In the default story (also known as “campaign setting”), every player character is a “sentinel,” an agent-on-call (or potential recruit) for a shadowy network known as “Firewall.” Firewall is dedicated to counteracting “existential risks”—threats to the existence of transhumanity. These risks can and do include biowar plagues, nanotech swarm outbreaks, nuclear proliferation, terrorists with WMDs, netbreaking computer attacks, rogue AIs, alien encounters, and so on. Firewall isn’t content to simply counteract these threats as they arise, of course, so characters may also be sent on information gathering missions or to put in place pre-emptive or failsafe measures. Characters may be tasked to investigate seemingly innocuous people and places (who turn out not to be), make deals with shady criminal networks (who turn out not to be trustworthy), or travel through a Pandora’s Gate wormhole to analyze the relics of some alien ruin (and see if the threat that killed them is still real). Sentinels are recruited from every faction of transhumanity; those who aren’t ideologically loyal to the cause are hired as mercenaries. These campaigns tend to mix a bit of mystery and investigation with fierce bouts of action and combat, also stirring in a nice dose of awe and horror.
When they’re not saving the solar system, sentinels are free to pursue their own endeavors. The gamemaster and players can use this rulebook to generate any type of story they wish to tell. However, the following examples provide a brief look at the most obvious opportunities for adventure inEclipse Phase.
After each campaign variant below, a list of “archetypes” forEclipse Phase are provided in parenthesis. Archetypes are the names applied to the most common character types featured in those scenarios. For example, in a traditional detective story, the archetypes would be the Detective, the Damsel In Distress, the Hard-bitten Cop, and so on. In a cowboy movie, the archetypes would be the Gunfighter, the Bartender, the Marshal, the Indian Brave, and so on. Players will note that some archetypes fit into multiple story settings. The character creation system (p. 128) allows players to create any of the suggested archetypes. Just as roleplaying games are designed for players to build their own stories, however, these archetypes are just suggestions and players can mix and match how they will.
Salvage and Rescue/Retrieval Ops:The Fall left two worlds and numerous habitats in ruins—but these devastated cities and stations contain untold riches for those who are brave and foolhardy enough. Potential hauls include: weapon systems; physical resources; lost databanks; left-behind uploads of friends, family, or important people; new technologies developed and lost in the brief singularity takeoff; valued heirlooms of immortal oligarchs; and much more. Outside of these once-inhabited realms, space itself is a big place and lots of people and things get lost out there. Some need to be saved and some are beyond saving. This option lets players explore the unknown or seek out specific targets on contract. (Archeologist/Scavenger/Pirate/Free Trader/Smuggler/Black Marketeer)
Exploration:There are plenty of opportunities to be had as an explorer, colonist, or long-range scout—perhaps even as one of the few lucky or suicidal individuals who explore through an untested Pandora’s Gate. Even the Kuiper Belt, on the fringe of our solar system, is still sparsely explored; there may be riches and mysteries still to be found. Many dangers also lurk in odd corners of the system, from isolationist posthuman factions to secretive criminal cartels, as well as pirates, aliens, and others wishing to remain out of sight. (Explorer/Archeologist/Scavenger/Singularity Seeker/Techie/Medic)
Trade:While the majority of inner system trade is controlled by sleek hypercorporations, many of the smaller or more independent stations rely on small traders. In the post-scarcity outer system, trade takes on a different form, with information, favors, and creativity serving as currency among those who no longer want for anything due to the availability of cornucopia machines. (Free Trader/Smuggler/Black Marketeer/Pirate)
Crime:The patchwork of city-state habitats and widely varying laws throughout the system create ample opportunity for those who would make a living from this situation. Black market commodities and activities include infomorph-slave trading, pleasure pod sex industries, data brokerage and theft, extracting/smuggling advanced technologies and scientists, political/economic espionage, assassination, drug and XP dealing, soul-trading, and much more. Whether as an independent or part of an organized criminal element, there are always opportunities for those with a thirst for adventure or profit and questionable morals. (Criminal/Smuggler/Pirate/Fixer/Black Marketeer/Genehacker/Hacker/Covert Ops)
Mercenaries:The constant maneuvering of ideologically-driven factions, the squabbling over contested resources, and the rush to colonize new exoplanets beyond the Pandora Gates all spark new conflicts on a regular basis. Some of these simmer and seethe as low-intensity conflicts for years, occasionally flaring into raids and clashes. Others break out into all-out warfare. Women and men willing to bear arms for credits are always in demand for good wages. Players can engage in commando and military campaigns in habitats, between the stars, or in hostile planetary environments. (Merc/Security Specialist/Fixer/Bounty Hunter/Ex-Cop/Medic)
Socio-Political Intrigue:The corporations and political factions that span the solar system do not always play nice with each other, but neither is it wise for them to openly confront each other except under extreme circumstances. Many battles are fought with diplomacy and political maneuvering, using words and ideas more potent than weapons. Even within factions, social cliques can compete ruthlessly, or heated class conflicts can come to a boil, tearing a society apart from within. In this campaign, the players can start as pawns of some entity who rise through the ranks as they become more enmeshed in the intrigues of their sponsor, play a group of ambassadors and spies stationed in the opposition’s capital, or can play a group of activists and radicals fighting for social change. (Politico/ Socialite/Covert Ops/Hacker/Security Specialist/Journalist/Memeticist)
The Earth has been left an ecologically-devastated ruin, but humanity has taken to the stars. When Earth was abandoned, so too were the last of the great nation-states; transhumanity now lacks a single unifying governing body and is instead subject to the laws and regulations of whomever controls a given habitat.
The majority of transhumanity is confined to orbital habitats or satellite stations scattered throughout the Sol system. Some of these were constructed from scratch in the orbit or Lagrange points of planetary bodies, others have been hewn out of solid satellites and large asteroids. These stations have myriad purposes from trade to warfare, espionage to research.
Mars continues to be one of transhumanity’s largest settlements, though it too, suffered heavily during the Fall. Numerous cities and settlements remain, however, though the planet is only partially terraformed.Venus, Luna, and Titan are also home to significant populations. Additionally, there are a small number of colonies that have been established on exoplanets (on the other side of the Pandora Gates) with environments that are not too hostile towards humanity.
Some transhumans prefer to live on large colony ships or linked swarms of smaller spacecraft, moving nomadically. Some of these rovers intentionally exile themselves to the far limits of the solar system, far from everyone else, while others actively trade from habitat to habitat, station to station, serving as mobile black markets.
The Great UnknownEdit
The areas of the galaxy that have felt the touch of humanity are few and far between. Lying betwixt these occasional outposts of questionable civilization are mysteries both dangerous and wonderful. Ever since the discovery of the Pandora Gates, there has been no shortage of adventurers brave or foolhardy enough to strike out on their own into the unknown regions of space in hopes of finding more alien artifacts, or even establishing contact with one of the other sentient races in the universe.
While not a “setting” in the traditional sense, as the sections describe above, the computer networks known as the “mesh” are all-pervasive. This ubiquitous computing environment is made possible thanks to advanced computer technologies and nanofabrication that allow unlimited data storage and near-instantaneous transmission capacities. With micro-scale, cheap-to-produce wireless transceivers so abundant, literally everything is wirelessly connected and online. Via implants or small personal computers, characters have access to archives of information that dwarf the entire 21st-century internet and sensor systems that pervade every public place. People’s entire lives are recorded and lifelogged, shared with others on one of numerous social networks that link everyone together in a web of contacts, favors, and reputation systems.
Ego vs. Morph?Edit
The distinction between ego, your mind and personality, including memories, knowledge, and skills, and morph, your physical body and its capabilities is one of the defining characteristics of Eclipse Phase. A good understanding of the concept right up front will allow players a glimpse at all the story possibilities out of the gate.
Your body is disposable. If it gets old, sick, or too heavily damaged, you can digitize your consciousness and download it into a new one. The process isn’t cheap or easy, but it does guarantee you effective immortality—as long as you remember to back yourself up and don’t go insane. The term morphis used to describe any type of form your mind inhabits, whether a vat-grown clone sleeve, a synthetic robotic shell, a part-bio/part-synthetic “pod,” or even the purely electronic software state of an infomorph.
A character’s morph may die, but the character’s ego may live on, assuming appropriate backup measures have been taken. Morphs are expendable, but your character’s ego represents the ongoing, continuous life path of your character’s mind and personality. This continuity may be interrupted by an unexpected death, depending on how recently the backup was made, but it represents the totality of the character’s mental state and experiences.
Some aspects of your character—particularly skills, along with some stats and traits—belong to your character’s ego and so stay with them throughout the character’s development. Some stats and traits, however, are determined by morph, as noted, and so will change if your character leaves one body and takes on another. Morphs may also affect other skills and stats, as detailed in the morph description.