History and Technology
Eclipse Phase’s history begins in our near future. Man expands into space. Settlements grow on Luna, Mars and the asteroid belt to support mining, research and recreation. Skimmers, freighters and research vessels spread to the outer system. Scientists unlock the secret of the brain. They discover how to copy it, manipulate it, save it to back up, email and restore it, like data. Medical technology permits bodies to be custom-designed and grown. Almost all modern diseases are cured. Those with the money and influence become effectively immortal. Robotics make menial labor unnecessary, and 3D printing revolutionizes manufacturing, eliminating the scarcity of most resources. People begin uplifting animals, putting them through forced evolution programs to design, breed and cull them for intelligence. Several species are brought up to the level of sapience of homo sapiens. Computer technology blossoms, and the first self-aware, self-teaching AIs are developed. These intelligent animals and AIs, combined with humans, are referred to collectively as transhumanity. Truly it was a golden age, for those who had the resources to reap the benefits.
But all things must end. Conflicts between the US and China rise, eventually leading to war. Only when a fleet of robots enter New Orleans, severing and collecting the heads of civilians, do people begin to suspect it isn’t the Chinese attacking, but a third party. It takes several months to determine that a major US defensive computer network, the Total Information Tactical Awareness Networks, or TITAN, has developed (or been corrupted) in ways which are simply inexplicably advanced, that TITAN is attacking us for reasons unknown, and it is winning. Automated factories appear practically overnight, spewing fleets of killbots across the world. At first transhumanity fights back, but a TITAN site would be nuked and rebuild itself the next day. Eventually it was clear there was only one option left: abandon Earth.
In a mad rush, transhumanity flees Earth by any means necessary. Thousands load into shuttles. Millions are taken to facilities where their brains were flash-frozen, sliced, recorded, transmitted off-world, their bodies destroyed, as quickly as can be managed. Some people escape because they are wealthier and buy space for themselves at the expense of others. Others are chosen for their skillsets. Many are chosen by lotteries, or first-come first-serve, or other rigid selection processes that split families, even nations, resulting in hundreds of millions of orphans, widows, lonely parents, and transients. Ultimately less than 1% of the transhuman population escapes. The remaining 20 billion are trapped on Earth to be hunted and killed.
Then, one day, the TITANs disappear. No one knows why, or where to. They simply … stopped. They left behind their armies of killbots and dangerous programs, which still roam corners of Luna and Mars, and make Earth completely inaccessible and alien. Earth, now a barren, radioactive wasteland, is cordoned off by killsats to prevent a second attack.
Ultimately, the species is left to do what they do best; survive, and even thrive. People still remember the Fall, which ended ten years ago. But since then, life has spread to the edges of the solar system and beyond, and for many people, it’s returning to some sense of normalcy. There’s still major conflicts over how things should be run, and a justified fear of many technologies, but transhumans re-establish cities, political parties, space exploration, not to mention political backstabbing and cut-throat competition.
Politics and Recent Advancements edit as appropriate to the scheduled mission
Politically, the inner system belongs primarily to the Planetary Consortium, a corporate-created state, similar to Shadowrun. Most of the transhuman population ended up here, and most of them arrived too poor to do anything but auction off their freedom in exchange for survival (or wait in cold storage to even be given the choice). The distances in space are truly vast, so further out it becomes difficult to support empires. Transhumanity has taken the opportunity to branch into a thousand different clades; families based on mutual trust and sharing, technosocialism, oligarchies, black research labs, exploration vessels, massive carnival ships all thrive in the outer system. Many of the truly rich and powerful of Earth migrated to Jupiter orbit, where they built high walls against the dangers of robots, AIs, nanotech, and uncontrolled genetic manipulation. These people believe (with good cause) that the technologies which destroyed billions just a decade ago are still a threat, and should be abandoned. Unfortunately, they also hold imperialistic inclinations, and have not been kind to their citizens or their neighbors.
A few significant finds have been made since the Fall. A number of jump gates (called Pandora Gates) connecting the solar system to other sites across the galaxy have been discovered and are now used for economic and scientific advancement. An alien species, the Factors, have contacted transhumanity and entered into a number of economic arrangements, although their motives are still unclear.
Ultimately, transhumanity stands on the knife’s edge; nanofabrication and advances in power generation promise to provide everything man needs to live comfortably. Technology, philosophy, art and culture are blossoming again to fill the vacuum. People are rebuilding. But these same tools which promise to deliver a second golden age still carry the potential to destroy it. In addition, there are the exsurgent viruses, of unknown source, which linger around the edges of civilization; extremely contagious, practically unstoppable, they transform the victims into monsters, into typhoid Marys, or into TITAN puppets. The TITANs have disappeared, but no one is sure for how long, or what will happen when they return. Nor can people say what the Factors want. The galaxy is littered with the remains of intelligent civilizations which have disappeared, for unknown causes. Perhaps what struck them down still waits for transhumanity.