"Digital Ghost" AGI chargen help: faction-picking, CP investment & other minutiae

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Rehab Rehab's picture
"Digital Ghost" AGI chargen help: faction-picking, CP investment & other minutiae

CRISIS EDIT REDUX: Okay, I think these requests are now at least halfway ready to be asked.

I'd intended to make an infolife mesh specialist (newbie's first character here) whose ridiculous hacking capabilities could be explained by their origin, being the creation of a sympathetic, even parentally-minded researcher who removed some of the AGI's limitations (as in, self-improvement capability stuff) in secret and turned them loose.
The central idea was for them to be stealthy in the extreme, statted so they'd be difficult to detect even on public mesh, and even while living in it (which, going by what I've so far read in the source books about mesh networks and security, seemed like it fell around the realm of "hard enough to be crazy for most people to try, but possible"), and to get around by hopping from device to mesh and back unnoticed. Maybe going as far as being able to somehow stow away on an outbound ship or darkcast so as to travel even across habitats without being noticed, with infosec and especially interfacing to match up. To be as close to invisible, a digital ghost, as possible, basically.
(I haven't yet found direct confirmation that any of that at any juncture becomes physically impossible, but I can easily imagine the books may draw a line somewhere that I haven't gotten around to reading yet.) (Not to mention how likely it may or may not be for a GM to take one look at the character sheet and send it through a Pandora gate on a one-way trip to a black hole. Or to otherwise tear their hair out.)

A good bit of the justification I came up with for the extreme point investment (40 COG with eidolon, Expert in interfacing with stealth specialization, and so on) hinged on an assumption that, being an even partially de-limited AGI with basically no verifiable history (or at least none that wouldn't put them even moreso in the hot seat), a full-on detection and capture almost anywhere in the system might well be the end of them, so they'd need to be the hardest thing to find ever just to survive. However, even before taking into consideration whether all this really could and would actually happen in the setting, and how they would interact with the rest of a party, and a bunch of other potential issues to resolve, this character concept has a particularly glaring open question of a basic flaw that I could use some help getting over:
What the heck am I gonna do about, and with, rep?

The assumption I had when first picking at the character concept was that none of the factions would want to deal with a jailbroken (even partially) AGI beyond immediately frying it, and part of that may have bled into how I imagine them dealing with all of the factions. After some reading, I've realized that might be a bit overstated, but I'm still not sure where to put those points. I got to thinking Fake ID, but I'm wondering if I'd need more than one, and if separate brainprints for all of them (and impersonation/deception, not exactly what the infolife origin is built for) would be necessary in addition to the IDs themselves. That's not so bad a direction for it to take, although I might need to budget the rest of my CP more tightly if I'm going to end up buying multiple ID copies and so on.

Backstory construction questions:

Spoiler: Highlight to view

I first thought I'd make their creator a researcher at a university or other educational institution that had been doing work in AI research, but skimming Rimward I read that Titan's university kinda fills a niche that either doesn't much exist any longer in the coreworld area, or is changed beyond recognition, due to the pervasive availability/speed/density/strength etc of the mesh there. This leads to another little challenge in that the character's original concept leaned on an assumption that an AGI trying to, er, "unlimit" themselves, (in almost any capacity) would be Kill On Sight material almost anywhere in the system; but then I found the Rimward entry on the judicial AGI Nomic, an expert on and major cataloger of Extropian customs who at least declined to deny it when some people connected the dots and gathered she had probably improved her capabilities manually. When outrage from the inner system followed, the Extropian response at large seemed to be that they (probably) couldn't be payed to give a single heck about it.

While that might not be equivalent to every habitat in the Anarchist Alliance welcoming every AI to openly sprint to seed status, it did seem to complicate what I had assumed earlier; that anyone trying to cross outright the widely agreed-on baseline infomorph/AGI/"transhuman, albeit digitized" threshold of intelligence (wherever it may lie) would be breaking one of the most serious taboos that (most of) transhumanity has left; even in the better part of the rim, where peeps trend more towards being largely accepting of AGI, at least of themselves. The backstory was to call for their creator developing or at least delimiting the AGI at least partially in secret, and doing the same with releasing it, because it'd all go to hell if anybody knew they were doing it. It would be a little silly if, say, it turned out they were working at TAU, and if their colleagues reacted (should they ever find out) with little more than "why didn't you just tell us? That sounds rad, dude!"
Although that could be funny, too, come to think of it. Hm. Might want to redo the languages in that case, though.

In turn, I stumbled on a description of Thought, a Cognite station orbiting Venus with some potentially interesting angles on AGI development, which might make some sense to make their place of origin. But on the other hand, I'd originally planned to put their rep focuses and so on more in... somewhere other than c-rep.
Not that I couldn't still do that, actually. Maybe I'm making this harder than it needs to be. Just a bit. Do you guys know of any other places offhand that might be a good point of origin?

Finally, I'm having a hard time picking factions between Mercurial, Ultimate and Singularity Seeker.
Wanting to remove the limits on their consciousness, especially "artificial" ones, feels pretty Ultimate/Singularity Seeker, (and it's hard to pass up the skill boosts of the latter,) but on the other hand it's sort of an in-character open question what the AGI wants to do after removing what's limiting them- this wouldn't be impossible to deal with in-character, but they might feel a bit uncomfortable in the company of Singularity Seekers, because what's on their mind is (or at least starts out as, I'm thinking) a more mundane kind of +Self-Improvement than +Achieving Godhood. Although they might just end up forced into the faction because their goals are so associated with the Seekers that they're driven into their arms. That could be cool, and would be another excuse for them to be kinda criminalized/try to keep the lowest possible profile.
The Ultimates and +Self-Improvement make an obvious fit, but I've also seen descriptions of the faction saying they don't take kindly to the like of uplifts, and which implied they were very transhuman centric. Could be wrong/misremembering, as I don't see this in the basic faction description, but I wonder if they might be focused on perfecting themselves as meatba-COUGH humans, in a way that might clash with the AGI looking to get delimited.
Mercurials seem like an obvious choice in a way, but the concept also seems a bit on the extreme end of them if that, going by what I remember of the description of the actual Mercurial family of political groups in Panopticon.
I might be answering my own questions in that this is making me lean towards the Seekers, now that I think about it.

Faction interactions/networking and rep questions:

Spoiler: Highlight to view

I was thinking of putting a deal of rep into Guangxi, assuming that they'd be the best ones to go to for darkcasting and smuggling stuff, have possibly the most spread-out reach in the system, and that they'd be among the least likely to care about your probably-fake or anonymous ID. Was imagining the AGI doing some work for some triad faction in a habitat/mesh infomorph job, maybe some hacking work, under a mercenary/"you don't talk about your work for us, we don't ask about where you come from too pointedly" kind of setup. On the other hand, I've also read the odd bit implying that g-rep, or at least some of the cartels/triads have some kinda-conservative views, at least about how they treat uplifts, that made me wonder if maybe they'd be too leery of an infomorph coming out of nowhere who won't really talk about their past, is really, like scary good at infosec and going undetected on the mesh, and won't even give a halfway substantial ID.

Also had R-rep in mind, but I wonder if that would also have ID concerns, maybe through their creator's connections to them. Still assuming the Argonauts and company would be very, very leery at absolute best of accepting a jailbroke AGI loose in the wild into their midst, though, so I'm also assuming ID manipulation might be involved. Maybe the character could have different profiles for different networks? But then they are kinda bunk at any kind of social deception or diplomancy, so that has potential problems, too... (unless a plotline where the "on the mesh, nobody knows you're a seed AI" thing coming undone actually turns out to be a lot of fun)

And @-rep was another option I considered, both for the sake of tolerance and potentially being able to hide among them in plain sight, and because they probably also have some darkcasting/smuggling setups around the system to take advantage of. If they turn out to be too tolerant, though, like "embrace the seed AI" tolerant, it almost wraps around and becomes a bit of a problem for the concept as I imagined it, because then the character might not have as much of a reason to be such a ghost. Then again I could have them be a ghost while in the inner system and live free when in the rim, but it just... it's not the same as being a full-on ghost in the mesh, man.

Then there's Firewall. I need to think some more about Firewall.

Does anything further immediately come to mind for you guys on how a character like this could make their rep and networking, uh, work?

Also wondered about posting the character sheet so far in maybe FrivolousVector's chargen guide and asking for suggestions, but maybe the remaining CP distribution can wait until I get this sorted out.

Gerzel Gerzel's picture
These are more questions you

These are more questions you should address to your GM. Eclipse Phase by default is a horror game and there is a lot that a good GM can use to bring horror to any character type. The big question is does this work in the context of the group and game you are to be playing in and do you feel good running this character?

If you're not building this for a specific game then it's your character and there is no need for rules. Write a story about them and share. Focus on the character's development and motives rather than any stats. You can work out inconsistencies in later drafts!

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
If you feel that your post

If you feel that your post was made too early, why not edit your post to delete most of the content and mention that it was posted far too soon. Mention that you will be back in a few days.

UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
Well, first and foremost, if

Well, first and foremost, if you're doing a Firewall game, this can help relieve some pressure. Assuming you use what is technically an optional rule, i-rep and Networking: Firewall allow you to contact Firewall agents and resources in technically any network as you find them - no need for specifics. Under Firewall, you're also a covert agent who technically has a cover identity - though for most Sentinels that's just a codename. If you really want to get around the issue, you can buy Fake Ego IDs and establish cover identities with their own rep scores and switch between when you need to interact with a person other than as just "Anonymous".

To the point about Cognite, while being a released Hypercorp AGI project makes for a solid backstory (and maybe an On The Run) no self-respecting, independant, unshackled AI would want to be associated with the company. Few people do. While often brilliant at concepts, Cognite has poor foresight and execution on many of their big projects. You would not necessarily have a strong reputation from such an origin. There are others who experiment with AGIs too, with similar issues. Though, for Titan, generally, any attempt to jump the AGI to ASI gap is verboten. If the end result is to build a a super or seed intellect, then most factions implicitly discourage it, even if they wouldn't be opposed to such research inherently - due to public opinion. Just building an enhanced and un-inhibited AGI isn't so bad, it's when you cross the gap into "okay, let's make it godlike" that things get dangerous. Nomic is an AGI which might have gone to Seed, but it's not classically proven and Nomic seems to enjoy just doing legal-type things, so nobody cares. An infowar module going to seed? That's terrifying. Also remember Titan is big on transparency and public input. If a researcher did his own work, using plurality resources (because, y'know, Titan) and didn't tell anyone about it, and didn't make himself accountable, that could raise a big stink. And just because Titan wouldn't delete you wouldn't mean they wouldn't try and stick you in a dead-end civil service position and would be averse to any apotheosis. It'd put a crimp in your style, to be sure.

For Factions, the difference between Mercurial and Singularity Seeker depends a lot on the characters end goals (I say discard Ultimates. They're very anthrocentric and would encourage broad mastery, not just specifically digital mastery). If you simply want to exist as you were created to and function as an infolife without having to conform to transhuman ideals of what you should be, and are prepared to argue for such separation and support like-minded AGI, Mercurials are probably for you. If you don't give a hoot about any of that sociopolitical clap, and you're just in it for the personal betterment to reach the super-intelligence level, sounds more like Singularity Seeker.

And a final note about rep networks. Rep is not super-unified, that there is one view which predominantly governs a network. C-rep includes Hypercorps, Jovians and Venusians. @-rep is Titanians, Extropians and Anarchists. e-rep has both Nano-ecologists and Preservationists. g-rep covers competing criminal interests. When getting rep, you should think about if people using this network are likely to know of you and if you've done good work for them in the past, or otherwise had a positive interaction with one or more of those factions. Social Stigma will handle the day-to-day individual interaction problems.

H-Rep: An EP Homebrew Blog
http://ephrep.blogspot.com/

Rehab Rehab's picture
Thanks, I just panicked when

Thanks Gerzel and Divine Wrath, I just panicked when I saw the post as it was sitting out in the open, having assumed I left it sitting in topic creation purgatory/saved a draft. Stopped in the middle of a paragraph and everything. All better now.

Afraid I don't have a GM, ha, though that does indeed sound like the best/first resource I should've sought out. I just managed to stumble into the process of making a character for fun, was wondering if anything would come to mind for people who've read more of the material than I have yet. Apologies if all the things I'm asking are the bits that groups are supposed to work out and fill in the blanks themselves.

E: Much obliged, UnitOmega! Good to hear I can know the thrill of the chase and all that almost anywhere. Cheers!

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
Take your time and figure

Take your time and figure things out. There are many things that can make things difficult for new players to figure this game out. Here are some:

1. The first problem I think is the technology in the setting. Most people have a computer in their head (mesh inserts), a voice in their head (their muse) that can get stuff done, and some people don't even have bodies (they are infomorphs). People who don't have this stuff effectively have a mental disability. You don't just carry around a more high tech computer and high tech software, you can do stuff like keep backups of your mind (to cheat death), fork yourself (make copies that can run independently of yourself), or do advanced edits to your mind.

Even something seemenly simple like resleeving into a synthetic body can be horribly stretched if you pick a flexbot and start trying to push the limits of what you can do (think the Transformers).

2. The rules don't create an artificial glass ceiling. I've read RPGs that seem to go out of their way to prevent players from getting out of hand by creating rules to prevent that. Eclipse Phase doesn't seem to do that. Instead, it has consequences, in game consequences. There are laws against forking in many habitats. Some habitats seem to make it their job to push the limits of what they can do (Meathab is an organic habitat whose creator is unknown, while Glitch is an infomorph only habitat). The TITANs got out of hand and got nuked. Quite conveniently, players that get out of hand and become a potential threat to transhumanity will be dealt with the same way. Before that, they would have to deal with organizations that try to deal with people breaking the law with forking and doing other stuff that common people don't like (a human resleeving into an uplift morph can get into trouble, or at least suffer the consequences of crossing a taboo).

DND 3rd edition had magic item slots to prevent players from using too many magic items to boost stats or give magic abilities. Their class system also made it possible to focus on a job role because you couldn't deviate too far and lose competence. D20 Future had limitations to the number of cybernetic implants you could have installed (before it negatively affected your health). Shadowrun has cybernetic implants that diminish your "spirit" when you install them, which can hurt your ability to cast magic. Novas Praxis had some seriously advanced technology (left behind by a god like AI) and restrictive laws to enforce the status quo (the only reason you could break some of that stuff was because the mega corps enforcing those laws were covertly at war with each other). Their equivalent of an infomorph was forced to operate like a person (could only see, hear, and talk from only one point, and that point could not travel faster than a normal human). I could go on, but I think I've made my point, that it is easier to make rules against doing something than to explore what you could do.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Lots of potential here.

Basic thoughts:
The character concept seems solid, with the possible exception of farcasting - I don't think there's a constant data stream to slip into, except for habitats in close proximity. If that's vital then maybe grab some ranks in impersonation ("I'm totally that VIP due to be farcast today! Would I lie?") or deception ("I'm not an ego, I'm a blueprint!") to wrangle a 'cast.

About Factions:
One thing to think about is what the character thinks about being unleashed. It could be fun to be an AGI created to be an emergent super-intelligence, but doesn't actually want to be and/or ran away to become a country music singer.
As a GM, I'd still allow the Singularity-Seeker faction to be taken because of the character's origin if you wanted the mechanics.

About Rep:
One option is to take rep under aliases, but another would be to neglect rep (almost) entirely but pump up your networking scores instead.
Thematically, the character is very good at using the mesh to find people willing to perform a given skill, whilst practically it means that the character will have to perform favors on the fly to pay for things.
On a group level this would mesh well with other characters who may have rep but be poor at networking.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Gerzel Gerzel's picture
Ok. Nothing wrong with

Ok. Nothing wrong with playing with the CG aspect of the game, but until you have a GM and often a group a lot of questions for things like game balance and does the character work just can't be answered.