You Got Hired By Who!?

So there’s the old plot twist that you’ve been unwittingly working for your enemy the whole time; it gets used in movies, books, and game both tabletop and digital frequently enough that it rarely manages to come as a surprise anymore. Thankfully for those who appreciate sci-fi, Eclipse Phase has options to breathe new life into this tired old twist without ever descending into a M. Night Shyamalan plot.

The regular twist isn’t that complicated; the storyteller or GM drops hints as subtly as they can that all is not right, while letting everyone go through things normally. GMs need to be subtler than writers, because they have multiple clever people worrying away at any hint they drop. Eventually, they whip back a sheet, revealing the Big Bad Villain thanking them for all their help in accomplishing something that the players would absolutely be against. This usually gets followed up by a furious pursuit or frantic struggle to undo the damage that they unwittingly did, and with any luck the villain who used them gets some nice karmic vengeance.

Eclipse Phase gives us a whole roster of other options. It’s one of the few games where you can be recruited for the enemy without ever being recruited for the enemy yourself; all it takes is a character who was an infugee from the Fall, a former indentured infomorph, a shady tech at the farcasting station, or someone who makes a run on wherever your ego backups are stored. Suddenly, with a little psychosurgical editing, you literally have yourself working for someone else, possibly as an enemy.

Working as a Firewall agent with a team of sentinels that are investigating some dubious actions taken by an executive at Direct Action? Don’t let your targets know who you are; someone like that has the kind of pull to get their hands on an illicit copy of your ego, even if it might be from before you joined Firewall. Your opponent is going to be able to predict what you’re likely to do just by running your stolen copy and putting it into a similar situation. Not perfect – your fork isn’t going to be the same person you are at this point – but close enough that they’ll be prepared for most of what you’ll try.

Or with a few tweaks to enforce loyalty, your opponents makes a counterteam out of you with the kind of gear that a hypercorp can afford to produce. That high-end combat body and plasma rifle you lust after as a player? Your illicit fork has them, and got the accelerated simulspace training time needed to use it as part of a crack commando team.

Obviously this isn’t something the GM should do often – if everyone can get a copy of you, you’re going to go to increasingly wild lengths to keep your ego safe, or else get frustrated and quit playing. Once in a while, though, it makes a handy way to switch things up and have you learn that you’ve been working for the enemy without ever actually working for the enemy. A GM who prepares well will let the tricks you’ve picked up since the fork was made turn out to make the difference, coming as a surprise to your alter ego.

More interestingly, a GM can also let players turn this tactic against their enemies. Be clever, get your hands on the ego backup of some mid-level Direct Action executive, and accept that you’re willing to do horrible things to save transhumanity, and you’ll be able to get everything you need to deal with your erstwhile foes. You’ll be something of a monster, but if it saves the remnants of transhumanity from someone trying to build supersoldiers for DA using ill-understood TITAN tech, it’s surely worth it.

Right?

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You Got Hired By Who!?

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