The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase

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Jürgen Hubert Jürgen Hubert's picture
The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase
Human minds are very good at pattern recognition. So good, in fact, that we tend to see patterns where none exist. In the past, this has given rise to mythologies. When people looked at the world around them and saw things they didn't really understand, they invented stories to explain it all. Sometimes these involved astute observations and valuable lessons. But often, mere coincidences turned into rites and "spells" that were believed to ensure good fortune, prevent bad fortune, or even curse someone else. Eventually, these beliefs became elaborate mythologies and religions. In the 20th century and later times, belief in such mythologies began to wane. The universe seemed to be rational and explainable, even if human (and later transhuman) behavior often wasn't. Mythologies were dissected for interesting memes, but there was no real belief - because there was no real, desperate need to make sense of a chaotic universe. But with the Fall and the discovery of the Pandora Gates, and the strange, alien vistas they have opened up, all that has changed. Suddenly, everyone realizes how much we [i]don't[/i] understand about the universe - that there are strange, alien, and often hostile forces out there, and [i]we don't know how to deal with them[/i]. But transhumanity is not so far diverged from its roots that it has lost its capacity for excessive pattern recognition, and the need to make some sort of sense of the world. Thus, a new era of myths may be at hand. I'm not really talking about complex mythologies and religions that may have sprung up since the Fall - while there may be a few of these out there, ten years are not really sufficient for truly complex, organically grown mythologies to evolve. But there is plenty of space for small, local myths and superstitions describing small parts of existence - specific exurgent strains, the activities of particular TITANs, the powers of asyncs, things found on exoplanets and in the ruins of specific alien species, the activities of the factors and so forth. People will come up with their own rites and rituals which give them some comfort, especially if they have come into contact with the unknown. In time, they may coalesce into larger, coherent bodies of myths, especially if they contain some grain of truth. So far, they are still [i]proto[/i]-mythologies, but they have the potential to become more than that. So much for the socio-cultural aspect. But why should anyone bother with this in their game? First of all, of course, it makes for some great scene-setting and atmosphere-building. It shows the players that there is a living, breathing universe around them, and thus makes it more [i]real[/i]. Secondly, it shows the mental stress all of Transhumanity has suffered under since the Fall. Psychosurgery or no, most people need some way of coping with the loss of their home planet and most of their loved ones to a terrible fate. The wounds are still fresh, and need healing - by telling stories if it needs to be. Finally, this is an excellent device for foreshadowing events in your campaign. Think of how the Shadows of [i]Babylon 5[/i] were slowly introduced over the myth arc of the show. Think of the many entities of the Cthulhu Mythos which tend to be hinted at and shrouded in myths and superstitions before they actually appear in the stories and campaigns. You can do the same with entities and locations you want to use later in the campaign, be it the TITANs, alien races, or distant worlds. And, maybe, there are some nuggets of truth in all that dross which may just save the lives of the PCs once they encounter it... So here is my challenge to you: What kind of myths, stories, and superstitions have evolved in the setting of Eclipse Phase to explain all the great and terrible things transhumanity has encountered since the Fall?
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Extrasolar Angel Extrasolar Angel's picture
Re: The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase
Quote:
What kind of myths, stories, and superstitions have evolved in the setting of Eclipse Phase to explain all the great and terrible things transhumanity has encountered since the Fall?
In another thread we came up with the idea that Iktomi visited Earth in its past, and were worshipped by Native American people, who by having access to some Psi, left Earth through a Gate hidden in Nevada ;) This is a good idea for a myth.
[I]Raise your hands to the sky and break the chains. With transhumanism we can smash the matriarchy together.[/i]
Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase
I had a few things like this come up in discussions. They're actually pretty fun to think up. One was a cult of Singularity Seekers who believed that their Machine God either already exists or will exist when they create it. They were an isolated colony, carefully watched by Firewall, but ultimately a harmless bunch. Had created their own myths, bible, and even developed a sort of cultural aesthetic. The plot hook involved them all getting murdered, with the survivor fleeing the colony to try and escape the slaughter by an unknown group. Another was the Ballad of Anaxes. Started as a character of mine but developed into something else after the game ended. The character was an Australian hacking expert who became famous before the Fall, and even more famous during it; they led teams of hackers to try and combat TITAN infections and won on more than a few occasions. When they fled Earth, they grew bored from the lack of challenge and gatecrashed away. As a result, they became a bit of a folk hero among anarchist Fall survivors and hackers. People started writing stories about her exploits, many embelished or outright fabrications. And then there were the monster stories, where bogeymen were replaced with exsurgents and TITANs, and morality tales retelling age-old stories (exhumans driven mad by their own experiments and hubris, Consortium execs being duped by their own greed, anarchists cast as lawless cheats, etc.). There's also reinterpreting old things through new eyes. I've had great fun with Uplifts in this area, with things like a Neo-Feline's interpretation of Allah, or Catholic Neo-Octopi, and, of course, Buddhist Neo-Orangutans. This stuff is a lot of fun.
Quincey Forder Quincey Forder's picture
Re: The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase
There is, among the Autonomist, Scum and Argonaut even the Reclaimers factions, a recurring story about a prophet, who lived decades before the Fall. He rose from a group of Open Source pioneers, and became so hated by the Nations-States that they stepped on laws, sovereignty and human rights to stop him. They hated him because he tried to bring the nations' dirty secrets to the surface in the public eye. They though they had him, on a completely different motive. But they were wrong. True they chained his body, but they created such an uproar that it triggered the very first Netwar in history. He creed became a meme that to this day drive millions Transhumans. The time, the memetic scheming of the nations and hypercorps may have cloaked his name, but not his message. It is believed by some Reclaimers that his Ego is stored somewhere on Earth, and that one day he will be found, resleeved and strike down the Jovian Junta, Planetary Consortium and the Lunar Lagrange Alliance.
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nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Re: The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase
Mythology is formed by how we interact with the world. As such, I suspect we'll see a few broad categories, which are in conflict: Savior by God, life is a test, etc. - Christianity, Islam, etc., which have the linear 'born, live, die, resurrect, judge, reward' setup. This would likely also include the less mature alien-worship, which seems to be built on the idea of aliens having created the world, and one day returning to rescue us. The old-world religions we are told are in decline. Islam has probably undergone a tremendous mythological revolution to keep it relevant, Judaism has cultural cohesion. The aliens one will always stick around because it's convenient, simple, and puts the responsibility on another party. Cyclical - Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. These are a classical result of agrarian societies, the idea of universal life, death and rebirth. They are compatible with transhuman life, especially as philosophies, but as mythologies they are outdated. I think these stories will change to fit life as it stands, rather than hold to fundamental values. There's likely a form of Neo-Buddhism which holds a completely different mythological structure. Neo-Primitism - Prior to agriculture, mythologies usually understood life as coming in a constant stream, to and from the same point. This matches particularly well with transhuman life. When you can fork, merge, egocast and live forever, it is easier to believe in a constant stream than a cycle (or anything around 'ultimate death'). I could see this making a major resurgence. It explains what happens to the deleted from your old morph, and what happens when someone suffers final death, but it isn't caught up on the idea of necessary death. Ouranians - This is more in line of the philosophy of Ray Kurzweil, although I made up the name (based off Ouranos, to avoid confusion). It is the belief in the Universe. It is unusual in that it has little focus on the past, or permits the past to simply be tragic, without solution. It is totally forward-focused, believing that we have unlocked eternal life, and the next step is to unlock ubiquitous intelligence. Advances in quantum physics and nanotechnology will permit us to make Planck-scale computers, and to spread them across the universe, literally bringing intelligence and compassion to an otherwise cold universe. The ultimate goal is indeed intelligence. Resurrectionists - These people belief in the more linear beliefs (top), but that it is transhuman-created. We are in the verge of creating heaven, and soon we will unlock the ability to actually recreate egos from the past. This will permit us to resurrect those people, to provide psychosurgery to clear them of any lingering 'sins', and then let them live eternally in paradise with us. I could see these guys being closest to Gnostic Christians, believing in self-discovered truth. All of these would have huge tracts of mythologies.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase
Gatewatchers - what are the Pandora gates *really*? They might look like tools, but they are clearly far beyond anything ever experienced so far. The Gatewatchers believe the gates are sentient and are watching *us*. Some buy the idea that the TITANs made them, but think the TITANs turned into gates. Others think they are alien entities, and perhaps they even defeated the TITANs. In any case, the gates are here and able to manipulate things. The ghost army - In the Fall billions died in bad ways. Their restless spirits are still around. A massive army of ghosts are waiting just outside reality, angry and ready to attack anything they think is linked to the cause of their demise. Why do some people have inexplicable bad luck? Why do some seem to have psi? Why isn't already running everything? It is because of the ghosts. Where did the TITANs go? They didn't disappear, they are here, hidden in plain sight. Just like too virulent diseases burn themselves out, they understood that if they were to continue like they did during the Fall transhumanity would be wiped out and all those yummy egos would disappear. So they merged with the farcasting network: they *are* the farcasting network. Every time you egocast the TITANs copy your brain and eat it. To them mental states are like food - complex experiences and worldviews that they can integrate into their own far more complex structures. These days they are farming transhumanity, fattening us up so they can dine on our memories.
Extropian
Quincey Forder Quincey Forder's picture
Re: The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase
The Silencers: One by one, races and civilizations disappear and the Silence is Spreading. The Iktomi is the most notorious among the Transhuman public from the popular adventurous XP shows like Travel To Reality (think Post Fall version of Syfy's Detination Truth. See The Eye #2 for more details), but contact through the Black Box we acquired on Giza confirm it, over the last few thousands years, more and more civilizations have disappeared or were wiped out. We must keep our eyes peeled for signs. the TITANS were just the beginning, heralds to the Silence
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Extrasolar Angel Extrasolar Angel's picture
Re: The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase
The Gates are artifacts of Alien Ancient Civilization that bring path to enlightenment. By traveling through the Gates and connecting with the nature of the universe you will eventually reach the Center of the Web where the Godlike Collective Mind of all previous civilizations will accept you into another pocked dimension allowing the traveler to reach levels of understanding and thought beyond the concepts of transhuman mind.
[I]Raise your hands to the sky and break the chains. With transhumanism we can smash the matriarchy together.[/i]
root root's picture
Re: The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase
root@The Budding Mythologies of Eclipse Phase [hr]
nezumi.hebereke wrote:
Resurrectionists - These people belief in the more linear beliefs (top), but that it is transhuman-created. We are in the verge of creating heaven, and soon we will unlock the ability to actually recreate egos from the past. This will permit us to resurrect those people, to provide psychosurgery to clear them of any lingering 'sins', and then let them live eternally in paradise with us. I could see these guys being closest to Gnostic Christians, believing in self-discovered truth.
This is the one that I've been going with. The religions of the past were not describing any heavens that existed, they were merely prescient. The transhumans have taken on the roles of the polytheistic pantheons of the past, and they labor to create the monotheistic machine god who will teach them the next phase of reality. The factions are already in place because they are inverted beliefs from pre-Fall, and they each want their specific version of the machine god built. This gives their religious struggle a desperate immediacy, as the first machine gods that were built turned out to be devils, and the next and final one could be tomorrow.
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