Building Characters in Eclipse Phase, Second Edition

Posthuman Studios just sent out the second edition core rulebook of Eclipse Phase and I decided to take it out for a spin. There are so many awesome aspects to the setting but the one that’s most important is what we’re going to be creating today: the characters.

Here are the ground rules for this exercise: I’m going to be rolling randomly for everything I have the option to randomly determine, and each character gets one reroll (which I’m going to use to avoid duplicating things and keep it interesting). You don’t have to randomly determine things, of course, I’m just doing that to keep things varied and just to explore the system. With three different characters, this should give us a good look at the character generation in Eclipse Phase Second Edition.

Step One: Background

The first character is going to be a Colonist, someone who settled or grew up on a planet besides Earth before the Fall even happens. This gives me sixty ranks in Know (I’m picking Administration) as well as forty ranks in Free Fall and Hardware (I’m going to choose Industrial). I also get thirty ranks in Interface, Pilot (I’m picking Ground), Survival, and Know (I’m picking Chemistry). So far, this Colonist is turning out to be some sort of blue-collar manager from a planet.

Next up I roll a Freelancer, a hypercapitalist worker, which continues our theme of average folks. Freelancers get sixty ranks in Know (I’m going with Dataprocessing) plus forty ranks in Interface, Persuade, and Research. They also get thirty ranks in Program and Know (I’m going to do Martian Techno) and they get twenty ranks in Kinesics. This is definitely going to be a company worker from some corporate data center who is likely from Mars (before or after the Fall, we’ll see).

Lastly, I’ve got an Underclass character, some desperate criminal from nasty slums. They get sixty ranks in Know (Triads), forty ranks in both Kinesics and Guns (though I could pick Melee instead), thirty ranks in both Deceive and a Know (I’ll pick out Smuggling), and then twenty ranks in Fray, Perceive, and Persuade. This guy seems like a real lowlife, which is a good counterpoint to our solid worker types above.

Image © Posthuman Studios

Step Two: Career

For what the Colonist does as their day job, I rolled up a Scientist. This gives my Colonist sixty ranks in Research and Know (I’ll pick Physics), forty ranks in Hardware (I’ll go for Electronics), and thirty ranks in Program and Know (let’s do Lab Ops).

Meanwhile, the Freelancer I rolled Covert Operative which is an interesting switch. This gives him sixty ranks in Infiltrate and Know (we’ll go with Security Ops), forty ranks in Deceive, and thirty ranks each in Infosec and Know (I’ll pick Politics). Turns out this guy is more of a security fixer than a data cruncher which is a fun surprise.

Now the Underclass character is also a Techie which means they get sixty ranks in Hardware (let’s do Robotics) and in Know (I’ll pick Nanofacturing), forty ranks in Infosec, and thirty ranks in Program and Know (Computer Science). This is turning into a good skillset for a criminal hacker so I’ll be trying to lean into that with future picks.

Step Three: Interest

While Background is the foundation of the character and Career is their trajectory, the character’s Interest is a small impact on the skills. It’s a hobby, a side-job, a second career or something of the sort. The Colonist rolls a Jammer package which gives them forty ranks in Hardware (Robotics), Pilot (this I get to choose, so let’s figure Air), and Know: Bot Models. This definitely seems like an informal hobby thing but a pretty interesting and useful one.

Following up on that the Freelancer is an Artist or Icon. They get forty ranks in Deceive, Provoke, and Know (I’ll pick out Dance) and then twenty ranks in Kinesics. This is a lot of social skills so despite the name I’m going with this as the Freelancer’s clubbing cover for their corporate security jobs. The Underclass character is going the opposite direction of getting more serious with a Spacer Interest. This gives them forty ranks in Free Fall, Hardware (I’m picking Robotics), and Know (this one’s Flight Crew Ops), besides which they get twenty ranks in Interface. I definitely see this as a kid who grew up on the streets doing hacking jobs for criminals, then after the Fall they joined the Scum as a tech-worker.

Image © Posthuman Studios

Step Four: Faction

This one’s pretty straightforward and I’ve already got some idea of what these three are like. The Colonist (I’m going to say it’s a he/him character) is an Argonaut, some former corporate cog who has left the rat race to better humanity’s future. The Freelancer (she/her) is a corporate security specialist from Mars who is still very committed to her Hypercorp employers. The Underclass character (non-binary they/them) is a former criminal who has now joined the Scum in their flotillas.

Step Five: Aptitude Template

This isn’t a randomly-roll situation and it definitely seems like the sort of thing you’d want control over at this stage. Since the Argonaut Colonist is going to be a science type I’m picking the Inquirer package (high Cognition and Intuition, low Reflexes and Somatics). The corporate security Hypercorp Freelancer could be a lot of things but I’m going to lean into her role as party muscle and make her a Survivor (high Somatics and Willpower, low Intuition and Savvy) which seems better than the purely-physical Actioneer package. Meanwhile, the Underclass Scum hacker is going to get Thrill Seeker (high Cognition and Reflexes, low Intuition and Willpower) which I think reflects their past on the streets and their hacking-in-space life now.

Step Six through Eight: Total Skills, Languages, and Flex

These are some notekeeping steps that we’ll just lump together. There aren’t any overlap in skills (I purposely picked different field skills and nothing repeated) so it’s just math to get everyone’s final score of Aptitude + Ranks (except Fray and Perceive which are twice Aptitude + Rank). Everyone gets one point of Flex and at least two languages.

The Colonist is going to speak English as his first language and Russian as his second. Since his Cognition + Intution is 35 she gets a bonus one which I’m going to make Spanish. The Freelancer is going to speak Portuguese as her native language and also speaks English which will be the shared language of this group. Spanish is going to be the first language of our Scum as well and then English will be their second. Neither of those two get a bonus language at this stage, though.

Image © Posthuman Studios

Step Nine: Reputation

Characters in the second edition of Eclipse Phase still use the same reputation networks as the first edition: @-rep, c-rep, f-rep, g-rep, and r-rep as well as the Firewall i-rep and the Gatecrasher network of x-rep. Characters get 100 points and the book recommends picking two networks (split 60/40) or three networks (split 50/25/25).

The Colonist is going to go with two networks, r-rep 60 and i-rep 40, while the Freelancer is going with three, c-rep 50 and f-rep and i-rep both at 25. I think she uses the f-rep mostly as cover for working outside the law (that clubbing Interest) but we’ll see later if it’s attached to her name or a fake ID. The Scum hacker is going to have two networks as well with @-rep 60 and g-rep 40; they’ll just have to rely on the others for any Firewall networking.

Steps Ten and Eleven: Customization and Derived Stats

Rather than juggling hundreds of points, second edition characters have the packages we’ve already been through and then 20 Customization points to add fixes here and there. The Colonist is going to buy himself a Common Sense ego trait for 2 CP and Patron for 6 CP, which is going to be the scientist who sponsored him into Firewall. That’s a lot of points spent already so I’m going to give him a level 2 Addiction to get two points back. He’ll have to step into a VR gaming sim once a day to clear his head or start to go into withdrawal. I’m going to spend 5 more Customization points for five specializations (Science Archives for Research, Computer Memory for Hardware (Electronics), Safety Procedures for Know (Lab Ops), Jam for Interface, and VR for Program). I don’t want his addiction to be crippling so let’s bump up Willpower by 5 points (costing 5 CP), and I’ll spend the remaining 4 CP on adding 10 ranks to both Interface and Know (Lab Ops).

For the Freelancer, I’m going to invest mostly in ego traits to make sure she’s a badass fighter. She’ll get Contact for 1 CP representing her corporate handler on c-rep, Danger Sense for another 1 CP, Pain Tolerance (level 1) for 2 CP, Quickness (level 3) for 3 CP to help with her Reflex tests, and Adaptability (level 1) for 2 CP so that she can switch morphs more easily. That’s nine of her twenty Customization Points but I don’t really want to add negative traits because I think she’s pretty healthy and slick. Instead, I’ll put the remainder into some specializations (Detect Deception for Kinesics, Hypercorps for Know (Politics), and Blend In for Infiltrate) and putting 4 CP each into Guns and Melee. She’s not going to be a great shot but the right morph can fix that.

Lastly, the Underclass Scum hacker is going to boost a bunch of skills first, boosting Know (Smuggling) by ten ranks, Persuade by ten ranks, Infosec by ten ranks, and Interface by twenty ranks (all of which costs them 12 CP). I’m also picking out some specialties (Brute-Force Hack and Decrypt for Infosec, Scan for Interface, and Backdoor Programs for Know (Computer Science)) which takes up another 4 CP. I’ll get a few more by giving them a Neural Damage negative ego trait (they’ve got synaesthesia and see sounds as color sometimes) which returns 2 CP. I’ve got six then to get two extra points of Flex (4 CP) as well as five more points of @-rep and of g-rep (the final 2 CP).

This is the point when you figure out the derived stats of the character: Initiative, Lucidity, Trauma Threshold, etc. I’m not going to do that here to spare you a bunch of number crunching but there’s also no decisions to be made so there.

Image © Posthuman Studios

Step Twelve: Starting Morph & Gear

Characters start with the number of Morph Points determined by the GM; I’m going to go with the default of 6 MP. The Colonist is going to sleeve himself in a menton morph (4 MP), the Freelancer into a Fury (6 MP), and the Scum into a Basic Pod (1 MP) for the cyberbrain options. The Colonist will spend his extra points on Innocuous Looks (1 CP) and level 1 Psi Camouflage (1 CP). The Scum has lots of MP to spend so they’re going to add on Acumen level 1 (1 CP) and Striking Looks (1 CP), then they’ll save the rest of the points for extra gear.

Speaking of, characters start off with two gear packs: one Firewall Agent pack (since we’re doing a Firewall campaign) and one from their profession (i.e. the Colonist gets a Scientist pack, the Freelancer gets a Covert Operative pack, and the Scum a Techie pack). The Scum character has three points towards more gear and they’re going to pick out an exploit app and a grey box from the Hacker kit.

Step Thirteen: Motivations

The last thing we need to do for these characters is to pick out some motivations for them. We’ve seen these characters grow over the course of character generation and I think I know what they’re into and what they want. They’re all Firewall agents but they have different reasons for joining and different pasts that they’re drawing from. For each of them we need three motivations to clarify their positions in the setting.

The Colonist is going to have + Education, + Exploration, and + Technoprogressivism (I’ve decided he’s a Titanian colonist in addition to being an Argonaut). The Freelancer is going to be a little more negative with + Planetary Consortium Security, – Socialism, and – Hedonism. That might not make them popular with the rest of their crew but I picked things that wouldn’t directly conflict at least. The Scum is going to have + Hedonism, + Personal Improvement, and – Bioconservatism.

Conclusion

This was a much faster process than the first edition of the game but the characters are every bit as exciting and complete as the previous edition. I know people don’t like some of the changes in rules but the tone is exactly the same and it’s pretty exciting. I would gladly play any of these characters and if you choose what you like instead of rolling randomly it can only get better. If you’ve tried to create characters yourself, let me know how it went in the comments!

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