Assume I know only the barest minimum about Eclipse Phase: just read a blurb or two.

What kinds of horror stories does Eclipse Phase lend itself to?

(What are the 'signature' horror elements of the game? Are there monsters? If so, what literary/cinematic vein would they fit most?)

  • \$\begingroup\$ This question explicitly calls out that it involved no research. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Dec 10 '14 at 1:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe No, it doesn't, and you're wrong about that. The aim of this Q was to get a concise summary that could easily be referenced (and that would spare new users the hassle of having to read through tons of material.) "Assume I'm Darth Vader" doesn't mean I'm literally Darth Vader, and it reveals practically nothing about the depth of my knowledge about Darth Vader. -.- \$\endgroup\$
    – OpaCitiZen
    Dec 10 '14 at 10:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough. I do feel a need to question this, though. Eclipse Phase is explicitly designed for horror - it says so on the core book's cover. Don't we usually frown on questions that amount to "Read and summarise this for me," and close them as Too Broad? \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Dec 11 '14 at 0:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question clearly takes into account that Eclipse Phase is designed with SF horror in mind. It's asking specifically what kind of SF horror Eclipse Phase is suited for, and the answers clearly understand exactly what is being asked. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Dec 11 '14 at 1:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe The range of kinds of horror is so broad that the category becomes almost useless as a specific marker. Gore, terror, suspense; body horror, psychological horror, cosmic horror; it's all simultaneously distinct and mushed together in various stories, and the blurb on the cover doesn't have enough space to describe it as carefully as OpaCitiZen needs in order to know if it's the right kind of horror for his group. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Dec 11 '14 at 1:28

The central monsters of Eclipse Phase are a family of man-made (but incomprehensibly alien) killing machines called the TITANS. The TITANS take different forms. Examples:

  • Killer robots
  • Flesh-eating nanomachines
  • Nanotech computer virus strains that can infect a living person's brain
  • "Singularity" AIs whose intelligence grows exponentially, dwarfing human comprehension
  • Hive ships that devour living creatures for protein and nutrients

Other horrors of Eclipse Phase are varied; but, include:

  • The extinction of the human race; the destruction of Earth
  • Loss of identity; giving up what it means to be human
  • Man-made suffering; the use of technology without moral boundaries
  • Crazed psychics
  • WMDs
  • The prospect of being trapped forever in a databank, without a body
  • Hostile first contact (I don't know much about aliens in Eclipse Phase; our GM mentioned in passing that they exist)
  • The lonely, empty void of space
  • Environmental hazards (vacuum, heat, radiation)
  • The incomprehensible wrongness of technology that warps reality (the Pandora Gates)
  • Prejudice (against AIs, or certain morph types)
  • Knowledge brings suffering, insanity

Fear of the unknown is the kind of horror I'd link Eclipse Phase too. Humanity is more powerful then ever before but there are new things which despite our extremely advanced science we still don't understand. Imagine a world where you can't die and then add the something that can kill you. There are places people don't go because they don't come back and if someone does make it back they're different...somehow. Also the unknown of waking up in a new body with no memory of the past 2 weeks. What happened?

There are monsters but they aren't specifically statted out if I remember right. It leaves that up whoever's running. Many times the monster is just a normal person who's infected. Part of this too is because the monsters will adapt and change as quickly as humanity. And humanity can change their forms at the drop of a hat.


Personal horror: Alienation

You body is a thing you can change daily. It stopped defining you a long time ago. Even sex is now a thing of the past: you can be male at breakfast on Luna, female at lunchtime on Mars, and a whale swimming in the Sun in the evening.

Your mind can be saved and stored, you can erase those painful memories, you can fork yourself and have many version of yourself running around. Who are you? What have you become?

The opposition to the player characters could be the player characters. They were just forks trying to stop what they saw as forks of themselves doing things against their wishes. Who is the original? Who is the fork? Does it even matter?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Changing bodies that frequently would be pretty tough on the psyche and take a fair while, so you wouldn't have anything else on your schedule that day. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Dec 10 '14 at 1:20

Here are a few examples of how I've used horror elements in an Eclipse Phase campaign:

  • Amnesia - After the characters were killed while on the run from a vast criminal organization, their backups were activated. Because their backups hadn't been updated in two weeks, they had no knowledge of what had transpired in that period of time. They kept running into people who were saying things about them that made no sense, because they had no memory of those prior events. Everywhere they went, they feared someone would come at them for something they'd done but couldn't remember.

  • Fear of True Death - While dying for good is rare in Eclipse Phase, it can happen. In an environment where people are used to taking risks, changing sleeves, and leaving their bodies for extended periods of time, the threat of true extermination is terrifying. It makes you more cautious and raises the stakes tremendously.

  • An Irreversible Choice - Not many explorers get to go through the Pandora Gates, and sometimes they don't know where a gate will take them. Imagine winding up on a barren, lifeless planet, with no access to the basics of survival, much less the technological marvels found in Earth's solar system, and no way to get back.

  • Realization of False Knowledge - Every GM's version of the 'true' events that led to the flight of transhumanity from Earth will differ, but it is a pervasive theme in EP that there is no single truth. If the player characters have been operating on the basis of a core belief – for example that the TITANS are still on Earth, or that Firewall is benign, or that the Jovian Republic is behind a system-wide war – imagine the feeling of loss and frustration when they discover the truth is something quite different and far more distressing.


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