Transhuman - an Eclipse Phase resource


For those of you that like roleplaying games and have been following the evolution and success that is Posthuman Studio's Eclipse Phase books and universe, you may have spotted, if not already acquired with the relish and anticipation of their first and phenomenally well received Kickstarter funded  'players handbook' Transhuman.

Or, on the other hand, if you're anything like me, you not only eagerly awaited it, you scrabbled and fought to be amongst those that acquired not only the .pdf, but also the hardback edition so that you could mount it on you collection shelf like the prize that it was hopefully going to be.  And damn did I fight to get it.  I fought the A69, the roads of Newcastle and the hustle and bustle of the streets to get to the one place that I KNEW had it in stock (because I had phoned in, reserved a copy and swore that if anyone sold it by accident I would insist on eating the brains of the next person that [insert reason here]), namely Travelling Man, to whom my gratitude is effectively infinite for providing me with torrents of geekporn.  And lo, I descended upon the closest pretentious coffee serving establishment to devour what they were promising during the Kickstarter campaign.

The cover, again in the fashion of all the other books, it greets the eyes with some fantastic artwork offering a glimpse in to the chaos and sinister machinations of the Eclipse Phase worlds, dark and foreboding with a hint of imminent peril... and all before I've turned the front to be visited by the standard EP full colour 240 pages of sheer joy.

The back of the book offers a Package-based charatcer creation system and a random life path character creatikn system, expanded rules on the previously arguable and quite fudge-able rules regarding Flex-bots, Swarmanoids, Asyncs and Infomorphs. Add to that a selection of half-article, half-commentary on how to build a better Firewall operative, advice on investigation in-game, combat tactics, espionage and infiltration, for those of us that have seen a disgusting number of potential 'ninja' characters. And then, just to really sweeten the pot, they dumped in new morphs, gear, traits and backgrounds.

And boy, did they deliver.

Not since the days of Cyberpunk 2020 have I seen a lifepath character creation system so smooth and workable. You think you have the bearing of a character and then WHAM! it throws you a curve.  What started out looking like some schmuck born on Earth and found themselves mining ice in some slave pit in the belt becomes a Combat Async with the powers to tear a psychosurgeon's mind to shreds. A soldier cum assassin stuck working for an orbital military conglomerate suddenly finds themselves on the run and hiding themselves in a gatecrashing team to get as far away from the Planetary Consortium as possible. One kinute you're broke, the next you're holding on to an alien artifact worth a LOT of dosh but it might be a little suspicious... but do you care? Oversight has you pegged for a crime that you didn't commit... and then it turns out YOU DID!

The list goes on... thankfully.

But then there are the expanded rules, which, in my opinion, are not so much of a clarification as such as a selection of malleable suggestions (as it should be). The writers, who once again, approach each subject with a keen and in-depth confidence on those subjects to give the player and the gamesmaster a sense of being with the writer as it is discovered or reading a hidden report for their eyes only. They revel in the expansion of Tacnet enhanced sci-fi skirmishes, delivering a visceral and physics orientated BLT sandwich (Ballistics Laden Trauma) of implied modes of death dealing if the charatcers feel even remotely confident (or daft enough, or both) to tackle whatever abominations the players are facing... assuming bynthis point, the players have not become the abominations themselves.

Speaking of potential hiccups, the expansion on the Asyncs, specifically the overview for what it means to become and the ultimate realisation of the charatcer being an Async is both horrifying in its potnetial for character development as it is enlightening. For the experienced gamer, playing a character whose defining characteristics include mental disorders, can find it quite challenging, even for those who have played games such as Kult or Call of Cthulhu, to name but two, but Eclipse Phase doesn't change gear from its original approach in the core rule book and leaves the negative traits as being really down to the players to really find their own personal expression of what those disadvantages are, but at the same time offering plenty of sympathetic, yet in many ways clinical, advice on how these elements should be portrayed. And as an Async, that is pretty much a large part of the character...

Returning to the charatcer creation as a whole (and the bordering on phenomenal amount of personal playtesting I've put it under, to the current total of random pc and npc charatcers generated numbering close to 100)  it good to know that there is an inspiring amount of room for the player and gm to mold an interesting and thoroughly compelling character using all three systems should it be required. The more you use these systems, the quicker you realise that a few choice photocopies of certain pages will help save you book from impending damage, or your screen from 'smudge-finger'(tm).

They've thrown in more pre-generated charatcers, the new morphs, backgrounds and traits to really plump out the book with a critical explanation of each throughout the chapters and exemplify those modelswhich ddoesn't hurt the mystique of the gaming environment one bit. The articles on making investigative stories more complex, yet simple to run, is based entirely on the game-writer's grasp of developing the crime / scenario / mystery and how the game mechanics can be best used to makemthe players really get the sense they are discovering the dark secrets of the Eclipse Phase universe.

And again, the artwork throughout the book is atmospheric and absorbing, from card players in a seedy club chilling out to the gore strewn anguish of some poor sod tearing himself apart due tomsome unseen tormentor. 

Once more, Eclipse Phase, and therfore Posthuman Studios, have delivered an outstanding product with incredible narrative and gaming potential to whatever type of group you're running for or with. This book is an expansion and will mean absolutely nothing to those that have not got access to the core rule book, but the other publications, while obviously useful to the gaming experience, are not required. Having said that, Transhuman does accumulate all of the information for all of the other books and offers in page referencing to the book required should you wish to really discover the vibrant and terrible expansions that the game has to offer.

ISBN 10: 9780984583560

ISBN 13: 978-0-9845835-6-0

Submitted by Ferg on Wed, 27/08/2014 - 18:39

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