[Let’s Study Atomic Robo RPG] Part 3a: Modes and Stunts

After giving it some thought, I figure it might be a good idea to discuss Modes first before going into Weird Character creation again. It’s a slight shift in the schedule, but nothing bad. Modes are an interesting mechanic in Atomic Robo that I’d certainly like to see in more FATE games.

As discussed in yesterday’s article, Modes are like skill packages, a broad area of competence represented by a group of skills that revolve around a theme. As shown in the E-Z Character Creation yesterday, there are 4 standard modes: Action, Banter, Intrigue and Science, but there’s an option to take on more unique Modes to represent stranger concepts. These are called Weird Modes, and players of Atomic Robo may choose from a list of pre-fabricated Modes, or make new ones on their own.

Weird Modes are optional and often player defined that cover unusual concepts and special powers. The book has a few example weird modes including Robot, Dinosaur, Psychic, Mutant, Pilot, Secret Agent and Reporter. As you may have noticed, Weird Modes can also be used to represent special skillsets from a given profession.

Making Weird Modes

Let’s try to figure out making a weird mode for the purposes of this series. I’m thinking: Shaolin Monk.

The next step involves picking the Skills that apply to this Weird Mode. Each of the skills has a corresponding cost for Weird Character creation.

I figure I’ll go for the following skills for Shaolin Monk

Athletics (Shaolin Kung Fu)
Combat (Shaolin Kung fu)
Empathy (Monk-like Wisdom)
Will (Monk-like Willpower)

This selection costs me a total of 8 character points on the Mode.

It’s actually remarkably straightforward, and easy to do with minimal math involved.

Stunts and Mega-Stunts

As with any FATE Core game, Atomic Robo characters also have Stunts, little ways at which characters can bend the rules to be better than others in certain things. Stunt creation is detailed in the book, with all the variants explained and with examples offered.

This is very handy for those like me who aren’t quite so savvy at FATE just yet and need a lot of hand-holding in terms of creating Stunts.

Mega-Stunts on the other hand are super-powered versions of a stunt that require permission. You can gain a permission by getting a Weird Mode, and an appropriate concept aspect to explain it. The Mega-Stunt must therefore be an extension of the mode and aspect that granted this permission.

Mega-Stunts also come with a cost or a weakness. These should be tied again to their Mega-Stunt and how it can get you in trouble, or costs you something when implementing it.

The book then goes on to provide examples of Mega-Stunts in it’s 4 basic forms: Weapon or Armor Rating, Absolute Ability with one skill, Bulletproof or duplicate a Stunt Benefit.

Mega-Stunts can also take the form of hardware, super-tech that is fairly common in the world of Atomic Robo from jetpacks to lightning guns.


Modes and Mega-Stunts are neat modifications to the FATE core rules that helps play up the feel of Atomic Robo. I’m very happy with these rules and I can definitely see the Atomic Robo rules working very well in any kind of two-fisted adventuring game.’

Tomorrow we’ll try our hand at Weird Characters, for real this time!

If you’d like to follow along, the PDF for Atomic Robo can be found in DriveThruRPG for $11.99


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