Wednesday, July 30, 2014

All you extra terrestrials are going to prison, or how I'm dealing with aliens in Eclipse Phase

So I have been thinking a bit about Eclipse Phase ( and how I would like to run my personal game setting. For the most part I'm fairly happy with the setting as it's presented with a few exceptions. In this post I will talk about one of these exceptions. In theory I suppose this could work for pretty much any SF setting, so if you can glean something from it then feel free.

Aliens. I've talked about these pesky plot consuming parasites before, stating that I'd rather not include the "Factors" (The only aliens in the Eclipse Phase setting that humanity has encountered) into my games, but I never explained why. I do have a few reasons.

If they are used as they are presented, these Post Singularitarian ETs tend to act as nothing more than big bad bogeyman for the entire story. They distract from the feeling of the setting, as I see it, by creating a “goal” or a focus for the players to set their sights on. If this were a fantasy game aliens would be the dragons of this age. 

Different kinds of players will, of course, have different reasons for wanting to interact with these technologically superior aliens. I imagine that the “Hawks” will be raging at their restraints hoping to get their hands on some of that bad ass alien weaponry, the hacker types will want to use the far superior computer junk and of course there are the folks who think it'd be super awesome neat-o to eventually kick some alien ass as if these sapient beings were the boss at the end of some imaginary level.

Advanced alien civilizations also seem to exist only to serve as a counterbalance against the power and the threat of whatever runaway existential nightmare we've created for ourselves. As presented they seem to say that Humanity needn't worry too much about fucking shit up because there are aliens out there that know how to deal with these kinds of things and will help out if we screw up.

If I were to use aliens in game I could only see a couple of possibilities, either these aliens are on equal footing with humanity or they are somehow opposed to them.

If said aliens are on equal terms with humanity then their presence in game is merely one of flavor and personally I'd rather simplify the equation and state that there are no aliens. In that case I don't need to worry about players asking if they can play them or coming up with tons of pointless notes on the aliens history, origin and culture.

In the latter case this opposition could be as simple as the ETs needing our resources to survive or as complex as attacking humanity with the intent of destroying us because they came across the Titans and misconstrued them as weapons we had unleashed on the galaxy. I hear a lot of talk about how a sufficiently advanced and long lived culture would be more interested in peace than war. 

After taking a look at the Middle East and Africa however, I'm
 calling that one bullshit.

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