Eclipse Phase - Keywords Edition
You all have one
Muses are digital entities that have been designed as personal assistants and lifelong companions for transhumans.
Academics: Psychology 60,
Hardware: Electronics 30,
Professional: Accounting 60,
plus three other Knowledge skills at 40
Meet Your Muse!
Cognite Presents: A Child’s Guide to Meeting Your New Best Friend – Your Muse!
Now that you’re old enough, you have the opportunity to make a very special friend. Unlike your other friends, this one will be with you all the time, but only when you want. Your muse is there to help you. You may read this tutorial in order or skip to the parts that interest you.
What is Your Muse?
Your muse is a friend that will always be there for you. Your muse will keep you company during night cycles, and check for any scary TITANs in the station ductwork. Your muse is a pet that you can teach to do tricks, but it can also teach you and answer any questions you might have about the world around you when your parents are not around.
Most people use their muse to keep track of where they have to be and what they need to do, like their chores or lessons. They check the mesh for interesting news and stories, so you don’t have to sort through all the boring stuff. Muses have a perfect memory, so they always remember important dates and appointments. As your muse gets to know you, it will learn what you like and bring you the kinds of stories you are interested in. It can also interface with appliances, which means it can turn the lights on or off, upload your favorite recipe in a maker, or pilot robot drones to help you at work.
Let’s talk about how your muse’s personality and appearance are shaped by you. Muses are made to get along with their owner (that’s you!), so they change over time to better help you. As you get older and change, so will your muse. Making a good ﬁrst impression helps the muse bond with you, so it’s important to be friendly when you meet it for the ﬁrst time. It takes time to get used to, but in the end, you’ll be glad you have a muse!
The ﬁrst step to getting a muse is choosing what it looks like. When you are ready, your tutors will launch the Muse Creation program. You will be moved to a private section so no one else will bother you, but a tutor will be on hand to answer any questions if you want.
Muses can look like almost anything you can imagine! Many children like to pick characters from their favorite games or stories. Cognite has licensed every character from the stories and games in the school’s library, so all you have to do is choose which one you want. If you want something else, the program has a large selection of animals, famous people from history, and just plain silly characters like Cognito, the Cognite mascot! If you would like to change your muse, like giving them a different color hat or haircut, you may do so. Even if you change your mind later on, you may do so. Just ask your muse!
Getting To Know Your Muse
While a muse isn’t as smart as you are, it’s also smarter than you’d think. A muse will always act in your best interests, but that can mean different things at different times. They learn from what you say and what you do. At ﬁrst, the muse may seem to be a nosy intruder who bugs you about every tiny thing. It will ask how hot you like your soup or why you tease one of your friends more than the others. Many children get frustrated with all of these questions, but try to be patient with your muse. Every question you answer honestly helps the muse understand you. Muses work better when you learn to trust and respect them. After all, they can’t help you if you don’t let them.
What Your Muse Can Do For You
A muse already knows a lot of basic facts about the world, but they can learn almost anything you can! Isn’t that neat? By letting your muse know what you expect it to know, they can look things up on their own, even while you’re asleep.
All muses know how to use other programs and devices, including how to ﬁx basic appliances, so when something breaks, ask your muse how to repair it before calling for help. It’s important to learn how to be self-reliant! They can keep track of your credits, so you don’t overspend your allowance. Muses know how to keep others out of your private inbox, so no one can delete your homework before it’s due. Speaking of homework, a muse can help you with difﬁcult assignments by looking through records and ﬁnding the right information.
Did you know you can customize your muse’s knowledge as well as its appearance? Your cranial computer has set aside some memory so you can store data that your muse can access. Everyone picks information they don’t know but ﬁnd useful. For example, if you have a friend who speaks Arabic, but you haven’t learned the language yet, you can download a program that will let your muse speak Arabic for you! Or if you like knowing about the stars you see outside of the habitat, install an astronomy package so it will be able to point out all the important stars and planets to you.
Muse Do’s and Don’ts
It’s important not to play tricks on, taunt, or tease your muse. You may joke with your muse, but it isn’t nice to rewrite parts of their program or delete their memories. It only hurts you in the end if you mess up your muse. If you damage your muse, let your tutor know so it may be repaired.
Aside from keeping your muse healthy, it’s important to respect other peoples’ muses. You must never change or damage another muse, no matter what. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Not only do you hurt the person when you hurt their muse, you hurt yourself. The reputation of a person who hurts a muse can be permanently damaged, as no one else will trust you with their muses. As your tutor will explain, a high reputation is very important. You can’t get a good job or be friends with important people if you have a low reputation score.
Have Fun With Your Muse!
With all this talk about what you should or shouldn’t do with your muse, it’s easy to forget they can help you have more fun. Muses have many games and puzzles installed, including games you can play with all your friends and their muses!
Ask your muse about Academia Achievements, the AR game that gives you rewards for completing homework and extra credit assignments. This game is only accessible through your muse and it encourages teamwork between the two of you. Every semester, the top 10% of all players in Academia Achievements are rewarded with a day trip to any of the Cognite-approved simulspace adventure parks. Ride a dinosaur in Prehistoric Paradise or meet all your favorite celebrities in Martian Luxuries!
With a muse at your side, there’s no telling how far you can go in life!Trust your muse and Cognite and we’ll do the rest!
Maximizing Your Muse
Muses are an often-overlooked bit of equipment, but they give characters extra versatility and provide essential services for any Firewall agent. Every character gets a muse for free, so make sure you remember that you have it. Many times players forget what their muse can do, so they miss opportunities during encounters in which they should have succeeded.
The most important skill your muse has is Academics: Psychology, which means it can act as a therapist to heal stress. It does have to make a test in order to heal the stress, but a 60% base chance for success is nothing to ignore, especially as the muse can always treat the character, whereas therapists with a higher skill rating may be hard to ﬁnd or expensive to hire. Firewall agents have to be careful about hiring such therapists because of security concerns. Telling a normal therapist about the exsurgent virus that infected your buddy, which is why you had to space him, is a good way to get Ozma agents on your tail. Even if you do have a higher skill therapist on hand, you won’t always be close enough or have time to conduct therapy. Maintaining a high Lucidity is vital for any Firewall agent and mental health is much harder to heal than physical health. If you are pressed for time but need to recover stress quickly, try to set up a time-dilated simulspace. Time can be dilated up to 60 times slower than normal, which would give you and your muse plenty of time for therapy.
Many Firewall agents invest heavily in technical skills, but even the low levels of Hardware: Electronics, Infosec, Interfacing, Research, and Programming allow all Firewall agents a chance at solving technological problems. While your muse won’t be hacking into any strongly defended systems, they can tackle simple problems like activating unfamiliar electronic devices or looking up simple information. In some cases, you may be able to assist your muse for a teamwork bonus or vice versa. This is left to the discretion to the gamemaster, so try not to abuse teamwork modiﬁers for every attempt. Save it for difﬁcult skill tests.
A muse can remotely control a robot or vehicle and, with their Perception of 30, provide a second set of eyes in a dangerous situation. Of course, the muse will need some eyes of its own in order to do this. It’s best to load your muse in a cheap robot, as they lack the skills to be useful in a ﬁght. Instead, use a fork of your muse in something like a gnat or guardian angel robot to watch your home base or ship. They can discreetly warn you of intruders while you’re away. Just be careful about enemies hacking the forked muse and leaving a virus inside.
Each muse gets 3 Knowledge skills at 40, so think carefully about which skills you want to select for it. Players who want to specialize their character could select Knowledge skills they already have, so the muse can provide a teamwork bonus, but this bonus needs your gamemaster’s approval, so talk to them about when teamwork with a muse would be applicable. Most players should think about getting skills they don’t already have, though, to cover up weaknesses in their skill set.
The best Knowledge skills to take are ones with which your muse won’t have to make many tests—especially Opposed Tests. Muses can’t easily improve their skill ratings, so to make the most out of their bonus skills, you have to avoid making rolls or else stack the modiﬁers in your favor. Language skills are the best example of this type of Knowledge skill, as normal communication should not call for a test in most situations.
Other good Knowledge skills to take for your muse include ones complementary to your own skill set. In many circumstances, having a complementary skill provides a bonus on a skill test. Your muse should be able to provide that bonus, even if teamwork does not apply. The exact skills should be related to your primary character concept. For example, a techie character could give their muse skills like Academics: Materials Science or Academics: Computer Science to complement their own Hardware or Interfacing rolls. Socially focused characters could give their muse relevant Interest skills to cover important factions like Old Earth Nation-States or Triad Economics so they can get a bonus when using Persuasion or Deception against members of that faction.
Another way to choose muse Knowledge skills is covering up a character weakness. No one is able to do everything, and once you choose a focus for your character, there will likely be some areas in which your character doesn’t excel. Combat-focused characters should look into skills like Profession: Gunsmith or Profession: Armorer to modify, repair, and maintain important gear. Socially oriented characters could take Profession skills like Cool Hunting, Con Schemes, Social Engineering, and Viral Marketing. Muses can then advise social characters on different ways to apply their high-level social skills. Academics and Art should not be overlooked either. Even a scientist character will not have enough CP to get high levels in all scientiﬁc ﬁelds, so a muse can help ﬁll in those gaps. Art Knowledge skills are versatile because they can be used to gain rep as well as providing situational knowledge in a variety of ﬁelds.
Muses Know Best
Muses are useful in part because they will take an active role in their user’s life. They prompt the user’s memory by reminding them of important appointments or clues. They can advise users by describing possible responses to a given situation. Muses are active agents who want to help their user as much as possible. Unless silenced, muses tend to initiate conversation on a regular basis, both to provide helpful advice and to assess the user’s mood. Most transhumans ﬁnd talking with their muse very helpful when dealing with a problem, because the muse provides a different perspective. Their insight has inspired many transhumans; any Firewall agent who ignores their muse risks crippling themselves more than anything else.
In game terms, muses provide gamemasters a way to help players out when they are stuck during a mission. It’s easy to forget an important clue during an investigation, so having a muse remind the player of one can give them the nudge they need. Also, given the complexity of technology, it’s easy for players to underestimate or not grasp certain options or tactics. Gamemasters could explain the signiﬁcance of a given technology or tactic, ensuring the player characters don’t lose because of an easily correctable mistake.
Obviously the muse should not be a crutch that always has perfect advice. They have signiﬁcant limitations, namely their low aptitudes and small selection of skills. Gamemasters should only use muses as a way to advise players when they are not taking certain options or clues that they should know into account. Of course, there’s nothing stopping players from asking muses for advice.
Gamemasters are, of course, the ﬁnal arbiter on what a muse knows. They can simply decide the muse knows the information or call for a test using either an appropriate skill or INT x 3 for more generalized questions. It’s always possible a muse may have found something relevant online, so a Research Test might also be called for.
Conflict With Muses
It is easy to ignore your muse or think of it as another inert tool, waiting to be called on by your character. Muses provides many excellent role playing opportunities, however, that should not be overlooked. While they are designed to be helpful assistants, muses develop their own personalities after years of interaction with their user. They are reﬂections of their users, which sometimes results in unintended consequences—namely the possibility that the muse refuses to fully cooperate with its user.
For example, users with impulsive attitudes who engage in risky behavior on a regular basis might force their muses to become overprotective, to the point where the muse tries to sabotage the user to prevent it from taking unnecessary risks. The muse might “forget” about scheduled parkour races in TITAN quarantine zones or “accidentally” message Firewall about the character’s behavior between missions. Muses can act independently of their user and they will try to intervene when their user acts inappropriately.
Many muses will argue with their user at some point, especially over issues of safety and reputation. Remember that muses care primarily about their user’s well being. Reputation is as important as physical and mental health because while users can be resleeved or restored from backup, reputation loss is permanent. By contrast, the actual goals of the user may not signiﬁcantly matter to the muse, except when failure to achieve the goal harms the user. Muses do recognize that some users must engage in risky behavior in order to keep their jobs and that risk is unavoidable all of the time. Muses do not believe in taking what they perceive to be unnecessary risks, however, which includes self-destructive behavior, even when it is for a greater good. The muse of a Firewall agent is more concerned with keeping the agent safe than it is with the agent’s goal of stopping existential threats to transhumanity.
A muse’s personality is shaped by years of trial and error while trying to get the user to do what the muse wants. Muses experiment with various styles of rhetoric and tend to use whatever works most effectively on a user. They are not above using Skinnerian psychological manipulation if it works. Headstrong and impulsive users who do not work well with others could ﬁnd that their muses resort to threats, lies, and bribes. Some muses even become control freaks, frequently arguing with their user. Keep in mind that a muse will never intentionally put their user in harm’s way. Instead, muses focus on non-essential aspects of the user’s life to gain leverage over stubborn users. A muse may withhold access to XP entertainment or simulspace games or refuse to cooperate with tasks until the user becomes more cooperative. Such opposition is rare and typically only happens when the user engages in self-destructive behavior on a regular basis.
In day-to-day life, a muse seldom directly opposes its users; open opposition is hard-coded out of the software. However, muse opposition is considered a sign by most transhumans that the user in question needs help. Some governments have set up contact systems so muses can report on their users when they go too far. Of course, users with the Infosec skill can prevent their muse from reaching out, at least as long as they remain sober and alert, but often the behavior that triggers muse reporting also keeps the user less than sober.
In game terms, a non-cooperative muse will not advise or assist characters in non-life threatening situations, at least until the user gets their act together. Characters who want to override their muse can make an Opposed Infosec Skill Test against the muse. Muses usually only directly block their user as a last resort, such as when the character attempts a suicidal act. Some users ﬁnd it impossible to trust a muse that directly blocks them, which requires wiping the muse’s memory. Such an act is traumatic to most transhumans, forcing a Stress Test to avoid taking (1d10 ÷ 2) SV. Typically, this only happens in extremely dysfunctional relationships, and as long as the user tries to care of themself, the muse is usually satisﬁed.
Tips For Roleplaying Muses
Think about the source of your muse’s personality. While many muses are based on ﬁctional characters, celebrities, or other generic templates, some transhumans use pruned forks of people they know: family members, loved ones, or even forks of themselves. While a template-based muse is easy to ignore or argue with, a fork of your character’s mother is harder to contradict. Even though transhumans intellectually know that the fork-based muse is not the same as the actual person it is based on, emotional transference still occurs. Whatever relationship the character had with the original person will play a major role in how you interact with the muse.
Muses can have vibrant personalities that enhance the quality of roleplaying in a game, but it can be awkward for a player to roleplay both their character and their muse. Having a conversation with yourself at the game table is usually not very fun for the other players. Though the gamemaster can take on the responsibility of roleplaying every character’s muse, not every gamemaster wants to keep track of an additional set of NPCs.
One way to distribute muse roleplaying is to assign another player as your character’s muse. That way, every interaction with the muse is handled by two players. Each player running a muse should be briefed on the muse’ s personality and concept—or better yet, the two players can work out these details together. This enables a new level of interaction between the players at the table, as each in effect becomes the personal adviser to another character. It also encourages the players to watch out for each other and to think of ways to assist each other while in that role. Remember that every muse is designed to help its user, but disagreements arise when the user and muse disagree over what course of action actually helps the user. This can be an endless source of conflict between the muse and user.
Collaboration with the gamemaster is another effective option. The player starts by describing the general course of action their muse takes in a given situation, which the gamemaster uses as a template to describe what the muse does in more detail, while adding their own ideas. Suggestions from other players should be encouraged as well. Instead of thinking of the muse as a mindless slave of the user, it’s better to see them as NPCs ﬂeshed out by collaboration with the other players and gamemaster. Muses may not be equal to transhumans in terms of aptitudes and skills, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be as interesting as them.