I've persuaded my group to playtest the Transhuman FATE rules and we start with character generation next week. I've long wanted to play Eclipse Phase with a stripped down system and this seems like a great chance.
Too keep things contained and simple, I'm running the game in a single location: Elysium on Mars. And it won't be too high-tech. If my plans work, about halfway through the campaign, we'll make new characters and approach events from the other side, that of the hypercorps. Then the toys really will get taken out of the toybox.
I'll post updates as we play but for now, here's the pitch I gave to my players:
Bright Lights, Long Shadows: Campaign Overview
The setting is Mars. In particular, the misleadingly-named Elysium, a city of nine million egos built along the base of a huge natural chasm near to the Titan Quarantine Zone.
Everyone will be sympathisers with The Movement, an underground revolution against hypercorp domination and corruption.
In Elysium. you live under the oppressive oligarchy of the ageless Zevi Oaxaca-Maartens, monarch in all but name. Imagine Elysium as having the rough-and-readyness of Rio de Janeiro or Mexico City but with a middle-eastern and Indonesian edge. Or maybe an (even) more crime-ridden Jakarta. Or a high-tech Kabul where you live a long way from the corridors of power at the Presidential Palace. And Zevi is a Gaddafi, Assad or Marcos, smiling out from posters and AR graphics across the city.
Systemwide, Elysium is famous for its media but the city’s shining heart is a long way from your Elysium. The glitz of Central is nothing but a harsh light that throws your desperation into harsh detail. A place where celebrities mock your own poverty by their wealth, power and freedom.
The fringes - your Elysium - are characterised by criminal gangs and a large underclass of Indonesians whom Zevi bought cheap after the fall to help rebuild his city. They're nominally free now but have few opportunities. There are also infugees from every Earth country, who Zevi also bought cheap and has made work off their indenture over long periods (and often multiple forks). The outskirts of Elysium are a melting pot of the desperate and downtrodden.
This is not high-tech, glitzy, transhuman Eclipse Phase. At least, not for you. Your's is a dusty, harsh, unjust world, where the rich have everything and the poor are controlled, oppressed and struggle to survive - or even get a body to survive in. Between the criminal gangs, bent cops, corrupt government and uncaring media, only The Movement offers a slim chance of freedom and empowerment. A doomed, impossible chance but the only one you have.
I imagine it as part detective story, part conspiracy thriller, with characters from the gutters struggling against overwhelming odds.