Morphs

Blackmage asked on the forums:
Off the top of my head I would like to see more on morphs. They're one
of the core elements of the game(as far as I have seen) but I don't
think we heard or seen much of them but that the effect physical
stats/skills. It be interesting to see how they work and what can
morphs do. It also be nice to see an example of a morph.

One of the ideas we had from the beginning when designing Eclipse Phase was to highlight resleeving, or the ability to digitally emulate your mind, upload it into a computer, and download it into another body. This raised the question of what characteristics stayed with/were determined by the character (the "ego"), as they moved from body to body, and which stayed with/were determined by the meat (the "morph"), or metal in the case of robot bodies.

We knew we wanted a skill-based system, and it made sense that skills were copied along with the character's mind when they uploaded. At first, we considered ditching any sort of physical attributes system entirely, but that nullified the idea that certain morphs provided certain (usually physical) advantages and also sort of countered one of the central elements of transhumanism: enhancing your body.

Skill-based systems also require a mechanic for making tests when a person doesn't have a required skill. There needs to be some sort of inherent/natural ability that characters can default to when they don't have a skill. For realism, it is better if this inherent ability differs according to the skill in question. Everyone can throw a baseball with some modicum of skill, but not everyone can do a backflip as easily or perform brain surgery.

So we went with an "aptitude" system -- a set of 7 inherent abilities that everyone has, and that are part of the ego. These are functionally similar to typical RPG attributes, but conceptually different. Since aptitudes are based in your ego/mind, and not your morph, there is no "strength" or "dexterity" aptitude. Instead, we have aptitudes like Somatics, which represents your ability to use the physical characteristics of whatever morph you are in to the best of its capabilities. Instead of a "Charisma" type attribute, which often wavers between physical attractiveness and guile, we have a Savvy aptitude, which is a measure of your social perception and your ability to manipulate people.

Every skill in the game is linked to and built up from an aptitude. So your Kinesics skill, used for "reading" others' body language, is linked to your Savvy aptitude. If you lack Kinesics skill, you default to Savvy. When you buy Kinesics skill, you raise it up from your Savvy score.

Tying this back to morphs, we get back to the idea that certain morphs are designed to increase your capabilities in certain areas. This is often represented with aptitude bonuses, and sometimes skill bonuses. Aptitude bonuses are potent, however, because every aptitude bonus also boosts all skills linked to that aptitude. So an Olympian morph, for example, which is designed for increased athleticism, provides a boost to your character's Somatics aptitude, and thus all Somatics-linked skills. If you switch to a Menton morph, which is gengineered for enhanced cognitive abilities, you'll lose that Somatics bonus but gain a bonus to Cognition, and all Cognition-linked skills, instead. This means that your morph has a direct impact on your skill capabilities.

Morphs also affect your character in other ways. Your character's Durability, Wound Threshold, and Death Rating are determined by morph -- essentially how much damage and wounds you can take.

Morphs are divided into two rough categories: biomorphs and synthmorphs. Biomorphs are (mostly) biological bodies, and include standard unmodified humans ("flats"), gengineered human clones of various abilities, uplifted animal bodies, and so-called "pods." Pods (from "pod people") are biological bodies force-grown grown as separate parts and assembled with a mostly cybernetic brain (this growth process being much faster than standard transhuman clone growth). Synthmorphs are essentially robots with cybernetic brains, and they come in all shapes and sizes, from androids/gynoids to spider bots and stranger things.

Almost all morphs come with a basic set of bio-mods and implants, including faster healing, longevity, immunity to most diseases, and cybernetics that provide wireless network access, augmented reality, and digital mind backups. Synthmorphs have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.

When you resleeve into a new morph, there is usually a period of adjustment you must go through in order to acclimate to your new body. There is also the chance of suffering from mental stress, either from remembering your death, losing time/continuity, or having an identity crisis with your new looks.

Here's an example of a morph listing from the core book: the bouncer. We previewed the artwork for this one earlier.

Bouncers
Bouncers are humans genetically adapted for zero-G and microgravity environments. Their legs are more
limber and their feet can grasp as well as their hands.
Implants: Basic Biomods, Basic Mesh Inserts, Cortical Stack, Grip Pads, Oxygen Reserve, Prehensile Feet
Aptitude Maximum: 30
Durability: 35
Wound Threshold: 7
Advantages: Limber (Level 1) trait, +5 COO, +5 SOM, +5 to one aptitude of the player’s choice
CP Cost: 40
Credit Cost: Expensive

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