The newest publication from Posthuman Studios, the FATE version of their acclaimed Eclipse Phase setting called Transhumanity’s Fate, has been at the top of Drive Thru RPG’s best-selling list for weeks. And with good reason! While the book doesn’t cover everything in the post-apocalyptic transhuman setting, it does a good job of hitting the highlights. Specifically, they were trying for the “high-octane technothriller” aspects of Eclipse Phase (or “Jason Bourne in an octomorph” according to co-author Ryan Macklin in the developer notes), and in that respect they do an awesome job.
I’ve actually been looking over this book and meaning to post a character creation example on it since before it hit Drive Thru RPG (I got a copy for Kickstarting their last book Transhuman) and I’m finally getting it up here. The system is streamlined, to the point that many fans of the original Eclipse Phase might think it’s blurring too many details. On the other hand, it allows for fast-thinking and ease-of-play that standard Eclipse Phase games can only dream of, even with the variants and options out there.
Interested? Let’s see how it plays out.
The first step in developing a character in Transhumanity’s Fate is the character concept. This isn’t a surprise but it does have more weight than usual. Just because you say you want to play a mercenary at the start of standard Eclipse Phase character generation doesn’t mean you can’t pick other skills and assets later. In this it can since FATE is all about aspects.
For this first time, I’m going to pick a standard roll in the Eclipse Phase universe: the Anarchist Hacktivist. This character hates hypercorps, believes in the free sharing of ideas, and lives in the exotic space-habitats of the Outer System.
To give you some perspective on your character, you also pick a Background from the Eclipse Phase sourcebooks. I’m actually going to make things interesting with a Parrot Uplift (this is a Background from Transhuman if you’re following at home). This narrows down his involvement in the Autonomists so I’m following the trend by picking out the Mercurial Faction for him.
The last stage-setting for me to do at this point is to pick out Motivations. I don’t feel like throwing curveballs into the mix at this point so I’m going to pick out an unsurprising trio: +Anarchism, -Planetary Consortium, +Uplift Rights
This is pretty straightforward. I love picking out Eclipse Phase names and usually go with a smash-up of different ethnicities. For this little parrot, I’m going with Piotr LeFleur.
Transhumanity’s Fate also encourages the use of Firewall handles (probably to go with the whole Jason Bourne theme) so I’m going to play off the hacktivist angle with Cyberspider.
Phase One: How You Got Noticed
Phases in FATE character generation involve two parts: a story and an aspect. The story fills in some of your character’s background, while the aspect gives you a mechanical tool to use as part of that background.
The first story to tell is how Piotr first got noticed by Firewall. A few years ago he was hacking into Planetary Consortium computer servers (like you do) and happened upon highly classified folder. He cracked one cypher after another until he found himself reading through the report of a Project Ozma mission to capture and study exsurgents from the White Zone. While he was trying to figure out what to do with this data he was contacted by some other hacktivists who said they knew what he had his hands on and Ozma did too. He basically had the choice of going into Firewall’s witness protection program or trying to survive with a bullseye on his back. Not a great choice.
The aspect from this is: Be Careful What You Dig For.
Phase Two: A Recent Mission
The next story to tell is one of Piotr’s recent missions. So, after proving himself in Firewall, “Cyberspider” went on a mission with some other tech-types and a handful of mercenaries to assess the dangers of a hypercorp mission to the TITAN-worked moon of Iapetus. Once a typical rock-and-ice moon, Iapetus is now a planet-sized Matrioshka brain that is presumed to be dormant.
They got there and found the remains of three separate hypercorp base camps, but none of the staff inhabiting them. After a little searching and some close calls with visual basilisk hacks in the moon’s circuitry, the team found the majority of the hypercorp personnel and the bodies of the others. They were working like zombie-drones to build a massive machine that Piotr recognized would become an antennae capable of transmitting to other nearby worlds, including the heavily-populated Titan.
While the gun-toters took out the drones, Piotr and the other surviving hacker reprogrammed some of the hypercorps’ nanite swarms into dissemblers that quickly reduced the antennae array to component materials. They triggered some sort of alarm and lost a few more Firewall agents as they fought past fractal trolls to their ship but they made it out to report back in and that’s what really matters.
The aspect from this is: Nothing Good Comes Cheap.
Phase Three: Crossing Paths
This is a little harder since I don’t actually have other characters to play off of. Instead, I’m going to think of characters from games I’ve run…
The first will be the human-centric AGI Psyra from Suffer the Little Children. This campaign ended with the surviving members of a one-man exsurgent threat going into hiding. Assuming Psyra might be a companion in this (hypothetical) game, I’m going to say that Piotr served as her Outer System guide and identity-forger when she was relocated by Firewall off of Luna.
The aspect for this is: Outer System Welcome Committee.
Phase Four: Crossing Paths Again
Again, I need to pull from other campaigns, so I’m going to utilize Professor Solomon, a Fall evacuee from St. Louis with a penchant for octomorph bodies. I ran this group through The Devotees a while back and Solomon found himself with several tentaclefuls of cortical stacks rescued from Nine Lives. At the time he didn’t know what to do with them so I’m going to say he wound up connecting with Piotr to relocate them in bodies in Anarchist habs.
The aspect for this is: Room for All Out Here.
Egos in Transhumanity’s Fate have some aspects and morphs have others. I’m going to need a high concept and a trouble concept for my sentinel.These are straight out of FATE Core and should be familiar to players of other games with this ruleset. Piotr’s high concept is going to be Dyed-in-the-Feathers, a reference to how strongly held his beliefs are and how they can serve him as a bedrock for sanity and purpose. On the other hand, his trouble aspect will play off that as Can’t Keep My Beak Shut: he’s a strong and determined believer but he has a hard time not letting everyone know that.
Next, there are two freeform aspects that can be whatever I like. There are suggestions in Transhumanity’s Fate (Competence, Reputation, Detriment, Relationship, and Motication), and I’m going to use those to help me focus. I haven’t touched on his infosec skills so I’m going to pick a competence aspect called God of the Mesh. Likewise, I’m going to play up his Mercurial connections with Uplift Loyalty. There are AGI Mercurials too but… Piotr knows which side he supports most.
There are two options for skill allocations: broad and deep. They’re pretty self explanatory (good at lots of skills or awesome at a narrow focus) and I think Piotr will definitely go with a deep focus.
I’ve got two Great +4 skills to pick first so I’m going with Infosec and Program (naturally). Next, I have two Good +3 skills and those are going to be Will and Hardware.
My three Fair +2 skills are X-Risks, Cover, and Eye-Rep. Lastly, my five Average +1 skills are Melee, Pilot, Notice, Shoot, and Provoke. These last weren’t really part of his wheelhouse until he joined Firewall but he sees the utility in them now.
I’m supposed to pick 3-5 stunts now (at least one of which has to be an ego stunt) and I’m just going to go with the sample stunts for ease.
I’m not a huge fan of the Infosec stunts, unfortunately, and since you don’t get any for free I’m going to pick them judiciously. The Program skill has a few that fit well, though: Security Expert (fight off Infosec like a boss) and Programmer-Armsmensch (use for automated weapons). I see him being holed up in his cyber-safehouse a lot of the time. I’m also going to grab the Digital Ghost stunt for Cover.
I start with 6 refreshes so now I’m down to 3 which isn’t so bad…
Obviously, a Neo-Avian morph is the body for Piotr. In the FATE game, that means that’s the “core aspect” for his morph which acts as the thing’s high aspect. The equivalent to the trouble aspect is a secondary aspect particular to Piotr’s morph.
The sample aspect given for neo-avians is Delicate but I think Piotr’s been hardened a little more than some. Instead, I’m going to go with Weak Immune System: Piotr has lived nearly his whole life in Outer System habs with their bio-filters and environmental controls. If he comes across any diseases this sheltering won’t do him favors.
This gives him Essential Biomorph Traits, Natural Weapon (Claws), and Stigma (Uplift). The first trait is a collection of traits including Biomods (no genetic defects, common diseases, or the effects of old age), Cortical Stack (the diamond substrate that backs his mind up), and Mesh Inserts (essential for modern life, let alone modern hacking).
The other traits are just what they say on the tin. Piotr will use his Melee skill to utilize his claws as weapons and he’s always considered armed, and he also suffers the prejudices of those jerks who hate uplifts for no reason. (“I’ll give them something to be afraid of!”… “Not helping, Piotr.”)
He also has the Mobility (Flight) stunt (pretty self-explanatory), a Mediocre (+0) Durability, two stress boxes, and zero Refresh cost (still at three!).
This is always one of my favorite parts of creating an Eclipse Phase character: who is their inner psyche and constant companion? Piotr’s a tech geek so I might go with something stereotypical and he’s an uplift which can be a lonely existence even among the Autonomists.
Piotr’s muse, Ilyana, is effectively his girlfriend: he’s always been the only neo-parrot on the habitat growing up, and his muse developed into his crush and ego-booster. She’s always there to make him feel appreciated and loved, and while he would be embarrassed to have anyone realize just how he feels about Ilyana, there’s little doubt that Piotr’s in love with her.
The default skills are Ivestigate and Infosec, and I see no reason to change that. She’ll have Investigate at Fair +2 (since Piotr doesn’t have that) and Infosec at Average +1 (since he’s got that covered).
So there he is! Piotr the Parrot in all his glory. I’m actually working on an Excel sheet for this system so that will be forthcoming. You can expect to see Piotr “Cyberspider” LeFleur as the test subject, too.