So, we finally got the first session/”issue” of our Atomic Robo game up and running. In it, the characters are playing agents of the Office of Scientific Intelligence — a superscience spy agency, ala SHIELD, that likes to think of itself as the stand-up spy agency. They see the antics of Majestic 12 as dangerous and counterproductive…but do a lot of shady stuff, as well.

The characters the players picked were Agent Craig Scott, the smooth-talking ladies man and bureaucrat; the other chose the parkour-action engineer, Agent James Crille. The discarded characters became NPCs — a cryptobiologist and a Silicon Valley roboticist.

The first issue was more of an introduction ti the mechanics, the universe, and the flavor of the game: the team was dispatched to Ōshima, Japan to investigate a possible cover-up of what was going on at the Fukushima nuclear reactor by the company running the place, a division of Big Science! Hojin (Big Science! from the comic.) They slip in, use robots to investigate they are running from a panel van, disguised at power company employees. They biffed a few rolls during their brainstorming as to the strange green fluorescent material and unusually low radiation and temperatures in the reactor room, (Recently reported in real life…) so I had their activities discovered by Big Science!, who dispatch Science Team Super 5 — a Power Rangers-esque team of hero scientists from the comics.

Scott proceeds to hit the Deceive skill hard, playing it up as him being — gaijin and all — a member of the power company thrilled to meet them and asking for autographs. A great roll made better by the player going fanboy in the extreme and speaking in Japanese! They’ve just about made it out without issue when an earthquake strikes. The other player and NPCs witness something moving in the reactor: a giant monstrous thing that eats their robot. Said kaiju monster then busts out of the plant: it’s a giant crab, several stories tall, breathing atomic fire, and rampaging through the city.

Science Team Super 5 makes their attempt to fight the creature with no luck, but dispatches Scott and company, with Guardian Pink to grab their giant “monster stomping robot” (that was one of the aspects) to fight this “folly of man” (one of the crab’s aspects.) Rocket launcher action, giant robot armed with giant sword piloted by our parkour hero and Guardian Pink, and loads of collateral damage later, and they’ve taken the creature down.

This included using the “collateral consequence” rules to keep Scott from getting fried with a 8 shift physical harm when the crab lit up Big Science!’s local HQ with the atomic breath. Later, Scott used a contact-based stunt to create an aspect on the JSDF officer that had come to arrest them; he was a friend of Scott from the ’90s when they “fought the yakuza together.” His team safely free of jail time for espionage or destroying section of Ōshima, they find out the earthquake was some kind of seismic and gravitational event out in the Bonin Islands. An island has mysteriously appeared in the space of three hours, wrecking havoc on the weather and seas around it, and creating tsunamis.

They are contacted by OSI and told to meet up with a carrier group near the event. After a helicopter ride in which they watch the recon flight of an EA-18G Growler that loses power as it nears the island and is lost. The team brainstorms that the island is the creating the weather, oceanic, and gravitational anomalies and might itself be an island sized machine of some sort.

They arrive on the carrier and get briefed by the group’s admiral on a mission by the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Strategic Science Division in November 1943…

That was the cliffhanger for the night.

Overall, the game played swiftly and with almost no need to look in the book at the rules. There were a few issues with using stunts and aspects but those were sorted out quickly. The big thing we missed was using fate points like plot points in Cortex to “get out of death” by buying down damage.

I’ve only quizzed on player so far on the mechanics, but the quick consensus was that the stripped down Atomic Robo version of Fate played much quicker and easier than Fate normally does, and that it well suited the tone of the comics and the style of play it was trying to evoke. I only had to explain bits of the rules for the Fate newbie for 5 minutes or so; the rest was on the fly. I did think that it might be handy to have some Post-It notes for tracking the aspects. Atomic Robo doesn’t have as many crowding up the field as, say, Firefly, so it was much more manageable, but the stickies will make it more convenient. For Fate points, we used spent 5.7mm casings, like we do for Battlestar Galactica…works great, as they are small and a bunch fit in an old Fossil watch box (that has something about Peace and Love on it.)

The only real issue was balancing the opposition to the characters. The crab was a bit over powerful, so I stepped it down a bit to fit better. We thought that having another player would aid in the banter that the game seems to want to create with the brainstorming rules — again, mimicking the style of the comics.

Overall, I was very pleased with the first run of the game, even though it was a short intro session, and I’m looking forward to next week, when we flashback to 1943.

For those who are interested…the Fukushima Crab Monster!

FUKUSHIMA CRAB CREATURE

Modes & Skills: Superb +5 Kaiju: Atomic Breath, Physique, Provoke, Tooth and Claw +6 (Epic); Aspect: City-Stomping Monster. Great +4 Mutant; The Folly of Man. Good +3 Crab: Combat +3; Claw!

Stresses — Physical: 5 Mental: 2

Stunts: 10 stories high! Bulletproof and fearproof. Physique to defend against other attacks. Weapon 4 for strength attacks; Wake of Destruction: Success w/ Style & FP to cause lowest collateral damage consequence in addition to any other harm; Atomic Breath: Weapon 4

…and on the other side…

GUARDIAN MECHA

Modes & Skills: Great (+4) Mecha: Athletics, Combat, Physique, Provoke +4; Aspect: Monster-Stomping Mecha.

Stunts: Walking Tank: Use Physique vs. combat, Armor 2; Advanced Sensor Suite: +1 to Notice; Giant Melee Weapons: Weapon 4

Stresses: Physical 4 Mental (use character’s)

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