Eclipse Phase: CC-licensed tabletop singularity RPG

Jack sez,

Eclipse Phase is a pen & paper RPG launching at Gen Con. It's a transhuman/singularity near future milieu with horror & conspiracy elements added for mood.

- Reputation Economies. In designing the game's material culture, we threw out the idea of money as a major motivator for characters ("Money is for people who don't know how to take care of themselves"), instead focusing on how characters network to get things they need. There are corporate interests in the setting trying to keep money alive, but we don't portray this in a good light. We really want to see someone try doing this in a massmorg, and we're hoping our game spreads the idea around. Reason: massive simulations of new economic systems in environments like massmorgs may well be predictive of how they'd work in real life.

- Weird shit. Players can choose to portray a giant transgenic crab with a cyberbrain run by a red market AGI if they're feeling it.

- Wide synthesis of other transhuman SF concepts. Microfacturing, open source blueprints for same, personality uploading (leading to virtual immortality), and a lot of other stuff you'd see in works by Stross, Reynolds, and... heh, Doctorow. Making an RPG out of this gives people a toolkit to explore these ideas on their own, and we think that's pretty cool.

- Creative Commons. The game is being released under a CC license.

Eclipse Phase (Thanks, Jack!)

25

  1. Actually, it doesn’t sound as though they had to go any further afield than Accelerando – even with the crabs (~ lobsters).

  2. It appears only the text (on the website) is CC licensed, the art is traditionally licensed.

    “Eclipse Phase is a trademark of Posthuman Studios, LLC. Some Rights Reserved. Original text content of eclipsephase.com is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Original artwork content of eclipsephase.com is copyright© 2008 Posthuman Studios, LLC unless otherwise specified.”

  3. Looks like the game is being published by the same company that does Battletech and Shadowrun … cool

  4. I wish I knew why the Singularity is regarded as such a set-in-stone fact and not the science-fiction hocus-pocus it is (ditto for Scientology)… maybe it’s just the hope that something will come along and make everybody “better” without any effort on our part. In any case, the crappy thing about it being 2009 is that we have 3 more years of techno-mystical swill before people finally figure it out, while a million more very similarly-plotted games roll out. Sigh.

  5. Me Likey. My Battletech/Shadowrun peeps will be all over this as well because of the character options that the transhumanist tech will allow. They know little of the transhumanist fiction so I’m gonna gen ‘A’ from Someone Comes to Town Someone Leaves Town and blow their minds.

  6. Reputation based economy would have problems from governments as they would want to tax it based on an equivalent money value… of course you’ll have to make the payment with real money as well… can’t just waltz down to the tax office and do a weeks work to clear the bill…

    In the UK, you’re supposed to declare all sources of income including work done for goods rather than money… they’ll tax you on the hourly equivalent rate of pay you normally work for… they really do not like the idea of a barter based economy

  7. Eclipse Phase is a pen & paper RPG launching at Gen Con. It’s a transhuman/singularity near future milieu

    Surprised Cory didn’t get in a ‘what do they write in? Cuneiform?’ dig before quoting this. And pencil and paper is _so_ transhuman and postsingularity.

  8. Hi, this is Jack Graham, one of the writers on the game. In response to the thread thusfar, a few quick reponses:

    1. Regarding the art being “traditionally licensed,” it’s not. We’ll be distributing a full PDF of it, with the art. This is great for tabletop gaming groups, since not everyone in the group needs to buy the book in order to play. The copyright notice on the home page regarding the art is there because a few of the artists (there is a short list of CC exceptions here: http://www.eclipsephase.com/cclicense) were not yet sold on CC, and so we’re asking that people refrain from remixing their work. Doing CC is a paradigm shift in our industry; we’re hoping people will warm to it once they see some success stories.

    2. Much respect to GURPS Transhuman Space and David Pulver. It was a groundbreaking game, but we’ve got our own approach.

    3. Regarding the possible tiredness of the Singularity theme, we’ve got an unconventional take on it. I won’t spill too much of the backstory here, but it ties in to our answer to the Fermi Paradox.

  9. I wish I knew why the Singularity is regarded as such a set-in-stone fact and not the science-fiction hocus-pocus it is

    You DO realize this is a game? A science fiction roleplaying game?

    Do you stand outside showings of Star Wars whining about when people will realize that it’s a bunch of hocus-pocus to?

  10. Reputation based economy would have problems from governments as they would want to tax it based on an equivalent money value… of course you’ll have to make the payment with real money as well…

    What? You mean I can’t just pay in props? Even mad props?

  11. In any case, the crappy thing about it being 2009 is that we have 3 more years of techno-mystical swill before people finally figure it out, while a million more very similarly-plotted games roll out. Sigh.

    OK, wait, so what’s happening in 2012 is that people will figure out that the “the singularity” is techno-mystical swill? That means the sudden universal renaissance of healthy scepticism toward techno-mystical swill is itself the singularity!

    Just think how wonderful it will be – after the singularity, once we cross that magical date in 2012, people will stop looking to UFOs, singularities, raptures, and dei ex machina generally. We’ll be able to have a chat with a respected friend without their dropping the conversation-killing bomb that they’d love to discuss what they’ve been learning from The Purpose Driven Life, or some crackpot interpretation of The Book of the Dead, or blood-type diets, or ground-breaking revelations about chem-trails or HAARP, or the latest reductionist personality-type analysis. Horoscope writers and tarot card printers will go out of business. All the people we expect to be sensible and down to earth, will be.

    It will be heaven! I can’t wait for the shut-up-about-the-singularity-already singularity! I must write a book of crackpot predictions on this topic, while there’s still a market for them.

  12. A more creative (Creative Commons) transhuman RPG is Sufficiently Advanced:

    Each player in Sufficiently Advanced is an agent of the Patent Office, an intergovernmental organization that polices and enforces intellectual property law across the universe. It is an open secret that the Patent Office is run by the Transcendental AIs, whose very beings are spread across time itself. The Transcendentals desire the survival of humanity – as much of it as possible – into the distant future, in order to ease their loneliness. Towards this end, they have hired you, so that you might save humanity.

    pdf: http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/sufficiently-advanced

    wiki: http://suffadv.wikidot.com/

  13. A more creative (Creative Commons) transhuman RPG is Sufficiently Advanced

    A game I can highly recommend, even if one only plans to steal a bunch of nifty stuff from it for other games.

    That said, open licensing schemes have been with the tabletop/pen&paper rpg scene for a while now and there are quite a few games available under various Creative Commons licenses.

    For example, here is a (non-exhaustive) list of rpgs that were published under some open license, mostly using either a CC-variant or the Open Game License originally introduced by WotC for their d20 system.

    Personally, I suspect that because the rpg market is rather small, “new stuff” like open licenses, but also non-DRMed pdf-only publication or print-on-demand publishing, has had an easier time being adopted.

    It’s a good time to be a gamer, IMO. ^_^

  14. You’ll need new eyes, I think, is the idea…

    I have to say, I’m really looking forward to this game. The singularity idea may be based on the unmitigated extrapolation of a single unprecedented trend, but it also results in some of the most interesting science fiction being produced today.

    The setting itself brings up interesting questions about human interests and civilization; it matches magical fantasy (hell, surrealist fantasy) in terms of exotic possibilities, and it’s probably at least as likely as your standard cyberpunk. What more could you ask for?

  15. @13: Of course I realize it’s a game. Then again, those of us not jacked into RPGs 24\7 have a bit more distance on the subject. As far as the hocus-pocus of Star Wars, it’s (mostly) recognized as a movie, not some pie-in-the-sky solution to all the world’s problems. Let them drink blue milk.
    I’m not talking about just the game- that’s a symptom. I’m talking about the fact that so many people seem to think that, by magic, simply because of a thousands-year-old calender, on a mystical date, everything will change. I beg to differ. As far as the whole “postulating the future from the past” angle- when has something like this occurred? And I’m not talking about reptilians or some such idiocy, either. The Renaissance certainly didn’t happen all on one magical date (I’m sure the explanation is something to do with planets or something), so I’m at a loss as to why so many allegedly rational people dismiss anything of even slight spirituality… in exchange for this farce. I’m also (maybe less so) at a loss as to the reason so many people get all defensive when you tell them it’s a joke.
    Do *you* realize it’s only a game?

  16. well now, SOMEONE doesn’t have a sense of humor.

    although the 2012 thing IS a ton of bullshit

  17. Am I the only one who thinks that this game looks incredibly boring and likely to be played by people who wear dark framed spectacles, wear black shirts, and have BO?

  18. “I’m talking about the fact that so many people seem to think that, by magic, simply because of a thousands-year-old calender, on a mystical date, everything will change. I beg to differ.”

    O Diskordia, are you implying that a singularity event is linked by the Mayan Calendar? Eclipse Phase does not make that claim, at least, not that I’ve seen since I purchased the book at Gencon. Either you’re confused about what a singularity event is, or I am.

  19. The first book is out for some time now in pdf & dead tree version.
    It’s pretty awesome. Highly recommended to everyone.
    The setting is very thought provoking. Although keeping track of the points at character creation can be annoying (solved by this spreadsheet http://forum.rpg.net/showpost.php?p=12244203&postcount=154 ) it gives the character a background and history and opens up diverse characters from the beginning. The dice system is robust. While different sets of equipment and implants and so on are not balanced in power, the diversity of the world simply gives rise to unbalancable extremes.

    As it is released under the Creative Commons License, I am so free as to link to the pdfs at one of the creators site:
    http://robboyle.wordpress.com/eclipse-phase-pdfs/

    If you are lacking a group to run this with, there is a small but active community on google wave.

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