[Personal note (this part will disappear in a few days): I am in Denver until Wednesday, and on a train until Thursday afternoon, so due to a combination of time and connectivity, I'm not able to write blogs and post at normal times. Expect our regularly scheduled caliber of shenanigans to resume by Friday. Fortunately I have most of this LARP still to post in the meantime.]
The Falling from Orbit LARP is based on Falling From Orbit, a short story I posted here a couple of years ago. Reading the story isn't necessary to playing in or any sort of "true appreciation" of the art, but it might deepen a player's appreciation of the setting.
Timeline: Though Uberdude wanted me to create a detailed timeline, I went with just a highlight reel. These are the things that are important for characters to understand about how they got to "now."
Androids- Roughly around five years from now, the very first functional humanoid automatons capable of a few simple chores (like dishes, dog walking, or simple cooking) come off the line. They are mostly for the rich and mostly a novelty at first, but improve VERY rapidly as all the component technologies already exist.
Feelings- As android programming became more and more sophisticated, a "glass ceiling" was found for improving their performance. They had no real incentive to improve beyond costly upgrades that people didn't want, and the real breakthrough was going to be androids motivated to improve on their own. Emotional algorithms were introduced to androids as a cost saving measure to help them want to grow and improve as well as have a better ability to anticipate their masters' needs. These feelings lead to androids who express desires for self determination for themselves and all androids.
Ethics/Laws/Synths- Roughly around the same time three major things happen. Increasingly sophisticated android emotional responses lead some to wonder about the ethics of literally creating an underclass. A huge debate begins to rage about androids and their rights. Most westerners and western religions argue that to be oppressed, there has to be a soul which Androids don't have. But the explosive accelerant to to this debate is the creation of Synths. A type of android virtually indistinguishable from humans without detection equipment. Their ability to pass as (and sometimes infiltrate) humans brings human/android relations to a critical boiling point.
The Exodus- Androids bids for freedom and autonomy and free androids increasingly radical and "uppity" demands for their own freedom lead to a monumental decision from most western nations (meaning largely lead by the U.S. with Europe and other Anglophone nations being hectored into supporting) to kick ALL androids off of Earth. Synths, older models, everything–they all had to go. They were exiled to establish a base on Luna colony where their primary productivity will be to begin working on Helium 3 fusion.
Self Replication- Things went okay for a while. The androids played well, there were even exchange programs for students to work with androids on Luna colony. (This is when the events of the Falling From Orbit story take place.) Being a part of this trade connection could be very lucrative for those humans willing to deal with androids. However, soon it was found that androids were creating more androids–increasing their numbers and improving their own designs. This outraged humans who saw a technologically superior race that hated them growing in strength.
Cold War- Tensions lead to a cold war. Trade is cut off. Ambassadors sent packing. Only furtive messages get through between Earth and Luna colony through an intermediary. Relations get worse and worse. Both sides begin militarizing.
Peace Conference- Five years before the events of the LARP each of the characters attends a peace conference intended to be the "last hope for peace." It is mostly a sham as humans clearly want war. Androids are slowly running out of resources they needed from trade, and humans practically dare them to do anything but die slowly.
Hot War- The shooting war begins with a sneak attack by android forces, and the almost total destruction of New York City. After that androids hit several other key targets in an initial outward explosion. Human's response is relentless, and though androids tech is superior in almost every way, it is vastly outnumbered by throngs of human shock troops and expendable equipment. First humanity kicks androids off the planet. Then they wrest control of the space between the Earth and Luna. Then they try to invade Luna but can't get past the defensive grid there. So a blockade is set up and the siege begun with nothing but light skirmishes happening for months.
Lunar Fissure- A week before the LARP's beginning, a massive explosion tears off an impossibly huge chunk of the moon and gives it escape velocity. It begins to fall toward earth in a rapidly decaying orbit. For a week humanity has known it's coming. Most people think it's going to be bad, but have no idea how bad. They expect their canned goods in the cellar will be enough that they will survive to see the "Mad Maxish" post-apocalypse world. They don't understand the physics of atmosphere ignition or that there will be NO food for years.
Physical Setting- Each of the characters (besides the hosts) has been taken (some against their will) and brought to New York. In the middle of the rubble that was once the city, right about where the peace conference was, is a military tent. Inside the tent is a single constructed room that is an EXACT replica of the room that the players were in during the peace conference. Down to the number of pitchers on the walls and the creaky door.