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Opinions wanted on UNKNOWN ARMIES

Miss Atomic Bomb

Welcome to your life. There's no turning back.
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#22
I own 1st and 2nd edition (core rulebooks only). Mainly been reading 2nd, but also starting to read through 1st. Not interested in third mainly because I already, like, have 1st and 2nd. (And have no interest in a 3-book game)
Ah, gotcha. The Reveal book for third edition is where a lot of the weirdness that isn't explained by the cosmology lives. That was the perspective I was answering from. Second has less of that stuff.

Rooms of Renunciation, which are psychedelic crucibles that can entirely reverse some part of your personality or role in the world, are very Silent Hill. They're in all three editions, I think, and they're definitely in second.

I think UA's system is solid for the kind of scenario you're talking about, even if the cosmology doesn't suit you. If you want a game more focused on normal people dealing with horrors outside humanity, Chronicles of Darkness is great.* It has a chapter on building monsters, plus a bunch of prewritten ones with an urban legend/creepypasta vibe.

I honestly think UA3 is the best game in the genre, but I understand not wanting to buy multiple books.


(* Bias: I developed it.)
 

The Unshaven

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#23
I own 1st and 2nd edition (core rulebooks only). Mainly been reading 2nd, but also starting to read through 1st. Not interested in third mainly because I already, like, have 1st and 2nd. (And have no interest in a 3-book game)
From my perspective, there's nothing in 1st Ed that wasn't covered and improved on in 2nd Ed: 2nd Ed completely supercedes it.

3rd Ed is a similar looking system, but its foundations are different enough you couldn't mix and match mechanics between them.

Basically it's a choice between 2nd and 3rd Ed, since 1st effectively got replaced by 2nd. Since you've got 2nd, just run with that: it's glorious.

3rd if also wonderful, but have fun with the bird in the hand first.
 

Thuvasa3

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#24
Is it really a tool box though?
I would say yes, in that there are many different kinds of games you could run with it. If you think about something like Dungeons & Dragons... you can really only play D&D-like games with it. With Unknown Armies, you can play almost any kind of "weird" game with it. You could fairly easily adapt it for a Lovecraftian horror game. You could play Lord of Illusions. You could play Last Call. You could play Friday the 13th: The Series. It's a toolbox in that sense. Although it has an implied setting, street level characters aren't going to know anything about it, and you have such a wide array of ways that you CAN play it that the setting is, or can be, almost irrelevant.

T.
 

Icon

Old enough to know better
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#25
I honestly think UA3 is the best game in the genre, but I understand not wanting to buy multiple books.
UA3 sells as three books but you're getting a condensed summary of (and sometimes updates to) all the material in UA/UA2 on top of getting a whole bunch of new material. If it was mentioned in UA/UA2, its in UA3 somewhere.

On the matter of UA2 though, it is a wonderfully complete core book in and of itself and you are pretty good to go with it alone.
 

The Unshaven

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#26
I would say yes, in that there are many different kinds of games you could run with it. If you think about something like Dungeons & Dragons... you can really only play D&D-like games with it. With Unknown Armies, you can play almost any kind of "weird" game with it. You could fairly easily adapt it for a Lovecraftian horror game. You could play Lord of Illusions. You could play Last Call. You could play Friday the 13th: The Series. It's a toolbox in that sense. Although it has an implied setting, street level characters aren't going to know anything about it, and you have such a wide array of ways that you CAN play it that the setting is, or can be, almost irrelevant.
It provides one of the best systems I've seen used for Changeling: The Dreaming, too. So it's pretty versatile: what you get has a very distinctive feel, but that distinctive feel can be appropriate for a wide range of different storyworlds/settings.
 

Cam Banks

Kiwi Game Designer
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#27
The tagline we came up with for UA when we launched the Kickstarter for the new edition a couple years back was: "An occult game about broken people conspiring to fix the world."

And that's truly what it is. Ignoring tiers of play, the core experience of UA is that your characters think the world doesn't work right, and you are trying to make it work the way you think it is supposed to work. Because humanity collectively imposes its will upon the universe, from adepts bruising reality to avatars embodying concepts and then ascending to make them true as archetypes, the PCs are in a position no matter how narrow the campaign's initial focus of creating cosmic-level changes over the course of the game.

The new edition brings the focus on the trauma and lived experiences of the player characters and makes those central to how they function in the world. The more you become inured to Violence, the better you get at inflicting violence on others, for example. Previous editions didn't tie ability or skills to this in the same way, which is perhaps the biggest difference between the two games (otherwise the mechanics are very similar indeed).
 

Insect King

Mechristopheles!
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#28
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?
UA runs both. I run an ongoing but irregular UA game and only one of the characters is a sort of obvious magician -- a few rituals and tilts or gutter sorcery. The characters as a combination of vigilantes and fixers. Most of the games have featured some sort of magic, from overt to metaphorical, but its there.

I describe UA as occult noir -- a crime game that intrudes upon the supernatural. UA can easily be made magic independent. If you want to run it as straight horror with mundane characters with little to no magical power, it will do so without hassle.

Cheers,

Chris.
 

Arkat

Skål Kosmonauter
Validated User
#29
Is it really a tool box though? Just from reading through it (I'm also reading through the 1e core rules as well, which I also have) it strikes me as having a very strongly defined setting, with key NPCs (that billionaire cultist chap whose name escapes me, or that porno star who has ascended to godhood, etc.) and a fairly well-defined cosmology. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but as I was reading it this morning I was thinking that it was really intriguing but also limiting in a sense. Maybe I should go for something more generic, but I have to admit I keep getting drawn back to UA.
I love, love, love Unknown Armies and consider it one of the best rpgs ever, but in this I agree with you. The occult underground as described in the game has aways felt limiting in my games. On an intellectual level I know that it should be easy to ignore it and come up with my own cabals and dukes, but in practice it has been hard to get away from the characters described in the book. For me UA has always been a weird mix of a fantastic, open-ended cosmology and a small, local and strongly defined occult underground.

This is probably terribly unfair, but in some sense UA reads like some peoples' actual play reports of an UA game.
 

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
#30
I keep reading through the PDF, and enjoying the prose. And some of the stuff in there is very, very creepy. I'm sold. Ordered the hardcover on amazon. :love:
 
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