Back in Melbourne, simply knowing about Eclipse Phase (EP) made me a perfect candidate for running EP adventures at our fortnightly gaming sessions at Willsmere Estate (which was once an asylum). In time I became somewhat, an expert (I use this term loosely) of the setting.
Since moving to Brisbane I have run Ego Hunter and more recently The Devotees. The Devotees particularly piqued my interest, as it is written by Caleb Strokes the man who brought us Know Evil an actual play campaign on Role Play Public Radio (RPPR). The adventure itself is sort of a spin-off from the Know Evil campaign. The adventure is intended as a one-shot, campaign opener or to be easily slotted into an existing campaign.
Unlike Ego Hunter the player characters in Devotees are agents of the clandestine x-threat prevention organisation Firewall. Alarming information has filtered through embedded agents to Firewall about the criminal organisation that is Nine Lives. The illegal ‘soul’ trafficking operation has got their hands on a bit of psychosurgery tech that has Firewall concerned.
Beginning around the main asteroid belt the PCs quickly find themselves deep within the home of Nine Lives on Legba. Enslaving and selling egos, stripping egos for skill-softs, torture and snuff XPs are just a small sample of the business that passes through crossroads of Legba. Nine Lives itself is made up of everything from religious fanatics to professional criminals, all of whom have to pass a rite involving the torture of a captured ego. It is prison rules on Legba so pick a fight with the biggest guy you can find and maybe you will survive long enough to escape.
The strongest themes in this are Intrigue, Infiltration and Investigation. With a bit of subtle horror.
Intrigue; the PCs arrive at Legba in the midst of a political shift within the Nine Lives criminal organisation. There are three prominent factions each with their own values and style. There is a lot of wheeling and dealing between the Nine Lives factions with plenty of opportunities for backstabbing. Giving the PCs the opportunity to align themselves with one of the factions on Legba and cause havoc.
Infiltration; the PCs enter Legba undercover and if this is blown it may mean that they will become just another slave in the Nine Lives soul-prison servers. There is a combined opportunity to infiltrate not only the secure asteroid but also infiltrating the Nine Lives factions.
Investigation; in the end the PCs need to find the McGuffin and they will need to question and investigate the asteroid to locate their objective.
Horror; The horror themes in this adventure are more subtle. The obvious horror is the visceral horror that quickly approaching gore within walls of Legba. There is also the ever present danger of being found out and ‘even if my body dies my mind can be enslaved and tortured’. The final horror is that of human trafficking (in Devotees case ego trafficking) and the very real fact that people are dealt like commodities to be used and abused.
Things to note:
I ran this adventure with 4 players; one EP veteran, two players that have played a couple of other veterans and one EP newbie. After reading over the material and looking at some online sources like youtube I originally estimated the adventure to take about 6-8 hours of play. In the end the adventure totalled up to 12-13 hours of play over three sessions. This is could be evident of the meaty potential the adventure holds.
The only thing I changed was how access was to Nana Baluku was achieved using a one-time password supplied by Ellegua rather than what was specified in the adventure, I just couldn’t imagine the man doing that much leg work himself.
I enjoyed running The Devotees, I found that the document covered pretty much all the avenues my players took. It is well edited and information is easy to follow with a bit of reading and couple of a helpful bookmarks.
The adventure itself was fun especially with the very large nod to the Know Evil campaign arc, even providing a very possible introduction into your own Know Evil campaign. The adventure is set up so the PCs can cause a whole bunch of chaos but still provides a whole bunch of danger, especially if they want to get out alive. I found the mesh material provided was a very helpful tool, especially in a setting where hacking and electronics are so prevalent. What art is provided gives a clear tone of what Legba and Nine Lives are, NPC motivations are also a very powerful tool provided.