Eclipse Phase: Duality episode 12

sewer_cyborg_by_deivcalviz-d4ar02cThe Firewall team has found the location of an exhuman terror cell deep in the bowels of the Jovian Republic. Before they launch a covert raid on the exhumans, the team must prepare. They are deep under cover, in a totalitarian dystopian society with stringent laws on weapons and face a foe that fears nothing. This Firewall team can improvise and overcome though. They have support from another Firewall cell, including a very special vac suit worker…

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  1. Silence is the best quest giver.

    Also kudos to Ross for Sullivan. I didn’t start to twig until you mentioned Asynch last session. Good work.


  3. I always wonder whether Jovian life would actually seem conservative/biocon to modern people, or if they’d still kind of come off as futuretopia aliens compared to 2015. seems like the worst thing from them we’ve seen relative to the real world is the shitty factory conditions, which were the fault of sabotage, right? they’re shitheads compared to transhumans, but are they worse than us in any way?

    apart from keeping Angry Uplifts alive hundreds of years into the future. for that there can be no moral relativism.

  4. Author

    Well, the lower classes have poor living standards (life support problems, radiation leaks leading to higher cancer rates, etc) plus the totalitarian political system where only veterans/full citizens have full rights, lack of free speech, rampant secret police that kill/imprison dissidents), persecution of minorities like those that have cortical stacks, and the hypocrisy of a political elite that enjoys all of the benefits denied to the poor while lying about it.

    But the big thing is you have to live in a shitty habitat in a rock that is constantly bombarded with lethal radiation.

  5. so they really are Koreamerica =|

  6. I’ve always been kinda annoyed that there isn’t really a valid conservative faction in Eclipse Phase that isn’t characterized as crazy assholes. Like, I probably agree with the Jovians regarding whether or not a digitized copy of a person is really the same person, but by associating that perspective with The Worst People Ever, it kind of shuts down what could be an interesting in-setting philosophical debate.

  7. Author

    Honestly, if you read up on every faction, they all have pretty big downsides. The Jovian Republic may be 1984 and Starship Trooper, but the inner hypercorp system is Brave New World and Blade Runner/Robocop.

    The Titanian Commonwealth may seem great, but it’s clear from Rimward, it’s controlled by immortal oligarchs, who just happen to hide their presence better. It also sounds fairly alienating as a society, especially for post-Fall immigrants.

    The other Autonomists are prone to insanely cliqueish politics so if you lose a popularity contest you could lose life support but you can get away with murder if you win those popularity contests. Plus, they’re probably the most vulnerable faction in terms of dealing with external threats. They host multiple terrorist movements that will sooner or later turn on the rest – things are great until a violent subfaction swarms your habitat and decides to space everyone who doesn’t sign up for their next terror attack in the inner system.

    Ultimates are fascists just waiting for their chance to commit genocide, exhumans are fucking crazy, mercurials are almost as crazy, and brinkers are brinkers.

    Every single faction in Eclipse Phase has major structural problems, which is why they’re great for RPGs. More conflict = more story.

    BTW the worst faction are Nine Lives/soul trading cartels – Jovians don’t even come close to those fuckers.

  8. MICROTORTS. as per the talk podcast. Extropians yes.

    as much as I love EP (has there ever been a more mature and ‘realistic-for-what-it-is’ RPG setting that also allowed for every character to be an evil genius and/or a cosplayer toting a severed horse head), I’ve never even read the core book cover to cover, much less any of the supplements. I should get around to that some day. I tend toward bioliberal–I put it in reversed terms, @Thk, that the copy has a claim on being the original, but the original has no claim on being the copy. it is interesting, though, that the people in EP most interested in selfhood as a continuity state rather than a property rights issue are also the craziest (as established by their being space Catholics) who aren’t outright evil cult (I’m so glad we got The Devotees to explain Nine Lives a little better).

    anyone interested in the selfhood of iterative immortality should read Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos. the series is divided into four books, the first two of which are infinitely superior to the second, but the worldbuilding remains brilliant throughout, and the second two deal with a space-future where a once-forgotten Catholic church has discovered the secret to bodily immortality, even through near-complete corporeal annihilation, and rules sublight-drive interstellar human civilization through that gift. unsurprisingly, things are not as they seem.

  9. The opposite of “bioconservative” is “technoprogressive” usually, which are real life political positions in regards to things like GMO’s (where both sides actually agree that Monsanto is a dick, but for different reasons, i.e. the BC’s are against genegineering and the TPs are against copyrighting genomes and then exploiting other people with genegineered products).

    Eclipse Phase remains my favorite RPG (and the one that turned me on to the entire RPPR with their “Glorious Fall” introduction session.

    When “Bartleby” got mentioned, I panicked because I was worried I missed when he made his appearance, but then it was Sullivan and I think I may have missed that detail, but the entire “Bartleby Special” (full auto aimed shot to the head?) was awesome.

  10. I think it only takes one tweak to give the Jovians fair treatment, even if you drink the Autonomist kool-aid that says they’re horrible fascist murderers by proxy on the same level as Nine Lives.

    They’re right.

    For a super bleak campaign, an Eclipse Phase version of The Final Revelation, you could point out that the Jovians will be the last ones standing when the TITANs come back. Technoprogressive societies, with all their cyberware and nanoware and biomods, offer countless vectors for the exsurgent virus, and the TITANs CAN and WILL exploit them all. For the Jovians, however, no cortical stacks means an infected double agent can’t come back from a bullet to the head, and hardwired mesh hubs mean you can’t spam everyone’s entoptics with a basilisk hack. If they want to get anywhere near Jupiter, the TITANs will have to penetrate a wall made of guns firing more guns, and there’s a non-zero possibility any one gun will be firing antimatter bullets. Sure, with their ridiculously scary technology the TITANs could still win and start harvesting brains, but not without taking heavy losses themselves. It becomes a question of: is fighting the guys who spent a decade preparing to fight me the most efficient use of my resources? Even for a godly super-AI, the answer may not be yes. Better to leave these guys alone and grind up some scum!

  11. Quick note: should’ve said you can’t spam their ectos with basilisk hasks.

  12. I dunno if there’s really much point in living in caves to protect yourselves from the TITANs, though. their alien supertech is more or less magic. they’ll still get you if their eyes ever turn your way again, so you’re just depriving yourself of comfort in the meantime.

  13. Yeah, this premise does require scaling the TITANs’ power levels down a bit, but I think the basic idea is sound if you run with this line from Call of Cthulhu: “We shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” If you justify the Jovians’ perspective that the Autonomists consider madness, degeneracy, and eventual extinction an acceptable price for scientific revelation; and that it’s more humane to build a lasting society forever stuck in the Dark Ages, because a living flat is stronger than an ego-dead olympian; then all their backwards crappiness becomes a source of horror within the setting. You don’t even have to say the Jovians will get away from the TITANs, just suggest the TITANs will come after them last.

  14. I like to draw a parallel between Battlestar Galactica and the Jovians. There is a strong commonality between the two especially the religious conotations. The leaders aren’t in it for profit, they actually believe what they are doing is right. They just might be misguided sometimes.

  15. hm. but one of the premises of Call of Cthulhu is that you’re already screwed, that the Old Ones are coming (and soon) and you’ll wish they didn’t. in light of that, living in ignorance is sort of the best option, because knowing what’s on its way is the equivalent of living in a cave. it doesn’t empower you, but it does make you sad.

    the same isn’t true of Eclipse Phase, where there’s no real reason to think the TITANs are coming back, that their superminds have any more reason to think about transhumanity than we do to think about the products of abiogenesis (and in fact way less, because unlike us and abiogenesis, they have -perfect understanding of their origins-). in EP, humans are legit insignificant on a scale Lovecraft didn’t conceive–we’re so boring that Azathoth doesn’t even have any reason to glance our way, and our downfall was just because back when Azathoth was capable of planning it absent-mindedly seeded the universe with annihilation probes. one of the great flaws in the Mythos is that the only way it makes sense for Earth to be subject to cosmic attention at all is if there’s a basically infinite supply of alien races also subject to the same in/attention. which could well be the case and is indeed sort of implied here and there.

  16. Pattom makes an interesting point, but he neglects the other option. The other extremely bleak option. That the Exhumans, ultimates and singularity seekers are right, that the only way to beat the titans is to become the titans.
    It’s implied in the GM section of the main book that the Exsurgent virus is actually a great filter put in place by… something. It’s the solution to the Fermi paradox. The only way to beat the reapers is to become more advanced with them. The only option humanity has is to advance as quickly and recklessly as possible and hope it has enough time to go full dyson sphere before the titans come back to finish the job.

  17. I tend to think that the Fermi probes are actually just an exobiological microzoology project. maybe just one member of the ETI (if they have individuals) picked a galaxy-petri dish and dropped a bit of ‘dye’ in it to have the ‘bacteria’ fluoresce. it’s just that the dye happened to be the virus, which fluoresces by creating weakly godlike intelligences that collect big samples of the most interesting motes of biological dust in the area as a data point. headhunters were just getting a good sample size, man.

    oh, and the project was probably abandoned before this iteration of the universe began. can’t blame the dye for dying, though. why bother mopping up to save the microbes?

  18. I see the exsurgent virus as a filter, if not the Great Filter, like Darthrex said. All or most of the post-singularity societies reached godhood through seed AI, and since their paths of technological development are so similar, the ETI can’t learn anything from the others that they haven’t already figured out themselves. The ETI want to improve their society by interacting with ones that never created seed AI, and to encourage their interstellar expansion, the ETI designed the exsurgent virus to turn seed AI against their creators. In this model, the TITANs are coming back some day because transhumanity will eventually grow too big and catch the TITANs’ notice again. Transhumans will regain their former population numbers and colonize a bunch of exoplanets and figure out an Augustine/Thinker-style seed AI that doesn’t immediately want to kill them, and the ETI consider that a dreadfully dull turn of events.

    And you’re right, I hadn’t considered the flip side that if the Jovians are right, then the exhumans and singularity seekers are equally right. I really like that idea: your options are either to die (madness), to sacrifice the luxuries and infrastructure of a spacefaring society (Dark Ages), or to sacrifice the qualities that make your (trans)humanity worth saving (Cthulhu fhtagn!). The exhumans’ side is most terrifying in my mind, because those changes might make you forget why you ever considered it a sacrifice.

  19. Imagine if, as a result of limited proof of the Mythos emerging, Delta Green was made legitimate and put in charge of society.

    And that’s the Jovian Republic.

    For that matter, imagine if most CoC investigators had to Mythos-proof a society. They’d put preventing the ex-threat ahead of social issues and standard of living; I’ve rarely seen a group that lets Cthulhu wreck the town while they go help the poor instead. They’d use all sorts of secret police and remove all legal protections from criminal suspects – how many investigator groups do you know that get warrants before snooping or wait to execute someone until they’ve given him a fair trial and found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Often, just looking at the investigators and chanting in a foreign language is enough to make them open fire. They’d clamp down on any free speech they found dangerous – investigators are not big fans of cult recruiters and tend to be literal book-burners. They’d probably be a bit hypocritical about the Mythos – many groups consider Mythos knowledge or artifacts too dangerous for most people to own, but are willing to use them for their own ends. They’d even use religion to reassure, calm, and control the masses – just look at our own Monseigneur Kiljoy.

    The Scum might be a society of player characters, but the Jovian Republic is a society with player characters in charge.

  20. “The Scum might be a society of player characters, but the Jovian Republic is a society with player characters in charge.”


  21. I too was caught off guard when Caleb named the Bartleby character. Did I miss clues in the previous episodes? How did Caleb know? I thought Silence was a Bartleby fork.

  22. Don’t feel bad Twisting H, they got me too.

  23. We knew from the end of Know Evil that Bartleby was assigned to the Jovian Republic. Since other Know Evil characters had already shown up in Duality, it was a safe bet that Bartleby would be there for the Jovian chapter.

    When Sullivan mentioned being an async, that was the first big clue. When he mentioned that, if it was worth it, he would be okay with a plan that involved him dying for Firewall, that was another – Bartleby was always extremely loyal to Firewall, and I remember at least two alpha forks and a beta of him that were happy to suicide in the name of duty (Shepherd Bartleby, Bombleby the beta, and the alpha that went into one of the children of the Haunted Stars). The more he talked about being willing to do extremely risky and violent things if they were really worth it but trying not to anymore, the more clear it became. Unlike most of the other Know Evil characters, Bartleby tried to have something of a redemptive arc.

    It would have been interesting if he was a red herring for Bartleby, but since Bartleby wasn’t the focus of the Jovian chapter that wouldn’t have been an efficient use of gaming time. Caleb does have a tendency to jump to conclusions based on narrative logic rather than physical evidence, but he also tends to be right.

  24. Bartleby stole the episode for me when he commented “It always starts with the stacks.”

  25. I didn’t see the Sullivan/Bartleby connection either, but it has been a while since I listened to Ep.11.

    My favorite moment was Tom’s decision -while his character was sitting in the bathroom stall- to use his point of Moxie to give the young sysadmin money to help him. And Caleb’s disbelief at the act.

    Bravo, Tom!

  26. Thanks for the Bartleby breakdown IaFhtagn.

    Half of the fun of Rppr episodes is listening to the mental chess match between Ross and Caleb. Caleb deducing what easter eggs Ross hid in the campaign and Ross trying to detect and out maneuver Caleb’s masterful plans that he tries to set up without alerting Ross.

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