Path of Totality
Rule #1: Have Fun
The ultimate rule in Eclipse Phase outweighs all of the others: have fun. This means that you should never let the rules get in the way of the game. If you don’t like a rule, change it.
Rule #2: Embrace the Genre
Humanity has embraced transhumanism for survival, harnessing science and technologies to catapult physical and mental faculties to super-human levels, while eradicating involuntary death and enabling near immortality through the digitization of consciousness and the ability to transfer bodies at will. This is one of the cornerstone themes of Eclipse Phase.
That said, the game is enormously complex in terms of character generation and skills characters may use. The OpenQuest rules engine is a streamlined D100 rule set that enables you to maintain the tempo of stories while keeping the rules simple and in the background. You decide what your character will be like and choose their skills, weapons and augmentations. As the character grows during play the player chooses which areas the character should advance in. At no point does the character get tied down to a set path determined by the boundaries of a predefined character type or class.
The core game mechanic in each is the percentile roll. The character’s chance to succeed at any given task is expressed as a percentage. This is rolled on a ‘D100’: two ten-sided dice of different thrown together with one as tens and one as units. The dice determine whether the character succeeds in combat and either hits an opponent or not.
Eclipse Phase setting, mechanics, and assumptions that express transhumanism and advanced technology powered by limitless energy are retained. The physical limits of character minds, bodies and abilities is governed by River of Heaven (OpenQuest).
Ego vs. Morph
The distinction between ego (your mind and personality, including memories, knowledge, and skills) and morph (your physical body and its capabilities) is one of the defining characteristics of Eclipse Phase.
Your body is disposable. If it gets old, sick, or too heavily damaged, you can digitize your consciousness and download it into a new one. The process isn’t cheap or easy, but it does guarantee you effective immortality—as long as you remember to back yourself up and don’t go insane. The term morph is used to describe any type of form your mind inhabits, whether a vat-grown clone sleeve, a synthetic robotic shell, a part-bio/part-synthetic “pod,” or even the purely electronic software state of an infomorph.
A character’s morph may die, but the character’s ego may live on, assuming appropriate backup measures have been taken. Morphs are expendable, but your character’s ego represents the ongoing, continuous life path of your character’s mind and personality. This continuity may be interrupted by an unexpected death (depending on how recently the backup was made), but it represents the totality of the character’s mental state and experiences.
Some aspects of your character—particularly skills, along with some stats and traits—belong to your character’s ego and so stay with them throughout the character’s development. Some stats and traits, however, are determined by morph, as noted, and so will change if your character leaves one body and takes on another. Morphs may also affect other skills and stats, as detailed in morph descriptions.
For beginning characters we’ll take things slow, using common off-the-shelf morphs that can be improved through game play.
Character generation in Eclipse Phase is dauntingly complex. River of Heaven character generation is an eight-step process and at each step the player makes decisions about what their character is like at the beginning of the game, when the character is just starting out on their adventuring career.
Starting Character Generation With A Character Concept
A character concept is a few sentences that sum up what the character is all about.
Having a clear concept of what you want your character to be like at the beginning of character generation guides the whole process as you make choices to generate the numbers that you will roll against during play.
You are of course free to change the concept as you generate the character. Generally, as a rule, the stronger the character concept the easier it is to create an interesting character.
Comparing concepts with the other players before diving into character creation is strongly recommended. Your character will be part of an adventuring group that is made up of the other players’ characters. These characters work together, even if they don’t like each other, towards a common goal of solving the mysteries and dilemmas thrown up by the Games Master during the adventures that they play through. The game is unlikely to be any fun if all the players have similar or near identical concepts, as compared with a game where the group is made up of characters with different concepts that can work together to create interesting role-playing opportunities.
STEP 1: Determine Concept
Use the guidelines above to give yourself ideas. Ask the other players what their character concepts are to make sure the group has an interesting selection of characters.
River of Heaven’s skill and technology systems are pretty open, both at character generation and during character advancement, in that they don’t tie a character down to a predestined path of skill and technology increases dictated by the type of character that the player chooses during character generation.
Character generation produces characters that have skills in all the basic areas of expertise, a couple of specialty advanced skills, some starting personal technology and some skill in at least one or two weapons. Most River of Heaven characters start out being able to do most things, a skill area or two that they excel at, have a decent chance in a fight and have some technology to even out the odds. Because River of Heaven characters start off more rounded there is less of an issue about getting the right mix of skills for the group so it can survive the adventure.
Background and factions can help round out your concept.
Choose one of the backgrounds for your character as per EP. Choose wisely, as each background may provide your character with certain skills, traits, limitations, or other details to start with. Keep in mind that your background is where you came from, not who you are now. It is the past, whereas your faction represents whom your character is currently aligned with. Your future, of course, is yours to make.
The background options cover a wide selection of transhumanity, but they cannot cover every possibility. You may develop a background that is not included on the list, using the list as guidelines to keep it balanced.
After choosing your background, choose which primary faction your character belongs to as per EP. This faction most likely represents the grouping that controls your character’s current home habitat/station, and to which your character holds allegiance, but this need not be the case. You may be a dissident member of your faction, living among them but opposing some (or all) of their core memes and perhaps agitating for change. Whatever the case, your faction defines how your character represents themself in the struggle between ideologies post-Fall.
Like your character’s background, your faction will provide your character with certain skills, traits, limitations, or other characteristics.
The factions presented here outline the most numerous and influential among transhumanity, but others may also exist. At your gamemaster’s discretion, you may develop another starting faction with them not included on this list.
These are the primary building blocks of the character. All characters and creatures have seven characteristics, which give the basic information about the character’s physical, mental and spiritual capabilities. As well as being useful indicators of how to roleplay the character they are the scores that skills are initially based upon.
Characteristics are split between the Ego, or the essential self, and Morph. Specialty morphs are additionally augmented by bonuses.
MORPH characteristics are:
A character’s brute force, Strength affects the amount of damage he deals, what weapons he can wield effectively, how much he can lift and so on.
A measure of the character’s health, Constitution affects how much damage he can sustain in combat, as well as his general resistance to disease and other illnesses.
This is an indication of the character’s mass and, like Strength and Constitution, can affect the amount of damage a character can deal and how well he can absorb damage.
EGO characteristics are:
A character’s ability to think around problems, analyze information and memorize instructions. It is a very useful Characteristic for characters interested in becoming accomplished academics, scientists or technologists.
Perhaps the most abstract Characteristic, Power is a measure of the character’s life force and the strength of his willpower.
A character’s agility, co-ordination and speed of reaction, Dexterity aids in many physical actions, including combat, but also determines the speed and initiative of infomorphs.
This quantifies a character’s attractiveness and leadership qualities.
STEP 2: Generating Characteristics
Most characters in River of Heaven are assumed to be Humans installed in an increasingly vast array of morph forms. The specific setting may limit the availability of some of these morphs.
1. Points Method
For a baseline human, each characteristic starts with a value of 8. You have thirty points to distribute amongst them. The maximum value of a characteristic during character generation is 18. You may also lower a characteristic to gain extra points. For example, reduce STR 8 to 6 to gain 2 points, but INT and SIZ have a minimum value of 7. Other characteristics have a minimum value of 3, although this indicates that the character has a severe disadvantage in this area.
The Points method is better if you already have a clear idea of your character concept as it gives you precise control on the relative Strength of each characteristic. You are not at the mercy of random dice rolls (see below) or have to negotiate with your Games Master about switching the random rolls around so that the characteristic scores match your concept.
2. Random Method (Optional Rule)
This is an alternate method to generate characteristics that is used as an alternative to the standard Points method. The random dice rolling method can be useful if you have a less clear idea of what your character concept is. By rolling the dice and abiding with the outcome you will see your character concept emerge from the dice rolls. The randomly generated characteristics immediately impose some shape to the raw physical, mental, and spiritual make up of the character. In effect the dice are giving you some prompts as to what your character is like by generating the characteristics for you. With Games Master approval you may swap any two rolls around.
Maximum Value Of Characteristics
For any race the Maximum value of any characteristic is the maximum dice roll plus three. For Humans this is 21.
Using Characteristics In Roleplaying
As well as being numbers that are used to calculate the skills and attributes that influence the dice rolls that are made during the game, characteristics can also be used to give rough ideas as to what the character is like. The average human has scores between 10 and 11 in most characteristics, except Size and Intelligence, which weigh in around 13. So a character with Strength of 16 will be of above average Strength and a toned physique. A character with a Charisma of 7 is well below average, perhaps being shy or obnoxious and socially inept.
Numbers in River of Heaven are always rounded to the nearest whole number. Numbers round to the player’s advantage.
STEP 3: Choose Your Morph
Certain morphs modify base characteristics, making one stronger or faster or more durable. Players start with a basic morph and may acquire more sophisticated models through game play.
STEP 4: Determine Attributes
To work out your character’s Damage modifier, add Strength and Size together and look at the Damage Modifier table.
Damage Modifier table.
|Total of STR and SIZ||Damage Modifier|
|Every additional + 15||+1D6|
NOTE: If rolled damage is negative or zero, because of a negative Damage Modifier dice, the attack does a minimum damage of 1.
Hit Points (HP) equal Size plus Constitution divided by 2, rounded up.
Sanity (SAN), hit points for your Ego, equals Intelligence plus Power divided by 2, rounded up.
Human characters have a base Movement rate of 15 meters.
STEP 5: Determine Traits
Positive and negative traits are purchased per Eclipse Phase with 50 points available for up to five traits. Unless otherwise noted, listed traits are ego traits.
STEP 6: Acquire Skills
Skills are things that the character can do. They represent very specific areas of expertise and when the skill is used in play the percentage value of the skill is rolled against using a D100 to work out if a character successfully completes a task in the game. A roll equal to or less than the skill percentage usually indicates that the skill has been used successfully.
|0-25%||Novice||Someone with virtually no experience with the skill|
|26-50%||Apprentice||Someone who is learning the skill|
|51-75%||Veteran||Someone who regularly uses the skill as part of their everyday life.|
|76-99%||Expert||A local expert with in the skill, who can perform it under most conditions with ease and elegance.|
|100+||Master||The acknowledged best in that skill, and regularly performs the impossible in extremely difficult conditions.|
Skills are grouped into categories for easy reference.
- Resistances are skills that get the character out of harms way.
- Combat skills measure the characters skills in physical violence.
- Knowledge skills measure the intellectual skills of the character.
- Practical skills measure the characters’ ability of performing a variety of everyday and specialist tasks.
- Technology skills cover the operation and theory of various fields of technology.
Distribute points between the skills, with a limit of no more than 30 to be allocated to any one skill.
During character generation the player gets a pool of points to spend on each group of skills.
- Resistances: Spend 50 points between the three skills.
- Combat: Spend 50 points between the four skills.
- Knowledge: Spend 50 points between skills.
- Practical: Spend 75 points between skills.
Science (Type), and Culture (other) all have a descriptor in brackets after the main skill name. This denotes that at time of points allocation the player must decide what ‘type’ or ‘other’ is.
|Dodge||DEX+10||Gets you out of the way of physical threats, such as an incoming knife thrust or plasma beam.|
|Persistence||POW+10||Is a measure of your character’s willpower and resistance against hostile technology and is also rolled to resist attempts to influence the character against their will.|
|Resilience||CON+POW||Is a measure of your character’s health and their ability to survive exposure, hunger and thirst. It is also their chance to resist the effects of diseases.|
Dodge is the primary skill you use to avoid getting hit in combat. Even if you plan to avoid combat, being able to get out of the way when necessary is a handy survival skill to have. If you are thinking more of a technology using character Persistence is appropriate. Resilience is good for hardy characters that can shrug off disease and stay conscious when they take damage.
|Close Combat||DEX+STR||A character’s skill with melee weapons such as clubs, daggers etc.|
|Ranged Combat||DEX+INT||A character’s skill with missile and thrown weapons.|
|Unarmed Combat||DEX+STR||A character’s skill with natural weapons such as bite, fist, kick, grapple and claws.|
|Heavy Weapons||INT||A character’s skill with heavy ship or vehicle mounted weapons such as missile launchers, rail guns, particle beams etc.|
It goes without saying that all these skills are appropriate for characters who want to be soldiers. A few points in either close or unarmed combat are useful even for non-combative characters since these skills can be used for self-defense.
|Computer||INT||Knowledge of computer software engineering and information security (infosec).|
|Culture (Own)||INT+10||What a character knows about the history, politics, geography of their own land and society.|
|Language (Own)||INT+50||How fluent a character is at speaking and potentially reading and writing their own language.|
|Natural Sciences||INT+10||Predicting the weather, recognizing and caring for animals and plants, geology and survival in the natural world.|
|Pilot||INT||Ability to fly suborbital, interface and interplanetary vessels.|
|Technology||INT||Character’s ability to diagnose and fix problems with high-tech machinery.|
|Culture (Other)||INT||What a character knows about the history, politics and geography of a foreign land.|
|Language (Other)||INT||How fluent a character is at speaking and potentially reading and writing a foreign language.|
|Science (Type)||INT||Specialist sciences; Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Physics, Computing, Exotic, Zoology etc.|
Knowledge skills are good for characters that are scientists or scholars and who make their living from obscure information that other people do not have the time to learn. Culture (other) and Language (Other) are also useful to characters whose abilities revolve around communications, such as corporate businessmen, diplomats and journalists. Remember that in EP machine intelligence is everywhere and slavishly eager to help.
|Athletics||DEX+STR||This skill measures the character’s ability at running, lifting, jumping and climbing.|
|Craft||INT+10||This skill allows you to make things, such as pots, weapons, and buildings.|
|Deception||DEX+INT||Stealth, hiding and picking pockets are all handled by this skill.|
|Drive||DEX+INT||Used when trying tricky maneuvers air, sea, hover (VTOL), and land vehicles.|
|Engineering (Type)||INT||This skill covers both planetary and space engineering. Planetary Engineering covers construction and mining, while Space Engineering covers microgravity construction, drive engineering and spaceship design.|
|EVA||DEX+INT||This skill covers all actions in microgravity environments—spacewalking, combat, spacesuit use etc.|
|Influence||CHA+10||This skill is used when the character wants to persuade another to do something against their normal interests.|
|Medicine||INT+10||Healing wounds and treating disease using First aid and surgery.|
|Mechanisms||DEX+INT||Locks and any thing with complex moving parts (robots) are covered by this skill.|
|Perception||INT+POW||Used to spot hidden objects and spot small details in the character’s environment.|
|Performance||CHA+10||Acting, playing instruments, dancing and singing are all covered by this skill.|
|Pilot||INT||This covers the flying of atmospheric and trans-atmospheric vessels. Jets, rockets, shuttles etc.|
|Streetwise||CHA+POW||How well the character operates in a city environment. Used to find out information and navigate around the streets and find a fence for stolen goods are all covered by this skill.|
|Trade||INT+10||This is the skill used by merchants and traders to value and sell goods.|
On the face of it is tempting to see the Practical category as a big grab bag of miscellaneous skills. However it is worth spending some points on one to three of the skills, even if you want to be a big muscled soldier. These skills allow the character to do things in game, and Athletics, Influence and Perception get called upon reasonably frequently. Also if your character’s concept is that of a rogue Deception, Mechanisms and Streetwise also deserve some points. If your character is someone who makes stuff, Craft and Engineering are skills to increase. If your character has a background of entertaining people Performance is a skill to pick. If your character concept is any form of merchant Trade is a must buy.
STEP 7: Choose Motivations
The next step is to choose personal motivations for your character (see EP Motivations, p. 121). These are memes, in the form of ideologies or goals, which your character is pursuing. These may be as specific “undermine the local triad boss” or as broad as “promote hypercapitalism,” and they may be short term or long term. Some sample motivations are provided on the Example Motivations table (p. 138). You should work with your gamemaster when choosing your motivations, as they can be used to propel the storyline forward and specific scenarios can be constructed around your character’s goals. Motivations should be listed on your character sheet as a single term or short phrase, along with a + or – symbol to denote whether they support or oppose it. For example, “+Fame” would indicate that your character seeks to become a famous media personality, whereas “-Reclaim Earth” means that your character opposes the goal of reclaiming Earth.
STEP 8: Other Things Characters Use
In the advanced technological setting of Eclipse Phase, characters don’t get by on their wits and morphs alone; they take advantage of their credit and reputation to acquire gear and implants and use their social networks to gather information. Some characters also have the capability to use mental powers known as psi.
In an age of ubiquitous computing and omnipresent surveillance, privacy is a thing of the past—who you are and what you do is easily accessed online. Characters in Eclipse Phase, however, are often involved in secretive or less-than-legal activities, so the way to keep the bloggers, news, paparazzi, and law off your back is to make extensive use of fake IDs. While Firewall often provides covers for its sentinel agents, it doesn’t hurt to keep a few extra personas in reserve, in case matters ever go out the airlock in a hurry. Thankfully, the patchwork allegiances of city-state habitats and faction stations means that identities aren’t too difficult to fake, and the ability to switch morphs makes it even easier. On the other hand, anyone with a copy of your biometrics or geneprint is going to have an edge tracking you down or finding any forensic traces you leave behind (for more on ID, see p. 279).
Social networks represent people the character knows and social groups with which they interact. These contacts, friends, and acquaintances are not just maintained in person, but also through heavy Mesh contact. Social software allows people to stay updated on what the people they know are doing, where they are, and what they are interested in, right up to the minute. Social networks also incorporate the online projects of individual members, whether it’s a mesh-site loaded with a band member’s songs, a personal archive of stored media, a decade of blog entries reviewing the best places to score cheap electronics, or a depository of research papers and studies someone has worked on or finds interesting.
In game play, social networks are quite useful to characters. Their friends list is an essential resource—a pool of people you can actively poll for ideas, troll for news, listen to for the latest rumors, buy or sell gear from, hit up for expert advice, and even ask for favors.
While a character’s social networks are nebulous and constantly shifting, the use of them is not. A character takes advantage of their social networks via the Networking (Field) skill (p. 182). The exact use of this skill is covered under Reputation and Social Networks, p. 285.
The Fall devastated the global economies and currencies of the past. In the years of reconsolidation that followed, the hypercorps and governments inaugurated a new system-wide electronic monetary system. Called credit, this currency is backed by all of the large capitalist-oriented factions and is used to trade for goods and services as well for other financial transactions. Credit is mainly transferred electronically, though certified credit chips are also common (and favored for their anonymity). Hardcopy bills are even used in some habitats.
Depending on your background or faction, your character may be given an amount of credit at the start of the game. During game play, your character must earn credit the old-fashioned way: by earning or stealing it.
Capitalism is no longer the only economy in town. The development of nanofabricators allowed for the existence of post-scarcity economies, a fact eagerly taken advantage of by anarchist factions and others. When anyone can make anything, concepts like property and wealth become irrelevant. The advent of functional gift and communist economies, among other alternative economic models, means that in such systems you can acquire any goods or services you need via free exchange, reciprocity, or barter—presuming you are a contributing member of such a system and respected by your peers. Likewise, art, creativity, innovation, and various forms of cultural expression have a much higher worth than they do in capitalist economies.
In alternative economies, money is often meaningless, but reputation matters. Your reputation score represents your social capital—how esteemed you are to your peers. Rep can be increased by positively influencing, contributing to, or helping individuals or groups, and it can be decreased through antisocial behavior. In anarchist habitats, your likelihood of obtaining things that you need is entirely based on how you are viewed by others.
Reputation is easily measured by one of several online social networks. Your actions are rewarded or punished by those with whom you interact, who can ping your Rep score with positive or negative feedback. These networks are used by all of the factions, as reputation can affect your social activities in capitalist economies as well. The primary reputation networks include:
- The @-list: the Circle-A list for anarchists, Bar- soomians, Extropians, scum, and Titanians, noted as @-rep.
- CivicNet: used by the Jovian Republic, Lunar- Lagrange Alliance, Morningstar Constellation, Planetary Consortium, and many hypercorps, referred to as c-rep.
- EcoWave: used by nano-ecologists, preservation- ists, and reclaimers, referred to as e-rep.
- Fame: the seen-and-be-seen network used by socialites, artists, glitterati, and media, referred to as f-rep.
- Guanxi: used by the triads and numerous criminal entities, referred to as g-rep.
- The Eye: used by Firewall, noted as i-rep.
- NA: Research Network Affiliation, used by ar- gonauts, technologists, scientists, and researchers, referred to as r-rep.
Reputation is rated from 0-99. Depending on your background and faction, you may start with a Rep score in one or more networks. This can be bolstered through spending customization points during character creation. During game play, your Rep scores will depend entirely on your character’s actions. For more information, see Reputation and Social Networks, p. 285.
Note that each Rep score is tied to a particular identity. You get 50 rep points to divide between the reputation networks of your choice.
Gear is all of the equipment your character owns and keeps on their person, from weapons and armor to clothing and electronics. You buy gear for your character with customization points during character creation (see p. 136) and in the game with Credit or Rep. Certain restricted, illegal, or hard-to-find items may require special efforts to obtain (see Acquiring Gear, p. 298). If you have access to a nanofabricator, you may be able to simply build gear, presuming you have the proper blueprints (see Nanofabrication, p. 284). For a complete listing of equipment options, see the Gear chapter, p. 296.
Even among the remaining capitalist economies, prices can vary drastically. To represent this, all gear falls into a cost category. Each category defines a range of costs, so the gamemaster can adjust the prices of individual items as appropriate to the situation. Each category also lists an average price for that category, which is used during character generation and any time the gamemaster wants to keep costs simple. See the Gear Costs table on p. 137.
Implants include cybernetic, bionic, genetech, and nanoware enhancements to your character’s morph (or mechanical enhancements in the case of a synthetic shell). These implants may give your character special abilities or modify their stats, skills, or traits. Some morphs come pre-equipped with implants, as noted in their descriptions (see p. 139). You may also special- order morphs with specific implants (see Morph Acquisition, p. 277). If you want to upgrade a morph you are already in, you can undergo surgery or other treatments to have an enhancement installed (see Healing Vats, p. 326. For a complete list of available implant/enhancement options, see pp. 300-311, Gear.