Today, I’m going to be talking about 5 Sci-Fi sub-genres, why I think they’re interesting, and what ways are used within Era: The Consortium to handle them well!
There are obviously many more than seven sub-genres of Sci-Fi, and I have said many times that Era: The Consortium handles every sub-genre of Sci-Fi I could think of as a lifetime fan of science fiction. I wanted to make sure that the various obvious things were covered in the game – both mechanically and story-wise – when I created it.
So here we go: here are five things that Era: The Consortium is built to handle as sub-genres of Sci-Fi!
1: Colonising a New World
This is a very common sub-genre. It’s commonly linked to themes of a new beginning, new opportunities for the human race.
Various things that included this that inspired me are various episodes of Star Trek and other Sci-Fi series, along with computer games like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Mass Effect Andromeda and many more.
Era: The Consortium handles this through the arrival of the Kurmaja on Taranis. This is an unclaimed world, which is similar to Earth. When the crew lands, they find they have very little memory, very little experience to go on. Many of them need to be retrained, due to the memory loss from cryo stasis. To add to the difficulties, wild, dangerous creatures roam the land.
There are a large number of difficulties involved with colonising a world, especially when you don’t have the knowledge that allowed you to escape from a planet’s atmosphere in the first place. Era: The Consortium offers the first few years where a small number of crew who had survived on a generational ship – the Kurmaja – and must direct most of the unfrozen, cryogenically stored population of the ship to carry out the various activities needed in order to revitalise human civilisation.
Following on from that, there’s eventually an educated population who are trying to tame this planet.
And of course, there is the opportunity to play during the times that other planets and solar systems are discovered and colonised later on in the timeline. So, from 1 or 2CE, all the way through to 108CE, this offers a lot number of different opportunities within this sub-genre.
The mechanics around this are mostly focused on a lack of equipment or lack of availability of technology, which will become commonplace later on in the Consortium’s timeline. Weapons are weaker, they’re less able to defeat wild animals which might threaten the now-fledgling Human civilisation. And there’s a lot of mystery around what the animals and the planet has in store for Humanity as well, which is another important aspect of these sorts of stories.
2: Encountering alien races.
This is something that has been covered in more short stories, TV and various other media than I can easily list. Star Trek obviously comes to mind. There’s also The Outer Limits, which has numerous episodes about this because, let’s face it, the idea of humanity meeting an alien race of understanding more about ourselves in the Universe by doing so is a very big deal.
In Era: The Consortium, I focus on mechanics that define the political impact of new arrivals. New technology that’s never been available before has suddenly appeared. New outlooks on existence are offered, with each alien race having a different method of approaching reality.
As a side note, I think that’s really important because otherwise you end up with aliens which are just humans who look funny! The psychological differences between these alien races is one of the aspects that I think is most important about Era: The Consortium’s First Contact offering.
I intend to go into more detail on this point in an upcoming article, so watch this space for more on that!
3: Cybernetics – the line between man and machine.
This is something explored thoroughly through a variety of media as well – recent Deus Ex being a good example of what comes to mind instantly. What is Human? How much do you have to replace before you are no longer Human (a question also asked towards the end of the Rama series!)?
As a result, I have made this something that is explored pretty constantly throughout Era: The Consortium’s timeline, starting from the initial invention of the Cranial Implant and decisions that were made by the Eulutian who designed it, on to the mind sharers and Yulio-2 architecture, and eventually on to Elliot Draigon and Moritasgas Pharmaceuticals working together to build the first cranial-controlled Implants of modern Consortium design.
The implants in Era: The Consortium offer a huge array of mechanical opportunities, from bringing a character back to life to long range vision or throwing weapons, or even armour that’s embedded beneath your skin. These are various levels of complexity, and they’re available at different times as technology changes.
The apex of this could be argued to be the Rapier expansion, when you can infiltrate a computer system by loading your consciousness into it. Of course, this is far from a new idea, but it’s an idea that I love,
and I think Era: The Consortium would be lacking if it didn’t offer it!
4: All-Out War.
Era: The Consortium offers all out war twice.
First, there’s all out war between the Consortium and the Ximians. This was inspired by Starship Troopers to a degree – it offers the opportunity for the truly gruelling, difficult kind of war where the enemy doesn’t value their troops in the way that humanity does.
What does a character sacrifice for their comrades?
Secondly, there is a pirate uprising, which was very much inspired by the works of Elizabeth Moon, particularly Vatta’s War. I wanted to give people the opportunity to build their own story within that war.
This, of course, is the Sean Hardcastle uprising. The Core Rulebook provides all of the rules that you need, but free trade up the expansion offers even more opportunities to gamers who would like to penetrate into the piracy issues.
These to both give very different flavour to the all out war concept in science fiction, and the mechanics around them are focused on both ground combat and large ships floating through space and trying to fight off either other large ships or even swarms of smaller ships.
Era: The Consortium’s space combat mechanics optimised in that direction. (Of course, for dog fights, I built Era: Balam!)
5: Rebellion Against an Evil Government
Star Wars is probably the most prevalent example of this kind in people’s minds at the moment. There are many other stories like it, however, where a small group rise up against a government that they perceive as oppressive. Now, this could be anything from an actual conflict which is resolved, like in Star Wars, or it could be that the resistance of practically lost or a so unlikely to achieve anything that it’s barely paying any attention, such as Firefly or Serenity.
This period is where Era: The Consortium was born, and I would like to believe that it handles it extremely well because it was built around the concepts involved in this kind of conflict!
All of the opportunities to get hold of equipment are covered, how it might be difficult for some things to be obtained, which is dealt with by the law level of a weapon. Various other mechanics come into play that are perhaps more subtle: the instant kill rules take on a slightly different meaning when you consider the Implants that are available in this era, when you consider that civilians might be gunned down by the government on the basis that they aren’t trusted, and also how a hero may be able to to to tear through numerous enemies with little difficulty.
It requires a certain balance of mechanics and Era: The Consortium really delivers that.
So those are just five basic sub-genres of Sci-Fi which Era: The Consortium handles with after a lot of thought into how best to do so.
I’d be happy to offer more material about how genres slot into Era: The Consortium, so if you’re interested, please join our Discord (https://discord.gg/6C4H9Cv) or our Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/erad10games/) and ask me! I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
As always, thank you very much for reading and I hope you found this helpful!