Eclipse Phase: Hedgerow

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  1. Yessssssss, more Eclipse Phase!

  2. Does this adventure derive from Anders Sandberg’s “The Gate War?”

  3. It does not, but boy is Gate War an awesome supplement. Everything Sandburg does instantly goes into my EP head canon.

  4. YEAH. More EP.
    I’m now one happy addict.

  5. “Scientists lie all the time! It’s called grant writing!” Nice.

  6. looking forward to some visual artist rendering Caleb’s ‘Head Cannon’ :3

  7. mmm, the new campaign begins. been reading some Charles Stross, Ross? I finally got through Accelerando the other month and he’s got the whole “in the future, spambots become an exthreat” thing goin on.

  8. Very cool ideas here. I’m starting to think about how you could go a little bit more hard-sci-fi with the explanation of the spambot defense system:

    The spambots compete in an ecosystem where success is numerically measurable by the accumulation of a resource — “money”, weighed against the expenditure of computational resources/time. They have therefore evolved extremely successful behaviors to maximize money accumulation with the least amount of AI effort. Generally speaking, the dominant strategy is to generate mass volumes of ultra-low-cost opportunities to collect money. That’s why they send out billions of quick-and-dirty messages rather than, say, spending time on finely crafted convincing cons.

    The idea for anti-Titan spambots comes from an observation of the ultra-rapid speed of Titan warmachine behavior and adaptation. An entity that reacts as fast as a Titan must make trillions of input measurements every second, and make trillions of decisions based on those inputs. This is physically impossible without massive parallelization. Therefore, in a sense, it behaves less like a single computing system, and more like a vast network of connected computing systems.

    Spambots are uniquely suited to disrupting this form of input computing. They generate a high enough volume of money requests to flood the input sensors of the warmachine’s parallel processing. The warmachine is barely able to see anything besides spam. Furthermore, the spambots can react fast enough to evade the warmachine’s attempts to filter out the spam.

    The real trick, though, is that the spam bots are only able to adjust their behavior in order to maximize their own “money” profits. But that means that in order to combat the Titan, they have to have some way of getting paid “money” by the Titan. But what kind of “money” does a Titan have? This is the trick of engineering that Hedgerow was attempting to solve.

    The spam bots in Hedgerow were programmed to every reaction by the Titan as a form of payment. The spambot engineers assigned monetary value to various reactions of the Titan to spambot signals. For example, one microsecond of Titan immobility might be worth $.05 to each spambot that acted in the preceding microsecond. An uncoordinated attack might only be worth $.03, Titan self destruction might be worth $100.00, etc.

    The trouble Hedgerow was having was in fine-tuning the values of these rewards to achieve the desired Titan containment, without causing undesired emergent behaviors. The spambots were incredibly effective at manipulating the Titan’s behavior to maximize their payouts; however, at the time of the project’s failure, their dominant strategy had become triggering the Titan to attack other spambots. This counted as an unproductive expenditure of Titan energy ($.02 per kilojoule), and also eliminated some of the spambots’ competitors, leading to higher long-term payouts.

    But the spambots ran the risk of crossing the horizon at which there were too few total spambots to monopolize the Titan’s inputs. The spambots thus developed a cooperative strategy of recruiting new spambots into the system from outside. This is why Hedgerow had become dependent on a constant massive influx of new raw material from its managers.

    Given more time, the engineers might have solved the problem by adjusting the spambots’ payout matrix to disfavor destructive competition. This could potentially have made the project more sustainable over the long term.

    Of course, there was also the constant risk that the Titan itself could develop unforeseen emergent behaviors in response to the spambot horde. For example, by coming up with a way to adjust its own behavior in such a way that the spambots would maximize their profits by ceasing to contain it, or even by causing the spambots to seek to create new Titans elsewhere to increase their “customer base”. Or if the Titan could find a method to adjust the spambots’ payout matrix itself — say to reward the bots for disrupting the mesh or erasing ego backup servers — it would have an unimaginably powerful informational weapon that it could turn back against transhumanity.

  9. Cool game guys.
    I love the idea of a corporate off the books world where they keep all their illegal nightmare experiments. Umbrella would be jealous.

    But where does this leave your previous Eclipse Game? Where the Ex-humans were about to recreate the fall in the Jovian Republic? Is that game on hold, or will the two blend together at some point?

  10. Author

    he stalks the party through shadowed alleys, eyes dull and glassy, absentmindedly stroking his (cheap military surplus on clearance buy now for a great deal) rifle. sometimes he blinks repeatedly, as though trying to clear his (aches? pains? migraines? buy tylenol in bulk at bargain basement prices) head, but the gleam of awareness soon dies once more. he creeps up behind the (are you paying too much for vehicle insurance?) wheelman, breathing rhythmic, heart calm, ready to complete a grisly (ask me how to make money from home guaranteed!) job that he isn’t even consciously aware of accepting. he raises his rifle, takes aim (for success! business management secrets), and emotionlessly whispers,

    “hello sir or madam, I am contacting you from nigeria to request your help with a very urgent matter…

  11. Amazing as always, can’t wait for more.

  12. Author

    the text in that last post I got from the SA forums and was what inspired this game, err I mean I totally thought it out as much in detail as Ethan did, but I didn’t want to frazzle Caleb’s mind. Clearly.

  13. A new Eclipse phase game ! Awesome !

    Cheers from Hungary

  14. Great scenario. The idea of using spambots to combat the TITANS is a fun idea.

    Will Artemis return!? I want more Artemis. πŸ™

  15. Author

    Spaceship Artemis? That was a lot of work to record and edit. I’m not going to rule out the possibility of recording another video of it, but…

    Also, the spam text in this show description may or may not have a deeper meaning :O

  16. Oh no, I meant crazy cult leader Artemis. He’s silly.

    And I’m glad I didn’t completely waste time trying to find meaning in show description. O_o

  17. β€œScientists lie all the time! It’s called grant writing!”

    HIV has to leave the nucleus right? Apply for the grant.

    But sir, we are a Cell Biology lab! I’ve never had a virology course in my life!

    There is money in AIDS research damn you, just apply for it!

    And Nuclear Export was discovered.

  18. I was slightly disappointed that it sounds like Caleb won’t be playing Manjappa or P-s-y Psymon the naked Argonaut in this campaign, but the hair care apesync is good, too.

  19. I love Eclipse Phase but find that inventive Ex Threats are the hardest thing to come up with.

    Caleb pulled it off in Know Evil with the titular virus and the serial killer meme (Can’t remember the name at the moment).

    Ross has definitely stepped up to the plate with this fantastic offering. Artemis was interesting, and could have carried the plot if the entire mission was extracting his Morph and Ego. But the Hedgerow is a fantastic concept, one that could carry a campaign on its own. The Pod Morph/Buildings was a nice, if limited, stylistic touch that really showed the Payton-ness of the scenario.

    How I would run this scenario is honestly to put more focus on Hedgerow. The other facilities were interesting, but I felt like it was trying to do too much plot-wise. The character set-up was good, it allowed a mix of characters while still giving them a reason to all be together. Obviously Firewall does the same, but without that connection they are more of the everytranshuman. I honestly think a slower, more tense exploration of a desolate Hedgerow, without the NPCs to explain what is going on would be far more effective.

    Regardless of my opinion on this scenario, I loved the AP and am looking forward to more Eclipse Phase!

  20. I don’t mean to be picky but I was kinda surprised at how Jason seemed to be adjusting his characters stats to fit with the adventure. I know he didn’t add extra points just transferred skill point across but it just seems an odd thing to do after the adventure has already started.

  21. Ballin’ game of EP. Hedgerow was a fun concept and played out nicely.

    The cast of characters is interesting and surprisingly seems to be more about non-combat skills (although that’s just at first glance) which is a bit of a rarity in most games. Loved Aaron’s plan och just throwing money at the loonies and the character in general.

    Looking forward to the rest of the campaign.

  22. Between this and Erasure Squad, Ross has been just knocking the ideas out of the park on EP. I am vastly excited to see Duality.

  23. Since it’s the first game of what could be a long campaign, adjusting stats makes sense. Especially for a system like EP, which can be really hard to understand.

  24. Damn, Ethan C. put a lot of thought into that post.

    Achievement: Appetite Whet for new Duality campaign. Wow, watching 2 huge Ex-threats go at it was pretty nuts. Can’t wait to hear more.

  25. As one of the players said, Paranoia is an awesome game and you should play it.
    Unfortunately, it’s hard to get what’s really happening across in audio format, as so many secret messages are involved.

    Also, the concept of ‘attack of the killer spambots’ is hilarious.
    “Hey, this AI botnet I found is pretty nasty. If we throw some evolutionary algorithms on this with the right weights it’ll could annoy TITANS to death! Hey, wait a second…”

    …come to think of it, looking at the ‘ingenuity’ of wild artificials, fully-autonomous AI malware could be EXCEPTIONALLY nasty in EP. The relative scarcity of ‘big iron’ probably keeps it in check, but if it were to get into unused hardware capable of supporting AIs (or kick out device AIs without being noticed), it would be REALLY adaptive and hard to eradicate… Kind of like biological infections, but they use your credit card…

  26. I love Hedgerow as a concept, and it’s cool how Know Evil to Duality shows how EC X-threat horror can run the gamut from pure existential dread (you’re trapped in senseless isolation forever) to surreal, almost dada-esque terror (the walls are made of people and THEY WANT TO TALK TO ME)

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