In this special one shot (technically a gaiden game to an upcoming campaign) and first use of the new Zoom H2N recorder, the RPPR crew returns to Eclipse Phase! Instead of being sentinels investigating a mystery, this adventure focuses on an erasure squad, one of Firewall’s tactical assault teams. A rare opportunity has presented itself to take out a facility held by exhumans. However, Firewall did not have time to send in one of its experienced teams. They assembled a new erasure squad with whatever operatives were available at the time. Thus, a team composed of a SAIROC-K model variant, an ultimate mercenary, an autonomist machine fighter, and a scum warrior, led by a Triad enforcer will have to face whatever horrors lurk within a mysterious habitat in the Main Belt.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 4:20:34 — 119.3MB)
Seems to be missing the whole mp3 file link
Time to SAIROC-K and ROLL!!
YESSS MY BODY IS READY
Yay, I’ll have something to listen to tomorrow night at work!
It’s a shame though, that you have that new recorder with such a low noise floor, but it’s all getting shoved into a 64kb/s CBR MP3. I suppose I shouldn’t complain though when you guys are eating the bandwidth bill for these 100+MB behemoth audio files.
RPPR Actual Play alone uses over 2.5 TB of bandwidth a month, plus listeners don’t generally like downloading massive files. Not sure how I can improve the quality without increasing the file size.
I find the audio richer, non-flattened. However, the background noise is significant. How did the audio setup change after this?
I recorded the audio as a 44.1khz wav file instead of recording straight to MP3. However, we recorded this game at Tom’s house, which is a bit noisier than my place.
Ah! Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son, ” a favorite. I made a print of it for my bedroom, years ago. The original artist kept his painting in the dining room.
Cool game. Reminded me about how much I’ve missed Eclipse Phase. Probably should start reading the book after I finish Better Angels. Was always a bit wary to start because the setting is pretty big.
And when does “Duality” start? After the end of Spared and the Spoiled or DW, whichever finishes first?
Recording in uncompressed .wav is the way to go. Yeah, it is a damn shake about stuffing it into a 128 to 64kbps mp3 file, but the source audio (recorded by the H2N’s FIVE mics) should yield a fairly nice recording if positioned optimally. I also recommend a windsock (if you’re not already using one Ross)…
I can hear every scrape of the forks on plates. It is like I am in the room!
All snark aside I do feel the sound quality us better. To my untrained ears it did seem like people came through with better fidelity and I could easily hear everyone which was not always the case with the older setup.
With good headphones the audio is impressive. Didnt pick up much background because the volume wasn’t loud.
It’s amazing what kind of slight differences you can pick up with different recording hardware. David’s voice was almost unrecognizable.
Actually, David was somewhat sick that night.
Yes a new Eclipse Phase campaign! 😀
I was on the mend, but my voice was still raspy and throat-hurty. What you probably didn’t hear was the nigh-constant triple-strength cough drops to keep me from Doc Holiday-ing all night. (Proud of myself for not coughing once the whole game.)
That’s why I went with “Gladys.” Bit of a nod to previous games, there. Gladys is the totally-unflappable secretary of Brighter Futures Academy in the Better Angels campaign, so I figured I’d tap the name since I *sounded* like I’d been chainsmoking unfiltered Camels…
now Firewall has access to a captive Dosadi Experiment…a fun place to farm xp!
(caleb is *very good* at gaming the system — he should consider hiring himself out to other gaming groups that are having troubles with a particularly hard adventure…)
two and a half terrabytes? jeeeez. now I feel like I should archive episodes rather than redownloading them whenever I feel like it.
yeah re: Caleb winning at Eclipse Phase. it’s been said before that the biggest advantage you can have in EP is understanding the setting’s technology, ’cause, like…there’s so much shit you can do that you just wouldn’t guess you’d be able to if you haven’t read page 207 of Panopticon or whatever. combining a system like that with a player who likes READING ugh and who has literally developed official content for it and the solar system should beware.
I think the overall quality is definitely improved, even if it is compressed.
The one thing I am VERY happy about is the volume level is considerably higher. It is nice to not have to crank my headphones up to eardrum-popping levels to hear someone.
oh yah, and Eclipse Phase is teh fun, and this session was. . . teh fun too.
I have unlimited bandwidth and storage with my current webhost plan, so don’t worry about downloading an extra episode or three. The only problem comes when too many people download at once – everything gets throttled until demand dies down.
I know David was sick, that was a dumb joke. BTW, wasn’t Gladys in New Arcadia at Nighthawk’s as well? Or did the archetype have a different name back then?
oh god the night and day waitresses with ten hard dice in stability
what were their names
Ya! Eclipse Phase.
I like the new recoding equipment. Comes through really well.
I could listen to the “prove you’re a normal human” bit for hours.
Also I love this idea, putting it in zombieland was good.
This was a great setup for the new campaign, I can’t wait!
also, i think that caleb is fortunate (blessed?) to have a skilled/brilliant GM like ross, someone who can account and have the simulated world react properly to caleb’s brilliance…
nghhh it may be ON re: Caleb is fortunate for Ross’ GMing. I feel like all of Ross’ adventures run exactly like he meant them to run, and would more or less be shepherded down the same avenues no matter what players chose. he does them well, but there’s not a lot of agency. that’s as compared to Caleb’s “never discourage player choice” GMing, where he improvises huge changes in the structure of the game seamlessly. Ross isn’t very into agency, because he’s not a great improviser. he’s more able to tell the story he’s got in mind than he is to continue working with an evolving story. I’ll never forget the end of A New World: someone says “hope,” and Ross is like “wait, you can’t say that yet, it was supposed to be the end and we weren’t at the end yet, I was cribbing off of Sandman.” that’s very…knew-how-he-wanted-the-story-to-go-ahead-of-timey.
it’s very strange for me when Caleb talks about his hobby deficit on the RPPR talk feed. it’s like, well, yeah, that’s a thing. but I’ve yet to see the slightest sliver of evidence it’s a -bad- thing. nobody who wrote Seinfeld had ever seen Seinfeld before, and Caleb is busy committing that kind of watershed, far as I’m concerned.
great fun guys…god i have missed Eclipse Phase. i was wondering though did caleb actualy have the full contract of brothers there…if so where did he get it from i would love to suprise/stun my players with it on a game
I tend to agree more with Humanity Akbar than Crawkill on this one, though I appreciate the flattery. Ross kept his hat on while I was running Operation Black Dolphin and the Double Hamlet and god knows how many other insane PC plans, some of which I was actively trying to hide from him both in and out of character. He’s WAY better at improvising and I am lucky to have him as a GM. It might look like I’m handling it well when Ross plays just because Ross isn’t nearly as bossy of a player as I am. When he gets to sit in the player chair, he’s far more likely to take a backseat and give the spotlight to other characters unless you specifically draw him out for a scene.
I didn’t have a contract. I printed out the 36 Laws of triad initiation from wikipedia and had that though. That’s what I was passing around.
I think Ross is constantly improvising his scenarios and encouraging player – agency. He does often present options as a choice, but many GMs do that. I definitely do (mostly because of an occupational background in both sales and education).
Ross may be a horrible monster, but limiting player agency is not the reason. Well, unless he is taking away ONE players agency that wanted to take away another player’s agency… in that case, fuck you Ross. Damn railroader.
I think Eclipse Phase might be my favorite RPG. I’m so happy you’re bringing it back.
There are times when I have a specific idea of what I want to happen in a game, especially in campaign finales, and there are games that I run that are pretty linear, like my dungeon crawl style games. However, aside from those specific times, I usually don’t have an ending in mind. For example, look at Sunset of the King. At the start of the game, I thought the players would try to investigate and stop the evil cultist film producer. Instead, the players decided to help him make a cursed mythos movie. They would have succeeded too, if they had covered up the deaths of the interns successfully.
Presenting options is my way of giving players enough information about the game so they can make valid choices – sometimes when I play in Caleb’s games, I make incorrect assumptions about the game setting and I make my choices based on bad info. For example, in a recent Red Markets playtest, I thought a particular stronghold would be impossible to infiltrate using social skills because the people guarding it were too well trained. After the game, Caleb said that would have been possible if we tried and rolled well enough. One of my big fears is letting other players act on incorrect assumptions and not realize all of the obvious options their characters would know about.
Sometimes, players go so far out of left field that I have a hard time catching up with them. When Aaron decided to rescue Sparkles the Unicorn by himself, I was presented with a dilemma – I didn’t want to run a long scene just for him and make every other player wait for him. Also, I had already established that the unicorn was well-guarded and it would be very hard to let him escape. If I had run the scene as I had originally designed, Aaron would have had no chance of success – it was designed with the entire group in mind. So, I improvised and let him have a chance of success, if he was willing to let Sparkles ‘help’ – which meant trusting a mentally unstable magical being.
As a GM, you try to be ready for all possibilities, but players often zig when you zag so you have to adapt. It won’t always be as elegant or satisfying, but I try to never force them into one ending.
I think Ross comes up with more stuff on the spot than it sometimes seems like. He makes it sound planned and even sometimes railroaded when it’s a pretty much unplanned reaction to the players’ actions. It’s pretty masterful in that sense. Part of why it seems railroady sometimes is because he creates real challenges, so a path that has a slight advantage becomes the path of least resistance and the “only” obvious choice, or the path that speaks to player or group goals or sensibilities even though it’s more difficult seems like the “only” obvious choice (although even so the players often don’t pick the one you would expect). But it has to be challenging or else PCs will just roll right through everything. I mean, the most broken-seeming badguy that the players actually fear might defeat them before they blow it to pieces is simultaneously what draws the most complaints and what actually makes the game challenging.
If there’s something Ross does wrong it’s that he gives you a set of options and then says “Or you could do something else,” and that sentence sounds like a lie. But it’s not a lie, you can do something else, and Caleb proves that all the time (OK, and so does Aaron, just not with positive outcomes much of the time).
Maybe what Ross should do is give people a chance to come up with their own plan for most situations before making any suggestions, but the problem with that is that oftentimes a suggestion of what you can do acts as a descriptor of the situation (for example, “you can jump two floors down to the parking lot and steal a car” tells us you’re two stories up and there’s a parking lot below with cars in it, so now Caleb will blow the cars up to cover his escape) and also too many options can slow down a game or too much discussion can become unrealistic in a time-sensitive scenario. So really the best thing to do is probably to act as a voice in that discussion of options, but only be the first to suggest things if no one’s jumping in.
Caleb is a GMing machine and has been since day one. It’s like his brain was engineered for RPGs and he never knew it until recently, it’s crazy. His half-hearted, somewhat embittered, drunken improvisations are only about a thousand times better than my planned-out campaigns, as evidenced by the last Giant-Corpse Island game.
(Prefacing this with “I haven’t made an exhaustive comparative study of RPPR games”)
I wouldn’t say that Ross is bad at improvisation, just that depending on what the nature of the game he’s running is it might be easier to tell where he’s just rolling with things on the fly and not. I would say that in Tribes of Tokyo, it works very well and seamlessly because (correct me if I’m wrong) because Ross had a general outline and knew who the players in the conspiracy were and a rough idea about what they were like. So, he can quickly run through and figure out how people would react. NBA didn’t necessarily have decided paths, just answers and information was in certain places (literal or metaphorical) if you looked there. Then there are other times where Ross is more obviously fudging to make things flow but still be challenging as appropriate, and usually the players kind of roll with it (and maybe in the moment they don’t even notice). To outside observers though, its more obvious that “oh, Ross didn’t necessarily prepare a specific narrative or mechanical response to this action, so he’s just doing whatever sounds good”. And, again, sometimes Ross kind of hides that flexibility behind the curtain a little too much, so maybe it seems more limited than it is, though obviously, he can’t just come out and say “It’s more open than it looks” all the time. So, again, Ross isn’t “bad”, he just has an inimitable style when it comes to these things which looks or feels a certain way, especially to an outside observer.
Caleb, on the other hand, approaches things in a different manner. I think he tends more towards that “sandbox” type construction in most of his games, where things are put into place and set in motion, but that how or why everyone gets around to the important things isn’t always as solid with appropriate challenges placed as needed, though if you point Caleb in a direction and give him lead time, he will make a solid reasonable obstacle, kind of making a gaming “space”. Similarly, Caleb seems to embrace player’s actions in a different way, kind of taking things in open stride and (sometimes with a little sarcasm and bitterness) saying “Yeah, you do that.” in the same vaguely menacing manner as one might pronounce “You walk the path of your own choosing”. Listening to some of the APs say, the Jank Cast do (Especially in *World games) where most player actions are met with by the GM and the group a “Hell yeah, you do”, I think that Caleb kind of naturally embraces a lot of ideas enforced or encouraged by newer wave games dealing with player agency, where often players should just do stuff and the GM is like “Okay, let’s roll some dice for this” (Though sometimes if their action is too outlandish, I personally feel we can skip the dice rolling and just say “Nah, you would fail”.) Obviously not all the time, but it’s a noticeable aspect of how Caleb handles things.
In the end, its all about personal taste and what you and your players enjoy doing, so while we can critique Ross (Or, god forbid, Caleb) on their GMing styles, ultimately, if everyone’s having fun, it’s not “wrong” or “bad”.
Upon reflection, I think I figured out RPPR’s magic.
Aaron is Bones, Caleb is Spock, and Ross is Kirk. The thing is, Caleb and Ross are the evil versions.
That’s brilliant! Jason is a Klingon and Tom is the Gorn. Everything fits.
This is a really great idea for an adventure. Care to share your sources of inspiration, Ross? Were you thinking of the Dosadi Experiment? The Goya Machines: straight from classical mythology, or something else? Maybe just the ol’ RPG trope of gaining skills by killing people? And props for the Worst Voight-Kampff Test Ever, too.
I think what I like the most about Eclipse Phase (among many things) it that it’s as much about sci-fi sociology as it is about sci-fi technology.
I’ve never read the Dosadi Experiment, so that was not an inspiration, although I may read it now.
The exhuman ideology and Goya machines were partially inspired by the Rortians, as described by Anders Sandberg in his Gate Wars fan supplement: http://www.aleph.se/EclipsePhase/The%20Gate%20War.pdf – I diverged by giving a more primitive social Darwinian mindset to the exhumans though – instead of cooperatively ego integrating and forking, they believe the best egos emerge from evolutionary struggle. I also figured singularity seekers would try to emulate the most successful singularity – The Fall – so why not recreate it?
Another inspiration was the genre of videogames that involve exploring an overrun city or society – System Shock 2, Bioshock, Dead Space, etc. Basically, the Jovian survivor NPCs had already lived through 2 games worth of survival horror by the time the PCs meet them.
Finally, I had specific campaign goals for this adventure – I’m taking a different approach where certain aspects of the story are experienced by different groups of characters. The hook came from a previous (unreleased) adventure and the final revelation will tie into a future adventure set in the Jovian Republic.
A friend of mine created the shit loads of Moxie character, he took the trait that gives the GM anti-moxie to use equal to your moxie and the technological ignorance trait.
About twenty minutes into the session he looked at his sheet and said “Oh god damn it, I’ve accidentally made Fry from Futurama”
Cool, Ross. Props for the creative scenario design. I found it very effective. And great action set-pieces, too, especially the initial infiltration in the docking bay.
Now you’ll excuse me as I steal this installation lock stock and barrel for my own EP game…
Sai-ROK! Gotta love the open license Sairoc units. This one didn’t seem to have the befuddlement subroutine.
Even though I just finished listening to the last Eclipse Phase campaign not too long ago, I can’t wait to stay current on the new one.
When you were being followed by the exhuman tracking you by scent, I was so hoping one of you had taken Nervex.
Sadly, he didn’t get to find out what nerve gas smells like.
Interesting setting for this scenario one-shot & sound quality is quite good with the new setup. Only real flaw for the game overall especially for EP games is the vague introduction at the start. With all the crazy morph types to pick from, not knowing this for me had all the characters seem kind of flat, as they could have been anything from case morphs to space whales.
A scene from this game has been depicted in RPPR Illustrated for our Patreon. Check it out here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/7681597