From publisher blurb:
For centuries, the Big Seven have ruled the Consortium... but things have changed recently.
It is now late in the year 446 of the Consortium Era (446CE) – near the beginning of the age known as the “Time of Change”.
Earth is a distant memory, all but forgotten. Any remaining stories from the Human homeworld now have the status of legends and are therefore assumed by most to be exaggerated. The Consortium stretches across three star systems, with twelve inhabited planets. Several wars have coloured the history of the Consortium, notably the Bug War between the Humans and Ximians; the events surrounding a raider named Shaun Hardcastle; and the conflict with the Resistance, which still continues. While the situation cannot be described as stable (as there are those who believe the Consortium is on the brink of civil war) people do not live in fear of their lives on a day to day basis.
Over the centuries, Humanity has made contact with three species of alien: the graceful and technologically advanced Eulutians, the strong and community-driven Ximians and the tough and spiritual Vilithii. By 446CE, Humans and all aliens have been given equal rights. However, they are not equally represented within the power structure of “The Consortium”, which is the term used to describe known inhabited space, much as “Earth” was used in antiquity.
The alien influences on development have led to advances in technology beyond levels thought possible by those humans who founded the Consortium. Gravitational control, intersystem travel through artificially relocated wormholes and food which can be grown on the outside of starships are all commonplace in the Consortium. Colonisation of planets without atmosphere, or with atmospheres which are poisonous or corrosive, is possible by using constructions known as “biodomes”.
The Consortium has also discovered and colonised two planets with atmospheres similar to Earth. Commercial travel from one colony to another within a star system takes up to two weeks in a standard ship, although military ships travel faster.
Interstellar travel takes longer than this, as in-system travel is required before using the wormholes. If and when the majority of the population travel between the planets, they use passenger transports, which run from one planet to another frequently and those wealthy enough own their own interplanetary transport. On-planet, there is both public and private transport. Vehicles called “Hoppers” are common, carrying sentient beings and goods from one place to another within the gravity well of a planet and can function whether an atmosphere is present or not.
The power structure of the Consortium is well-defined. It is ruled by a body known as the “Big Seven” (comprising seven Humans). These are the CEOs of the seven largest existing Companies, which dominate the Consortium. The remaining Companies range in size from huge multi-planetary organisations to groups which contain only a few individuals. This ruling body, although originally intended to operate in the interests of all citizens, has degenerated to such an extent that each member now works only for the interests of their own Company. Despite these rivalries, internal alliances which have endured for centuries still exist within the Big Seven. However, for the first time, several of the Big Seven are beginning to act directly against each other in their struggle for increased power. Representatives, both official and unofficial, of each of the Big Seven Companies are present on every world. Their roles range from conducting official business to quietly eliminating perceived threats to their own Company.
There is another political body called the “Senate”. The top 200 Companies, ranked in terms of profit, each send one representative to the Senate. The Senate was established at the time the Consortium was founded but, by 446CE, the general population believe it has lost its power. Officially, the Senate is obliged to ratify all laws passed by the Big Seven, and so far they have not failed to do this for over 100 years. However, the chief importance of the Senate is that it is the only body to hold, and be able to order the use of, all weapons of mass destruction. The Senate is not proportionally representative of the races found in the Consortium; although there are at least a few representatives from each alien race, the majority are human.
The Big Seven rules over the whole population of the Consortium. As long as the citizens follow the laws, commands they are given and meet the expectations imposed on them, they will live a good life, being given the advantage of all available technology if they so wish. If they fail to meet these expectations, they can expect to be imprisoned or worse.
Despite the majority of the population having a good life, a Resistance movement has come into being. The members of this movement believe that most of the Big Seven are actively plotting the genocide of the aliens and have no care for how many Humans may be killed in the process.
They are convinced the Big Seven are attempting an atrocity by means of a secret plot – they plan to use a weapon attached to a massive starship, the Orion, to kill all life in the most remote Star System. By blaming it on a solar event and using the panic that ensues to lock down travel, they plan to corner the Resistance and eliminate alien threats to their supremacy for ever.
A small number of brave Resistance operatives, like those from other resistance movements through the ages, are have managed to board the Orion, and even now, the best of them make their way to the ship’s weapon core...
Era: The Consortium is a Hard Sci-Fi Tabletop RPG and this Quickstart Guide lets you have a go right away! Featuring a climactic mission, it gives you an idea of how the game is played.
Running on the critically-acclaimed Era d10 Rule Set, you'll be enjoying this game in minutes!