[13:32] <+Ed_Jowett> Hello Dan and everyone else! I’m Ed Jowett, some of you might remember me from a couple of other games.
[13:33] <+Ed_Jowett> I’m here today to talk about more cheerful things than storms, such as annihilation by aliens!
[13:34] <+Ed_Jowett> My latest game is called Era: Balam and there are a few things to say about it before we start the Q&A…
[13:34] <+Ed_Jowett> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shadesofvengeance/jump-in-your-starfighter-for-era-balam-a-project-o)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shadesofvengeance/jump-in-your-starfighter-for-era-balam-a-project-o
[13:34] <+Ed_Jowett> Era: Balam is a Project of Earth – it’s inspired by a Kickstarter initiative to celebrate Voyager 1 and 2’s launches.
[13:35] <+Ed_Jowett> They asked creators to come up with various projects inspired by the launches… so, being me, I wondered what would happen if a probe landed on an alien world… but in the WORST POSSIBLE WAY!
[13:35] <+Ed_Jowett> It crashed on their power plant and caused a disaster that left their planet uninhabitable.
[13:35] <+Ed_Jowett> Now, you might imagine that I was a little unsure about whether this would qualify as a Project of Earth, being all happy and celebratory about Earth, but I was told it was fine and Era: Balam was born!
[13:36] <+Ed_Jowett> This is my second Sci-Fi game – the first covered pretty much every sub-genre of Sci-Fi you can think of, including the ability to fly fighters, so I wanted to make this game bring something new to the table.
[13:37] <+Ed_Jowett> What I settled on was a feeling of duality between the pilot and the ship – only together are they a complete character, and the stats on the character sheet are actually a function of both of them together, which makes for a slightly different playing experience.
[13:37] <+Ed_Jowett> I’ve also done something brand new for me with this game – I went out and got a Savage Worlds license and the game is being released on Era d10 (to be compatible with the other Era games), on Savage Worlds and also on FATE!
[13:38] <+Ed_Jowett> The Kickstarter is currently just a shade off Funded (85% as of typing this), so we’re getting close to a guarantee I’ll be doing this thing!
[13:39] <+Ed_Jowett> I think that’s everything from me for a starter, I’ll be happy to take questions and go into more detail on the stuff you are all interested in.
[13:39] <~Dan> Thanks, Ed_Jowett! The floor is open to questions!
[13:39] <+GenoFoxx> so how far into tomorrow does Balaam take place?
[13:40] <+Ed_Jowett> Humanity has left our Solar System, and is somewhere between us and the alien world.
[13:41] <+Ed_Jowett> I’d say you’re probably talking a little further off than the start of Consortium, but before its end, given the levels of technology available. Ships travel about the speed of the Kurmaja, so it ties in reasonably nicely.
[13:41] <+Ed_Jowett> It’s very much my feeling that this is another colony ship launched around the same time.
[13:42] <+Ed_Jowett> (done)
[13:42] <~Dan> So no FTL travel?
[13:43] <+Ed_Jowett> Correct, you’re stuck in just the one solar system. The good news is that it has 9 planets, not including moons, so there are quite a few places to hang your hat.
[13:43] <~Dan> Are all the PCs starfighter pilots?
[13:44] <+Ed_Jowett> Yes, they are. Everyone gets their own fighter and outfits it their own way. The characters operate as a squadron.
[13:44] <+GenoFoxx> can a fighter have arms and legs?
[13:45] <+GenoFoxx> (subtle hint) there
[13:45] <+Ed_Jowett> Well, it’s not supported in the rulebook. But there’s nothing to stop you if you’re desperate.
[13:45] <+Ed_Jowett> There’s quite a lot of options for players when outfitting their ships, including a “Main Module”, which gives a “class”, as it were, but can be changed at any time that a replacement is available.
[13:46] <+Ed_Jowett> You have options such as a load of short range weapons to pummel people up close, a giant laser cannon to blast them from a distance, a minelayer and salvage drones which can repair friendlies or deal damage to enemies (and vice-versa…)
[13:47] <+Ed_Jowett> Add to that the salvage factor – the war has been going on for 2 years now, and there’s stuff all over the place – and you have quite a number of different technologies that can be available.
[13:48] <~Dan> Is the human tech on par with the alien tech?
[13:49] <+Ed_Jowett> Yeah, they are roughly equivalent. The only big difference is that the aliens have a mothership which is massive and terrifying.
[13:49] <+Ed_Jowett> The Humans don’t have that kind of resource and it won’t appear much in the game, it’s more the “ARGH! RUN!” object if the GM needs it.
[13:51] <+Ed_Jowett> One of the things that’s quite exciting about this game, and a lot of people have been responding to and asking questions about is its compatibility with Era: The Consortium.
[13:51] <+Ed_Jowett> It’s a more in-depth look at fighter combat, which is a little bit suicidal in Era: The Consortium (and rightly so, in my opinion!).
[13:52] <+Ed_Jowett> But this game gives you the chance to do more dogfights on equal footing than taking fighters to face huge enemy ships, and it provides a way of doing that which has a more personal feel to it.
[13:53] <~Dan> Why is fighter combat suicidal in Era: The Consortium?
[13:54] <+Ed_Jowett> Facing large ships with good point defence is sort of suicidal in general. If you swarm them, you might win, but it’s likely to be a Pyrrhic victory.
[13:55] <+Ed_Jowett> Of course, when it’s fighters versus fighters on fairly even footing, it becomes a different story and that’s really what this game offers.
[13:55] <~Dan> Are there no capital ships involved?
[13:56] <+Ed_Jowett> Just the one alien ship, otherwise no.
[13:57] <+Ed_Jowett> Humans don’t have the resources and aliens are really just building the fastest things they can. There is actually a campaign pack planned where the aliens are trying to build a second mothership…
[13:57] <+Ed_Jowett> but, obviously, the mission is to stop that from happening.
[13:57] * ~Dan nods
[13:58] <+Ed_Jowett> It’s probably worth mentioning that a big factor in this game is that it literally only offers rules in a spaceship. You don’t have things for walking around on the ground or getting in combat. While you can move around spaceports and speak with locals, you’re not going to do anything significant.
[13:58] <+Ed_Jowett> Again, because that’s covered very thoroughly in Era: The Consortium and because the stats you have are for you and your ship together, not you alone – it would require a second character sheet and additional character creation.
[13:59] <+Ed_Jowett> This is very definitely designed to have a certain flavour and do that specific thing in a slightly different and interesting way.
[14:00] <~Dan> No concern that nothing but dogfighting will get old?
[14:01] <+Ed_Jowett> Well, there’s the salvaging, there’s the exploration as well.
[14:01] <+Ed_Jowett> This is not intended to be something you play every week for 10 years, it’s part of our Pocket range and is intended to be played in short bursts, rather than providing a massive setting you can play for ever like Consortium.
[14:01] <~Dan> The solar system isn’t that well explored already?
[14:02] <+Ed_Jowett> So in that sense, no.
[14:02] <+Ed_Jowett> The solar system is well explored, but with the aliens doing things all the time, new groups of Humans trying to make bases in defensible places and so on, there’s stuff to go around and experience.
[14:02] <+Ed_Jowett> And Humans are still Humans – a government may even be overthrown in wartime, what happens then?
[14:03] <+Ed_Jowett> There’s plenty of wiggle room for play, I think.
[14:04] * ~Dan nods
[14:04] <+Ed_Jowett> I’d hope that at a price of £5, most people wouldn’t expect a 400 page book! 🙂
[14:04] <~Dan> Fair point.
[14:04] <~Dan> So what are the aliens like?
[14:05] <+Teylen> i
[14:05] <+Ed_Jowett> Broadly unknown – bearing in mind most combat takes place in fighters, there’s not a lot of personal interaction and not a lot left most of the time if you try to get hold of them afterwards!
[14:05] <~Dan> (Howdy, Teylen!)
[14:06] <+Teylen> (Howdy Dan)
[14:06] <+Ed_Jowett> I don’t have any images of them in the book for this reason, I want to allow others to imagine them. I envision them as many tentacled, well-co-ordinated pilots who probably put the Humans to shame technically, but lack the ingenuity and adaptability of Human pilots.
[14:06] <~Dan> How long does travel take between the major planets?
[14:07] <+Ed_Jowett> Well, depends which planets! It takes about 2 weeks to cross the solar system.
[14:07] <+Ed_Jowett> The Humans mostly control the inner system with the aliens on the outskirts, but that’s not universally true, as the planets don’t all line up!
[14:08] <~Dan> Seems like that would be pretty rough in a starfighter. O.o
[14:08] <+Ed_Jowett> But the Humans also have some bases in the Oort Cloud as well, so there are reasons to go past.
[14:08] <+Ed_Jowett> It’s not quite so bad, they are a little larger than an X-Wing and do have minimum leisure facilities.
[14:08] <+Ed_Jowett> A place to lie flat back from the cockpit, a small cargo bay, that sort of thing.
[14:08] <~Dan> I see.
[14:08] <~Dan> All single-crew ships?
[14:09] <+Ed_Jowett> They are – although you could fit more crew on if you wanted to, it would get cramped very fast, particularly with a full cargo hold.
[14:13] <~Dan> Have any other aliens been encountered?
[14:13] <+Ed_Jowett> Just a reminder of the URL for those who have joined us more recently, it’s at (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shadesofvengeance/jump-in-your-starfighter-for-era-balam-a-project-o)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shadesofvengeance/jump-in-your-starfighter-for-era-balam-a-project-o
[14:13] <+Ed_Jowett> No, there have not – these ones are plenty, it’s a large fleet and, in reality, Humanity is fighting for their lives.
[14:14] <+Ed_Jowett> When the aliens first arrived, they bombarded the human colonies they could find from orbit, leaving only rubble.
[14:14] <+Ed_Jowett> Only a few places survived, Balam being the largest, which was a science outpost inside a volcano.
[14:14] <+Ed_Jowett> Since then, it’s become Humanity’s last, best hope for victory… wait, can I say that? 😉
[14:16] * ~Dan chucklles
[14:16] * ~Dan chuckles, even
[14:16] <~Dan> (Howdy, Geek2theRight!)
[14:17] <+Motulev> it used to be our best, last hope for peace
[14:17] <+Ed_Jowett> Well, yes, but it became something greater during the year of the war.
[14:17] <+Ed_Jowett> I could do this all day, I just shouldn’t. But maybe this is a good time to talk about influences?
[14:18] <~Dan> Sure!
[14:19] <+Ed_Jowett> So I’d say that for at least some of the themes, I was inspired by Babylon 5 (I know, it’s a shock). I had a little influence from a few Star Trek episodes for the original concept of the disasterous planetfall of the probe (Voyager episode Pathfinder probably made it into my thought processes somewhere).
[14:19] <+GenoFoxx> ((I was wondering))
[14:19] <+Ed_Jowett> For the duality of the ship and the pilot, I looked at things like Luke and his X-Wing, I looked at Wash and Serenity and several other places where the pilot and the ship are almost one and the same.
[14:20] <+Ed_Jowett> For the actual feel of the gameplay, I was shooting for something more like the old Microsoft game Freelancer, which was a favourite of mine some years ago, and Elite Dangerous.
[14:21] <+Ed_Jowett> For the form of the dogfights, I wanted it to feel like Homeworld’s fighter battles, which always inspired me visually, even with just small numbers of fighters it’s hypnotic.
[14:21] <+Ed_Jowett> The artist, the layout guy, even the logo designer, all got treated to a video of a dogfight in Homeworld 😀
[14:23] <~Dan> Nice. 🙂
[14:24] <~Dan> Can you remind us of the game’s house system?
[14:25] <+Ed_Jowett> Sure, it’s called Era d10 and it’s very simple… 😛
[14:25] <+Ed_Jowett> If you don’t want to look at my explanation and would rather listen to be explaining on a video, you can find ones for Era: Balam here…
[14:25] <+Ed_Jowett> (Link: https://youtu.be/kfaEZBcic4Y)https://youtu.be/kfaEZBcic4Y
[14:26] <+Ed_Jowett> (Link: https://youtu.be/5RW-wIU0mvE)https://youtu.be/5RW-wIU0mvE
[14:26] <+Ed_Jowett> However, it basically works by taking an Attribute and a Skill. The GM defines which is the most appropriate pairing for the task you are attempting – it’s not fixed.
[14:27] <+Ed_Jowett> You roll Attribute + Skill dice, aiming to get a Threshold which is defined by the difficulty of the action.
[14:27] <+Ed_Jowett> The more you get over the Threshold, the more successful you are.
[14:27] <+Ed_Jowett> If you get more 1s than successes, you fumble.
[14:27] <+Ed_Jowett> It’s pretty much as simple as that – everything follows that format.
[14:28] <+Ed_Jowett> (done)
[14:28] <~Dan> Easy enough!
[14:29] <~Dan> Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[14:29] <+Ed_Jowett> I’ve actually played it at a lot of conventions with people brand new to RPGs and they found it really easy to follow and play, which thrilled me no end!
[14:30] <+Ed_Jowett> I don’t think so! Just if anyone else has any questions?
[14:30] <~Dan> We’ll give them a moment.
[14:30] <+Ed_Jowett> Or you, Dan, I don’t want to imply that I won’t take yours, haha!
[14:30] <~Dan> I know. 🙂
[14:31] <~Dan> Oh, quick note: Those wishing to support my Q&A efforts can do so here, either via tip or Patreon backing: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/
[14:31] <~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, Ed_Jowett!
[14:32] <+Ed_Jowett> Thanks for having me around, guys, and I hope to be back again soon to talk about more awesome games!
[14:32] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a minute here, I’ll get the chat logged and link you. 🙂