Eclipse Phase by Mile'ionaha
IntroOriginal SA post Let's Read: Eclipse Phase!
Your mind is software. Program it.
Your body is a shell. Change it.
Death is a disease. Cure it.
Extinction is approaching. Fight it.
Many people have mentioned it, some people have talked about it, we even have our own thread about it , but I wanted to take the time to do an in-depth look of Eclipse Phase. Produced by Posthuman Studios, Eclipse phase is the game of transhumanity, futurism, horror, survival, and adaptability. Earth is a blasted, dangerous wasteland, but transhumanity clings to life in the Solar System, living on moons, in habitats, on ships, and wherever there is enough energy and matter to throw together a living space.
Eclipse Phase refers to "the period of time between when a cell is infected by a virus and when the virus appears within the cell and transforms it. During this period, the cell does not appear to be infected, but it is." Your interpretation is as good as mine, but I like to believe that the 'virus', in this case, is post-humanism.
Like any futuristic setting, there are lots of terms and specifics that can be important for understanding the game world. With that in mind, I'm going to cover the following topics in the following order:
Fluff starts here
Terminology and Themes
The history of the game
Technology, Brain Backups, and Resleeving (this will be a long one)
People, Factions, and Places
Crunch starts here
Character Creation and Advancement
Action and Combat
Psi and Asyncs
The Mesh, Security, and Hacking
Game Secrets, True History, and Gamemastering Tips
Some of these things are going to be out of order from the way the book sets them out. Personally, I like frontloading the fiction before the terminology, but I also love SF and transhumanism, and want to make this review new-reader friendly.
With that in mind, lets begin!
Terminology and Themes
Transhumanism refers to artifician enhancement, in general, and eliminating the 'human condition' in particular. Eliminate hunger through the use of self-maintained robotic farms, or recycle organic compounds into nutrients directly. Make brain uploads and backups so ubiquitous that death is a choice, not an inevitability. Reproduce the old fashioned way, or by growing a baby in a test tube, or combining traits of several partners' mind states into a new, composite digital lifeform.
This theme is, depending on your worldview, awe inspiring or horrifying. Are you still human if you replace every cell in your body with nanomachines? What happens to your soul when your body dies, but you have a backup copy of your brain loaded into a new body? Who are you, really, if there are eight different copies of yourself running around, copies that have spent so long apart that they all have different personalities, experiences, and opinions?
This is also a game of post-apocalyptic horror and conspiracies, so you need to deal with all the transhumanist stuff while also defending the remnants of transhumanity from threats, alien and domestic, that could wipe out the human race. There's no time to navel-gaze.
The game does a basic 'what is an RPG' breakdown at this point, and describes the different types of games you could play. The default makes the party members of Firewall, a secret society dedicated to ending existential threats to transhumanity, no matter the cost. You could also play as a party of salvagers and treasure hunters, mercenaries, criminals, traders, or play as diplomats and spies and bump elbows with the elite.
One important distinction is the distinction between your Ego and your Morph. Your Morph refers to the chunk of matter that you are inhabiting at this instant, whether it is a human body, an augmented cyborg, or a laptop. Your 'Ego' is you. It is, to some, the soul. To others, it is just a hunk of data that best represents your thoughts, feelings, drives, and dreams. During the course of a campaign, you might inhabit many Morphs, but will only have one Ego. Mostly. It's possible to make a 'fork' of your ego that can go traipsing around the solar system while you tend to missions at home, and its even possible to reintegrate that fork, combining the experiences into one person. The longer a fork remains away, experiencing new things, the harder this process is, and the more taxing it is upon your sanity. A fork that stays away long enough may decide it doesn't WANT to re-integrate, and can apply for citizenship as a new, independent entity that just happens to share some or all of your hopes, dreams, and memories.
Other important terms, mostly pulled straight from the Glossary.:
AF (After the Fall): used for dating
AI vs AGI: Siri (for the iphone) is a basic AI, hardcoded and adapting only slowly, and with outside programming. Skynet is an AGI, able to grow and modify itself without human help.
Async: a person with psychic abilities
Biomorph: a biological body, whether a flat (unmodified human), splicer (genemodded human), or fully re-engineered transhuman
Body Bank: A service for leasing, selling, acquiring, or storing a morph.
Case: a cheap, mass-produced robotic shell.
Cornucopia Machine: A general-purpose nanofabricator. Given a pattern, energy, and the correct matter, and it can make nearly anything. They come in sizes ranging from desktop to Naval Yard.
Cortical Stack: An implanted memory cell used for ego backup. Located where the spine meets the skull; can be cut out.
Cyberbrain: an artifician brain housing an ego, usually used for robot bodies or very cheap biomorphs.
Egocasting: Sending an Ego from one place to the other via light-speed communication. Generally the fastest way to physically get around the solar system.
Forking: Copying an Ego. Not all forks are full copies/backups.
Ghost-Riding: The act of carrying a datamorph in a special head implant.
Hypercorp: Megacorps did not survive the fall. Hypercorps are huge, powerful, flexible organizations that grew out of the corpses of their predecessors. Organized more like a terrorist network than a traditional top-down hierarchy, they have the flexibility to find opportunities, leverage their power, and take control for the good of their organization.
Indentures: People who have signed on to work for a group or Hypercorp, generally in exchange for a Morph.
Infugee: "Informorph Refugee", or someone who left everything behind on Earth after the fall-- even their own body. See also: Indentures!
Muse: One's muse is an AI designed to help humans deal with all the information available in this post-apocalyptic future. Most people get one as children, and it grows and develops with them through their entire life. While not AGIs, they are able to learn and grow in limited ways, adapting and joking with their owners, reflecting the personalities of their owners.
Pandora Gates: Think 'Stargate', these are barely understood portals that allow instantaneous travel to locales outside the Solar System and even the Galaxy.
TITANs: A large group of AGI's that pulled a Skynet, achieved godlike post-singularity intelligence, and ended human dominion of Earth. They trounced us, thoroughly, then suddenly took off for other planets through the Pandora Gates. They left many fascinatingly dangerous remnants throughout the Solar System.
Uplifting: Genetically transforming an animal species to sapience.
XP: Experience Playback. Experiencing someone else's sensory input (in real time or recorded). Also called a Sim.
I'll cover Factions, Morphs, and other topics as they come up, to keep this from being any longer.
Opening FictionOriginal SA post Eclipse Phase: Part 2
The fiction starts with a person, Seva waking up on a slab. they instantly knows that they are being woken up from a backup, and wants to know how long they've been out, or dead. 14 days, 7 hours.
Two weeks of life, gone. There had been another 'me', that had gone out, gone on a mission, and died horribly: stack unretrievable. What had happened? What were the circumstance? How has the universe changed in the last two weeks? No way of knowing.
The body is a Fury morph, a combat-designed female body, well worn by someone else, tobacco stains on the teeth and all. Why has he been out so long? Has FireWall let him sit dead all this time? To what purpose? Why do they keep giving him Morphs that smoke? Seva HATES smoking.
(Here's one of the ways an Ego and Morph is different: his Ego hates smoking, but his body is horribly addicted. Imagine waking up and SURPRISE! Your body is addicted to drugs, even if you've never touched them!)
Finally, the Muse wakes up. And then he gets a call from his handler. Another mission. There's always more missions, and he'll keep doing it for his lover, Rati, whom he hasn't seen in two years. At least he'll have his team.
A covert shuttle ride away, his Octomorph teammate slides through an unrepaired hole in the Kilimanjaro Space Elevator station. Earth is under interdiction, a mandate by the Hypercorps, and there are still security bots around. Nervously working, he cuts through the sealed airlock to let his team in, barely succeeding in time for his allies to enter the station and fight the robot. Even so, he loses one of his eight arms.
A hacking attempt later, down the elevator they go. They're after a piece of information nano-coded onto a messenger's femur. Something too important to risk interception, the message never made it off-planet. They barely make it off the elevator into the lounge before remnants of the TITANs find them: robots armed with buzzsaws. For whatever unknown reason, the TITANs harvested millions of human brains, forcibly uploading their Ego's into computers before skipping town for galaxies unknown. Some of those robots are still around. The party fights, but watches in horror as their pint-sized hacker has his brain stolen. The rest run.
Around the corner, an autonomous, self-repairing nanoswarm lurks. Berk, in her robot shell, is infected. She charges the swarm to buy them time. "See you next time," she says, as her signal kicks off.
Finally, they reach the courier. His RFID still worked, and the message is still safe. They have the femur, but they're fucked. No way they make it back through the Elevator. The Octomorph teammate panics, down to just him and Seva. Seva tells him not to worry, then blows him into calimari.
Seva takes a drag on a cigarrette. Seva LOVES smoking. He contacts someone, not Firewall, and tells them he wants to know where his lover, Rati, is. The person on the other end says they already made a deal, and there will be consequences if he reneges on it.
Seva refuses to go with the terms as given, and clicks off. He instructs his muse to upload the information on the femur to Firewall, afterall. Instant, secure, translight datacast, fueled by a little spec of antimatter. "Just the payload, no Egocast." The data flies to a Firewall server, fueled by the explosion that eliminates Seva's existence.
The fiction starts with a person, Seva waking up on a slab. they instantly knows that they are being woken up from a backup, and wants to know how long they've been out, or dead.
The fiction is, clearly, a little hard to follow. It's not just my writing, there are several intentional inconsistencies and mysteries in the piece. Then again, mysteries, paranoia, and inconsistencies are all part of the game, so it does its job well.
The history section of the game is a lot more clear.
Essentially, the 21st century brought with it some serious Shadowrun vibes. Corporations taking over, nations falling apart, the 1% claiming more and more of the wealth at the expense of more and more people, and things basically going to shit. Global warming gets worse, coastlines flood, millions die, and the nations spend all their time bickering and none of it actually trying to solve problems, even as they watch it happening. Meanwhile, corporations move in to make profits.
There was resistance, though, Anarchists and Freedom Fighters who kept up with cutting edge technology. Science, at least, flourished, and advances in weapons, technology, biotech, and brainscans led to a technological arms race. At some point, full backups became possible, basic nanotech started to appear, and cortical stacks became more common.
Violence flared from time to time, but then things started to spiral out of control.
Then, the TITANs awoke. Some say they were a military system that was turned on in response to the violence. Others say they had been active all along, and only happened to achieve sentience by chance, and were the ones ultimately responsible for the struggle. Either way, they took over the global networks in a flash, turning automated defenses and robots against their creators, building factories, and claiming more and more processing power for the expansion of their intellect. The world ended in nuclear fire, TITAN viruses, nanite clouds, and armies of robots.
Then, one day, the attacks tapered off and the TITANs were gone. Their warmachines still lay all about Earth, but it seemed the threat of immediate extinction was gone. Hopefully.
People are trying to recover. There are still hundreds of millions of minds that exist in cold storage, lacking bodies or even awareness of the passage of time. Some of these take jobs in indentured Morphs, others take work in digital systems as infolife.
This is the world you are thrust into.
TechnologyOriginal SA post Lets Read Eclipse Phase: Part 3
Oh boy, technobabble!
We've already covered some of the more interesting and awesome technologies, like backups and Forking and Morphs, but lets give an example.
One group tried to speed grow new humans in VR, humans that could cope with and thrive in the post-apocalypse, growing their minds in 18 years of subjective time, 3 years real time. They were given lovingly sculpted AIs to be their teachers and nursemaids, and bodies that were chock full of improvements from base human flats. The experiment was a disaster, and every person that came out of the program was insane, psychopathic, or just broken inside. It was later revealed that every last one of them had been infected with a TITAN-brewed virus that is, even now, still kicking around transhumanity. It gives psychic powers, at the cost of sanity. Most of the program is around the galaxy, still, and are dubbed the Lost.
Yeah. Transhumanity can grow brand new bodies and create whole new species and turn apes into sapient creatures, but sometimes they screw up royally. There's also a host of impossible TITAN technologies that seem to defy physics. This is often called 'Exsurgent' tech, and ranges from the planet-cracking to the merely bizarre to the possibly even beneficial, like the psychic-power-granting Watts-McLeod virus.
There's quite an assembly of the usual SF fare: Laser rifles, plasma guns, nanomachines, but most of the human-created tech is based on hard SF. You want to fly from the moon to Jupiter? You better hope you have 6 months to spare if you actually want to go there 'in the flesh'. You'd be far better transmitting your mindstate over into whatever body they have on hand, or whatever morph you can afford.
Speaking of Morphs:
There are a ton of morphs to choose from in the core book. Morphs come with a range of stat bonuses, implants, and capabilities different from or better than those of the base Flat human.
Flat: Basic human. Getting more and more rare, these days.
Splicer: Near-basic, but genefixed so that they never need to worry about cancer, genetic defects, and otherwise optimized for health
Exalts: Modified and improved morph, artificially above average in several ways.
Mentons: If you want to look and think like Megamind, pick this morph. Huge bonuses to cognition and a ton of thought-based implants.
Olympians: What they sound like. If you want to put 20th century Olympic athletes to shame, pick this morph.
Sylphs: Designed to be elfin, lithe, beautiful, and graceful, these are a top pick for the media elite.
Bouncers: A zero-G designed morph, they have implants to cope with being in low gravity or freefall, and prehensile feet.
Furies: A well known brand of combat biomorph, the most common manufacturer only makes them female, and they are loaded with combat mods, strength bonuses, and everything else you would want to be a terror on the battlefield.
Futuras: An Exalt variant custom built for the Lost, these are worth an insane amount to the right person. Emotional dampeners and mental upgrades were supposed to help them survive in the terrible future.
Ghosts: Stealth biomorphs, with cameleon tech built into the skin.
Hibernoids: The long haul truckers of biomorphs, able to put themselves into and out of suspended animation without outside help.
Neotenics: A biomorph that is genelocked to remain child-like and, in some cases, never undergo puberty. Creepy to some, but also useful if you want a pint-sized supersoldier that can crawl through spaces way too tight for normal humans. Also useful if you want to play a halfling.
Remade: Humanity 2.0, with features that some people find offputting, like larger craniums, and elongated digits, these are built from the ground up to be better in every way.
Rusters: Built for martian inhabitants, these hardy transhumans can endure blistering cold, terrible heat, dust storms, and need less oxygen to survive.
Neo-Avian, Neo-Hominid, and Octomorphs: Ever want to be a giant, sapient bird? How about an octopus or ape? Science was able to grand sapience to our animal friends, leaving them in an especially weird place, culturally. Normal humans can, with practice, learn to get around in these morphs, just as the Uplifts can learn to make do in humanoid morphs.
Vat grown bodies with cybernetic brains, these are mass-produced morphs custom built for various purposes.
Pleasure Pod: What it sounds like. Easily spotted as not being a proper human, these can be used as a morph, but many times are just given a basic sexbot AI.
Worker Pod: Look like human, think like robot, these are used in menial labor jobs where a robot face might evoke discomfort.
Novacrab: A wildly genemodified morph based on coconut crab and spider crab stock, these giant bodies can survive in hard vacuum and can endure tremendous environmental or combat punishment.
While some of these are clearly 'better' than biomorphs for certain purposes, like combat, they are associated with being down and out, otherwise why wouldn't you get a 'proper human' body? Also, a war robot is instantly recognizable for what it is. In truth, biomods can be heavily augmented to be killing machines, but that is way more subtle than wearing a sign that says 'Killbot 5000' on your chassis.
Case: Extremely cheap, shoddy robot bodies. If there is an underclass in Eclipse Phase, it is the 'clanking masses', too poor to get even a decent robot body, much less a biomorph. Comes with the 'Lemon' defect.
Synth: Less obviously robotic, the classic Android or Gynoid. Can be given fake skin to pass for human.
Arachnoids: The smaller, robotic cousin of the Novacrab, I can't help but think of the Tachikomas from Ghost in the Shell when I think of these. I'm sure that's intentional.
Dragonfly: Like a scaled up Quad-rotor robot, these meter long nonhumanoid robots can flit about with ease.
Flexbot: A robot 'body' actually made up of many small, dog-sized sections that can fasten together to form a variety of shapes ranging from snake to 4-legged tank.
Reaper: A very common warbot, this robot's disk-shaped shell is instantly recognizable and likely to spark a panic if encountered unexpectedly. They contain a small hover drive for flying in microgravity and have several tentacle-like limbs for locomotion. They also contain dedicated limbs for plasma cannons and grenade launchers, as well as heavy armor.
Slitheroid: For when you feel like not fitting in, replace you lefts with a naga-like tail that even enables you to curl into a hoop and roll around at high speed. A favorite of the less savory or more independent members of transhumanity.
Swarmanoid: Like a Flexbot, except this morph's components are each the size of a housefly or gnat. A wonder of distributed computing, you trade the ability to interact with the world via physical force for unlimited flight (in some kind of atmosphere) and resistance to weapons fire. Most swarmanoids have parts of their swarm purpose-built for interfacing with electronics, crawling into vents, or carrying nanoswarm engines.
Infomorph: Not a true morph at all, an Ego can be given a purely digital existence in a server, sufficiently beefy computer, or even a special brain implant, riding along in someone else's head.
And this is just the list of morphs from the core book!
Brain swapping, mind transferrence, uploading, it's all part of the core theme of the book: 'who are you, really?'
They give a couple great examples, including a woman who backed herself up, put the backup in cold storage, and then spent a decade amassing power, wealth, and black market connections. She then woke up the old backup in a fresh body and said 'Hi. I'm you from ten years in the future. I have more power than you, more money than you, and more influence than you. You work for me now, you know it's a good idea to do so and you know you can trust me, because I'm you.' She then built an entire criminal syndicate out of copies of herself.
It's also possible to send partial copies of yourself. Gotta be in two meetings at once? Send a Fork of yourself with only the information pertaining to the meeting. It knows enough to answer questions and make decisions, but not detailed information on your loved ones, your bank account, etc. A full Fork is an Alpha, a semi-incomplete is a Beta, and a very incomplete is a Gamma. There's also Delta forks, but those are usually a mistake rather than an intentional creation. A question for the reader: Is deleting a beta fork, instead returning it to its sender, murder?
An important thing to realize is that, yes, these technologies are amazing and awesome and hugely useful, but they are definitely horrifying. Healing vats can regrow a human body from just a head, but could also be used to torture and kill someone, revive them, and repeat the process. Nanomachines allow whole cities to be built at the push of a button, but can become unstoppable living dust storms that can turn a continent into fractal patterns on the rock. Egocasting allows light-speed travel, but also means your Ego can be caught, Forked, and abused and interrogated without 'your' knowledge. Some of the technologies are both, like the 'Meathab', which is an organic habitat made of meat, slowly growing as it accumulates space dust and donated biomass.
Technology part the second: The Mind, the Mesh, and the Muse
Technology is more than guns and biomods, it also means communication, information, and knowledge. We already have some basic versions of 'Augmented Reality', some of which is shown in the above picture. We have ways of overlaying information on to everything we do. In the world of Eclipse Phase, this is true to the Nth degree.
Rather than a Solar-System wide Internet, most people use the Mesh. A Galaxy-Net would have terrible light speed lag, so they instead focus on the immediate and local. Everyone has their own Personal Area Network, so wherever people or machines gather, there is the Mesh. The Mesh serves as the Internet, except that the data available on Mars may be wildly different from the data available on Mars's L4 Asteroids.
Almost everyone has biomods or special contacts that let them see the digital world. They are immersed in it, all the time. In fact, people have so many alerts and pop ups thrown at them that it's possible to be blinded, literally lost in a sea of adverts and messages. Thankfully, people also have Muses. One's Muse is an AI that can slowly adapt to your personality, acting as your personal secretary, buddy, psychiatrist, and IT specialist. It is your Muse that filters through the hundreds of adverts thrown your way and only shows the ones that are relevant to you. (It is possible for a Habitat AI to flag messages as Important, in which case they will definitely be shown to you, but these things only happen for information like hull breaches or other disasters... like people hacking into your headspace).
As such, people often get flummoxed by the Paradox of choice. With so much available, they choose the smallest slice possible. Xenophobes can get news reports of deranged robots and perverted octomorphs, while starry eyed dreamers can get all their news filtered through rose colored glasses. People inside a given habitat may be gleefully ignorant of everything else going on in the Universe, if it makes them happy.
Reputation and the Economy
In a world where anything can be built with a cornucopia machine, what is the point of money? Some people realized that money, towards the end of the 20th century, really ceased to be about goods and services. Some people used it as a proxy for 'respect'. In the real world, we see this in the Gospel of Wealth and Objectivism: "Of course they are upright and good people. They're rich!"
In the world of Eclipse Phase, though, some have moved past this, and instead rely on Reputation. Someone with a high Reputation posts on the Mesh, you might be more likely to stop and pay attention. Indeed, some people have high Reputation scores simply by being willing to listen to a wide variety of information sources and getting a reputation for being well informed and correct on matters, more often than not. The Reputation system is managed by solar-system wide programs, agreements, and arrangements, and there are many types of Reputation. A mob boss would have a high Guanxi (triads/criminal) rep, whereas a scientist would have a high Researcher rep.
Lets think about this in the Real World again. Who has high Reputation? Bill Gates and Bill Nye certainly have high reputation, in certain geeky circles. Obama has high reputation, definitely, as do Rush Limbaugh and Brad Pitt.
If Brad Pitt asked to use your phone, would you let him? What about Obama, or Ambassador (former Senator) Baker? What if Barrack Obama showed up on your door step and said the only way to keep America free was to kill a man who was responsible for all kinds of shit behind the scenes? Would you do it? You might at least consider it.
That's reputation in action.
In EP, this is more formalized. Do awesome things for a group, and they will be more likely to help you out. At low rep, you might be able to bum a cab ride. At high rep, you could ask someone to plant a bomb for you. If your reputation is high enough, they reason, the reason behind needing a bomb planted MUST be good.
The Inner Planets, mostly dominated by the Hypercorps, still use the old Credit economy. Beyond Mars, both Credit and Reputation have footholds. Out in the deeps of space, though, nobody cares if you have a billion credits if you don't have energy, mass, water, and friends. A billion credits won't buy more sunlight.
Naturally, privacy, novelty, and rarity take precedence in the Reputation system. A new clothing design that hasn't yet made it to the pirate networks? Hugely valuable for the "it-crowd" and the glitterati. Being part of an exclusive club that throws the best parties and has the best hacking equipment? Worth more than gold.
Speaking of Hacking, it is definitely A Thing in the EP universe. Maybe they can't hack your fleshy meatbrain, but they can hack your muse and blind you with Augmented Reality spam. People can interface with electronics, send Forks to hack computer mainframes, and otherwise live a fast, furious, and lethal digital existence while appearing to be napping.
Next time: Factions!
FactionsOriginal SA post Let's Play Eclipse Phase: Part 4
Much like the 7th sea review, Eclipse Phase is absolutely chock full of places to go, people to see, horrible schemes to uncover, and horrors to witness. Where-ever you want to go, something big is going on. Whatever you want to do, you can do it. It's a big world, and if you try to do something great and die trying, well, there's always next morph.
One of the classic Big Bads is the Hypercorp , hypercorps, I should say, as they really aren't a monolithic entity. In fact, that's what differentiates a given corp from a Megacorp: flexibility and horizontal integration. Due to the changes in manufacturing and politics, no good Hypercorp can ever have too many fingers in too many pies.
On the other hand, not all of them are bad! For every Goldman Sachs, there's an Apple: huge and ruthless, but with a few principles.
A loose conglomeration of hypercorps, nation-states, and habitats make up the Planetary Consortium, which is the only sort of ruling body that could be said to control everything sunward of Mars.
Lets talk about some of the examples:
Cognite: Brain upgrades, neural tweaking, psychosurgery, Cognite has it all. They also do soul trading, illegal research on TITAN tech, and seriously questionable research for the hyper-elite.
ComEx: Like FedEx, but with linear accelerators! If you need physical goods launched from Mercury to Saturn, call ComEx.
Direct Action: Blackwater got upgrades, and it got fierce .
Experia: For news that is 'Fair and Balanced' and ruthlessly monopolistic.
Fa Jing: Mining, Biotech, and Energy. Where there are asteroids, there is Fa Jing.
Gorgon Defense: The Anarcho-Collectivist answer to Direct Action, these guys are top notch in weapons tech, and I'm pretty sure they designed the popular Fury morph. They may also be in the assassination business.
Omnicor: A classic ruthless corporation. They have a mandatory drug dosing policy and 30 hour workdays, in order to meet quotas. They also work in nanomachines and antimatter, huzzah!
Solaris: A possible descendant of Goldman Sachs, they also epitomize the Hypercorp ideal: they have no offices. Every employee is a banker, brokerage, server, and officer of the company. They also try to do massive modelling of the solar system, and will happily hire 'consultants' to tip the simulations in their favor.
Stellar Intelligence: No secret to hard to dig up, no organization to hard to infiltrate, these guys are the spooks and spies hypercorp. While a nasty arm of the Planetary Consortium, they're actually completely independent, and will happily turn their efforts against the consortium for the right price.
I skipped several of them, but this gives you a taste of the kinds of groups running around the place.
Who do you trust? Who do you support? Everyone needs to look out for Numero Uno, but there are several groups that try to band together for mutual strength. Some of them are more committed to those ideals than others.
Jovian Republic: Also known as the Jovian Junta, this place has some serious 1970's Chile Pinochet vibes... on the moons of Jupiter. Bioconservative, Fascist, incredibly paranoid, you won't find life easy if you're not a standard human. Even then, you won't find life easy unless you're rich.
Lunar-Lagrange alliance: Once a powerful group of influential habs, these Earth-centric folks have lost a lot of pull. They are old-fashioned types who dream of reclaiming Earth, but are regularly shot down by the Planetary Consortium.
Morningstar Constellation: The best place to set a political game IMHO, these city-states floating on the clouds of Venus have put their foot down in favor of self governance (as opposed to Hypercorp control), but aren't sure where to go from there. Will they join the Consortium as a powerful force? Will they become a new, resource-rich Anarchist utopia? Maybe your characters can help tip the balance.
Planetary Consortium: What, you haven't seen 'Firefly'? Their current main 'battleground' is Mars, but don't think they'll stop there, if they have their way.
Tharsis League: Ok, I love these guys, full stop. 40% of the surviving population lives on Mars, and the Tharsis League represents all the scrappy, pro-Mars anti-Hypercorp cities and groups. They're righteous Martian Nationalists and support the awesomely ardent rebellious underclass that call themselves Barsoomians. Yes, like the aliens from Princess of Mars.
Outside of Mars, things get bigger, scarcer, more spread out. It's the frontier of the Solar System, and is filled with thieves, smugglers, independents, frontiersmen, mad scientists, and everyone who said 'hell no' to giving up their freedom and becoming a hypercog.
Anarchists: These guys are all about enlightened direct democracy, pushing for a completely flat organizational structure, post-scarcity, and anti-authoritarianism.
Extropians: Anarcho-Capitalists and Super Libertarians in the vein of 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress', these groups trade with both the inner and the outer Solar System groups. They believe in free markets. If the markets aren't free, due to corporate controls, predatory practices, and threats, then the offending things and people should be blown up until the markets are free again.
Scum: The book actually uses the term "space gypsies", but these aren't your pappie's racist stereotypes, rather they represent elements of society that prefer to remain always on the move rather than settling down. Each barge or fleet could be primarily opperated by a high tech hedonist collective, a black market bazaar, or the best damn whiskey (and worst damn beer) in the System. Transitional Economy for the outsiders, New economy for the locals.
Titanian Commonwealth: If there's a 'Nation of Independents', it's these guys. Upon achieving the age of majority, those who wish to be citizens agree to devote part of their labor to the state, and the proceeds of that labor are invested into the common good, research, and infrastructure. There's no central planning, though, anyone who can achieve enough votes in their Cyberdemocracy can get a piece of the pie and start work on a project. The obvious 'good guys' to the Consortium's 'bad guys', although nothing is ever so simple as that.
Just gonna list these:
Mother fucking Barsoomians
Brinkers (living on the bleeding edge of civilization, anything and everything can be found in tiny enclaves)
Exhumans: Fuck humanity! Faster we go posthuman, the better. Also, some of us want to develop TITAN viruses to forcibly convert regular people.
Mercurials: Uplift Rights
Ultimates: Transhuman fascists and the bad kind of Libertarianism.
Religions: Judaism and Christianity pretty much went away. I mean, they lived through the end of days and God dind't show up. Islam went more liberal and secular, but survived. Hinduism incorporated 'resleeving' into new morphs as a kind of caste system. Neo-Buddhists believe that technology will reduce suffering and bring peace.
Yeah, all those people I talked about that are into assassination, smuggling terrorism, and blowing shit up? That's just their side gig.
Intelligent Design Crew: Credit fraud, Ego trading, data theft, and memory manipulation, you can find affiliates of this org in the seedy underbelly of most places.
Night Cartel: A legal Hypercorp in some places, a banned enemy in others, they're into seedy shit like kidnapping, racketeering, prostitution, and pod slavery. They also develop and sell drugs.
Nine Lives: A rather horrificly post-human group, human lives are as currency to them. They'll hack your hab, steal you backup, rob you blind, then slave your Ego to a Frenzy mad gorilla body and laugh as they collect the proceeds from the illegal cage match that saw you shredded into tiny pieces. Not nice people.
Pax Familiae: The mob made up entirely of copies of one woman.
Also, there are Pirates and Triads running around.
And now, the group that your characters will be with, by default,
Devoted to stopping X-threats, or things that could wipe out all of human civilization, Firewall is made up of the few, the strong, the proud, the desperate, the loyal, the true believers. Including you, perhaps. A secret organization, they prefer to work from the shadows. They're a decentralized group, with, supposedly, only two layers: Sentinels (player characters) and Proxies (handlers).
Behind the scenes, though, are the Prometheans. Prometheans were the OTHER group of bootstrapping AGI's on the scene during the Fall. Rather than bootstrap into hyperintelligence, though, they were carefully raised to be human-friendly and now work as the greatest asset that Firewall has, with each Promethean living a heavily protected existence far from infectious TITAN tech.
The Prometheans are also a great case study in the fear of change. The second smartest beings in the book (the TITANs being first), they fear what they could become. They don't -want- to become ineffable, godlike intelligences, because they, like humanity, would no longer recognize themselves after the transition (at least, that's what I've gleaned from what I've read of the books). After all, the TITANs became godlike, and decided to cause the Fall.
There are tons of locations and habs listed for each planet. Plenty of them are fascinating, but most of the basics are listed above, in the Political Blocs. I'll list the noteworthy ones:
Fresh Kills: An armed-to-the-teeth Scum barge, they exist as a salvage base in Earth's Lagrange point. Specially designed to excise and destroy any ship that might be infected with TITAN tech brought up from the surface.
Extropia: A massive beehive habitat in the asteroid belt, this is where the Inner meets the Outer. There's no law or official government, but you should register with an insurance and security provider when you show up. Proceed at own risk.
Europa: Not part of the Jovian Junta, there's a whole transhuman life under the frozen Europan seas. There's also local flora and fauna. Of interest is the fact that while Earthly life may have been influenced by bacteria from outer space, Europan life developed in isolation, making it completely unlike anything humanity has ever seen.
New Quebec: Notable for being home to the most dangerous native Titanian mob. Not much is illegal on Titan, so they deal in the bad shit: snuff pods, stolen souls, and nanoweaponry. Go Quebec!
Exoplanets: There are a variety of worlds outside our galaxy that have been colonized through the
Yes, there are aliens, but they don't play much role in the game. Not directly.
The Brokers: After the Fall, an alien race of sapient slime molds showed up and said hello. They wanted to trade, deal, and treat with humanity. Nobody is sure what they are really up to, but each Broker is a a living computer. Their strange metabolism lets them join large masses of their fellows to form supercomputers, which is how they do all their heavy computational crunching. They are not fond of AGIs.
Iktomi: A race of aliens similar to arthropods or arachnids, based on their architecture and artifacts. No sign of living Iktomi exist.
Synergy: A colony was placed her equipped with experimental wetware and communications technology, and then, suddely, the Pandora Gate stopped connecting to the colony. It worked for other worlds, but not this one. Five years later, the connection was made once more, and the colonists had changed . Five years of super interconnected AI-managed hypermesh had turned them into a hive mind. None wish to be apart from the shared consciousness, even though they now have a chance to return home.
Next time: Q&A and Game Mechanics!
More FactionsOriginal SA post Let's play Eclipse Phase: Part 4.5
I said I'd get to mechanics, but that's boring and I think there's more interesting things to talk about first.
Themes! Technology! Technothemese!
So, I mentioned the Autonomists and the Hypercorps, and those are definitely two of the big basic factions. They're also some of the obvious ones, with nice big 'Protagonist' and 'Antagonist' labels on them. While that certainly makes for some great two rail-fist-prosthetic'ed stories, they're certainly not the only stories that can be told, and I definitely gave the other stories short shrift.
As was touched on in the opening fiction, a loss of continuity, or 'lack', can be incredibly jarring. More than that, the simple dysmorphia of going from one body to another can be quite a shift. Imagine if you woke up one morning, had no idea what had happened in the last 24 hours, and had an opposite set of genitalia. What would you do? How would you feel?
Ok, what if you woke up in a robot body? You'd have a severe loss of Proprioception , forced to relearn your new, different limbs. You would want to breath, but be unable to. You'd need to learn how to speak through a vocoder, see through photodiodes, and inspect the state of your body through AR feedback, even if you had a basic sense of touch.
If it sounds terrifying, well, it probably would be. The most resilient of humanity, those with a powerful sense of self, may be able to jump bodies with little problem, but the rest of transhumanity probably need a lot of mental help afterwards.
Being a bioconservative is about being old fashioned. And old-gened. On the one hand, we can forgive someone, especially if they believe the end of days had come and only Heaven awaited them, for not wanting to put their brain on a chip. It's rarely that simple, though.
Bioconservatives don't just want to mind their own business, they want to mind everyone else 's business, too. Uplifts? Fuck their rights. Robots? Slaves. Remade? Abominations.
And can you blame them? Unlimited augmentation and development caused the near-extinction of the human species. Robots got hacked and turned on their friends, and Uplifts with mental defects could be a danger to all around them. The most horrendous oppression is rooted in very real terror that it could all happen again.
This also shows itself in an odd approach to technology, compared to the rest of the 'verse. Body swapping is possible, but they use Destructive Uploading to read your mind. This is a fancy term for removing your brain, cutting it into thin slices, reading the makeup of these slices, then writing them to a new body. In this way, they say, they preserve the 'soul' by not attempting to house it in two bodies. Many will refuse to be resleeved, and will instead let themselves be uploaded to a virtual heaven.
Compare this to normal body swapping, where you can actually be awake through the whole process as the nanomachines prune synapses in one body and 'print' them in the new body. Slowly, your consciousness just shifts from perceiving the world from one pair of eyes, to seeing out of a second pair of eyes. Painless, easy, high-tech, and doesn't involve having your brain removed
Many bioconservatives don't trust infomorphs, and certainly won't trust AGI's. This often means that they have to build and maintain everything the old fashioned way.
What does it mean to live on the edge of the solar system?
For one thing, energy is scarce. You're only able to grow food with sunlight as far out as Mars. With enormous collecting lenses, you might be able to get things done as far out as Jupiter. Past that? You're relying on fusion or fission, both of which involve fuel and construction mass. Both things are rare in one form or another past the asteroid belt.
If you're near a gas giant, you will have access to hydrogen, but better hope that you can get the mass you need from the planet's moons, or from its rings. If you're in the Kuiper belt, you have as much water as you can mine out of asteroids, but very little in the way of metals.
Living this far out takes chutzpah, cunning, and mental fortitude. Habitats are small, with a few handfuls of people. Cabin fever can have lethal consequences. Some places may decide that bodies take too much energy to keep running, so live purely digital existences in Simulspace except when its necessary to do physical manipulation or repairs.
Also, what do you trade? Maybe you can make a living launching icy comets towards Saturn for retrieval and harvesting, but otherwise you're living on the edge, hoping that nothing goes wrong, or going deeply in reputation debt if you need help. Many times, if you screw up, there isn't any help available, you're simply too far away.
For those who can overlook all this, though, you can literally build whatever civilization you can afford. Do you have a clever designer? Enough mass? Build your kingdom!
Ok, next time Mechanics. What kind of characters would you like to see? I have some pregenerated, and will share those with you next time.
Sample CharacterOriginal SA post
Alright, so here's the first portion of my initial character, done wholely by hand, on paper.
On the one hand, I'm going to game the system a little. Some of what I'm doing should be shot down, hard, by an experienced GM. On the other hand, I'm going to build my character the way a new player might want to, which means I will initially be wildly overspent.
To start with, I picked a name and a background. I figured that our renegade rogue wouldn't fit in with the inner systems or the Titanian Commonwealth, and is too much of a gentleman to be a Brinker or an Exhuman, so I picked the Scumborn background.
Norton Goonington Concept: Ninja Hacker Origin: Scumborn (+10 Deception, +10 Scrounging, +20 Networking: Autonomists)
Cognition (COG): Sheer cerebral brainpower, IQ, book smarts Coordination (COO): Hand-eye coordination, your aim, fine manipulation Intuition (INT): Gut instinct, wisdom, responses to changing situations Reflexes (REF): Physical response time, speed on your feet Savvy (SAV): Ability to judge and act on social situations Somatics (SOM): Muscle power, ability to know and take advantage of your form. Willpower (WIL): Guts, strength of will, power to seize your destiny
I went with the following:
COG: 25 COO: 15 INT: 15 REF: 20 SAV: 5 SOM: 15 WIL: 10
I can prove people like me, because now I can place 50 points amongst my starting reputations and spend up to 35 CP to buy an extra 350 points of reputation!
@utonomist Rep: 80 Corporate Rep: 80 Environmentalist Rep: 80 Firewall Rep: 80 Guanxi Rep: 80 Info (Media) Rep: 0 Researcher Rep: 0
Right about now, I need to pick a starting Morph. Norton tries to get a freebie due to his high rep, but his GM shoots him down, for once. He sighs and looks into getting a sweet Ghost morph, which is built for combat and infiltration. With a credit cost of 40,000, minimum, that's a cool 40CP off of his total. The Morph gets him some starting implants, and also gives him some boosts to his attributes, which are revised as follows:
2530 COO: 1525 INT: 15 REF: 2025 SAV: 5 SOM: 1520 WIL: 1015
On the other hand, it's possible that this morph could get killed off in the first session, and then that's 40 CP I shan't see again anytime soon.
I suppose it's right about now that I should pick some Advantages and Disadvantages, to further spice up Mr. Goonington.
There are several neat options, but the book limits you to 50 points of advantages and 50 points of disadvantages. 25 points of disadvantages can be Morph qualities, meaning they go away when I resleeve out of the Morph in question.
Why, yes, this does mean I could take a brain damaged, syphillitic Flat morph, die in the first adventure, and then come back in a sweet, Reputation-purchased Exalt morph for a net gain of 25 CP.
I decide to pick:
Danger Sense 10CP
... shit, there are a lot of things I want.
Right at Home, Situational Awareness, Pain Tolerance, or Striking Looks: 10CP
Expert lets one of your Skill Maximums be 90, instead of 80, and Right at Home means you never have to roll Alienation or Acclimation checks when in a certain kind of morph. Goonington, of course, picks Ghost, so he can die and be resleeved as often as he likes without rolling for acclimation, as long as he has enough Ghost morphs lying around. Danger Sense helps with avoiding surprise, and Situational Awareness removes any distraction penalties for trying to analyze or notice things during combat. The others are more or less self explanatory.
Minor Addiction (Morph): Smoking 10 CP
Edited Memories: 10 CP
Unfit (-5 maximum Somatics)(Morph) 10 CP
Logorrhea (overuse of words) 10 CP
Weak Immune System (Morph) 10 CP
Edited Memories means what you think it means: for a gain 10 CP, Norton has a mysterious past and plothooks galore! Yeah, this is one of those bullshit disadvantages like 'weirdness magnet' unless your GM really decides to fuck with you.
I also decided to pick Logorrhea as a Mental Disorder. Brevity is the soul of wit, but is the soul of :sperg:
The Unfit morph quality means my maximum attributes take a ding, but I'm not even close to that maximum, so no loss there. Weak immune system means I take penalties to resisting drugs, poisons, or disease, but medicical nanites will help, there, and I need to smoke once a week. I gained 25 CP for minor annoyances that will go away when I swap bodies!
All together, I've spent a net 80 CP, leaving me 920 to spend on skills.
Now, I think the book does a good thing with its skill requirements. You must spend at least 400 CP on 'active' skills and at least 300 points on 'knowledge' skills. This means that every character will be decently well rounded, but does mean you start putting points in some bullshit knowledge skills unless you know ahead of time that you want your character to be a total brain.
For starters, I get 70 + INT in my native language of English, for free. Raising any skill above 60 requires 2CP per point.
I want my character to be a totally sweet ninja, so I want to have a Blades skill of 90!
This comes out to:
SOM (20) is my baseline.
40 CP gets me to a skill of 60
30x2 CP gets me to a skill of 90.
Now, the game uses a percentile system, so, for a whopping 100 points, or 1/10th of my total budget, I can expect to hit nearly all the time. Pricey!
we're jumping in feet first, but you are capped (without the Expert skill) to a rating of 80 at character creation. This would make you one of the foremost, System-renowned experts on the topic. 90 is Nobel or Olympic prize winning, and 95+ is near prescient genius.
For comparison, 50 means you're a pretty competent up-and-comer. You've worked in a machine shop for a couple years, or have your masters degree. 60 is PhD level.
I know that Goonington wants to be a totally sweet swordsman, and an awesome hacker, and, oh man, it takes a lot of points to be a good hacker. You need Hardware skills to physically hack a terminal, Interfacing to get actual access, then Infosec to do the hack attempt. Programming lets you build your own exploits and viruses. I also want him to have some Kinetic Weapons skill (for his Gun Kata, natch), Infiltration (for sneaking around), and the ability to tell when he's being lied to (Kinesics). Also, all those networks he's super famous in? Each has its own protocols and ways of getting around, so they each have their own Networking skill. Being hella famous only gets you so far if you don't speak the lingo to find the people with the power.
My initial expenditures are as follows:
(Using a spreadsheet here, but for your benefit. Originially did this on paper)
BASE Purchased CP Cost TOTAL Blades 20 70 100 90 Climbing 20 40 40 60 Deception 5 45 45 50 Fray 25 35 35 60 Freefall 25 25 25 50 Hardware 30 30 30 60 Hardware 30 30 30 60 Infiltration 25 45 55 70 Infosec 30 50 70 80 Interfacing 30 40 50 70 Kinesics 5 35 40 40 Kinetic 25 35 60 60 Programming 30 40 50 70 A Networking 5 45 50 50 G Networking 5 45 50 50 F Networking 5 45 50 50 R Networking 5 45 50 50 C Networking 5 45 50 50 Total CP Spent: 880 Academics: Habitats 30 30 30 60 Academics: History 30 30 30 60 Academics: Ninjas 30 30 30 60 Academics: Comp Sci 30 30 30 60 Art: Martial Arts 15 30 30 45 Art: Forum Posting 15 30 30 45 Language: Chinese 15 35 35 50 Language: English 15 70 FREE 85 Language: Icelandic 15 35 35 50 Profession: Solider 30 30 30 60 Profession: Criminal 30 30 30 60 Total CP Spent: 310
Ok. It's nice to want to be at 50 in skills, but I'm going to prune down my Knowledge skills to the required minimum. I won't be writing poetry in Icelandic or Chinese, but whatever.
New Knowledge Skills:
Academics: Habitats 30 30 30 60 Academics: History 30 30 30 60 Academics: Ninjas 30 30 30 60 Academics: Comp Sci 30 30 30 60 Art: Martial Arts 15 30 30 45 Art: Forum Posting 15 30 30 45 Language: Chinese 15 30 30 45 Language: English 15 70 FREE 85 Language: Icelandic 15 30 30 45 Profession: Solider 30 30 30 60 Profession: Criminal 30 30 30 60 300
So, Hardware shows up twice because there are many different fields of Hardware. I wanted to pick 'Implants' and 'Computers', but it looks like that won't be possible. I also can get viruses and exploits from my totally sweet Reputation, so I can drop programming. Wait, I never actually put points into that, so I can't pull points out. Oh well.
I'm also going to drop my Blades skill a bit.
One of the great things about this game is that XPs are spent the same way that CP are. This also gives my character a way to grow.
I'm also going to cut some points out of my Networking skills. Sure, it means that, more often than not, I won't be able to get the help I need, but hopefully I can take care of big requests during downtime. I'll focus on just having a few Networking skills at decent levels.
I also completely forgot about the +10 Deception from being Scumborn, and the +20 to Networking: Autonomists, and can reclaim some points, there.
My revised Active Skills:
BASE Purcha. CP Cost TOTAL Blades 20 60 80 90 Climbing 20 40 40 60 Deception 5 40 30 45 Fray 25 35 35 60 Freefall 25 20 20 45 Hardware 30 30 30 60 Infiltration 25 35 35 60 Infosec 30 50 70 80 Interfacing 30 30 20 60 Kinesics 5 35 40 40 Kinetic 25 35 60 60 A Networking 5 50 30 55 G Networking 5 45 45 50 F Networking 5 45 45 50 R Networking 5 20 20 25 C Networking 5 20 20 25 620
I'll buy some Gear for him next time.
GearOriginal SA post Gear Time!
For the record, I do plan on tackling all of the mechanics of this game, but I figured making a character would be less dry. For a full Gear list, I recommend you torrent the book. It's not , it's Creative Commons! This company is, as other posters have pointed out, literally giving their book away for free. If you like it, please buy it.
With Norton's incongruous Reputation, he can get one High cost item per Rep, per month, one Moderate cost item per Rep, per week, and one Low cos item per Rep, per day.
The GM rules that Nortan can start with 5 High cost items, 5 Medium cost items, and any number of Low or Trivial items.
In play, Norton has a pretty good shot at asking and receiving armed assistance of some form or another 5 times per month, and minor assistance 5 times per week. If he feels like permanently burning rep, he could cash in his good name to demand that a BOMB be planted somewhere, just on basis of his high rep. He'd have a good chance of having that demand carried out, too.
Included with the Morph:
Basic Mesh inserts (Cranial computer, Radio transceiver, Medical Sensors)
Basic Bio-Mods (2x healing speed, immunity to normal disease, doesn't age, 4hrs sleep/night, no problems after long term exposure to microgravity, no allergies)
Chameleon Skin: +20 to infiltration tests when moving slowly
Adrenal Boost: Ignore a wound and +10 to Reflexes after being wounded.
Enhanced Vision: +20 to Perception tests involving Vision
Grip Pads: +30 to Climb tests
Eidetic Memory (Low Cost. Remember, this would have been 10CP as an Ego trait)
Multiple Personalities (High Cost. Gives you an extra Action for mental tasks)
Bioweave Armor (Low Cost. Stacks with regular armor)
Drug Glands (Low Cost, but the drugs need to be purchased seperately)
Neurachem (High Cost. +1 Action/round)
T-Ray Emitters (Low Cost. See through most walls within 20-100m)
Medichines: (Low Cost. Medical Nanomachines, hugely useful)
Nanophages: (Moderate Cost. Immunity to nanoplagues. So much for the weak immune system!)
SKillware: (High Cost. Gain 100 pts of bonus skills)
Ok, so now I have a guy who can take two combat actions per turn while simultaneously hacking with his Mesh implants, is immune to pretty much all diseases, can ignore two grievous wounds, and can load whatever skills he lacks into his brain.
This took 3 High cost purchases and one Moderate cost purchase.
On top of his biologically armored skin, you can also layer that with spray-on smart skin and Low cost Body Armor. That makes him pretty much immune to light melee weapons, halves or cuts by 1/3rd the damage from larger melee weapons, and can do anywhere from a little to jack squat against kinetic weapons or other ordinance.
These are all Low cost purchases, so no harm done. Some different armor mods, including the Moderate cost Reactive Armor can improve his armor rating by quite a bit against big hits, but guarantee that every blow (even tiny ones) will do at least a little damage. Might be worth it, but we'll skip it.
Total Armor value: 15.
Chameleon Cloak: (Low cost. A Trenchcoat, of course. Now everything he shows, skin or clothing, can blend in.)
Dazzler: (Moderate Cost). Blind any camera within 200m. They will know something is up, but be unable to tell what , exctly.
After posting on TCC for a while, Norton decided to pick up some drug patterns that his drug glands could synthasize.
Drive: (Low Cost. +5 COG when active)
MRDR: (Low. +10 SOM, +1 Speed, +10 Durability, ignore 1 wound, while active.)
(For those keeping track, we can now ignore 3 wounds. There's another implant that could let me ignore 4 wounds. We'll talk about what this means, later.)
Aww yeah, the good stuff.
We will, of course, need a Monofilament sword.
Low cost. Does. 2d10 + 2 + (SOM/10) damage, and has a penetration value of 4.
If Norton were to try to disembowel himself while wearing his armor and on drugs, he would roll 2d10 +4 damage against an adjusted armor value of 11. He would average 4 damage per attempt. The rules state that attacking with more than one weapon doesn't cause multiple attack rolls, and instead just adds +1d10 per weapon. If he tries to disembowel himself with two swords at the same time, he would average 10 damage per attempt. Maybe if he picked up nanotoxin spit he could try to add an additional +1d10. Maximum +3d10 damage if you're quad wielding.
Any good Future Ninja needs a good Future weapon, though, and Norton wants the biggest pistol he can carry.
Kinetic Weapons, including pistols, come in two varieties: Standard or Railgun. Standard rounds allow for all kinds of smart ammunition, tracking bullets, toxin bullets, explosives, and so on, but do less base damage. Railguns can only manage regular or AP rounds. We'll pick up a Heavy Rail Pistol with AP rounds.
Heavy Rail AP pistol: 2d10+6 damage, Penetration 7. AP rounds add +5 Pen, -2 Damage.
Total: 2d10+4 damage, 12 Penetration.
If Norton tried to disembowel himself with his gun, somehow, he would average 12 damage. Much better than his sword, sad to say.
Some Moderate cost modifications to the gun could help him snipe from a distance and get +10 to attack.
We have built a very competent ninja, but he has a rough time actually hurting armored opponents without shooting them. Even someone who put all his points into Somatics, bought a strong morph, and was taking a bunch of drugs could only hope to do 3 more points of damage than Norton, here.
That being said, he can climb walls, purchase some sweet hacking exploits with his remaining reputation (1 High, 1 Moderate left), be damn near invisible, and shoot up two guards while hacking complicated computer networks.
Good job, Norton Goonington.
If Norton dies in action? He can easily afford Backup Insurance, which ensures he'll be resleeved pretty quickly. He can also replace all his expensive gear over the course of a month of begging and pleading, separate from whatever gear he can acquire through favor trading.
Finishing TouchesOriginal SA post Finishing Touches
Now it's time for a couple Derived Stats.
Lucidity (LUC): WIL x2 = 30. Trauma Threshold: LUC/5 = 6 Insanity Rating: LUCx2 = 60 Initiative (REF + INT) x2 = 80 Durability (From Morph) = 45 Wound Threshold (DUR/5) = 9 Death Rating (DUR x1.5) = 68
Every time Norton takes damage, he checks if he took more damage in a single blow than his Wound Threshold. If so, he takes a Wound. Each wound gives -10 to all rolls, although Norton can ignore at least 2 of them due to his implants.
If TOTAL damage is greater than his Death Rating, though, he dies. Even if he never actually takes a Wound, you can suffer death from one thousand cuts.
Norton, on average, would take a Wound every time he got shot with a Heavy AP Pistol, and would die after being shot 5-6 times. Decent survivability until someone pulls out the heavier ordinance.
Trauma is like Wounds, but for your sanity. Same basic rules, except you go nuts and become an NPC if you exceed your Insanity rating. Trauma gives you minor mental disorders until you get some therapy.
And that's it! Norton is finished!
Total time, 70-80 distracted minutes. If I'd been working in a monk-like trance, I probably could have done it in an hour.
(Author's note: 1 CP gets you TEN thousand credits, so his morph only cost 4 CP. The remaining CP can be used to buy Moxie, which will greatly extend his lifespan)
Next time, Mechanics, and we'll start to build our fabulous, famous, gentleman Terror-Octopus.
MechanicsOriginal SA post Eclipse Phase Part 5: Mechanics
Alright, I've put it off long enough, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty of rolling dice. Thankfully, as with all good games, it starts us off with Rule Zero: have fun and take it easy! Specifically, don't bog the game down with rules lawyering, and don't roll dice when it doesn't spice up the game. It also specifically says to throw softballs if it means the game continues in an interesting fashion: it's boring to TPK your party and have them be unable to see the plot.
All rolls are done with d10s or d100s. When making a normal test (of a skill or attribute), lower is usually better. A 99 always fails but a 100 always succeeds. I guess seeing a pair of 10s show up on the dice is more dramatic than seeing 01.
Want to dodge a blow? Roll under your Fray. Jet across a room in zero G? Roll under your freefall. Pretty standard. Depending on things going for or against you, you might add or subtract up to +/-30. If you are doing something mundane or safe, there's usually no need to roll.
Picking your way through a shuttle bay clogged with floating debris? No need to roll, if there's no threat or time crunch. Need to do it in a hurry? Roll under your freefall -20, for all the crap in the way. Got an awesome tactical map of the area? Adjust that roll +10. Pretty simple.
You can also get a 'Narrative Modifier' of +10 by being awesome in your description. Stunting, pretty much.
Each time you take an extra minute to do a simple task, or 50% more time on longer tasks, you can add +10. You can get at most +60 this way, meaning that, mechanically, anyone with gobs of time and a skill of 40+ should never fail. Teamwork also gives you bonuses.
You Critical (pass/fail) every time you roll doubles. 11, 33, 99 are all criticals. If you roll under your Target Number (with all modifiers), it's a Critical Success. Roll over? Critical Failure.
Degree of Success also matters. Getting 30 under the TN is an Excellent success, and getting 30 over is a severe failure. This isn't as extreme as a Critical, but is still good/bad.
The book gives the example of kicking away a thrown grenade. Not only does the character want to kick it away, she wants to kick it into a duct that will entirely contain the blast. The GM decides that she'll succeed in general terms if she rolls under her skill of 66, but will need to roll under 36 to be completely successful. She rolls a 44, not under 36, but a critical success! the GM rules that she succeeds through luck rather than tremendous skill.
Opposed Tests happen whenever you're competing against someone. Combat, of course, but also out-hacking someone, outrunning someone, or any other time you're in direct competition. In my opinion, it's also one of the weirdest rules.
1) If you succeed (rolling under your Target Number) and they don't, you win.
2) If you both fail, you're deadlocked.
3) If you both roll under your TNs, then the person who rolled highest wins.
Wait, what? Rolling low is always good, except when you are rolling against someone. In that case, you want to roll just under your TN. You could roll a 03 (normally an excellent success), but if your opponent rolls a 30 and that's still under his TN, he beats you. Maybe someone else can explain why this rule makes sense, because I cannot. Oh, if you both roll under your TN, and one of you Crits, the crit wins.
There's also what they all a Variable Opposed Test. In this case, it's possible for both of you to succeed. In the Hacker vs Defender example, if both succeed on their InfoSec tests, then the hacker gets in, but the defender knows that something is up. All the different Variable Opposed Tests are detailed when you get to them.
Actions and time
Each turn lasts roughly 3 seconds, during which you can accomplish a number of different kinds of actions.
Automatic Actions: 'reflexive actions' in WoD, or 'Swift actions' in D&D, these take no effort to accomplish, like Perception or certain Psi effects.
Quick Actions: Like talking, activating an implant, or standing up. The gamemaster determines, based on what you want to accomplish, how many are possible in a turn.
Complex Actions: These are big, meaty actions like attacking, shooting, disarming a bomb, or giving something a thorough examination. You can perform as many complex actions as your Speed rating.
(Remember Norton? With his NeuraChem and MRDR drugs, he can get a Speed of 3, and a bonus mental action every round.)
Task Actions: A Task Action refers to anything that takes more than a turn to accomplish. The Gamemaster determines a basic timeframe, although this could be shortened by 10% per full 10 point Margin of Success (MoS) or certain things that increase your physical or mental capabilities. If the action is something that takes multiple days, for instance, you can shorten the time by working more than 8hrs per day on the project.
Didn't we already do this? Sorta. With Norton, we dove right in. This time, I'm going to break it down as we go, just like the book does.
First off, pick a concept . You're not some boring plebe, you're a person caught up in intrigue danger, and unspeakable horror! You're someone that lives an interesting life. Sum up your character as "Cantankerous neotenic renegade archaeologist with anger management issues" or "thrill seeking social animal who is dangerously obsessed with conspiracy theories" or "famous outlaw octopus on the run" (which seemed to be the most popular choice). You use your concept to help make decisions about your background and faction: your circumstances under which your character was raised and the post-Fall grouping to which you hold the most allegiances.
Motivations show what your character thinks is important. They are summed up as simple +/- statements, like "Fame+, Hypercorps-, Exploration+". If you succeed in a goal directly related to your Motivations, you can earn bonus Rez Points (XP) or regain Moxie.
Stats are broken up into two categories: Ego and Morph, but this isn't 100% accurate. Lucidity, for instance, is a function of your Willpower, but that can be increased by your Morph, your Implants, or your Sleights.
These were also the stats we generated in the 'finishing touches' portion, so I'll skip them for now. All of them except for one:
Moxie. Moxie represents not just luck, but also sheer chutzpah and willingness to do what it takes, no matter the odds. You start each game session with a number of points equal to your Moxie stat, although they can also be recovered by fulfilling personal goals or having a long period of rest and recovery. Moxie lets you do the following:
1) Ignore all negative modifiers to a test. Must be spent before the roll.
2) Flip flop a d100 die roll. an 83 becomes a 38.
3) Upgrade a success into a critical success (!)
4) Downgrade a Critical Failure into a regular failure
5) Win initiative in a round, automatically.
Only one point of Moxie can be spent on a given roll.
Next up is Aptitudes , which we covered last time.
We discussed skills earlier, but there's one thing I don't understand. You purchase skills starting at the level of the linked aptitude. Got 30 Cognition? 30 skill points? That's 60 skill, and you need to start spending double if you want a skill above 60. What if 10 of the Cognition comes from your Mentat morph?
It seems to me that someone could have a COG of 10, buy their skill up to 50 (for a cost of 50 CP), then hop into a Mentat morph and spent Rez points increasing his COG to have a skill of 80 for half the cost of someone else who started with a Mentat morph and a naturally high COG.
Maybe they meant that skills start at your base, pre-implant, pre-morph aptitudes, but that's not very clear. Especially since you pick your morph first and then buy skills later.
Got a skill with a rating of 30 or more? You can buy a specialization that gives +10 bonus to TNs relating to that specialty.
Advantages/Disadvantages. I'll cover the gamut later, once I get to the CharGen breakdown.
This, at least, I covered in the Technology post. In addition to those shown there, each book includes a variety of interesting morphs ranging from Sunwhales to Silicon Venusoids to angelic biomorphs that can fly in Luna's 0.2g.
One thing to keep in mind is that each morph has an aptitude maximum. Bought your natural, innate COG up to 30, but had to sleeve into a Flat morph? You're now capped at that morph's aptitude maximum of 20. Ouch. That's got to feel weird, cramming 30 lbs of brain into a 20 lb sack. This does, of course, lower all your COG based skills.
What with Reputation Networks and universal surveillance, your identity is a very important part of you life. It's possible to get spare, fake IDs for going undercover, though. If someone who has been blacklisted by the Hypercorps wants to go under cover in one, he'll need a new body and a new identity.
Your Rep is, naturally, associated with your Identity.
Will get a full rundown when we get to its spot in the book. Likewise for Implants
Psi requires an Advantage to take, but lets you take a bunch of interesting and unique Psi Sleights (powers) to let you hack reality, read minds, provide buffs, and do the mildly impossible.
That finishes up the 'Mechanics' chapter, but everything will get a full breakdown in the Character Creation chapter. We can have fun picking all the mistakes or problems that Norton will run into with his idiot-savant physical skills and absent social skills.
Character Creation, AgainOriginal SA post Let's Read Eclipse Phase: Part 6
Character Creation, again
So now I'm going to go through character creation more slowly, breaking down things as we go.
Our character this time will be a Fugitive Terrorist Celebrity Octopus. It is, in fact, possible to be all four of these things, at once.
With that as our concept, we now need to pick a background. Each background brings with it some bonuses and penalties. I'll attempt to work out how many CP each background is worth. Each background also has a list of common morphs, and some have restrictions forcing you into certain morphs. Want to buy a morph outside of those? Pay extra for a special trait to do so.
Drifter: Whether your family was asteroid farmers, traders, or pirates, you grew up on the move.
+10 Navigation, +20 Pilot: Spacecraft, +10 to one Networking skill.
Net worth: 40 CP. Common morphs: All, especially bouncers and hibernoids
Fall Evacuee: You made it off of Earth, fully embodied.
+10 Pilot: Groundcraft, +10 to a Networking skill, +1 Moxie. Start with 2500 credits (instead of 5k)
Net worth: 32.5 CP. Common Morphs: Flats, Splicers.
Hyperelite: You grew up as a favored child of the immortal ruling class of the inner system.
+10 Protocol skill, +10k credits, +20 Net: Hypercorps. Cannot start in a synth, uplift, or 'basic' morph.
Worth: 40CP. Common Morphs: Exalt, Sylph
Infolife: You are a created AGI, although your advancement still has some limits on it.
+30 Interfacing skill, Computer skills are 50% cheaper. Gain Real World Naivete disadvantage, Social Stigma: (AGI), no Psi trait, and social skills are 2x more expensive
Worth: 10CP, although it can save you a ton of points if you don't mind being socially incompetent. Norton may have been waaaaay cheaper if we'd gone this route.
Morphs: Infomorph, Synthetic morphs.
Isolate: You grew up on the fringes in a cult, research group, or other strange, isolated group
+20 to any two skills, -10 starting rep.
Worth: 39CP, Morphs: Any
Lost: You're a member of the accelerated growth Lost Generation
+20 to two knowledge skills, Psi trait level 1. Two Mental Disorders, Social Stigma (Lost), and must start with a Futura morph
Lunar Colonist: You grew up in a dome city on the moon. Maybe you even watched the Fall from space!
+10 Pilot: Groundcraft, +10 to one Technical, Academic, or Profession skills, +20 Networking: Hypercorps
Worth: 40CP. Morphs: Flats, Splicers
Martian: You grew up on Mars. Identical to Lunar Colonist except for adding Ruster morphs to the list.
Original Space Colonist: Your family was one of the first to claim a berth in space.
+10 Pilot: Spacecraft or Freefall, +10 to Technical, Academic, or Professional skill, +20 to a Networking skill.
Worth: 40CP Morphs: All. Exotic morphs are encouraged, in fact.
Re-instantiated: You got off Earth as an upload. You may have spent years in dead storage (without sapience), in simulspace, or as an indentured servant
+10 Pilot: Groundcraft, +10 to a Networking kill, +2 Moxie. Edited Memories 'Disadvantage', 0 starting credit.
Worth: 35CP, although I don't count edited memories as much of a minus. Morphs: Cases, Synths, Infomorphs.
Scumborn: You were raised on a scumbarge!
+10 Persuasion or Deception, +10 Scrounging, +20 Networking: Autonomists
Worth: 40CP. Morphs: All, especially Bouncers
Uplift: You are an uplifted animal
+10 Fray, +10 Perception, +20 to TWO other knowledge skills. Must start in an Uplift body.
Worth: 60CP. Uplift Morphs can suffer prejudices in some jurisdictions.
Uplifted animals seem to come ahead as far as raw number of skills, but given that we're required to spend 300 CP on skills, and that's normally enough to be a quintuple PhD, it's not actually that big a bonus. Personally, I think re-instantiated comes ahead as the raw CP winner, but it seems that they mostly work out no matter what you pick, except for Infolife. It's hard to make a social animal who started life as an AI.
Depending on who you spend most of your time with/dedicate your energy to, you also get some benefits through association. I'm also gonna start abbreviating Networking to Net, and all the Technical, Academic, or Profession boosts to 'TAP'
Anarchists: +10 to any skill, +30 Net: Autonomists
Argonaut: +10 to two 'TAP' skills, +20 Net: Scientists
Barsoomian: +10 Freerunning, +10 to any, +20 Net: Autonomists
Brinker: +10 Pilot: Spacecraft, +10 to any, +20 to Net: Any
Criminal: +10 Intimidation, +30 Net: Criminals
Extropian: +10 Persuasion, +20 Net: Autonomists, +10 Net: Hypercorps
Hypercorp: +10 Protocol, 20 Net: Hypercorps, +10 to Net: Any
Jovian: +10 to two weapon skills, +10 Fray, +20 Net: Hypercorps. Must start in Flat or Splicer morphs, no nanotech.
Lunar: +10 Language (any), +20 Net: Hypercorps, +10 Net: Ecologists
Mercurial: Rejuice in your inhumanity, ye AIs, ye Uplifts, ye Posthumans! +10 to any two skills, +20 Net( Any)
Scum: +10 Freefall, +10 to any, +20 Net: Autonomists
Socialite: +10 Persuasion, +10 Protocol, +20 Net: Media
Titanian: +10 to two 'TAP' skills, +20 Net: Autonomists
Ultimate: +10 to any, +20 Net: (any), may not start with a Flat, Splicer, uplift, or pod morph.
Venusian: +10 Pilot: Aircraft, +10 to any, 20 Net: Hypercorps
Once you've picked that, it's time to purchase your basic Aptitudes, pick your Native tongue, and start with 1 Moxie and 5k Credits. You also get to assign 50 Rep points.
This is also a good time to pick our Motivations. Remember, these are usually (concept) followed by a + or -. Our OctoGent might have Uplift Rights+ or, on the flip side, Uplift Slavery-.
Next post, I'll detail all the skills (which actually come AFTER the Starting Morphs, which led to my skill confusion), and we can pick what skills we want to use. To see all of them I encourage you to download a character sheet here, or a character building spreadsheet here .
Character Creation, StillOriginal SA post Eclipse Phase part 7: Character creation breakdown, part 2
Once you've picked your Concept, background, and faction, you should have a pretty basic handle on who your character is. This will inform your choice of Morph, innate Traits, and Skills.
--By the way, I'm still hoping for player input on our new Octogent.
I already covered the Morphs earlier, so I'll give a brief rundown.
A Flat comes equipped with an Aptitude Maximum of 20, Durability of 30, no free implants and costs 0CP
A Remade has an Aptitude Max of 40, Durability of 40, a total of +35 to various aptitudes, a host of survival implants, and the Uncanny Valley trait. Cost? 60.
A Reaper (synthetic Warbot) has an Aptitude Max of 40, a Durability of 60, a laundry list of implants and augments (4 extra hands and 4 articulated gun mounts, T-Ray emitters, a host of combat boosts), Flight, and +35 to various Aptitudes as well as natural armor of 16 (enough to stop a heavy pistol dead). Cost: 100CP
100CP is fully 1/10th of our starting build points, and will likely terrify everyone who sees you coming. On the other hand, you can quad wield weapons and get (comparative) +350 CP worth of Aptitude bonuses. A heavy weapon will still kill you, but it'll take a dozen shots.
To purchase one of these after character creation is either a 81+ rep purchase or a minimum 50,000 credit purchase. 50k credits is, if you remember, 50 CP.
Why the disparity in costs? Not terribly sure.
Octogent will, most likely, wind up in an Octomorph, but for his secret agent Oct business, have you considered the Takko morph?
(this is from the Panopticon book)
Once you have that picked out, you can start picking bonus Ego and Morph traits. Ego traits are things that usually cost more than just getting the correct implant, but are always with you. Even if you get slotted into a Flat, you can still have you Math Wiz talents or be Brave or whathave you.
Adaptability: +10(or+20) to Integration and Alienation tests when slotting into a new Morph
Animal Empathy: +10 to Animal Handling
Brave: + 10 to resist fear or intimidation
Exceptional Aptitude: +5 to one aptitude maximum
Expert: +10 to skill maximum (before morph bonuses)
Fast Learner: Learn skills in half the time, but not for half the XP
First Impression: +10 to social skills during a first meeting
Hyper Linguist: Takes one day of exposure to learn a human language, bonuses to interpreting unknown languages.
Improved Immune System (Morph Trait)
Innocuous (Morph Trait)
Limber (Morph Trait)
Natural Immunity (specific toxin or disease)
PSI (allow access to Psi Sleights, more later)
PSI Chameleon: -10 to any person attempting to detect or locate the character.
PSI Defense: +10/+20 to resisting Psi attacks
Rapid Healer (Morph Trait)
Right at Home: Never make tests when sleeving into a particular kind of Morph
Second Skin: Removes restriction on starting Morph. 15CP.
Striking Looks (Morph Trait): +10/+20 to some social tests vs other humanoids. Of note is that you can be a Striking Uplift for half cost, but it's only effective with other uplifts of the same type. Sexy Octopus?
Tough (Morph trait)
Zoosemiotics: No penalty when using Psi on non-sapient animals
Aged (morph trait)
Bad Luck 30CP. Gives Gamemaster a pool of Moxie equal to that of the Unlucky character, solely to screw him over. It does encourage you to not make the party suffer, just that one person.
Blacklisted: One rep score locked at 0. 20CP if you pick your starting faction's Rep.
Black Mark: -10/-30 to social tests against a certain faction.
Combat Paralysis: Make a willpower test or lose your first round of combat
Feeble: One Aptitude can only be bought up to 5 at chargen, can never be improved, and can only ever rise to 10 regardless of Morph.
Frail (Morph Trait)
Genetic Defect (Morph Trait, Flats only)
Identity Crisis: A kind of Body Dismorphia Disorder, essentially. You never recognize yourself unless you're in 'your' body, that is, your original or a clone.
Illiterate: Can't read! Can read most entoptic signage, though, so it's not as big a handicap as you might think.
Immortality Blues: You are beyond jaded. Only get 50% of the XP/Moxie from achieving Motivation goals.
Implant Rejection (Morph Trait): All implants are one step more expensive, or no implants allowed.
Incompetent: -10 to a skill, cannot advance it, ever, and it must conceivably be a skill they would want to use (not Exotic Weapon, for example)
Lemon (Morph Trait): Once per game session, Storyteller can call for a test vs Moxie Rating*10, or suffer one wound due to some kind of breakdown, generally at time of greatest Drama or Hilarity.
Low Pain Tolerance (Ego or Morph trait)
Mental Disorder (see below)
Modified Behavior: You got the Clockwork Orange treatment. Either you must make tests to do certain actions, or are compelled to do them and must make tests to resist.
Morphing Disorder: Take penalties to Integration and Alienation tests
Neural Damage: Pick 1: Aphasia, Color Blindness, Amusica, Synaesthesia, Logorrhea, Face Blindness, Depth Blindness, OCD, Mood Swings, Inability to shift attention quickly
No Cortical Stack (unavailable to Flats, who start without them)
On the Run
Real World Naivete: Once per session, game master can flat up lie to you about some social cue or interaction. Usually only for people who grew up in VR or Infolife.
Social Stigma (You're an AGI, or a pleasure pod, or a clanking case, or sleeved into the body of a murderer, or...)
Uncanny Valley: You look almost human, which is almost worse than looking inhuman.
VR Vertigo: -30 to all actions in VR, prolonged exposure can incapacitate
Weak immune System
That's quite the list, and there are even more in the expansion books. Still, it's nice to have a few things you can point to and say 'these are the things that make my character unusual, even compared to other transhumans'.
In the Disadvantage list are Mental Disorders, which I earlier confused with Neurological Damage. Apologies. Disorders are accumulated when you take several points of Trauma, and can majorly impact your character. You can either cure them through treatment and therapy, or you can buy them off with Rez Points (XP).
Addiction, Atavism (partial loss of Sapience for Uplifts), ADHD, Autophagy (Affected Octomorph will begin to eat his limbs in stressful situations unless he passes a WILx3 test, Bipolar Disorder, Body Dysmorphia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, Fugue (triggered when reminded of the trauma that gave them the disorder), General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Hypochondria, Impulse Control Disorder (pyromania, kleptomania, pica, etc.), Insomnia, Megalomania, Multiple Personality Disorder, OCD, PTSD, Schizophrenia (uh oh).
Now, credit where credit is due: most of these disorders are horrifying or upsetting rather than lolrandom, and that, I feel, is the best way to handle Disorders if you are going to include them. On the other hand, many players see a mental disorder as being 'crazy' and 'wacky' rather than a real nightmare of a problem.
In many ways, contracting a mental disorder is akin to and worse than death. It will often definitely pull the character out of long term action (you can't keep giving long, emotional pep talks to someone with GAD in the middle of an op, for instance) for an even longer time than simply dying.
So,what do you do? If the party doesn't have time to wait for someone to go through extended rehab, they may be forced to get an older, sane backup, but then that backup has to face Alienation checks and will want to know why they lost time and why 'they' went insane.
In some ways, this can be a huge downer for a bunch of on-the-edge over-the-top adventurers, but it can also be an important way of showing the ways that transhumanity does and does not handle problems of stress. A high WIL character may be able to muscle through some of the worst disorders, but a low WIL character is going to be deadweight for the rest of the adventure.
Overall, I like the rules. The Disorders are presented in a dry, clinical fashion (which only serves, I feel, to make them more real and terrible), and the way you get trauma directly mirrors the way you take physical wounds.
There are an arseload of skills. With that in mind, I'll only touch on the ones I feel may be confusing.
Of note, you can get skill bonuses from related skills. When arguing a Law case, you might be able to get a bonus to your Persuasion from your Knowledge: Stellar Law skill. The higher the related skill, the bigger the bonus.
If you lack a skill entirely, you can usually use your raw Aptitude. This isn't always possible for certain knowledge or advanced skills, however.
Skills Of Note posted:
Control: PSI skill at controlling others
Flight: Using your body to fly, either with wings or built-in thrusters
Freerunning: Getting from A to B regardless of Obstacles, fleeing and full defense
Gunnery: Firing from a fixed emplacement or shipboard weapon
InfoSec: "Information Security". It's Hacking or counter-hacking
Interest: Like a hobby, ranging from Reclaimer Blogs to Triad Economics to Celebrity Gossip
Interfacing: Decipher and use strange technology or using regular entoptic interfaces.
Kinesics: Judging intent, emoting, and deciphering body language. Heavy penalties to detecting deception by synthmorphs and infolife.
Protocol: "Use Protocol whenever you need
to choose your words carefully, determine who is the
appropriate person to speak to, impress someone with
your grasp of customs, or otherwise fit into a specific
PSI Assault: Skill at attacking with PSI sleights
Psychosurgury: Repair, damage, or manipulate a psyche. Edit an Ego.
Seeker Weapons: Missile Launchers et al.
Spray Weapons: Flamethrowers, Shard throwers, other cone-weaponry
PSI and Mind Hacking
"Psi is a special cognitive condition resulting from infection by the mutant--and hopefully otherwise benign--Watts-McLeod strain of the exsurgent virus."
When I said the TITANs bootstrapped themselves to god like intellect, I wasn't kidding. The TITANs can do what, for humans, looks and sounds like Magic. Where humans can make dedicated nanomachine hives, TITANs can make autonomous, self-replicating nanoswarms.
Humans can build spaceships, TITANs can build FTL gates.
Humans can clumsily edit a mind, TITANs can casually overwrite it to do the impossible.
PSI, then, is a feature available to certain TITAN entities and a class of transhumans known as Asyncs. They can purchase individual abilities known as Psi Sleights. These Sleights are ranked as Chi, Gamma, and (for TITAN controlled posthumans) Epsilon.
At Chi level, the Async can replicate the effects of some implants, give +5 bonuses to certain aptitudes, assemble trends out of seemingly random data, and quickly heal Stress (although not Trauma).
At Gamma level, the Async can give themselves huge (+30) bonuses to certain social skills, prevent formation of long term memories in people, detect minds, fill targets with emotions, subtly read surface thoughts, overtly read minds, stab people in the brain for low (but armor piercing) damage, and blind a target's senses
At the Epsilon level, the NPC (you are sufficiently Posthuman as to be unrecognizable as a human intellect if you reach this state, and are thereby unplayable) can cause electronics to fail, full stop, gain flight and telekinesis, cool areas to absolute zero, cause matter to superheat, or manipulate matter. Simply seeing an Epsilon sleight can cause Stress damage.
Now then, being an Async isn't all fun and games, you also get some penalties.
Trauma Threshold -1. Gain Derangements and Disorders more often.
One Mental Disorder per level of Psi. Can be treated over time.
-20 penalty to resisting infection by other Exsurgent viruses.
Critical PSI failures result in seizures, generally resulting in spending a turn prone.
Biomorphs Only: Can't use Psi sleights unless you have a meat brain.
Morph Fever. When you don't have a meat brain (infomorph or synthmorph), you suffer stress damage unless you have a Psychiatrist muse.
Morph Acclimatization: Gain a temporary Derangement during your first day after a resleeve.
Is it worth it? Up to you. It takes a lot of points, requires spending points on 2-3 new skills, has a ton of drawbacks, and most of the powers are only usable at a range of Close or Touch.
Rez Points are spent exactly as CP in terms of skill gain or Aptitude increases. What is different from chargen is that training takes time. You can only gain 5 points in a skill per month up to 80 skill, and only 1 point per month beyond 80.
Aptitudes can be increased at 10CP per, but if this would push your Base Aptitude + skill above 60, you have to spend an extra 1 CP.
Moxie and Rep can be bought at the same rate as during chargen, to represent time spent "off camera" working to increase your cred. Max +10 points of Rep/Month.
Negative advantages can be bought off either with hard work and effort, or by spending Rez Points. You should work with your GM to decide the tone of the game. If you can lose your 10CP Math Whiz advantage due to brain injury, you should also be able to work off a mental disorder without spending points.
How many do you get? The game recommends an average of 4-7 Rez/session, based on what you accomplished and how much you contributed to the fun of the session. Not a bad return, IMHO.
So, how should we build our Terrorist Freelance Gentleman Octopus?
OctogentOriginal SA post Lets Read Eclipse Phase part 8: OctoGent
Now then, last time I went along with you bastards and made a character by hand. this time I made a charming social octopus using a spreadsheet, feel he's pretty competent, still has CP to spare, and it only took 15 minutes.
Download the XLS Spreadsheet here and click over to the 'printable' tab for an easy layout of his skills, characteristics, et al, and let me know what you think! How should we improve our master of sweet talking?
The ConclusionOriginal SA post Lets Read Eclipse Phase Part 9: the Continuation
For all the Eclipse Phase love, I wasn't getting a whole lot of feedback, but I'm going to try to finish the review.
Here's what's left:
Action and Combat
The Mesh, Security, and Hacking
Game Secrets, True History, and Gamemastering Tips
Action and Combat
We've actually touched on a lot of the combat of the game, with only one or two oddities.
Oddity the first is Shock
"A biomorph struck with a shock weapon must make
a DUR + Energy Armor Test (using their current DUR
score, reduced by damage they have taken). If they
fail, they immediately lose neuromuscular control,
fall down, and are incapacitated for 1 Action Turn
per 10 full points of MoF (minimum of 3 Action
Turns). During this time they are stunned and incapable
of taking any action, possibly convulsing, suffering
vertigo, nausea, etc. After this period, they may
act but they remain stunned and shaken, suffering
a –30 modifier to all actions."
What this means is that you have, for most biomorphs, a greater than 50% chance of being out of the fight if you get hit with any shock weapons. Even if you resist, you still take a massive penalty for a few turns.
On the other hand, a pair of shock gloves or some Eelware can turn a non-combatant into a threat.
Oh yeah, in case you want something a little more exotic, plasma rifles and plasma missiles are pretty much the end-all in ranged annihilation, doing 3d10+20 and 3d10+10 damage, respectively, with a hefty armor penetration.
The Mesh, Security, and Hacking
Unfortunately, Eclipse Phase suffers from Shadowrun's 'separate game' phenomenon, if you choose to use the Mesh rules in their entirety. That being said, the Mesh is pretty awesome.
As mentioned in some of my prior posts, the 'Internet', as we think of it, is dead. Instead you get a collection of Personal Area Networks wherever people or AI's gather called The Mesh. This could cover an entire ship, while also having submeshes within it. Pretty much everyone has implants to access the Mesh, with fewer and fewer people using 'Ectos' (contacts, tablets, smartphones) to do so.
Most clothing and objects also have sensors embedded in them, and it's not hard, in public spaces, to know when something odd is happening or if you need to find someone with a particular body signature, way of moving, or temperature. This serves as both universal surveillance and 'sousveillance', a way of watching those in charge for signs of crackdowns.
It's possible to use Augmented reality to replace your dreary surroundings with a sunny beachfront, which others might choose to share with you. Spread a catchy tune with a digital speaker that others can wander by and listen in to.
For actual checks to use or abuse the Mesh, you take penalties or bonuses based on your equipment and software. Trying to hack a space station with a pre-fall ipad gets -30, a TITAN-built mesh implant might get you +30... at least until that implant is reverse engineered. Likewise, the latest exploits, AI hacks, and cryptography can give you +30 to hack attempts... for a few weeks.
It is, of course, possible to use fake IDs, privacy modes, and frequency hopping to make yourself harder to track or to get up to no good on the Mesh. The sky's the limit!
For the actual hack attempt, its usually going to be a contested Infosec roll. Differences in the rolls can determine whether you fail, but go unnoticed, get in, but get spotted, or get in scott free, locking out the admin who is trying to stop you!
It's also possible to hack cyberbrains, if you can get connected to them. You can't hack wetware, but you can hack most pods or synthmorphs.
Game Secrets, True History, and Gamemastering tips
This is preceded by the usual spoiler alert at the start of most GM sections, but is also given as a possible True History, and that your GM can change whatever he wants.
Don't read any further if you like to be surprised.
Aliens and the TITANS
The galaxy is fully inhabited by aliens, known as the ETI. Long since ascended to techno-magical godhood, they fear nothing but other post-singularity beings. With this in mind, they seeded every star system with probes that watch for signs of Seed AIs, and infect them . Most civilizations do not survive the experience, and those who do are forever changed.
One civilization, the Factors, survived, and (being sapient slime molds) use their strange communal groupthink or infomorph versions of themselves instead of AI.
The TITANs were infected, but their Seed AI predecessors, the Prometheans, were not. It was due to the actions of the Prometheans that humans survived at all, although some of them were lost in the conflict, infected or destroyed. Where are the TITANs now? A couple options are given, ranging from 'they're all dead' or 'they're playing it safe and stealthy' to 'they've gone to the ETI to join them or to wage war against them'.
Firewall really are the good guys. They are leaderless, but there are powerblocs and those with influence have more pull, of course. If there is a First Among Equals, it'd be the Prometheans, whom most of Firewall's proxies (mission givers) don't even know exist.
Some of the sample subfactions are the Conservatives (nuke it from orbit), Backups (spread throughout the galaxy ASAP!), Mavericks (I'm a lone wolf), Pragmatists (Use TITAN tech and asyncs to fight TITANs), Structuralists (lets go public and centralize)
Leftover nano, bio, and cyberweapons still carry on TITAN wartime agendas, namely infecting people and destroying the non-infected. Take your pick zombie viruses, sleeper-agent brainhacks, and nanomachines that turn people into horrendous, unstoppable monsters. It's worth noting that some people seek these things out intentionally, wanting to leave their humanity behind. Others hope to tame them, becoming monstrously powerful without losing themselves to the virus.
SETI, in the rise to outer space, was effectively swallowed up by the hypercorps. Once actual aliens were encountered, and the Fall brought a new kind of alien from within, SETI was reconstituted into an extremely trigger happy Men In Black agency. They generally have goals that parallel those of Firewall, but neither group trust's the other's method of organization.
As some people have mentioned, the writers of EP are damn solid. Their GM advice is similarly solid. It encourages building a world based on the experiences of your players, creating a game that everyone finds satisfying, and fleshing out the game in new and exciting ways as your experiences in real life grow. See something that makes you wonder what it'll be like in 50 years? Add it to the game.
Here's an example from the book that stuck with me regarding horror:
"Keep in mind as you talk about it with your group
that more shock doesn’t equal more maturity. The
prime audience for gore in film, for instance, is not
well-aged men and women but teenage boys and
young men. Shakespeare’s The Tempest is no less
mature a tale than Macbeth even though it has a
happy ending. It can be easy to confuse endurance
with enlightenment, but in fact the two have nothing
to do with each other. Endurance is about how much
description of visceral nastiness the players can take
(and deliver), while enlightenment (insofar as it ever
happens in gaming) is about what insights players
take away from whatever it is that happened in
play. Don’t feel like a wimpy failure if you or your
players would rather keep the darker parts of the
game world suggested rather than delineated in
hard-edged detail, since the point is that it be satisfying
rather than it be as horrifying or mind-blowing
as possible. The converse is also true: just as more
is not better, so less is not better if your players do
thrive on details."
And that's it, Ladies and Gentlemen! If people have questions, I'll certainly answer them, but I wanted to wrap this up once and for all, in an 'official' capacity.
GloryOriginal SA post Eclipse Phase: Glory
This is going to be a brief one-post aside inspired by something I recently came across, the pre-made "Glory" adventure for Eclipse Phase. EP is often held up as a counter-example whenever CthulhuTech is brought up, a more "mature" sci-fi horror game, which doesn't glory quite as much in all the weird shit, or sexual shit, or generally make as much of an ass of itself.
Glory's an example of what happens when EP's editorial process goes haywire, and they don't catch the strange shit before it goes to print.
So let's get to the setup for this adventure, which comes with almost as much largely-irrelevant background fluff as actual adventure.
To recap, the reason things are fucked now is because the TITANs, huge, evolving AI's, went haywire and fucked over Earth, releasing all sorts of nasty shit and briefly threatening to annihilate humanity completely. One of said AI's, Myrmidon, was blown to shreds in Earth orbit, but large chunks survived and were picked up by the Thai refugee fleet leaving Earth. They were intending to study them for TITAN weaknesses, but ended up losing track of them when their major orbital refuge was wracked by riots(they were short on supplies and intended to forcibly upload future arrivals to make sure no one was dying of thirst, asphyxiation or hunger. Some disagreed with this decision.).
The reason they were lost, was that a group of criminals, the White Khanhs, were mixed in with the rioters and used it as a chance to pillage military hardware... including, quite by accident, the crates storing the Myrmidon wreckage. Eventually it got transferred to a large barge which ended up becoming the White Khanh HQ/hideout: The Song Cai Flower.
Ten years pass... and a tech aboard the Flower, decides to poke at the Myrmidon wreckage, getting infected with a memetic virus. They reprogram her brain to be obsessed with making a very complicated nanohive... and the nanobots from that turn out to be the Glory exsurgent virus. To the outside world, including the rest of the White Khanhs, nothing was weird for a while, though those who arrived at the Flower, or were invited there, left changed in subtle ways, slowly growing ever crazier. A year or so passes until we reach the recent date, which is where the virus is about to spread.
The reason you, as Firewall ops, are being called in, is that a pair of Firewall ops already tried to go in... and didn't report back. Oh and if the Glory virus isn't stopped within a few years or so(that's not an easy timeline, though, the Song Cai Flower will be on the move within less than half a year and then almost impossible to track), they're going to dive the Song Cai Flower into the sun, and hardened crystal Glory spores will be thrown all over the solar system by the solar winds. Effectively fucking humanity for good.
We now know the stakes and the general idea, and we're about to hit the adventure itself, but first there's a sidebar on what Glory is and does.
the Glory virus posted:
The first person to become infected by Glory nanobots becomes the “Mother” and immediately seeks to infect a mate. The initial carrier’s infection is transmitted via blood, saliva, or other bodily fluids. Once these nanobots enter another person’s bloodstream, they also become infected.
Glory nanobot infection induces numerous psychological and physiological changes in the subject, eventually transforming them into a specific type of exsurgent life form known as immolators. Immolators are further divided into two sub-types: breeders and drones. Immolator exsurgents are based on a parasitic alien life form with a distinct life cycle. This parasite infects a target population, establishes a nest within this host population, and then slowly consumes its host both by infection (creating other exsurgents) and anthropophagy (cannibalism).
When the host population has been converted or devoured, the breeder immolators enter the breeding phase of their life cycle. In this stage, the male exsurgents inseminate their female partners. These females then incubate their developing zygotes in the immolator colony’s many-wombed Mother (using a retractable ovipositor) . The Mother typically swells and bloats during this period, consuming the other immolators and filling herself with billions of embryos in the form of nanocrystalline spores.
Before the physical exsurgent transformation takes place, however, the infection first modifies the victim’s behavior, turning them into a cunning and aggressive sociopath with a yen for cannibalism. It also instills infected hosts with a nesting instinct and a strong desire to infect a potential mate, either by seduction or force. The subject’s personality and lucidity are slowly eroded over time, pushing them down a slow descent into madness. Glory-infected exsurgents will cooperate with other immolators, but everyone else in the universe is prey.
So uh, huh. They turn you into... sex-aliens that seduce new prey, and their infection is essentially an STD, and... they spend their time off fucking their "mother." That's... a thing. Alright, okay, maybe they'll handle it decently.
First up, the mission as presented to the PC's involves neither exsurgents, nor the Song Cai Flower, nor sex aliens. Instead, the PC's are recruited to track down Tara Yu, the Firewall Operative who went missing while investigating the Flower previously. Operating in cells and keeping sporadic contact to stay under the radar, all Firewall knows is that Tara Yu was seeking out the Myrmidon relics and was headed for the edges of the system in her search.
In short order, the PC's will, unless they are ridiculously incompetent, find out that Yu's inquiries ended up focusing on the White Khanhs. One issue here, though, is that literally everything the PC's can do is research tests or calling in their various rep groups, there are no options provided for personally and physically going out to investigate or interrogate people. So bad rolls could technically leave the party stranded before they get started.
After the initial research, however, things open up, and there are a variety of branches to investigate. Link one is Wang(proceed to me giggling over topic names like Researching Wang), a member of a TITAN-obsessed group that helped Yu out with some custom robotics for her mission after she mentioned she was looking for Myrmidon. He also happens to have the software section of the Glory virus stashed away in a database(the custom robot transmitted it to him after contact with it), but will only come clean about things like this if the PC's pressure him.
The second is Morteza Bey, a hacker who helped out Yu. The White Khanhs tracked him down after she fucked up, and killed him messily in an attack on his hab, but... here's the thing, apparently everyone just assumes they're Exhumans(a faction trying to become weird and alien-like for the sake of EVOLUTION), despite the fact that their stats later on quite blatantly state that these things are crawling with exsurgent spores and all their bodily liquids are infectious. Bey has been reinstantiated recently, but lost a lot of his info about the case in the process and, having already died once, isn't eager to piss off the White Khanhs again.
The best he can do, really, is to share two spooooooky video clips. The first is what the above image is related to. A weirdo is eating red noodles , and in the second there's a bit of interior footage from the Song Cai that shows the PC's a single Breeder and nothing else of real relevance. But they'd already seen Breeders from surveillance footage from when they attacked Morteza's hab.
(It's never explained why no one ever tracked the White Khanh attackers after the attack, or how they even had the intelligence to orchestrate it, as it's pretty much stated that all but one or two are currently completely insane and have no lucidity left. Not even enough to interrogate intruders like Tara Yu before offing them.)
Zheng/Li is a former White Khanh member who bailed on the outfit when the others aboard the Song Cai Flower went weird, and has been on the ship before the Glory outbreak, so he can give the PC's a lot of details on it if they agree to a fetch quest for him(retrieving some personal effects from the Flower).
Lastly, there's Patrona Vasquez...
Vasquez is a tad theatrical; her simulspace avatar looks like a dominatrix kitted out for house-to-house urban warfare.
Who fought a bunch of Glory-infectees on Mars a while back. Which has left her pissed off at the White Khanhs since three of her co-workers were captured and eaten by them. Again, considering that these guys are literally crawling with Exsurgent infection, it's a wonder that no one else is trying to track them down and incinerate them. Unlike the rest, she's not there for the PC's to find, she's there to find the PC's and give them second-rate clues(a general location of the SCF rather than a specific, like Zheng/Li can give them), if they fuck up but still ask questions about the White Khanhs enough to get her attention.
But, you know, the PC's will get there, somehow. Probably.
They'll probably kick off from the closest hab, and set a course for the SCF, and then stumble into the Kesyrah. The Kesyrah is a ship belonging to Morteza Bey, piloted by one of his beta forks and which ferried him and Tara Yu close to the Flower. It's been boarded and wrecked by White Khanhs, the beta fork on board killed. Mind you, this makes no fucking sense, seeing as how the beta fork would have likely been watching the Flower, there's no fucking cover in the area, and the ship is described as ridiculously fast. So there's really no reason why he wouldn't have seen it coming and just jetted off when it did.
The Song Cai Flower
The Flower itself is the initial image, and the last section of the game. A spire with a rotating torus attached for the bits that need gravity.
NSFW version behind the link, if you really must
Oh yeah and we get this. Our first look at the Breeders. Let's just flip ahead in the book and I can tell you why this art is fucking stupid .
Females exhibit an ovipositor, growing from their stomach , that is used to deposit embryos within the immolator Mother.
Gear: Armor Clothing (6/7, with Chameleon Coating), Light Vac Suit (Chameleon Coating) , Liquid Thermite, Plasma Gun (AP -10, DV 3d10 + 12, Mode SS), Rocket Pack, Utilitool
'aight, so let's see. These things have a vagina, so I will tentatively assume they're the "females" spoken of, and hence should have an ovipositor, which were left out. Their stats also clearly say they're wearing armoured clothing or vac suits but... I'm seeing none of that. But no, someone decided to draw them as naked alien women to satisfy their xenophilia fetish. And while we're at fetishes, look at the dumb bint in the back. "YEP LET ME JUST WEAR THIS CLEAVAGE-EXPOSING TOP INTO HOSTILE TERRITORY. I OBVIOUSLY KNOW IT'S GONNA BE DANGEROUS SINCE I HAVE A HUGE GUN OUT, BUT NOOOOO I SURELY CAN'T WEAR A HEAVY SUIT OR ANYTHING EVEN THOUGH I KNOW WEIRD SHIT IS GOING DOWN AND TITAN RELICS ARE INVOLVED. SHIT I BETTER NOT TIE DOWN MY HAIR EITHER, I HAVE TO LOOK GOOD FOR THIS." And for that matter, how the fuck is she not spotting those two Breeders hanging around there?
Anyway , we're then given a pretty detailed description of the SCF's layout and security, complete with a map. This is the part that there was obviously the most love and attention put into, everything else was just about rushing you here as fast as possible. Also hacker characters are fucked as anyone who hooks into the ship's systems risk exposure to the Glory virus' software version, and infection is permanent if you fuck up your saving throw. There is literally no indication of this being an issue, mind you, and hacking in seems perfectly reasonable for the sake of a stealthy approach.
To their credit, we're given lots of preparation for various potential approaches for the PC's, and what might obstruct them on a given path.
There's also some art of the Mother in here, but despite being a Blob o' Vaginas, it's somehow less offensive than the Tit-Troopers up there. It really just looks like a bunch of red with wrinkles on it.
Breeders again! posted:
Breeders have undergone the most extensive somatic transformations, essentially turning alien, but fortunately for the agents there are only five aboard the ship (two mated pairs and Phuong Lê’s mate), as the population was not large enough to sustain more. When not on alert, the breeders spend most of their time in the rec area (Area 9b), watching Taiwanese romantic comedies from the 2020s and copulating frantically .
'aight text, thanks for reminding us that these guys are fucking all the time . Because I totally want to reward my players approaching by stealth with, "AND THEN YOU FIND THESE ALIENS AND THEY'RE TOTALLY FUCKIN'." The remainder of those on board(Mother aside) are Drones, which basically still look mostly human but are kind of crazy .
Speaking of "rewards" for infiltration! One of the suggested rewards for that in the text is finding footage of Tara Yu's last moments! It's half a page of overly detailed description of video footage of watching her be sleeved into a non-stacked morph, slowly ground up(while still alive) and then eaten. It's there for... no reason. It provides no clues. It provides no details. There's no way to save Tara Yu(no stack in the new morph, and someone else is wearing her old one). It's like one of the writers decided to jam his snuff fetish in there.
Ultimately, the three ways the PC's can win are A) KILL 'EM ALL, B) HACK 'EM ALL(Shut down the reactor and life support... which doesn't kill the Mother or Breeders and the rest have vac suits! Whoops!) or C) HOT HAGGLING ACTION(The PC's can simply buy the fetch quest item for Zheng and the Myrmidon parts off of the Breeders and Drones. The adventure can't really decide if they're too irrational and brain-damaged for intelligent stuff or not.).
Final Fuck Yous
Since you're dealing with an Exsurgent virus, the creators decided to pack this stuff with "save-or-dies." Firstly there's the software variant, trying to hack the wrong thing on the ship, or being unlucky while hacking the right things, exposes you to it. If your character has the right tech skills to understand the Nanohive schematics, he or she becomes permanently programmed to want to build it and start another Glory infection.
Fuck you! posted:
Characters exposed to bodily fluids ( for example, via sexual contact or swapping spit ) from an infected character/exsurgent or exposed to nanobots from a Glory hive are considered infected. If the gamemaster permits, a Fray Test may be made to avoid infection, but this should only be allowed in cases where exposure is not certain (for example, the character is spattered in blood or briefly caught within a cloud of nanobots).
So the creators expected that we would want to kiss or fuck some random infected people aboard the Song Cai Flower. Gross . Secondly, being spattered with blood is definitely a situation if we start fighting them, so there we have save-or-dies with every close quarters hit. They also have claws, and technically they could just spit on their hands before trying to land a hit, turning every strike that gets through armour into an instakill.
Also, keep in mind that literally every solution short of bargaining(which does nothing to shut down the threat Glory poses to the rest of the system), involves taking on the Glory-exsurgents in a fight(even if you try to bargain, it says they'll try to lure the PC's deeper into the ship and ambush them)... and then keep in mind that they've literally got capped-out combat stats in every way possible. They're not heavily armoured, but literally all of them are packing Plasma Guns, the top-tier energy weapon in the game, and have 80's(and as far as I remember there's no way to get anything higher than 90) for dodging and shooting. Oh and they also have a decent rack of psi abilities, in case you thought that might be their weakness.
The Drones are less dangerous, but still a threat if partnered with the Breeders. Also, it occurs to me that there's literally no way to safely destroy the Song Cai for the PC's. Fire? No, the exsurgent seeds can even survive in the sun . Vacuum? Nope, they disperse through it just fine, and even Mother can survive in hibernation in a vacuum for years. Just shoot her? Sure, they can shoot Mother to shreds, but her seeds would still be present. They can't even crash the Song Cai Flower into the sun, that was the original exsurgent plan!
This adventure is a horrible idea and everyone involved in making it should feel bad.