Currently working on the core backdrop for a series of adventures that will form my next campaign. I'm taking some inspiration from Warren Ellis' Planetary and leading towards a climax in which the PCs will have to destroy the gate network to prevent the exsurgent virus from using an infected group of hypercorp exhumans to colonize a "pristine" reality where the Fall never happened. Will post additional notes as updates to this first post, and discuss additional ideas if any others are interested.
Welcome to the multiverse, a six-dimensional matrix of collapsed probabilities we call "existence." Colloquially known as The Snowflake due to the shape of its simplest euclidean representation, the multiverse consists of 46,656 (6^6) non-intersecting universes. To avoid ambiguity around the nature of the "U-word," this document will refer to each universe as a "facet" of the snowflake.
Many facets exist where the Fall never occurred, the gate-builders were never wiped out, TITANs never discovered the gates and succeeded in wiping out humanity, etc. At least three distinct systems of physics and geometry are known to exist, and researchers speculate based on the Snowflake's structure that a total of six will ultimately be found.
In the Eclipse Phase game world, there are three deep mysteries: the Pandora Gates, Psi powers, and the Exsurgent virus. This homebrew campaign offers the Snowflake as an underlying explanation for all three.
- Pandora Gates are *not* gates to other Facets. Rather, the gates exploit side effects of the Snowflake's structure to link distant points in the same Facet. While traveling through a gate, entities are briefly passing through one of the non-euclidean geometries of the snowflake's second known system of physics. 1 Similarly, power to maintain the gate network is driven by entanglements with the snowflake's third system of physics 2.
- The Exsurgent virus was not intentionally unleashed by an extrasolar race; rather, it is a naturally occurring parasite that exploited cross-facet contamination introduced by the gatebuilding project. The astonishing information density required by many of the virus' tricks 3 is possible only because much of its complexity exists in another facet entirely. For those familiar with the C programming language, the Exsurgent virus is effective because it exists in one facet as pointers to more complex genetic and consciousness structures in its "home" facet.
- Psi Sleights are another consequence of this facet entanglement. Common manifestations include cross-ego information bleed, spacetime distortion, and the violation of facet-local physics norms. The weird experiences Asyncs have when encountering or traveling through Pandora Gates are rooted in the cross-facet entanglement exploited by both the gates and the virus.
- In technical terms, both spacetime and magnetism are "hopelessly fucked up" in the epsilon facet-branch. Gates are knots of epsilon-space; the "coordinates" entered into a given gate are better understood as instructions to twist and pull at the knot, producing different destinations in alpha facet-branch space. ↩︎
- In the zeta facet-branch, an accelerated cycle of material expansion and collapse produces intense but regular spikes of exotic radiation. For those who care, the echoes of these spikes are measurable in other facet-branches as blackbody radiation. ↩︎
- e.g., transmission of a full viral exploit and genome alteration package via short audio bursts in a basilisk hack. ↩︎
Plenty of places. For the purposes of the campaign I'm putting together, the snowflake going to be exploited by a group of exhuman separatists who met during an ill-fated gatecrashing mission and decided to set up their own hypercorp-cum-eschaton-cult. This gate mission infected several of them with diverse strains of the exsurgent virus, and trapped one of them in gate-transition for nearly four years subjective time (mere moments by the rest of the group's reckoning). She witnessed the true shape of the snowflake, confirming some edgy theoretical work by a couple of hypercorp researchers, but also went pretttttttty mad. In the aftermath, they went all-in on the idea that Exsurgent transformation is the next step in human evolution, but they also think that transhumanity's defeat at the hands of the TITANs was a killing blow. Embracing the virus could put them on top for a little while, but they've decided that the post-Fall situation is just too bleak for their ambitions.
The solution, of course, is to find a new unspoiled eden and set up camp. Not an exoplanet, of course — moving to a new point in this compromised universe is just kicking the can down the road, after all. No, this group of co-conspirators believes that they can, with sufficient dedication and exsurgent-powered sociopathic daring, use the same tricks that the gate-builders did to bridge the divide between facets of the snowflake. They want to turn themselves into genuine post-humans using the tool of the exsurgent virus, and colonize an otherwise unmolested facet of the snowflake where the TITANs never rampaged. There are a couple of avenues for this that they will attempt over the course of the campaign — experimenting with exotic exsurgent strains, infecting their own forks with varied strains of the Watts-McLeod virus in an attempt to breed a facet-sensitive consciousness, and even reverse-engineering some of the gatebuilders' tricks to affect a cross-facet jump of their own. Those things may not work, but they're ambitious projects that they believe justify a scorched-earth policy towards this particular facet of reality. It's already trashed, why not use it for parts and built a bridge to the new world?
(Naturally, uncomfortable questions present themselves: Is this how the Fall happened to "us" in the first place? Does Firewall's mission include protecting other facet-realities from their own Falls? Can transhuman survivors in "our" facet ethically escape to a different one? Is this just a big metaphor for colonialism? The answer to all is 'maybe, depending on whether the PCs get their paws on a Fenrir.')
PCs' first encounters with the conspirators will happen via bog-standard Firewall investigation and cleanup missions. It's just that this time, there's another player trying to get to the Exsurgent outbreak before Firewall. Mind The WMDs could work as a kick-off, with one of the conspirators leading the anonymous team of olympians that chase the PCs throughout that adventure.