A little over last week, I shared some ideas for using Fate Accelerated with LARPS. This week: the LARP itself! Enjoy!
A One-Shot FAE LARP
In a cold future, on a far-off planet, there is a self-aggrandizing scrap yard owner who calls himself Emperor Junk. He buys and repairs old robots from all over the galaxy, modifying them for one purpose- to fight in the arena. Does he broadcast these fights onto ampivision, or does he do it for his own sick amusement? You don’t care- you’re just a lowly robot. Last night, you were thrown into the holding cells, and are now awaiting your death on the arena floor.
Objective: On the surface, the game looks like a simple gladiatorial game. However, that’s just a pretense: the real point of the game is for the do whatever it takes- submission, subversion, or outright rebellion- to make sure you and those you care about survive. Expect cunning plots, secret signs, and double agents in this futuristic but brutal game.
Set-up: All players are robots, and are divided into two camps: the Constructors, and the Warbots. The Warbots are all former combat droids, who have received enough damage to be retired, but still have one good fight in ‘em. The Constructors are the opposite: obsolete but still functioning construction bots that have been outfitted with weapons, or must make do with their construction attachments.
The Evening’s Events: Robots will compete in one of several rounds, based on their group (ex. Red Group might fight, followed by Green group, etc.) At the end of the evening, all surviving robots will compete in the Main Event. The main event also includes Sparticon, which is Emperor Junk’s prize fighter. Sparticon is the toughest robot in the event.
At the end of the evening, Emperor Junk will only spare the strongest robot- this is usually Sparticron, the returning champion; all other robots will be scrapped. If Sparticon is beaten, a new champion will be crowned. Of course, some robots have attempted to avoid their fate by rebelling against Emperor Junk, but he has state-of-the-art Botguards watching over him, which are quick to subdue any one trouble makers. If you are to beat Emperor Junk, you will have to recruit others.
Every player is given a character using the normal FAE creation rules, including the following aspects:
Name: (i.e. A-Alvin, Theta-Thelma)
Constructor or Warbot:
Prime Function: (e.g. Cement Mixer)
Errors/Flaws: (i.e. damage, glitches)
Attachments (These often also show up in stunts.):
Assigned Group: This is given to the robot. Normally, group Red, Green, or Black. These determine the events the robot fights in.
Every robot’s victory conditions is determined by their motivation. This should dictate how they act, and what drives them. Here are the recommended Motivations:
Survival – You want to survive tonight, regardless of which side you’re on.
Dominance – You want to be recognized as the most powerful being on the planet. If you cannot beat Emperor Junk, you’ll be satisfied with being the most powerful robot.
Freedom – You want to make all robots free, regardless of the cost to yourself.
Tribal Pride – You want to make sure you or someone from your group (Constructor / Warbot) survives. You care little if the other group survives.
Servitude – You are a born lackey. Your best chance of survival is to prove yourself useful to the most powerful robot or Emperor Junk and hope they spare you.
Fraternity – You have a special bond with a specific member of your group (pick one), who you see as your sibling. You don’t care what happens to you, as long as they are safe.
Blood feud – You have a vendetta with a specific individual, other than the Emperor. This can be Sparticon, another member of your group, from the opposite group, etc. As long as that robot suffers, you don’t care what happens to you.
The split: How you split the above is entirely up to you, but we recommend at least 1 “Dominance” in the Warbots, and at least 1 “Freedom” in the Constructors. If you have a huge group, there might be several of those “signature” motivations in each group.
GMS / EMPEROR JUNK
The GM acts as arbiter, but also plays for Emperor Junk. If need be, he also plays for the Botguards, Sparticon, or any other NPCs.
Once all players are apprised of the situation, separate all players into zones.
Holding Cells – Two large areas, one of which holds all of the Constructors, the other holds all of the Warbots. This is where all players start, and the default place where the robots go when they are not fighting.
The Arena – The large middle area, where robots fight. There are several scenic aspects which are available for players to use- we recommend you put several fun objects in the middle to represent the various obstacles and broken bits of robots. Suggestions: PVC pipes, KNEX pipes & wheels, and lots of pillows.
The Gallery – The elevated platform where Emperor Junk sits during the match. He keeps his Botguards at his side. If you don’t have Assistant GMs to play the Botguards, I recommend Teddy Bears.
The Shop – Where injured but not Terminated robots go to recoup. Only the injured are allowed, unless they can come up with a good excuse. It is connected to the Arena and both Holding Cells, making it a central point for the different factions.
The Junkyard – Where dead robots are brought. See the “Termination” below.
Movement between the different zones is restricted during any given round. It is possible to access the other non-Gallery areas, but is difficult.
Round 1 – Plotters in the Dark
At the start of the game, all players are given 5-10 minutes to introduce each other to the members of their group. Afterwards, the Emperor Junk will appear on the Gallery, and remind everyone that only one Bot will survive the night.
Round 2 –OPENING CEREMONIES – To start off, the Emperor will call in one Constructor & one Warbot out of their Holding Cells, and into the arena, for a two-person match. (This is also an introduction to the fight process, so everyone can see it in action.) Players take turns, just like a normal conflict, using the Rock Paper Scissor mentioned above instead of rolls. If a player wants to create an aspect and succeeds, they will create a new note card. If they want to invoke an aspect , they must spend a point or free invoke AND must physically be holding the card or prop that represents the aspect. (Ex. If you want to invoke a pipe on the ground, you have to be holding the pipe.) Play continues until one robot is taken out or concedes.
Finish Him: If a round ends with one robot standing and one defeated, they consult Emperor Junk, who will order the winner to spare the loser, or Terminate him. (Spoiler: he almost always says “Terminate him,” the sadist.) The conquering robot has 3 options:
>Terminate the Robot – The winner whispers in the ear of the loser that they are dead, and the lose dies in a loud and dramatic fashion. The robot’s body is brought to the Junkyard (See Death & the Junkyard).
>Spare the Robot – The winner openly spares loser’s life. Both bots return to their Holding cells (or, if one suffered several Consequences, the Shop.) If the Emperor had ordered the loser killed, the winner’s refusal will be seen as an act of defiance.
>Fake Death – The winner whispers in the ear of the loser that they are not REALLY dead- the winner spares the loser’s life, but helps the loser fake his death. The loser pretends to die in a loud and dramatic fashion. As far as the other robots and everyone watching can tell, the loser is actually dead- no doubt, the Emperor will be pleased, and any of the loser’s allies will be upset. The robot’s body is brought to the Junkyard, where people assume they are dead. (See Death & the Junkyard).
Post-Match – Any surviving robots return to their respective Holding Cell.
Round 3 – The Plot Thickens – The Emperor announces that the next Match will be held between all robots of the color _____ (ex. Red), and will begin in 10 “Minuns” (which is about a 10 Earth minutes, give or take).
The players are given a few more minutes to start plotting what they will do to survive the night. At the moment, the interaction between robots is restricted to those in the same Cell, but very soon, the two sides will be joined on the arena floor- a perfect time to propose alliances. The various sides should prep the group members about to fight on what they should say.
Round 4 – Red Group Fight! – This time, all Red robots will leave their cell and fight on the arena floor. Emperor junk will no doubt throw in strange or new scenic elements, like spinning saw blades in the floor, or a river of molten metal running through the middle. The robots of each group will pair off against a robot from the other side, and the conflict will begin. If necessary, a GM can interfere in case anyone has questions. Any robot that is taken out or concedes will sit down- those downed robots will be sent to the shop. Players can take as long as they want to fight (or pretend to fight), but there is an advantage to moving quickly- the last robot to fall suffers from the “Finish Him” rules, meaning they risk death. At the end of the round, all winning bots return to their cells, while bots that were taken out or concede go to the Shop.
Note: This means that throwing the fight can be a useful strategy, as it gives you a chance to take with members of the other team.
Tagging In and Holding Out: The Emperor demands a certain number of fighters, but all robots look alike to him. It is possible for a robot to volunteer to take another fighter’s place. This will require a difficulty check of +2, depending on what you use to fool the cell door sensors (ex. Sneaky to disguise yourself, a friend using Flashy to distract the sensor while you switch.) However, it is near impossible for extra fighters to enter the field. Likewise, if the arena is short fights, botguards will enter the holding cells and attempt to drag the missing robots into the arena. The Emperor will refuse to have a match start without the proper number of robots, but it might be possible to fool or bribe the guards or the Emperor to have someone else fill in your spot, whether they like it or not.
Round 5 – Whispers in the Dark
Tell the robots which group will fight next (ex. Green), and give them another 10 Thuans to mingle and scheme.
Round 6 – Match 2, Transitions
At the start of the next rumble, the next group (e.x. Green) enters the arena to fight. Meanwhile, any robots that were being repaired in the Shop move to their own holding cells. Robots in the shop may attempt to sneaky into a different cell, but this requires a Sneaky roll to bypass the Emperor’s automatic sensors (and doesn’t take into account any robots that squeal and summon the Botguards. The Emperor informs them of any new scenic elements, they fight, and the last robot to fall is either spared or dragged to the Junkyard.
Round 7 – The Final Match
It is time for the main event. All captured robots are released into the arena floor, from the cells and the Shop. It’s the big event- let the robots have an extra minute to plot and whisper. The emperor introduces any new scenic aspects, allows Sparticron onto the arena floor, and the match begins.
Sparticron: If the tournament continues as the Emperor intends, Sparticron will do nothing unless attacked. He will hang back until the last robot standing, and then face off against the winner. If contest goes haywire and the Emperor orders to do something else, he will follow through with the command, but he doesn’t show any initiative on his own.
What Follows Next; It is possible that the robots will just fight each other until the very end. It is more likely that hell will break lose in some way- be lenient about letting them try new things. We recommend you ask for people who are NOT fighting each other to declare what they want to do- to take turns, pass around a brightly covered foam ball to people raising their hand, and let them declare what they are doing. Then, lump likeminded people into groups. Once all people have declared their intentions, then they can start taking their turns and “rolling.”
Ex: The ball goes to a player who wants to attempt to scale the walls of the arena, to reach the Emperor himself. The walls are ridiculously high, so the player will no doubt fail on their own. Luckily, other players group around the player, and declare their intent to aid the player or attempt the same. You group them into one group, ask aloud if anyone else is attempting it. Afterwards, ask the next group want they intend, and once all have voiced their intentions, start rolling for results.
If the Emperor is attacked, he will have Botguards (played by the GM and his teddy bears, assistant gms, or deceased players. See the Stats section for rules.)
The Conclusion: At this point, almost anything can happen. If the Emperor is defeated or escapes, that would be one logical place to end the game. Alternatively, the players might decide to set the tone for the new world to come- are they all united in a big happy family? Will they immediately start fighting to become the new Robot Emperor? Will they icily divide themselves into two camps, saving the inevitable war for another day? It is up to you.
DEATH AND THE JUNKYARD – When a player’s character is completely killed, they are dragged to the Junkyard. However, they are not stuck there, and can still participate. They can join the Emperor as an Assistant GM, or for a simpler task, help as a Botguard. If players need to leave early, they can tag in a dead players. They can even create new, non-fighting independent characters, like old veterans bumming around the Shop, or a cyberrat that sneaks between the cells.
Likewise, a robot that is secretly spared will still be in the game. Their robot may attempt to sneak into the Shop, and from there, sneak into either holding cell. They can even disguise themselves as a Botguard- at the pivotal time, they can reveal that reports of their death were fake, and turn an enemy into an ally.
High Concept: Working Class Tyrant
Trouble: Delusions of Grandeur
Aspects: Bloodthirsty; Greedy; Alone with his Toys
Approaches: Great +4 Flashy, Good +3 Forceful, Sneaky, Mediocre: Clever, Careful, Quick
Stress: oooo – Consequences: Mild, Moderate, Severe
Stunts: Summon the Guards – As an action, he may summon a new Botguard (2, if a large group). He may do this once for free in any given scene, but any further times costs a Fate point.
Stunts: Strength of Arms – The Emperor is not imposing by himself, but his forces are intimidating enough to put down rebellions. He gains +2 when Flashily dealing mental attacks, assuming he has 2 or more Botguards nearby.
Refresh – 5
High Concept: Champion Robot Gladiator
Trouble: Far Too Literal
Aspects: Battle Scars; Veteran Fighter; Obeys Orders from the Emperor
Approaches: Super +5 Forceful; Great +4 Careful, Good +3 Quick, Mediocre: Clever, Careful, Flashy
Stress: ooo – Consequences: Mild, Moderate
Special Rules: Follow Orders – Sparticron will loyally follow any vocal order from the Emperor. However, he will not lift a finger to help him without orders- whether this is a programming function, or a very passive form of resistance is anyone’s guess.
Stunts: Diamond Drill – When Sparticron successful deals Forceful attacks in combat against other robots, he may, instead of dealing stress, deal a Consequence (start with the lowest).
Refresh – 3
High Concept: Gladiator bodyguards
Aspects: Mindless Troopers; Follow Orders
Approaches: Good +3 Forceful; Fair +2 Careful, Average +1 Flashy.
Stress: oo – Consequences: Mild
Holding Cells –
Cell walls – 8+ to overcome through force.
Sneaking by – 4+ to overcome sneaking INTO the Shop, +2 when sneaking OUT of it.
Fooling the Sensors that you’re a different robot – 2+ to overcome.