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Era: Balam - pilot your Starfighter and save humanity!

The Era: Balam rulebook

We were privileged to get a sneaky peek at the rulebook for the roleplaying game Era: Balam v1.1, which is currently live on Kickstarter. Full disclaimer, this is not a full review, as we've unfortunately not had chance to get a group together before the end of the campaign, but here at DOALG we absolutely love space-related games and adore RPGs too. Era: Balam, from Shades of Vengeance ( ticks both of those boxes, so we wanted to make sure that you, our lovely followers, were aware of it, so that you wouldn't miss out!

If you do like the sound of it, hurry as the campaign closes on Sunday 30th June 2024 at 9pm BST.

Era: Balam is a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) that harnesses the power of the Era D10 system. This system was created to make playing as simple and intuitive as possible to leave the choices in the hands of the Game Master (GM), reducing the time spent referring to the rulebook and increasing the time spent having fun whilst playing. In brief, it uses a system of attributes and skills to create a success-counting dice pool system. You roll attributes and skills in d10s, and the difficulty of the task determines which numbers count as successes.

The creator Ed Jowett was inspired by the Projects of Earth initiative run by Kickstarter in 2017, which asked creators to launch projects exploring life and culture on Earth, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Voyager space probe.

Ed wondered what would arise if the probe happened to land on an alien world, then what would happen if it landed and caused a disaster that would force the aliens to abandon that world. That is what the Era: Balam RPG is all about: those aliens are not happy, and have now encountered humans for the first time.

In the game you are a pilot with your own "Paladin" one-man ship sent out to explore space and defend humanity, joining other pilots to form a squadron. The game is about the duality of a pilot and their fighter, as whilst a pilot may technically survive without their ship, it will feel like they have lost a part of themselves.

The rulebook (available in both physical and digital forms) includes everything that you need to play. This includes all the rules, a briefing on the war between aliens and humanity, full character creation (both ship and pilot, including your backstory, your own special 'quirk', attributes, skills and ship modules), equipment choices, and a guide to help a GM run a game. Players chose what their ship is good at, what they are good at, and the special equipment module, before heading out to fight for humanity.

The stunning artwork, by Leonardo Arzila, really plunges you into the Balum world and gives you a thirst to get started straight away, and at 50 pages the rulebook is both thorough and immersive whilst not being intimidating, leaving GMs and players alike confident that it's going to be fun to play instead of constantly referring back to rules. Indeed, the rules are written in language that is easy to understand and formatted in such a way that it is quick to refer back to sections if you do need to. It is also organised in a logical order meaning that you will feel ready and eager to get started once you've digested the rules. If you do struggle, a good GM will easily be able to guide you.

For those of you who already have the original version, this upgraded version offers a map of HX-7371M, additional GM advice, enemy stats, and (for great replayability) a mission generator that allows you to build an unlimited number of scenarios.

For flavour, here's the background story taken from the Kickstarter page:

Era: Balam is based in a far-off solar system. When our space probe arrived on an alien world, it crash-landed on one of their power stations and the resulting disaster rendered their world uninhabitable. Seeking revenge and a new world to live on, the aliens escaped from their world on a massive ship and set a course along the path of the probe...

They encountered Humanity at a remote outpost many years later, in a system known as HX-7371. More recently, it's come to be known as the "Killing Fields", as the war between the aliens' superior forces and the fighters the Humans have been able to cobble together has now lasted two years.

The main colony in the system, Balam, is well-hidden, but if the aliens were ever to find it, they would be able to find their way to Earth... and that might mean extinction.

You'll have the chance to explore various planets and the space around them: Fly over icy plains to track down an important salvage opportunity, brave the depths of space for scouting missions and land on the moons of a spectacular Gas Giant as you explore and attempt to stop the aliens from completing their mission...

If this has whetted your appetite and you're ready to fight for humanity in your starfighter with your squadron, head over to the Kickstarter page now before Sunday 30th June at 9pm BST to find out more and back Era: Balum, which is already fully funded.


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