EP: BtF Setup, Part One

The initial setup for the Before the Fall mini-campaign is going to comprise defining the characters and their construction, the state of the world relative to the session itself, and the fiddly details of both soft storytelling components and crunchier mechanical aspects. The two most important goals are to introduce the players to the way the game works and to make sure that they enjoy it.

To this end, the characters I’ll be creating for this will fall into some relatively easily defined roles, even though even the simplest one is a step outside the roles outlined by class-based games. Each character, while being a specialist in their role, will still have points in ‘fluff’ skills that may turn out to be handy to have over the course of the games.

The neo-gorilla is obviously a tough – a large, powerful brick of a character that, if this were D20, one might expect to be a fighter or a barbarian. This isn’t that bad of a strategy in Eclipse Phase – monofilament weapons can be deadly when used skillfully, and they have the advantage of not being that likely to accidentally puncture pressurized structures like high-power firearms, energy weapons, grenades, and the like. That isn’t the case here, however – this character was uplifted as part of a series that enhanced the strength and durability of the baseline creature in addition to human-like intelligence. As such, they can serve as a heavy weapons specialist, carrying the kind of firepower that can stop a tank cold.

The role of the character as a heavy weapons specialist is augmented by their size and obvious strength, making them the impressive-looking stick to the polite and friendly carrot of the more socially-oriented characters. When someone needs intimidated or frightened, they’re the one the team can most easily turn to, not the least because uplifts are still relatively uncommon, giving the added factor of seeming like a barely civilized animal to those unfamiliar with uplifts.

The next character is a socialite, born into the kind of fluid social environment that most people have trouble keeping track of, with a morph modified to provide every edge possible and a visible personality pretty much designed to be as charming as possible. Persuasion is second nature for them, and the blandly pleasant features of their morph let them get away with being memorable only as a nice and friendly sort, someone who remains fondly remembered even if they’ve just taken a person’s wallet and wandered off to empty it out.

Behind that friendly personality is a different animal; a mind of crystalline logic and precision calculations keeps track of every detail with a memory designed to be eiditic and their brain fine-tuned to perform at maximum speed. Augmented with multi-tasking systems built into their nervous system, they’re essentially an entire team of social engineers in a single body, ready to handle any social situation they get dropped into. They’re the usual carrot to the neo-gorilla’s stick, and they relish every chance to dazzle, baffle, and charm those they have to deal with, keeping their actual feelings well-hidden behind a smiling face and cloud of pheromones.

The infosec specialist was born human, but due to events in their life, they ended up becoming infolife – a mind whose embodiment is purely in a digital format. With access to a much higher speed of thought, no need to actually sleep, and a carefully cultivated talent for both research and security systems, they completed their post-primary education in record time and managed to get accepted to work for the UN Peacekeepers with the belief that it wouldn’t be much more than a glorified desk job leaving them ample time to do their own research and pursue their ongoing education.

They were a bit surprised when their qualifications landed them a job as an actual Peacekeeper; few enough infolife exist at the time that the minicampaign begins that the phenomenal multitasking ability of an infomorph can’t be overlooked, and their skills line up to put them in the role of a coordinator, managing team communication, directing the others with oversight, and jamming the team’s bots when the situation calls for it. Of course, there are perks – like essentially having a fancy Nova-class VTOL gunship as a body when needed. They could get used to that perk.

The recon specialist is old enough to have known the world before ubiquitous surveillance became a thing, and they’re justifiably smug about having not only been skilled enough to survive the job back then, but to successfully transfer to the modern world with eyes and ears everywhere. They’ve lost track of their original body a long time ago, hopping into newer bodies as they became useful; today they live in a body designed with durability and stealth in mind, giving them an edge that they exploit to the best of their ability.

Ideas like modesty and shame also got left behind a long time ago, and with the drastic rebuild of their body for their current morphs they tend to regard clothing as a quaint affectation that has nothing to do with them. If pressed on the subject, they’ll adjust their scaly skin to provide a rough illusion of clothing, abandoning it as soon as they can; the only time they feel any concern about the subject is when they have to face someone with direct authority over them, when their nudity leaves them feeling conspicuous, unlike their usual condition of blending in as perfectly as possible.

The combat-oriented AGI was built as a weapons system of surpassing complexity, bordering on the verge of spontaneous uplift; with enough system resources, they might even have become a nascent seed AI. They were uplifted and put through a socialization program in order to prevent a combat-hungry superintelligence from developing with no attachment to transhumanity, and were passed to the UN as part of a demonstration by their creators of the company’s support for the UN Peacekeepers.

They still think foremost in combat terms, assessing everything they encounter in terms of combat priority. Their heavy armor and mechanical power has led to them developing a preference for melee combat, shrugging off anything short of anti-tank ordnance and closing on their targets in a showing that certainly gives new life to the concept of shock and awe tactics. Somewhere in their past, someone thought it would be funny to show them recordings of fictional combat robots, and they picked up some trace of speech patterns from HK-47 from the Knights of the Old Republic video game, giving them a perpetually sinister vibe.

The research scientist is an eccentric, at best; a researcher of cognition, psychology, and other fields of the mind, they were early adopters of cortical stack technology – a fact that saved them, as a colleague’s lab experiments went badly and the ensuing fire killed them. When they were revived in a modest synth, the trauma of their death both left them with a case of modest pyrophobia and a fascination with the experience of dying. More than once they’ve loaded forks of themself into cheap case morphs to go experience a particular kind of death, followed by reintegrating the fork afterward.

The resulting lack of fear toward death was what ultimately brought them to the Peacekeepers; able to be trusted to do the most suicidal tasks that might be required, they’re given tasks that can’t be handled by jamming a bot, or which require direct intervention by transhuman minds. They’re more than willing, as their experiments and research have been steadily leading them toward the idea that they may eventually want to ditch transhumanity entirely and head off on their own into the dark between the stars – and both the pay and the additional training by the Peacekeepers will be handy in that task.

EP: BtF Setup, Part One

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