corner?”.
What made me do this was really a long love of two franchises: Dr Who – specifically the brand of horror where the primary reason you are scared is that you don’t understand – and the Turok games on the N64! I have long felt that the two would combine into an excellent setting (with numerous tweaks, obviously!).
Finally, it is something I haven’t done before! I am sure you can imagine that there are a lot more things I want to create and I am working through them. This brand of horror is something I can now tick off my list from a “setting” sense, and focus on expanding that universe!


EGG – How compatible are the different games?

ED JOWETT – They are very compatible – the aspects of the rules which are unique to each game (for example, Specialities, Karma, Implants and Party Confidence) are modular and can be carried across between games.
For example, if you want to play Sci-Fi Survival Horror, you can combine Era: The Consortium and Era: Survival’s rules to make a “Dead Space” type of game (we actually did this in a published book, Era: The Consortium – Revival!). If you wanted to tell stories of your exploits to con people out of cash in Era: Hitman, you could integrate the Era: Lyres rules… and if you were feeling very ambitious, you could combine all of them to make a “super game”!

The power of games running on the same rule sets is obvious – you don’t need to learn a new rule set each time. But when you can combine aspects of the rules and the system supports it? I think that makes something quite special, though I admit I may be biased!

"Creepy alien starfish... why did it have to be creepy alien starfish?" - Kevin Kutlesa

EGG – Some of the settings for your games have expansive timelines. Tell us about the timeline for the game, and what makes that span appealing in Era: The Chosen?

ED JOWETTEra: The Chosen offers 3 time periods to play in, and the attraction here is that the experience varies quite a bit depending on which you choose.
Perhaps you like the idea of fighting huge, terrifying monsters with pikes and flintlocks. If that is the case, then the “First Era” is for you! In this time, people aren’t sure what the Anonassi are, mostly assuming they are demons of some sort or, in some cases, fallen angels (a name which sticks as a descriptor!). If you like supernatural horror settings where not everything can be explained, this is allowed for here, along with the slightly more light-hearted, “swashbuckly” feel where you have to rescue the princess and save the day, but overcome your fear to do so.
Or maybe you like the sort of horror which you get from Victorian era literature – Frankenstein, for example. In the “Second Era”, you have technology advancing faster than humans learn how to control it. What if you could bring people back to life, just by integrating a technological device which you found lying around in the Lost Lands? Would you find it morally acceptable? Would everyone else? This period also brings in some of the more monstrous Anonassi for the first time; as they are driven back by superior weapons, they begin to deploy larger and more terrifying creatures.
In the Third Era, weapons are at modern levels and the war is being won. At this point, the Anonassi begin to deploy new, more sinister, tactics – swarms of insects which can devour flesh to the bones of either Anonassi or Human in seconds, and Ethereals who can possess Humans and even pass into our dimension safely for long periods of time. How do you fight when you don’t know that all who stand beside you are still the people you trained with? Who do you trust?
I think that the timeline setting was the only way for me to offer all of these types of play in the same game and playtested have very much encouraged this variety!
And, of course, when you consider that different things are horrifying to different generations, there is even more scope for differences in experience…


EGG – For some of your games, there’s been a standout mechanic or setup (Balam’s fighter craft and Battlecruiser Alamo’s duel characters). Will there be any new mechanics for the system?

ED JOWETT – Yes, there are!
Terror is the result of your experiences in the fight. Perhaps you got eaten by an Anonassi and had to blast your way out… if you were to be threatened with being eaten again, you could understandably have a severe psychological reaction to that.
This is covered by the Terror system in Era: The Chosen. As you begin to experience the Lost Lands, you will build Triggers (such as “being eaten”!). When they occur, you will have the opportunity to roll a check… but if you fail, you gain Terror. Each Terror brings with it more Triggers, so the result is a decline in your ability to cope with the Lost Lands. If your Terror bar fills, you will collapse and have to be returned home for treatment… and will probably never set foot in the Lost Lands again.
Trophies are almost the opposite. When you overcome a particularly difficult challenge – floor a giant, brutish Anonassi in the middle of it charging you, for example – you may gain a Trophy. In this example, you might gain a Trophy in the form of the Anonassi tooth. It would remind you that you can take down an Anonassi when it is charging you, so you might no longer be able to be Triggered by that event!
There are also numerous special rules for the Clans, particularly the Chike, who can transform into half-Anonassi forms. If you want to know.more about that, I recommend checking out our actual play session on Kickstarter: https://youtu.be/2j7TRgXlg6U

Chike - “Understanding is the key to survival, and not accepting preset biological limits is the key to victory.”

EGG – The $5 reward on this Kickstarter is for the digital Player’s Guide. That’s an incredible price! What will the Player’s Guide include?

ED JOWETT – I feel it is a good price, yes! The Player’s Guide includes the complete Rules (word for word the same as the Core Rulebook so there is no confusion!), an introduction to the setting for each era, full character creation and the vast majority of equipment (some stuff is so rare that it can be excluded to keep the page count a little lower and be communicated by the GM if it is used!).
What it doesn’t include is the full story of the setting or, more importantly, the Bestiary of Anonassi you might meet…!


EGG – For someone that has never played an Era d10 game, what would you say is the secret sauce that makes this a standout system that they should jump into?

ED JOWETT – It is easy and quick, it is representative without being painful and, if you are a brawler, the grapple rules are 2 pages and/or a flow chart which explains the same content!
It also gives huge flexibility for the GM to counter things like min-maxing (or not, if you prefer!), as well as the opportunity to leap into any of these genres while learning only a few extra rules.
The games are well-supported as well, through our Patreon and period campaign module releases, so if you are someone who likes grenade modules, we have you covered there too!

EGG – For those that want to check out the Kickstarter, where can they find it at?

ED JOWETT – You can join us right here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shadesofvengeance/era-the-chosen-a-horror-rpg-defend-our-dimension-0?ref=9nc0yr

Thank you very much for reading and I hope you will consider supporting Era: The Chosen!

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Ends on Fri, September 14 2018 2:00 PM EDT.

Disclaimer: I am a creator on this project.
“Contributing authors James Ward, Lenard Lakofka and more share some of their pro tips on how to create your first fantasy RPG adventure”
Looking for advice on how to create your tabletop RPG along with stock art to get you going? Learn from ” industry greats and legends James M. Ward, Lenard Lakofka, as well as exceptional talents such as Johnn Four, Rick Hershey, Lucus Palosaari, Kevin Watson, Bobby Nash and Egg Embry.” I’m excited to be a part of this project and offer my insights into the world of crowdfunding!

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here or at the OpenGamingStore here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.


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Disclosures: This article contains affiliate links.

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™
Freelancer for EN WorldKnights of the Dinner TableOpen Gaming Network, and the Tessera Guild.
Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Want to share news? Press releases? Rumors? Sneak peeks? Deals? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

9 Questions about Era: The Empowered with Ed Jowett (Shades of Vengeance)

Superhero. RPG. Kickstarter. I’m talking to Ed Jowett of Shades of Vengeance about his superpowered RPG, Era: The Empowered campaign.

EGG EMBRY – Ed, thanks for joining me, as always. What’s Era: The Empowered about?

ED JOWETT – Thanks very much, it’s a pleasure to be back!

Era: The Empowered is an epic RPG which tells the story of the emergence of superheroes – Empowered – on a world called Terra.

Rather than offering only one scenario within the setting, the game’s timeline follows through 10 years, providing access to every sub-genre of superhero story you could want. For example, at the start, the first telltale signs of Empowered appear and vigilantes emerge to fight the supervillains who rise up. Following that, Atlantis’s forces rise from the ocean to attack the surface. Next, the supervillains and superheroes form groups to fight the larger threats to their goals. When the Old Gods of legend return and claim part of the planet as their domain, Empowered have to choose whether to try to fight them back or join them. When that threat is destroyed, the Assassins’ Guild begins to target Empowered individuals, attempting to eliminate them all, one by one. Before long, the UN supports the formation of the “Empowered Department”, a superhero police force which reports to them and operates in every country of the world. And, finally, the planet is attacked by a huge, extra-terrestrial force named “The Hunger”, which seeks to wipe out all Empowered on Terra.

That is Era: The Empowered – it’s a game designed to let you play any type of superhero game you like, just by choosing where in the timeline the characters exist!


EGG – This isn’t your first foray into the world of The Empowered. How did your “Tales of the Empowered” anthology influencing this RPG?

ED JOWETT – Actually, it’s my third foray into the world of The Empowered!

A little over two years ago, I created the Rulebook Primer for the game, which ran a successful Kickstarter Campaign. In fact, if you search Kickstarter for “Era: The Empowered”, you’ll find that project, which is long since closed. That book had an older style of artwork and didn’t include character creation rules or any of the history. I always intended to do more, and it’s taken me 3 years to get everything together for that book alongside the other projects I’ve been doing.

The Tales of the Empowered Anthology was devised thanks to the Kickstarter “Make100” initiative. They ask you to make 100 of something, as a limited reward on the Kickstarter.

I chose to offer 100 people the chance to add their own superhero to the Era: The Empowered universe. I took submissions from various backers, and we formed the “Tales of the Empowered” anthology from the stories we wrote for those people, plus the stories which had been written during the three years of development but weren’t going to make it into the Core Rulebook.

It’s come out very nicely, and makes a rather nice anthology. I’ve already sent it to backers and the physical version is about to go to print, well ahead of schedule.

So, the answer is that Tales of the Empowered isn’t influencing this RPG, it’s effectively filling in extra Empowered and describing what they were doing during the various events that take place throughout the timeline. There are many more Empowered than could possibly be featured in the main storyline I described above, and this was my way to include a few of them!

EGG – You’ve written a variety of comics. Which ones co-exist with Era: The Empowered and what inspired them?

ED JOWETT – The comics are either related to Era: The Consortium or Era: The Empowered. They tell a few extra stories which, again, we didn’t want or need to put in the Core Rulebook.

We wanted to expand the universe further – we really love these characters and the universe – and this was a fantastic opportunity to do so!

So far, there’s Lacuna, Blue-Shift and Penumbra #1 and #2 in the Empowered universe.

In fact, Blue-Shift is just running its own Kickstarter [ https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sovcomics/blue-shift-frenemies?ref=ewlorb ], and has passed multiple Stretch Goals!

Each of these comics is linked to the others and also to the timeline we use in the Core Rulebook. They feature one of the major characters from the game, exploring an aspect of their origin. In the case of Lacuna and Blue-Shift, the comics look at the first time they fought supervillains, while Penumbra focuses on the stories of her various heists (she’s an Empowered thief, which one of your colleagues here wrote an article about previously: http://tesseraguild.com/kickstart-the-comic-penumbra-fear-the-bunny-lord/

While Penumbra is more light-hearted and the others are more “serious”, they all exist in the same universe.


EGG Era: The Empowered has a 5-year timeline. What are some of the other defining moments for the in-game history?

ED JOWETT – Well, I covered most of the main points above, although there are a few others.

The first time that heroes work together is when the main supervillain, “Harbinger”, traps them within a bubble universe. Lacuna, Penumbra and several others are forced to work together in order to escape this prison. Most of these individuals have never worked with anyone else before (although Lacuna and Penumbra have met during the events of the Lacuna #1 comic!) and the revelation that that is possible leads to some very interesting consequences…

The second one that springs to mind is the destruction of the robot supervillain, Hack. He’s not, in fact destroyed and, in the best traditions of Ultron, sits at the bottom of the ocean and self-repairs. While people on the surface consider his threat resolved – his creator even moves on to building a cyborg, which he hopes will be more stable! – he enters Atlantis and begins to destroy it. That’s the cause of the war between Atlantis and the surface world!

And one final event out of the timeline (although there are many, many more, of course!) is the realization of a character called Cecropia that when she kills another Empowered, she increases her own sound-based powers. When she finds out about the Hunger and the speed with which it is approaching, she takes over the Assassin’s Guild with one purpose: to eliminate all Empowered. That includes herself. She is going to save the world.

There are so many interesting events in this timeline, many of which have been contributed to by a 15-year veteran of comic writing, that I couldn’t possibly go into them all… but that’s a taster of just a few! If you want to know more, get hold of the book and immerse yourself in this rich, detailed story.

EGG – From a certain point of view, RPG was born of D&D, which could be seen as the celebration of fantasy England/Europe. From that same point of view, superhero comics tend to be the celebration of fantasy New York City/United States of America. Do you see Era: The Empowered through that prism or does it have its own niche within the superhero genre?

ED JOWETT – Honestly, I’ve never really thought about it in that light.

That said, the influences on the universe are going to be pretty clear: it’s a universe which has certain parallels to those of Marvel and DC – quite deliberately – with our own twists and turns within the story and the way it plays out.

We set out to create a superhero universe that was evocative of those, but told its own story and went its own way, both through the roleplaying game and the comics and stories which accompany it.

I’d like to believe that anyone can enjoy playing this, no matter their background, because whether fantasy, Sci-Fi or superheroes.


EGG – That brings up, who is your favorite superhero? And better yet, who is your favorite supervillain?

ED JOWETT – My favourite superhero is split between two, so I’m going to cheat!

Martian Manhunter is a fundamentally kind and good individual in most incarnations. You have to respect that from a person who is the last of their kind because their race was wiped out in a war. I also happen to love the possibilities involved with both telepathy and density shifting!

Iron Man is… well, we all know what he is. But, as is pointed out in the Avengers movie, what he is without the armour is *the guy who made the armour*. I respect intellect, and I always prefer someone who made themselves into what they are than someone who randomly had a mutation appear and their struggle is just about coming to terms with their nature. I like to imagine that people can change who and what they are, which I guess is the appeal there.

As for supervillains, it’s fairly clear, and follows the same sorts of lines for one of the classics: Dr Doom. “For those of superior intellect, words *are* weapons.” This guy is hated by everyone in the world, except for the population of the country he actually rules. He’s loved there, they have amazing living conditions and are, generally, extremely happy. There’s a duality in that which I find interesting – someone who will fight everyone else in the world, usually for very little obvious purpose (although Doom does always have a plan!), and yet is loved by his own people.


EGG – With Era: The Empowered, are their specifics for how to play a villain or a league of supervillains?

ED JOWETT – Absolutely, just as there are specifics for how to play heroes. Because, like most RPGs, it’s essentially a team game, you’ll often find yourself working with others, even if you aren’t officially a league.

In fact, one of our playtests involved two groups, where one played as the heroes and another played as the villains. After a couple of sessions, we all came together and had a big battle royale to see who was really superior! Great fun.

(The villains won. Obviously!)


EGG – How many Era settings have you developed? Do you have an idea of how many settings are yet to be born?

ED JOWETT – I have developed and released seven Era settings so far – Era: The Consortium, Era: Lyres, Era: The Empowered, Era: Survival, Era: Silence, Era: Hitman and Era: Balam.

I am currently working on a number more!

Era: The Chosen is a horror game, where creatures from another universe are invading ours and only a chosen few are able to see them. The game spans over 100 years of this war with the Anonassi, and sees development of technology from a renaissance level to a modern level, offering a few things we’ve not ever done before. Mechanically, of course, it also includes rules around terror and a descent into madness from the horrors you will experience in the Lost Lands!

Era: Atlantis is a game based around an underwater civilization, which is set upon by Humans from one side and great sea creatures from another. You’ll play as half-Human sea-life with various abilities, and a big part of the game will be appeasing your gods!

We’re working on several other games as well, which don’t yet have full titles, but there’s a High Fantasy game, which I ran a session of at a recent convention and was very well-received, a cyberpunk game where you’ll get the ability to do matrix-like reality manipulation, a JRPG-inspired game along the lines of Final Fantasy, and quite a few more.

In total, I currently have seven more Era games in development, not including expansions for Era: The Consortium or the game based on Richard Tongue’s Sci-Fi novels, Battlecruiser Alamo.

There’s a lot more to come from Shades of Vengeance, I think!


EGG – To that end, where can fans find out more about your Kickstarter and projects?

ED JOWETT – The best place is always our website, http://www.shadesofvengeance.com. Another good place is our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/shadesofvengeance/. For Era: The Empowered, we actually have a Facebook group, where daily posts are giving sneak peeks of stories, images and info about the book. If you’re not sure whether you want it, there’s no better place to learn more about Era: The Empowered! https://www.facebook.com/groups/eratheempowered/

Thanks very much for inviting me back, Egg, and I hope to speak with you again soon, about one of the other exciting projects we have coming up!

For more on Ed’s superpowered RPG Kickstarter, click here – Era: The Empowered.

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Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com and Amazon.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:

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Era: The Consortium – Gameplay Review of The Stiletto Unit Adventure

At AetherCon VI* on November 12, 2017, I had the opportunity to play in an Era: The Consortium** adventure with Shades of Vengeance owner and Era d10*** creator, Ed Jowett. [Before we go any further, here’s the disclosure: I’m freelancing for Ed on an Era: The Consortium product here.] The adventure we played at AetherCon was an excellent opportunity to be at the same table as the game’s creator and get the rules as well as the spirit of the game right from the source. This session brought the mechanics and the intent of the game into focus and from it I want to share two scenes to discuss the gameplay but without giving away the whole plot. That said, light SPOILERS ahead for this Stiletto Unit adventure.

If this product interests you, Shades of Vengeance is running a Kickstarter right now for Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2 which adds more rules and species and adventures to the Consortium universe, including one by me (if the stretch goal is reached).


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Before we get into the review, Era: The Consortium uses the Era d10*** system which is explained in more detail below, but the quick version of it is:

  • a d10 dice pool system generally created by adding an Attribute plus a Skill and rolling against an Action Difficulty/target number where each die could be a success or a fumble.

We opened the Google Hangouts session by picking our pre-generated characters from Stiletto Unit, a band of freedom fighters that are a part of the Resistance against the Consortium. What’s to resist? Era: The Consortium is a far flung future in which companies openly run the worlds. The “openly” part is key – companies are the government and you’re a part of a group that’s fighting that status quo. In the adventure Ximian politician and Resistance backer, Ixitixl, has Stiletto Unit investigate a Moritagas Pharmaceuticals base on Arawn looking for a superweapon that will destroy all of the Resistance. With that setup, we got into the game.


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How well do non-combat skills work? 

After the fight at Moritagas Pharmaceuticals’ base on Arawn. The first mission and combat of the adventure came about when we failed to covertly infiltrate Moritagas Pharmaceuticals’ base forcing <gasp!> combat. After the combat and some meaningful story clues, Stiletto Unit boards their spacecraft and we have a chance to work on some non-combat skills.

Zeelaay, our pilot, used [Attribute] Wits + [Skill] Pilot against an Action Difficulty of 7 and rolled 2 successes to launch our ship into space. Onboard, after a series of events set off an EMP that knocked out our cybernetic implants, Dr. Curay and Styxtirian [me], a Ximian engineer, combined actions to repair each cybernetic implant (Int + Medicine for 3 successes from Dr. Curay and Int (1d10) + Engineering (4d10) for 5d10 and 2 successes from Styxtirian). Another Stiletto, Takahashi, had a stealth suit (think Predator) that was burned out in the combat (first combat and your character’s “gimmick” is wiped out early, always fun!). Aboard the ship, the character repaired the suit with 4 successes.

Era d10 Non-Combat Skills Pros:

There’s enough range and options to cover every situation that we encountered without being overwhelmed with choices. Standard Action Difficulty is 7 and that made it so most dice pools (which ranged from 4 or 5 dice up to 22 in one instance) had successes. The logic of why X+X forms the dice pool worked well and led to moments where we could name what we wanted to do and the dice supported our decisions.

Era d10 Non-Combat Skills Cons:

The GM is needed for a lot of pre-roll decisions. What Attribute and what Skill produces the result you’re going for? For many of these actions there’s a set combo of Attribute and Skill but there’s enough variation that alternative combinations can be introduced and that requires GM approval. Another common question for the GM is “What’s the Action Difficulty?” While 7 is the default, the GM may set the bar higher and there are scenarios (using Luck, having a situation-specific Speciality) that alter the number, which means that every player needs to talk to the GM before rolling to be sure they’re getting the right dice pool and difficulty. It’s not a problem because the rulebook has all of these instances well-defined, but it does slow the process down a bit when you’re new to the setup.


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How well do combat skills work? 

Fighting a Smertios Security (DIS)ARM. Our next mini-mission within the larger mission was to board a capital ship (we did) which led to the six PCs facing off against one of the game’s superpowered battlesuits, the (DIS)ARM.


As a group, we turned the corner and there’s the (DIS)ARM and it’s round 1! We roll initiative and in Era d10 you only roll 1d10 and add the number of levels you have in Willpower and Wits to that. In Styxtirian’s case, that’s 1d10+5 (from 3x Willpower and 2x Wits).

The (DIS)ARM went first and and off the bat it fumbles (rolling more 1s than successes in its attack dice pool) so its mini-gun falls off of the armor.

Quick note about combat. You succeed on your roll to hit, you roll a number of damage dice equal to the number of your to hit successes. The damage dice have two Action Difficulties/Thresholds, one is to damage and one is to kill (so, for example, a roll of a 6 deals damage but a 9 kills). Thus ends the lesson.

Two of the PCs shoot the (DIS)ARM doing damage to its shield though no harm to the unit or the pilot, just the shields. Zeelaay, the pilot, also loves rockets and shoots 4 into the ceiling above the (DIS)ARM because dropping debris (with 8 damage) incapacitates the armor beneath the wreckage. One of the Stilettos, Gyter, decides that his mission’s to crack open the armor, get the pilot out, and take it for himself. He gets on top of the immobilized armor and does a called shot with armor piercing rounds. A called shot halves your dice pool of Wits + Gunnery to hit but lowers the kill threshold for a called shot to the head. Gyter’s shot hit but because shields deflect armor piercing rounds and the (DIS)ARM’s shields were still up the shot goes wild. Takahashi goes into stealth mode and attempts to slip around the (DIS)ARM in the corridor. Dex + Stealth for the pool so 8 dice and she succeeds against an Action Difficulty of 10, which allows her to sneak behind the mech and attempt to interface with it in a contest to control it. For the contest, it’s a series of roll-offs as Takahashi and the AI both try to reach 10 successes and mastery of the computer first. For Takahashi, it was Intelligence + Computer (8 dice with an Action Difficulty of 7), however they both reach 10 successes on the same round so there is no winner. Styxtirian (me) is a strong Ximian and a melee combatant. He’s going to try and rip open the armor which should be easy for him with 16 dice (Str + Brawl)… I got 3 successes (I roll badly in most games) so Styx was unable to rip the armor open.

Round 2. Still immobilized, the (DIS)ARM throws Gyter off of him and across the hall leaving a spot for Steve Adams to land on. Dr. Curay injects Styxtirian with a drug that will amp his Str from 6 to 11 for 5 minutes and then after that it will be a Str of 5. Gyter shoots at the (DIS)ARM’s faceplate to no effect. Takahashi is still digitally wrestling with the unit and tries to overcome it again and Ed (the GM) rolled a fumble so, as long as Takahashi did not fumble, she could override the AI. After accessing the (DIS)ARM, her only option is to activate its self-destruct and she does. The (DIS)ARM explodes. The denotation rips a hole in the ship’s haul forcing everyone to leap into the next section before the bulkheads seal.

Unfortunately, Gyter never got his (DIS)ARM[or] and Styx had to wait until the next combat to get any advantage from the drug he was injected with. The entire party survived the combat with a minimum of wounds mostly because of the fumbled loss of the mini-gun at the start and Zeelaay’s decision and amazing roll to drop the ceiling onto the (DIS)ARM.

Era d10 Combat Rolls Pros:

I’m sure that reads like a lot of actions but in under two full rounds a very tough unit was defeated and several combat styles were utilized (melee, range, area of effect, digital) with interesting scenarios generated by each. It moved quickly and logically as we never had any disagreement about the outcome of a situation. As a *TERRIBLE* dice roller, I liked that there was an option for the damage dice to do wounds or an insta-kill. Having a chance to close out the combat is a win (no pun intended) in my opinion.

Era d10 Combat Rolls Cons:

As above with the non-combat skills, the GM is pulled into a bit of discussion as to what needs to be rolled. It was not as much as non-combat skills, but its presence slowed the game a bit.


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Era d10 Conclusion:


I’m freelancing for Ed (the GM) on Era: The Consortium so I’m not apt to dislike the setting or the GM (ha!). For this review, I wanted to focus on the Era: d10 system to share how it works and feels. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Ed has an innovative system that feels right for the sci-fi genre.

If I had to say that there’s one thing I’d do away with, it’s the fumble. This is not specific to Era: The Consortium, it’s a general distain. I believe that the fumble is the in-game mechanic that leads from serious RPG to goofing around. In the adventure, I fumbled… twice, I think? Ed fumbled three times. Dr. Curay fumbled once and so did another character. In game, fumbles are likely to have one of two effects:

  • The opponent gains a critical or deadly advantage and you roll up a new character
  • Something Monty Python happens

Which route does your table go?

Having read the rules, written scenarios, and played the Era d10 system, I can say I’m excited to do it again. The game is a lot of fun, it’s logical, and led to some fun in-game scenarios with a lot of heart and humor. The story Ed told was epic and achievable in a single sitting and I’d recommend the adventure to anyone wanting to try out Era: The Consortium. I want to thank AetherCon, Ed Jowett, and all of the players for the experience.


If you want to try the game yourself, there’s a Kickstarter for the Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2 that ends on 


* * * * * *


*What is AetherCon?

AetherCon is a free to attend, free to partake, non-profit initiative. Throughout the weekend there will be a plethora of tabletop RPGs on offer for all to play in. All games will be run on the free, browser-based virtual table top Roll20 and/or Google Hangouts. This program will allow GMs and players alike to simply click on a link and enter the playing area as opposed to needing to download and install the software to participate.


**What is Era: The Consortium RPG?

Humanity has left Earth over a thousand years behind, landing on a new planet and founding a new government. The Consortium is an inspiring ideal – three star systems teaming with life and four species living and working together. As time passes, however, cracks are showing in the Humanity-led society and those less scrupulous have taken power.

Enter at any point in 500 years of playable story, following the Consortium’s growth from a small colony to a multi-system economic and political establishment. Explore new worls and encounter alien races, direct or fight in battles which span a solar system and will decide the future of the Consortium or join a Resistance movement against the government to save or destroy billions of lives!

What you decide will define the fate of the Consortium…


***What is the Era d10 system?

“The Era d10 ruleset is designed to allow you to experience this universe in a way that is as unobtrusive as possible without being misrepresentative. By choosing your skills carefully, your character can dominate in any of 5 forms of combat, talk their way out of any situation or protect their teammates from harm.

The rules could be described as “A Success-counting dice pool system where you roll Attribute + Skill in d10s and the difficulty of the task determines which numbers count as Successes.”

In case that was a bit too brief or jargony, here’s a bit more detail:

The system is based around multiple dice – the more skilled you are, the more dice you have – and a variable goal based on activity difficulty.

Using an Attribute and Skill system, which each define their own areas of influence, you roll your dice depending on what you’re attempting – whether Dexterity + Engineering for a precision piece of work, Intelligence + Engineering for a more theoretical problem or Luck + Engineering for a complete long shot, you’ll be able to adapt to your circumstances and focus on your strengths.

Although you roll more dice the more skilled you are, the number you are attempting to reach varies depending on the difficulty of the action – if shooting someone in clear conditions, the GM would ask for a 7. If someone was laying a mine, more likely a 6. Firing over your shoulder at someone 30 metres away, while crouching behind a low wall would definitely be a 10!

If you would like to try the rules, please see our Quickstart Pack!


Read my interview with Ed Jowett of Shades of Vengeance here.

You can check out Era: The Consortium RPG on DriveThruRPG here.


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Shades of Vengeance Signal Boost:


1) Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2 by Shades of Vengeance 
The critically acclaimed Sci-Fi RPG returns to Kickstarter: get expansions to the universe, as well as the Definitive Edition Rulebook!
Ends on .

Want to know more about the game? You can get the (free) Quickstart pack right here and try it out!

Why signal boost this? Because I’ll be writing one of the stretch goals – Sirona Specials Part 1 (Sessions 1-10)!


* * * * * *


2) Penumbra: Fear the Bunny Lord! by Shades of Vengeance
Everyone’s favorite mistress of shadows is back! But can she defeat the bunny lord?
Ends on Sun, December 3 2017 9:34 AM EST.



* * * * * *


Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com and Amazon.com.

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

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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:

Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

12 QUESTIONS ABOUT Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2 WITH Ed Jowett (Shades of Vengeance)

I’ve interviewed Ed Jowett of Shades of Vengeance before about his Era: Balam Kickstarter. Well, he’s nearly fulfilled that one and back with a new project. For my part, I’m excited about his latest Kickstarter because I’m freelancing on one of the stretch goals, Sirona Specials Part I (Sessions 1-10). Since the project is up and running, it felt like a good time to speak with Ed again.


Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!


EGG EMBRY – I want to thank you for agreeing to another batch of questions, Ed. Let’s start out with the big ones, what is Era: The Consortium? And what is the Era: The Consortium expansion that you’re kickstarting?

ED JOWETT – I am always happy to answer any questions you have, Egg – it’s a pleasure to be back!

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. They encounter new alien races, explore this new region of space and continue to expand during the presented history.

This amount of history sounds like a lot to read and understand, but the reason that this amount exists is that the intention of the game is to enable the players to explore any sub-genre of Sci-Fi that they wish. If you’re interested in exploring space and encountering new species, the history allows that fairly early in the timeline, and adapting to live with the species you encounter follows on naturally from that. From facing an alien race which is hell-bent on the destruction of the Consortium to a peaceful society with transhumanist tendencies and from cyberpunk style hi-tech dungeon crawl to standing up to an evil government and dismantling their schemes, every form of Sci-Fi which you can imagine is available within Era: The Consortium‘s timeline.

These options mean that it’s very hard to explain in just a few words what Era: The Consortium is – a significant amount of that answer is up to the player! However, I hope that people who have read this understand what I mean when describe it as an epic Sci-Fi RPG!

Just as there’s not one answer for what Era: The Consortium is about, I’m actually Kickstarting quite a number of expansions (anywhere up to 18!).

I should mention before I leap into those that if you’re new to Era: The Consortium, there is a chance to get your hands on everything that already exists in a handy reward tier as well – both the Definitive Edition Rulebook and all of the expansions exist (8 so far!) in Digital Format at the £25 tier, which will add all of the books which we unlock with the Kickstarter.

The first three new expansions are already unlocked by the Funded Campaign:

  • Free Trader gives rules for trading and piracy through the Consortium, with over 30 Trading Posts across the various planets and the prices for 40 cargo types at each one!
  • New Worlds offers the chance to explore a new solar system at the end of the timeline, 250 years after the last one was discovered and explored, providing all the needed equipment and rules to do so.
  • Predictive Genetic Algorithm allows players to create their own alien race for gameplay, with a huge variety of bonuses and penalties, including those available on the current playable alien races!

Beyond that, we’re unlocking a number more expansions, including:

  • The next part of the Time Travel Campaign (Part 4), which explores what would happen if a group of agents went back in time to the start of the Consortium to reshape it.
  • Home Base, which offers the chance to build (and defend) a base of your own. It also provides the rules for building facilities within the base, which give you various bonuses as a result of their existence!
  • Sirona Specials, which you ask me about in a later question.
  • Creatures Of The Outsystem, which offers 30 encounters with strange and amazing life forms on the edge of Consortium space.
  • And much more…

Every Stretch Goal we meet will unlock a new expansion, and every Reward Tier includes whatever we unlock in Digital Format, meaning no-one will miss out!


EGG EMBRY – Tell us about the Era d10 Rule Set that you use for all of the Era games and why it’s so versatile?

ED JOWETT – The Era d10 Rule Set was designed to be a system which could work with any genre from the start, which had a significant impact on its versatility. It’s also designed to be simple to learn but complex to master – I’ve been playing for 4 years with a group of mathematicians, computer scientists and physicists and none of them have cracked it yet!

The difference between games is modular, with the majority of the rules remaining the same. This means that every game has a familiar feel and most of the rules are reasonably intuitive once you’ve played for a while. Beyond that, though, it allows people to take modules from one game and transpose it into others. For example, the rules in the Revival Expansion (one of my absolute favourite books we’ve written!) are actually the rules from Era: Survival, presented in a Sci-Fi context.

This provides the versatility that you’re talking about, in my opinion: if I need to add some new rules, I make sure that they follow the same paradigm and add a new module for the game.


EGG EMBRY – You just finished the Era: Balam Kickstarter and have already shipped the rewards, correct? What brings you back to Era: The Consortium at this point?

ED JOWETT – Era: Balam was completed and shipped for all physical and Era d10 rewards. I, personally, have completed everything except layout work on the Fate and Savage Worlds books, so I’m finished on that project until the awesome people – who are much more expert than I in those systems – complete their review of the work I’ve done, and their own writing. As a result, I’ve got a bit of a hole in my schedule, which lets me look at another project.

All of that said, Era: The Consortium is a game that I never really leave, to be honest! Between the end of the Kickstarter almost exactly a year ago and this year, I’ve come up with 8 additional expansion ideas for the existing timeline (not including things I have thought of for the next 500 years!).

I’ll be honest, out of the games I’ve created, this is my personal favourite because of the universe it offers. I’m very proud of the other games as well, but I could happily play this game for the rest of my RPG life, personally. As a result, I never want to stop making things for it, as long as people still want to get them… and it’s clear from some of the feedback I’ve already had that the people backing the Kickstarter definitely want me to continue!


EGG – I’ve asked a variation of this question to several interviewees lately – SoV has a free preview of Era: The Consortium, how has it “tracked” so far and have you seen an uptick in interest since the latest Kickstarter launched?

ED JOWETT – That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but we actually offer the free preview all the time. I would say there’s been a minor uptick from the Kickstarter traffic, but a lot less than there was a year ago.


EGG – I mentioned that I’m assisting on the Sirona Specials Part I (Sessions 1-10) stretch goal and since it’s difficult for me as the freelancer to tease what it’s about in your interview, can you tell the audience what the setup for this campaign expansion is?

ED JOWETT – Sirona Specials is the story of a group of prisoners who are offered their freedom in exchange for using their… talents. It will follow their adventures through the Consortium as they help the company which has offered them this deal improve their standing within society.

If they do enough, they will be given new identities and set free, and as they achieve success they are given more tangible perks, such as good meals and better living quarters!

It’s said no-one escapes Sirona. Of course, if they aren’t prisoners any more, it wouldn’t really be escaping, right?


EGG – What inspired the idea that the Consortium would have something between a chain gang and DC’s Suicide Squad in the form of the Sirona Specials?

ED JOWETT – That’s quite simple – companies in the Consortium are all always vying for power. Crone Correction holds some of the true masters of their craft – the people who were good enough to commit crimes to the extent that a sentence on Sirona was the only way to keep them out of circulation.

I find it hard to believe that Crone Correction, even though it is mandated to exist by the Consortium Charter, is satisfied with its position. The leaders of the company want what every CEO in the Consortium wants: more power… and they wouldn’t be afraid to use the assets they have to achieve it!

To me, this was a logical step, and I was glad to run into someone else who agreed it was a fun idea for an RPG campaign!

[Editor’s Note: Egg is the someone else. Egg is proud to be the someone else. Victory = Egg!]


EGG – As the publisher, can you highlight one pledge level/backer reward that you think is the standout for Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2?

ED JOWETT – I’m going to highlight two, but for a good reason!

If you‘ve never heard of Era: The Consortium before, then you can get hold of everything that exists for Era: The Consortium (currently 11 books, with an additional one unlocked by each Stretch Goal!) with several of the tiers in this Kickstarter.

To those people, I’d recommend the £40 tier, Katana Unit, because I think that nothing beats holding the book in your hands when you’re playing these games. The games are available in Digital only, as well, of course.

If you’re an Era: The Consortium veteran, I’d say you can’t go wrong with the other £40 tier, Scimitar Unit, which offers all newly unlocked expansions in Digital Format, along with your choice of 3 in Paperback! This includes not only the new expansions, but also the older ones as well, so you can get hold of A New Dawn, Revival and Free Trader if you like (for example!).


EGG – Recently, Shades of Vengeance attended MCM Comicon, what games did you demonstrate while you were there? How was the response to them? And what upcoming conventions will you attend?

ED JOWETT – We had an absolute blast at MCM Comicon – I don’t think we’ve ever sat down so many people at our gaming tables over a weekend!

We demonstrated all of our games: Era: The Consortium, Era: Lyres, Era: The Empowered, Era: Survival, Era: Silence, Era: Hitman and Era: Balam, as well as both of our card games, Champion of Earth and Evil Overlord’s prototype!

We had an overwhelmingly positive response, which is always inspiring to see, but the best thing is always when we see people who had never heard of roleplaying or didn’t really think they would ever try it sit down and play, and instantly fall in love! I know that my team loves running these conventions as much as the players enjoy attending and trying out whatever we have new – we certainly have a lot of “repeat offenders” these days, who remember us from previous conventions and came searching for us!

We’ve got a couple more this year, AetherCon is this weekend and we will be there inside the virtual environments they are offering! We will be running three games – one of Era: The Consortium, which is full, along with one of Era: Lyres and one of Era: The Empowered.

It’s actually a fantastic time to join us for games, because it’s something that is totally virtual and we play via Google Hangout, so you can join us from the comfort of your own living room!

If you’d like to join us, you can grab a free ticket for the games here:

Era: Lyres (Friday): http://aethercon.com/ACEventMan/Tickets/viewevent.asp?EventID=137

Era: The Empowered (Saturday): http://aethercon.com/ACEventMan/Tickets/viewevent.asp?EventID=136

We’ll also be doing an entire segment on what’s coming in the future for us! If you want to know more about what we have planned for the Era universe, you can join us for here: http://aethercon.com/ACEventMan/Tickets/viewevent.asp?EventID=39

Beyond AetherCon, we have Dragonmeet in London to finish off our year! That’s at the start of December, and we’ll be there demonstrating all the games we have, as usual!


EGG – Since I have you here and we talked about Era: Balam last time, how would you rate the outcome of that Kickstarter in terms of fan response and what you delivered?

ED JOWETT – Interestingly, the primary response that I’ve heard to Era: Balam is how interested people are to integrate the rules into Era: The Consortium‘s gameplay!

The Era d10 version of Era: Balam has been received very well, with about 75% of people who backed the Kickstarter choosing to receive it. I think, overall, the project has been a great success, as well as proof that Era: The Consortium does still have more things that could be done, if people think there is more that could be added!


EGG – Era: The Consortium has received a great deal of praise, what’s the quote that gives you the warm and fuzzies as a creator?

ED JOWETT – Oh, that’s easy. There’s a review that was done very early on by RPG Knights who really inspired me to continue. In the low moments, I come back to it – I figure if one person likes the game this much, there will be others who like it just as much as well!

“It is literally the best sci-fi Role Playing Game I have ever seen and hence Era The Consortium is the game that I have been looking for.”



EGG – What other RPG projects are you currently developing for Shades of Vengeance?

ED JOWETT – I currently have 9 active RPG projects! I can’t talk about all of them, but here’s what I can say!

The Core Rulebook for Era: The Empowered is close to completion. We expect to have all of the writing and artwork completed by the end of the year. That means we’re going to be looking closely at launching early next year on Kickstarter. This Core Rulebook will include the full character creation rules (which I finished writing on Saturday!), along with a complete history and multiple different types of superhero sub-genres to explore!

Era: The Chosen is something I’ve been working on for a while now (I recently realized I actually started artwork for it in January, although it had a bit of a break mid-year!). I also expect that to be done by the end of the year, and it is a bit of a race between Empowered and Chosen to see which one will get out first. Era: The Chosen is a Horror RPG – think Dr Who meets Turok 2: horrible creatures are snatching people from our world… will you be able to stop them? It also features some brand new rules around being terrified!

We’re also working on two high fantasy games with very different aims, which I expect to get at least one of finished this year. We’re working on a cyberpunk game, inspired by the Matrix, where you can actually modify reality as you travel through it…

And the last one I can talk about for now is one which is inspired by Final Fantasy in particular and JRPGs in general. I’m working with the talented Mr Mark Miller on the levelling up methods in order to get them nice and authentic with the correct feel.

There is one other game that I am not currently at liberty to announce… but I will be in 3 more days! Please join us at the AetherCon panel about what is to come to find out more [here].


EGG – Any parting thoughts? Where can we find out more about Ed Jowett and Shades of Vengeance?

ED JOWETT – You can find us at www.shadesofvengeance.com , where our news is always kept up to date. You can also look for us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/shadesofvengeance/) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/Shades_of_Venge). Finally, you can follow us on Kickstarter (and if you want to know what’s just become available, that’s the best place!): https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/shadesofvengeance/about

I’d like to thank everyone for reading! I hope to see you at Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2 [here].


* * * * * *


Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).


Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com and Amazon.com.

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com


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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!


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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:

Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).


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!

EGG EMBRY – Thanks for joining us, Ed. If you don’t mind, let’s dive in – Tell us about your current Kickstarter campaign, Era: Balam? What is it about? Why should fans back it?

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.



EGG – Why did you make Era: Balam a part of Kickstarter’s Project of Earth initiative?

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?


Landing on Balam, the main Human colony…

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 JOWETTEra 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.


From Era: The Consortium

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!


Their reaction was fairly… extreme!

EGG EMBRYShades 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.


Kurmaja Park remains the centre of the Consortium

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)!


To see more games by Shades of Vengeance, check them out on DriveThruRPG here.

To back their Kickstarter campaign for Era: Balam, click here.


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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:

Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).