Eclipse Phase: Know Evil episode 6

Let's class this zeppelin up with some gunfightsThe Firewall team must rescue a kidnapped hacker currently held prisoner by the sky pirates of Venus. In order to find the pirates’ hidden base, they must lure in one of their raiding ships, take out the pirates and capture the ship. The best bait happens to be a luxury zeppelin filled with the idle rich. What better place could there be for a gunfight? Of course, there will be more than a few complications, including smuggling weapons on board, dealing with the ship’s security and the other guests themselves…

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  1. Another excellent episode of our favorite homophone-based sci-fi adventure.

    I love how well this group meshes together, everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses and can play their parts perfectly (and some of them can even dance!).

    Damn you Caleb for putting together adventures that make me begging for even more AP crack.

  2. Cool. Aaron finds his use as cover again. I’m loving that Fay (Fei? I don’t know the spelling) so far has the best described movements in accordance with her free running ways.

    Some questions: No one has mentioned backing up, it seems to me that at this point they’d find that really important, Firewall as well.

    More importantly, why hasn’t Aaron just asked his pet TITAN to work out a defense against No Evil?

  3. I’m pretty sure they backed up on Octavia in the last game. If they did, it was probably like “You wanna back up?” “Sure!” “Okay, moving on.” I don’t make a big deal about it unless something special is happening. For the purposes of the campaign, backup with a cortical stack is the equivalent of copying a file (thus the hidden danger of No Evil), whereas full-blown ego bridging is a medical procedure in the range of hours or days.

    Regarding the use of Augustine, the group is surprisingly bioconservative when it comes to most things. They don’t have a lot of qualms about killing people, and their origins give them certain liberal slants, but everyone stays pretty locked into gender roles and social norms, including a fanatical fear of seed AI. Aaron, despite being infolife himself, doesn’t have much qualm keeping Augustine air-gaped and unwittingly enslaved. The group seems to share his opinion.

    The fact that I grin like the Grinch stealing Christmas whenever they mention using it might have something to do with it as well…

  4. With the risk of No Evil, I’m surprised that they went for a backup. At the very least, I would have expected them to save on a different server. Come to think of it, does a backup replace the previous file? Or can you make multiple restore points, Windows-style?

    With the Augustine issue, I wouldn’t call them bioconservative as much as they are pragmatic. Give her the wrong commands, and she could take over the entire planet. Keeping her air-gapped, at least until they work out a proper command system, just seems prudent. Plus, from a narrative perspective, using Augustine to analyze everything would seem like cheating.

    I wouldn’t say that they’re deeply locked into gender roles, either. I’m particularly amused by the in-character banter between Tom and Thad, with Preston trying to recruit her as arm candy and failing miserably. Thad is playing Fei Yen with surprising enthusiasm, too!

    Caleb, I’d like to thank you and the gang for being so entertaining. These games are fantastically well-done, and the little moments of glory make them even better! (“Gerard! You SON of a BITCH!”)

  5. @TMWaH Seriously, you’d think that in a situation where they might be infected with No Evil, the choice to backup would be a huge roleplaying moment. I hope it comes back to bite them in the ass.

  6. as realistic as it works to be, sometimes Eclipse Phase’s technology seems like it requires a little suspension of disbelief in terms of its application for the sake of drama. like, I can’t really think of any reason why anyone would -ever- overwrite an old backup, since there’s supposed to be more or less infinite storage space. might as well just keep thousands of restore points. transhumanity is basically an artificially intelligent civilization that makes use of biological bodies from time to time anyway, no point being squeamish about that one detail. certainly it seems a little odd that an organization like Firewall that deals with species-ruining mental threats on a spacedaily basis would ever -ever- delete a backup of one of its agents when they could just buy an extra thumb drive to store a thousand more on and then install that thumb drive in their actual thumb.

    I’ve never really understood the whole forknapping thing, either. people with skills above, like, 70 seems commonplace. wouldn’t it be infinitely easier to just go to one of those experts and offer him 50 Crep or whatever for him to make a personality-nullified fork of himself, then flood the market with that brainless expert program? you’d never need another, and you haven’t made the solar system furious with you in consequence. forknapping is awesome from a pulp scifi/psychological horror perspective, but the amount of enmity it generates both for the forknapper and for anyone he does business with just seems massively impractical when a legal solution could work so much more smoothly. somebody once pointed out that the Lost program didn’t really make any goddamn sense either: why are you worried about accelerated mind generation when there are already scads of infugees around who don’t have morphs to sleeve into? the Lost project should really have been a miracle-gro monster morph horror story, not a fucked-up egospawn story.

    I also don’t get why they don’t just copy Augustine into a new housing every time they use her then instantly delete (or physically smash) that server after they’re done. “Augustine1, sleep mode (or “go to sleep,” eagh). Augustine2, tell me about No Evil. okay bye Augustine2 thanx. oh look, information and no overeducated seed AI monster.” it’s clear that they CAN, from what they did on Cloud 9.

    not that I actually care about any of that at all! those are just the nerdy things that bounce into my head from time to time, to which I joyfully give the finger. I just want more of this delicious homophone space stew. bring more homophones.

  7. wow that was more words than I thought it was

  8. @TMWah & Sam: THANKS!!! 🙂

    @crawkill: I agree on all points about the technology save one; logic and potential seldom, if ever, play a role in the way societies are set up. So, for instance, I didn’t treat the decision to backup as a big deal once the virus was understood because they knew not to overwrite and just start another file.

    However, unlimited storage doesn’t mean insurance companies wouldn’t charge for giving it away. Consider the hidden charges on a cellphone bill; your average phone call contains enough bandwidth to contain every text message you’ll send in a day, but you still have to pay for a separate data pack to get unlimited texting for a service that cost the provider absolutely nothing. Backup insurance is quite expensive, according to the Corebook, so I figured having two backup accounts would be a lavish expense. So while not a big deal for Firewall agents aware of the problem, I envisioned Know Evil as dangerous for your average transhuman on the go.

    I’ll agree that forknapping isn’t entirely rational, but that doesn’t stop present day crimes such as human trafficking. Crimes like that exist because they provide marginal profit as opposed to hiring someone. The risk, which is very real, is offset by the difficulties of enforcement. In modern times, punishment is complicated by coercion and immigration laws. In the future, the requirement of identifying the ego as a definite fork of an individual after psychosurgery would make law enforcement all but useless unless they caught the criminal in the act. The Lost generation doesn’t make much sense to me either, but maybe they wanted new people (new consciousness) rather than sleeved people to replace the 95% gone in the Fall. Vat-growing minds is a lot faster than old fashion breeding when separated by the vast distances of space, and habitat space spent raising physically present children is habitat space not producing revenue.

    The Augustine thing…I don’t know why they don’t do that. Now I have to think of a way to kill them with it if they start.

    Anyway, I’m psyched you’re still onboard Craw. Thanks for listening.

  9. Author

    The Lost Generation: new workers that can contribute to society without being traumatized by the Fall would be an important motive. I can’t imagine how many egos are basically useless because of what happened to them in the Fall. There’s also the psychological motive for a ‘clean slate’ to rebuild society in a way that cuts away from the old – think of the USSR – five year plans and massive state projects that weren’t really justifiable economically but they still did it. How many governments build giant dams or power plants in a way that guarantees they’ll never earn back the money they invest? Furthermore, the Lost project was a test to see if it could be done again and again. If it had worked, I bet they would have sent out Ark ships loaded with that tech.

    Forknapping makes sense economically because slavery is cheaper than any labor contract. Furthermore, laws prohibit alpha forking in a lot of habitats. Any prohibition will guarantee a black market for a desired commodity.

    Also I don’t think you can make a ‘a personality-nullified fork’ – any fork of an ego will retain some personal traits and characteristics. Oh and there’s the whole torture/inhumanity of making copies of yourself as a brain damaged slave. Especially after the Fall, most people are reluctant to push their transhumanity that far.

    Multiple backups are problematic too for ethical reasons – which one is the real you? Why would you maintain them if they’ll never be used? Again, I think most habitats/societies in EP have some conservative tendencies that would limit the practice because of the identity issues it raises.

    Remember the Know Evil virus is brand new – no society in EP has conceived of something that insidious.

    The key factor in EP is that society is fundamentally traumatized by the Fall – every policy and belief has to respond to the Fall in a meaningful way. More copies of yourself makes you less unique, less of a human and more of a machine. Everyone is damaged and a new fresh generation would be welcome.

  10. My thoughts are that fork-napping does make sense in many ways. I agree with Ross in that a personality-nullified fork would be in many ways useless: a personality is a firmly engrained part of any mind. And even if it were possible, wouldn’t it be easier to damage or hack if the personality is not keeping all that knowledge together? Also, after the Fall, people are terribly afraid of Artificial Intelligences. A mind with their personalities removed might resemble an AI to some.

    Fork-napping would also be important to get specific knowledge, not general one. Fork-napping diplomats and scientists to get their secrets without them ever knowing about it, fork-napping celebrities to make them do awful and degrading things, etc. Since all the criminals really need is a back-up of the ego, you could see it as a shady business where they can potentially have low cost (ego data transmission might be free, or might need just enough money to grease some hands and gears) for potentially high yields.

    As we have seen as well, many secret stations that practice illegal mind-altering techniques will also need a large number of test subjects. No two minds are alike, and the more they have the more in-depth their research is. Fork-napping could be an easy way to obtain these minds.

    In regards to the Lost project, page 233 in the Core rulebook explains a bit as to why it was such an important project, and why it ultimately went very wrong.

  11. I guess the Falltrauma explanation works alright. Zone One’s PASD and all that. the setting just feels a little fast and loose with identity issues sometimes (farcasting is called farcasting and not “dying forever and having a duplicate of you that is not you as far as consciousness is concerned instantiated on another hab”) where it’s strict about them others (“alpha forking’s gross, like holding hands with a girl!”).

  12. Author

    Farcasting is going to sleep and waking up somewhere else. Still only one of you around. That’s easy for someone to understand and come to terms with.

    Alpha forking means you aren’t you. You’re only one version of a file.

  13. and so lack of uniqueness is a more motivating fear and gets more introspection than personal oblivion, which is salved by the knowledge that -someone else- will be waking up thinking they’re you somewhere else? it makes me itch, I dunno.

    none of this is to say that I don’t adore EP, because I do. transhumanity’s value system just seems inconsistent to me sometimes. but hey, that’s a value system for you.

  14. And what of the immortal soul in such transactions? Can this machine transmit and reattach it as well? Or is it lost forever, leaving a soulless body to wander the world in despair?
    -Sister Miriam Godwinson, “We must Dissent”
    Looking at her quotes from Alpha Centauri I see she predicted The Fall more or less. That game had the best quotes.
    Well, it’s easiest to just point out that the rules say there’s no such thing as a soul and go about your day.

    On the players, they’re not bioconservative at all. They cavort with uplifts and robots as equals (well, robots are almost equals, if it wasn’t Aaron they’d be equals.) New parts are welded into them as they become useful and so on. But they are conservative in that they mostly apply our roles to the game world insofar as gender and such. But I think that the players or GM have to Want to bring those roles up and explore them, that as far as Eclipse Phase goes, a lot of the things that it can do, and do well, have to be pushed to avoid “Shadowrun in Spaaaaaaaaaaace guest starring Yog-Sothoth.”

  15. Author

    @crawlkill – to people in EP, farcasting isn’t death. It’s sleep. Whether or not you personally agree that’s what it is happening, that’s how people in the EP universe would think of it. There’s no more loss of continuity than a night of sleep. I don’t think anyone in EP defines themselves as that particular set of atoms strung together at one particular place – if you think farcasting is death, then resleeving is death too especially if you have to lose consciousness when doing it.

  16. I’ve been a longtime listener, I just want to say that the EC games have been the most engrossing darn games to listen to. I commend all of the RPPR players on their ability to focus on the game and create such a listenable, engaging, and enjoyable experience.

    Kudos also to the Bryson Springs, Slenderman, AF, Divine Fire, Candle Cove, Dirty World, and so many other amazing games.

    The EC games have finally made me get off my ass and start GMing, and that’s a pretty strong testament to how awesome they are.

  17. man those Alpha Centauri actors were so good that I’d never thought (yes, phone, “that I’d never thighs”) of them as actors until this moment. we want sequel (I ain’t saying she’s a bore digger, but she ain’t messin with no fungal creatures)

    but anyway, doesn’t that seem a little fiat, as a value distinction? during that EP reddit Q&A I posed the same question, “how come nobody minds permanent personal oblivion,” and got an answer I really liked: “the vast majority of people too squeamish to backup and farcast didn’t make it out of the Fall, so there’s basically huge evolutionary pressure against obsession with personal consciousness these days.” imply evolution is at the root and crawlkill will always eat from your hand. I still feel people are excessively squicky about forks given the general mind climate, though (YES PHONE THIGH IS WHAT I MEANT TO TYPE D=). there are ways to ego bridge without a picosecond’s continuity loss, and it’s those that I visualize when I think about people resleeving, not so much the “we kill you and install an alpha fork of you on some other body” method.

    I guess I really think these are all huge strengths of the setting, as a horror game. if anything, I’m just slighty disappointed that the opportunity for existential crisis is handwaved into an alienation roll. then again, I don’t know how interesting the game would be if PCs curled up and cried about their own nullity every time the plot required reinstantiation. I (phone why did you autocorrect I to BLOOD) suppose for a solar system game you have to disbelieve either farcasting or physical transit, and farcasting is more stylish.

    anyone read Strauss’ Saturn’s Children? it’s about a solar robot AI civilization clanking on after the death of humanity. they face all the same problems and embrace many similar solutions as does transhumanity, but are a lot less chill with dying–their stack, “soul chip,” gets passed on to their sibling models, who run it, live it and learn from it, but don’t/can’t reinstantiate it. awesome book for anyone into EP’s themes, check it out.

  18. Also, want to add my guess about the Neo-Synergists, either a titan has converted their collective brains into processing power (and still needs more to “manifest”) or an evil Mars like construct (from A Miracle of Science.)

  19. Umm a link to the stuff the group found in the box and the Know Evil document cause not been able to find it on the forums.

  20. Inquiring minds HAVE TO KNOW: What is Ultimate Cake? How do I make Ultimate Cake?

  21. love your name there, King. 😀

  22. 😀
    The wise and powerful King CMOS is pleased that you recognize his wit and his superior ability to store your BIOS settings.

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