This is the first part of a series of logs relating to my experiences running my Eclipse Phase game “The Centre Cannot Hold”. The game has been running since Eclipse Phase was published in 2009, and focuses on a group of Firewall sentinels operating in and around the Locus habitat in the Jovian Trojans. The basic setup for the game and the characters can be read about here.
This was the first session back after the Easter hiatus, during which I ran the Exalted game I wrote about in the last three GM’s logs. Being a returning game there was a certain degree of distraction as people got back into the game and caught up with each other and so forth, but it was to an acceptable degree and did not detract from the session in my opinion.
We picked up immediately where we left off, with the torus habitat of Victoriana spinning eccentrically due to rupture of its exterior water tanks, the stress of this causing the entire habitat to burst open like a blown tyre and start flinging its contents into space. Five thousand bioconservative flats who had chosen to live in primitive Victorianesque living conditions were permanently killed as a result of the cell’s efforts to purge the Dagon exsurgent virus from the habitat’s water tanks by slicing into the infected region with their fast courier’s antimatter drive exhaust.
First we dealt with the stress of seeing so many dead and knowing that the cell was responsible. This was quite interesting due to The Guy being multiply sleeved; in his own (badly damaged) custom Synth and also in two generic Synths taken from the habitat’s security office. The ego in the primary Synth was sufficiently stressed that he fell into a catatonic stupor, one was barely affected and the other was completely fine.
As all three egos were of equally recent vintage the two non-catatonic egos decided that one of them should replace the alpha. The player knew that one of the egos had 4 points of stress and the other was fine, but as I pointed out to him without being a psychotherapist it would be difficult to compare their stress levels. He made a Psychosurgery test against his skill of 10 and failed to determine which was the least stressed ego, so I assigned at random which ego was copied into the primary morph. As luck would have it the slightly stressed ego ended up being copied.
The cell briefly debated whether or not to send a ship back from their own small habitat (which they have dubbed the Death Asteroid) to salvage the remains of Victoriana, but ultimately decided that they didn’t wish to be associated with the destruction and carnage. They were also aware that the Exsurgent-infected (but human-appearing) security commander of the habitat had fled by egocast to Locus just before they destroyed the habitat, applying a certain amount of time pressure to their activities.
So they took their courier back to Locus, leaving a direct path between the destroyed habitat, their ship and Locus that would make it fairly easy for people to put two and two together to determine who was responsible for the destruction. To ameliorate this three of the cell decided to order their refitted cargo ship The Cobra Of Business (once the Runcible Spoon) to rendezvous with them en-route so they could transfer to the other ship and avoid being associated with events at Victoriana. The Guy, as the keeper and pilot of the group’s courier, stayed aboard and returned to Locus while the Cobra diverted to the Death Asteroid.
For the next hour or so people took the opportunity of a few days’ downtime (time taken to find the whereabouts of the egocasted Exsurgent) to repair their morphs, acquire new ones and deal with the aftermath of the assault on Victoriana. The Guy was questioned by the community as to his involvement in the habitat’s destruction and at first withheld a reply. This led to him taking a significant hit to his circle-a reputation as the habitat’s people started to consider if he might be a threat as the captain of a fast courier.
Realising that silence could be costly he finally responded to say that while he was the courier’s owner it was not his responsibility what people do with the ship while it is leased to them; one could call this the ‘following orders’ defence. This spawned quite a debate on the habitat’s mesh, with some defending his actions and attitudes and others defaming him as lacking in social responsibility. This caused a further moderate blow to his @-rep but increased his standing with Guanxi by a similar amount, as they quite like pilots and other assets who do as they are told without asking awkward questions.
I enjoyed this part of the session because it was good to see rep in action as more than an abstract concept. Most of the group waded into the mesh discussion as well, giving them an involvement in what was going on.
Next a majority of the group met with the group’s Server, Mr Poe, to discuss the events on Victoriana. He did not have much to say except to stress that though the loss of life was regrettable he appreciated that the hard thing needs to be done sometimes to safeguard humanity+. Their tough actions on Victoriana thus led to an increase in rep with The Eye. He asked them to hunt down the escaped Exsurgent as a matter of urgency and requested a fresh backup from each of them for psychiatric evaluation and for emergency re-sleeving purposes.
Some of the group acquiesced to his demand but others went to fairly extreme lengths to avoid handing over a copy of their ego. Notably Blondie took the ego from a fork of himself that has been overseeing the Death Asteroid for over a year and then spliced in the last six months of memories from his primary alpha ego. The Guy refused altogether and reached a compromise position where he would receive an on-site psych-eval.
Meanwhile Az-Tec was hunting down the exsurgent, his search leading him to one of the many darkcasting facilities on Locus, this one operated by a remnant of the Russian Mafia. He infiltrated the module easily and found a single operative slumped at his desk stimming out on a macro porn VR called Ms Paris Does Paris (featuring a giantess pleasuring herself with the Eiffel Tower and having cars rev their tyres against her nipples).
Az-Tec reasonably easily hacked the porn freak’s mesh inserts and obtained access to the darkcast computer, allowing him to track back the exsurgent’s destination. He had sent himself to a dark-cast run by a criminal whale named Bandit on the aquatic habitat of Atlantica.
Az-Tec paused to thermite the cheap casemorph that had been used by the exsurgent on Locus and then left to brief the rest of the group.
Mister Poe authorised an urgent mission to Atlantica and put them in touch with a neo-dolphin codenamed Grey Man. Grey Man is a Sentinel who is responsible for passive intelligence gathering operations on the habitat but he can provide information and organise the hire of temporary sleeves to allow the group to egocast aboard to investigate the activities of the exsurgent. Atlantica is a site of great biological importance and the exsurgent must be stopped before he brings the Dagon virus to the last remnant of Earth’s oceans.
I was generally satisfied with the session as a bridge between the previous mission and the next and felt that we did some good work as a group in bringing to life some of the realities of living in a transhuman future. Energy levels were high throughout despite some players being quite tired and there was a good level of interplay between both players and characters.
I was in two minds about giving details on the porn VR being viewed by the Russian darkcaster. On the one hand the weird variety of VR available is always worth highlighting in the game; on the other perhaps this was a little too prurient to have been worth giving any attention to? I only described it in two or three sentences but perhaps one would have been enough.
I’m looking forward to next week and the group’s efforts in preventing Atlantica from falling to the Dagon virus.