Game Name: Eclipse Phase
Publisher: Posthuman Studios
Authors: Lars Blumenstein, Rob Boyle, Brian Cross, Jack Graham, and John Snead
Year: 2009 (last update 2015)
Pages: 400 pages
Retail Price: Hardcover $49.99 w/ PDF; PDF $19.99 – currently on sale for $13.79
If we’ve learned anything from watching movies such as Alien, Event Horizon, or the recent Life it’s that space is a cold and unfeeling place. Or maybe I should say not only is the universe cold and unfeeling but also chock full of monsters and knowledge mankind may be better just off leaving alone and undiscovered. This is where Eclipse Phase comes in. I don’t think I’ve ever run across an RPG which takes a metric ton of science fiction tropes and meshes them together in a way never seen before. There’s a post apocalyptic future, hard SF, transhumanism, space exploration, gates to other worlds, vast conspiracies, anime influences, psionics, and more. One would think all of these concepts would blend into an unintelligible mess but that isn’t the case with Eclipse Phase.
This is an RPG in which the setting is a huge selling point. I’m not going to spoil the surprises since the backstory to Eclipse Phase is one of the pleasures of discovering the game but suffice to say mankind pulled an Icarus and got pretty burned in the process. I also especially appreciate the sandbox approach the RPG takes in allowing the GM and players to craft the sort of game they want to experience. You can go heavy on the transhumanity struggling to survive angle, or aim for SF cosmic horror, or take on the vast web of conspiracies woven throughout the setting, or just about any other approach which will please your friends around the table.
The game mechanics are straight forward, if a little dull, and strangely take a bit of time to all click in your head but can easily be seasoned with your own house rules to jazz them up or iron them out. There’s also a good amount of supplemental material available to build on the core book and you can even download a copy of the playtest edition of the upcoming second edition absolutely free. I’ll finish by mentioning some folks aren’t overly thrilled by the system but I personally think Posthuman Studios have created a roleplaying game which is certainly worthy of the awards it has won and is a great SF title which you can flavor with as many horror elements to suit your tastes.