Opinions wanted on UNKNOWN ARMIES

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
Hi everyone! I have a quick question about UNKNOWN ARMIES. I have the 2nd edition of the game, and I've heard many times how amazing the game is. I remember reading a discussion once (not on RPGnet, but another forum) about how UA would be perfect for a horror game based on SILENT HILL. I thought, "Sign me up!" But after reading about a third of the book, and going through several old threads on RPGnet on the topic, it seems to be that UNKNOWN ARMIES isn't really a horror game about ordinary people so much as a conspiracy/modern fantasy game about PCs who have magic powers.

I guess my question is this: Is UNKNOWN ARMIES a good system for running a horror game in which the PCs are ordinary people (like most horror protagonists) tormented by horrific powers beyond their understanding? Or is it more accurate to think of it as a kind of World of Darkness game where the PCs have powers and abilities and battle other forces?
 

Coyote's Own

RPG.net's friendly neighborhood Nuwisha.
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It's both depending on which level your playing on.
The game pretty much early state there are three levels of play: Street (no powers, except possibly some weird talent, PC probably don't know anything about the Occult Underground), Global (it less buig then it sounds. The characters are a local power group, part of occult underground and compete for power and resources) and Cosmic (Players are a major group vying to get seat in the Invisible Cleargy or gain global standing).

What you looking for is Street level game.

And read about the Rooms of Renunciation, as he Silent Hill is a good example of one.
 

Troy Swain

Registered User
Validated User
Yeah, what Coyote's Own Coyote's Own said. I used to start my Unknown Armies games on the street level, and ramp up as soon as possible. And I don't totally use the campaign world as it's provided, even though I think it's brilliant. But Dread might be an even easier game to start up a Silent Hill one shot. Unknown Armies has beautiful, beautiful mechanics, and would work well for a campaign in Silent Hill.
 

Miss Atomic Bomb

Welcome to your life. There's no turning back.
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Yeah, UA covers a number of different playstyles. I'm most enamored of the street level, which is all about regular people encountering weird stuff. The third edition has a lot of support for strange things outside the game's occult conspiracy framework.
 

SetentaeBolg

Registered User
Validated User
I ran an (initially disguised) Unknown Armies game that started with the players having no magical ability nor understanding of the magical nature of the world. It was very much a horror game for the first two thirds of the campaign. The important thing for me was to keep things as grounded as possible (don't venture into the more surreal or over-the-top elements of the setting) and I only introduced the supernatural very gradually (although it was present from the start).
 

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
Here's something I'm curious about. I don't know how true this is (if at all), but one thing I've heard from several people is that in UA there really aren't any monsters as such: no ghosts, no vampires, no demons, no Lovecraftian abominations. Rather, I've heard that the characters in UA are basically fighting other humans (who have magical abilities) and/or hallucinations of their own making. Is there anything to this?
 

tartex

Minion of Kitchensink
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I know you are not asking about that and it is offtopic, but Kult seems to be a very good fit settingwise for a Silent Hill style game.
 

Troy Swain

Registered User
Validated User
I'd love to hear more about this, both in terms of mechanics and the Silent Hill appropriateness.
It's been awhile since I've run Unknown Armies. Its madness meter is wonderful; a great twist on Call of Cthulhu. The dice system is fun; UA uses d100, but you can flip flop the d10 results depending on your character's traits, which adds insanity to the game. It's also a beautifully written.

And yes, roughly, there are lots of ghosts, demons, and monsters, etc., but they are all our fault. We broke the world. Ghosts, demons, monsters, vampires, all of it, are aspects of humanity's hubris and mistakes. There might be chthonic horrors, but UA concentrates on the maelstrom that we created.

But like I said, it's a beautiful world they created, but I didn't always play in it.
 
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