Infomorphs, Meshware, Multiuse Blueprints, and Morph Points/Gear Points

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Hydrargyrum Hydrargyrum's picture
Infomorphs, Meshware, Multiuse Blueprints, and Morph Points/Gear Points

I have a set of related questions about infomorphs and meshware, and how they interact with the game's economic elements and rationing systems (Morph Points and Gear Points).

EP2E pg 328 mentions that "Once installed, meshware moves with the infomorph when it moves or copies". Also, all starting gear comes with multi-use blueprints, so a character who starts with an expensive physical item, such as a Polygun Rifle or flying car, can easily duplicate the item for use by everyone in the player team as long as they have access to a compatible and adequate fabber.

Does that mean that if I buy meshware as starting gear, the "multiuse blueprint" is equivalent to a non-copy-protected version of the meshware app? Can I install a copy of that meshware app on every compatible morph in the team? (I.e. synthmorphs and pods who all have cyberbrains, and any infomorphs running on hosts/servers/ghostrider modules/mesh inserts?)

When an infomorph farcasts, the meshware comes along, so there would be no need to pay for it again out of the mission's MP budget, correct?

If a PC has a premium Infomorph such as an Agent/Ikon/Operator, and they farcast to a remote destination, do they need to pay for their "new" Infomorph out of the mission's MP budget? Or does their existing Infomorph just get transmitted to the destination?

Does it depend on the intellectual property regime in place at the destination and the exact provenance of their existing premium Infomorph or other meshware (e.g. proprietary software vs cracked proprietary software vs open-source projects)?

ICU2 ICU2's picture
I don't know that infomorphs

I don't know that infomorphs (the morph with the ware) are actually sent by egocast. What is sent is the ego, and I believe that MP and gear budget still dictate what that ego has on the other end whether you sleeve it into a (physical) morph or run it as an infomorph. If the infomorph itself is not sent, then meshware on it isn't either.

These are great questions though, and certainly an area where the book is silent (or whispering at best). Add this to the fairly long list of things the GM will need to hash out guidelines for before running EP.

Hydrargyrum Hydrargyrum's picture
There's certainly some

There's certainly some ambiguity.

Here are some more relevant quotes. All italics are my own emphasis of relevant info.

EP2E p253 wrote:
MOVING BETWEEN DEVICES
As an infomorph, you can move to a new device to which you have access. This simply requires copying to the new device, activating your mind-state, linking your active processes, and erasing yourself from the old device. [...] The new device then become your home device. All ongoing actions are suspended (or possibly disrupted; GM discretion) for the duration of the move. You do not lose continuity during the process, nor does this count as resleeving. Egocasting is a long-distance version of this process, with a longer timeframe. Do not confuse moving between devices with accessing devices.
You may access multiple devices at the same time like other users, but you are only running on one home device at a time.

EP2E p 253 wrote:
COPYING
As a digital being, you may also copy yourself. [...] Copied infomorphs do not lose continuity. If you are copied to a different type of infomorph, this counts as resleeving ▶288. Your copy includes your digital code ▶299 along with a cryptographically signed incremental number indicating which copy it is. Infomorphs acquired from commercal code studios (i.e., most
agents, ikons, and operators) have built-in digital restrictions that prevent you from running more than one copy of that morph at a time. Instead, the copy instantiates in a standard digimorph.
This copy restriction may be cracked in the same manner as digital blueprints (Cracking Blueprints ▶314). Code houses offer bounties for reports of people using cracked infomorph code.

The first quote makes it clear that premium infomorphs can easily move between devices, and that egocasting is like any other move between devices - it just has a long distance transmission involved in the copy + delete process. The second quote implies that while you can't run as many copies as you like of a premium infomorph, they can freely migrate from device to device (which would include egocasting).

EP2E p300 wrote:
Egocasting is transhumanity’s most advanced personal transportation technology, though only your ego actually travels. Egocasting combines uploading ▶287 and quantum farcasting ▶336 to securely transfer your mind over interplanetary distances. This can be an active infomorph, an inactive backup, or even an upload transferred from your conscious mind.

[...]
Electronic Arrivals
Once an ego arrives at the destination receiver, it can be archived, run as an infomorph, or resleeved as normal.

This is ambiguous. On the one hand, only your ego actually travels; on the other hand, an active infomorph is cited as one of the possible forms the ego can take for egocasting. The section on Electronic Arrivals makes it clear that the arriving ego can be instantiated in an infomorph, but it's not clear if you can bring an all-software premium infomorph with you as part of the egocast package, or if you would need to procure a new one at the destination.

I'm inclined to think that if you have a Planetary Consortium-approved licence for a particular fancy infomorph variant, you should be able to do the equivalent of downloading it off Steam (i.e. local cache servers) when you arrive at your destination. Autonomists can probably just run apt-get install infomorph-agent. Extropians just download a fresh copy from "The Pirate Asteroid".

It would be easy to make a realism argument to say that trying to bring software across major factional lines could run into issues. For example, hypercorp licencing systems probably rely on Trust Platform Modules (TPMs) with trusted root certs that don't exist in autonomist hardware designs. Hypercorp-made mesh hardware might refuse to run cracked Extropian code and open-source infomorph code which lacks mandatory digital signatures from hypercorp IP holders. (Consider how iOS devices and games consoles make their owners get all their software from company-operated stores.)

But Eclipse Phase generally assumes pretty broad compatibility of egos and morphs in order to make gameplay fun and not bog down in frustrating trivia.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
Gear feels weak to me. In

Gear feels weak to me. In theory, you should be able hoard blueprints, meshware, ALIs, and other programs. However, the game has a tight mission budget so any effort to gather blueprints and other software risks you being under-equipped for your current mission.

For example. Skillware is Maj/3 item. Skillsofts are Mod/2. Just getting skillware and 1 skillsoft takes 5 gp, which is a 1/4 of your budget.

While you can use the resources trait and rep economy to get more gear, I think the game should better support character advancement before you add in mechanics to get more money and gear.

Back in 1st edition, you could get up to 100,000 credits in starting gear, with some starting gear costing as low as 250 cr. Getting blueprints for your favorite items wasn't that hard; just try to stay away from the expensive stuff (20,000 cr items will quickly eat up your budget).

Fishmonger Fishmonger's picture
Blueprints vs gear

I don't count my player's blueprints against their current mission GP budget. Having the blueprint to gear is one thing, but it's another to get the physical item on-site after farcasting in. You have to get fabber access, possibly bypass various restrictions, and then wait for it to be made. If you have a tight schedule you often can't take advantage of those blueprints. It's not necessarily better than using your rep contacts.

Even if you have lots of physical gear that you can carry with you to the mission site you may have to ditch it afterwards so it doesn't get traced back to you. Or it might be destroyed with your morph if things don't go well. It's explicitly stated that the rep network means that sometimes someone else needs what you have. Firewall may well expect Sentinels to replace items in scratch spaces or leave equipment in a new scratch space after a mission. My players are welcome to bring lots of toys with them but there's always the possibility that they'll be lost depending on what happens. Since EP isn't a game with the expectation that every encounter will be balanced through D&D-like Challenge Ratings I just scale the opposition depending on what the PCs bring and if how tough I want it to be for them.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Yeah, Scratch Spaces are just

Yeah, Scratch Spaces are just the thing to equalize missions: if the players have tons of blueprints, force them to choose what to build and make do with what's in the space (mind you, they can leave the space churning out some replacement gear while they are away, unless the space has no printer or is to be abandoned), and if they have little to none, but lack critical gear, it can be in a scratch space they need to reach. And of course, a session can be the training to set up scratch spaces, and accessing those the proper way to avoid being followed.

Hydrargyrum Hydrargyrum's picture
I'm more interested in software gear

You make some good points about the usability of multiuse blueprints - if you're sleeving straight into an exsurgent infested hab in order to retrieve some critical data before the place gets nuked, or you're tracking down a kidnap victim before the trail gets cold, or any other time-critical situation (as in most tense adventure scenarios!) you don't necessarily have hours to wait for your gun to finish printing.

But the core of the original topic is about how to handle situations where players have "multi-use blueprints" for software-only gear such as meshware. For example, Mind Amp, Endocrine Control, and Energy Efficiency are all Maj/3 upgrades with pretty strong gameplay effects that are available in meshware forms. Is it a game balance problem if every infomorph, synthmorph, and pod in the party gets to share the benefits of a single purchase? Are these upgrades a lot better in meshware form than as cyberware/bioware/hardware/nanoware because you can easily bring them with you when you farcast, in addition to whatever MP/GP of physical assets you might have on site?

It might be necessary to use an E-Veil if you're wanting to run software that's restricted or IP-encumbered in your destination polity, but the same very much applies to blueprints, and physical smuggling of illegal hardware would be even more difficult.

(Yes, meshware is a bit more vulnerable to hacking than non-meshware upgrades, but if your ego security has been breached you're in big trouble whether you're running meshware or not)

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Hydrargyrum wrote:

Hydrargyrum wrote:

But the core of the original topic is about how to handle situations where players have "multi-use blueprints" for software-only gear such as meshware. For example, Mind Amp, Endocrine Control, and Energy Efficiency are all Maj/3 upgrades with pretty strong gameplay effects that are available in meshware forms. Is it a game balance problem if every infomorph, synthmorph, and pod in the party gets to share the benefits of a single purchase? Are these upgrades a lot better in meshware form than as cyberware/bioware/hardware/nanoware because you can easily bring them with you when you farcast, in addition to whatever MP/GP of physical assets you might have on site?

It might be necessary to use an E-Veil if you're wanting to run software that's restricted or IP-encumbered in your destination polity, but the same very much applies to blueprints, and physical smuggling of illegal hardware would be even more difficult.

(Yes, meshware is a bit more vulnerable to hacking than non-meshware upgrades, but if your ego security has been breached you're in big trouble whether you're running meshware or not)

If you are worried about software being a one time purchase (seriously, with the backup rules you will never lose your data, as long as you can access the backup site), then you can add time degeneration for the programs.
However, have in mind that a hacker player might find this too punishing, and throw a "ok, I will grab a couple of beta forks and put them into a server to run at accelerated speed and whip out updated version of the programs 24/7 while I'm on mission".

The point of the game is not to limit artificially the amount of options for the players, but to take those into account, and sometimes using said tools is needed for the story to advance.

Remember: the players are elite operatives, in an organization that is playing with several fires at the same time, and has tons of enemies. And nothing prevents enemy agents of rival conspiracies to have access to the same programs, or experts that use them. Firewall agents are supposed to get in, gather their bearings, do the deed, and get out, with the minimal amount of awareness of their presence getting outside of the organization.

ICU2 ICU2's picture
Xagroth wrote:

Xagroth wrote:

Remember: the players are elite operatives, in an organization that is playing with several fires at the same time, and has tons of enemies. And nothing prevents enemy agents of rival conspiracies to have access to the same programs, or experts that use them. Firewall agents are supposed to get in, gather their bearings, do the deed, and get out, with the minimal amount of awareness of their presence getting outside of the organization.

And as a Sentinel, you're a per diem employee with no real benefits that has to arrange for your own kit on those missions that you squeeze in between the requirements of your normal everyday life!

Fishmonger Fishmonger's picture
Meshware and cyberbrains

Meshware is a little confusing as it is stated to enhance infomorphs but can also be installed in cyberbrains. If you're worried about everyone having all the meshware augments it would be reasonable (imo) to say that while meshware can be installed in cyberbrains it only works in the Mesh: if you have it in your cyberbrain and jump into the Mesh you can bring it along and use it with your purchased infomorph (or the bare-bones digimorph you can automatically get) but in meatspace it doesn't help your physical morph. This would mean that the meshware version of something like Endocrine Control can only control the simulated Mesh version of the morph's endocrine system and won't work on a physical morph; likewise, the bioware version only works on a physical morph and can't be taken into the Mesh.

This means that yes, everyone on the team can get pumped up in the Mesh pretty much instantly but without a reasonable Infosec skill that doesn't mean too much. And if the players do this it it's reasonable to assume that the baddies do it, too. Game balance is pretty easy to work out here. Law-abiding Joe Transhuman won't be able to get past the copy protection on these sorts of things, of course.

It can cause problems for Sentinels who bring lots of copies of the same supposedly single-user copy-protected meshware into a very law-abiding habitat or server that looks for this sort of thing. It might also make sense that if everyone's using exact copies of the meshware that any opponent who manages to successfully hack one Sentinel's meshware gets a bonus against others in the group as successful exploits of that version are now known to the attacker.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
ICU2 wrote:

ICU2 wrote:

And as a Sentinel, you're a per diem employee with no real benefits that has to arrange for your own kit on those missions that you squeeze in between the requirements of your normal everyday life!

Not entirely. Firewall does provide some resources for the mission, and some basic rewards (money, rep of the preferred kind, blueprints, etc...). There are entire groups in Firewall devoted to the amass and gather of resources of any kind, to finance and support operations.