View Full Version : Take a Vacation from Yourself - Let's play an Eclipse Phase one-shot!

07-27-2011, 11:28 PM
Eclipse Phase is a fairly new RPG by some very forward thinking people, who wrote some edition or other of Shadowrun. They're so forward thinking that if you're a horrible cheapskate who isn't willing to actually pick it up legitimately (http://www.eclipsephase.com/releases), they're surprisingly cool about it. (http://robboyle.wordpress.com/eclipse-phase-pdfs/) So... there's no real reason you can't just go snag yourself the core rules, and the two sourcebooks released thusfar for that matter, read them cover to cover, and memorize their contents so you're totally ready to play. It would make my life a whole lot easier sure, but for an introductory one-shot, that's a lot of research. So here's all you really need to know!

Mechanically it's pretty straight-forward. Pretty much everything works off percentile rolls. You have a bunch of skills, just straight-up percentages, and a couple stats which every once in a while might get used in their place (typically multiplied by 2 or 3 first). Rolling your skill or under means you succeeded, success or failure by +/- 30 or 60 usually means it's pretty extreme (i.e. rolling a 25 when you only needed a 60 or less? Awesome. 95 though? Yikes!) and multiples of 11 are criticals (crit fail or crit success, depending which way you go). 00 is actually treated as 00 here by the way, not 100, so it's the best thing you can ever roll, while 99 is the worst.

You have a luck manipulation point (Moxie) that can be spent to add or remove the word critical to a success or failure, or change which die is high (i.e. change a 64 to a 46). There's also a weird little hiccup where for opposed tests (i.e. I punch you, you dodge), ties go to whoever rolled higher and still succeeded, which seems totally arbitrary and stupid but if you analyze all the permutation, it's the only way to get both skill checks to really matter.

Way more important than the mechanics though is the whole vibe and setting of the game. It's The Future. Specifically, it's the future you end up with if you get out into space by way of cyberpunk. At some point in the past, things were pretty darn cyberpunk. People were getting internet access put directly into their heads, dumping their brains into robot bodies like it was nothing, using gene therapy to make new, better, human bodies too for that matter, making super-intelligent AIs, and engineering human-like intelligence into various other animals who were pretty close to start with. With awesome results:

That general cyberpunkness carries through to the present day. Everyone still has internet access in their brain, and that whole sleazy cyberpunk aesthetic, where everyone who's anyone has an all-girl bodyguard squad with cybernetically enhanced strength who dress like they're in an 80's aerobics class? Yeah that's totally a thing. Generally speaking, if you can picture someone strutting around like they were from Ghost in the Shell or Neuromancer or whatever, that's the right sort of look and sensibility, mostly. Things progressed even farther along than that though. People got some pretty serious colonization of the solar system going on, all that gene tampering, brain uploading, AI building, animal uplifting tech got wadded up into a great big ball of ubiquity, so whether you were born as a human, a monkey, an octopus, or an AI, it doesn't really matter, and you could have conceivably dumped your brain into whatever you feel like, AND you can back your whole brain up, so if you're willing not to think about it too hard, you're effectively immortal. Plus you know those 3D printers? Yeah, technology has progressed there to the point where you can just dump a big pile of rocks and mud or whatever into a box, feed in a pattern, and have it spit out almost anything. Only catch is that DRM never really went away, so for a lot of stuff you've still gotta actually buy it from official sources, or know someone with a license to print one out for you.

So stuff was pretty generally groovy for a while there. Right up until, well, you know all that research into making super-intelligent AIs and godlike nanotech and all that stuff? Like all that GitS stuff with making fully autonomous spider-robot-tanks and granting asylum to emergent rogue intelligences on the internet? Eventually that all lead to genocidal deathbots turning the entire earth into a nightmarish hellscape of killbots and flesh eating nanite swarms and wide-spread virii that turn you into horrible kill-happy monsters so... yeah, thanks a LOT Major Kusanagi!

When things started generally going to hell like that, all the space colonists were pretty well off, but most of the population was still on earth. A lot of them were just screwed, but a loooooot of people had time to panic and upload their brains somewhere safe. Problem is, actual living bodies are one of the few things that can't be mass-produced, so something like 90% of the population is stuck as either AIs on a mainframe somewhere, farming WoW gold or whatever trying to save up for an actual groovy clone body, or dumped onto a cheap sucky robot. Nothing all that bad about that, but it does make for this MAJOR widespread cultural fetish for having an actual flesh-and-blood body of some sort, and totally devalues human life (in the actual mind sense). Lot of indentured servitude situations out there.

So... tl;dr version? We've got a bunch of practically immortal cyberpunks sleazing around in space treating each other like dirt, and the biggest thing anyone has to worry about is someone %@#$ing with their brain and stealing their identity, since anything else can be replaced, although new bodies are expensive.

There's a whole bunch of jargon called for by the setting that I don't especially want to convey (or recall!) but there's 4 biggies I really should get out of the way up front:

Ego - This is your brain. Most of what's on your character sheet is in reference to it, including, interestingly enough, all your stats (eugenics and general future grooviness makes everyone's actual physical stats generally pretty equal you see).

Morph - This is your body, whether it's made of meat, or a robot, or both, or you don't even actually really have one (that's called being an infomorph!) Game mechanics wise, it's honestly pretty much handled as a piece of equipment that gives a bunch of temporary bonuses to skills and stats. It's fairly trivial to replace it if you have access to a spare/don't mind living in a computer for a while, but it takes about an hour and you have to make a saving throw to not be all disturbed at how you suddenly have boobs/tentacles/tank treads/whatever in your new one.

Muse - Not only does basically everyone have internet access built right into their head, they also have their own simple little AI buddy whose soul purpose in life is to toss them links they think you'll want to see. In practice it's cool, because if there's some important news story to be brought to your attention, the game doesn't get bogged down waiting for you to turn on a TV or whatever and hear about it, and if you hear someone talking about some new show that sounds pretty awesome or whatever, bam, it picks up on it and starts torrenting it for you.

Hab - Short for habitat, i.e. a place people live. Again, earth's kinda unlivable, but space is colonized to heck. There's people living on planets, moons, space ships, hollowed out asteroids, free floating metal boxes, there's even some crazy experimental artist who made a giant free-floating living ball of mostly bacon with some hollowed out areas for people to crash in while they chew on the walls. In context here, if I say "hab" I'm generally going to be just referring to the hollowed out asteroid I'm setting this one-shot in though.

Phew. Let me start a new post to talk about this specific one-shot now.

07-28-2011, 02:02 AM
One of the strengths of Eclipse Phase is how diverse it is. The default campaign assumption oddly enough is actually to have an elite team of experts doing things in a given adventure like checking out derelict ships which turn out to be infested with freaky body-horror virus that turns half the group into barb-covered-worm-vomiting monsters the rest have to pump full of lead and burn before setting the whole place to blow and hoping they got away uninfected, but if that's not your thing, you can run it like a straight-up cyberpunk deal, or run something like Triplanetary, Matrix-y VR stuff, or goofy octopus-on-gorilla gladiatorial combat like in that awesome illustration up there. That's great, and a sign of a healthy game and all, but when you're first getting your feet wet just the amount of things the PCs can be and do out the gate can be really freaking intimidating. That's why for this particular one-shot, I'm reining things in to a pretty simple scenario in a fixed location with pre-made characters.

One-Eyed Jacques' is that fixed location. A cozy little asteroid way out in the kuiper belt, serving as the private residence of a total sleazebag whose name should be obvious from context here. Jacque runs a pretty unique business. When someone needs to disappear for a while, but can't simply go into hiding or burn their identity, either because they're too high profile to make a move without it being a matter of public record, or they're in deep enough trouble nobody else is willing to harbor them. As guests arrive, they are anonymously processed, with no questions asked, and all record of the process cleared immediately upon completion. Each is resleeved into a new morph, belonging to a member of Jacque's regular staff. Those physically traveling to the hab have their morphs frozen and placed into storage until they decide to check out. Guests are extensively briefed in how to act in accordance with the identity they are temporarily assuming, and released into the general population, free to stay as long as they like. Other than a security deposit (guests original morphs are typically used as collateral) guests are charged nothing for their stay. Jacques runs his establishment purely for the joy he takes from knowing some of the most powerful members of society are serving his every whim.

The safety provided by this system is mainly a function of reputation. While a little research can verify whether any given person is currently residing at One-Eyed Jacques, launching an assault to take them out would almost certainly mean the deaths of everyone else inside, bringing down the wrath of of an untold number of criminal cartels, hypercorps, and other organizations with members in residence. Allegedly, no one has ever checked themselves in without checking out safely. While this safety record is impossible to verify given the nature of the establishment, the fact that no one can ever recall a time when every available morph was taken, clearly its enough to satisfy most people's concerns.

So who are the PCs?

Before the game begins, each player will be issued via PM the backstory and partially complete character sheet of a particular individual, and some information on what business they have in the hab. At least a few of you are going to have some seriously conflicting goals, so make sure to keep this information a secret. Each player (other than whoever gets stuck with the last pick) will also have a chance to choose from a list of false identities they have been living under while in the hab. In addition to obviously determining your current morph, everyone will get a few bonuses, representing their training to avoid detection and hands on experience over the course of their stay, a reasonable selection of equipment, and some special advantages and disadvantages determined by the role they're stuck playing.

Ideally, everyone will have a pretty clear goal going in, and some handle on how they'll pursue it, with every player working together using their unique advantages to accomplish their goals in short order... until they begin tipping their hands as to who they really are, turn on each other, and the whole thing descends into chaos and backstabbing. You know, like tends to happen with these one-shots around here without even planning it that way!

To give you some idea of what I'm talking about here, one of the potential assumed identities will be...

... Veronica the Security Officer. While One-Eyed Jacque's personal security forces are obviously never thrown into the mix of the constant ego shell-game being run in the hab, barroom brawls and the like are handled by a pair of Fury morphs (that's Fury as in Roman mythology tough chick, not as in animal people), ready to exercise lethal and non-lethal force to handle any problems which might break out. Pros: Hands on practice in various combat techniques, such that she can easily handle a one-on-one fight with anyone in the hab short of Betty or one of Jacque's personal guards. May have an in with: Max the Bartender. Cons: If a fight breaks out, you need to drop everything and break it up. If anyone's trying something serious, they'll probably try to drop you before you can intervene.

Alpha Werewolf
07-28-2011, 03:35 AM
Sounds really interesting.

Depending on the time, I may be in for this.

07-28-2011, 07:06 AM
Mm, paranoia. A one-shot is the perfect place to have some secret agendas that lead to pvp, I like it.

07-30-2011, 09:45 AM
How have I neglected to actually sign up to this for so long? I'm totally in.

07-30-2011, 10:24 AM
Actually, you were the very first one to do so! Look:
I'd be down for either or both of those, but especially the Eclipse Phase.

07-31-2011, 10:34 AM
Man, you can't expect me to remember everything I posted six days ago. That's like forever in the past.

08-10-2011, 12:25 AM
Now I just have to remember to ask for it off.

Comb Stranger
08-10-2011, 03:10 PM

I can't in good conscience sign up, knowing how much work I have in front of me.


08-24-2011, 03:18 PM
Right then. I've just sent all the players their super double plus secret real identities as PMs. If you didn't get yours, speak up quick. Now, as has been mentioned a few times, everyone is starting this one-shot off all incognito as one of the many generic, passed around cover IDs (and morphs) constantly being cycled around in One-Eyed Jacque's here. While there's several more morphs floating around for this purpose than I am going to list here, it's not like you were given a choice in-character which you got, that's kind of the whole point. So you all only get these 5 to collectively choose from, which should ensure at least mild embarrassment for every character. I was thinking about rolling, but eh. You guys can pick. If anyone just ends up stuck with something they really really don't feel comfortable with for out of character reasons though (i.e. you just can't bring yourself to play an octopus... oh who are we kidding, it'll only come up for Jasmine), feel free to beg to switch with someone.

And oh yeah! You can do that sort of thing IN character too, after the game starts. Again, kinda the whole idea behind the premise. People constantly switching places with each other in a big ol' brain transfer shell game. Whatever you end up with here is going to be what you've been in for the necessary time period to pick up the starting bonus skills everyone's getting though. Anyway, here's the list of horrible degrading covers. First come first serve.


... Jasmine the Pleasure Pod. For people of a certain mental outlook, this is the ideal morph to spend one's stay at Jacque's in. Almost no responsibilities, the drooling admiration of half the population, and, well, there's something to be said or having your whole body and brain specifically designed for maximum mutual enjoyment of the aforementioned responsibilities. On the other hand, if you're the sort of person who has any sort of self-respect or modesty, you're in for a pretty nightmarish and psychologically scarring stay. Pros: Hands on practice in Persuasion and some Networking skills, and ready access to Jacque's private quarters. May have an in with: Half the hab. Cons: What, you mean besides being the personal sex slave of a creepy gangster who enjoys humiliating people and can completely override your free will?

... Otto the Mechanic. The surly octomorph is in charge of basic system's maintenance and repairs on the various synthetic morphs employed on the hub. The hours are long and the work is a little dangerous, but you don't have to deal with people much, and there's some dignity to the work. Pros: Hands on practice in Climbing, Hardware, and Scrounging skills, knowledge of service ducts. May have an in with: Vince the Techie. Cons: Taxing workload, really stands out in a crowd, risk of nasty integration penalties if you weren't human when you arrived.

... Old Doc Perkins. Serving Jacque's medical needs for longer than the hab has been in operation, most residents recognize the kindly old doctor as the first face they see after any sort of serious accident. He used to be one of the few people around you could count on to have a consistent ego in place, but recently the original doctor has resleeved into a younger morph and donated his old body to Jacque for his elaborate shell game. Young Doc Perkins keeps him around to assist him, and constantly jokes about his old outdated practices. Pros: Hands on practice in various medical skills, and access to various drugs. May have an in with: Young Doc Perkins. Cons: Seriously in lousy physical shape. Most likely wouldn't be able to stand if the gravity were higher.

... Roxy the Dancer. It wouldn't be a seedy trading post without a scandalously dressed girl dancing at the drinking hole every night. It's a pretty easy job when she can manage not to be self-conscious about it, and there's enough booze present to help with that. Pros: Hands on practice in Fray, Freerunning, and Kinesics, along with being limber enough to fit into narrow ducts and storage compartments. May have an in with: The owners of visiting ships. Cons: As the only live entertainment in the hab, stalkers are a big problem. Not having any pockets is another.

... Veronica the Security Officer. While One-Eyed Jacque's personal security forces are obviously never thrown into the mix of the constant ego shell-game being run in the hab, barroom brawls and the like are handled by a pair of fury morphs, ready to exercise lethal and non-lethal force to handle any problems which might break out. Pros: Hands on practice in various combat techniques, such that she can easily handle a one-on-one fight with anyone in the hab short of Betty or one of Jacque's personal guards. May have an in with: Max the Bartender. Cons: If a fight breaks out, you need to drop everything and break it up. If anyone's trying something serious, they'll probably try to drop you before you can intervene.


Also? Apparently there's a hurricane which may directly impact my neck of the woods the weekend before we're playing, which could potentially knock out power for a bit and/or rip off the roof and scatter all I hold dear into the vengeful sea. So... if I'm not showing any signs of life on Tuesday, assume I'm stuck offline and will have to reschedule things for some time next month. Hopefully that won't happen though.

08-24-2011, 03:55 PM
Oddly enough, and I have no idea if I'll do a good enough job with this, but I'll call Roxy the Dancer. Seems like a good fit. If someone's dying to be Roxy, then I'll take Old Doc Perkins.

08-24-2011, 04:30 PM
Otto sounds like a fun guy, so I'll go with him.

08-24-2011, 04:54 PM
I'll take Veronica's form, why not?

Red Hedgehog
08-24-2011, 05:59 PM
I guess I'll be the one to take Jasmine. Ugh, that's going to be... interesting... to RP.

08-24-2011, 06:34 PM
It sure will!

So that leaves the decrepit old doctor for Pence it seems.

Now I just need to add the various appropriate bonuses to these character sheets and stat out these NPCs and make this map and make a quick reference sheet and do all these other things I need to and we're good to go. Probably going to end up throwing finalized sheets at everyone like, the day we're playing, or the weekend before or such.

08-24-2011, 10:22 PM
Yep! I'm Old Doc Perkins. I kinda like being the old and cranky guy.

Can't use the old man to kill that snake. (http://podcast.idlethumbs.net/music/chrisremo_yougottausethekid.mp3)

Comb Stranger
08-24-2011, 11:17 PM
Do a good job Google, pence will probably end up running some variation of this for our group.

He'd better.

08-30-2011, 06:10 PM
OK, so! This whole finish getting ready to run this after having a few days without my power and notes isn't QUITE working out, but... it's coming pretty close! I just set up a #eclipse-phase on esper, should be remembering everyone's skype names shortly, and all I still have to do is finalize this one last character sheet and sketch up an incredibly crude station map.

Well, I also need to make a quick reference sheet so I'm not constantly looking up rules but, whatever. Searchable PDF.

08-31-2011, 12:28 AM
So! That could have gone better, but given the amount of time I had left to prep stuff after losing that last weekend there, I think it went pretty well. In particular...

- I'm glad we all got our heads around the mechanics pretty painlessly.

- I think it worked out as a pretty freaking good introduction to the setting and some of the weirdness you can do with it (ESPECIALLY as an alternative to the the first official freebie sample adventure to ever come out for this thing. All I'm going to say is it's on Rob Boyle's page of freebies there, and it gives "wallbanger" a new meaning).

- I like that Red came around to the realization that if you can get around how profoundly creepy and degrading it inherently is, being a pleasure pod is actually a pretty good deal.

- Similarly, I like how Pence's character, despite having the least humiliating backstory/morph combo in the group, was the most despair ridden by the end.

- Seriously, I love how everyone started sending me pretty much identical PMs at almost the exact same time when the big reveal moment was looming. That was just entertaining as heck from my end.

- I know at least one of you wanted to just straight-up steal this one-shot's premise and run it with a different group. If you'd like, I've all the character sheets split up into backstory/cover story sitting around, just pester me and I'll zip'em up somewhere and save you a truckload of work there.

Olli T
08-31-2011, 01:21 AM
How well does that skill system work in practice? I remember playing Cyberpunk 2020 or something ages ago, which had a similar linear 1-100 skill system with crit fails/successes. There, my doctor with a skill of around 65 in doctoring (which was pretty expensive in the character creation phase) would fail more than half of his doctoring rolls due to bad luck and the fact that there was often a difficulty modifier added due to adventure times ("we're under fire, it's dark, and you need to treat this gunshot wound or this guy bleeds to death"). Even a high skill value like 80% means that every fifth normal skill check fails.

08-31-2011, 01:46 AM
I'm not generally a fan of percentile based skill systems because yeah, they lean fail-y. With Eclipse Phase, there's a price jump in skills after 60%, which is potentially pretty bad, double cost to bring something up to 80%, but even with just a 60, it's very very very easy to get enough bonuses to push it up to 90% or more (easy 10% from having a morph with the right stat bonus, various implants and such can give you another 10 or 20 to a lot of thing, high quality equipment's another 10, there's drugs that can give you bonuses on top of that if you're willing to risk getting addicted, etc.) so... if you're really determined to be actually good at something, it's very attainable. Plus, not that roll-heavy of a system really. And the one use of the luck/karma/moxie/whatever points you get refreshed between adventures is flipping the result of a roll, i.e. 81 becomes 18, which can help fix wide fail ranges.

Also, yeah, all notes zipped up now... actually heck. We're trustworthy folks here. Nobody click this link (http://www.kekkai.org/google/ep-vacation.zip) unless you just played this oneshot and want to run it for someone else now.

08-31-2011, 08:00 AM
Those are supposed to be .rtf files, I think? Only the map and character portraits have file extensions on them, but opening the others up in WordPad seems to work.

But anyway, time to see what's so creepy about Jasmine's fur coat....

08-31-2011, 11:38 AM
Sorry about last night guys, Comcast decided to be dicks and drop my internet for a few hours last night.

08-31-2011, 12:39 PM
Sorry about last night guys, Comcast decided to be dicks and drop my internet for a few hours last night.

Yeah, that sucked. You didn't miss much, time wise, but I think you fell out right before the big reveal moment, which sucks.

Those are supposed to be .rtf files, I think? Only the map and character portraits have file extensions on them, but opening the others up in WordPad seems to work.

But anyway, time to see what's so creepy about Jasmine's fur coat....

.txt actually. Shame on me for being all Mac-y and leaving those off.