So today I’m going to look at the Firewall sourcebook for Eclipse Phase; it’s intended as a resource for using the Firewall conspiracy/organization as a part of your EP game, and it, like most of the game’s sourcebooks, is a fairly rich haul of information and ideas. It doesn’t hurt that it has the same in-world feel of the other sourcebooks, too, as if written by living operatives of the group.
In general, Eclipse Phase assumes that characters are members of Firewall; up until now, information about the group has largely been what can be gleaned from the in-world nature of the sourcebooks. This is still fairly considerable, but the more definitive nature of this book is satisfying.
The first section is the history of Firewall, from its origins in the intelligence agencies of the pre-Fall world, the actions of the precursor groups that came together to form it, and Firewall as it stands at 10 AF. As usual, there are ample sidebar segments, ranging from the principles guiding Firewall and the factions inside it to a fairly detailed section on the precursor groups that created it.
This gets followed up with about 20 pages on the organization of Firewall; while the conspiracy is decentralized and cell-based by design, some level of interactivity is needed. In addition to discussing sentries and proxies, we get the other roles of Firewall agents, including things like routers and crows, a discussion of security, and social networking as part of the conspiracy.
This gets followed up on a section with the major factions and cliques in Firewall, which can be a source of vast potential for any GM running an EP campaign; the sheer diversity of thought in Firewall makes it a near miracle that it hasn’t torn itself apart completely, but the sense of the existential threats hanging over humanity can make for strange alliances.
Field Ops follow this up; this is one of the most valuable parts, letting the GM have a solid outline of how missions go in an ideal world, before they complicate things and players hare off wildly after unrelated things. It includes protocols, mission factors, threat detection, and more. Player should definitely read this section.
It gets followed up with a highly informative section on cases and operations, all dubbed as ongoing. This is where the in-world feel of things shines the most, as it gives you a solid feel that you’re looking at archives of information about each listed file. A list of notable locations – like a lunar terminal or the ‘toybox’ – and notable operatives follows this up, providing more of the rich worldbuilding and deep resources EP is good at. Toybox, in particular, is a fantastic location as the place where Firewall stores artifacts that they can’t destroy or find to have too much potential to get rid of. We also get a section on how Firewall plays with others. (Answer: generally not that well.)
The section on Other Groups covers other intelligence agencies, existential threat management groups, and individuals with an interest in the same things as Firewall. This includes the Argonauts, various hypercorps, the different Jovian agencies, individual oligarches, religious factions, Titanians (as opposed to TITANs), TITAN hunters, and members of the Ultimates. All of this is of use to both the GM and the players; the former as material to mine for a campaign, the latter as potential background information for a character.
The section on game information is mainly for GMs, as usual; the section on gear and new traits is the only thing really intended for players. The GM, on the other hand, gets sections on introducing characters to Firewall, campaigns with proxies as characters, Firewall missions, using the Firewall factions, using Firewall’s faction rep, the Prometheans (which are like benevolent editions of the TITANs, not screwed up by the exsurgent virus), the use of non-Firewall factions, and a section detailing the Titanian Schism that nearly killed Firewall before it began.
All in all, this is a book well worth acquiring, if you like Eclipse Phase. Given that it is Eclipse Phase, you can find copies floating around the net for free download if you want to check it out – but if you decide to keep it, do please buy it so the Posthuman folks can keep making more products.