Atomic Robo The Roleplaying Game is a FATE-based game that brings the action of the beloved comic series to life while also providing new tools for fans of FATE. Atomic Robo RPG offers great tools for constructing Robo-style stories, two really cool constructs to make your sessions feel like issues of AR, and the book serves as an unparalleled tool for learning to play FATE games if you don’t have an experienced person to show you the ropes.
Atomic Robo The Roleplaying Game - Character Creation with Modes
AR: RPG uses modes to build a character's stats. Modes are broad categories of skills: 'science,' 'action,' and even weird ones like 'mutant' and 'robo.' Pick three modes and rank them from highest to lowest, and you're pretty much done. The system provides all the numbers and tools to build your modes, but the game doesn't require you to do any more crunch than you feel like. I really love how well this works for one shot. As the GM, you can make a list of all the modes for the game you're gonna run, whether from the book or you could build some custom ones beforehand.
Brainstorms & Inventions
Probably my favorite innovation in AR: RPG is brainstorms and inventions, where science becomes the action. These are two game constructs that allow players to move the game on their own. In a brainstorm, players are up against some puzzle for a hypothesis and try to understand the problem. Inventions allow players to solve problems they can't otherwise punch through. These are great because they basically won't let the game stall out. Also, because the players essentially take the reins, the GM doesn't need to plan out too much for the session.
Playing the Atomic Robo Way
AR: RPG lays out, bluntly and simply, how to construct a story that fits well into the Atomic Robo universe. Including how to tell stories that jump around on the timeline, which I didn't expect but was delighted to see how easy it is. There are even random tables to build issues. A few dice and 5 minutes is enough to play for a night and have it really feel like a new issue of Atomic Robo.
Don't Already Know Fate?
I love the FATE system, but its iconoclastic nature can make it difficult to grasp if you don't have someone familiar with it to show you the ropes. Atomic Robo: RPG really tackles this well by showing an example of every game concept from the comics themselves. If you don't quite get how a compel works, you can see an example or two of characters being compelled in a story. This forward-and-backward explanation breaks down each game concept completely without dragging on. Besides their instructional value, the panels make for a beautifully illustrated book.
Should I Buy Atomic Robo The Roleplaying Game?
The game works and works well. I highly recommend it to Atomic Robo fans; the game has every bit of Robo action you'd want, plus Atomic Robo NPCs and timelines to immerse your whole group in the Atomic Robo universe. Unstable playgroups will also enjoy it; a delightful side effect of the comic book nature of AR is that when you only have half of your playgroup, or maybe one of the three players is missing, you can play somewhere else on the timeline. The game provides all the tools to keep everything consistent and awesome. One-Shot junkies will enjoy the quick creation and little need for the GM to prepare to make this an awesome game if you like to have RPGs on the fly. FATE fanboys, Brainstorms & Inventions will find their way into a lot of FATE games I make.
AR: RPG only falls short in a few narrow categories. If you want anything where the players feel hopeless or stranded, this isn't really the game. Also (though I doubt there are many people in this group looking for RPGs) if you dislike comic books, you're probably gonna have a bad time. The comic vibe is infused to the core of this game and to distill it out, you'd be better served to revert all the way to FATE core.
The copy of Atomic Robo The Roleplaying Game used in this review was purchased by the reviewer. This review was originally published on 02-17-2015. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions and for historical context.