Author Topic: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign  (Read 8386 times)

Vivax

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Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« on: November 12, 2013, 03:36:15 PM »
I had this crazy idea to run an Eclipse Phase campaign where all of the player characters are children (or teachers) within the Lost Project. The game would open on their "first mesh insert day" when the kid's implants are "activated" and they get to design their muses. The campaign would follow the kids as they aged within the program and follow them after their escape.

General ideas:

  • Tiered structure: Child Teir, Escape Tier, etc to space out the early lives of the characters
  • Discovery: Discovering that home was never real, infection, psi, the real world, self-discovery etc
  • Fucked up little family: All the characters have the same terrible background and can really only rely on each other.
  • Escape: Escaping from the Project, Cognite, Ego Hunters, Ozma, Firewall... the characters have limitless options for who to run from.
  • Growing up strange

My main problem is that I don't know how to piece together what the interior of the Lost Project was like. I'd like to think that Cognite tried to keep the simulspace as real as possible or as, you know, normal as possible but who's normal are we talking about? A public school in an inner city district? A private school in the country? A tiny one-room affair in a rural village? Attempted home school? I'm fairly sure that Cognite would tailor the lessons to be...er...conducive to their aims but I don't know how blatant the propaganda would be.

Basically I'm looking for some assists on the world-building of the early adventures.

Dom

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2013, 05:58:02 PM »
Oh man, this would be like Mosters & Other Childish things, replacing the monsters with Muses and TITAN AIs. :D

I love the idea of the kids not really knowing that their reality is actually a simulspace, it could go the Matrix route but replacing Neo with scared pre-teen kids.

I think the school would definitely have to be some sort of boarding school. It makes sense that the children's past were written in through very subtle psycho-surgery while they "sleep" and have accumulated during the simulated years; but are not actually able to return to their homes so that Cognite can save on money and resources that could be invested in the education of the kids instead.

I would say something like "The Village" could work, an isolated community where people are not allowed to stray to far off into the forest and are raised to fear it. Maybe something more sci-fi could work for Eclipse Phase, like being raised in a simulspace rendition of a small exoplanet colony or a space station.

Another idea is maybe using something similar to Caleb's idea in his CoC game "Pre-emptive Revenge", where the player played the same characters at different stages of their lives. Having for example one session when they are 6 year old, then the next session make a jump to 10 years old, and of course they may accumulate psychological traumas which become more apparent with time, until the end-point of the campaign when a TITAN virus infects the server and shit gets real.

But yeah, I think it could work very well as a campaign. The main thing to remember, though, is that Psi-sleights can end up very overpowered, especially if each person in the party takes combat + a supporting one. So make sure to step it up with the challenges too, and that the PCs really feel as if they are being hunted by every single hypercorps and mercenary group in the solar system.

Vivax

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2013, 12:16:02 PM »
I was actually thinking of using the "Preemptive Revenge" format in terms of structure. I think it lends the players an opportunity to build some really memorable characters and have some character moments. It would probably be a longer term thing though, each session of the "Simulspace/School" tier encompassing one of the equivalent scenes from "Revenge".

The thing I'm stuck on is the worldbuilding aspect of the school/server. I like the idea of the server emulating an exoplanet with some kind of English boarding school vibe to clash with the alien landscape. I'm brain-farting on how the schooling would actually work or what kind of people Cognite would employ. I could see them using tons of nanny AGI or teacher AGI or indentures. They may even use uplifts to normalize that part of the Transhuman community for the kids. I have this inkling of an idea for a neo-dolphin gym teacher...

In terms of power balance...this is Eclipse Phase. Balance is not really a thing for the system. That being said psi-slights make you vulnerable to stress, TITANs and many of them damage you when you use them. Similar in-game effects can be achieved with tech or implants at moderate cost. Sure they don't go with you when you backup or farcast but they also don't make you insane. I'm not concerned with my players powergaming or going uber. I think I can handle them.


Teuthic

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2013, 03:58:10 PM »
This is an interesting idea! I have a suggestion for a bit of reading that could help you. It's something I kept going back to when I worked on my own Lost character: Can you call a 9-year-old a psychopath?

Vivax

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2013, 12:35:15 PM »
This is an interesting idea! I have a suggestion for a bit of reading that could help you. It's something I kept going back to when I worked on my own Lost character: Can you call a 9-year-old a psychopath?

I'm honestly not sure how comfortable I am with the material in this article as applied to the Lost. There's something in one of the sourcebooks about children raised in synthmorphs having abnormal, autistic developmental disorders (please don't ask me where). The egos of the kids weren't able to develop normally within the confines of the cyberbrain. I see the Lost as something similar, broken by their exposure to simulspace and the exsurgent virus. I'm not going to RP out the kids as broken sociopaths from the onset.

BishopSansPants

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2013, 01:36:36 AM »
I remember you talking about this on Skype. I still think it's a pretty cool idea for a game.

My thoughts and suggestions on it:

The English-style boarding school on an exoplanet or even simply a Mars that is still terraforming is a good choice.

You have to remember the time this was being done, though. It was right after the Fall and by a hypercorp within the main school of thought, which is that uplifts are property. I'd have the teachers be the scientists doing the projects and their muses, perhaps "guest speakers" in the system that are experts in their specific fields within Cognite. An internal mesh that has data that only upholds that Cognite way of thought. The "village" or city surrounding the school, if they simply weren't allowed to leave, would probably be primarily made up of nanny AI, uplifts, and indentures (probably more of the former two than the latter, indentures have a nasty habit of forming their own opinions which are problematic to cut them out of since they have "rights".

RadioactiveBeer

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2014, 01:37:40 PM »
This is relevant to me since I'd basically had the identical idea for a game, so apologies for the thread-necromancy.

Here's how I'm seeing it:

The Futura simulations took place over about three years between AF 2 and 5, though initial plans and funding started almost immediately after the Fall. Since the active phase of the project took place quite some time after the Fall, I figure that at this point they would have been aware that Earth wasn't going to be reclaimed any time soon and would instead try to acclimatize the kids to the realities of a post-Fall society. That means most of the population would be on Mars or in space stations - and it would be much easier to simulate an environment the size of a single space station than an entire planet.

The book also states that Futura simulations were running simultaneously on three different stations, with a human staff of about 2000 and AGI staff of about 45 - I figure that forks of those 45 AGIs would be shared on each of the three stations. They might have even forked the scientists and researchers, to reduce the chance of variables - science! and all that.

So I'm imagining the simulated kids live and grown up in what I'm currently calling Futura Station, which in their simulations appears to be either orbiting Luna or Mars. The station would be a fairly typical (though relatively small) cylinder hab. As well as the children and their teachers, it would include enough to educate them on day to day social interactions, which means stuff outside of school life. So, I was thinking that perhaps Cognite employed some infugees to play the role of 'NPCs' for the kids to learn from - storekeepers, fake 'parents', the local preacher, special guests at the school and so on. These infugees might or might not be subject experts for educational purposes, but remember their most important quality is genuine humanity, as contrasted to the AGIs. The AGIs fill the role of 'school teachers' while other important roles for emotional and social development would be filled by infomorphs.

So basically, instead of 'boarding school', I'm seeing it more like Truman Show - a small simulation of a population center with some hard limits on how far you can explore. In this case, the hard vacuum of space and the fact that all the shuttles always seem to be out on missions. However, as the Lost Madness becomes more and more apparent, the AGIs are re-purposed to take on more overall control of the kids' lives and it's certainly possible that the sim would warp and perhaps shrink to discipline them.

(The addition of these infugees and AGIs also pads out the potential roster for async character concepts without having to be quite as 'damaged' as the Lost were, since they were presumably exposed to Watts-McLeod when it was introduced to the simulation too.)

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2014, 03:52:25 PM »
Man, I kinda love the idea of running this using Monsters and Other Childish Things.

Other plot ideas:

A. Dead Teachers' Society. Firewall or someone else manages to infiltrate the project by replacing one of the teachers or staff members. The infiltrator tries to recruit the PCs as possible future agents -- perhaps giving them some troubling "un-orthodox" ideas about what the world outside the simulation is like. Then Cognite catches wind of the mole, and decides it would be interesting to see if the students can smoke them out. So they secretly fork and backup the staff, and declare a week-long "game": all the staff members are fair game for the students to treat however they wish. Find the imposter to win!

B. Educational Theory Deathmatch! The PCs discover that they have been forked onto multiple second-level simulspaces, each representing a different educational theory or type of school. The plan is to use identical students in each setting, to do a controlled test of which theories work best in practice. Homeschoolers vs. English Boarding School vs. Military Academy vs. Korean Public School, etc. Then high-stakes standardized testing: winners live, losers get deleted. But some of the forks have worked out the game, and decided not to play.

For maximum craziness, each player plays a different fork of the same student.

C. Narnia.exe. Toward the end of the project, after the students figured out they were in a simulspace, some of the weaker and more clever students figured out how to create their own sub-simulspace where they could hide from the bullies. Drawing on some illegal fantasy novels that one of them managed to download off the external Mesh, they have created a peaceful haven of arcadian adventure, accessible from the main simulspace only through secret portals hidden throughout the school. When the Titan infection hits, the PCs have to figure out how to convince their timid friends to abandon their sanctuary for the real world, or at least find a way to permanently seal them away from the Titan threat.
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Vivax

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2014, 03:10:19 PM »
Well, honestly, I was hoping to use some of the ideas talked about in the last RPPR episode. I wanted to introduce the EP setting to a new group using the Lost Project as the twisted school that the students find themselves in. I wanted to give them the Cognite perspective on the setting. The issue I had was "how does school work in EP?"

I wasn't going to introduce any of the more exotic or fantastic elements of the setting until things started to unravel. Sorta like the Narnia.exe idea only with the kids hacking the simulspace. I don't think that Cognite would try to reproduce an entire city on the servers with infomorphs. I have a feeling that maintaining a city-level lie would be harder than, say, maintaining an isolated boarding school or an isolated education habitat. The thing about the city is that you've got tons of variables to keep track of, tons of infomorphs to psychosurgery or convince to keep quiet. It's going to be really hard to do that if the simulspace is accelerated (which it invariably will be).

The biggest hurdle is how school works in Eclipse Phase and how Cognite's take on education is different from the baseline. Everything rests on that.

Dom

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2014, 03:43:08 PM »
I guess a good question to make is what Cognite wanted to achieve with the Lost. In my mind, they wanted to shape up role models of the Planetary Consortium's society. Probably to educate them to be future hypercorp supervisors, Consortium government officials, scientists, media personalities, and perhaps even Oversight agents. Basically, people who would strengthen the Consortium's influence and be loyal to it. That means that it would have to include slanted knowledge such as:

  • Old Earth is to be remembered with much nostalgia, but the Consortium is a better alternative than the old Earth nationalism divides.
  • The Fall was a horrible event, the threat of TITANs still lingers and the Consortium must be united against these threats.
  • The Planetary Consortium's terraforming initiatives must be continued, to both create habitable worlds and possibly reclaim Earth.
  • Socialists and Anarchists are debauched and violent, and are not to be trusted. Hypercapitalism is the only system that works.
  • Seed AIs are dangerous, and AGIs should be controlled.
  • Uplifts were created by transhumanity and should therefore be grateful to mankind.

I could see it being a boarding school created for rich kids. Creativity could be endorsed, as long as it is on par with the Consortium's beliefs. Multiculturalism and transnationalism would be important ideas to instill, as well as meritocracy and hypercapitalism.

On the ugly side, it would encourage discrimination against AGIs and Uplifts. It would mean that those that turn slightly towards anarchist or socialist thoughts get punished severely. It could make the kids resentful. And since they are growing up in Simulspace, going through adolescence and puberty they would try to rebel against the preconceived system. Probably made worse by imperfect hormonal simulations and their increasing knowledge of them being in a Simulspace.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2014, 03:49:46 PM by Dom »

Dom

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2014, 03:45:16 PM »
Whoops doublepost.

Vivax

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2014, 11:18:42 AM »
In that respect I think that the concepts that Cognite would want to impart would be aligned with Planetary Consortium and Cognite interests. If we put the "educational outcomes" in terms of EP memes it would probably look something like this.

  • + Hypercapitalism
  • + Security
  • + "cyberdemocracy"
  • + Expansion
  • + Eugenics
  • - autonomists/anarchists
  • - Jovian Fascism
  • - Bioconservatism
  • - AGI/Uplift rights
  • + Cognitive Science


Dom

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2014, 02:12:06 PM »
I would argue that bioconservative ideas would be part of what they want to impart, especially emphasis on biomorph superiority over synthmorphs. But yeah, that's a great way to put it succinctly.

Vivax

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Re: Lost: A tenative idea for an Eclipse Phase campaign
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2014, 10:20:25 AM »
I should probably add one here to indicate biochauvinism too.