Meet the Party: Eclipse Phase Second Edition

An Uplifted Scientist who dreams of reclaiming Earth for Transhumanity and securing equal rights for all his kind. A baseline human who crashes through Pandora gates to leave the solar system behind, and believes transhumanity needs to limit its excesses. A soldier of fortune who lives for her own wealth and independence, but still realizes that x-threats could take it all away. A smiling socialite who is really a covert operative for Firewall, determined to fight the anarchy consuming transhumanity. Eclipse Phase is a game of transhuman science fiction horror where death is usually temporary but there are far worse things besides. The Kickstarter for Second Edition just successfully funded, which means new ways to make characters, so get ready to sleeve into a new Morph and let’s Meet the Party!

 Posthuman Studios has begun an Open Playtest for Eclipse Phase Second Edition, and added the rules for making characters this week! For those who missed the last time Cannibal Halfling Gaming took a look at Eclipse Phase, this is an updated edition of the d100-based system, which is how the game got it’s start. As per usual with new-to-Meet-the-Party systems, I’ll be putting notes into the first character’s sheet to explain a few things that are unique to the system. Grab yourself a copy of the game mechanics and character creation rules from the Playtest (they’re free!) if you want to read along, and get ready to see who’s joined Firewall in the aftermath of the Fall to protect transhumanity from extinction, whatever the cost!

Horace, The Scientist

Background: Uplift Career: Scientist

Interest: Animal Handler Faction: Reclaimer

Background, Career, and Interest are the basic building blocks of your character, determining the skills you’ll have at character creation. While they’re not as hidebound to be referred to as a traditional RPG ‘class’, and don’t determine everything you can do, they will likely determine what you do best.

Motivations: +Reclaimer Interests, +Scientific Discovery, +Uplift Rights

Motivations are your character’s personal aspirations, what keeps them in the game aside from any other higher/external calling (such as Firewall’s mission to prevent transhumanity’s extinction). They can be used to gain Rez Points and to cope with mental stress and trauma. Motivations with a + are ones they’re motivated to pursue or support, while ones with a – are avoided or opposed.

Morph: Neo-Orangutan

In Eclipse Phase your mind, who you are, is called your Ego. Your Morph is your body, and determines a few stats we’ll point out below. What’s important for newcomers to realize is that Morphs are rarely permanent. Permanent death is usually avoided by switching Morphs, or maybe a mission requires something different than the current Morph, meaning your character’s body could change drastically. And yes, Horace is a fully sentient orangutan; that’s not even close to how weird it can get, I’m soft-balling here for ease of introduction.

Aptitudes

Cognition (COG): 20 [60] Intuition (INT): 15 [45] Reflexes (REF): 15 [45]

Savvy (SAV): 10 [30] Somatics (SOM): 15 [45] Willpower (WIL): 15 [45]

Your main stats, tied to your Ego; they all start at 15, and can be changed at character creation by shifting points between them or spending Customization Points (CP). They’re included in your final skill ratings, while the numbers in brackets are for when an aptitude check needs to be made that isn’t really covered by a skill.

Initiative: 7 Durability: 35 Wound Threshold: 7

Death Rating: 53 Lucidity: 30 Trauma Threshold: 6

Insanity Rating: 60 Pools: Flex 2, Insight 1, Vigor 2, Moxie 0

Initiative is (REF+INT)/5. Durability, Wound Threshold, and Death Rating are determined by your Morph, and maybe a few Traits or implants. They’re basically how much damage you can take before receiving a wound, how many wounds you can take, and how hard it is for you to get dead. Lucidity, Trauma Threshold, and Insanity Rating are the mental equivalents, acting along pretty much the same lines. The various pools are points that you can spend to manipulate the dice in a variety of ways, with each pool having some unique abilities. Everyone gets 1 Flex, while the rest is determined by your Morph, and can be adjusted with CP and a few traits/implants.

Skills

Academics Research 80, Academics (Astrobiology) 80, Interest (Uplift Rights) 80, Perceive 70, Interest (Smart Animals) 60, Hardware (Electronics) 60, Medicine (Veterinary) 60, Athletics 55, (Genetics) 50, Fray 50, Provoke 50, Profession (Field Scientist) 50, Program 50, Exotic Skill (Animal Handling) 50, Kinesics 40, Academics (Nanotechnology) 40 Survival 35, Interface 35, Melee 25

You add together your skill ratings from your Background, Career, and Interest, then add the relevant Aptitude rating to get your final rating for a given skill. You can’t go over 80, but luckily such points don’t vanish: you skim the extra points off the top, and can put them in whatever skills you wish.

Traits

Positive: Animal Empathy, Hyper Linguistics, Resources (Level 2), Eidetic Memory

Negative: Zero-G Nausea

Positive Traits cost CP, Negative Traits grant CP for you to spend on other things. Pretty simple.

Morph: Exotic Morphology (Level 1), Limber (Level 1), Non-Human Biochemistry (Level 1), Reach (+10), Movement Rate (Walker 4/16), Biomods, Cortical Stack, Enhanced Smell, Mesh Inserts, Prehensile Feet

Most Morphs have at least a few bits of ware and other traits that come as part of the package. Remember that you might not necessarily have these for an entire campaign, depending on circumstances, choices, and luck that might change what Morph your Ego is wearing.

Reputation: R-Rep 60, I-Rep 40

You don’t live in a vacuum (well, not a cultural one anyway), and social media (of a sort) is alive and well in transhumanity’s future. Your reputation scores determine how connected you are within your chosen social circles, which can pay off in a big way down the line. Everyone starts with 100 Rep points to spread around, and can get more with CP.

Ware/Gear: Anonymous Account, Backup Insurance, Armor Vest (Light), Ecto, Encryption Software, Fake Ego ID, Maker, Standard Muse, Smart Clothing, TacNet ALI (Group Gear), Car Service, Enhanced Vision, Medichines, Mobile Lab, Mnemonic, Neem (5 Doses), Oracles, Portable Sensor, Servitor Bot, Specimen Container, Utilitool, Viewers

Aside from whatever you might get from your Morph, your ware and gear are determined by your Career. If you’re playing as a Firewall agent, a common assumption for the game that’s being used for this party, you also get a Firewall agent’s basic kit.

Horace is the smart transhuman of the team, the best they have when it comes to ferreting out secrets and clues, whether via Perceive or Research. His scientific pursuits lean towards the organic, particularly when it comes to animals smart or otherwise, but he’s dipped into a few other fields and is decent with computers. And few can forget, least of all Horace, that he’s a neo-orangutan with a number of advantages over the basic Flats and Splicers. Just don’t stay near him when the gravity goes out, it’s not pretty.

Saira, the Explorer

Background: Colonist Career: Explorer

Interest: Pilot Faction: Jovian

Motivations: +Jovian Interests, +Exploration, -Hedonism

Morph: Flat

Aptitudes

COG: 15 [45] INT: 15 [45] REF: 25 [75]

SAV: 10 [30] SOM: 10 [30] WIL: 15 [45]

Initiative: 8 Durability: 30 Wound Threshold: 6

Death Rating: 45 Lucidity: 35 Trauma Threshold: 7

Insanity Rating: 70 Pools: Flex 3, Insight 0, Vigor 0, Moxie 0

Skills

Pilot (Spacecraft) 80, Profession (Flight Crew) 80, Survival 80, Profession (Gatecrasher) 75, Pilot (Aircraft) 75, Fray 65, Free Fall 65, Hardware (Aerospace) 55, Perceive 55, Academics (Engineering) 45, Hardware (Groundcraft) 45, Interface 45, Academics (Astronomy) 45, Pilot (Groundcraft) 40, Athletics 40, Guns 40, Academics (Astrophysics) 40, Medicine (Paramedic) 35

Traits

Positive: Composure, Danger Sense, Situational Awareness, Spatial Visualization, Resources (Level 1)

Negative: Genetic Defect (Level 1)

Morph: Movement Rate (Walker 4/20)

Reputation: X-Rep 60, I-Rep 40

Ware/Gear: Anonymous Account, Backup Insurance, Armor Vest (Light), Ecto, Encryption Software, Fake Ego ID, Maker, Standard Muse, Smart Clothing, TacNet ALI (Group Gear), Breadcrumb Positioning System, Direction Sense, Electronic Rope, Flashlight, Enhanced Respiration, Medichines, Microwave Agonizer, Shelter Dome, Smart Vac Clothing, Toxin Filters, Viewers

Saira is the group’s vehicular expert, able to get them in and out of anywhere accessible by pretty much any kind of craft, with a particular expertise with spacecraft. She’s also talented on the mechanical side of things when it comes to keeping her vehicles running, she’s got quite a bit of knowledge in Academic skills that can come in handy when she’s Gatecrashing, and she has a scattering of other useful skills. She is a Flat, though, one of the rare completely normal humans left since the Fall wiped most of them out (along with a lot of the rest of transhumanity, but the Flats got it the worst). That comes with all sorts of trouble, not the least of which is no cortical stack to keep her Ego alive in.

Nemain, the Soldier

Background: Underclass Career: Soldier

Interest: Fighter Faction: Criminal

Motivations: +Criminal Interests, +Wealth, +Self-Reliance

Morph: Splicer

Aptitudes

COG: 15 {45] INT: 15 [45] REF: 20 [60]

SAV: 15 [45] SOM: 15 [45] WIL: 15 [45]

Initiative: 7 Durability: 40 Wound Threshold: 7

Death Rating: 45 Lucidity: 30 Trauma Threshold: 6

Insanity Rating: 60 Pools: Flex 3, Insight 0, Vigor 1, Moxie 0

Skills

Fray 80, Guns 80, Melee 80, Interest (Black Markets) 75, Profession (Soldier) 75, Kinesics 55, Perceive 55, Profession (Squad Tactics) 55, Profession (Smuggler) 45, Deceive 45, Free Fall 45, Interest (Mercenary Groups) 45, Interface 40, Infosec 40, Hardware (Armorer) 40, Athletics 40, Persuade 35

Traits

Positive: Toughness, Resources (Level 1)

Negative: Outstanding Warrants, Enemy

Morph: Biomods, Cortical Stack, Mesh Inserts, Movement Rate (Walker 4/20)

Reputation: G-Rep 60, I-Rep 40

Ware/Gear: Anonymous Account, Backup Insurance, Armor Vest (Light), Ecto, Encryption Software, Fake Ego ID, Maker, Standard Muse, Smart Clothing, TacNet ALI (Group Gear), Anti-Glare, Assault Rifle Railgun, Bioweave Armor, Combat Armor, Cuffband, Eelware, Hardened Skeleton, Neurochem (Level 1)

Nemain is the one the team depends on when some TITAN-crafted monstrosity comes shrieking out of some derelict to kill them all. She’s far and away the best and toughest combatant the team has, to a degree that makes the rest look like amateurs when the chips are down and everything’s gone ploin-shaped. She’s more than just a fighter, though. She has extensive Interests and knowledge skills pertaining to the criminal side of the solar system as well as the  military side of things, and the G-Rep to match. That experience hasn’t come without costs, though, and she’s got a few grudges and lawmen following her around.

Etch Duale, the Covert Operative

Background: Hyperelite Career: Covert Operative

Interest: Networker Faction: Socialite

Motivations: +Socialite Intersts, +Expand Influence, -Anarchism

Morph: Sylph

Aptitudes

COG: 15 [45] INT: 15 [45] REF: 15 [45]

SAV: 20 [60] SOM: 10 [30] WIL: 15 [45]

Initiative: 6 Durability: 35 Wound Threshold: 7

Death Rating: 53 Lucidity: 30 Trauma Threshold: 6

Insanity Rating: 60 Pools: Flex 2, Insight 1, Vigor 1, Moxie 3

Skills

Deceive 80, Persuade 70, Provoke 60, Infiltrate 60, Interest (Politics) 60, Profession (Spy) 60, Kinesics 50, Interest (Rep Nets) 40, Fray 40, Academics (Economics) 30, Athletics 30, Infosec 30, Interest (Current Events) 30, Exotic Skill (Disguise) 30, Exotic Skill (Escape Artist) 30, Perceive 25

Traits

Positive: Striking Looks, Resources (Level 4)

Negative: Enemy, Combat Paralysis

Morph: Biomods, Clean Metabolism, Cortical Stack, Enhanced Pheromones, Mesh Inserts, Movement Rate (Walker 4/20)

Reputation: F-Rep 40, I-Rep 50, C-Rep 40

Ware/Gear: Anonymous Account, Backup Insurance, Armor Vest (Light), Ecto, Encryption Software, Fake Ego ID, Maker, Standard Muse, Smart Clothing, TacNet ALI (Group Gear), Cleaner Nanoswarm, Covert Operations Tool, Dazzler, Electronic Tools (Kit), Glands, Invisibility Cloak, Speck Bot x2

Etch Duale is the team’s smooth-talking networker, using words rather than more . . . aggressive methods to get whatever it is the team needs: whether he’s convincing someone honestly, lying them right out of their Morph, or goading them into making mistakes, Etch is the man to talk to. He also has his finger on the pulse of the system’s economy, political forces, and latest news, with a broader set of positive rep than the others. And while money can’t buy everything, it’s good for most things: Etch’s Resources is straight up wealthy, letting him acquire goods and services for more easily than the rest of the team.

Who They Are

Horace is one of the more respected minds fighting for increased Uplift rights across the system, bolstered by the fact that it’s personal for him. Many times his studies into genetics, smart animals, and nanotechnology have been dismissed by others simply because he’s “a monkey in a lab coat”. People mistreating him he could probably ignore, but to disregard good science is blasphemy! He’s also of the opinion that apes weren’t supposed to have to deal with zero-G, part of the reason he’s a firm believer in reclaiming Earth for transhumanity to live on. It’s that belief that eventually got him noticed by a faction of Firewall, and now when he isn’t in a lab he’s acting as a sentinel and scientific adviser.

Saira grew up as a bioconservative, truly believing that so-called transhumanity was a threat to the real human species. The events of the Fall and the casualties among her fellow humans were enough to make her question whether or not struggling against transhumanity was worth the effort when the TITANs and God knows what else was trying to kill all of them. A certain curiosity struck her with the discovery of the Pandora Gates as well, and she took her piloting skills into the field of Gatecrashing. She’s managed to leave the system and return more than once, a rare feat, and it’s changed her. While she agrees with much of the logic behind the rules of the Jovian Republic, she now believes that humanity and transhumanity are in this together, for good or for ill.

Nemain grew up in a slum on Earth, and while she saw things during the Fall that she’ll never forget in a way it was the best thing that happened to her. She egocasted to escape the planet, and ended up in service to a minor crime lord who saw opportunity in saving people to get them into his service. He’s long since dead, not actually Nemain’s fault, but she’s turned the skills she acquired since into a deadly but profitable line of work. At the end of the day she’s a mercenary and she expects to be paid, but when it comes to Firewall she considers her payment to be the continued existence of clients and a way to keep herself independent – can’t make her own path if the exsurgent virus turns everyone into squiggly horrors.

Etch Duale has always enjoyed the good life, with a nice Morph, plenty of wealth, and good rep. What most of his friends and acquaintances don’t know is that he’s often manipulating them for Firewall’s benefit. The chaos of the Fall nearly ended transhumanity, with the sheer confusion and miscommunication being just as deadly as anything the TITANs cooked up. Whether he’s gathering information, influencing others, or just trying to keep the lid on things nearly every smooth word and reassuring smile is dedicated to keeping transhumanity from going extinct. That doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy himself along the way, though.

How They Interact

Horace knows, intellectually, that Firewall doesn’t require its agents to actually see eye-to-eye about anything besides avoiding extinction. It’s been a little more difficult to practice. Saira spent a lot of time keeping her distance, unsurprising from a Jovian, and while she’s lightened up a bit since it’s hard to forget that automatic sneer she had the first time Uplift rights came up. Nemain seems amoral most of the time, and if it wasn’t for the Splicer saving his neck more than once Horace would believe she didn’t care about anything other than profit. Etch reminds Horace a little too much of the smiling ‘patrons’ at scientific conventions, the ones that are usually trying to steal your research for a profit. The Sylph’s actually quite pleasant, however, and helpful at navigating tricky social waters for the somewhat reclusive Horace.

Saira had a difficult time adjusting to Horace’s existence in her life; she was raised to believe anyone who wasn’t baseline human was a soulless monster, and an orangutan who could lecture about genetics certainly sounded soulless. Reality didn’t match dogma, though, and Horace is undeniably a person. Their relationship is still chilly, though, while Saira figures out how to act. Nemain’s a professional in her own way, which helps Saira cope with the whole “augmented to be a killer” thing. It helps that, on the outside at least, the mercenary looks as close to human as you can get. Etch reminds her of fairy tales she was told as a child, usually of some gorgeous and charming djinn who would inevitably be the doom of whoever interacted with them. Nowadays she’s actually less comfortable around the Sylph than she is Horace: at least Horace looks inhuman.

Nemain has spent too much of her life among true scum, so the fact that someone might be a super smart ape doesn’t bother her. Horace is more likely to bore her than be a threat, and boredom is something a soldier of fortune is quite accustomed to. Plus, when those moments of screaming terror come along the neo-orangutan is generally pretty good at figuring out how to survive it. Saira might be a recovering luddite, but that means jack all to Nemain: a good infil and extraction pilot is worth, well, whatever their asking price is. Etch is a talker, and in general talkers don’t bring anything but more trouble to someone like Saira. They waste time, they mess up contracts, they have a tendency to double-deal . . . but Etch is her talker, which means he’s doing all those things to other people for her. It’s a novel experience that she’s starting to enjoy. Helps that he’s easy on the eyes, too, although he could do with more of a spine.

Etch tries not to be bothered by Horace’s smell when they’re in close quarters, because the scientist is actually quite nice to be around. They come from different intellectual circles, but the key word there is intellectual, and Etch believes that politics and economics would do well to pay attention to scientists (while also believing vice versa). Some of Saira’s beliefs are delightfully quaint, and her lack of a cortical stack is both pitiful and horrifying. He respects her hard-earned skills, though, although for some reason Saira doesn’t seem to see that. Nemain is just the kind of person Etch both likes and dislikes: likes for being there when things go awry and violence has to ensue, dislikes for reminding him during those times that he’s probably failed with his own methods. She also leers at him a bit, which is unsettling coming from a person you’ve seen pop someone’s head off so their stack could be recovered and interrogated later.

How Are The Rules?

While it took some time for me to read through the Making Characters file, and a fair amount of tweaking while building Horace and figuring things out, once I got the hang of it making characters for Eclipse Phase Second Edition was pretty easy! The building blocks of Background, Career, and Interest were pretty simple to put together. I especially liked that the skill cap of 80 was a solid cap, meaning extra points are distributed to other skills of the player’s choice rather than wasted. This also would seem to help even a very narrowly built character (Nemain probably being the best example) branch out into skills beyond their core focus.

There’s also a minimum of what Aaron, while he was reviewing the characters for me, referred to as ‘math panic’. Partially this has to do with the aforementioned skill overflow, since you don’t have to worry about wasting points. The other part is that you only have 20 Customization Points to deal with; apparently there were 1000 of the things back in First Edition.

The various pools seem interesting, and they regenerate at a good rate. They’re also used, mechanically speaking, to represent how much stronger, attractive, or intelligent a Morph is compared to others, rather than a Morph providing any sort of tangible bonus. Less math to deal with, but it’s pretty different, like a D&D fighter getting Action Points to spend on Strength checks rather than proficiency in Athletics.

There’s also quite a few things that need to be fleshed out at this stage. Psi powers are a thing you can acquire in character creation, but none exist as of yet for 2E. Some Traits don’t have their mechanical effects explained in detail, and even the ones that do could use a bit of patchwork. There’s also no limit on how many Traits one can buy with CP. Gear is in the same state. They actually pose the question in the document about whether or not character’s should be able to purchase extra gear beyond their Career/Firewall packages, the answer to which I personally feel should be ‘yes’.

The Future

Death might be temporary after the Fall as long as your cortical stack can be recovered or you have a backup stored somewhere, but that doesn’t mean life is safe. Will Horace, Saira, Nemain, and Etch keep transhumanity’s extinction at bay, or will the various x-threats claim their Egos before destroying all that they protect? That’s for you (and your dice) to determine!

As for Eclipse Phase Second Edition, keep one eye on the Open Playtest as they continue to update and the other here at Cannibal Halfling Gaming as we continue to follow along!

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