Do I want Unknown Armies?



  • edited November 2013
    I'm running it right now, using the 1st edition. I'm treating the setting as a grab-bag of stuff to put in the campaign when I need something. When I ran it years and years ago, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get all the meta-plot across.

    Now? It's me and my player's game. I'm having a lot of fun with it, but I don't even see how that was possible the original time I played it. All the stuff about game play and design let me use it as a tool. So it works that way for me.

    I see Pathfinder, World of Darkness, or whatever the exact same way. I just like this setting and character rules enough to make the book into something I can run.
  • I was thinking of the whole To Go thing. The second edition rulebook was written as if the To Go campaign had happened a specific way.
    Ah, I think I see how you might get that impression - but To Go came out after the 2nd edition. It was one of the last books in the line, IIRC.

    Also the way they described those who were searching for a specific actress on video to me came across like a plot that I had to follow.

    And recurring NPCs between published adventures (Jesus, the ambulance driver)…
    it was just hard to get what was fiction, and what was game.
    Fair enough, although I find this hard to understand.
    All this stuff was explicitly laid out as elements you could choose to use or not use, and I'm not sure your examples are metaplot. "There are some guys looking for the video tapes" is setting info; there are no fixed events there.

    Having said that, I remember there was a lot of confusion on the issue as to whether it was canon that the Naked Goddess had been the avatar of a particular thing. It was mentioned a few times that those in-character letters were just speculation on the part of the (fictional) writer, but that speculation seemed to gain a lot of traction as the Official Truth.
  • I just reread the two books I have, Weep and 2nd core.
    The mak attax stuff was in the intro to Green Glass Grail but I don't know what it refers to. You're right, it could not have been To Go.

    Actually, I had never read through Weep before. I've hanged on to it because I need A Few Of My Favorite Things as a reminder of GM nadir. But now that I've read Garden Full of Weeds, I'm considering throwing the book away. It is too gruesome.

    I just think the game and GM style advocated really is the opposite of what I want from a game. GM is told to keep wound points hidden... Many of the adventures are A) linear (not all of them, but many of them) and B) hard to see how they are derived from the ruled/gameplay.

    It just seems to me that the "system", such as it is, is "GMs, make up weird shit and let your players encounter it. Here is a grab-bag of weird stuff to start you off. Players, when you do stuff (such as fight or use path or spells), make rolls. You must obey."
    I also read the Tynes design notes. They are very settings first.

    To me, the gameability is low. It's hard tl create a story, you're more "along for the ride". It does emphasize some hard choices for players occasionally, which is good, but with so much obfuscation a lot of the choices are shots in the dark.

    Tynes once created an insightful and fun exercise called "Power Kill". Well, fun to read, not to actually try to do. It's basically pointing out the murder-hobo:ness of its contemporaries. I like it, it raised good questions.
    I'd like to create a similar exercise called "Power Trip", for the GM instead of for the players, on how GM-centric the games were back then.
  • There's just so much of the coolness of the setting that happens only behind the scenes. The players "aren't in on the joke".
  • edited November 2013
    There's just so much of the coolness of the setting that happens only behind the scenes. The players "aren't in on the joke".
    I think this is the big recurring problem with settings in general.
    UA 2nd ed was good in that it explicitly had stuff you were supposed to give to the players so their PCs could be world-weary know-it-alls about the occult underground (the original concept was "Call of Cthulhu without all the boring pretending to be surprised").
    But it probably didn't go far enough in that direction, and the supplements didn't do much to help keep the approach going.
  • edited November 2013
    It also seemed to recommend starting off at street. Which was just hard to play.

    I've kind of reconsidered my previous harsh words. Here is how I want to phrase it now.

    Given the popularity of this game still (on at least), there has got to be a lot of GMs who've run it to their own as well as to their players' satisfaction. It's just that I think that almost every singe one of those GMs are also part of the (larger) set of "People who can run a good game from any novel, sourcebook or worldbook".

    Either they went contrary to the GM rules/advice, or, more likely, they have a group of players who enjoy a participationist or illusionist play.

    In the vein of Story Games' focus on AP experiences, I can only say that as psyched I was for the game when reading the rumors and "classes", when at the actual table it was my worst GMing experience yet and still a source of shame and regret, because of the very visible "rails".
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