Monday, September 30, 2013

273: Peelbacks

ENTRY 273: Peelbacks

“You are yourself an engine of production, why should you not profit from it?”
- Nyarly Randroid

In an era where there is no more natural biosphere to exploit, pharming remains big business. All the medicines, dyes, chemicals, and other products previously derived from natural sources must now be replaced with substitutes, or else harvested from controlled and limited populations and proprietary processes. In many cases this means the hoarding and cultivation of plants and animal species, all endangered, some engineered transgenics crafted explicitly to produce certain proteins, foodstuffs, and/or other products (fur, hide, hoof, horn, etc.) Of course, in themselves many biomorphs are no different from other animals, and some are more than willing to take advantage of the demand for bio-products by adapting their own bodies to the production of valuable substances.

Mostly, the urge to commercialize the transhuman body is accomplished by means of augmentations. Transgenic implants replace human hair with cultivated cells that produce the slick, fine fibers used to make sea silk from mussels; implanted glands and special diets produce particular chemicals, proteins, and related substances, which are then tapped or milked from the producer - a process which some individuals have fetishized to an alarming degree. More elaborate augmentations are also possible, though uncommon: peelbacks whose rough skin is stripped off in sheets to form a paper-substitute, gizzard-miners who consume raw minerals and concentrate the desired or useful metal in special organs to be later removed or excreted, bloody-mouthed smilers whose transgenic implants combine shark and elephant DNA so that they push out triangles of ivory from their pink-grey gums every week or two, among many others.

The value of these materials is based entirely on local demand, though it is a rare habitat that doesn’t find a market for some bio-material. Many require a specialized diet, at least for continued and quality production, and the finest materials require careful monitoring of an individual’s entire lifestyle, though this is rare to see outside of hypercorps and major habitats due to the time and resource-intensive nature of the primping and care.


Player characters desiring to make commercial use of their biomorphs as a source of income may take an appropriate Pharm Augmentation, in cost functionally identical to a Drug Gland (Eclipse Phase 304), but in form depends on the actual material that the PC is looking to produce, as given above - a Pharm Augmentation (peelback) for example would have the character’s skin peel off in barklike strips. The commercial value of these products is up to the gamemaster, and depends both on quality (PCs in poor health or lacking essential nutrients produce poor materials) and local demand (i.e. a peelback is more valued in a habitat that places a premium on paper), but is often enough to obtain a small but steady income.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

272: Jun ibn Shiloh

ENTRY 272: Jun ibn Shiloh

Cannon crawls across the surface of Mercury, a city-sized insect-factory spitting building-sized ingots into orbit. Built and owned by Jaehon Offworld, the majority of the population works directly for the hypercorp...but not everyone. Jaehon has long recognized that having individuals outside the corporate structure can be convenient, economic, and even necessary at their installations. Deniable people that the employees can interact with to obtain what the corporation, for its own reasons, cannot provide them. Not simply whores, drugs, and illegal media, but less tangible services such as loans, confession, lovers, espionage, and assassinations. Vital functions that need an outlet to prevent disruption in the corporate environment, made all the easier if the corporation has an understanding in place with the individual.

So on Cannon, there is Jun ibn Shiloh. Officially, he is a free agent, kept in place on the station as a representative-for-hire for various groups, hypercorps, and criminal syndicates. Instead of the cost and expense of sending one of their own down to Cannon, someone who does not know Jaehon's corporate structure or the social underbelly of the habitat, they hire Jun. As such on any given day ibn Shiloh may wear several different hats, meeting in the morning to inspect that Cannon is disposing of its mining slag properly according to its agreement with the Association of the Exploitation of Mercury, and in the afternoon having a quiet word with a mid-level supervisor on paying her gambling debts to the Night Cartel, and in the evening acting as a puppet sock to entertain a husband whose wife is out on a mineral surveying expedition for a month.


Morph: Flat
Skills: Academics: Geology 47, Art: Dance (Erotic) 43, Blades (Knives) 37, Clubs (Wrench) 30, Fray (Full Defense) 26, Free Fall (Microgravity) 25, Infiltration 40, Interests: Gambling 50, Interests: Gossip 40, Interests: Mercury 33, Interests: Mining Law 34, Intimidation (Verbal) 67, Kinesics (Sense Motive) 45, Kinetic Weapons (Pistols) 45, Language: Native Japanese 87, Language: Arabic 73, Language: English 62, Language: Mandarin 68, Language: German 81, Language: French 37, Networking: Criminals 35, Networking: Hypercorps 44, Perception (Visual) 50, Persuasion (Negotiation) 56, Profession: Escort 35, Profession: Representative 47, Seduction 34, Unarmed Combat 25
Implants: Basic Biomods, Basic Mesh Inserts, Cortical Stack, Puppet Sock
Traits: Genetic Damage (Marfan syndrome), Mutant, Striking Appearance (1)

Using Jun ibn Shiloh

Depending on how you count his immediate ancestry, Jun ibn Shiloh is either a second or fourth-generation spaceborn flat; the details of which would probably make for an exciting Mesh-based dramatic series. As a result of this inbreeding between close relatives, Jun has Marfan's syndrome - resulting in a tall, lanky appearance and some ongoing health issues - and some abnormal (though fully functioning) genitals, including four testicles and two penes. On any other habitat Jun would probably be a prostitute or a porn star, but on Cannon he is more valuable for his independence than his freaky genetics. As such, no matter how cool Jun may come across, he will get agitated if anyone brings up his genes or "extra attributes" in a negative light; he's tossed at least three people out of an airlock onto the surface of Mars because they called him a freak, it's not a label he appreciates. As an NPC, Jun is valuable to the PCs either as an agent - i.e. someone to engage to snoop around or do things because they don't want to or cannot go to Cannon themselves - or as a local guide, helping the PCs find their way around and showing them where they can score drugs, weapons, gambling, or anything else shady and not-so-shady that they desire. Ibn Shiloh has a lot of friends and a lot of favors locally, so he feels fairly secure in the event someone threatens him, but by the same token he is very antsy about leaving Cannon for any reason, or for anything that can seriously disrupt life on the habitat. As an antagonist, Jun will probably target the NPCs as outsiders, easy scapegoats for a big crime or as direct threats to his own position.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

271: Mutant

ENTRY 271: Mutant

“You don’t get it, do you? Evolution does not stop. You’re looking at the now, not the future. Already, transhumanity is split into isolated populations, limited genepools. Give it a thousand years—ten thousand—a hundred thousand—speciation! A hundred new breeds of humanity, and that not counting what we do ourselves…”
- Drunken Rant #37, Rodrigo Rodriguez Caldona, Sr. Planetary Biologist.

Transhuman science has overcome many of the inherent barriers and constrictions that are thought to drive evolution. Through genetic engineering, biomorphs can be shaped as they are needed or desired to be; forking and synthmorphs escapes the vagaries of genetic propogation entirely. Yet transhuman society has not yet fully adapted to the full consequences of the Fall, and as the first generation of transhumans born and bred in the years since transhumanity became scattered from Earth come of age, the lessons of evolutionary science are once more being brought to the fore.

Populations of biomorphs are mostly isolated, with little mass migration. While a minor issue in terms of genetic isolation in the short term, transhuman archives have shown the results of extensive intermarriage within a limited genepool, including the propagation of recessive traits and genetic diseases. One brinker community that consists entirely of Icelandic descendents is already being monitored due to the extremely close interrelation of its population. The long-term viability of their tiny colony is already a major concern, and various plans have been proposed to expand the limited gene pool or remove the worst of the genetic diseases inherent in the population.

Splicers and other non-flat biomorphs should be mostly immune to such worries, but none of these designs has yet been tested past the third generation, and genehackers cannot confirm that new issues might not crop up, especially from “accidental inbreeding” due to long biomorph lifespans and the same splicer designs being reused in subsequent generations. Likewise, radiation, viruses, and certain chemicals can promote mutation in all biomorphs, with the possibility that some mutated traits may be passed on to the next generation. Some of these cumulative genetic mutations have already become apparent in the non-genefixed population, often coincidental with genetic defects.

Mutant (Morph Trait) [Positive]

Cost: 5 CP
The morph is not genefixed, and has inherited cumulative minor mutations that make them verifiably different from the transhuman norm in some small but obvious way. These are not adaptations to any environmental stimulus, though given a hundred generations of selective breeding they might become so. Common mutations include a small tail or lack of an appendix; slight changes to the shape of ears, eyes, or teeth; and odd colors to skin. The oldest habitats have relatively large populations of mutants with similar traits, representing what might become emerging phenotypes. The gamemaster must determine the exact effects of the mutation on gameplay, as appropriate. For example, when dealing with a fellow mutant the character might receive a +5 bonus on social skill tests. This trait is suggested to only be available for flats.

Friday, September 27, 2013

270: Group Psi

ENTRY 270: Group Psi

Psi is a solitary activity in Eclipse Phase. There are no mechanics for group psi use. It doesn’t follow the cultural paradigms for magic, there are no rules for two asyncs cooperating to achieve an effect greater than the sum of their parts, no group minds, or distributed strain. There are a couple good reasons for this. The exsurgent virus affects people, and their perception of their situation and abilities, differently—one async’s understanding of their abilities may simply not be compatible with another’s. Too, there is no real async culture; each victim of the virus is unique, often alienated because of their ability. If there was a Mesh stream just for asyncs to sit down, talk sleights and maybe try to get laid, every other member would be a Firewall agent trying to reel in a new fish. Maybe the exsurgents can get it together enough to do something like that, but the exsurgent already have weird powers beyond the ken and normal ability of transhumanity.

That’s not to say that you cannot have two or more asyncs cooperatively use their powers toward some joint purpose in your Eclipse Phase game, but treat it as what it is: an unusual and maybe unique set of circumstances, deserving of a bit of attention. Two (or more) asyncs in the same place, trying to use their sleights to achieve a given effect, should be a cinematic scene—let the players sweat a little, see if it works. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but here are some guidelines to consider if you allow group psi in our game:

  • Rule of One: Psi sleights with a range of self are too personal and centered on the individual async—though there may be a two-headed exsurgent morph or twins that can get away with it.
  • Rule of Two: Complementary Sleights Can Assist the use of other sleights. It is up to the player to come up with a good justification for why, for example, one async using Cloud Memory on an ego will make the use of Implant Memory by another async at the same time easier, but if the players can provide a good justification, and it seems logical, maybe it should work. As a guideline, use the Complementary Skill Bonus Table (Eclipse Phase 137), with the assisting async’s skill acting as the complementary skill to the primary async’s skill.
  • Rule of Pi: Two (or more) asyncs working together against a single target tends to present considerable strain on the target ego; the conflicting signals causes an amount of mental strain to the target equal to the number of asyncs + 1 every Action Turn for sleights with a duration of Temp (Action Turns) and every minute for sleights with a duration of Temp (Minutes) or Sustained.
  • Rule of 2^2: The Mindlink (Eclipse Phase 227) sleight allows all asyncs in the link to target another member with their sleights, facilitating group psi activities—but keep in mind, if one the target of the mindlink is an unwilling participant and an async, they can also target any member of the group through the mindlink with their own sleights.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

269: Quo Valis

ENTRY 269: Quo Valis

“You are now a living cell in a greater organism. Though you may not always be able to perceive it, you are a part of a life form greater than yourself, your actions affect it. We cannot always understand the higher functions of this ego, but we do know that it is aware of us. Quo Valis loves you.”
- Excerpt from the Quo Valis Employee Introduction Package

On Progress, Quo Valis is a middleman hypercorp best known for three things: the strong French/Spanish corporate culture with over 2,000 full-time employees (and perhaps ten times that many temporary workers outside of Progress), an unusual communal structure where the indentured employees are also the owners of the hypercorp, and the stringent belief among the shareholders/working body that the hypercorp itself is alive. Spokesbeings for Quo Valis claim that the upper management of the corporation is handled entirely via automated computer processes, with regular input from low-level officers, and that the middle management is partially integrated into the system via cybernetic augmentation, and that over a period of years the officers of the corporation have come to recognize Quo Valis as an organized, living entity, of which each employee/shareholder is a part, carrying out the operations that contribute to the continued existence and growth of the Quo Valis corporate entity.

Most outsiders call bullshit at this point in the spiel, with the most generous critics allowing that the Quo Valis automated software may have achieved AGI status (or have an AGI buried in there somewhere pulling the strings). The employee/shareholders of Quo Valis are determined in their belief though, often speaking of being a part of something bigger than themselves, feeling the “spirit” of Quo Valis through their actions, and the augmented middle management even claims some level of communion and communication with the Quo Valis super-ego, able to sense or judge its moods and convey them to the faithful employee/shareholders. The phenomenon has attracted any number of hypercorporate sociologists and psychologists, who claim that the belief in a higher form of life which directly or indirectly is responsible for the orders they receive has a generally positive psychological effect on the corporate population. However, they also claim that the ineffability of Quo Valis is an integral part of the unique concept, and anyone claiming to be a direct representative of the Quo Valis superego is generally greeted with a display of flash mob violence.


Quo Valis as an NPC has no normal stats. It’s SOM is measured in the strength of its employees, for example, and if it is a sapient entity then it is probably more comparable to a humpback whale than any normal transhuman standard.

Using Quo Valis

All bullshit aside, most hypercorps in Eclipse Phase can be played at the table like an NPC, with its own sometimes chaotic, inefficient, and self-defeating goals and methods—Quo Valis is just more honest about this approach than most. It is comforting for many players and gamemasters to focus on specific officers as focal points for attention; we as humans like to focus on individuals of singular power, influence, vision, skill, talent, and ambitions, the Gordon Geckos and Steve Jobs of the world. The truth, however, is that the strength of corporations lies in their ability to survive and thrive despite the greed or greatness of any single officer, to harness the abilities of many people working in tandem toward a goal, and in the far future of Eclipse Phase a great deal of the normal decision-making processes of corporations—approvals for sick leave, vacations, purchasing, cleaning, hypercubicle assignment, training, etc.—will probably be automated, leaving the officers to focus on more important tasks like innovations, cultivating interpersonal relationships with clients, managing their immediate subordinates, and so on. As such, Quo Valis is generally in invisible and elusive character that PCs grapple with only through proxies and agents who attempt to carry out their orders, often (but not always) without question.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

268: Void Sisters

ENTRY 268: Void Sisters

“We will give birth to the Ultimate Human, who will finally achieve their true and terrible potential, and through them we will guide transhumanity from these warring states to their true destiny.”
- Aba Menses

“Crisis promotes change, stress reorganization. In flux, all states are possible. Seize the momentary opportunity, and shape the future.”
- Kitab Toksa, Void Sister core text

The origins of the Void Sisters of Phobos are obscured; anyone who digs too far runs into a tangle of hypercorporate red tape and the Sisters’ own carefully constructed legends, seeded along the most likely searches to guide researchers and data miners to only the information they want known about themselves. What is known is that they had some elemental role in the project that gave birth to the Lost, that they are highly selective of inducting new members and have quite arduous and long-lasting initiations designed to help inductees achieve their ultimate potential. On Phobos itself, they are most known for raising orphans in their own ideology, seeding their philosophy into a new generation.

Infobrokers who are smart enough to think a few steps ahead paint a slightly different picture of the Void Sisters, if a client has favors or creds enough to buy the data. The Sisters were founded pre-Fall by several women who were very involved in the Toksa Society, a quasi-scientific new faith group that preached the achievement of the full human potential by any means necessary—strict training, education, drugs, primitive augmentation, and even rumors of eugenics, indoctrination, ritual prostitution, and quasi-mystical techniques in the inner circles. The group never had more than a few hundred members, but wielded outsized influence due to political and corporate contacts, and established themselves on Phobos by establishing relationships (and at times, marriages) with key personnel.

After the Lost debacle, the Void Sisters lost considerable influence, and their public profile noticeably diminished—though it never disappeared. Strategists believe that as much of a third of the group has gone underground, while the remaining public operations with raising orphans represents a new part of their grand plan, whatever that may be.

Using the Void Sisters

Semi-mystical sisterhoods with generational plans, using sex, politics, and more nefarious means to exert their influence and protect their interests are a kind of trope in fantasy and science-fiction. In Eclipse Phase, the Void Sisters aren’t even alone in the role; Titan has the blue-cloaked Oubham-Ad, Luna has the willowy biosculpted Night Women, Mars has the Cloisted Sisterhood of the Closed Fist, even Eris has the Daughters of Eris. Cultivating an air of mystery and feminine wiles has its advantages, and many groups take advantage of it, to the amusement and bemusement of synthmorphs and infomorphs not taken in by the philosophical posturing. If this was all there was with the Void Sisters, they would be an interesting group of NPCs but not a real threat.

Unfortunately, the Void Sisters have access to one thing more: a sample of the exsurgent virus. At the highest levels, the Void Sisters are an exsurgent cult that rigorously trains its members and exposes the most loyal to the virus to instill psi abilities that are passed off as examples of the Sister’s achievement of their full potential. If the truth ever gets out, it would destroy the Sisterhood…and quite possibly a serious chunk of Phobos as well.


  • Aba Mendes has a problem: she is really a sex-shifting investigative reporter that has spent eight years in the Void Sisters, constantly trained and tested, putting up with the mandatory bedtimes, strange meditations, and weird internal politics, pursuing a story she wasn’t sure was really there. Now, she’s in too deep, about to be exposed to the innermost secrets of the order, and she wants out. The call goes out, but Firewall intercepts it. They order the PCs to extract her—but only after she’s undergone the final initiation. Dare the player characters to wait, not knowing if Mendes will survive the ordeal? And if they do, will they be prepared to charge into the midst of an active exsurgent cell guarded by a small army of space-geisha-martial artists?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

267: The White Room

ENTRY 267: The White Room

Many egos, particularly infomorphs, find themselves with a virtual eternity on their hands and not much to do. Some educate themselves from the publicly available archives of transhumanity’s collected art and literature, socialize, and indulge in the near-infinite amount of free entertainment available on the Mesh; other get involved with different projects and causes, finding meaning, purpose, and rep boosts in original research, original content creation, or the endless cataloguing, shuffling, and presentation of data for the benefit of their fellow transhumans. A conscientious ego can live a comfortable life doing nothing more than giving thoughtful, carefully-constructed feedback on the right forums and product pages; some even become successful enough to go pro.

Most, however, find escape in the various virtual environments and settings run in the Mesh; ventures that range from religious depictions of the afterlife and extensive life-simulation games to commercial interstellar fantasy roleplaying games with memberships in the millions and dozens of spinoffs. Most infomorphs lack the credits or reputation to swing a full membership in these virtual environments, but by the same token the gamemasters running the simulations often lack sufficient egos to run the hundreds of thousands of complex NPCs demanded for many games—or at least, don’t feel like making their own forks do all the work. This mutual demand has led to the creation of an extensive work-for-play culture in the Mesh, where egos enter into agreements to play certain non-player character roles within one Mesh game in exchange for access time as a player character on a game or games they do wish to play. The key to these contracts is the work-for-play ratio—at 1:1, every minute of time spent as an NPC credits the ego with one minute of time to spend as a PC, though most egos start out at 2:1 or 1.5:1 until their skills develop; truly gifted digital actors are given challenging NPC roles and may earn ratios of 1:1.5 or 1:2, though this is rare and often exclusive to the most expensive and extensive virtual environments.

One of the most popular environments is the White Room, a virtual limbo that serves as a gateway to several clusters of afterlife-based virtual games, where a PC can interact with NPCs based on historical characters, observe (or participate in) the pleasures and punishments of various real and fictional heavens, hells, purgatories, and spirit realms—and even more exotic locales, such as the Celestial Planet of Kolob™ and the Thetan Astral Plane. The wfp ratio is strictly 1:1, though players are allowed to vote up NPCs that are particularly entertaining, educational, or in-character, and gamemasters regularly award bonus hours to NPCs with a high rep. Officially, players cannot purchase additional hours for credits or rep, but have to earn them through playing NPCs, but PCs are allowed to transfer hours to each other and there is a thriving grey market in buying hours in the shadier parts of the out-of-character game forums.

Using the White Room

Games-within-games are nothing new to science fiction or roleplaying; think of the holodeck adventures on Star Trek: the Next Generation…and all the things they did well and did wrong. Virtual environments allow a change of pace from the space opera reality of Eclipse Phase, especially during long trips between planets or habitats, and are handy settings for one-off adventures, since they are infinitely customizable and most of the hard bits are easy to dispense with. If keeping track of play-hours as another form of currency seems too much bookkeeping for example, just give a straight credit cost or let the PCs burn a favor—the explanation being that they simply bought some hours on a grey-market forum. Some characters can make a profession of being an NPC, which is represented by the Profession: Game Actor skill or Art: Game Acting.

Monday, September 23, 2013

266: Low Tech

ENTRY 266: Low Tech

“In a time of antimatter drives, resleeving, egocasting, advanced 3D printing, and interstellar exploration, it’s easy to overlook the fact that we’re in the middle of a low tech revolution. Transhumanity exists in extreme environments, and often doesn’t have the time or resources to come up with high-tech solutions to many problems. That’s why miners out in the Belt leave each other notes written in grease pencil, which can be used regardless of gravity or electromagnetic flux. The terraformer community on Mars is excited about a group shovel that can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of powered excavator equipment, and which his based on a millennia-old Asian model designed for digging wells. It’s not all crude or unrefined, either. Many new low-tech items are still made from scavenged high-tech materials, or are carefully designed for portability and collapsibility. Would you rather be the gatecrasher whose flashlight fails and then the nearest replacement battery is a couple trillion miles away, or the gatecrasher with the hand-crank light that can be recharged at the expense of burning a few calories?”
- The Low Tech Revolution by Jane Awesomesauce

Using Low Tech

When the going gets tough, high tech has a distressing tendency to break down. Not all the time, but enough that keeping a low tech solution to a high tech problem on hand is a general rule of practice in the galaxy. Your character’s fancy laser rifle doesn’t have an attachment point for a bayonet just because it looks cool; it’s there for when the power pack runs out or an EMP fries the circuitry or something. Granted, the point at which your laser rifle craps out on you and somebody tells you to attach bayonets and charge is probably not the highlight of you existence, but the basic point stands: low tech solutions may not be great, but they are functional, and in an extreme environment or emergency situation that is the most important thing. Pencils and d-clips are probably never going to go out of style as long transhumanity still has physical bodies to wallow around in, because both function well in most environments and conditions. However, these aren’t going to be your grandparents’ low tech—no one is cutting down a precious tree to generate a load of pencils; they’ll use 3D printing to create a graphite stack with a handle made of biodisposable wrapper or something. The general simplicity of low tech makes it attractive to the maker community, colonists, autonomists, and explorers, some of whom use it because it is all they can afford, most of whom use it because it is more economic/efficient/environmentally friendly. A few, mainly gatecrashers, miners, and other explorer-types have been caught in situations where local conditions (zero gravity, high solar flare activity, plastic-eating fungus, etc.) make normal high-tech unreliable, and so prefer to have at least one low tech alternative available—even if it’s just a pocket multitool so they can build what they need from whatever is at hand.


  • En route between habitats, the PCs are hit be a micrometeorite swarm that damages the ship. They’re still headed toward their destination, but they may well have to come up with some quick low tech solutions to deal with problems like a failing air filter, loss of cabin electrical power, small punctures in the hull, and other problems—and all without access to the Mesh or most onboard computer systems.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

265: Krzyzewski's Monster

ENTRY 265: Krzyzewski’s Monster

“I am as I have been made. But I can improve, and I will.”
- Krzyzewski’s Monster, I Am Monster: My Story

The professors on Titan laughed at Miriam Krzyzweski’s proposal for her graduate thesis. Different egos could never be merged, much less fractional scraps of memories. Even if the process worked, the resulting ego would be hopelessly insane by any transhuman standard, and likely to self-destruct in short order. But she showed them. She showed them all. Hacking into the university archives where inert forks of the tenured professors were kept for emergencies, she brought together the finest minds of a generation—and with a genetic algorithm and over a thousand failed attempts, she finally succeeding in producing a stable ego merged from the composite memories of eight different egos. At the press release, the Mesh immediately dubbed the new ego Krzyzewski’s Monster.

Miriam Krzyzweski didn’t survive the initial spate of media attention; thousands of users responded negatively toward her actions with poor reviews, negative comments, and open insults, including a brief but embarrassing series of hardcore sexual material edited to include her name, image, and tactile scans. Unable to cease engaging with her cyberbullies, MK committed suicide, and her last fork—created well before the Monster was created—changed its name and went into seclusion. The process was lost, and Krzyzweski’s Monster was left all alone.

Unlike their creator, KM has adapted well to the media attention, leveraging even negative publicity to increase their media impact and expand their brand. While many hypercorps would like nothing better than to capture KM and dissect their ego to figure out how Krzyzweski was able to successfully merge disparate egos, the Monster’s relatively high media profile precludes many direct efforts to infringe on KM’s existence. For herself, the Monster seems to be dedicated to redefining and improving their self; aware of their flaws and desiring to correct them by adding new life experiences.


Morph: Infomorph
Skills: Academics: History (Pornography) 48, Academics: Neuroprogramming 35, Art: Electronic Media 55, Deception 35, Impersonation 45, Infiltration 50, Infosec 36, Interests: Therapy 44, Interests: Porn 45, Interfacing 67, Intimidation (Sex) 34, Kinesics 40, Language: Native Czech 85, Language: English 75, Networking: Autonomists 50, Networking: Adult Entertainment Industry 55, Perception 50, Profession: Media Producer 45, Programming 40, Research 33, Seduction 55
Advantages: Allies (Fanbase)
Disadvantages: Edited Memories, Mental Disorder (Hypersexuality), Neural Damage (Synaesthesia, Verbal Tics), Social Stigma (AGI)

Using Krzyzewski’s Monster

Aside from novelty, the Monster is a legitimate excuse to present an NPC that is not altogether in their right mind—a conglomeration of different memories and drives that result in a very weird character that can slip into different accents in the same sentence and lives with cognitive dissonance as part of their daily existence. None of that has stopped Krzyzweski’s Monster from trying to make something of themselves, subliminating their screwed-up drives and weird perspective into arthouse erotica and outrageous, sometimes frighteningly incoherent rants that somehow resolve because of their own weird internal logic. As a contact, KM is a good “in” for adventures that feature research into novel psychosurgery techniques and ego technology, or that involve the arts or adult entertainment industry. As an antagonist, KM could be genuinely crazy enough to want to build a “perfect mate”—which means that the PCs might be hired to help or stop the Monster from rediscovering Krzyzweski’s original ego-merging technology, which probably means finding Krzyzweski’s last fork.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

264: Ghost Boxing

ENTRY 264: Ghost Boxing

“Some people just can’t throw memories away.”
- Eddie of Luna

Forking technology has led to some odd derivative practices and technologies; one of the most long-lasting is a spin-off of neural pruning known as ghost boxing—a sort of mental scrapbooking where the pruned memories of egos are stored as a stack of inert files in a “ghost box” which can be quickly re-merged with the fork. Most ghost boxers are security-minded individuals that are conscious of the need to keep some secrets, even from themselves, and store their ghost boxes in secure servers that can only be accessed under specific conditions. Ghost boxes are considered more secure than XP recordings and the like specifically because the neural pruning process is both imperfect and tuned to a specific ego—if an ego not derived from the original attempts to access the ghost box, the merging process will fail (and probably drive the ego trying it insane).


Ghost boxing is basically a storage technique to keep the “scraps” left over from a session of neural pruning. Any fork of the ego can attempt to assimilate the scraps into their own memory and personality using a Merging Test, and functions in an identical manner (see Merging, in Eclipse Phase 275). Generally speaking, and ego merging with a ghost box is less of an ordeal than two egos merging and comes with fewer penalties—beta or delta forks tend to stabilize (or even regain lost skill ranks and Traits). However, if the memories and experiences contained in the ghost box are traumatic, they can potentially lead to mental derangements.


  • Many habitats and organizations that edit memories keep a ghost box with the removed memories on file, just in case. Jazee is one such individual, a former criminal who can’t even remember what his crime was—or worse, where he stashed the loot. He asks the PCs to help him acquire his ghost box, offering them a 50% cut.
  • One of the PCs receives an update that the account containing their ghost box is about to expire due to non-payment…but the PC doesn’t remember ever making a ghost box, much less paying to have it stored in a secure account. When did they prune those memories out, and what secrets could they be hiding from themselves?
  • The last fork of exsurgent cult leader Niggly Bits has finally been hunted down and exterminated, but his followers are busy scouring the Mesh for his ghost boxes, hoping to merge them all into a stable fork. Firewall isn’t sure that will work, but they’re taking no chances: the PCs are to hunt down the exsurgent cult and stop them with extreme prejudice.
  • On Titan, the Ghost Monolith is a public archive shaped like an obelisk where citizens can store their ghost boxes free of charge. Unfortunately, the Monolith has been stolen, and a cryptic clue left in its place. The clue (a cloned coelacanth dyed red) is meant to send investigators off on a wild goose chase while the perpetrators, a petal-crafter collective attached to the art college of the university, sift through the stored memories to make new drugs.

Friday, September 20, 2013

263: Rep Day

ENTRY 263: Rep Day

Religions have their place after the Fall, from the xenocults and new religions to the old survivals and revivals of past practice, adapted as well as they are able to the new circumstances of transhumanity. However, the general lack of holy days and increasing secularization of habitats has led to a downswing in actual holidays, an absence that has been cited as a cause of mental and economic stress among transhuman populations. Many habitats develop local holidays, often based around significant anniversaries or events in the history of the habitat population, or else regularly-scheduled administrative leave periods, but these artificial institutions tend to be unsatisfying, clinical affairs that lack real emotional resonance. In a time when so much of transhumanity is ultimately transient and has been in their current habitat less than ten years, the anniversary of the founding of the habitat is relatively insignificant.

Among the few holiday traditions that has really caught on, thanks to a grassroots Mesh movement, synchronized scheduling, and sponsorship by all the major reputation networks is Rep Day. On Rep Day, members of the rep networks are encouraged to introduce new individuals to their rep networks, and exchange gifts and services; most habitats with an operating rep-based economy have favors called in to arrange large parties and celebrations, and various digital media artists, technicians, and artists work year-round producing new entertainment material, freebies, and large rep boosts for small acts of kindness. Most habitats look forward to Rep Day because of the increased demand, which helps to stimulate the local economy, but for many Rep Day is just an occassion to exchange gifts or small favors with their family or friends.


Rep Day is a good opportunity for characters to build their rep by participating in the various activities and providing goods, favors, expertise, or services to the local Rep Day parties. In game terms characters are all treated as if their Rep Level was 10 points higher than normal, with many Trivial favors given away for free. Characters who are particularly generous with their time or resources on Rep Day (Level 3 Favor or higher) receive a number of free Rez Points which they can put toward increasing their rep – 1 RP for all-day participation/1,000 credits worth of donated goods/services; 2 RP for month-long Rep Day preparation/5,000 credits worth of donated goods/services; and 3 RP for year-long Rep Day preparation and planning/200,000 credits worth of donated goods/services.


  • It may be Rep Day in the rest of the ‘verse, but the local orphanarium is being defunded. They need at least 10,000 credits or a couple really big favors to keep going through the end of the year. No one else in the habitat seems to care—do the player characters?
  • Local ne’er-do-wells that take advantage of Rep Day to abuse the charity and good will of others are known as Rep Day Dicks. This year though, the Rep Day organizers have a plan: they ask the PCs to spend the day getting the whole pack of RDDs drunk, high, laid, and otherwise away from the more family-friendly and organized activities. Can the PCs corral and inebriate a pack of dedicated debauchers, or will Rep Day be ruined?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

262: Grandmaster of Mars

ENTRY 262: Grandmaster of Mars

“I will not fight a fair fight. I will not meet you on your ground. You will come to meet me. You will be weakened, your every advantage taken away. You will be beaten before I deliver the killing blow, before you ever know I have entered the arena, before you are aware that you have stepped into the arena...and this is the way of the ninja.”
- Koga Jun, Grandmaster of Mars (dramatic recreation)

“If I defeat my opponent with a tactical nuclear strike, then my opponent is defeated. That is the way and the goal of ninjutsu. Mastery of Martian Ninjutsu is the realization of your goal with efficiency as well as efficacy, to kill or disable with minimal effort. Stun weapons, for example, are legal, effective, and widely available in many habitats; once your opponent is helpless it is a simple matter to destroy them.”
- Koga Jun, An Introduction to Martian Ninjutsu

Among the Rusters, Koga Jun is a legend, the self-proclaimed Immortal Grandmaster of Mars, one of the new breed of ninja, who has successfully defended that claim in hundreds of battles, many of which are available for viewing on the Mesh. The Grandmaster runs a chain of dojos in the Martian habitats, teaching the basics of self-defense, offensive martial arts, and Mars-based survival skills, along with a brutal and practical philosophy. These are two carefully constructed images, the legendary master and the crass commercialist, both serve Koga Jun’s purpose of hiding in plain sight—the gullible believe he is a peerless warrior, while the cynical and trained think he is simply a businessman using that aura to extort cred and favors from his disciples.

In truth, Koga Jun is one of the deadliest assassins in the Solar system. In addition to his “prime” morph, Koga Jun possesses at least thirty nearly-identical clones which he can loads forks of his ego. This is his technological equivalent of the classic “conservation of ninjutsu” principle by sending out the clone-ninjas as a group after targets—if any of his clones die or are disabled, their egos automatically merge with the remaining clones, transferring what they have learned of their opponents, including any wounds or weaknesses; the surviving clone-ninjas then adjust their skillware sets and tactical considerations accordingly. Sometimes, this even gives Jun sufficient forewarning to prepare special implanted weapons before engaging his foes.


Morph: Fury
Skills: Academics: Anthropology (Martial Arts) 35, Academics: Anatomy (Stress Points) 30, Art: Body Arrangement 25, Beam Weapons 25, Blades 26, Climbing 66, Clubs 26, Deception 25, Demolitions (Smoke Bombs) 25, Fray 40, Free Fall 36, Gunnery 24, Impersonation 25, Infiltration 26, Infosec 35,  Interests: Martial Arts Associations 46, Interests: Military Organizations 45, Interests: Paramilitary Groups 43, Interests: Security Organizations 45, Interfacing 23, Kinetic Weapons 25, Language: Native Japanese 80, Language: English 75, Language: Cantonese 56, Language: Mandarin 60, Negotiation 35, Networking: Autonomists 20, Networking: Criminals 35, Perception: 30, Profession: Assassin 40, Psychosurgery (Merging) 80, Unarmed Combat (Subdual) 30
Implants: Adrenal Boost, Basic Biomods, Basic Mesh Inserts, Bioweave (Light), Circadian Regulation, Clean Metabolism, Cortical Stack, Mass Ego Bridge*, Eidetic Memory, Emotional Dampers*, Endocrine Control*, Enhanced Hearing**, Enhanced Smell**, Enhanced Vision, Medichines, Mnemonic Augmentation, Multiple Personalities, Neurachem (Level 2), Skillware, Toxin Filters
Traits: Ambidextrous, Edited Memories***, Pain Tolerance (Level 2), Tough (Level 3)****

* Variant of the Ego Bridge augmentation; when one of the Grandmaster morphs dies or is disabled, the ego in the cortical stack automatically begins to merge with the forks in the surviving Grandmaster morphs, starting with the secondary ego from the Multiple Personalities augmentation
** These implants are only present in the “prime” Grandmaster of Mars morph
*** This trait is only present on non-“prime” Grandmaster of Mars morphs
**** This trait is only present on the “prime” Grandmaster of Mars morph

Using the Grandmaster of Mars

Koga Jun is a nice end boss for an adventure that probably begins with someone in black pajamas trying to kill the PCs (or a nearby NPC). While a competent-if-not-awe-inspiring NPC in a straight-up fight, the Grandmaster of Mars never intends to engage in a fight he doesn’t think he can win, and never engages head-on. If the PCs try to take him on unarmed, he’s likely to shoot them in the kneecap from cover and then dig out a white phosphorous grenade. When his own skills won’t cut it, he’ll retreat along a known (and trap-strewn) path to re-arm and to change his skillware to deal with the threat; he uses his clone-ninjas to wear the PCs down and figure out where their weaknesses are.

That said, the “Immortal Grandmaster of Mars” isn’t perfect, and the PCs can certainly beat him at his own game, if they’re a) just that damn good/pretty, b) willing to think outside the box, and/or c) willing to play dirtier than he is. When all is said and done, killing or defeating Koga Jun should be difficult but far from impossible (especially if you block his escape tunnel)…but can the PCs ever be sure that this is the real Koga Jun, and not just another clone?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

261: AF Ninja

ENTRY 261: AF Ninja

“You are not worthy of my teachings.”
- Koga Jun, Grandmaster of Mars

Long before the Fall on an island empire, in an age of civil strife, there arose a new breed of warriors. Spies, scouts, and assassins, their deeds became legends, and as the stories grew and grew some people stepped forward and claimed that they were the modern descendents of these legendary ninja. Most cast doubt on the historical accuracy these claims; others rushed to join their schools. Then, a funny thing happened, one of the quirks of the world: the schools flourished, continued, and perpetuated themselves.

Now after the Fall, there are transhumans that can proudly claim descent to a heritage of learning going back over a century—and prove it with documentation. These contemporary ninja continue a long tradition of training in martial arts, survival techniques, bodyguarding, legerdemain, and other eclectic and esoteric techniques. In this, they are not far different from any other lineages of various training; the Young Transhuman Scouts of the Universe for example.

Yet the Fall was a harsh trial for many transhuman social traditions, and many of the least practical lineages of ninja training died out. What was left, still recovering, rebuilding, and redefining themselves, are the hardened survivors. Sensei of schools that, whether they were founded on empty boasts or not, have incorporated many effective martial arts and paramilitary training for generations, and which are more open to adapting new techniques and technologies into their curricula. In the oxygen bars and hookah lounges from Mercury to Titan people whisper of secret martial arts for use for biomorphs against synthmorphs, or to make the maximum use of cyber-implant weapons, and integrated training and augmentation methodologies.

Some of these stories are true. Traditional martial arts schools, while capable of incredible feats, seldom have the cultural image momentum of the ninja. Transhumans throughout the solar system know, as a fact, that there are ninja today after the Fall—and they are dedicated and willing to become warriors of legend, using whatever skills and implants are available to them to achieve those goals. Mesh archives track the lineages of the new schools—the Lunar Tai, the Hope Moon Ryu among the Rusters of Mars, the Reborn Iga in the Belt who are said to be masters of zero-g combat, the Solid Clan all claimed to be cloned and forked from a single ninja master…the line between reality and fiction blurs thin for some of these groups, especially those underground schools.

Using AF Ninja

The idea of a group of adults dressing up in black pajamas and running around being sneaky and stabbing people was slightly silly back on Earth; in space it’s quite a bit sillier. However, silliness has not stopped people from doing a lot of things, and while there are probably quite a few laughable efforts at “ninja schools” in the Eclipse Phase setting, the “real ninjas” who have been practicing martial arts, paramilitary, and survival training for a couple generations are a serious bunch—and in the wake of the Fall, they have begun to diversify and further adapt to personal augmentation and differing environments.

Serious AF Ninja are deceptive rather than outright sneaky; they prefer to dress like maintenance workers instead of crawling around in black suits, and they’ll use modern weapons just as eagerly as archaic ones. Individuals focus on survival skills and movement skills like Climbing and Free Fall; skillsofts are fairly common as well, especially for languages, Pilot skills, and Swimming. Most have at least one or two tricks up their sleeve, with training in escape artistry, sleight-of-hand, and Demolitions (Illusion) for smoke bombs, flash paper, acid and other useful materials they can conceal on their persons (or make quickly in a supply closet) all popular; the vast majority embrace personal augmentation but prefer concealed, less-showy implants that give them an edge and allow opponents to underestimate them.

Ideologically, AF Ninja fall all over the spectrum. Every habitat and faction can harbor a few ninja (or ninja-like groups) fairly easily; the most secretive and heavily augmented groups generally require at least moderate regular funding or infusion of resources, either from a government, hypercorp, or criminal activity. Some stories tell of a scumbarge where everyone is a ninja, but most consider that just another Mesh legend.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

260: Amberwald

ENTRY 260: Amberwald

“Step through the Gate and enter the world-forest…five-mile high pylons, supporting an artificial canopy that holds in the air for a massive greenhouse effect…mega-architecture on a scale never even attempted in our Solar sytem…and riches yours for the taking! Volunteer your team to go gatecrashing today. Some restrictions may apply.”
- Amberwald Incorporated Commune advert

The first gatecrashers on Amberwald returned with a half-dozen unknown xenospecies covered in purple-blue chunks of amber, some the size of their heads. They spun a tale of a world grown under an artificial sky, where weird hydrocarbon-heavy saps leaked down from the pylons like slow-moving, inexorable rivers, capturing and asphyxiating all life in their path. With the proceeds of selling the material from their first mission, the gatecrashers incorporated as the Amberwald Incorporated Commune and began selling the right to gatecrash Amberwald to anyone that would sign up. Most gatecrashers who take them up on the idea aren’t heard from again. Smart gatecrashers might ask why AIC, which keeps the Amberwald coordinates as a carefully-kept secret, hasn’t been back itself.

The truth is, the founding members barely made it back last time, and far from the lush and exotic paradise that they make it out to be, Amberwald is a hellworld. The pylons exist, but the upper canopy is damaged and incomplete, so that the air quality can drop from Terra-optimal to “surface of Venus” in a matter of minutes when the wind changes. The hydrocarbon-heavy polymer saps that dribble down the pylons to form the multicolored “amber” are distillations from the toxic upper atmosphere, and most contain unusually high impurities of radioactive salts and grit. Most of the native wildlife—if it is native, and not introduced—has been completely trapped and covered in subsequent waves of this tarry glue, and it is believed that only the native sixteen-limbed insect species and a form of exploding tree still thrive. Even most of the liquid water remains trapped beneath the amber, hidden lakes where the life has long suffocated except perhaps for bacteria.

Still, every now and again a crew actually manages to straggle back—and having paid their 50,000 credit fee to AIC, they are free to sell whatever they can haul for top whatever they can get for it.


Most of the time, Amberwald is fairly hospitable, with near-Earth level mix of oxygen and nitrogen and temperate temperatures a little warmer than the surface of Mars. However, according to irregular tides a stream of toxic outside air will dip in from a rent in the canopy, temporarily rendering the atmosphere corrosive (10 points of damage per action turn) for up to 10 minutes. The liquid amber is another natural disaster, somewhere between an avalanche and a flood—the streams of heavy hydrocarbons are sticky, dense, can move amazingly quickly, and can seal a morph in seconds if they don’t move quickly enough. The local insects have an inherent radiation sense that they use to help predict and avoid the amberflows.

Monday, September 16, 2013

259: Ageshift

ENTRY 259: Ageshift

Throughout its history, transhumanity has devoted a considerable portion of its resources to altering its cosmetic age, both through primitive augmentations and the artifice of dyes, unguents, powders, and other make-up to conceal or alter the signs of aging. Children painted their faces like whores and danced around in skimpy sexualized clothing to ape their twenty-something rockstars as pimps and fathers shaved their children down and dressed them to look younger for their prospective buyers; old men and women clung vicariously to the fragile illusion of youth and beauty while hard-faced young men grew out their scanty beards and endeavored to hide their cracking voices. With advances in technology, the procedures and artistry grew more refined if no less ugly and undignified: implants, liposuctions, tucks, injections, shapings…centuries of set dressing, only to leave the stark realities of aging to limp along behind it. It is only in contemporary times that lifespans have been prolonged and cosmetic augmentations perfected to the point that age truly is a cosmetic matter.

Yet society has not quite caught up to understanding this masque on an intuitive level; old habits lend a quantifiable psychological deference to age and pedantic streak toward youth, though the prevalence of neotenics in some habitats has eased that cognitive bias. More difficult for habitats and individuals to deal with are the ethics and morals of age—the restrictions on interacting with individual morphs based on their apparent physical age/maturity versus the mental maturity of their ego. In some habitats it is considered statutory rape if one party is a juvenile ego in a mature body (or vice versa); in others the complexity of the situation or the lack of regulation has led to a more open environment, though public scruples usually mean that abuse, if discovered, does not remain unpunished. But in an autonomist habitat where individual privacy and freedom are cherished, who is going to permit snooping just to make sure all the participants meet unwritten standards of mental and physical maturity?


Most of the cosmetic details of aging in biomorphs can be handled cosmetic augmentations—wrinkles, graying hair, loss of skin elasticity, sagging boobs and butts, etc. are all fairly standard procedures; extreme cases of age (liver spots, dowager’s hump, etc.) require slightly more drastic correction, but in general looking like you’re in your 30s when you’re 120-year-old flat is not a tremendous challenge. Most of the same or equivalent procedures are available for other biomorphs, though few need it yet except for certain uplifts. Neotenics with their peculiar design still suffer some of the cosmetic effects of aging, though not maturity, which somewhere down the line could result in some quite interesting sights.

Ageshift is an extensive cyberware augmentation for biomorphs that allows them to control their apparent age to a degree. The effect is cosmetic, but extremely evocative: dental sets shift and replace, smart forms in the face reconfigure to emulate the saggy hollowness of old age or the babyfat-puffyness of youth, long bones extend or shorten to add or subtract height, etc. Neotenics with ageshift can change their apparent appearance from about seven to mid-teens; flats, splicers, and the like can mimic from the late-teens to early decrepitude. The effect is purely cosmetic, but adds +20 to Disguise skill tests when playing someone of a different age. The cost of the augmentation is Moderate.

Using Ageshift

The accepted age boundaries of sexuality have been a moderately popular topic in science fiction since at least the 1960s; depending on the people you game with this might or might not be an acceptable topic to bring up to the table, though in general acting out the events of Lolita against a space opera setting is in poor taste. Still, the question of apparent age when dealing with NPCs can be an important one without dipping into the poisoned well of pederasty and To Catch a Predator 3000. Neotenic characters might appreciate a way to better blend in with more grown-up morphs, and “surprisingly spry” centenarians are fun NPCs to spring on the player characters every now and again; literally old enemies might show up in young, fit bodies that completely change the dynamic of their relationship with the character—and synthmorphs might just shake their heads at the whole silly business.