Eclipse Phase – Breakdown: Characters and Themes

I posted last month about the new Eclipse Phase game that I’m going to be starting soon. The game is going to center around a group of Firewall agents (known as Sentinels), all brought together for various ops, until things start to slide rapidly downhill.  Firewall is a covert cell-based group dedicated to protecting transhumanity from what they call x-threats; anything that could destroy transhumanity. Eclipse Phase is interesting in that one of the core conceits of the setting is that a group of strangers can and will be brought together as Firewall agents. It takes the trope of “you all meet at a bar” and amps it up. Though all of the characters come from vastly different backgrounds, they all wish to see transhumanity preserved, so they’ll work together on the Firewall ops, even though they themselves have vastly different agendas.

Characters in My Game

We’ve had a couple of character-creation sessions, and some of the characters are starting to take shape. We’ve had a couple of sessions (and are scheduled to have a third in short order) for a couple of reasons. One, the holidays have seen the group scattered, and not always able to meet as a full group each week. Two, character creation in Eclipse Phase can take a long time the first time you do it. The character creation process is a crunchy one, full of ways you can spend your points to optimize your character. Then, there’s all the gear, and its associated setting jargon. There’s just a lot to digest. So, we’re going to take as long as we need to get the characters set.

The characters that have emerged so far are a really diverse lot.

  • A rich-kid Vid-game designer and VR hacker
  • An XP buff who sells snuff XPs of him playing the Most Dangerous Game (hunting transhumans)
  • An AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) in a Novacrab morph who experiences the world by tasting it
  • A Venusian aerostat designer who eventually wants to explore exoplanets via the Pandora Gates

There’s one more character yet to be fleshed out, as the player hasn’t been able to make it to the character creation sessions, plus a couple of other folks who will slot in as I need them to, filling the roles of various NPCs. One of them will be playing only remotely, and will likely only interact with the characters via text. Since Eclipse Phase is a futuristic game, I wanted to incorporate real-world technology where possible.

All of those different backgrounds may seem like they won’t mesh together. That’s probably the case, and I want it that way. Working for Firewall makes for extremely episodic adventures, and it’s likely that personal agendas will be explored between sessions via exposition. Of course, I want to bring things from each characters background into the sessions, because personal ties and confliciting character ideologies make for great role-playing opportunities. Add in that characters might not remember the previous session (or few months, depending on when they’ve backed up their consciousness), and you get a delightful mix for elements that I can work with.

The Themes

I asked a few questions at the end of the previous post, things that I want to drive the game forward.

What happens when the reality around you isn’t the reality you think it is? What happens if your ghosts are real, and those you think real are ghosts? What if those closest to you are not who you think they are? What’s real?

I’ve subtitled the game Breakdown for a reason. I plan on the characters encountering a strain of the Exsurgent Virus (a nanovirus of deadly efficiency that can infect biological, mechanical, and informational systems seeminly at-will) that begins to slowly alter their perceptions of reality. The strain, codenamed Breakdown, starts by infecting their Muses first. A character’s Muse is an AI assistant, and always-on helper who aids the character’s information-gathering on the Mesh, filters content, and generally is a constant companion. Muses are very reliable, and I want to explore what happens when they stop being so. When they start feeding bad data at the behest of unknown sources. I want to see what happens when the hardware that links the characters to the world around them begins to malfunction, distorting what they think is real.

To that end, I’m planning on doing research into actual perception distortion, and psychotic breaks with reality. I think that if I describe things well enough, and pace the breakdown of the characters’ muses and systems, that I’ll be able to keep a good pace for the horror of the game. Eclipse Phase itself was inspired by the film Event Horizon, and after having watched it recently, I’m convinced that for all its flaws, the tension is was able to keep going was amazing. That’s something that I want to replicate, and I think that distortions of reality will feed into that nicely.

Moving Forward

We’re going to have (hopefully) our final character creation session tomorrow. From there, it will be a couple of weeks before the first session, but I plan on keeping you all regularly updated about how my plans go. Once the sessions get going, I’ll not only brief you on how they went, but also link you to the audio of the session, as I’ve gotten the players’ consent to record the sessions. This is an exciting opportunity, and I’m looking to make the most of it.

Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Unrelenting font of ideas, both good and bad. Co-owner of Exploding Rogue Studios, and on Twitter as TheOtherTracy.

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About TheOtherTracy

Unrelenting font of ideas, both good and bad. Co-owner of Exploding Rogue Studios, and on Twitter as TheOtherTracy.
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