What follows are the campaign notes for the game I'm currently running. I'm writing these at the urging of one of my players and I will try to keep this fairly spoiler-free in case people from my group are reading this (and I know at least one is on the forums). But if you are in the group, PLEASE don't read this just to be safe. Especially the later posts, since this is going to be in fairly chronological order. Everyone else, take whatever ideas you want from this that you like. Please offer feedback, comments etc as you see fit. [b]Messiah Complex:[/b] A game of moral ambiguities, false realities and mental alterations. [b]Major Themes:[/b] Social engineering. Utopianism. Transformation. Empathy vs. Apathy. Forking. The game centers around mass social engineering being wrought by a man of insane resources, far-reaching influence and quite flexible morality. It all centers around the assumption that the return of the TITANS is inevitable, and the question "In order to survive the return of the TITANS, what must transhumanity be?" [b]Opening Arc: The Devil's Territory[/b] [b]Key Locations:[/b] Legba, the Main Belt. Home of the Nine Lives ego-trading cartel. Boundless Regret, an unmanned space station in the Griqua asteroid neighborhood Sic Semper Tyrannosaurus, a Scum swarm cycling between Mars and Jupiter [b]Introductory Spiel:[/b] Andrei Maheris is Firewall's only man inside of Legba and therefore their most valuable asset in the Nine Lives. He works as little more than a glorified trucker, shipping their stacks to clients and bases in the Main Belt, reporting to Firewall about who's buying what. He informs Firewall of a bulk order in the Main Belt - an anonymous client who buys five hundred egos every few months. As he can't investigate himself without risking his position in the cartel, he contacts his local proxy, Proxy Blur, to dispatch a number of other sentinels - the players - to find out what's going on and if it represents a threat. [b]Legba[/b] The home of the Nine Lives is a small asteroid mined through for living space, but with extra modules, tin cans and spaceships strapped on to create an erratic outside appearance. Inside decor, fashion and culture is a mash-up of voodoo, Latin American Catholicism and Somali piracy. It should be portrayed as thoroughly unpleasant to live in - cold, spotty atmosphere, microgravity and unpleasant company. Even the mesh is 'wrong' as it is run by what Roland likes to call The Cottonfields - hundreds of slaved infugees being used as an operating system, creating an erratic and quite emotionally distressing mesh network to use. Cortical stacks in Legba number in the millions, making exact 'population' statistics hard to count. They are commonly used as offerings at shrines to saints or loa and even used as a tertiary currency among gang members along with credit and rep (because if Eclipse Phase needed anything, it was [i]another[/i] parallel economy). There are even cargo bays piled high with crates of stacks - or even just loose stacks in literal piles. When they arrive on Legba, the sentinels find Maheris is late to return from his latest shipping run and in this time they might feel obligated to collect some stacks. If they do so, roll on this table for the ego they uncover (thanks to Thampsan for improving on my original table):
[b]Roland Nazon[/b] Roland Nazon is the head of the Nine Lives cartel and Legba is his home. He is extremely intelligent but all the more dangerous for it. Worse, he appears to believe he is a bokor, a vodoun priest, or at least affects the behavior to make himself more unsettling to outsiders. Roland wears an Exalt morph of Afro-Carribean genotype with extensive nanotats and scarification. His dress sense is macabre, making extensive use of Baron Samedi-like make up updated for transhuman times - a favorite trick is making the skeleton 'painted' on his skin start dancing and laughing independently of his own speech and motions. Roland holds court like a feudal king in the center of the asteroid, sat on a throne of stacks held together with wire meshes. He has claimed to use these stacks as part of rituals and prayers to the loa, voodoo spirits, using the trapped souls and certainly seems to know things he normally shouldn't. Roland is an extremely skilled psychosurgeon and has personally altered the minds of his most trusted advisers to be simply incapable of rebelling against him; they don't have to like him necessarily and they don't even have to obey him, but even thinking of raising a hand against him induces severe psychological distress and even psychosomatic symptoms. Even his lower level goons are equipped with cyberbrains to run versions of these modifications. He is perfectly affable if the sentinels come to his attention - but if the players want anything FROM Roland, they have to do something FOR Roland. And they also have to put up with him referring to himself in the third person all the time. [b]Babyface[/b] Babyface is Roland's right hand man, his silent enforcer, bodyguard and his weapon of terror on Legba. His name comes from his body, a hulking Olympian morph of Caucasian genotype with intimidating cyberlimb arms that look like re-purposed industrial mining equipment - and a small, cherub-like face and head (mechanically represent this with the Uncanny Valley trait). Babyface's ego is a mess, originally a torture victim of Roland's that the boss decided to turn into something useful. His base ego was a member of a Haitian kill-squad that Roland had a grudge against on Earth; Roland tracked him down after the Fall and psychosurgically broke him. After that, layers of obedience, anti-treachery modifications and additional combat skills were implanted into his cyberbrain to make a twisted borderline-exhuman on a leash. Babyface is obedient to Roland, cannot betray or attack him, obeys his every command, but hates him deeply. Roland knows this, allows this and even encourages it because it sweetens his revenge to see the man he hates so much lick his boots. [b]Andrei Maheris[/b] Originally a Balkan people-smuggler and petty pirate, Andrei was a fairly early recruit to Nine Lives after the Fall. He was brought into Firewall two years ago, when an exhuman client buying egos from him came to Firewall's attention as a potential x-risk and he saw too much. Since then he has been a relatively valuable asset within the cartel, moving to Legba to oversee some of the bigger schemes the syndicate has running. However, he is also fairly low-value to Nine Lives, little better than a space-trucker and pilot; he doesn't make deals or call shots, just delivers cargo. He is unlikely to move up in the cartel though, since that would compromise his status in Firewall - he would likely be made to undergo psychosurgical examination and modification in the even of a promotion, meaning the best place for him is where is right now. His ship, the Eighteen Split, is a modified Small Lander and Orbit Transfer Vehicle (core book, p 351) with a boosted engine. It is mostly used for short hops within the Belt, delivering cargo. It is an unstreamlined version as a result, quite blocky and intended to primarily to be used in vacuum and to travel to airless moons. When Andrei delivers his cargo to the client, he is met by two synth morphs who help him unload and then refuse to leave his shuttle. When he protests, one snaps his splicer's neck with a twist and then just keeps twisting over a matter of minutes and hours until his head is ripped off - while the other synth pilots the ship away from the station. [b]Timeline - Babyface's Rebellion[/b] [b]~4 days ago:[/b] A message comes in from Boundless Regret requestion 500 stacks, with appropriate payment being delivered. Andrei receives orders, passes them along to Firewall and heads off in his ship. [b]~2 days ago:[/b] Andrei arrives, drops off his cargo and is killed. The Eighteen Split is piloted by his killer to a nearby trade route and broadcasts a distress signal. [b]~1 day ago:[/b] A Scum barge, the Anathema Deluge, visits the 'derelict' Eighteen Split and collects one of Andrei's killers before leaving. The other killer puts the ship back on course to Legba. [b]~Now:[/b] The sentinels arrive and find Andrei late to return. The Eighteen Split returns to Legba on auto-pilot, requiring external help to be brought down due to a malfunctioning AI. The synth infects Babyface's cyberbrain with the Beautiful hack, breaking Roland's psychological hold on him and prompting the enforcer to stage a coup against his former master, locking down the shuttle bay. The players can pick a side in this rebellion, between Roland and Babyface. Roland will offer a kill-phrase he encoded into Babyface (a complicated number string or perhaps a suitably ironic piece of poetry or song line, according to GM's whims) and will give them payment in creds, rep or stacks - if one of the sentinels agrees to let him copy them and use them as the base for his next Babyface. Babyface, on the other hand, wants them to kill Roland and knows the ins and outs of Roland's personal security detail and is willing to share - but if he shares his data, he's also going to be sharing the virus that infected him. [b]The Beautiful[/b] Upon entering the Eighteen Split, Babyface received an email from the dormant synth in the cargo bay, which carried a basilisk hack. This hack takes the form of a compressed video file; a number of white-robed figures congregate in a closed, dark space lit by candles. They form concentric circles around another robed figure, arms out in a messianic fashion. They chant, as one 'Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.' The hack essentially takes two different forms, depending on if the victim is has a biological or cyber-brain. Both roll the standard COG+INT+SAV to resist the effects of the hack. In biomorphs, those affected experience near-religious awe and enter a state of heightened suggestibility - they will follow commands automatically mindlessly, accept any nonsense they are told as gospel truth etc for the duration of the hack, but otherwise suffer no ill effects. In cyberbrains, however, the effects are different. These victims don't in fact experience negative side-effects but positive ones - a breaking of psychological conditioning or behavioral modification and a sudden upswelling of personal esteem and self-confidence. They feel like they can do anything and have barriers that would prevent them from doing so removed.
Spoiler: Highlight to view
01-05 – Infected Stack, Roll Again* (01-34: Early Stage, 35-70: Developed, 71-85: Inhumanly Exsurgent, 86-00 Hidden) 06-10 – Exhuman Stack, Roll Again (01-30: Camouflaged, 31-50: Unusual/Novel, 51-85: Insane, 86-00: Alien/Corrupted) 11-15 – Booby Trap, Roll Again (01-20: Incapacitating Basilisk Hack, 21-30: Sensory Reprogramming Basilisk Hack, 31-40: YGBM Hack, 41-80: Unpleasant XP 1d10 SV, 81-90: Nightmare Fuel XP 1d10x2 SV, 91-00: Jack in the Box Malware) 16-40 – Broken and Worthless; low-value skillset such as children, disabled, the elderly, the criminally insane, etc with 2 Derangements 41-43 – Worth It? Roll Again; High value Beta fork (2 skills at 60) and 2 Derangements 44-55 – Slice of Domestic Life; low value skillset (children etc) 56-65 – Fall Haul, Roll Again** (01-35: Fall Infugee, 36-65: Fall Veteran, 66-75: Fall Survivor, 76-00: Corrupted Stack) 66-70 – Collateral Damage - Civilian/low level corporate mind. 2 skills 40. 71 – Uplift Mind. Roll d10: 1-2 - 1 Disorder. 3-5 1 Derangement. 6+ None. 72-75 – Corporate Indenture - 3 Skills at 40 76-83 – Terrorist/Criminal - 3 skills at 40 83-86 – Scum/Anarchist - 3 skills at 40 87 – Ego Hunter - Heavily tortured. 1 Derangement. 3 skills at 50. 88 – Inner System Middle Class - Small bounty for reclamation (~3K creds, +3 c-rep) 89 – Hypercorp Researcher - 4 Hardware/Academics/Medicine skills at 50 90-92 – Mercenary/Bounty Hunter - 4 Combat skills at 50 93 – Guanxi Underboss - Small bounty (~3k creds, +3 g-rep) 94 – Gatecrasher - 5 Skills at 50, 1 Disorder 95 – Rogue AGI - 5 Academics/Hardware skills at 50. 96 – Lost Async - Psi 2, 2 Disorders, 4 sleights, 3 skills at 40 97-98 – Socialite/Media Icon - High Bounty (~15k creds, +15 f-rep) 99 – Fall Criminal - HUGE Bounty (~50k creds, +20 any rep) 100 – Conspiracy Asset, Roll Again – assets worth ~10-20 Rep for relevant organization and have half a dozen skills between 50-60. (01-35: Oversight Agent, 36-50: Medean, 51-65: Commonwealth Provocateur, 66-75: Jovian Republic Agent, 76-88: Firewall Agent, 89-00: Ozma Agent) *Each stage of infection has a 15% chance of having infectious malware capping at a 60% chance for Hidden Infected Stacks. **Each stage has memories of the fall as well as stress, derangements and valuable skills incrementing; Infugee: 1 skill at 40, 1 derangement, 2 SV. Veteran: 2 skills at 40, 2 derangements, 1d10/2 SV. Survivor: 3 skills at 40, 3 derangements, 1d10 SV. Corrupted Stacks are beyond repair) Apply a +10 modifier to rolls to identify stacks from someone's private stash or a haul that has previously been determined to be of high value. Apply a -10 (minimum 1) to stacks from hauls previously identified as low-value or dangerous, or hauls that have previously been picked over.
Leave it up to the players to resolve the lockdown of Legba as they wish. Next time, I'll go into more detail about where the Beautiful comes from - Boundless Regret.
Spoiler: Highlight to view
Of course, things aren't quite so simple as that, in a number of ways. First of all, people with cyberbrains aren't actually having increased confidence - it just feels that way to them. What actually happens is that the Beautiful hack severely damages their capacity for empathy and emotional intelligence, turning them into narcissistic sociopaths. And those are just the short term effects. Because the Beautiful isn't a basilisk hack. It's a virus - or rather, a viral infolife of extraordinary complexity that uses basilisk hacks as its reproductive method. Cyberbrains afflicted are essentially fertilized with the Beautiful, which grows inside their brains until it overwrites their personality entirely. It works rather like the Haunting or Mindstealer strains of the exsurgent virus in this regard, in that the victims gradually experience personality alterations, except that everyone infected becomes [i]the same person[/i] - the Beautfiul. However, they do not experience stress unless they realize they are infected by something - the rewrite [i]feels good[/i]