Running the Game: Identifying & Analyzing TITAN Artifacts

Here's the second in a series on running Eclipse Phase. Advice here is based on our experience running our own EP campaigns and shouldn't be taken as a canonical interpretation of the rules. Hopefully it will be helpful to GMs feeling their way around situations that the rules don't yet cover in detail.

Someone on the forums asked how one identifies TITAN technology. How difficult you want to make it to identify and work with TITAN technology will depend a lot upon your players. Some TITAN tech might look quite innocuous to someone who doesn't know what they're dealing with -- part of the reason it can be so dangerous.

Here are some ideas to try on, though:

  • Appearance. Can be weirdly designed, mindbendingly difficult just to look at (a la the Pandora gates), or other wise alien-looking.
  • Composition. Unusual chemical composition, advanced materials, novel crystalline structures, etc. can clue science-oriented characters in to the fact that they're dealing with something beyond H+ technology.
  • Freaky When Activated. Some TITAN tech doesn't look like much until it's active and releasing swarms of femtobots or liquid metal hunter-killers.
  • Hostile Device. Most devices are self-documenting to some extent and have a device AI to which you can talk. Ones that don't might be trouble.
  • Infectious. The tech has some ability to infect unfortunate victims with a strain of the Exsurgent virus.
  • Infosec Attacks. Some TITAN tech will actively make Infosec attacks on nearby devices -- including PCs' headware! Jamming them with Interfacing or isolating them behind RF shields can contain this problem, but if a device starts attacking people over the Mesh, odds are it isn't friendly.
  • Not in Databases. Read the description of Repair Spray, a very common item. Computing power is so vast in EP that for a can of repair spray to maintain a massive database of device schematics used to repair common objects is no problem. Unique/novel devices don't show up in any database, making them suspect.
  • Possession is 9/10ths. If the freakish exsurgent monster your sentinels just took out has something on them that looked like a cross between a Mi-Go brain cylinder and an IR-spectrum glow stick, it warrants suspicion.
  • Psychically Active. Some TITAN techs are nothing to write home about physically but reveal their secrets to characters with sleights like Grok. One of the reasons we included psychic PCs in the game was because their powers provide another channel for GMs to give PCs info about the bizarre alien & TITAN techs they might come across.
Check out the skill sets on some of the characters like the Xenoarcheologist who have both async powers and lots of science skills for an idea of how PCs might go about analyzing and identifying TITAN tech.

Dealing with TITAN tech is a challenge for your players. If you have a group that wants to shoot at stuff and not think too hard, make it easy (although in this case, I'm not sure why they're playing EP, as it doesn't reward gun bunnies much). If you've got a group that will enjoy performing nanodetector scans and chemical analysis from a distance while a servitor bot remotely prods at the thing for them, trying to unlock its secrets, make it harder and dish out clues slowly based on successful Academics, Interest, and/or Profession tests.

Finally, the game gives you many opportunities to throw out some red herrings. Could be the potentially dangerous object they're investigating isn't TITAN tech at all, but Factor tech, or a relic of the Iktomi. Keep the players guessing; paranoia is an important part of the game.