Transhumanity's Fate Developer Notes

The Eclipse Phase/Fate Core conversion guide, Transhumanity's Fate, went live on DrivethruRPG last week, and the print edition is now off to press. Since the release, there's been a lot of interest in what kind of Fate build Ryan Macklin and I are dropping with this book. The short answer is: minimalist. The primary goal of THF was to present the rich and complex Eclipse Phase universe in a way that's playable for groups who don't want a ton of crunch along with that complexity.

This wasn't easy. Core Eclipse Phase uses a lot of subsystems to simulate, in depth, things like hacking, psi, and bodyhopping. The core game is a treat for both min/maxers who want the coolest gun and problem solvers who want their character to have a gadget for every occasion. All of this interacts with the biggest point of complexity in the game: your character's current body or bodies and their myriad potential upgrades.

Going beyond mechanics, Eclipse Phase isn't an obvious fit with Fate from a thematic standpoint. The core game is often run as an investigative game, and it contains strong elements of horror—both genres to which Fate doesn't always lend itself.

Finally, Eclipse Phase is a massively detailed setting. The core game is designed to let you simulate literally anything in that setting. A good Fate build, however, is fine-tuned to create particular kinds of fiction by focusing on a few aspects of the world. So we had to make some tough choices about what to focus on and what to leave out.

We chose to make the game about Firewall, the organization of anti-x-riskers who are the focus of a default EP campaign. Further, we decided to focus on the high-octane technothriller aspect of the game (what Ryan likes to call, “Jason Bourne in an octomorph”). We wanted hacking to be fast and cinematic, zero G gun battles to be tactically nuanced but not rules-insane, and the body horror of changing morphs to be a thing in the world but not a dominating one.

This focus and simplicity is supported first by character creation. Transhumanity's Fate avoids Extras, represents both gear and bodily augmentation as stunts or sub-aspects, and treats the myriad bodies your character can hop into as simple containers for those aspects and stunts. The myriad gadgets of core Eclipse Phase, where not represented by stunts, are reflected by your character's skills. If you're an ace with Hardware skill (which re-skins Fate Core's Craft), we don't worry about whether you have just the right bobbin to bypass the security on an airlock.

Where we needed subsystems, we avoided creating new concepts and wherever possible built off existing Fate Core concepts. Most hacking is handled using the rules for Contests, negative effects from horror or changing bodies are aspects that hang around for a while, getting help from your social networks is just the equivalent of a Fate Core Contacts roll, and so forth.

All that said, we include a lot of advice for adjudicating the unusual situations that can come up in the Eclipse Phase world in as Fate-like a way as possible. The rules for conflicts provide guidance for handling things like explosions, getting blown out an airlock, heavy weapons and armor, attacking the mind of an AGI in meshspace (or its physical server in realspace!), and handling both digital and biological strains of the fearsome exsurgent virus as Fate fractals. All of this is achieved while adding as little weight as possible to the Fate Core conflict system. Similarly, the rules provide Fate Core solutions for non-combat tasks like nanofabrication, rewriting someone's brain with psychosurgery, or perceiving the world when your body is a space habitat.

A common refrain from Fate fans, especially regarding Fate sci-fi builds, is that they often add a lot of weight to Fate Core to capture what characters do in the setting. We've listened to our fans who wanted a simple entrée to the EP world, so we've really avoided any type of bloat. Your players may be floored by the way a transhuman setting changes what they think they know about being RPG heroes on a mission, but if we've done our job right, it won't be because of the rules.

Finally, Transhumanity's Fate is built to support both campaign play and short games. It'll play easily as a monster-of-the-week one-shot, but the wide array of antagonists and character development options offer a lot of depth for longer games. In particular, it can be fun to see how a given character works in different bodies over multiple story arcs.

I hope this post answers a few questions about what we've done with the design, and that it gets you excited to try Transhumanity's Fate with your own group.

Your mind is software: create an advantage with it.
Your body is a shell: invoke it.
Death is a disease: take a moderate consequence for it.
Extinction is approaching: overcome it!

Got thoughts or unanswered questions? We've got a forum thread started about this post here.