Advice for a potential Eclipse Phase GM

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Panoptic Panoptic's picture
Advice for a potential Eclipse Phase GM

I haven't gotten to play or run EP yet, but I'm likely to do the latter in the next few months. I have questions though.

1. Putting CP into morphs or gear during character creation seems to be a bit of a trap. To the point where I'm considering starting the PCs as bodiless and just after a transfer. Or having the campaign set in one habitat/world. Perhaps a backup policy of granting a similar body is in order. How have people dealt with this? Or has it been an issue?

2. Any tips for handling player knowledge being less than character knowledge?

3. Are there any less obvious pitfalls I should watch out for?

Any other advice would be appreciated.

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Dan VK Dan VK's picture
1. It can be a trap, but it's

1. It can be a trap, but it's a necessary balance. Ultimately the most people in the setting interact physically, own property, and have physical needs. Using cash/rep/favors to acquire a body and weapons after a game starts is just going to deplete resources other than CP. I recommend sitting down with your players and explain that death or travel could result in them leaving all of their sweet loot behind, but you always have your mind.

2. Let them ask you lots of questions. Take note of their skills on a separate piece of paper and only make them roll for complicated things. Remind to ask, "Would I know anything about that?"

3. Read hacking very carefully. Be sure you have an updated copy of the rules or the official errata, some rules shenanigans have been fixed.

Forego realism for fun where you can. This is the future, we cannot grasp how technology will change and don't understand how it will change our current understanding of science.

Lorsa Lorsa's picture
Hello and welcome to the game

Hello and welcome to the game! I'm sure it's going to be great. Or well, I hope so at least...

As for your questions:

1. Yes it is a bit of a trap. The first campaign I ran I told my players to make characters with only 950 CP and that I would give them morphs later. Which I did to a total worth of 75 CP per character (including bought augmentations) so as to give them a bit of a "bonus". Other ways to do it is simply to give them starting morphs that makes sense for their character even though it may be unbalanced or give them a certain amount of CP only for morphs.

It is possible to have "insurance" to give players back morphs of identical costs if they lose it but I feel that sort of take away the "fear" of loosing something good and the surprise of whatever you might get later.

Not all groups really care about character balance in a way that if they fall into a trap (which buying expensive morphs is) they'll feel it's okay and won't be upset. If that is your group then obviously you don't need to do anything special (I feel the game was written for this kind of group) but otherwise giving people sort of "equal worth" morphs is a good plan.

2. This one is more tricky. You may have to simply fill them in, either at the start or when stuff comes up. Otherwise you might want to encourage creation of characters that really doesn't know all that much so that the players and characters both learn during the game.

3. Don't introduce them to too much weirdness or too much stuff at once. Start slow and gradually introduce them to the stuff that EP holds, resleeving, reputation systems etc. Once they have gotten a feel for how the world works and what is the "standard" then you can start bringing in other creepyness like exurgents etc.

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Googleshng Googleshng's picture
The main thing to do, at

The main thing to do, at least early on, is to really make sure you aren't just giving the PCs carte blanche access to everything in the books. Keep things small scale and easily managed early on. If you start off confined to a particular small hab, or a particular city somewhere, it's very easy to ease everyone into the setting and what their place in it is. Don't go giving them access to, say, a big stack of blueprints and allow them to create all possible equipment under the sun, or a private clone bank, or any other way to potentially go on a power trip.

If you're eventually planning to have them farcasting all over, using loaner morphs and equipment, tell them so up front, and point out that they shouldn't commit too many resources on those fronts. Probably a good idea to tell them that regardless, honestly.

Panoptic Panoptic's picture
Cheers everyone, that is

Cheers everyone, that is quite enlightening. Another notion comes to mind though:

4. What is "common knowledge" in universe? Is there such a thing, with the fragmented state of transhumanity and the sheer mass of data on the mesh? I am inclined to guess what someone would "obviously" know based on their background, faction, and habitat but any further ideas would be great.

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DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
1. Liked suggested above,

1. Liked suggested above, investing heavily in physical morphs and gear can be dangerous. Much like was suggested, you would do well to set aside some CP for morphs and gear (to be saved for later spending). If you leave things too open at the start, players might dump as much CP as possible into morphs and gear (and leave themselves vulnerable when they lose them). Its one of the drawbacks of using a full point buy system instead of a class system (such as DnD). With point buy, you could spend points in ways that makes broken characters, while with a class system, you are at least guaranteed to be able to do some things well.

2. Every character should have a muse. They are the character's personal assistants and servants. They should be able to remind players of important stuff in the even that they forget something.

3. You could have the players run through some simulspace games. The technology for mesh inserts (for most people) allows people to lie down and connect their minds to virtual simulations. You don't need to worry about reality there, or take all the rules seriously. Take the time you and your group needs to figure out how to play. Your group can get live fire experience without risk of dying in the real world or during a mission.

4. Hmm... hard to say. I need to think about this one.

Googleshng Googleshng's picture
"The mesh" isn't a thing, in

"The mesh" isn't a thing, in the sense you're thinking of. Any time you have multiple mesh inserts within range of each other, they'll all connect up to form a local network, and if you're anywhere people live, that range is going to be plenty to link everyone up. So if you live on Mars, you pretty much have the same sort of wide ranging internet coverage as present day earth- All of Mars and its satellites, basically. None of the technology in Eclipse Phase though gets around that pesky speed of light restriction though, so when you're going planet to planet, or random outer system habs in the middle of nowhere to, anywhere else, you aren't really going to have that sort of regular information sharing. You're dealing with some sort of laser/microwave radio transmission sorta deal, potentially taking a several minutes per request for information to relay around properly, assuming the proper hardware is set up somewhere.

I believe the net effect is a bit like catching local news vs. national news. Someone vaporizes a major city on Mars, you'll hear about it anywhere in the system within the hour. Local gossip from distant habs though is going to be off your radar, unless it's something you've specifically set your muse up to go dig around for. And there's bound to be some isolationist habs which are only going to have local mesh access, off in the middle of nowhere, where nobody's heard anything from anyone since they first launched and that's the way they like it.

That said, I'd say the average person's level of common knowledge is similar to present day. You have your fields of interest, you know plenty about them. You know plenty about your immediate environment and the little quirks involved in living there. You had a decent education and probably failed to retain much from it. The big difference is the whole muse thing. You know how there's certain people who will be having a conversation with you, and the moment something comes up that they're a bit curious about, they pull out a smartphone and get on wikipedia about it? Muses are little personal AI pets who do that for everyone, all the time, so if you need to be in the know about something, here's an article projected onto your retina.

Mechanically, muses are also a fantastic innovation. Anytime the players want to research something, "OK, you have your muse start scouring around for something on that." As soon as you work out what you want your players to know, or you're done resolving something more important, "So here's what your muse managed to pull up on that earlier request..."

Panoptic Panoptic's picture
Thanks again folks. I may do

Thanks again folks. I may do best starting off small from the sounds of it and introducing elements as things go on.

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uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
As the operation got under

As the operation got under way, my Sentinels ended up leaving their personal morphs at a body bank and purchasing a rental (2%/day, minimum 5 days; this includes "danger insurance" that pays for 80% of the morph in case of damage/death) morph that they could "drive like its a rental."

So that is one way for the Sentinels to keep their personal, purchased morphs out of harm. The downside is resleeving in the middle of an operation which then incurs a -10 penalty usually unless they are really good at resleeving or lucky.

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.

Darn_the_Vargr Darn_the_Vargr's picture
Keep the game small scale and

Keep the game small scale and focus on character concept. Golden rule for all role plays. Also, encourage players to mesh their characters goals and motives towards a general common goal. Don't allow pink bubblegum haired characters. Games fall apart and there's no cohesion. Your best bet is a structured Firewall game. Also! This is not a gear-based game. Encourage players to adopt the post scarcity mentality and focus on fabbing and blueprints. You can easily thwart players that hoard in game ;3

"You think that of Me? I! Am the ONE WHO KNOCKS!"

Urthdigger Urthdigger's picture
I don't really agree on the

I don't really agree on the not allowing pink bubblegum haired characters, if you're just meaning silly characters in general. The core books allow a lot of room for weird and bizarre character types. The important thing, however, is to remind players that such a character is going to be viewed as weird and out of place. For instance, the pissed off Firewall proxy is likely not going to be assuaged with cupcakes, your impractically large sword will in fact be impracticable, and your weird hair and unique fashion choice are going to be a huge target for anyone hunting you.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
"bubblegum pink characters"

"bubblegum pink characters" might be related to "unique snowflake +1". Whereas the "unique snowflake" is a syndrome describing players who wants something so unique as a character it is effectively ridiculous or even a photocopy of other peoples' "unique snowflakes" (for example, Drizzt Do'Urden, a character from R.A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale book trilogy, who started a custom for a lot of people about playing with the "only" good guy who belongs to a "everybody is evil" race...), turned to eleven. Which can be sumed up into a paragraph in the old Star Wars d6 edition from the nineties about how cool the idea of a blind elite pilot is until you try to play it and the GM and the players get a huge TPK because that character can do only one thing, but that thing he cannot do because he's handicapped for that...

Also, try not to make a 100% designed character (unless that's the theme for your AGI), while I'm not a huge fan of CP2020 "Style over substance" coda, a character should be organic (unless, again, we area talking about an artificially created one), and that means having some stuff not totally optimized.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
1. I recommend one of two

1. I recommend one of two routes.

If you're playing Firewall and want to emphasize the need to be fluid about bodies, start your players bodiless and give some randomness to the bodies they're given when they arrive on their next job. Maybe roll a d100 / 2 and use the result as the max CP cost of the basic morph they can start with, and then have them use favours or cred if they want something better/new mods.

If you plan on players staying reasonably set in their locales or want them to build regular shapes they use, try using the Morph Pool rules, provided here: http://gorbash.wikidot.com/morph-pool

I've tried the latter, and it works, but it tends to prevent people from trying new bodies once they've got control of what they want.

2. This isn't usually too much of an issue. What's an issue is when GM knowledge is less than player/character knowledge. A GM being corrected can really slow things down. A GM not being corrected can lead to massive misunderstandings.

A knowledgeable GM should ideally know to roll the character's Knowledge skill privately whenever the relevant moment comes up, assuming the player doesn't ask outright. Take a moment to explain as much to your players, telling them to ask whenever they wonder if there might be relevant knowledge to be had.

3. Oh my, a litany, but, most often, these are things you learn by doing and reading. Off the top of my head, remember that Rep isn't currency but a complex social web of favours; that not everything is available everywhere; that heavily-armed outsiders typically aren't going to get favourable receptions in most places; and that very few people are evil for its own sake. Make sure that your players always deal with the consequences of their actions.

As for advice, if you include Psi in your game, use this: http://eclipsephase.com/psi-revamped

A thousand times, PLEASE, use that.




[@-rep +1, f-rep +2]

Googleshng Googleshng's picture
I'd actually recommend

I'd actually recommend against the "you just resleeved!" concept as a way to start a campaign off. First, you'd technically be having to slap everyone with integration/alienation tests at the top of the first session. Second, it's a lot easier to ease into the setting with the version of a character you have in your head and get them nice and established before you start dealing with all the weirdness of an unfamiliar morph.

One thing you might want to do though, especially if you want to save players a lot of reading up on bacckstory, is run an introductory adventure on pre-fall earth, have things really go south at the end, and pick up at the usual point in the timeline, with someone having only just recently recovered everyone's stacks, allowing you to properly walk them through the weirder aspects of the setting in-character.

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
we have another thread full

we have another thread full of some useful tips

http://eclipsephase.com/help-me-not-blow-my-first-attempt-dm

Darn_the_Vargr Darn_the_Vargr's picture
Awesome

Xagroth wrote:
"bubblegum pink characters" might be related to "unique snowflake +1". Whereas the "unique snowflake" is a syndrome describing players who wants something so unique as a character it is effectively ridiculous or even a photocopy of other peoples' "unique snowflakes" (for example, Drizzt Do'Urden, a character from R.A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale book trilogy, who started a custom for a lot of people about playing with the "only" good guy who belongs to a "everybody is evil" race...), turned to eleven. Which can be sumed up into a paragraph in the old Star Wars d6 edition from the nineties about how cool the idea of a blind elite pilot is until you try to play it and the GM and the players get a huge TPK because that character can do only one thing, but that thing he cannot do because he's handicapped for that...

Also, try not to make a 100% designed character (unless that's the theme for your AGI), while I'm not a huge fan of CP2020 "Style over substance" coda, a character should be organic (unless, again, we area talking about an artificially created one), and that means having some stuff not totally optimized.

Very intelligent post, mate. Been a while since I've seen some good advice on here. I really love the SW example you gave, lol.

"You think that of Me? I! Am the ONE WHO KNOCKS!"

Darn_the_Vargr Darn_the_Vargr's picture
Bubblegum

Yes, the snowflake issues is what I meant.

"You think that of Me? I! Am the ONE WHO KNOCKS!"

Lorsa Lorsa's picture
Special snowflake characters

Special snowflake characters are a must for any roleplaying group and it would be a great sin not to include them! Just read

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?307884-Lorsa-s-Lovely-List-(of-GMing-advice)

and see for yourself!

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