Firewall: transhumanity’s hidden saviors, fighting existential threats to the species
The Eclipse Phase roleplaying game takes place in a future world in which subverted artificial intelligences – the TITANs – nearly wiped out the transhuman species. While the manipulations of the TITANs were subtle at first, there were those who saw the disaster coming. They weren’t always powerful enough to get things done, they weren’t always effective at getting the word out, the couldn’t always work to the extent they’d like to. But, in the days after the fall, these parties came together with one purpose:
Never again would they allow transhumanity to come as close as they had to being wiped out forever.
These people of wildly varying ideologies, creeds, social backgrounds, and capabilities banded together to create a group effective enough to safeguard transhumanity. They created Firewall: a clandestine, leaderless group of individuals, working together to stave off apocalypse from not just the possible (some say probable) return of the TITANs, but from the panoply of other existential risks (x-risks) that could wipe out our species. Be it at the hand of astronomical catastrophe, alien contact, or humanity’s own darker tendencies, Firewall intends to protect the species against all odds.
Up until recently, the folks at Posthuman Studios had kept Firewall fairly nebulous, framing it as a group of idealists looking to keep the horror of the universe at bay and pave a way for transhumanity to stay alive long enough to thrive. They never really showed the whole picture of the group, instead leaving it to gamemasters to work out how Firewall worked for their own groups.
But with this release, they have pulled back the curtain to give you a better look at the inner workings of Firewall.
Firewall is presented in three sections, two which provide background information, and one in which rules are extrapolated from the prior two sections.
The first informational section focuses entirely on Firewall itself, covering the practices, policies, often at odds cliques, a who’s-who dossier list of Firewall, and ongoing operations being carried out by the conspiracy. The second informational section is formed of dossiers on other groups that Firewall is likely to brush up against in the course of their operations (Jovians, Hypercorps, Oligarchs, et al), as well as their intelligence capabilities, structure, and any assets Firewall has managed to embed into those organizations. The final segment goes into various system additions, such as new character traits, equipment, social network rep rules, pre-gen player characters, and a few tidbits of GM information pertaining to the behind the scenes goings ons.
Weighing in at just over 200 pages there’s a ton of good information here to bring more shades of grey to the Firewall organization, allowing you to play a very cold war style game with high stakes and even higher levels of paranoia.
This supplement finally fills in a couple of troublesome gaps that player and gamemaster alike may have had when dealing with Firewall’s inner workings. The core setting will give you the basics – Sentinels and Proxies forming cells called Servers, ideology, and a few locations and friendly organizations. Beyond that, the shadowy yet sprawling conspiracy was left vague and undefined. Populating the universe can be a fun exercise, but for those who crave canon, or who didn’t have either the time or the inclination to generate backstory or structure, this title will prove invaluable. If you know your characters have a certain type of playing style or a polity they’d want to go up against, but wanted guidance, this book is also for you, and expands on what happens when Sentinels have to deal with Jovians, Titanians, Ultimates or a host of other polities or religions.
Likewise, if you want adventures, the book will give you plenty of springboards to work with. There’s nothing specifically written out in an adventure format, but there’s a list of at least thirty ongoing operations to put your Sentinels to work on, and a whole gallery of Firewall NPCs to act either as their Proxy, quarry, or even as enemies. With a little prep work, you can have your Sentinels fighting exhumans, TITANspawn, or shady transhumans who know not what they do (or who do, but forge ahead anyway).
Another thing to note is how much effort the title puts into the setting’s varied intelligence services – as noted in the basics, the title focuses quite a bit on the spy games of the game universe. If you want something high intrigue, this book will enhance that element. It’s always been there in the other titles in the line as flavor – but this gives you a lot of structure, a lot of detail, and a lot of possibilities to turn EP into something reminiscent of a Le Carre novel, only with more tentacles, grey goop nano infestations, and killer AI.
There’s only one thing I could concretely see as being a con in the case of Firewall. Players who were looking for a lot of new toys, rules crunch, and cool morphs are going to be let down. The primary focus of the book is to present Firewall and the organizations likely to come up when playing the game in a greater detail. You’ll find new systems on using I-Rep, a few new toys like the Wobblycats of Titan, a few new augmentations, two new drugs, and two new weapons for use in the fight against x-risks – but beyond that, toybox and crunch elements are scant. If you want a bunch of rules, more character options, and great gear, you’re not going to find it in abundance here – you’ll want to look into books like the Morph Recognition Guide, or Transhuman for that kind of content.
Secondarily, I did hope that there’d be more information on one group in particular that is oft mentioned but little explained: Project Ozma. This conspiracy is mentioned in brief as Firewall’s older, richer, meaner brother – a group that when the day is done also goes up against x-risks, but takes those risks back to corporate labs for ‘study’ and, of course, exploitation by Hypercorps. There’s scant writing about them in Firewall, though something tells me there might be more in the upcoming X-Risk title slated for later release.
The Sum Up
Firewall ends up being a fantastic resource for groups who are looking for more guidance on who and what firewall is at a granular level, and I did not find myself disappointed. It’s a solid entry for those groups looking to lengthen the shadows in transhumanity’s uncertain future.
Available in PDF Format; Publisher: Posthuman Sturios, LLC; ; Authors/Artists: Various; Released :April 2, 2015; MSRP: $14.99 / $22.95 for Bundle also containing their Hack Pack and MP3 Add-ons