The Alexandrian

Caverns of ThraAsh McAllan sent me a tweet: “Hey @hexcrawl I keep referring people to [Jaquaying the Dungeon]… but noticed you’re using Jaquays’ deadname? Needs updating.”

(For those unaware, the author of The Caverns of Thracia transitioned in, if I recall correctly, 2012.)

This is something I’ve actually given quite a bit of thought to, both generally and in the specific instance of Jaquaying the Dungeon. And my philosophy is that name changes generally progress forward through time.

First: If Jennell had been Jennell when I wrote the essay, I’d have used Jennell. But what I wrote is what I wrote when I wrote it. Similarly, I don’t think we need to edit this video and dub in Caitlyn Jenner’s name.

I don’t think it’s either practical or necessary for us to revise extant works in order to match people’s changing identities. For example, what if I was dead? Who’d have the authority to decide what needed to be rewritten in my work? And what if I’d written a poem and rhymed a word with the name “Paul”? You can’t just search-and-replace names and necessarily arrive at something true.

Second: For similar reasons, I think it’s accurate to say that Cassius Clay won the Clay-Liston fight. (Because that was his name when it happened.) I also think it can be accurate to write that Muhammad Ali won that fight. It would not, however, be accurate to say that Cassius Clay won the Rumble in the Jungle (because that is not a thing which ever happened).

So, in the future, I may refer to “The Caverns of Thracia by Paul Jaquays”. Because that was her name when she wrote it.

There are archival issues here (i.e., you can’t reasonably track down every extant copy of The Caverns of Thracia and scratch out the author’s name on them; and even if you could, there would be some really significant ethical issues with rewriting cultural history like that). There are also issues of historical accuracy (which can be demonstrated with sentences like “Muhammad Ali then changed his name to Muhammad Ali” — which makes no sense if you’ve succeeded in your hypothetical mission to strike all references to the name Cassius Clay from the historical record).

Important proviso here: All of the above is discussing public figures and publicly known events. Very different standards apply to non-public events and private individuals, many of whom may be living stealth. Even if we ignore the ethical right for someone to control their own identity and privacy (although I can’t honestly think of any reason why we would want to do that), there are very real dangers in outing someone. Arguing that someone should say “that was back when HE graduated from college” because that happened before Jane transitioned is to inherently say that Jane should be outed any time events from her life before transitioning are mentioned.

(Some of you may be thinking that there shouldn’t be a distinction here. Consider a hypothetical scenario where Jennell was living stealth. Therefore, I should refer to past events in her life using only her current name and pronoun, right? Except if I say, “Jennell wrote The Caverns of Thracia.” that combines poorly with the public knowledge that the name “Paul” appears on all those extant copies of the book. I would have just functionally outed Jennell. Private and public information work in fundamentally different ways, and trying to treat them in the same way doesn’t work.)

In my ideal world, the changing of identity for a transexual or transgender person would be no more notable than any other change in name and identity. And we’d be able to treat them all openly and without any significant comment because, honestly, it’s just not that big a deal. Unfortunately, that’s just not the world we live in. In this world it is a big deal — it can literally be a life or death deal. And that needs to be respected.

Go to Part 1

Eclipse Phase: Psi-Chosis - Modya

Modya can be found either at work (a small suite of BdNY offices in the center of Tower Babylon) or at home (a single-room coffin+ apartment buried in the skin of Metis).

  • A taggant thumb hive was secreted into the cushions of her couch by Neuralite agents; she herself has several taggants on her.

DESCRIPTION: A mousy-featured flat with a bob cut of dark brown hair.


  • Russian accent.
  • Scared, traumatized, frightened, and confused.
  • Constantly thirsty. She will repeatedly offer to get the PCs drinks and will frequently fetch herself another glass of water.


  • Modya was an infugee until eight months ago when BdNY pulled her out of cold storage for her actuarial skills.
  • Hasn’t been socializing much. Her coworker Tanya finally convinced her to come out to the Black Light. Tanya never showed up. (This is a dead end: Tanya got invited to an arthouse orgy and ditched Modya without even the courtesy of a mesh ping.)
  • Modya has been spending most of her spare time and credits trying to figure out what happened to her husband’s ego; they’d been transmitted off Earth at the same time, but her file had been shuffled around so much that she has no idea where he might have ended up.


  • Blood or tissue samples from Modya can be subjected to medical analysis (see Node 3).
  • Modya is constantly thirsty because she has subconsciously manifested the High Pain Threshold psi-chi sleight (Eclipse Phase, pg. 224) due to the psi-epsilon primer. She has to keep drinking the water because otherwise the primer wears off and her body, having acclimated to the psi-chi, interprets the result as severe pain.
  • Two days ago, Modya was questioned by employees of Neuralite. They claimed to have been hired as a freelance investigation team following up on the Black Light incident. Modya told them she left before the incident and they seemed to accept that.

Go to Node 3: Medical Analysis

Go to Part 1

Eclipse Phase: Psi-Chosis - Paula

Located on the 276th sunward floor of the Harrington Torque, one of the kilometers-tall spindle-scrapers that criss-cross Nova York.


The interior décor is black-on-black with every single item limned in a blue light. In the UV spectrum, however, the club is a polychromatic disaster; a nouveau style that’s being referred to as “invisible pollocking”.

GHOSTS: Those subscribing to the Black Light’s custom AR channel (for a nominal fee) will find that the club is “haunted” by a number of spectral blue spirits who float here and there. These are all delta forks developed from egos that only survived the Fall as vapors.

LAYOUT: There’s a hemispherical bar area with tables studded across the floor. The dome of the bar is a dance floor designed for people wearing grip-pads. There are also two lounge areas (one for VIPs). The employee-only area contains a kitchen, storage, a break room, and the manager’s office.

ACTIVITY: During the day, the Black Light is largely deserted with just a few desultory drinkers. At night, the bar and lounge areas are thickly crowded. (The recent incident only created a sensation and increased the club’s demand; people are reporting that real ghosts are haunting the place.)

INVESTIGATION TEST – BAR: Will find the protoplasmic vomit (see below).

INVESTIGATION TEST – KITCHEN: Will find the component recently added to the drink fabber (see below).


MANAGER – EVANDER MOON: A gruff man in a splicer morph; blue, pseudo-prehensile dreadlocks and a slight potbelly. He’s convinced that the whole thing was a prank; some sort of “living art” piece somebody is prepping in anticipation of the Intergalactic Art and Culture Show. More than happy to take the free publicity, though.

BARTENDER – PAULA BANWIN: Friendly face in a dark-skinned splicer. She’s still badly shaken by what she experienced during the incident (which included a detailed vision of her watching TITAN drones kill her family and her original body… events she has no memory of because she escaped Earth as an infomorph fork before they happened).

Paula keeps a lifelog. She’s been teasing the events of last night and hasn’t publicly released all the footage, but they would function as surveillance footage (see below).


Can be obtained from the club’s security system, Paula Banwin’s lifelog, or possibly from other witnesses.

FOOTAGE: Average night at the club. Then all the lights spark brightly; people in the room and various items are clearly drawn towards a point near the center of the hemisphere (as if drawn by a strong gravitic field). People are clinging to tables or to each other and screaming. A few items implode, sending dull shards of safe-glass and ceramics careening around. Then, abruptly, its over; gravity reasserts itself and everyone falls (albeit slowly) towards the floor.

PERCEPTION (+30): One person (and only one person) is unaffected (Modya Oborskaia). Modya remains at her table. Her eyes are wide, but her pupils are rolled back to reveal only the whites of her eyes (which slowly turn red).

Rolling the footage back will reveal that Modya had just arrived and taken her first drink. (The drink was, of course, made in the drink fabber, see below.)

Rolling the footage forward will show that, after the incident, she stumbled away and vomited into a modern art piece that’s been extruded from the wall of the club. (The protoplasmic vomit she spewed up is still there, see below.)


Located in the kitchen. Standard model, but a strange, fluted canister made from some sort of black polymer compound has been added to it.

CANISTER: The canister was installed by workers from Neuralite and added epsilon psike-out to everything the fabber made. It has an inventory taggant attached to it that clearly identifies it as coming from a Neuralite storeroom.

Surveillance footage can reveal the person installing the canister. If successfully traced, it will turn out to be Neuralite employee named Evren Nissel (he knows nothing; he was just told to install the canister).

OPENING THE CANISTER: The canister is completely sealed except for the intake and output valves. Breaching the canister will trigger a self-destruct unless an encrypted passkey is broadcast. If the canister is opened, the chemical residue inside can be subjected to medical analysis (see Node 3).


Located in a modern art piece that’s extruded from the wall of the club. Modya vomited into the art piece after the incident.

The vomit is semi-gelatinous and looks something like a decaying jelly fish. In substance, it’s made up almost entirely of protoplasm – as if a huge mass of cells had their plasma membranes stripped from them.

The vomit can be subjected to medical analysis (see Node 3).

Go to Node 2: Modya Oborskaia

Eclipse Phase: Psi-Chosis

October 7th, 2016

Eclipse Phase: Psi-Chosis

Eclipse Phase: Transhuman


SUMMONS: PCs are summoned to Nova York. No indication of what their mission may be. Fake IDs are not required, although caution never hurt anyone.

RESEARCH (-20): May allow PCs to pick up some of the details from the briefing before arriving.

VIRTUAL CONFERENCE: Hosted in a VR simulspace as soon as the last PCs’ transport is close enough to mitigate transmission delays.

HOST: Depicted as a featureless shadow. Infomorph in a heavily secured eidolon using a suite of kinesic-denying software.

ITINERARY: Firewall has been tracking a series of apparent async events on Nova York over the past six weeks. Rumors or confirmed reports include:

  • A telepathic blast allowing someone to summon medical assistance for someone injured in one of the nickel mines.
  • A beaten wife causing her husband to collapse through sheer anger. (The muslim community on Nova York is interpreting the incident as a punishment of sin.)
  • A series of minor robberies which may have been aided by post-hypnotic suggestions. (Although traditional cyberbrain-hacking may be the actual culprit.)
  • Everyone in an area reportedly “sharing the same thoughts”.

Firewall’s initial suspicion was this might be evidence for a new async. Or possibly an async gang trying to expand into Nova York.

Over the last ten days (which may have been while the PCs were in transit), however, there have been three major incidents:

  • Over the course of a week, roughly a dozen people were struck with complete and total amnesia. (They’ve been restored from backups. Medical examinations have found no physical cause for their condition.)
  • Twenty people in a Banco de Nova York facility simultaneously experienced a “shared delusion” in which they all dived into the caldera of Olympus Mons.
  • A fifty-foot-long section of corridor in the Skin was found transmuted into gold.

A fourth incident – the most significant to date – occurred last night at a club named the Black Light.

  • Initial reports suggest a massive incident featuring Casimir force repulsion. To date, only exsurgent asyncs have demonstrated the ability to manipulate the Casimir effect.
  • The Black Light is located on the 276th sunward floor of the Harrington Torque, one of the kilometers-tall spindle-scrapers that crisscross Nova York.

The Black Light Incident represents our best lead. Your mission is to identify the cause of the Nova York Events and, if it represents a threat, put an end to it.


Nova York is described in detail in Rimward, pg. 26. This section is a brief summary of information from Rimward and also contains original material pertinent to this scenario.

  • Population: 500,000 (third largest habitat in the belt)
  • 9 Metis: Large nickel-iron and silicate asteroid. (Not to be confused with the moon of Jupiter by the same name.)


  • CENTRAL CAVERN: Spherical, 4 km in diameter, 200m beneath the asteroid’s surface.
  • LIGHTING: Huge light tubes in the outer walls. At night, the lights of the buildings cause the surface of the sphere to resemble an enormous geode.
  • GRAVITY: Microgravity of 1/140th g. (Up and down have little meaning. Falling is irrelevant as air pressure and low gravity eliminate any risk of injury.)
  • SPINDLE-SPIRES: Thousands of exceptionally tall and fragile-looking buildings that extend between 100 and 150m above the surface, with a large number that extend all the way across the cavern.
    • Durable frame, with reflective or translucent materials that play with ambient light in the cavern.
    • Residents often jump from one building to another.

THE SKIN: Refers to all the tunnels burrowing through the asteroid around the central cavern. Most of these are the result of mining, but many have been converted to low-rent housing and the like.


  • NOYO: The locally produced currency. No other form of currency is accepted.
    • Value of the noyo decreases over time from the date of issue, which is meant to stimulate spending, discourage currency speculation, and prevent wealth accumulation.
    • Value of noyo is pegged to local reputation network, so people with high Noyo rep have their currency devalue at a slower pace.
    • Tends to warp the local rep economy – people tend to avoid “narcing” on their friends because it can create a negative feedback loop when money is on the line.
  • BANCO de NOVA YORK (BdNY): Manages all financial transactions and is the habitat’s legal custodian.
    • Residents and businesses rent their roofs; no one owns property.
  • EXTROPIAN: Other than the Noyo and BdNY, Nova York is generally extropian.
    • Private contracts for security, insurance, legal code, etc.
    • Each building is often a collective (either closely-knit or purely functional), often sharing contractural services.


  • Cultural melting pot.
    • Wide variety of religious memeplexes.
  • Heavily based around visual arts – sculpture, architecture, light-sculpting, sensory experiences, AR experiences, aerial dance routines, etc.
    • Planning to host an Intergalactic Art and Culture Show next year to draw tourists and residents.


Psi-opener drugs, as described in the core rulebook (pg. 325), are a variant of the Watts-MacLeod strain that temporarily imbue users with the ability to use one particular psi sleight. Neuralite (a well-cloaked subsidiary of the Cognite hypercorp) has been developing an experimental psi-epsilon opener. They’re hoping to unlock the powerful psi-epsilon abilities available only to exsurgents, but crossing the relatively benign Watts-MacLeod virus with active strains of the exsurgent virus is obviously incredibly dangerous.

The psi-epsilon opener is a binary compound: The epsilon primer and the epsilon psike-out. The opener only becomes fully active when the epsilon psike-out is taken by a primed subject.

Testing of the compound proved difficult because it had a very low success rate in laboratory trials. Neuralite’s scientists estimated that for every 1,000 test subjects they brought in, only one might actually manifest psi powers due to the safeguards they had added to the virus’ DNA.

As a result, Neuralite decided to test the compound by pumping the first part of the compound into the H2O supply of Nova York in order to saturate the population in preparation for the “activation event”. Their theory is that when they add the epsilon psike-out to the water supply in a few days, they’ll create roughly 500 powerful asyncs.

The early, minor async events in Nova York are due to an unexpected side effect from the epsilon primer: Citizens who are already asyncs (many of them minor asyncs who don’t even realize they have powers) are experiencing spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of psi energy.

The major async events in the last few weeks are the result of Neuralite performing isolated tests of the epsilon psike-out compound.

Epsilon Primer: The primer is essentially a complicated receptive capsid and does not contain any active exsurgent virus. This means that most people exposed to the virus are at no risk and their bodies will flush the primer out of their system within two weeks. The exception to this are asyncs, who must make a Moxie x 20 test once per day while exposed to the drug. On a failure, they’ll manifest a powerful and out-of-control version of a psi sleight. This experience generally inflicts 1d10+5 SV.

Epsilon Psike-Out: If taken by someone under the effects of the epsilon primer, the victim must make a Moxie x 10 test. (An async suffers a -30 penalty on this check.) On a success, the drug only has the effect of a normal psi-opener and psike-out (see Eclipse Phase, pg. 325). On a failure, the victim receives the permanent use of a random psi-epsilon sleight and also benefits from the effects of psike-out. Unfortunately, this also means that he victim is infected with the haunting version of the exsurgent virus (see Eclipse Phase, pg. 366). Each time they use the psi-epsilon sleight, there is a 10% chance that this will upgrade to the mindstealer version of the exsurgent virus (see Eclipse Phase, pg. 367).


The epsilon psike-out is scheduled to be released 1d10+1 days after the PCs arrive. (It may happen sooner if Neuralite realizes they’re being investigated and Radom or Vangelis decide to pull the trigger.)

If the PCs fail to prevent the release of the epsilon psike-out, it’s a catastrophe: Neuralite’s estimates are off by a factor of ten (and they also don’t realize they’re creating exsurgents instead of empowered transhuamns). 5,000 psi exsurgents will be created in Nova York (emerging over the course of 1-2 weeks). At fully 1% of the population, they probably can’t be contained. The end result is that Nova York is likely to be quarantined or destroyed.


LocationClueLeads To
Black LightProtoplasmic VomitMedical Analysis (Node 3)
Black LightDrink Fabber - CanisterNeuralite (Node 4)
Black LightDrink Fabber - Chemical ResidueMedical Analysis (Node 3)
Black LightSurveillance FootageModya Oborskaia (Node 2)
Modya OborskaiaTissue SampleMedical Analysis (Node 3)
Modya OborskaiaConstant ThirstWater Treatment (Node 5)
Modya OborskaiaInterrogationNeuralite (Node 4)
Medical AnalysisModya's DNAModya Oborskaia (Node 2)
Medical AnalysisEpsilon Psike-OutNeuralite (Node 4)
Medical AnalysisWater SamplesWater Treatment (Node 5)
Neuralite OfficeResearch Into Neuralite's ContactsWater Treatment (Node 5)
Neuralite OfficeModya SurveillanceModya Oborskaia (Node 2)
Neuralite OfficeCell CulturesMedical Analysis (Node 3)
Neuralite OfficeThe PlanWater Treatment (Node 5)
Water Treatment PlantNeuralite Personnel & EquipmentNeuralite (Node 4)


Following up on the events prior to the Black Light is not necessarily fruitless, but there’s not much to go on:

  • The people who experienced the telepathic blast have not repeated the experience (although one is, in fact, a weak async and just doesn’t know it).
  • The beaten wife is currently being sheltered by her mosque. (She’s an async trying to deny her abilities due to a religious belief that they come from Shaitan.)
  • There are no functional leads on the robberies.
  • The people suffering from amnesia have no memory of the event (no pun intended). None of them are responsible for the amnesia and neither their egos nor their morphs have anything abnormal about them.
  • There’s no indication of who (or what) was responsible for the transmutation (and the owners of the mine have sealed the area off).

Tissue samples taken from the telepath or the beaten wife contain high concentrations of the psi-epsilon opener. It’s difficult to isolate by itself (-20 modifier), but comparing these samples to other relevant samples provides a +10 modifier to those checks. (See Node 3.)

Go to Node 1: The Black Light

Star Trek - Captain Kirk

One of the problems with running military games in an RPG is the chain of command: Realistically speaking, even on remote missions with a small team (i.e., ideal RPG fodder) there should still be one guy who’s actually in charge of the op. This can either be an NPC (which can either lead to railroading or, for the GM not interested in railroading, a really tricky balancing act between having the NPC commander do their job vs. letting the players take the initiative). Or it can be on of the PCs (which can remove the dilemma created by requiring the GM to issue literal orders to the PCs, but which can result in incredibly fragile gameplay that’s highly dependent on the player running the captain).

On my bucket list is running a Star Trek-like open table campaign where every player designs a captain and their bridge crew. When a player requests a session, that player would be running the captain and anyone else who shows up for the session would pick up the roles of their crew troupe-style (meaning that those roles would, over time, be played by a variety of people). This doesn’t so much solve the problem as work-around it by giving everyone their turn in the captain’s chair.

Here’s another thought: Everyone at the table takes on the role of a bridge crew member. But then you also have an Everyone is John-style cap system which gives everybody at the table control over one “slice” of the captain’s personality / skill set and the ability to bid for immediate control over the situation. Unlike Everyone is John — where the character being portrayed is literally suffering from multiple personality order — the goal of the table here is still to portray a coherent character; it’s just that the disproportionate agency possessed by the commanding officer is now jointly shared by the entire table. (Which makes it much more closely resemble the rough-and-tumble democracy of a typical RPG group where everybody usually gets a say in what the next course of action will be, but occasionally somebody will just charge off and force people to follow in their wake.)



Recent Posts

Recent Comments