This page is full of spoilers, so if you're a player you probably shouldn't read them, or you should at least talk to your gamemaster before doing so.
The following ideas expand on some of the material regarding the outer system. As always, gamemasters should feel free to alter or even ignore this material as best fits their campaign settings—especially if they know their players have read this material.
Asteroid Family Neighborhoods
Given that the asteroids within a family tend to cluster together in their orbits, making it easier to travel between habitats in the grouping, each tends to develop cultural characteristics similar to other regional “neighborhoods” in space. A few of the more noteworthy families and their dominant cultures are noted below.
The Flora family orbits in the inner portion of the Main Belt, nearest to Mars. Though one of the early families to be exploited due to being one of the closest clusters to Earth, it has largely been bypassed in recent years for better prospects. To date, no large habitats have been developed in this silicate-rich section of the Belt. Most stations number only a handful of egos, and an unusually high number of wanted criminals have been known to seek shelter in the abandoned mining stations and decrepit outposts of this area.
Both the Gefion and Nysian families (home to Ceres and Extropia, respectively) are Extropian strongholds and a focal point of the anarcho-capitalist free market.
The cluster with the honor of having the highest rate of piracy falls to the Griqua family in the outer Belt region. A statistically high number of automated ships have been raided and even hijacked when passing by or through these asteroids, strongly suggesting the presence of several pirate bases here.
While not a true family in that they do not originate from the same body, the Hildas follow a unique orbital path that takes them in succession near the Jovian Trojans, Jovian Greeks, and an aphelion point opposite to Jupiter. The Hildas are a favorite for autonomists of various stripes, particularly anarchists.
The Hungaria family is just inside the innermost edge of the Belt, the closest dense cluster to Mars. Known for its high inclination, this grouping is popular among those that like to keep to themselves. Numerous brinkers, cults, secretive hypercorp labs, and opulent private residences can be found here.
The outer-orbit Tirela family has a reputation for being the “Bermuda Triangle” of the asteroid belt. There have been an unusually high number of both ship and individual disappearances here, including at least one small cluster habitat (they may simply have been towed elsewhere). In one of the more notable incidents, the small Zuniga torus was found entirely deserted, its residents missing without any sign of having left.
Running the Jovians
There are many ways to handle the Jovian Republic in a campaign. As superficially presented, the Jovians are portrayed as bad guys, both for their throwback attitudes towards transhumanity, their militaristic ways, and their fascistic government. It is certainly easy to play this up by highlighting their expansionism and belligerence towards other polities, their slingshot taxation and invasive naval patrols, or the way they repress their own populations and commit civil rights violations. This villainous empire niche is often important for certain scenarios—nobody minds shooting space Nazis, right?
On the other hand, you can also present them in a more nuanced fashion. At its core, the Jovian mission is about saving humanity from extinction— an agenda with which even Firewall can agree. Given the availability of super-empowering technology in Eclipse Phase, and how close transhumanity has already come to being wiped out, their fundamental concerns are widely shared. However, whereas other factions view technology as a tool that can also save transhumanity and even look optimistically toward the future, the Jovians take a more extreme approach to the matter. In their ideology, security is more important than personal liberties and technological progress is a potential danger that must be restricted, no matter that doing so costs human lives. The methods they choose to pursue their mission are designed to provide them with the utmost control over humanity’s precarious situation, yet it also opens the door to potential abuses of power. By presenting the positive and sympathetic elements of the Jovian cause alongside the negative and terrifying, the Jovians become a more complete and multifaceted entity.
These dual characteristics can be highlighted in your campaigns. The Jovians can be brought in as allies to Firewall in many missions, given their joint desire to deter x-risks, but tensions may arise over specific tactics and end goals. Or they may start off as enemies, only to come to terms with the characters in order to stave off a mutual threat; though by working with the Jovians, the characters risk legitimizing their other actions. Alternatively, a campaign can be run inside the Republic, dealing with the tensions and conflicts inside Jovian society. The bioconservatives themselves are not united, split between the pragmatism of the Junta’s mostly atheist leadership and the reactionary doctrines of the religious masses. The technology-banning CBEAT also competes against the Republic’s own corporations and medical workers, both stymied by lack of progress. Poor Jovians must face lives in septic habitats, with limited rights, and without the luxuries shared by most other societies, all in the name of security from threats they may never see.
Jovian Military Conflict
The ongoing escalation of tensions between the Republic and the city-states of Callisto, particularly Hyoden and Gerðr is ripe for plot material. This could be a campaign based on political maneuvering, spycraft, and behind-the-scenes sabotage, as the rival factions seek to undermine each other and gain advantage. The Republic is eager to derail Hyoden’s stability and cultural diversity and could seek to subvert its leadership and create scandals to drive people away. Likewise, the people of Hyoden are eager to weed out Jovian infiltrators and gain new allies. The Jovians are also eager to know if the reports about Gerðr’s Planning Council seeking to go independent are true—something that even many native residents are unsure about.
Either of these campaigns could easily transform into a military operation, as the Republic acts upon its expansionist plans and seeks to solidify its control over these unruly city-states. Either habitat would likely have a difficult time competing with the Junta’s military might, but they could certainly make the engagement costly for the Jovians, and possibly force the situation to devolve into a protracted campaign where Jovian occupying forces must fight against insurgents using asymmetric warfare tactics.
Jovian Trojans Distance
The Trojan L4 and L5 points are 5.2 AU from Jupiter. On average, that’s a farcasting time lag of 43 minutes. This places the Trojan points about 9 AU from each other, for an farcasting time of 75 minutes. The Trojans are spread out, however, each occupying 26 degrees of Jupiter’s orbit, roughly 2.5 AU in length, so these times can vary by around 10 minutes.
Travel by ship between the Trojan Points and Jupiter by standard transport is 56 days, give or take a week. Travel between the L4 and L5 points takes 90 days, give or take a week.
Immigrating to Bright
In rule terms, individuals must have a current COG score of 30 to be eligible for citizenship on Bright or even to stay there for more than two standard days. All visitors are tested upon arrival, but the test only requires a brief brain scan lasting several minutes. Individuals displaying scores of 40 or higher will usually be offered various incentives like priority access to goods and facilities to make Bright their home for at least a few months.
Politics and the Trade in Deuterium and Helium
Helium-3 fusion became popular several decades before the Fall, because it was the only type of fusion that did not release free neutrons and thus required far less nuclear shielding that would eventually become radioactive. However, four years ago, researchers on Titan developed a method of creating fusion reactions that insured that 95% of deuterium-deuterium fusion reactions were the variety that released no free neutrons. As a result, almost all modern fusion reactors built in the last few years use deuterium-deuterium based fusion. These reactors can be easily refueled from any source of hydrogen, such as gas giant atmospheres or the abundant ice found on almost every outer system moon. However, a number of older fusion reactors, especially those built before and during the Fall, are still powered by helium-3. As a result, gas mining for helium-3 is common around all of the gas giant worlds, especially Saturn, where the combination of relatively low gravity and abundant helium make it an ideal choice. Gas miners from Saturn also send cargo shipments of helium-3 to older settlements and facilities in the Main Belt. Ongoing tensions between the Planetary Consortium and the Titan Commonwealth prevent Saturn-derived helium-3 from being used on Mars.
The outer hundred kilometers of Iapetus are now completely abandoned, but intelligence still lurks within this moon. Deep in the warrens that wind through the many layers of computronium and other inexplicable TITAN-created technologies, a small remnant of the previous population remains. While this world once harbored more than 200,000, today it is home to slightly less than a 1,000 strange and unusual beings. Some of these survivors are exsurgent worker drones—former transhumans twisted into alien monsters—that did not self-destruct or die off when this moon’s guiding intelligence vanished. The vast majority of Iapetus’s population was transformed into tissue cultures grown to feed the drones, but only after their minds were uploaded by the vast intelligence that once dwelled here. A few of these uploaded individuals were downloaded into bizarre synthmorph bodies that served as mobile semi-independent extensions of the TITAN’s vast mind.
Most of the biological creatures here survive by eating from the tissue culture vats and makers that they have managed to maintain, and a few raiders subsist via cannibalism. These exsurgents come in a wide variety of forms, including a small number of whippers and wrappers (p. 370, EP) and a large number of the “fractal trolls” described in Into the White (p. 4), but most have never been seen before; a few are unique. Most have been adapted to survive in the vacuum and cold of Iapetus’s tunnels. The remainder are the strange synthmorphs, many of them similar to arachnoids or flexbots, inhabited by egos that were forcibly uploaded by the TITANS. All of these survivors have experienced at least some memory loss. Most only retain fragmentary memories of their life before the Fall. Some of the synthmorph minds consist of jumbles of memories and personality traits from several uploaded minds that have become connected together into a single new, if often fairly damaged mind. Most of these new minds have no idea that they are not the remnants of single individuals. While they all know that they have lost much of their memory, few worry about the fact that the sequence of their memories makes no sense because these memories come from several different people.
Some of the survivors are dangerously insane and attempt to attack anyone who approaches them. They remember at least some of their existence under the control of the TITANs and are utterly terrified of all outsiders, assuming that anyone from outside Iapetus must be another agent of the TITANs come to destroy or enslave them. As a result, the inhabitants of Iapetus either flee from outsiders or attempt to kill or capture them. Those who kill outsiders often attempt to make use of their gear and to eat the remains of biomorphs. Others coerce and torture their victims into revealing the TITANs’ plans or seek to convince captives that they are now free and can hide from the TITANs in the depths of Iapetus. Almost none will even consider the idea that any outsiders are actually free-willing transhumans who survived the Fall.
The current inhabitants of Iapetus are the creators of the mysterious portrait sculptures and paintings that explorers have recently found. Many of these beings long for contact with the pre-Fall world, before the horrific transformation of their minds and bodies. These artistic pieces can be considered an attempt to make their shattered memories more concrete, perhaps even an attempt to share them with their fellows by creating images of themselves and people they knew well. These images are made of local materials, since the inhabitants have no means to make the tools or materials needed to create more standard forms of art.
If someone could remove one of these morphs from Iapetus, the occupant could eventually be resleeved in a normal morph, but the lack of a cortical stack and the exotic nature of the modifications the TITANs made to these victims’ minds and bodies applies a –20 modifier to all attempts to upload, resleeve, and fork. These subjects also suffer from the Edited Memories, Mental Disorder, and Neural Damage traits (pp. 149–150, EP). Almost half of the inhabitants of Iapetus are effectively new, partial egos that would require extensive work to make stable and sane, but the remainder are people from before the Fall who may have amnesia and neurological damage, but who can eventually become much of who they once were.
MeatHab is an ego that has sleeved into a habitat (p. 172, Panopticon). The original ego is still present but prefers to keep a low-key approach towards most of the inhabitants. At his core, MeatHab is someone looking for peace through a strange but gentle accommodation of the flesh. However, MeatHab is something of a prankster, apt to playfully mess with those who try to communicate with him. He is definitely amused by the many attempts to interpret what he’s done.
While MeatHab itself is not a bad guy, there are all sorts of things that can go wrong for him. Corps want a piece. Artists want him to somehow be part of what they’re doing. Exhumans wrongly interpret him as being in their camp, when in reality MeatHab is a very humane soul who happens to enjoy having his insides full of a lot of other transhumans. Perhaps the most serious threat to MeatHab are the exsurgents who see the massive living habitat as a vessel waiting to be filled with their twisted desires.
Titan’s antimatter factory on this small moon is almost an open secret, but it also remains one of the highest security installations in the outer system. Part of the reason for this security is that the antimatter is only one of Titan’s secret projects occurring on Prometheus. Marseilles is also the Commonwealth’s primary high-energy research facility. It is home to several small and largely speculative projects including attempts to duplicate the Factors’ reactionless drive and create weapons that cause small amounts of matter to spontaneously convert to antimatter at significant ranges. Neither project has made much progress, but because they are both theoretically possible, research continues.
The two largest and most well-funded research projects occurring on Prometheus both involve attempts to create high-power reaction drives. One project is an attempt to create quantum black holes to be used for reaction drives and power generation, and the other is an attempt to transform matter into energy by inducing proton decay, which would enable reaction drives to significantly exceed the velocities and efficiencies of current antimatter drives without the necessity of manufacturing or transporting antimatter. Both projects are far from complete, but researchers have made significant progress and are hopeful that they will succeed within a few years.
The antimatter factory and the research area are each located in large caverns that have been transformed into beehive installations. Both are approximately 30 kilometers from the inhabited portion of this moon and 20 kilometers from one another. The hope is that if there is a serious industrial accident in either cavern, the other cavern and the inhabited areas of this moon will survive intact. All of these technologies being researched have serious potential as weapons of mass destruction, which is one of the many reasons that the Titanians keep them secure—and why outside groups like Firewall, the Jovians, and Project Ozma might be interested.
Titanian Voting and Reputation
How someone votes in the Plurality doesn’t generally affect reputation, but whether they vote does. Titanians traveling abroad, serving with the military or security forces, in dead storage, or in poor health are excused from participation, but everyone else is expected to vote and weigh in occasionally on forums. A character from the Titanian faction who doesn’t spend at least one hour each week following Plurality business and voting on measures may be subject to @-rep penalties at the gamemaster’s discretion.
A good rule of thumb is that a character who drops out of political life without informing associates that they will be away (or being recognized as missing by the authorities) loses @-rep at a rate of 1 every two weeks. Unfortunately, being away on a secret Firewall mission isn’t a good excuse for not voting (though being able to claim convincingly that one was doing work for the Commonwealth is).
Given the complexities of bookkeeping and the many situational modifiers to such rep loss, gamemasters are encouraged to be even handed. The idea is not to penalize characters for going on missions but to simulate the fact that the Commonwealth doesn’t tolerate political apathy from citizens.
In character terms, these are the basic requirements for each level of ultimate rank (see Standing Among Giants p. 121):
- Aspirants: At least two skills at 50+. Networking: Ultimates skill becomes available at this rank.
- Initiates: At least three skills at 60+. U-rep 1–20.
- Exemplars: At least three skills at 70+ and four other skills at 50+. U-rep 21–60.
- Ducti: One skill at 80+, ten or more at 60+. U-rep 61–80.
- Autarchs: One skill at 90+, twelve or more at 70+. U-rep 81+
Neptunian Trojans Distance
The Neptunian Trojan points are on average 30.1 AU from Neptune, for a farcasting time lag of 4 hours, 10 minutes. This places the Trojan points about 52.1 AU from each other, for an farcasting time of 7 hours, 13 minutes. Like the Jovian Trojans, these are spread out across 30 degrees of Neptune’s orbit, so these times can vary by up to 2 hours.
Travel by ship between the Trojan Points and Neptune 271 days, give or take a few months. Travel between the L4 and L5 points takes 400 days, give or take a few months.
All morphs available on Ilmarinen (p. 132) have either Low Pressure Tolerance or Vacuum Sealing enhancements, plus either Temperature Tolerance (Improved Cold or Cryonic) for biomorphs or Cryonic Protection for synthmorphs. Enhanced Respiration and Oxygen Reserve are also common.
Given the vast distances involved, locations in the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud present a challenge for use as a campaign setting. Specific habitats and locales may be used, but their isolation means that any attempts to communicate or travel elsewhere is going to mean a serious time lag at best, a gap in the time frame of months or years at worst. This means that characters will not be able to easily send off forks or egocast elsewhere to gather information or aid, at least in a hurry. Likewise, if they are in need of physical support, their allies are likely going to be many hours away at best, and may not arrive by ship until many months after the situation is resolved. Keep in mind that a request for aid must first travel the distance to the requestee, then the response will take an equal time coming back, not to mention any time getting ready. This can, of course, also work in the player characters’ favor if they are dealing with someone who happens to have powerful allies; no one likes to be caught alone in the far reaches of the system.
There is always the possibility of playing a campaign that intentionally spans the lengths of years (or even decades!) as the characters physically travel around the extreme outer rim, either as explorers/investigators, comet herders, or cargo farhaulers. Hibernoids and synthmorphs are favorable for such long-term travels. The characters would need to deal with the fact that their rivals and enemies might move faster than them in some cases, perhaps egocasting ahead (or traveling via a faster antimatter powered ship). The campaign would also need to account for the fact that the rest of the universe would continue along at its usual speed—and given the pace of technological advancement with transhumanity, this might mean that some things are unrecognizable by the time they return from a journey taking years.