Wednesday, 26 August 2015

No FT ? No Comment.

Uncovering ancient mythology is never an easy task. Even in the modern world with all its forensics and information systems the fog of history still prevails where monsters and demons lurk. Traditionally Cthulu comes with its intrinsic library research methods and one puts time aside in ones mind for the occasional evening of bookery as its a case of the pen (or) paper being mightier then the sword - a sort of rock, paper, tentacles game.
In the most recent episode  of Achtung Cthulu our investigations were concluding and we are now in the throes of an actual plan. Part of our hit list are a small sect of evil Blue Monks, nothing but an ancient fairy tale to the locals but not wanting to leave any prayer wheel unturned we decided to frequent the usual common or garden library. Not so common or garden in our current Himalayan retreat but nevertheless the local and ancient town had and even more local and ancient library tucked away in its Buddhist monastery. Problem with the Abbot of said monastery is that somehow ancient and local doesn't really go far enough; whilst we enjoyed a welcoming cup of tea with the old chap, he really did push the boundaries of senility.
Perseverance is one of the traits of my character, so not to be put off by a smiling and nodding contender for best donkey award, I defaulted to the monastic librarian. Definitely not donkey material, a long and embattled conversation embarked on how we could lever some information on the Blue Monks. Not taboo as such my questions were nevertheless batted away as childlike concerns over nothing but stories. Failing this, my last option to gain entry to the library was to offer him a gift of significant meaning in kind and something he would respect as a part of his profession. All I had on my equipment list was a copy of the Financial Times from a few days ago and I suggested that this treasured and important post modern artefact, together with its crossword conundrums should be inturned by us into his collection of great works. Remarkably I actually got a few sentences into this conversation before suggesting he should consider having his manuscripts rewritten for the modern era, a sort of Tibetan Times. End of conversation.
At this point the information gathering phase of the adventure was definitely over and we headed out, provisioned with our boy scout, to take on the forgotten Monks and their Nazi transmission tower. They are aiding the German War effort by translating ancient Atlantean manuscripts for a shady SS division. To what end... we do not know...

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


So when do you become you ? Stupid question ? You bet, but I ran into this little dilemma last week.
I picked up a character to play last week that is basically sort of a familiar, always fun, but in this case I was dumped into it unceremoniously. Last episode the muse as it is called had come to the conclusion, or rather calculation that it was not logical to stay on board a compromised station and transmitted itself out of the game. Not as helpful perhaps as the eclipse phase wiki would imply:
"Getting To Know Your Muse
While a muse isn’t as smart as you are, it’s also smarter than you’d think. A muse will always act in your best interests, but that can mean different things at different times. They learn from what you say and what you do. At first, the muse may seem to be a nosy intruder who bugs you about every tiny thing. It will ask how hot you like your soup or why you tease one of your friends more than the others. Many children get frustrated with all of these questions, but try to be patient with your muse. Every question you answer honestly helps the muse understand you. Muses work better when you learn to trust and respect them. After all, they can’t help you if you don’t let them."
Having no idea of what a muse was at the time I gradually became aware of how I should have been playing it by the end of the game, nevertheless in this case it is actually a fully blown ego posing as a muse as far as I can tell, so my confusion was accurate, if that makes sense - an ego being more of a personality/character than an intelligent learning tool.
So, to date, having transmitted off the station, intercepted by 'The Wall' (long story) and sent back, everyone now is very suspicious of me what with viruses flying around. The upshot of which is that just to be on the safe side I have been downloaded into a primitive head with an equally primitive voice box - tried hacking it already before you ask but it came off a shop manakin as far as I can tell.
I am just starting to get the hang of this universe now, so I will try not to die, reboot, rollforward or forkback.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Knowledge is Power

I would not expect a roleplaying game, nor session, to be an educational pursuit. Especially considering that when I received my first roleplaying game in the mail (Vampire: the Masquerade Revised), my dad informed me it's an acceptable alternative to being addicted to drugs. I've since assumed that's what most would think about this hobby we partake in.

However, during our recent session, as we were being described the scuttling noises made by some bots infiltrating our station, we learned that they were not, in fact, attempting to sink us. Moreover, as we progressed from Bill and Prince Marik showcasing their Thesaurus-like skills in finding synonyms for the word, we engaged in banter over what beings may scuttle, why elephants wouldn't and the effects of low gravity on a creature's ability to scuttle.

While a highly enjoyable conversation, we still had the problem of our corrupted former selves planning to murder us... or so we assumed. There was only one thing we could do, we split the party! Bill's tiny octopus changed colour, and thus camouflaged, counter-infiltrated the vessel docked to our station. While he was going about the ship, avoiding traps and our originals, and gathering intel, the rest of the group did a similar thing.

As GM Jon's Achtung Cthulhu! game did not have enough players, we were joined by Jack who took on the role of Bill's muse. She hacked into the system, a risky move considering we were warned the whole system was compromised, and found out we were dealing with a Basilisk Hack which could infect through audio (and possibly visual) contact. This put a major dent in our plans to jury rig a devive to send a warning. We had very little time to figure something else out because something was at the door to the chamber we were in. Whatever it was, it was cutting and slashing into it so a fight was inevitable. Armed and ready, we opened the door only to find my own mutated character!

It was described as a mutated person with horrific disfigurments all over its body. All this Corruption made us instantly think of Warhammer 40k so we had to roll against being confused by tropes! No? Just me? Well, I did fine on my roll... despite shamelessly looking through my character sheet on a Windows Phone.

Suffice to say, we killed it. Although in true horror-esque fashion, bits of it fell off, scuttled away and hardened on the walls and floor. Then, our octopus infiltrator came back, told us of how the other more dangerous versions of us were destroying the ship's AI and then everything went momentarily dark...


Said octopus's other body went limp.
It seems the muse inhabiting it had the excellent idea of beaming itself out of the station and harm's way...

Anti Virus

It seems little beyond doubt now that we are dealing with some form of virus in our Eclipse Phase game. In such an existential and biogenically augmented world it's interesting to see what an infection would look like.. When one thinks about it there is an argument to say that the ordinary, or common or gardenening homo sapien is a case in point.; millions of years of viral exposure have altered or enhanced our DNA where I suspect many mutations have been environmentally selected such that we take them for granted or specifically define the species. Have we always had two kidneys or was it the result of an ancestor catching a cold...?
Physically, the complete transcending of our DNA and the extinction of natural selection whilst opening up new transgenic branches to the tree of life, in many ways throws our instincts back further into the past. Gone are the days when a community or even a small group of people can band together under their common humainity. Humans have traditionally established their survival in terms of mutual support and sharing of knowledge, although for most of our past this has been, in part, a pack or mob mentality stemming from defending small communities. As our communities have grown much faster than our DNA has adapted we are left with a contention between empathy in small groups versus friction between larger societies. My point where Eclipse Phase comes in is who can you trust ? Where is your gut instinct (if indeed you have a gut) when it comes to your colleagues let alone your enemies. For now we are united by what is trying to kill us but I dont have a feeling yet as to what binds us together as a party. Still, no point in trying to look too far ahead.
At present we need some sort of anti virus capablity as its apparent that there are multpile comopnents to its infection methods. There is code piggy backing transmissions and even the lighting has been altered to carry subliminal information into the retina. Not sure of any biological infection systems as yet but that will become apparent I am sure. Definitely time to update our virus definitions.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Self destruct equipment returns policy.

Its a rare occasion to have to stop an adventure prematurely albeit with respect for the artistic integrity of the game, though it will of course happen from time to time. There  have been occasions where a party has turned on one another, usually through some mind alteration or perhaps due to an evil or criminally oriented group of characters. Its also been the case that some things can just get out of control and accidents will happen.
The Eclipse Phase universe has many existential aspects to it and presents an additional slant on this. When you have backup bodies exactly how far do you go to preserve your current predicament ? It would be easy to take an extreme example to demonstrate a point, say, constantly destroying oneself violently when in combat either to take out opponents or simply to push ones own body past its designed parameters to achieve tasks. Alternatively a casual engineers job to regularly test equipment, ships or habitats to destruction as part of a design process. Whether a GM would consider it an abuse of a system, it would still be possible - with replication systems on hand fabricating new bodies just becomes a time issue.
What is more important in my mind is where a culture's attitude settles in general on this. There is shifting the goalposts for sure in comparison with the world we know but this is a different game completely - would it be fair to say that life is genuinely cheap and if so does it matter ? Where does a sense of responsibility lie either from an individuals perspective or society's in general ? Does there a become a psychological and counselling issue at any point or does mental health become completely subjective in this world ?
It's an interesting  exploration and we will see where it goes. Our current predicament, as Krzys's last post implies, is that there is a good chance that we are now overrun and the last option is to scuttle our base along with whatever it is that is crawling into it and simply go back to our backup bodies and review the situation.
Perhaps this is actually a good time to split the party...

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Enemy Within

I may have failed to mention that you can legally download a pdf copy of Eclipse Phase, so there's no reason for you not to peruse the game.

With that out of the way, let's return to our attempts at survival in space!

Remember those strange noises we heard as last session came to an end?
It turns out it wasn't anything serious. We only found out after taking a quick trip to the fusion reactor chamber, fixing another opened airlock and going back through the greenhouse (centre of the station) and trying to get into our AI's, Hans, server room. The scurrying sound was caused by some of the worker bots watching us. Eventually, they attacked but not being specifically built to fight, they were quickly destroyed.

Just before the fight broke out, we noticed the very same ship we remembered planning on exploring coming ever so closer to our station. We were unable to reach Hans but we did get his logs and as we looked through them, an ominous message was being received. We decided to risk it, put together a crude two-way receiving device and turn on communication.

On the other side of the transmission... were us!
Finally some existential angst occurred. Were they really us after the backup? Which of our groups is compromised? How can we live with ourselves now? What's the optimal temperature of tea?! With all these questions in mind, one thing was clear!
As much as our original copies tried to sound shocked and sincere, we could sense something sinister in the background... and as they called us (or themselves) on our (their?) empty threats of blowing their (our?!) ship up, they docked.

Moments later, they cut through the barricades we had set up. We felt the air pressure of two atmospheres equalise, as a putrid stench filled the station. Many bots came out crawling to scout out the surroundings... and then, something came out...