Eclipse Phase 2ed Backer Preview Posted Sat, 11/24/2018 - 14:17

So, I've digging deep into the Second Edition backer preview, as well as the earlier preview materials that have come out, and I’m increasingly impressed with the work that’s gone into it and the strength of the results.The rules changes and simplifications are the most obvious tweaks — multiple overlapping skills have been consolidated, hacking rules have a “streamlined” mode that works for 90% of the situations, while leaving complicated bits for the dedicated infosec scenarios; etc.

Character generation (and updating charsheets when resleeving) is radically simplified, and players I’ve taken through it actually enjoyed it — a huge deal for anyone who’s introduced a newbie to EP1’s flexible but insanely math-and-blind-choice-heavy chargen process. In particular, the “blind choice” quality is gone from chargen, replaced by a more Transhuman style Package-driven approach lets people pick backgrounds, interests, and careers, then tweak the results rather than flailing to divvy up 1000 points before knowing what’s useful.

The new pool points (a replacement for hard morph stat bonuses) make it feel a little more Fate-like, but no moreso than that variant rules for using Moxie found in Transhuman. In gameplay, it flows really well, fixing the untenably unbalanced Speed mechanic from EP1.

All of those mechanical details, though, pale in comparison to the subtle production work that’s going into EP2 — stuff that is easy to overlook but has an incredible impact on how easy it is to kick off a game and get new players into the “fun stuff” fast. All the pregens that come with EP2 are grouped into complimentary four-character teams of criminals, gatecrashers, Firewall proxies, and so on. Each charsheet also notes on their disposition towards the other members of the team. I was iffy on that when I first saw it, but the impact for new players was really impressive. It gave then enough to have fun with during their first session, at a key time when they were trying to find their footing in a complex world.

Second detail: It’s easy to miss when reading through the book, but *literally* every topic is laid out to fit nicely on a 2-page spread, or a single sheet front/back. Basic hacking actions you can take? 2 page spread, with notes and tables. Kinetic weapons? Same. Psi rules? Yep. The end result is that it is SUPER easy for a GM to print off a handful of double-sided sheets and keep them around as reference for FAQs at the game table, or hand to a player whose character has a fairly unique skill others don’t need to worry about. Previously I’d whipped up those handouts myself, and I was perfectly ready to do it again in EP2… but as I flipped through the book, I realized it was *already done*. Things just magically fell on even page boundaries. As someone who’s done long document publishing and layout, I can say that @adamjury’s work is a staggering love letter to every player and GM who will pick up EP2. It warms my heart.

There’s lots of other bits to love — more evocative Psi fluff and effects that make it less “space magic” and more “lovecraft parasite”; a pack of two-page quick adventures that are great for intros and one-shots; etc etc etc.

But after the wait, I’m relieved — and excited.

Name Category
Dream Shells
Fixor
Brawler
Scour Rings
Dilettante
Extrovert
Inquisitive
Researcher
Inhibitor
Survivor
Name Category
AGI Pod Worker NPC
Ahmir Sektioui NPC
Alice Chu NPC
Amaru Timoti NPC
Amrita Shah NPC
Anarchist Militia Volunteer NPC
Anarchist Saboteur NPC
Anarchist Techie NPC
Aquarium Pet Smart Animal
Argonaut Psychosurgeon NPC
Faction Type

Firewall has been on the forefront of the secret fight to save transhumanity since the Fall. Firewall is an independent network of cells and individuals recruited from all sorts of factions, cultures, backgrounds, and habitats. Potential new recruits are approached in secret and told they possess skills or knowledge of use to a clandestine network seeking to secure transhumanity’s continued survival. Firewall’s agenda is simple: to protect transhumanity from threats of existential scope, regardless of whether such risks emerge from within transhumanity or are of external, alien origin.

Location Type

Beneath Io’s tenuous, patchy atmosphere of volcanic gases and neutral atomic dust lies a barren, grayish yellow, rocky surface coated with a thin frost of sulfur dioxide. Tidal heating caused by gravitational interaction with Jupiter makes Io the most volcanically active body in the system—so active that the meteor cratering found on every other planet and moon is completely absent on Io. Massive volcanic calderas, lakes of molten rock, and geysers of sulfur dot the surface, with eruptions and accompanying seismic activity lasting months or years.

The Watts-MacLeod strain is a strangely benevolent version of the exsurgent virus, seeming to imbue its victims with psi abilities without any of the other transformative elements typical of other strains. Perhaps created as an accidental mutation of the exsurgent virus, there are many who wonder if the true detrimental effects of this strain simply have yet to reveal themselves.