Free-Style Sci-Fi Role-Play
Waive a hand and a thousand years have passed. Easy in concept, but what changes will such an expanse
of time bring. Earth has traveled a millennium into the future, yet individuals seek the same things:
ambition, glory, security. Era Ten is a role-play game which postulates mankind in that future. From
the dawn of space flight (Era One) to the collapse of commerce on the galactic scale (Era Nine), the
remaining "Immunes" organize in a fight for the status quo, which often is just another day of living
Three Core Rulebooks
Designing Sci-Fi Scenarios
Designing Sci-Fi Encounters
Era Ten, A millenium in the future
Era Ten had two very well received supplements, Guardians of Sol and Independents. Together the five
books were as complete as Cutlass, quite an achievement. Actually, the jump from Cutlass was pretty
easy. Unlike the fantasy series which needed some way of resolving the unexplainable methods of
magic, the Funky Powers in Era Ten could be controlled as skill actions and often relegated to
non-player characters. The mechanics of both pyrate games were basically the same, replacing ships
and cannon and pistols and cutlass, with a spacecraft and barrages and power armor and implants.
Well, there were some differences. But to be adrift at sea in the 1600's is much the same as being
adrift in vacuous space. To search out strange lands is a free-form trip into uncharted space. To
travel the worm hole routes is to tread the spice lanes. The games will only play differently because
the Era Ten background is so convoluted.
Era Ten was an old campaign, started by myself and Jacob Moser in the late seventies. A composite of
many things we liked in sci-fi, the game tried to explain all the things which were basically wrong
with many of the first science fiction role-play titles just starting to appear back then. I've
played many sci-fi games and all of them are good, if they are played in Era Ten. Use the campaigns
of the originals and they suck the big wind of redundancy. The mechanics evolved into free-style,
and much did change from playtest, but the core concepts remain. Era Ten is a campaign concept which
happens to fit into the free-style mechanics.
Every so often someone will email me and ask whether we stole such and such from this game or that
novel. The answer is inevitably yes and no. The concepts were not plagiarized but consolidated.
Think the late seventies, if you can, and you'll recall Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica,
Buck Rogers and even Quark. (No, not the alien on that B-5 rip-off, but the garbage hauler.) The Era
Ten package is its own whole space leviathan, even if many of the beast's tentacles appear similar
to other cosmic whales. What does that mean? No one's got the motivating twist of ageless Immunes, but us.
Sci-Fi vs SF
If you think this deserves discussion then you have the problem. I've been calling things
Sci-Fi for far longer then you've had a bug up your ass about things not being called Sci-Fi.
So give it a rest and read my Sci-Fi as your SF or science-fiction or whatever.
All that is
"Sky-Phi" with me.
Some have asked why you even need to make the players the one in a million who are still able to
break the law, bend the rules, while the rest of society has been pacified into perfect ideal
citizens. The game takes on a classic adventure feel, with the players able to romp to deserted
planets (all that remain are Taints), fight the one on one wild west duel for control of a system
or lead his small group to face the innumerable frenzied Zulu, I mean Kro. Here the players are soldiers by
virtue of being Immune, not by impressive skill; a squad of ten is the only instrument left for
foreign policy. As the Battle Born's Major Slaughter would say, "We're all going to live forever,
unless we die."
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