The galaxy is crawling with space-faring civilisations, but the Earth Alliance is one of the youngest - also brash, impetous and spreading like wildfire. They're pretty warlike, too, having fought a major global conflict an hundred years ago just before emerging onto the galactic scene, and the waging a couple more along with establishing colonies and forming diplomatic links with just about everyone that they encounter. They are a very adaptable and curious species, and this seems to be standing them in good stead so far... even though they are hampered by innate aggressiveness and internal conflicts between adherents of different religions and people of different ethnicities. This book serves to introduce them, warts and all, with notes on history, equipment, and the territory that they inhabit from Earth itself to the other planets on which they have established colonies.
We begin with some history, starting in the mid-21st century (the assumption is that earlier Earth history is much as in the real-world, so hit a history book if you want to know more). The global conflict mentioned above was started in 2080 by India and Pakistan, who quickly sucked in their neighbours. What was a local squabble between two nations that were always bickering went south fast when China decided to invade Pakistan, and in desperation the Pakistanis dropped nuclear bombs on the Chinese, sending the entire world into a state of panic. There's a lot more detail, but by the time the conflict ended very little had changed in terms of territory held by each nation, but the entire region was devastated and the rest of the world was staggering from the after effects. Oddly there was a lot of outrage from many nations that a secret network of American satellites called EarthShield had prevented even greater nuclear devastation as it had prevented any intercontinental ballistic missiles from reaching their targets. However this was to be the catalyst for the formation of the Earth Alliance as the Americans offered EarthShield to a new organisation they proposed, the United Earth Force. Over time, even those who initially resisted the idea joined up to create the Earth Alliance. China, Russia, France, India and Pakistan, along with the arab nations of the middle east were the main holdouts; but as each nation finally decided to join they were welcomed with open arms and shared equally in the benefits from the outset. Eventually the Earth could look outwards into space, although that was not without its problems too. The history continues with civilian operations joining the Earth Alliance in space, and plenty squabbles there too as people jostled for advantage and defended themselves vigorously. Eventually EarthForce was formed to police the spacelanes... and then Earth vessels encountered the Centauri, and nothing was quite the same again.
After a somewhat turbulent expansion into the intergalatic community ended with the Earth-Minbar war, the Earth Allience decide that a place where all starfaring races could meet for diplomacy and trade was the best way to ensure peace, and instigated the Babylon Project. Even that had its issues and after four Babylon stations had come to grief, the Earth Alliance was about to drop the project... until the Minbari Federation stepped in and provided the necessary funds for the fifth Babylon station to be built.
The next chapter, Earth Alliance Characters, expands on the material in the core rulebook about creating and playing Earth human characters. This section is primarily rules-based, with new prestige classes and a whole raft of information about telepaths (in or out of Psi Corps) This is followed by a chapter about Life in the Earth Alliance. It points out that outsiders may think its homogenous with a single people, unified government and no dissent; for those within the Earth Alliance there's a lot of diversity depending where they are. Even on Earth itself, it's more of an alliance of nation-states and as for those living in the colonies there are many different outlooks and some are seeking independence. There are ten major colonies, and some further fourteen systems that maintain small outposts. The first was Mars, and the others are listed. Then we move on to governance. Mostly, the 'units' represented in the Senate that runs EarthGov are large economic groupings like the European Union and similar ones that have developed on different continents, but apart from matters concerning the Earth Alliance as a whole, they are left to govern themselves internally as they see fit. The whole system is messy, unwieldy and open to abuse.
Next comes a survey of the nations and other bodies on Earth, presented in considerable detail based on the old nation-states rather than the larger trading blocs. Each one discussed comes along with a section on Racial Traits that may be used in conjunction with the standard rules for a human character to reflect diversity; and notes on roleplaying someone from that nation. The same treatment is given to the colonies, although they are also provided with maps.
We then move on to Earth Alliance Spacecraft. Although relative newcomers to the galactic scene, most of their space vessels are 'home-grown' rather than relying on older starfaring species for technology. They tend to be functional rather than beautiful, with designs that allow for continuous modification and upgrade. The focus here is on military ships, with a discussion of the history of their design dating back far before the Earth Alliance's emergence as a leading power in space. We also learn about the different classes that are or have been used, and the design/construction process, and copious detail of those in service today. Even tenders and troop carriers are included - and all are provided with game stats should you want to have a fight with them. There is also a rundown of the President's transport, EarthForce One. The ships are followed by a collection of defensive installations, primarily space stations and satellites; and then the small stuff - shuttles and fighters - and even some sketchy details of PsiCorp ships (they are extremely secretive about what they have).
Next comes the Earth Alliance Ground Forces and their equipment. Developments have lagged behind those of space ships, and in general they merely have updated versions of the same equipment that they have always had: aircraft, tanks and infantry. This section includes history and organisation of the army, including special operations units. There's also page after page of weapons, complete with their game stats.
What about civilian stuff? You might well ask, and a selection of civilian ground vehicles, starting with the bicycle, follow. This section includes maglevs, light aircraft and ships (the sort that go in water!); and it is followed by a motley assortment of equipment - mostly usable by miliary personnel and civilians alike. There's even a Swiss Army Knife - it's good to know they are still useful! Armour, clothing, weapons, drugs/medication, and more are to be found here.
Finally, an apprendix explains all the nationality-based feats available to any human character who has spent considerable time in the nation or colony designated.
It provides a fascinating and extremely detailed read on the Earth Alliance. About the only thing missing is civilians spaceships... Something to dip into, and good for making characters/NPCs who come from different places distinctive.
Return to The Earth Alliance Factbook page.
Reviewed: 25 November 2019