The Game: Eclipse Phase
The Publisher: Posthuman Studios
Degree of Familiarity: None with the game itself, a lot with the genre
Books Required: Just the corebook
Eclipse Phase bills itself as the roleplaying game of transhuman conspiracy and horror. And, yeah. That's pretty accurate. Humanity has become transhumanity, but Earth has been decimated by the TITAN AIs and is thus off-limits. PCs work for Firewall, a clandestine conspiracy that hunts out "existential risks"—anything that threatens the on-going existence of transhumanity. With Earth a ravaged hellhole, 90%+ of the population only made it offworld by broadcasting their uploads. Now, these initially-bodyless infomorphs form a new underclass, frequently indentured to the corporations of the Planetary Consortium or the Jovian Republic in exchange for a physical body. Real death is rare, what with backups.
To be honest, I like the setting but I don't think it goes far enough. I was hoping for something as advanced as the second third of Accelorando, but I didn't get it. Forking is viewed as weird, infomorphs are a lower class, AIs have been limited wherever possible to prevent even weakly-superhuman processing out of fear of the TITANs, the only uplifted animals are birds, apes, and octopi, and throughout the setting is this idea that without a body you're somehow less of a person.
I don't like that. The infomorphs should be busy making use of immortality and subjective-time hacks to really enhance research and development, then chivvy people along towards deconstructing the inner system to make a matrioshka brain. Transhumanity has settled and even terraformed Mars, for fuck's sakes. What's so attractive about wasting away at the bottom of a gravity well? Once you're out of one, don't go to another.
Enough of the setting rankles me because I've read takes on the same thing that are just plain better, and don't artificially limit aspects of the setting just because people couldn't come up with a good system for it. Then again, looking at the system as written... ugh. It's generic flavourless percentile with about eleventy-billion individual skills. My hate of percentile systems should be obvious by now (Unknown Armies excepted, of course), and this doesn't introduce anything worth paying too much attention to.
To be fair, for a number of gamers, EP's setting is weird enough without trying to do anything interesting with the system, but even then, why not plump for something faster and looser? Cinematic Unisystem would be a good choice, or something about the same weight as Storytelling. The system as-is just turns me off.
It's a percentile system. It's not as offensive as BRP, but is still like eating bran. On the other hand, now I've got a decent macro-enabled character creator, this might just be tolerable after all.
1. Define Character Concept
I like my transhumanism weird. For all that EP tries to hit those weird notes, they're all a bit bland for someone who has read more than one of Charlie Stross' SF books. So fuckit.
I'm going to make an anarcho-socialist octopus private investigator. Someone who has dealt with the fact that humanity has installed a whole shitload of homo-sapiens-centric memeware into every uplifted animal, rather than seeing what higher intelligence and reasoning would do on its own. He's decided to turn that around, and to really get into the heads of people who commit crimes. In doing so, he's set up as a freelance investigator/policeman in the Locus station. He's fascinated with old crime drama shows, and spends ages watching Law & Order, Columbo, and Ashes to Ashes. His reading list is pretty much full of Chandler and Christie. Oddly for an uplift, he doesn't see any difference between transhumans, uplifts, and AIs—HomSap have already destroyed any chance of them developing unique cognitive processes, and each group has its share of bastards that it's down to him to find, just an octopus in a cheap equipment web, and his fedora.
He calls himself "Gene Briscoe". You would, really.
2. Choose Background
This much is easy enough. The only available background for my concept is Uplift. This nets me +10 Fray, +10 Perception, and +20 to two Knowledge skills. However, I have to choose an Uplift morph; in this case an Octomorph.
3. Choose Faction
As mentioned, he's heavy on the anarcho-socialism. He resides in the anarchist/argonaut focal point of Locus, in the Trojan asteroids hanging out at Jupiter's L5 point. He's had a lot of contact with the Titanian Commonwealth about setting up a study into variant and deviant memetics, but he prefers the more free-wheeling approach of the anarchists—at least for now. As an Anarchist, he gets +10 to a skill, and +30 Networking: Autonomists
4. Spend Free Points
"Free points" is EP's somewhat confusing term for pools of points for one specific porpoise, err, purpose. As opposed to Customisation Points. In effect, this is the main step of oWoD chargen, and "Customization Points" are freebies, only freebies are vastly more useful.
We start with 105 points for Aptitudes. That averages to 15 each. As an octopus, we want high Co-ordination, and as an investigator, high Intuition and Savvy. Briscoe's not as quick off the mark as other people, but he gets there in the end, so we drop Reflexes by 5, and increase Intuition to 20. Likewise, trade five points of Willpower to raise Savvy by five.
We also get a free language at 70 + Int. As the result of a Swedish uplift programme, Briscoe speaks fluent Swedish.
Characters also start with 1 Moxie, 5,000 credits, and 50 points of Rep. Rep is divided between different groups, with @-rep (anarchists and autonomists) and i-rep (Firewall) being the most useful to my concept. I'm dumping 30 points into Circle-A, fifteen into The Eye, and five points into rep with CivicNet: he can't stand the backwards-looking "transitional" economies, but sometimes you need friends in weird places to catch a bastard.
5. Spend Customization Points
These points are mostly useful for Skills, but can go on just about anything. Notably, I have to blow 400 points on Active skills, and 300 on Knowledge skills, with each point added to the linked Aptitude, and double-cost for raising a Skill above 60.
First of all, his Anarchist skill bonus goes to Investigation. The Knowledge skill bonuses go on Academics: Psychology and Academics: Memetics. Now, we can start spending skills. For the sake of my own sanity, I'm going to spend in 25-point blocks where possible. I should also note that I'm not taking this entirely seriously (as if you couldn’t tell from the concept), but this is making chargen a lot more fun.
From Active skills, I want Climbing (he's an octopus), Deception (no point everyone knowing what you want), Exotic Melee (Beak, he's an octopus), Exotic Ranged (Ink, he's an octopus), Fray (he's an octopus), Infiltration (got to get to where the information is), Infosec (got to get the information out again), Intimidation (he's an octopus and a freelance policeman, that's some scary shit), Investigation (no shit, sherlock), Beam Weapons (every cop needs a gun), Networking (Criminals), Networking (Firewall), Perception (360° vision's a bitch), Persuasion (interviewing witnesses), and Unarmed combat (well, eight-armed combat).
For Knowledge Skills, I amp Academics: Memetics and Academics: Psychology, Language (English, with a heavy Swedish accent), Academics (Cryptography), Interest: Conspiracies, Interest: Detective Stories, Profession: Con Schemes, Profession: Smuggling Tricks, Profession: Security Ops. Even at 25 points a pop, that doesn't eat up the 300 point minimum. Bugger. Increase Crypto, Detective Stories to 45, up English to 30, and take 30 points in Russian. I may come back and boost some of those later.
CPs go on a lot of things, and notably, I need to go shopping. I’d not be as diligent were it not for the excellent spreadsheet that’s got all of the options already in.
Specifically, I need a morph. I know I'm going with an Octomorph, which costs 50 CP as a basic model. It adds to Co-ordination, Intuition, and one more. I add the bonus +5 to Savvy. To the morph, I add a whole lot of shit: Direction Sense, Enhanced Vision, Circadian Regulation, Endocrine Control (so he can control his sleep patterns and emotional responses), Teraherz Radar (because "T-ray emitter" is a stupid name), a Hand (tentacle) Laser, light Bioweave Armor, and some nanotech: Medichines, Oracles, and Wrist (tentacle) Mounted Tools.
It's a lot of shit, and means it's a pricy bastard of a body, but Glen Briscoe believes it's much like the cars favored by so many detectives: after living in it for a while, you want the cup holder and eight-track player (whatever that is).
He also has access to smart dust, a covert ops tool, and SmartSkin armor. He's loaded for bear. Unfortunately, that comes at a high cost. The gear costs 16,500. I have 5,000. Fortunately, each CP I spend gives me 1,000 credits. So my little shopping spree has cost 12 CP.
Now, I can spend some CP on Traits, which are Merit/Flaw equivalents. Naturally, Flaws give points back now, rather than later. I thought games had moved past that. Oh well. I'll take Ambidextrous three times, to let me use four limbs at once. I also spring for Right at Home (Octomorph), so re-sleeving into another Octomorph is nice and easy. None of the flaws look at all like they'd apply to the character.
Moxie is the "luck" trait. Mostly, it can be used to flip-flop percentile rolls. I want a fair bit of this for the hard-bitten PI angle. Five points costs 75CP, but it's worth it. I also scatter 13 points worth of extra Rep among the various options.
Back to Skills. I have 100 points to spend. I increase Beam Weapons to 45, Deception to 45, Investigation to 50, and stick the remaining 10 points into Unarmed Combat.
Three goals, that we're either for or against. Pro-Anarchism, Anti-Subversion, and Pro-Socialism. Easy.
7. Final Traits
Lucidity is WIL x2 (20), Trauma Threshold is LUC/5 (4), Insanity is LUC x2 (40), Initiative is (REF+INT)x2 (70), Damage Bonus is SOM/10 (1), Durability by morph (30), Death Rating is DUR x1.5 (45), Speed is 1. Lots of maths. Thank fuck for spreadsheets.
Gene Briscoe, Octopoid Anarcho-Socialist PI
Motivations +Anarchism, +Socialism, –Subversion
Rep @-70 c-25 e-10 f-20 g-10 i-35 r-10
Ego Traits Ambidextrous (4), Right at Home: Octomorph
Morph Implants Direction Sense, Enhanved Vision, Bioweave Armor (light), Circadian Regulation, Endicrine Control, T-Ray Emitter, Hand Laser, Medichines, Oracle, Wrist-Mounted Tools
Gear Covert Ops Tool, Smart Dust, Backup Insurance (moderate), Standard Muse, Smart-Skin Armor
|Academics: Memetics||60||COG||Networking: Autonomists||55||SAV|
|Academics: Cryptography||60||COG||Networking: Criminals||50||SAV|
|Animal Handling||25||SAV||Networking: Ecologists||25||SAV|
|Beam Weapons||65||COO||Networking: Firewall||50||SAV|
|Exotic Melee: Beak||40||SOM||Pilot: Anthroform||10||REF|
|Exotic Ranged: Ink Attack||45||COO||Pilot: Exotic Vehicle||10||REF|
|Freerunning||15||SOM||Profession: Con Schemes||40||COG|
|Gunnery||25||INT||Profession: Security Ops||40||COG|
|Impersonation||25||SAV||Profession: Smuggling Tricks||40||COG|
|Interest: Conspiracies||40||COG||Psi Assault||10||WIL|
|Interest: Detective Stories||60||COG||Psychosurgery||25||INT|
|Kinetic Weapons||20||COO||Spray Weapons||20||COO|
|Language: English||55||INT||Thrown Weapons||20||COO|
|Language: Russian||55||INT||Unarmed Combat||50||SOM|
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