Elegiam Arcanum

This is a one-short LARP game, due to be run at a party but equally suitable for conventions.

The Plot

Once upon a time, the world was presided over by twenty-two powers, each representing an aspect of life and of the cosmos. Unseen but all-powerful, their mere existence directed the actions of Man. But in their creation of Tarot cards, humans unwittingly stumbled upon the pattern of the Universe; the nature of the twenty-two fold shards of Godhood. From that moment on, the powers were imbued with humanity. They were no longer abstract concepts, they had been given human attributes. Human emotions.

Thus, the seeds of the Fall were sown. And now is the time of that Fall. The Balance between the twenty-two is falling apart. War, famine and suffering plague the Earth. The twenty-two powers feel as readily as the humans do that the End is approaching.

And so they meet. Back in the old days, there would have been no such concept as "meeting" among the powers, or even "speaking to". But they have become so human now that they are bound to physical forms, to one place and time. It hurts a little, but with the loss of potency has come a loss of memory, too. The times before the Tarot were created are fond and distant memories now, rose-tinted with time.

The Characters

Each of the 6-21 players takes on a character that is the embodiment of one of the Major Arcana cards of a Tarot deck. They are humanoid in form, though still possessed of remarkable powers.

Approximately two-thirds of the characters are the "good guys" (from a human's point of view at least). They are appalled by the events of the Fall, generally unsure as to what has caused it, and determined to reverse it.

The rest are the "bad guys". To them, humanity's invention of the Tarot has robbed them of the godhood that is rightly theirs, and if taking it back means the end of humanity, so be it. Their opinion of the Fall may vary between unsure what caused it but not bothered by it, to having deliberately worked to instigate it.

At the beginning of the game, no character knows the allegiance of any other, unless they have some relevant information on the piece of paper they are given at the start of the game (see below).

The Cards

I'll type up some summaries soon, but for now if you don't know what each card of the Major Arcana represents, check out Wikipedia.

The Game

For the "good guys", the aim of the game is to eliminate or convert the powers that are responsible for the Fall so that they can begin to repair the Earth. The "bad guys" have the opposite goal - eliminate, by killing or convincing, all those traitors that have sided with humanity.

At the start of the game, in general, nobody knows the allegiance of anyone else. Having been coerced into humanoid forms, characters may not even recognise the Card that another character embodies. However, each character is given a small piece of paper containing between one and three pieces of information that they believe are true. This can be information about the Fall, about the creation of the Tarot or their pre-Tarot existence, or it could be inter-character information, such as you have worked with the Moon and are sure she's on your side, or you've heard a rumour that the High Priestess is a "bad guy".

These are designed to throw up interesting situations for roleplay, and to get the characters talking to each other.

The System

Each character has two abilities: "push" and "kill". They each affect one other character.

Each character has three "shots" of "push". One "shot" can be used to temporarily influence another character according to the caster's nature. For example, the Fool can "push" their nature onto another character, making them more naïve and reckless for a few minutes. The Sun could inspire just enough glory in a friend to make them triumph over an adversary, or just enough false courage in an enemy to lead them to their downfall.

The target must be close enough to hear the caster. When using a Push, the caster must roleplay this by pointing at their target, saying "push", then the name of the target, then describing in a word or two what aspect of their nature they wish to push. The push is not noticeable to anyone, even the target. The player targetted must roleplay their changed mental state for two to three minutes, but the character herself is not aware of the effect unless someone points out that she's acting strange. She does not know who pushed her. A push being used is not noticeable to onlookers, so anyone overhearing a push occur should ignore it (including the pointing!).

Each "good guy" has one shot of "kill". This is roleplayed by touching the target and simply saying "kill". Its effect is obvious, immediate and unpreventable. When a character dies, every other character is immediately aware of who died, but unless they saw the touch occur, they are not aware of who killed them. It is like the death of a sibling, that takes with it a part of you. Killing another power is never a decision to take lightly.

If any characters are out of the room when you die, announce your death (out-of-character) loudly enough that everyone - or at least the ref - can hear.

Each "bad guy", their hearts turned bitter, has three shots of "kill". However discretion is advised, as if a character is caught using more than one kill, any cover they were maintaining is effectively blown.

I am aware that this is going to turn into a bizarre overblown version of the Werewolf Game. We will see how this goes.

The Ref

The ref (GM, or other appropriate name) plays the part of Card XX: Judgement. Judgement is impartial, caring not if humanity lives or dies, or even if other powers live or die - only that they get what they deserve.
So that he may judge fairly, Judgement desires any and all information from the player characters. Characters may talk to him at any time, in confidence. From time to time, Judgement may obtain extra information that may help certain characters achieve their goal, but he will only give out these tips in exchange for information given to him.
It is particularly important that characters who switch allegiance from one side to the other inform Judgement, as in his role as Ref he likes to know how many of each faction are left in the game!

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