Eclipse Phase

Eclipse Phase is a brilliant system and i’d give the setting a solid 8 out of 10.

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System:

The system is solid. You can create any character you need, NPCs and PCs use the same rules, it’s fast and streamlined, it handles body-swapping characters well, and so on. Skills work well, there is plenty of GM support, the setting is well documented.

I am hard pressed to pick a flaw in the system. In fact any such flaws circle back to “player error” such as designing a character like it’s DnD and creating a loaded for bear combat monstrosity…and then wondering why their character is useless at everything but fighting. This is inherent to point-generation systems, not only Eclipse Phase.

I suppose the only real ‘flaw’ I can think of is that it’s hard to make a character that feels old. It’s a setting where for generations humanity has been freed from the fear of death or the ravages of aging…but all Eclipse Phase characters default to a “young and starting out” sort of feel…which suits a starting adventurer but not a veteran of many lifetimes. Again this is largely a player issue and not a system issue.

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Unrealistic Ethnic and Religious Handling, Pre-Fall and Post-Fall:

The setting is let down by excessive political correctness. To put it bluntly, rather than being realistic, the history of the setting is flagrantly sodomized into implausibility to ensure the current day population demographics and major religions are respectfully preserved…despite many elements in the setting-history and the technologies making this utter nonsense.

Primarily, regarding population demographics, the history describes man warring nations NOT pulling together to aid one another in the evacuation of the Earth. Including nations shooting down escape vessels of other nations. So…how exactly did nations without space programs launch exactly the same percentage of their populations off the planet such that the population demographics were perfectly preserved? Why did nations all resort to getting off-world rather than, say, bunkers or preparing for war? Why is there no accounting for the greater up-take of the life preservation technologies in the western world to the (current) third world and developing world?

Quite simply, i’d be slapping the post-fall demographics around a lot. Especially the numbers that physically escaped off-planet rather than being ego-cast (bodiless) off-planet.

Next up is the utter failure to address what effect the predominant life extension and life preservation and resurrection technologies in Eclipse Phase would do to religious demographics. Quite simply, the creators of Eclipse Phase took the coward’s way out and tried not to offend anyone.

Not to mention the fact that many religions would not survive several factors present in Eclipse Phase, such as:

  1. Elimination of the fear of death. In Eclipse Phase the majority of humans can be resurrected with everyday ease. So why cling to a religion that offers salvation and an afterlife when you can’t die?
  2. Elimination of gender difference. In Eclipse Phase people can swap bodies, including changing between genders, where as many religions hold a core tenant that there are fundamental and spiritual gender differences. Both christianity and islam for example hinge upon male religious supremacy and stress the inferior, unclean, sinful and subordinate role in those religions / cultures for women. (This is only the tip of the iceberg of religious / cultural practices that go out the window). In Eclipse Phase, would Islam put in a rule saying people born female must cover their bodies…regardless of the bodies? Are born-females banned male or androgynous bodies? Banned the technology altogether? Would islamic males be forbidden female bodies? Would a christian born-male who inhabits a non-fertile body (even temporarily) fall foul of Deuteronomy 23:1? And so on.
  3. Elimination of established scapegoats. What does homosexuality mean now if the gender of the body you currently inhabit is no more spiritually significant than the clothes you wear? What does ethnicity matter, and what of ancient blood feudes? And so on.
  4. Practice of “Psychosurgery” and the ability to treat delusions and derangements…if someone can purge an individual’s religious belief with a few key-strokes, or more importantly can create religious belief in a person, it eradicates any sense that belief or faith have credibility of any form.
  5. Everyone just lost any and all promised lands, ancestral territories, and so on.
  6. Everyone is now separated from any pilgrimage sites including those deemed essential to the faith (such as Mecca for the Hadj).
  7. The life preservation technologies are not new, which means a few generations of humans were still around and healthy, which means “the importance” of religion in people’s lives would drop and anyone who objects to said technologies would be getting bred out.

Sure, sure, there will be some people who casually follow their parents religion without really thinking about it. But that won’t let religion be a relevant or active political force (as presented in the setting). People like this aren’t donating to their religion, nor voting according to their religion’s dictates not attending protest rallies to push their religion’s social agendas (typically hating homosexuals and opposing gender equality).

And yes, some people will feel so motivated by their faith that they refuse the life preservation technologies…and die off over the generations. To put it bluntly, extremists, religious militants, and suicide bombers would have died off generations before Eclipse Phase is set.

Having said that…humanity did just suffer the fall of Earth. And there are major groups of people in Eclipse Phase who reject a lot of the immortality technologies due to their ties to the artificial intelligence that conquered Earth. Religion should be rife in such populations, and virtually died out elsewhere.

That might be politically incorrect…but it’s sensible and realistic.

I think religion would still exist, but in a much smaller and much more moderate form. There wouldn’t be the funding to support the major faiths we see today. Also the carrot and the stick which religions currently use to keep their followers obedient would both be gone. And the more religiously-motivated an individual gets, the more they would have to give up…it’s not a case of a few dietary requirements now, it’s a choice between eternal healthy life or a pointless death.

But sure, some casual and cultural religious hold-overs would be present. Like religious holidays, and so on. Though similarly old national hold-overs would also be present though not relevant.

Nationalism, ethnicity, racism, etc:

Okay…so…the Earth was destroyed and the only people left are either people who left Earth voluntarily (to explore and settle the solar system) before the fall, or people who fled Earth during the fall.

During the fall, the different nations famously did not come together or help one another, in fact military clashes between nations during the fall, and even shooting down escape ships from other countries, was more common than cooperation.

So this begs the question, “how much would nationalism survive the fall?” Complex question.

I am under the impression that most of the people willing to kill and die for their nation would have done so already during the fall. I can’t see the bulk of the populace being so motivated, most people just want to get on with their lives. I am also under the impression that all the little struggling colonies would provide a unifying force for all the residents as they struggle to survive. The different colonies are sufficiently separated that there shouldn’t be any territorial disputes, and inter-colony rivalry shouldn’t be too heated for the most part.

If you had a colony with a large portion of people from one nation, maybe that could foster a sense of nationalism.

One thing to bear in mind that this is all about culture and history, so the body someone is wearing wouldn’t matter. For instance if someone survived from one nation who had lost a refugee ship to another nation might be a bit pissed off (still) at a survivor from that nation. But would you have enough people to make this a movement?

So I can see nationalism surviving as a relevant social force more than I can see religion surviving.

Is it post scarcity or not post scarcity? Pick one and run with it:

This might have been a aspect of the game group I was in but there was a serious multiple personality disorder thing going on about wether the game was post scarcity utopia or a grim post apocalyptic scenario.

In particular nanotechnology fabrication was common in the setting letting just about anything be constructed from available matter. You could, for instance, land on a big asteroid, and start hollowing it out and converting all the excavated rock into the building blocks of a new habitat and POOF you have a new colony with all the creature comforts.

So why don’t they?

Not to mention there are Moon and Mars colonies that for no apparent reason haven’t done any expanding.

Apparently most of humanity is stuck disembodied as saved downloads and the struggle to get access to a body is a major concern. Conversely people are able to mass produce “synth” bodies…but these are unpopular for no apparent reason.

The three main issues facing humanity are that AIs conquered Earth, that they don’t have enough physical bodies to go around, and that they don’t have enough colonies and infrastructure…yet two of these problems make no sense whatsoever.

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