[RPG] High-Tech Dungeon Crawling in Hard Sci-Fi


I've started playing Eclipse Phase with a group of friends. Most of them have a Dungeons and Dragon history, and love getting magic items and such. I've already made up my mind to take the party on more dungeon raids, but what specifically can I do in the way of loot? It is a hard science fiction setting; no magic. It's noted in the core book that some brand-name weapons and items will have special features, and there is something called Psi that is basically watered-down psychic abilities. What are some recommendations you would make for drops and treasure caches?

Best Answer

The biggest difference between fantasy and sci-fi notions of value is that: ideas have value

Therefore, besides the standard stuff players receive, they can also discover what amounts to IP.

One of the oddest forms of IP is actually Real Estate, as it's a purely symbolic agreement that X owns area Y, even though X may not sit on Y with guns. (Note how this doesn't exist in most fantasy worlds.)

So one of the most interesting (from a cognitive dissonance point of view) rewards that players can get is the dungeon itself. They clear out an asteroid full of Nanoinfested Bots? They now own the asteroid and derive value from it. Our heros don't engage in Loot, Pillage, Burn any more, instead, they secure the objectives and get a stream of income. Sure, they can sell it, but it's far more interesting to present to them a tally of their "investment holdings" and recent events on each one. Plenty of plot hooks there and a way to get exactly the level of loot into their hands that you want without having to find ways of pushing the shiny things into the mission de jour.

Other forms of IP are roughtly grouped into the "valuable memes" grouping. So, one thing of great value would be an ancient mpX player with some hit songs from the 20th century. This is, of course, only of great value if managed correctly, but enterprising players will see the value in rare memes. And if they don't, then the first few times they release the IP into the infosphere, they get flamed/praised for their generosity.

And so on. The notion of value was hugely changed by the Industrial Revolution (that we're still in, arguably.) and by hitting home with the idea that "ideas have value" you can give them loot and emphasize the non-fantasy setting in ways that will make the less thinky players quite squeamish (yay! cognitive dissonance!).

Of course, they can be compensated for their efforts with upgraded gear and stuff, but that's expected.

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