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[Nova Praxis] How does it compare to Eclipse Phase?

JMobius

Deus Ex Vir
RPGnet Member
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I just learned about this new game. On the surface it sounds like it superficially hits a lot of the same tones.

Can someone tell me more about it, and how it relates to the game I already know? :)
 

Mechalus

Registered User
Validated User
Honestly, I try to avoid this question as much as possible. I've got much love and respect for Eclipse Phase (and Transhuman Space), but as the creator of Nova Praxis I'm obviously biased.

So, that being said, I'll just point you to this thread.

It contains a lot of comparisons of NP and EP (and a little TS) by people who weren't involved in the development of either.

Yo can find more info on Nova Praxis here.
 

LatwPIAT

Active member
Validated User
Disfavourably.

Well, I can't actually say that, seeing as I don't have a copy of the book. All I can actually say is that "based on the free releases, the worldbuilding and themes compare disfavourably because they show a clear lack of consistency or creativity". This isn't the strongest position to argue from, but I feel rather safe in my assumption that when Mike McConnel writes both the previews on the game's homepage and is listed as one of the main authors of the game, the previews heavily reflect the book.

Nova Praxis and Eclipse Phase are both games that claim to be transhumanist games. NP, for example, includes in its blurb "…an exploration of the tropes of transhuman sci-fi. Mind uploading, resleeving, AI characters, and body augmentation." However, when it comes to the opportunities to explore these themes through one's character, one of EP's main features is that you can play everything from an uplifted pig using its software mind to pilot a submarine to a sapient AI in a genetically modified human body - while based on the preview of NP I read, you're strictly limited to baseline human, uploaded human, and uploaded human in a robot body. By all it's selling points, these are also rather insignificant choices; there's no emphasis on what these possibilities allows a player to do, or what they do to the setting. It's illegal to run simulated human minds faster than the real world, so as a simulation, you're pretty much a bodyless human - and since the game makes no attempt to convince me that it's at all relevant to transhuman themes, I have no reason to believe it does a better job of exploring the concept of infomorphs than other transhuman RPG out there, such as Eclipse Phase, where this does matter.

Since AI research and pretty much everything transhuman is illegal and contractually non-existent in the setting, there's no opportunity to play other interesting transhuman concepts either; without AI rights questions, there's no point in playing an AI Right's activist or lawyer. With a post-scarcity society, there's no income inequality, and hence there's no point in playing a Neo-Luddite, since you don't even have an income you can lose to robots. Want to play an uplifted pig and deal with the fact that your less intelligent kind are eaten by humans on a regular basis? Well, there are no uplifted animals mentioned anywhere,

"Nothing is scarce." is a central theme to the setting. Yet, at the same time, "unless you have a license from the Coalition government, you can't fab things like weapons, drugs, etc." - so unless weapons and drugs are handed out by readily available pixies on every street corners, weapons and drugs are very obviously quite scarce. And inconsistencies like these were pretty rampart throughout the previews - creating human-like AIs is illegal because... one AI got really powerful and handed out candies to everyone. In, for example, Eclipse Phase, prejudice and bans on human-like Artificial Intelligences is caused by the Fall where human-like artificial intelligences killed 95% of the world population, and anti-AI prejudice and laws are directly proportional to how close a government is to people who suffered the most during that cataclysmic event; observe how it's Luna and the Jovian Republic who are the most anti-AGI of the major polities, and how they're most Fall survivors. Whereas in Nova Praxis, the following is the reason I'm supposed to accept for why AGIs are banned:

"Since Mimir's "death", the creation of this sort of AGI is one of the few crimes still punishable by death and/or erasure. While it is still unknown why Mimir stopped functioning, for the most part, humanity sees Mimir's "death" as a stroke of luck. Had he gotten free, and proved hostile, the human race could have been looking at extinction. Fortunately he never got free, and never showed any toward hostility."

Why was it a stroke of luck that the magical free-candy machine stopped working? It gave people free candy, FTL travel, unlimited free energy, and immortality... "but the next AGI we build will probably be worse than Adolf Hitler!" doesn't sound like a very convincing argument, certainly not one that could be the basis of the entirety of human society in the setting. And overall that's the impression I've been left with of Nova Praxis as a whole; it's a bunch of vaguely conceptualized ideas that have been poorly worldbuilt into an incoherent whole. Eclipse Phase, meanwhile, has nuanced conflicts and interesting ideas worldbuilt into a largely coherent whole. (The Jovian Republic and Extropia notwithstanding, but they're minor elements compared to NP's glaring lack of anything that could catch my interest.)

So if you're looking for a transhuman post-apocalyptic conspiracy setting where the Earth was destroyed by rampart technology from the Technological Singularity, so humanity took to the stars, where they live in a panopticon controlled by a state of secretive, infighting corporations - while the libertarians who reject this paradigm have traveled further out and set up their own enclaves. In addition, advanced and incomprehensible technology gives humanity access to the stars through FTL portals, Eclipse Phase compares favourably. Anything Nova Praxis does, Eclipse Phase already does - and Eclipse Phase can do other things too. As you say, Nova Praxis superficially hit a lot of the same notes - but it doesn't go any deeper than that; NP is a generic cyberpunk game superficially painting itself in the colours of a transhuman game.

So I guess I can say I wasn't all that impressed with the preview of Nova Praxis. ^_^;
 

Solar

Active member
Validated User
I agree. Nova Praxis wants to be transhuman sci-fi, but seems afraid of implementing actual transhuman elements into the setting on a practical level because it doesn't know how to handle that. Eclipse Phase, however, is chomping at the bit to implement those elements and get into the meat and potatoes of seeing how they work out, and what the results are. I always felt that EP was a ballsy games, in that it says "what if we made an RPG where you nigh-on cannot die? Where you can build your own shit with pretty trivial ease? Where you can potentially make hundreds of copies of your own mind? Where you can change your body into almost any form you want? What if all these things were pretty accessible to you? What if they were all pretty accessible to a sizeable chunk of the population?"
 

Mechalus

Registered User
Validated User
I don't have a copy of the book.
I don't have time to take your post point-by-point, but I can say it contains a number of incorrect assumptions based off of preview material released during the game's development. Some of this material may have given the wrong impression as it painted the (then unfinished) setting with a very broad brush.

For example...
Well, there are no uplifted animals mentioned anywhere,
They are discussed on page 68.

But in the end, Nova Praxis still doesn't support play as a little pig or turning yourself into an army of your forks. That's not what Nova Praxis is about. It's not trying to be Eclipse Phase. So if those things are required for you to enjoy the game, you're still not going to like it.
 
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Neongelion

Registered User
Validated User
Nova Praxis and Eclipse Phase are both games that claim to be transhumanist games. NP, for example, includes in its blurb "…an exploration of the tropes of transhuman sci-fi. Mind uploading, resleeving, AI characters, and body augmentation." However, when it comes to the opportunities to explore these themes through one's character, one of EP's main features is that you can play everything from an uplifted pig using its software mind to pilot a submarine to a sapient AI in a genetically modified human body - while based on the preview of NP I read, you're strictly limited to baseline human, uploaded human, and uploaded human in a robot body.
Which I think is completely awesome, because it's easier to sell than Eclipse Phase. I actually prefer this over Eclipse Phase, and EP's my favorite setting. In Nova Praxis, purists and transhumans aren't favored one over the other, whereas in Eclipse Phase, if you don't like any of the ideals of transhumanism then you're clearly a fascist bioconservative pig-dog.

By all it's selling points, these are also rather insignificant choices; there's no emphasis on what these possibilities allows a player to do, or what they do to the setting. It's illegal to run simulated human minds faster than the real world, so as a simulation, you're pretty much a bodyless human - and since the game makes no attempt to convince me that it's at all relevant to transhuman themes, I have no reason to believe it does a better job of exploring the concept of infomorphs than other transhuman RPG out there, such as Eclipse Phase, where this does matter.
All I'm gonna say is that, read the book, and perhaps you'll re-think this viewpoint.

Since AI research and pretty much everything transhuman is illegal and contractually non-existent in the setting, there's no opportunity to play other interesting transhuman concepts either; without AI rights questions, there's no point in playing an AI Right's activist or lawyer.
Again, read the book. They do talk about this.

With a post-scarcity society, there's no income inequality, and hence there's no point in playing a Neo-Luddite, since you don't even have an income you can lose to robots. Want to play an uplifted pig and deal with the fact that your less intelligent kind are eaten by humans on a regular basis? Well, there are no uplifted animals mentioned anywhere,
There are. They're not quite how I wanted them to be depicted, but it's really no problem on my part to just change that part of the canon to my taste. In NP, uplifted animals do have intelligence, but it's of a human child. I pretty much just changed it to as smart as normal humans and went with it.

I think Mechalus put it best. I've said it before and I'll say it again, EP is my favorite sci-fi setting of all time, but Nova Praxis beats it by a few points:

-It's much easier to introduce new players on the concepts of post-scarcity economy, transhumanism in general, etc. Eclipse Phase can go overboard at times on techno-babble and goes on borderline information overload.

-Let's face it, there is a definite leftist bias in Eclipse Phase, one that I grew increasingly disatisfied with, and I'm a bleeding heart liberal. Nova Praxis, in comparison, does not take sides, and makes it very clear that transhumanists and purists both have their moderates and their extremes. He also doesn't try to magnify the problems with living in the Coalition and does not paint the apostate life as rosy and all around better than Coalition life.

-The rules are slick. Seriously. I mean I know this is more a personal opinion than anything else, but although I like Eclipse Phase's rules, Nova Praxis beats it for its awesome blend of simplicity and complexity, ie a nice blend of hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi.

In conclusion? Read the book!
 

LatwPIAT

Active member
Validated User
I don't have time to take your post point-by-point, but I can say it contains a number of incorrect assumptions based off of preview material released during the game's development. Some of this material may have given the wrong impression as it painted the (then unfinished) setting with a very broad brush.
Do you have time to, briefly, explain how Nova Praxis discusses transhuman themes? Since I'm responding to a question about how Eclipse Phase compares to Nova Praxis - an obvious point of comparison is that they're both thematically transhuman in some way. I replied that based on what I'd read about the game, it did not explore these tropes to the same extent that Eclipse Phase did. And, as a value-judgement, I counted this in favour of EP, since the latter seems to have more room to explore different sources of conflict simply by featuring more of it.

In short: How can I, as a character in Nova Praxis, explore what it means to transcend my human limitations?

All I'm gonna say is that, read the book, and perhaps you'll re-think this viewpoint.

Again, read the book. They do talk about this.

In conclusion? Read the book!
The book costs money. The previews have not convinced me that the book is worth my money. I hope you see the inherent contradiction in having to buy a book to be convinced it's worth spending money on.
 

Codename: Omega

New member
Banned
Disfavourably.

*snip*
That is pretty much exactly the impression I got from the previews and the general discussion thread, and it totally put me off contributing to the kickstarter or being interested. I don't want a transhumanist setting that is terrified of advanced technology - I want one that embraces it. Even though people in EP have good reason to fear it, they still don't generally get their fear get the better of them (unlesst they're the Jovians, at least) ;).
 

Enlightened

.........................
Validated User
And some people want a transhumanist setting that isn't taken as far as EP.

We all want different things. Go figure.
 

Mechalus

Registered User
Validated User
Do you have time to, briefly, explain how Nova Praxis discusses transhuman themes?
Characters in Nova Praxis can range between pure unmodified humans to monstrosities that in no way resemble a human being. It may not be legal, but it can be done. And there is room in the setting to run a campaign that supports these sorts of characters.

But that's not really the point. It's not about playing sentient octopi, godlike AI experiencing life in a VR at a 10,000 to 1 time ratio, or space whales.

It's about how technology changes people, mentally and physically. Its about transhumanity, "trans" meaning transition.

It's about the transition from a society resembling the one we have today into something else. What happens to you when you undergo Apotheosis? What does that mean to your relationships? Your "soul"? What does that mean for people who reject augmentation? What sorts of discriminations arrise when some people choose to become "better" than human. And how far are "pure" humans willing to go to keep from becoming relegated to the status of a lesser species? How can you become a part of the same kind of technology that destroyed Earth and very nearly the human race?

A man becomes a SIM. He's no longer human, has an AI living in a virtual environment and experiencing the real world through sensor feeds. What does that mean when compared to a normal human? He has removed himself from the gene pool. He doesn't even exist in the same world as a normal human, at least, not in the physical sense. He doesn't compete for the same resources. What does that do to man/SIM relationships? What of someone who sleeves in a cybersleeve? And even more interesting, what of someone who has undergone Synthesis and become a true harmonic merger of organic and synthetic biology? SIMs and cybersleeves are posthuman. The Synthesized are seen by many as human perfection, or the worst sort of blasphemy.

What happens to mankind when the conservatives start to live in fear? Or when the augmented start to feel, and act, superior? What happens when the augmented are assaulted, their synthetic limbs torn off, their eyes removed? What happens when entire towns of people are lost when the servers that host them are destroyed by people who fear them?

What happens when the military starts offering bonuses to soldiers who undergo apotheosis, so they can be killed over and over again, then simply toss their ego aside when they've become so mad that even mnemonic editing can't repair the damage? What happens when the Houses revive you after death, only to tell you that you signed a contract that states that all events related to your death are classified. What happened? How did you die? What enemies did you make?

What happens when Savants can possess the bodies of the Apotheosized, or listen in on their thoughts? What happens when they can access torrents of data to dip into security feeds, or create statistically accurate models of the past or potential futures. What happens when they can possess drones at will, or control nanomachine swarms capable of ripping you to pieces a molecule at a time? These people are considered gods by some and monsters by others.

And what happens when it's pushed even farther, when a SIM becomes a human hunting virus. Or an Ascension Cult becomes a hivemind, its singular will manifested by insectoid drones?

And yet, the average unaugmented person can live over two centuries with only a few genetic tweaks. Any disease can be cured. Sexism and racism are all but abolished. The apotheosized are vitually immortal. SIMs can live forever in worlds unlike any that ever existed. All of your needs are met. Your wants are (mostly) free. You have security. You have nearly perfect health care, faster than light travel and communication, computer systems that are effectively infinitely powerful. The majority of the human race lives in what could easily be called a Utopia. And they are happy. (They are happy because they aren't aware of what's going on behind the scenes, or don't know about the conflicts being fought in secret, light-years away. But they are happy.)

Those are some of ways Nova Praxis explores transhumanism/posthumanism.

Since I'm responding to a question about how Eclipse Phase compares to Nova Praxis - an obvious point of comparison is that they're both thematically transhuman in some way. I replied that based on what I'd read about the game, it did not explore these tropes to the same extent that Eclipse Phase did. And, as a value-judgement, I counted this in favour of EP, since the latter seems to have more room to explore different sources of conflict simply by featuring more of it.
I don't see how the acceptance of sleeves that deviate farther from the human form equates to more conflict. In fact, I would assume greater acceptance results in less conflict. I also don't agree that quantity equals quality. Not to say that Eclipse Phase isn't a quality product. It most certainly is. But in my opinion, it's not because it encourages more extreme sleeves.

The book costs money. The previews have not convinced me that the book is worth my money. I hope you see the inherent contradiction in having to buy a book to be convinced it's worth spending money on.
I think the issue here is that, to use a movie analogy, you watched a trailer then went on at length comparing it to a finished trilogy. You can't hope to make accurate comparisons that way.

That's fine if the previews didn't do it for you. It's not for everyone. If you're really into the animal sleeves and what-not, you're absolutely going to like EP more. The games are different. They are meant to be different. Eclipse Phase is far more accepting of the posthuman elements in the setting. In Nova Praxis, humanity is still very much coming to terms with them.

I just wanted to point out that much of what you talked about in your post wasn't accurate. I'm not telling you to go buy the book. I'd rather no sale than an unsatisfied customer. But I don't see how we can meaningfully discuss this topic much further unless you read the book. Otherwise all you have to draw on are assumptions based on outdated previews, and that can't be anything but frustrated for either of us.
 
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