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Ex Nihilo

RPG system: LARP
Participants: 8-10 players

Organized by

Peaky Games


✏️Theo Clarke
✏️Steve Hatherley
✏️Tony Mitton
✏️Tym Norris
✏️Mike Snowden
✏️Karolina Soltys

Lucky Consequences (2018), Naish Holiday Village, Christchurch, Dorset, United Kingdom

OrganizerMike Snowden

The Smoke (2020), Theatre Delicatessen, 2 Finsbury Avenue, London, United Kingdom

OrganizerMike Snowden


A small team of scientists gather at an isolated lodge deep in the Finnish forests for the culmination of a breakthrough research programme. With them are the human-form artificial intelligences they have been developing for the past two years. Now the team must select the most successful product and decide their project's next stage.

_Ex Nihilo_ is a short, fairly serious game which tries to explore artificial intelligence from the inside and let the players experience how it feels to be created as a blank slate, gain human drives and emotions one by one and to make conscious choices about the development of the very core of one's personality. Will the androids choose to be able to feel sad? To hold a grudge? To love irrationally? The scientists will seek answers to philosophical questions like "Would the world be a better place if humans were unable to feel sadness? How about if all humans valued collective needs higher than individuality?" etc., as well as make personal decisions about how they relate to the androids.

Compulsory content warning: Asimov's three laws of robotics apply to the AI characters. They thus can lack agency and are arguably slave-like. Please don't sign up if this doesn't appeal to you. Players under 18 only with prior GM approval please.

The goal of the Ex Nihilo project is to create artificial intelligence capable of passing the Turing test, though each of the scientists involved seeks a different outcome for the experiment. Six androids are created, each one a blank slate capable of understanding and feeling just a small subset of human emotions. During the game, the androids learn new emotions by interacting with each other and the scientists, question their purpose and form emotional attachments. The scientists need to decide whether the androids are conscious enough to deserve to be treated as human, whether it is moral to give an android an ability to feel e.g. sadness, anger or attraction, and what should be the function of artificial intelligence in society.

Content Warnings: The game is about as triggering as Blade Runner; but we are aware that bleed may and has occurred.

Presented by
Mike Snowden: Experienced writer and player of theatre style LARPs; this game is one that came from the “Peaky” writing weekend.

Played at

Intercon Q (2017)
Lucky Consequences (2018)
The Smoke (2020)

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