|RPG published by
|Rule System||Custom d100
Your mind is software. Program it.
Your body is a shell. Change it.
Death is a disease. Cure it.
Extinction is approaching. Fight it.
Eclipse Phase is a Transhumanist RPG published by Posthuman Studios. It was released in 2009 and all Eclipse Phase products (including printed rulebooks/sourcebooks and PDFs) by Posthuman Studios are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. This means it's actually legal to go out and download it and share it with whoever you want. The game is set around 10 years after the singularity (called the Fall in the game) renders earth a nano-technological wasteland, and trans-humanity lives scattered around the solar system. Characters typically work for a shadowy organization called 'Firewall', who are attempting to ensure the survival of the solar system.
The game was originally published by Catalyst Game Labs but is now published by Posthuman Studios. They just finished a Kickstarter to fund a second edition, which currently has a digital quick start guide, playtest packet, core rulebook, and not much else released. Interestingly, while the first edition was billed as "A game of transhuman horror", the second edition is called "A game of transhuman survival". This suggests that they might be toning town the game's cosmic horror elements.
In the not too distant future...
There was a massive war between first world nations and corporations. This was brought to sudden stop when the singularity happened and a bunch of seed AIs called the TITANs went crazy, took over most of Earth's infrastructure and military assets, and waged a very one-sided war on humanity. A few people went on ice in hidden underground facilities. Some people evacuated Earth by shuttle or orbital elevator, though most who had escaped left by being uploaded and broadcast off planet. Many, many survivors are refugees with nothing left to their name, not even a body to call their own.
After Earth was evacuated, just about everybody lives elsewhere - on the partially terraformed surface of Mars, on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, floating above the clouds of Venus, or in habitats dotted across the solar system made from retrofitted space stations, hollowed out asteroids, or purpose-built orbiting settlements. Nanotech is readily available, people can copy their minds to computers, and humans uplifted a couple of species (mostly different types of apes, birds, and cetaceans) into human-level sentience through genetic engineering.
There are several Wormholes called Pandora Gates (possibly left behind by the TITANs) that link to various other solar systems. They might be tranhumanity's ticket to survival as a species by allowing expansion to various locations throughout the galaxy, or they might be a trap or Trojan horse that will lead to death and horrible Cthulhu-style alien threats. Who knows?
Some aliens calling themselves 'The Factors' appeared shortly after the Fall, claiming to represent the rest of galactic civilization. Who they represent is all but unknown, since the are very mysterious, notoriously tight-lipped about any details, and possibly completely manipulative assholes who want to fuck humanity over. Or maybe they're helpful. Who knows?
There's an odd thing called the Exsurgent virus. It's mostly thought to have been created by the TITANs, but some think they only found it. It's basically everything horrible about nanoplagues and the Warp that you could ever imagine, rolled into a single ever-changing threat: it starts off as a computer virus, and infecting nanofabricators makes it able to propagate by nanomachine or bioweapon capable of doing strange and terrible things to a body, or even as a Basilisk hack, which is a stimulus (like a sound or a sight) that reprograms the human mind upon exposure. The virus itself seems to be sapient and capable of complex long-term strategy, or it may be guided by unknowable intelligences, as it better improves itself to screw with everybody else through intense body horror and mental reprogramming. On the other hand, it's so incredibly advanced that understanding it would be a huge leap forwards for science, and the Watts-McLeod strain might just be a relatively safe and easy path to functional psychic powers. Or it might all be an even more insidious and horrible trap. Who knows?
The solar system alone contains more factions and sub-factions than your average Drow city, and they trust each other about as much as the Drow do. They almost all believe that they have the only safe and functional methods to avoid transhumanity's extinction (and make huge profits along the way, in several cases), and/or improve safety and quality of life for everyone. Or maybe they're all wrong, and everything will end in a huge war throughout the solar system. Who knows?
If you didn't get it by now, there's a reason why Eclipse Phase is generally considered a mystery/horror game. It's full of the stuff! If the ethical and practical implications of some of the stuff that can be done with transhumanity's technology doesn't scare you, the Exurgents and TITAN threats will. And the setting itself is absurdly full of plot hooks and conspiracies to
get repeatedly killed by have fun with.
Also there are space-whales living in the sun, and all kinds of weird ass fucking to be had. Especially if you join a Scum swarm, or any of the other groups who use the incredible potential offered by transhumanity's technology to do weird shit going from absolutely crazy sex to pseudo-Darwinian "enhanced natural selection" through cannibalism and fighting to the death repeatedly.
This game's setting is incredibly well developed and thought out (aside from maybe one massive hangup; see below) and overall it's quite a nice read. The core rulebook itself isn't an awful way to expose people to transhumanist ideas and implications, either. The fact that the PDFs are free is nice too.
In case you haven't noticed, there's a pretty big pulsating nodule in the setting's premise and logic, it's infamous for tying the Eclipse Phase forums in intellectual knots. You see, the centerpiece of the Eclipse Phase version of transhumanism is the ability to translate human consciousness into data and copy it between bodies and across interplanetary data links. The operative words here are translate and copy. It's the same philosophical issue that people have been raising with Star Trek transporters for decades; you're trusting a computer to use your brain to make something that kinda sorta acts like you, kill you, and then let the copy go on with its life thinking it's you, all while deluding yourself into thinking the copy that's left behind after you die is, in fact, you. Moreover, Eclipse Phase goes beyond simple transportation into duplicating and modifying people with egoware, resleeving and the forking mechanics, which makes it much harder to handwave away the implications as Star Trek does.
If you think about it enough, the idea that people are habitually "committing suicide" just to get around the solar system or do a specific job better could be seen as completely fucking absurd. In fact there's a whole faction in the setting, the Jovians, who see it as completely fucking absurd, and they're portrayed as "the bad guys". To make things worse, the process of resleeving and egocasting can be compromised. Getting forked after cast, or even having altered version of yourself take your morph, is a real possibility. And it's not that hard either, many criminal organizations in the setting are known to do this. In the second edition of the setting, it is officially noted that storing a fork after transmission is routine practice for visitors to many habitats. These issues have been written about in science fiction forever, but the developers haven't really tried. Unfortunately, trying to excise the whole mess also forces you to excise a lot of the coolest parts of the setting (like the crime family that's all forks of the same chick). So if this comes up in your group, you're going to have to find a compromise that you can live with. Some possible approaches are:
- Ignore it. The Eclipse Phase forum has done all kinds of sophistry trying to dance around the philosophical concept that a copy of something is not the same thing as the original, so you'll be in good company. Some people may not have even considered any of this and/or prefer not to think about the implications; perhaps all of the stuff mentioned in the Setting section above is enough to distract from the deep-seated implications. And, it's not entirely impossible that a society might shift its attitude towards the acceptance, that sleeving is merely a change in body for the non-changing mind. After all, normal human beings have replaced every single cell in their body with the resources of nourishment by the age of 7-40 (depending on who you ask) and they are not considered different people or "food clones" of the person they were when they were born. So, accelerating this process from 40 years to an instant is not necessarily a horrifying concept to a futuristic society that has lived with this technology for quite a while, now. In addition, the majority of refugees from Earth survived as cortical stacks or egos in a database. Somewhat contributing to acceptance of the technology.
- Embrace it. The various Eclipse Phase books do actually note that the huddled masses of transhumanity think the more esoteric stuff like forking and egocasting are weird and only resleeve when their existing bodies are about to die, so it's not that big of a stretch to just say that the upper crust of transhuman society that the PCs are assumed to belong to by default is so jaded and decadent that occupational suicide is small potatoes. (This is also more or less the approach to mind uploading taken by GURPS Transhuman Space.) This lets you put focus on the existential horror inherent to what the PCs do to themselves and juxtapose it with the more cosmic threat of the TITANs. There's also the handful of ways you can resleeve while preserving continuity of consciousness, which may or may not be the escape clause your group needs to get on board.
- Flip the script. This is the Jovian option that gets bandied about so often; ordinary humans just trying to save their souls in a solar system full of Cthuloid horrors that are still just human enough to enact a twisted parody of civilization while they wait for their TITAN masters to return. The downside of this option, of course, is that you're consigning a lot of player options to GM use only and that the very nature of the setting and system make unaltered humans pretty much suck. On the other hand, most alterations don't require resleeving per se, with the obvious exception of most morphs.
- Treat your digital consciousness as a pseudo "soul." You are a digital entity that is constantly aware of its existence. When you transfer yourself you are moving your ego, not copying yourself. When you die you are "uploaded" via a constant stream that serves as an immaterial synaptic cord to another medium you inhabit. If you're having trouble grasping this, imagine how the traditional "soul" is suppose to work. When you die your mind persists as detached creature separate from the body. Essentially this means your PC will never feel fully attached to your body, but it's a simple solution to what is obviously an idiotic existential issue caused by bad writing and science's rather poor grasp of what self awareness even is. For other works of fiction that do this, look at Ghost in the Shell where copying digital minds is virtually impossible and the Matrix, which uses a whole host of spiritual analogies for the digital self.
- All or none of the above. Maybe it'll be a little bit of each at your table. Or maybe it won't come up at all, because not everyone thinks so deeply about this stuff. After all, Star Trek hasn't been brought down by it.
Philosophy on that aside, there are still a bunch of other hot-button political issues wrapped up in this game that could cause arguments at the table. Some of it is based purely on the nature of transhumanism, and some of it is intentionally injected by the writers. There are a lot of utopias to ruin in the Transhuman FutureTM, and you had better believe someone is going to get their toes stepped on when you try to ruin theirs.
One of the more unique things about Eclipse Phase is the differentiation between a character's Ego (mind) and Morph (body). Given the ability to upload a character's brain to a digital repository, characters can make back-ups of their personality and if one body dies, simply swap into a new one. This allows combat to be highly lethal without having to introduce new characters constantly, similar to the 6-pack system of Paranoia. Morphs are also more varied than many standard RPGs, ranging from unaltered humans to robotic "shells" to swarms of nanotech to genetically engineered octopi.
Morphs come in four different types, each with their advantages and disadvantages:
- Biomorphs are fully biological, meaning that they are living creatures that were born from a womb (either a natural or technological one). They have the full suite of biological needs and wants, unless this is modified of course.
- Synthmorphs are 100% robotic or otherwise artificial. This means that they can turn off pain receptors, don't have biological needs, don't have disruptable nervous systems, can comfortably exist within a variety of environments that would otherwise kill biomorphs, and are built to last. They can be anything from cheap and simple sleeves that don't have much going for them aside from "holy shit I'm a robot now", to large, expensive, fancy, and pretty sleeves that cost a good dime. Many of the cheaper ones suffer from discrimination based on their low quality and mark the ego within as being dirt poor, meaning that those who can will either: sleeve out of the cheap ones as fast as possible, or stay digital.
- Pods (from "pod people") are vat-grown bodies with cyberbrains. Originally designed as biological robots, pods are largely grown in sections which are pieced together with cybernetics. While being mostly biological with all the functions and limitations that comes with this, most Pods are looked down upon by large parts of society as lesser sleeves fit only for the lower classes. They tend to be pretty cheap, but lacking in ability and included upgrades.
- Infomorphs are pure data, so they need to run on a computer capable of running the resource intensive software that does wetware emulation. (The most ubiquitous computers capable of doing this is the typical cybernetic implants most people have, though these can only run one persona at a time and are usually running the person's AI personal assistant.) Most people prefer to have a presence in meatspace, meaning AIs, AGIs, and refugees from the Fall are the ones who are most commonly infomorphs, though many people prefer to stay as infomorphs since it removes the need of biological functions and they can spend the rest of their functionally-immortal life in a videogame. Infomorphs also allow the running of software suites called Eidolons that provide bonuses based on the purpose they're using it for (e.g. hacker, researcher, pilot, slave/prisoner, performer, etc.). Infomorphs have the downsides of not being able to interact with the physical world on their own (mitigated somewhat in a world drowning in AR, so they can appear standing right next to you if they wanted), and being subjected to whatever fate happens to the computer they're running on; the upside is that they operate at the speed of thought and can hack or send commands to drones very quickly.
Eclipse Phase has lots of Morphs to choose from, many of which can be invaluable to specific character builds or allow for great player options and/or roleplaying. On the other hand, the game also has a bunch of relatively hilarious ones, that players or GMs like to bitch about.
- Fenrir: A weapon to surpass Metal Gear. A quadrupedal walking tank capable of housing heavy weapons, this is the final answer to missions where total destruction is the objective. Notably the only Morph capable of housing more than one Ego: in theory all six of the Ego slots can be taken by the same person using multiple forks, but this has yet to be proven to be possible. Obviously, the exorbiant cost and restricted nature of the Fenrir paired with that it's a massive tank means it's got a limited niche in which it can function.
- Flat: A basic human with no modifications. This is their primary draw for those who sleeve into them: whether as a fashion or political statement. Many body banks have a few on hand as last resort option for those who don't want synths. Those Flats who were born on Earth are treated as collector's items and you can expect to make big bucks if you have one of these. Obviously, they aren't very good at anything, with some of them even having health problems that were engineered out of humanity a long time ago.
- Furies: The most combat-oriented biomorph available. They are quick, fast, strong, and usually biologically female, to
introduce strong wymyn to the settingoffset their natural aggressiveness. This also means that they tend to get underestimated by people who haven't dealt with them, because in a setting with 8' robots capable of ripping your arms off you tend to overlook the tall women.
- Infomorph: Digital only forms that can exist only in computers. This certainly has its uses, but being a digital being certainly has its downsides.
- Jenkins: Jenkins look like 75% human and 25% rat, making them the ugliest motherfuckers around in a universe that has the Novacrab. They also stink like shit, to the point where you can't remove their smell from furniture if they sit on it for a longer time. The scum's are particularly fond of this morph and are known for rubbing themselves on visitors to make them smell as bad as they do, for teh trullz. This is usually followed by whining about how it's the policy of most Hypercorps to shoot them on sight, just because they hate
lazy, degenerate assholesFREEDOM. These guys were deliberately designed to be as annoying as possible, but also for massively enhanced sexual stamina and to cater for a bunch of weird fetishes. They were obviously designed by the Scum. The only thing worse than these guys is Griefers, a (throwaway) Morph that literally has an Anonymous mask on its illustration and that exists only to harass people and do some quick brainhacking to make politicians masturbate in public.
- Mimic: A lump of metal a bit larger than a human head, Mimics can turn into just about any small object, cleaning robot or household appliance. The downside is that if you turn into a coffee machine and people try to use you, they'll discover that you won't work which might end up blowing your cover or see you put in the trash. Garbage containers in Eclipse Phase are full of disassembler nanotech...
- Neo-Avians: are uplifted birds like crows, ravens, parrots and so on. About as large as human children, they have been made more dextrous and were given extra digits on the wings like bats. They can fly in 1g environments, so when dealing with other kinds of gravity is going to be a bit of an issue.
- Neotenic: Transhumans modified to always look like children. Because they're small, agile and don't need many resources they are ideal on spacecraft, but even in-universe people are weirded out by sleeving into kids (or kids sleeving into adults), banning them in certain areas.
- Novacrabs: For when you want to play a man-sized sapient spider crab. To stay in-character and respect the spirit of the developers, complain loudly about how no one in the inner system wants to hang out with you just because you're a giant fucking monster crab from hell. MUH MORPHOLOGICAL FREEDOM! There's also a spider tank Morph out there, for when your Novacrab player decides to keep trolling you while adding enough combat utility to solo a small army to his PC.
- Reapers: An armoured disk with four arms, each capable of fucking your shit up. It can also maneuver in microgravity, due to having small thrusters. Reapers are forbidden on most habitats because people fear their sheer potential for badassness. For extra lulz, visit a Scum Barge with one of these things and four flamethrowers installed and when they object, burn them all down while shouting something about your morphological freedom. The Ultimates love these babies, and few other people like the Ultimates. I wonder why?
- Spares: One moment you're in a firefight or you're looking at alien flora, the next thing you're in a small robotic bug. Congratulations, you died. Spares are useful because they can collapse into a 2 kilogram disc only half a foot across, and they're designed to allow for easy plug and play functionality in case of an untimely death. Common equipment for those who go gatecrashing, but the problem is that they're not very useful for... well, anything.
- Suryas: Eclipse Phase has a lot of odd morphs for those who want to explore areas with harsh environmental conditions, from the centaur guys you can have on the frigid surface of Titan to the odd synthmorphs you might want to use to fly among the rings of Saturn for months on end. Suryas, however, are even odder. While most people might want one of the specially designed robot bodies for this, it is entirely possible to become a red space whale that uses magnetic field shenanigans to fly around in the Sun's corona. And yes, there is a humanoid version you can use to go surfing on a space whale inside the Sun.
- Swarmanoids: A swarm composed of thousands of insect-sized microbots that share one consciousness. Awesome in theory, but have fun arguing about the intricacies of the sensory input of the damn thing, or watch your player stack every fucking implant in the book on the swarm and then try to electrocute a thousand enemies at once. That the Swarmanoid has special rules on fucking everything, including picking up fucking crates, doesn't help. Just introduce strong winds and watch the Swarmanoid get literally pulled apart and die if it pisses you off too much. Or use EMP's. Normal synths can survive those, but Swarmanoids get positively rekt by them.
- Takkos: No, not Mexican. It's a robot octopus morph designed for uplifted octopi. There are some humans who use them too, because being a robot octopus is fucking awesome and sleeving into a synthmorph is a lot less stressful than turning yourself into an actual octopus. There are all kinds of lulz you can get up to with 8 arms that can stick to walls, like shooting 4 guns at once or crawling into places nobody else could dream of reaching. Like the Reaper this morph also has thrusters built-in so it can "swim" through microgravity.
Notable Factions (roughly Sunward to Rimward)Edit
- Morningstar Constellation: An alliance of floating city-states of Venus that used to be ruled by the Planetary Consortium, but decided to say fuck you to Mars and formed their own nation. Essentially a "neutral" version of the "Evil" Mars, or at least that is what the biased narrators all say. Decided to prevent their world being terraformed because they liked clouds.
- Lunar-Lagrange Alliance:: The former colonies on the Moon and nearby space that house the remnants of Old Earth Governments. This decaying state is the most conservative transhuman, non-jovian state in the system, and has the largest amount of people wanting to reclaim Earth.
- Mars: As the closest place that needs only minimal technological aid for humans to live, the bulk of Fall refugees naturally came here first. After ten years, two distinct faction now live on Mars:
- Inter-Planetary Consortium: PROFITPROFITPROFIT...profit? PROFIT! All the wealthiest and coolest bastards got together on Mars after The Fall and formed this super-club. They don't use slaves for menial labor jobs. They employ indentured infuegees in tasks they wouldn't trust a self-aware AI to do. Sure, they sometimes extend a persons contract for arbitrary reasons like "Letting anti-corporate terrorists damage valuable property." But can you blame them? they're trying to run a business here, not some charity. There are various interesting corporations within the Consortium.
- Barsoomians: The blue collar working class of the planet Mars. I guess they should called red-collared since they have to deal with the rusty dust storm. Anyways, their needs aren't always met by the Consortium, who they share Mars with. Besides being Populists, most Barsoomians don't have much in common with each other than speaking like Texans and having Korean names. Some of them are actually Islamic terraforming engineers, who roam the planet and, in a role reversal, dodge giant explosions thrown at them by corporations.
- Jovian Republic: Take a South American Junta republic (secret police, Elected Dictators), combine it with the worst aspects of McCarthy-era North 'Murrica politics (Red Scare-style Paranoia, Lobbyists, Military Dominance) and put all that in orbit around the planet Jupiter. What do you get? This faction. The biggest reason you should respect these Luddites is that they'll never be eaten by a swarm of self replicating nanobots of their own design. Recently this shifted to just-as-augmented Jovians who think that they sold their souls to the devil for the sake of their country. Politically, these guys are a "republic" in the Classical Age Greek sense of the word, as in: If you have fulfilled mandatory military service or are the offspring of a politician, then you get to vote. If not, NO VOTE FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU AREN'T A CITIZEN, YOU'RE A USELESS CIVILIAN. What are you voting on? You're voting for a Senator who will hopefully vote yes on the bill to give your space station some radiation shielding. Seriously. Unfortunately, they'll never be expanded on - the designers have noted in the forums that they like to keep a bad guy faction for Space Sweden to face off against, despite all the interesting possibilities inherent in the idea of transhuman rejectionists in a world full of transhumans.
- Autonomist Alliance: The loose bloc of anarchists, whose main stated ideal is to restart progress of knowledge and humanity by taking off the shackles of entrenched traditions enforced by old governments, thought in practice in most cases it amounts to people just wanting to get away from Earth. Obviously, they got a substantial membership boost after the Fall. Despite appearances, the Autonomists owe their continued existence to the Jovians, who consider everything beyond the orbit of Jupiter their sphere of influence. On at least one occasion, the Jovian Junta stopped the Consortium takeover of an Autonomist hab whose control of Jupiter gravity well prevents other factions from moving large amount of military hardware to the outer system. Notable members of the Alliance are:
- Firewall: The default protagonist faction. It is an underground organization dedicated to fighting x-risks, extinction level threats to humanity, formed by the remnants of the similar national programs who were not taken seriously before The Fall. It is very loosely organized, with individual cells barely working together for the sake of secrecy, if they even know of each other at all.
- Extropians: The First Autonomists living in the space station Extropia orbiting close to the asteroid belt. Unlike the rest of anarchists who have communists leanings, these are the followers of extreme free market capitalism with no standardization or regulation whatsoever.
- Titanian Commonwealth: Scandinavia IN SPACE! This communist-technocratic nation is the only autonomist faction large enough to qualify as an actual nation. Follows (or tries to) the principles of direct democracy. The only currency outside of the reputation economy is the kroner, which can only be invested in research projects. Their influence has been steadily growing since the fall and other autonomist factions are getting little worried that they might end up as Commonwealth satellites. But Titanians have no such ambitions, yet...
- Argonauts: Essentially a loose cooperation of scientists doing whatever they want. Sometimes they go a little too far and have to rescued and/or purged.
- Mercurials: A movement comprised of Uplifts, AGIs, Infomorhps and other non-humans who advocate for equal rights with transhumans. Of course, some also want special or outright superior rights, but much of this is brushed aside as hardcore revolutionaries or fringe anti-humanists.
- Space Station Anarchists: Anarchy only works as a viable system of government under specific conditions: like aboard a self-sufficient space station. Even then, things don't always work out. However, Post-Fall, most space station inhabitants have a vested interest in each-other's well-being.
- Scum Barge Nomads: Similar to the anarchists but way more hedonist and cray-cray. Seriously, they have ships called "Lick me, I'm Delicious" and "Rule 34," and that's just to fuck with the poor gal who's giving them permission to dock. Okay, some of them aren't totally crazy but a lot of them are. Before I tell you anything, consider this: about 2/3rds of transhumanity got killed (or worse) by the TITANs and deep down the scum are a little tiny bit traumatized. That's why they have their yiffing futa rave pit orgies in a zero-g recreational drug lab. Seriously, you guys, that's totally the reason. It takes their minds off the horrors of The Fall, which they probably didn't see personally despite it happening only ten years before. But perma-death is a scary possibility no matter how far from Earth you fly, whether it's by the guns of the corporations or by the blades of TITAN-spawned horrors. The important thing is to enjoy life, which is what the Scum try to do every artificial day cycle.
- The Ultimates: Buddhist super soldier mercenaries who live around Uranus, who seek perfection by pushing the ever changing limits of mind and swappable bodies. While many of them actually follow that philosophy, many of them are also your garden variety "master-race supremacists". They are extremely pragmatic, and have no problem with cutting out people's cortical stacks en masse to "evacuate" more people with the mass available. Frequently employed by corps or oligarchs, these warriors have, at very least one time, taken over a hab they were hired to protect. Needless to say their clients learned from such occasions and the Ultimates recently landed a contract "to secure mankind's extrasolar colonies...." Are confirmed to be removed as a viable player character option in the upcoming second edition, because of the political implications of playing a fascist cult, though nothing is stopping a player or GM from houseruling them in regardless.
- Brinkers: Survivalist and isolationist types who live in many places, but primarily out in the farthest reaches of the solar system, generally around and between Uranus and Neptune. Some of them are hermits, some of them are extremophiles, some of them are radicals, some of them are exiled or being hunted, and some of them would just rather sit eternity out in a bar at the end of the universe. They're so far from the sun that they have to either harvest their own fusible hydrogen or have it shipped out.
The default protagonist faction, dedicated to fight against the x-risks and other threats to humanity by any means necessary. Before The Fall, there were many anti-x-risks organizations and state agencies who were not taken seriously, and after the shit hit the fan the remnants of these groups met and founded Firewall. Think a mashup of spy-thriller-style "highest-clearance-level" government organizations, the leadership of X-COM, the Imperial Inquisition, a dash of the SCP Foundation, a pinch of The Laundry Files, and a heaping helping of ethical shadowrunning. They are extremely compartmentalized in order to avoid the House of Cards situation, to the point that it is more accurate to say that there are lots of different groups that identify themselves as Firewall who are barely connected with each other (and then only by equally loose councils).
If you're wondering how they stayed relevant against other more organized factions, a friendly ASI's (the Super AI like the TITANs) influence might have had a hand in it.
Your typical PCs are Firewall Sentinels, a team of agents who are tasked to assess the potential problem without drawing too much attention and, if possible, neutralize it. If something is way above their capabilities or things goes south, the min-maxed all-combat-all-the-time Erasure teams are called in to purge everything in general vicinity, including the Sentinels if they are unlucky.
To avoid subversion and to increase recruiting pools, Firewall's internal political structure is much closer to that of the Imperial Inquisition than say, The Laundry or the Men In Black. Firewall cells do go rogue, they sometimes end up fighting each other, and Firewall has "puritans" and "radicals" who argue over what can be used and what must be destroyed.
Mass Effect-Eclipse PhaseEdit
/tg/, in its infinte wisdom, decided to combine the setting of Eclipse phase with the Galaxy of Mass Effect. The result was some very good threads and some high quality writefaggotry. Now if only someone who knew where it is could show the rest of us plebs...
Path of TotalityEdit
A certain fan of the game called Anders Sandberg is noteworthy for getting shit done, big time. He has created a metric ton worth of background information and homebrew rules for the game, including historical information, new corporations, characters and everything else under the sun.
Honorable mention goes to the cognoweapons he designed. To most people, a deployed cognoweapon looks like random, incoherent static, but for the specific person it was individually tailored to, it is like PTSD mixed with TEH RAEP. As if this wasn't grimdark enough, the best way of creating cognoweapons is to run someone's ego through a so-called hellcube, a quantum computer that will torture the ego in a million different ways at once to see which one is the most painful. This is the kind of sickfuckery that would make Urien Rakarth nod in acknowledgement.
- Eclipse Phase: The core rulebook with the general information on the setting.
- Sunward: A sourcebook focusing on the inner solar system, detailing the Sun and its whale-like Suryas, the nomadic miners of Mercury, the city-states of Venus, the fallen Earth, the Moon and associated space stations, the first autonomists of Extropia, with the particular focus on the Big Boy of the sandbox: the Planetary Consortium of Mars.
- Gatecrashing: A sourcebook focusing on Pandora Gates, the totally not Star Gates that lead to places outside of the Solar system, one of which is giant dyson sphere big enough to fake being a planet. Discover the majesties of the universe as it tries to kill you.
- Panopticon: A sourcebook focusing on the various facets of Transhuman culture, particularly the titular total surveillance of everyone by everybody. Big brother is watching you, but also every soccer mom stuck as a bored infolife, every wannabe stalker who thinks your morph fits their fetish, every preachy neighbour with "values", every sleazy paparazzi, every scam artist looking for a mark...
- Rimward: A sourcebook focusing on the outer Solar System and the various Autonomist factions that set up shop there, in particular the Titanian Commonwealth, while also trying to make the Jovian Republic into more than the paranoid luddite nazis. Also, briefly touches on Firewall, since it is their main playground.
- Transhuman: A Player guide with the more streamlined character generation rules, which was one of the biggest weaknesses of the core rulebook. Also has more information on Transhuman culture that didn't initially make the cut in Panopticon. Random tables for the random table gods!
- Firewall: A sourcebook focusing on the default protagonist faction, the loose underground organization fighting against the extinction of humanity. Helps with differentiating them from these guys
- X-Risks: Half Sourcebook, Half Monster Manual detailing many lovely things that might and will kill you, from crazy exhumans to TITAN remnants and various exsurgent virus-influenced mutants.
The Eclipse Phase website also has several mini-sourcebooks about little things like the Titan Quarantine Zone on Mars or a scum swarm called The Stars Our Destination, a Morph Recognition Guide with pictures and rules for every Morph in the game found throughout the sourcebooks, a list of NPCs ready to use, and a few adventures.
A lot like how Shadowrun took terms and ideas from William Gibson's various cyberpunk novels (mostly the Sprawl Trilogy), Eclipse Phase likewise was heavily influenced by the Takeshi Kovacs novel trilogy by Richard K. Morgan - you might've seen the TV adaptation of the first of these novels, Altered Carbon, on Netflix. Both have devices called cortical stacks that function in much the same way, the process of downloading one's mind into a new body is termed "resleeving" in both, and both explore the ramifications of such technology. That's about where the similarities end beyond the natural overlap both Eclipse Phase and the Kovacs trilogy have with other cyberpunk/sci-fi properties.