[14:27] <+Ed_Jowett> Hi everyone! I’m Ed Jowett and it’s fantastic to be back once again.
[14:28] <+SuperAge_Jeff> hello
[14:28] <+Ed_Jowett> The game I’m talking about today is Era: The Empowered. I’ve actually been here before to talk about it.
[14:28] <+Ed_Jowett> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shadesofvengeance/era-the-empowered-a-super-powered-rpg?ref=a99c4x)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shadesofvengeance/era-the-empowered-a-super-powered-rpg?ref=a99c4x
[14:30] <+Ed_Jowett> When I was here before, the game was new, semi-formed and we could only offer a rulebook primer without character creation within. Now, we’re finished – the 300-page Core Rulebook is being written and illustrated and the Kickstarter is for that!
[14:30] <+Ed_Jowett> In addition, we’re offering a short story anthology made by some great writers (including #rpgnet’s own DWPearce!) set in the Empowered universe.
[14:31] <+Ed_Jowett> The idea behind the game is to provide an opportunity to play any sub-genre of superhero story – you can be one of the first to appear, or much later when being a superhero or supervillain is almost common!
[14:31] <+Ed_Jowett> You can face down alien invasions, Atlantis’s forces, the old gods of legend and even the Assassins Guild!
[14:33] <+Ed_Jowett> We’ve aimed to get all of the “tropes” which you see in comics and also in the animated work which DC and Marvel produce so much of, plus the current movies and TV series… we love the superhero genre and we aim to provide everything you could want under one game!
[14:33] <+Ed_Jowett> (done)
[14:33] <~Dan> Thanks, Ed_Jowett! The floor is open to questions!
[14:34] <~Dan> Would it be correct to assume that this setting is firmly in the “four-color” camp?
[14:34] <+Ed_Jowett> Not at all.
[14:35] <~Dan> (Howdy, LW!)
[14:35] <~Dan> How would you describe it, then?
[14:35] <+Ed_Jowett> The setting is quite variable, with the possibility for gritty “realism”, in the sense the marvel movies provide (I use the term realism loosely, obviously!) just as much as the more colourful adventures from older periods.
[14:35] <+SuperAge_Jeff> so one of the move frustrating things about all RPG games – fantasy, modern, sc fi – mecha (especially mecha) is the lack of dynamic nature of combat… in most games I play the PC’s just stand there and spam some type of attack, the monsters stand there and spam attack…
[14:36] <+SuperAge_Jeff> … in no way do these experiences come close to replicating action i see in tv shows, read in books, or watch in movies. Have you done anything to make the feeling of what I see come to life during play?
[14:36] <+Ed_Jowett> SuperAge_Jeff I agree, there is a tendency to do that among players. With the way the Power Trees work in Era: The Empowered, it encourages a use of a variety of skills, rather than just sticking to one.
[14:37] <+SuperAge_Jeff> what would a sample of skills i have be at a mid-level hero?
[14:37] <+Ed_Jowett> Sorry, I’ll answer that in a moment – I’m halfway through answering the previous question.
[14:38] <+SuperAge_Jeff> (sure answer them in fashion you dont have to jump around, i cant guess when you are finished so i jsut asked my questions)
[14:39] <+Ed_Jowett> The game itself rewards narrative by the players and offers the opportunity to have an array of skills related to their power rather than just a single “power”. The use of those developed applications of the powers provides a large amount of variety – Iron Man doesn’t always blast things with repulsors, sometimes he uses the lasers which cut through enemies..
[14:40] <+Ed_Jowett> …(I was just watching Iron Man 2) and sometimes he uses the darts which have a precise hit location, particularly when facing human shield situations.
[14:40] <+Ed_Jowett> These would be represented by different boxes on the power trees, and blasting individuals using human shields with repulsors, as an example, would not be the correct solution.
[14:41] <+Ed_Jowett> I think a large part of ensuring that people don’t just spam the same attacks comes down to appropriate scenarios which force different approaches, and we cater for that very carefully in the Skill and Power Trees of the Era d10 Rule Set for Era: The Empowered.
[14:41] <+Ed_Jowett> Onto the question about what skills you might have as a mid-level hero…
[14:42] <+Ed_Jowett> That varies quite a lot. Again, it is very much open to choice.
[14:43] <+Ed_Jowett> In the Era d10 Rule Set, you can have extremely powerful abilities right from the start… you’re just not very good with them. I’m currently playing a level 3 campaign, where one of the characters has superman-esque powers (she’s the lady in violet on some of the images – Violete) – the ability to fly and super strength. She has quite a high…
[14:43] <+SuperAge_Jeff> — you have a lot of skills / powers, what stops me from using my most powerful attack every attack, what forces me to move around the attack environment
[14:44] <+xyphoid> like some kind of … encounter power
[14:44] <+Ed_Jowett> …power level for those particular things, but her overall abilities, in concept are not the most powerful, and pretty much no matter high she levels them, she’ll never be as powerful as superman. A second character in that group has the ability to resurrect the dead. Now, while that ability sounds extremely broken, you have to spend a lot of points for it..
[14:45] <+Ed_Jowett> …to reach a level of proficiency – more than double what Violete has to – because of the essential power level of the ability.
[14:45] <+Ed_Jowett> As a result, the most powerful ability will always be a huge risk to use. There’s nothing to stop you using it each time, but you will come cropper relatively quickly through a multiple dice system where all you have to do is roll more 1s than Successes to Fumble…
[14:46] <+Ed_Jowett> …and that’s not even considering the fact that if you attempt an unskilled application of your power – including something that’s too far outside of what the Skill is – you will have to roll for luck.
[14:48] <+xyphoid> does that encourage you to use your more reliable powers repeatedly instead?
[14:48] <+Ed_Jowett> What stops you from just using the most powerful attack? Other limitations can also be placed on character through the Quirks, but we have an individual with a Plasma Cannon in the same campaign I’m referring to. His plasma cannon has two modes – rapid fire (which is good for anti-people) and artillery…
[14:48] <+xyphoid> (the issue of dynamic combat abilities is an interesting one to see discussed)
[14:49] <+xyphoid> like, if you’re fighting people, what stops plasma guy doing rapid fire every round?
[14:49] <+Ed_Jowett> …which is good for anti-vehicle or anti-building but pretty useless against people. I don’t find that he uses one or the other all of the time, because the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to be stealthy is to pull out a plasma cannon and start shooting.
[14:49] <+Ed_Jowett> His plasma cannon has an overheat quirk which means that he’s not able to do that. In addition, he also has an issue with potential fumbles – does he risk his plasma cannon exploding by using it every turn? It becomes increasingly likely as he uses it more.
[14:50] <~Dan> Is this a single-source or multi-source setting in terms of powers?
[14:51] <+xyphoid> so you’re required to have some kind of limit on powers like that?
[14:51] <+Ed_Jowett> Dan, I’m not certain I understand the question, but I’ll have a crack at it and you can let me know if I am mistaken. Powers come (mostly) from the essence of older heroes who have “ascended”.
[14:51] <+Ed_Jowett> xyphoid required? No. Recommended? Yes.
[14:52] <+Ed_Jowett> There are also alien origins (think Martian Manhunter), devices from other worlds and so on, so there are multiple ways in which powers can be given to a character in the setting.
[14:52] <~Dan> Yup, that answers my question, then. Multi-source. 🙂
[14:52] <+xyphoid> like, do the power costs come out such that you’re better off having a bunch of powerful but non-repeatable powers vs a single repeatable one with no downside
[14:53] <+Ed_Jowett> I’d say 95% probably come from ascended essences which then join with people who share a similarity with the previous individual who requested it.
[14:53] <+Ed_Jowett> xyphoid I think the jury is still out on that one. There are balances… having one super powerful ability which has a massive downside versus lots of small abilities is the question of Captain America versus Iron Man.
[14:54] <+Ed_Jowett> I’m not certain there is an answer, I think it comes down to personal preference.
[14:55] <+Ed_Jowett> Have I missed any questions in all that?
[14:55] <~Dan> I think you’re caught up.
[14:56] <~Dan> Do you have a character sheet that we can see?
[14:56] <+Ed_Jowett> I do, but this always breaks when I put images in. I think I have a link for one, one moment.
[14:56] <+Ed_Jowett> (Link: https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/020/273/176/60b9a41d515be65636cb26df9cdbb33b_original.jpg?w=680&fit=max&v=1518939983&auto=format&q=92&s=86ee28230255cb3e30151ae77c1f9f21)https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/020/273/176/60b9a41d515be65636cb26df9cdbb33b_original.jpg?w=680&fit=max&v=1518939983&auto=format&q=92&s=86ee28230255cb3e30151ae77c1f9f21
[14:57] <+Ed_Jowett> There’s also a video of me creating a character here: (Link: https://youtu.be/AT3YzOnGLEw)https://youtu.be/AT3YzOnGLEw
[14:57] <+Ed_Jowett> and an explanation of the Power Tree here: (Link: https://ksr-video.imgix.net/assets/020/253/872/aa4f1a56b4a5df6cc5765b5dd6447240_h264_high.mp4)https://ksr-video.imgix.net/assets/020/253/872/aa4f1a56b4a5df6cc5765b5dd6447240_h264_high.mp4
[14:58] <+Ed_Jowett> (The explanation is only about 3 minutes, but it explains how the power tree is used to balance weak and powerful abilities.
[14:58] <~Dan> How are attributes and skills rated? I see fillable slots and numbers from 1-3.
[14:59] <+Ed_Jowett> Every roll is an Attribute (left, or the Base Power) and a Skill (right, or the rest of the tree).
[15:00] <+Ed_Jowett> the numbers from 1-3 relate to levelling up – in order to get dots when it is 2, you have to spend 2 Attribute Points or Skill Points.
[15:00] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[15:01] <+Ed_Jowett> You roll a number of dice equal to the number of dots you have.
[15:01] <+Ed_Jowett> And you’re able to trade “life skills” into the powers at the ration of 2:1 if you wish… which sounds bad, but it gives you the choice to focus primarily on your powers.
[15:02] <+Ed_Jowett> *ratio
[15:03] <~Dan> I see a limited number of slots. Is the scale universally closed, or can it handle “cosmic” beings?
[15:03] <+Ed_Jowett> For the powers, you mean?
[15:04] <~Dan> Or for attributes or skills.
[15:04] <+Ed_Jowett> That’s where it gets interesting – you can literally add as many power trees as you like.
[15:05] <+Ed_Jowett> Powers can be things such as a passive increase to Strength, so you can have Strength that exceeds the strongest Human imaginable fairly easy (in this system, that’s about 5 dots)
[15:05] <+Ed_Jowett> So if you wanted to do cosmic beings, you absolutely can do that as well, yes.
[15:06] <+Ed_Jowett> In fact, one of the strongest characters who got into the playtests had just 2 power trees and was regularly able to stand against as many as 6 heroes simultaneously.
[15:06] <~Dan> Good to know. 🙂
[15:08] <~Dan> How are powers purchased? Are they “effects-based”, or are they purchased “cafeteria-style” as packages?
[15:09] <+Ed_Jowett> Well, the Core Rulebook will contain 45 examples of power trees you can use. You will also, of course, have instructions to build your own power trees. So really, that depends on whether you prefer to come up with your own ideas of if one of the trees suits your needs.
[15:10] <+Ed_Jowett> In general, you have a base power, and you would expand it in whatever way seemed most appropriate – the videos above should help give an example of that for a speedster.
[15:10] <+Ed_Jowett> I have actually built Blue-Shift 3 or 4 times and every time she has been slightly different, so I mostly prefer to go with whatever feel I’m looking for for the character.
[15:11] <~Dan> How would the system handle a multi-aspect power like Weather Control?
[15:12] <+Ed_Jowett> Actually, there’s only one character I’ve ever had problems with expressing in one tree, and that’s Martian Manhunter.
[15:12] <+Ed_Jowett> I recently completed someone with weather control as one of the examples – a character named Tornado.
[15:12] <~Dan> Tree? That’s a whole damned forest!
[15:12] <~Dan> re: Martian Manhunter
[15:12] <+Ed_Jowett> Two trees.
[15:13] <+Ed_Jowett> One for physical abilities (shapeshifting) and one for mental (which includes invisibility)
[15:13] <~Dan> Huh. Interesting.
[15:13] <+Ed_Jowett> I made the assumption he removes his image from peoples’ minds, a minor cheat to make it work, but invisibility is still there.
[15:13] <+Ed_Jowett> (I happen to be a bit of a fan of the character, so…!)
[15:13] <+Ed_Jowett> But I handled weather manipulation through air control.
[15:14] <+Ed_Jowett> If you can control the air, you can cause lightning, you can cause wind, tornadoes, rain…
[15:14] <+xyphoid> so do you have to define everything a character can do in advance, or can you come up with new moves during play?
[15:14] <+Ed_Jowett> some power types don’t have an obvious solution, which is one of the reasons I have so many example trees in the book.
[15:15] <+Ed_Jowett> xyphoid you can not only come up with new moves during play, I’ve known people to not fill in their entire power tree upfront, leaving a few boxes empty.
[15:15] <+Ed_Jowett> This gives them room to grow as they think more about their Skills during gameplay.
[15:15] <+Ed_Jowett> In addition, an application of your power you had never thought of before is doable, it would count as an unskilled attempt under the normal Era d10 rules.
[15:16] <+Ed_Jowett> This is the power that comes from the Tree counting as Attributes and Skills – all of the framework is there to do whatever you need.
[15:17] <~Dan> I’m assuming that degree of success matters in task resolution?
[15:17] <+Ed_Jowett> Yeah.
[15:17] <~Dan> Does that make “super-skilled” characters like Green Arrow feasible?
[15:17] <+Ed_Jowett> There are tables that explain all that in all of the Era games, and this is no different.
[15:17] <+Ed_Jowett> Yeah, the way we do that is we actually treat it as a power tree.
[15:18] <+Ed_Jowett> It’s a level of training that most people don’t have, so we put powers in the Power Tree – I actually have a main character in the setting called Lobo who has no superpowers.
[15:19] <~Dan> On a related note, can the game handle Superman/Batman team-ups?
[15:19] <+Ed_Jowett> Yes, it can, as well as sidekicks.
[15:19] <+Ed_Jowett> When Superman and Batman team up, there are skills that each brings to the mix that the other doesn’t have.
[15:20] <+Ed_Jowett> I think that would apply here as well, for sure.
[15:21] <~Dan> Can you give us a brief overview of combat?
[15:22] <+Ed_Jowett> I can write some stuff out, but the best answer is going to be the video I prepared earlier: (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM123HDcNTA)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM123HDcNTA
[15:22] <+Ed_Jowett> This features Blue-Shift fighting with the green lantern-like Penumbra.
[15:22] <~Dan> (Howdy, Monochrome_Tide!)
[15:23] <+Ed_Jowett> Super speed versus the ability to make any object you like out of shadow… and I’ll let you watch it to see who wins!
[15:23] <~Dan> 🙂
[15:23] <+Ed_Jowett> hint: speed doesn’t help you if there’s nowhere to run…!
[15:23] * ~Dan chuckles
[15:24] <~Dan> Putting aside the system for a moment, what makes the setting stand out?
[15:24] <+Ed_Jowett> There’s actually full-on real play session here as well: (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yix8ow2dXE)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yix8ow2dXE
[15:25] <+Ed_Jowett> The setting provides the opportunity to play any kind of superhero game as I said before. But, beyond that, it offers an epic story which you could play from beginning to end.
[15:26] <~Dan> (wb, Saurbaum)
[15:26] <~Dan> When does this story begin?
[15:26] <+Ed_Jowett> From the moment that powers begin to emerge, there is an alien hand at the head of humanity’s fate. A small group stand against him, forced together by circumstances, and we follow the story through.
[15:26] <+Ed_Jowett> It begins with a creature not massively unlike Galactus attacking this alien being’s homeworld.
[15:26] <+Ed_Jowett> it consumes the Empowered, however, rather than the energy of the planet.
[15:27] <+Ed_Jowett> one individual escapes, saved by his people, and is sent to Earth to lead the fight against this being.
[15:28] <+Ed_Jowett> I mentioned ascension before – this alien (who comes to be known as the Harbinger) and his people build supersuits that give powers. They are not capable of the ascension Humans are.
[15:28] <+Ed_Jowett> So they can never have multiple power trees, in mechanical terms.
[15:28] <+Ed_Jowett> They hope that Humans, though, can become more powerful than them thanks to our biological capabilities.
[15:29] <+Ed_Jowett> We then move onto the emergence of powers on our planet… people don’t necessarily believe that it’s real to start with, but as the evidence begins to mount up, they have no choice but to accept it as the truth.
[15:29] <+Ed_Jowett> The odd thing is that all of the legends of superheroes, of gods and monsters exist in this world…
[15:30] <+Ed_Jowett> but they have been reduced to legend.
[15:30] <+Ed_Jowett> That’s because of the Hunger – it consumes the knowledge of Empowered as well as its essence. No-one is really sure why (that’s a reveal for later).
[15:31] <+Ed_Jowett> So Harbinger is there, on the human world (we call it Terra), and begins to gather his forces.
[15:31] <+Ed_Jowett> And he wants to make Empowered as powerful as possible. So how do you achieve that?
[15:31] <+Ed_Jowett> You make them bad guys and force the good guys to fight against increasingly powerful opponents.
[15:31] <~Dan> Huh.
[15:32] <+Ed_Jowett> Yeah, not necessarily the obvious route, but a very logical one.
[15:33] <+Ed_Jowett> And we have the people who believe themselves to be heroes standing against the forces of Harbinger (that’s the Kickstarter’s title image (Link: https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/019/563/928/6c94392f1c290d17b3b01a6f1d464e69_original.jpg?crop=faces&w=1024&h=576&fit=crop&v=1518471157&auto=format&q=92&s=ee36d69065bb98f38b497b82a3220452)https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/019/563/928/6c94392f1c290d17b3b01a6f1d464e69_original.jpg?crop=faces&w=1024&h=576&fit=crop&v=1518471157&auto=format&q=92&s=ee36d69065bb98f38b497b82a3220452)
[15:33] <~Dan> So in what year does Harbinger arrive?
[15:34] <+Ed_Jowett> I refer to it as “Year One”, rather than giving a year.
[15:34] <+Ed_Jowett> *a calendar year
[15:34] <+Ed_Jowett> Personally, I play it more as a 90s thing, but I also know people who want to have the internet and such being a thing that’s in the world.
[15:35] <+Ed_Jowett> The story is more based around a modern time.
[15:35] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, LittleCook!)
[15:35] <+Ed_Jowett> Like… could be this year.
[15:35] <+LittleCook> Thank you! Hi
[15:35] <~Dan> Ed_Jowett: So there’s no “Golden Age”?
[15:35] <+Ed_Jowett> Ah, there is a Golden Age expansion planned as a Stretch Goal.
[15:35] <~Dan> (LittleCook: Here for the Q&A, or just a general visit? 🙂 )
[15:36] <+Ed_Jowett> You see, as I said before, the Hunger has visited Terra a few times, the last being back in the 60’s, and then back before that as well.
[15:37] <+Ed_Jowett> Both I and Dice and Stuff (a podcaster who do many of the Era games! (Link: http://www.diceandstuff.com/category/cowl-cops/)http://www.diceandstuff.com/category/cowl-cops/) firmly believe that the 60’s era offers some serious hilarity!
[15:38] <+Ed_Jowett> That’s one of the most terrifying things about The Hunger – it uses the forms of the Empowered it has consumed to attack. So when it arrives (the storyline continues up to there), it sends down 60’s style heroes with colourful outfits and silly names!
[15:38] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[15:38] <+Ed_Jowett> It’s a foreshadowing of what’s going to happen to the Empowered in this storyline unless they are able to defeat it.
[15:40] <~Dan> That’s pretty clever. 🙂
[15:40] <+Ed_Jowett> Thanks very much!
[15:40] <+Ed_Jowett> I had some amazing team members on this, including someone with 15 years of experience writing comics for the industry!
[15:40] <~Dan> Wow!
[15:41] <+Ed_Jowett> We’ve tried to make sure that every opportunity that people might want is within this timeline.
[15:42] <~Dan> Do you offer a bestiary and/or a rogue’s gallery?
[15:43] <+Ed_Jowett> We do! We have a list of factions within the game and we also offer power trees and stats for several of those which are less than lawful!
[15:45] <~Dan> What about monsters?
[15:46] <+Ed_Jowett> Well, we have a few individuals, such as Rampage, who are half-man, half-beast (sort of like Kraven the Hunter), but there aren’t a massive number of those in the setting specifically. Sounds like a good thing we could add in as an expansion!
[15:46] <+Ed_Jowett> There’s also King Crab (although the characters agree not to call it that in the end!).
[15:46] <+Ed_Jowett> which is… well, a giant crab!
[15:46] <~Dan> Of course! If nothing else, all superheroes should fight dinosaurs once in a while. 🙂
[15:47] <+Ed_Jowett> Absolutely! There’s actually a dinosaur character (technically a good guy!) in the Tales of the Empowered anthology!
[15:48] <~Dan> Awesome. 🙂
[15:48] <~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[15:48] <+Ed_Jowett> If you want to know more about Era: The Empowered, you can find loads of information on our Facebook Group: (Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2038903633009863/)https://www.facebook.com/groups/2038903633009863/
[15:50] <+Ed_Jowett> We’ve played this with hundreds and hundreds of people over the last 4 years, and we’ve had unfailingly positive experiences. I think we’ve hit on something that works very well!
[15:50] <+Ed_Jowett> People seem to agree – we’ve reached the first Stretch Goal already.
[15:50] <+Ed_Jowett> And we’re only 36 hours into the campaign!
[15:51] <~Dan> Congrats!
[15:51] <+Ed_Jowett> I’d also like to mention Keith Draws, our artist and layout artist.
[15:51] <+Ed_Jowett> He’s doing a fantastic job with bringing this universe to life.
[15:52] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
[15:53] <~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, Ed_Jowett!
[15:53] <+Ed_Jowett> It’s always a pleasure to be here, Dan, thanks so much for having us!
[15:54] <~Dan> As a reminder, those wishing to support my Q&As can do so at (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/ 🙂
[15:54] <~Dan> Now, as usual, if you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll post the log and link you. 🙂