Unknown Armies 3rd Edition - Interest check


Weird thing is...I'm almost more interested in people who have no idea what this game is as players.

Buuuuut as this would be my first attempt to run the game (I played as a player in a second edition game a long time ago), I imagine having some people with knowledge of the setting as well as general enthusiasm for the horror-of-the-weird-and-unknown genre probably wouldn't be a bad idea.

Really just a pulse check for the whole shebang as I wouldn't be running anything soon. Trying to connect with interested folks; discuss the game, the genre, and what works for it. I still need to finish reading the three books that came with my Kickstarter bundle, but into Book Two: Run now and getting super jazzed.

If you don't know what Unknown Armies is, I want to encourage you not to look it up...only because I feel like it would be amazing to play it sight unseen with very little meta knowledge. I know that's tough, however, so no hate if you do. :P

I imagine that Strange Aeons and it's amnesia start up is a good parallel (Golarion-wise). Also, if you're familiar with Call of Cthulhu, Monte Cook's upcoming game Invisible Sun, or playing White Wolf's World of Darkness (old or new) as a mortal, you probably have a pretty good idea of the feel for Unknown Armies.

Anyway, as stated, looking for some talk, maybe bounce around some ideas. Once I'm ready (finished reading all the books + plus opened up some space on my PbP plate), I might get a real thread going later if there are enough people on these boards who think they would be up for some of these sparkly pony shenanigans.

I have precisely zero knowledge of this "Unknown Armies 3rd Edition" which you speak of, but would absolutely enjoy a weird horror RPG. Hopefully that makes me a perfect candidate for your planned venture.

I'm glad to see your enthusiasm, and your interest is noted. What do you like about the genre?

Primarily that it would be an interesting change of pace from the traditional fantasy RPGs that I play most often. The idea of playing a game in which I have no starting knowledge of the system or setting also sounds fun.

Well, Sesquipedalian, it doesn't look like anyone else is interested. Good luck gaming!

I know precisely enough about Unknown Armies to know that I'm interested. I don't really know anything about the rules, or the precise details of the setting, or how things work. If you're still interested in people who are interested, count me in.

I, too, am interested. I wouldn't be so quick to give up on this thread, as it seems that this site has been down for more than half the time this past week.

I know nothing about Unknown Armies, but back in the day I played modern horror campaigns of Call of Cthulhu, Beyond the Supernatural, and CJ Carella's Witchcraft, as well as my fair share of 1990's World of Darkness games (I'm unfamiliar with the reboots of the new millenium.) If Unknown Armies is similar to any of these, I'd love to get in on the action.

Wow, welcome. I'm glad to see some more smiling avatars (I assume the Tick is smiling... >_>), so I will definitely keep my eye on this thread.

I do want to be completely transparent, the game is definitely less focused on the monsters that creep in the dark and more on the strange that hides behind your mirror. I feel like of the WoD lines, Mage is probably the better setting comparison with its concepts of just things being far more than they appear and being exploitable by the people who know how.

This is just to make sure you know that unlike CoC and the other WoD game lines (Werewolf, Vampire, etc.) this game isn't exactly about horrifying monsters per se. There may be some, naturally, but the ultimate monster in Unknown Armies is more likely to be mankind and the things s/he can become...


It has been some time, but if any of you previous posters are still about, I am curious to know what kind of things you would like to see in a weird horror type story.

  • What kinds of things interest/disinterest you?
  • Are any subjects too far or you prefer not to see touched on/addressed? (If you prefer some privacy on these topics, feel free to PM me.)
  • Is there a conspiracy theory that exists in Real Life that you would love to chase down in a fictional world?
  • What genre tropes would you like to pay homage to/eschew entirely?

I'm still around, but I'd need to take a bit to formulate my thoughts for this. I'll try and post those thoughts tomorrow if I can!

Loup Blanc wrote:
I'm still around, but I'd need to take a bit to formulate my thoughts for this. I'll try and post those thoughts tomorrow if I can!

Ditto this.

My thoughts in brief:

pinvendor wrote:
What kinds of things interest/disinterest you?

I'm interested in mystery, in seemingly plausible surface explanations crumbling away under investigation to reveal increasingly distressing dark and unsettling facts pointing to impossible yet inescapable truths. I'm interested in weird, the kind of weird that brings you from bemused curiosity through creeping anxiety to reluctant and terrible realization. I'm interested in horror, of both the mind-shattering cosmic and the soul-crushing human varieties.

pinvendor wrote:
Are any subjects too far or you prefer not to see touched on/addressed?

I'm open to all topics so long as they're not gratuitous. If present, disturbing real-world subjects (rape, hate crime, and violence against children, to name a few) should be intrinsic to the story rather than simply there for shock value.

pinvendor wrote:
Is there a conspiracy theory that exists in Real Life that you would love to chase down in a fictional world?

I personally find small-scale plots more enjoyable and relatable than world-spanning ones; for instance, I love many stand-alone episodes of the X-Files, but generally find ones dealing with the over-arcing alien abduction/experimentation plotline unfulfilling. So while I'd enjoy unravelling individual mysteries and conspiracies which may well hint at a larger, darker truth, I have no real interest in saving-the-world type plots. As a player, dismantling a global conspiracy with ties to events all over the world sounds, quite frankly, exhausting.

All that said, I think real-world conspiracies particularly ripe for fictional exploitation might be "people not really dead" theories (a la mass shooting deniers, especially where attacker is also slain), subliminal persuasion/mind control through some interesting method (not necessarily tv or music), and the oldie-but-goodie flouridation.

pinvendor wrote:
What genre tropes would you like to pay homage to/eschew entirely?

I'm a Lovecraft man myself, and I also enjoy horror with monstrous adversaries but human villains (the Alien movies spring to mind). The only trope that I can think of being averse to in a game is the 'chain curse' a la Ringu/It Follows, though I realize that it makes for an easy adventure hook and race-against-time setup. Ringu is actually one of my favorite horror films, but the chain curse plot twist has just been played out for me at this point.

The Tick in the Barrel wrote:
"...but the chain curse plot twist has just been played out for me at this point."

Curse you!




Great response and good to know on the conspiracy theory front. I can honestly say I have no specific angle already planned around any, and I am more interested in absorbing what curiosity potential players have in the matter. Also, I would say a lot of what people provide may influence NPC personalities & obsessions.

After all, if three players all expressed an interest in JFK death conspiracies for example, I wouldn't shy away from including elements even if it just serves as background for introductions or as a cover up to a completely different conspiracy/epiphany!

Speaking of JFK death conspiracies, I just realized how interesting it would be if...


No, I'd better just hold onto that thought. ;P

What kinds of things interest/disinterest you?:
I'll echo what the Tick said for this one--I'm interested in mysteries, in the weird, in horror. I like delving into a seemingly mundane issue, like a runaway teen or even a single murder, and discovering the terrible, world-changing truth that lurks under the surface.

In more general terms, I'd also say I'm interested in history, particularly military history and folklore. I think both of those subjects naturally lend themselves to conspiracies and mysteries that could lean into strange or supernatural territory. Any sort of plot points linked to those would be right up my alley.

Are any subjects too far or you prefer not to see touched on/addressed?:
Personally, I don't have any issues with just about any topic, at least as far as "going too far" goes. I'll agree that disturbing topics or elements should always be important elements for the story--the image and the story should feed into one another naturally, rather than one being forced upon the other.

That said, I also recognize that there are some topics or concepts that are a bit touchy for a lot of people, and that ultimately cause more trouble or negative emotions than they're worth as foundations for a plotline. Anything too modern, political, or just plain awful should probably be left alone--things like 9/11 or other recent terror attacks, any modern political leaders, and stuff like Holocaust denial should probably be left off the table, unless everyone is explicitly okay with it ahead of time.

Is there a conspiracy theory that exists in Real Life that you would love to chase down in a fictional world?:
I'm not a huge believer in conspiracy theories myself--I mostly fall in the camp of folks who don't think most governments or organizations are smart or capable enough to really pull them off--but I'm a fan of reading about them, because I think they're fascinating. (So is the mindset of the true believer.) There are a lot of really interesting ones out there, but one of my personal favorites is the continual existence of the Flat Earth Theory and its proponents. I actually did a small amount of research on this for a class I had in college, and it's quite incredible to see the lengths believers will go to in order to prove their thoughts.

Beyond that, I find the various government conspiracies with technology and secrets to be interesting to think about. From alien coverups to total awareness Big Brother-style, to more fanciful things like mind control or Jason Bourne/Manchurian Candidate brainwashed secret agents... it's intriguing, even if I don't fully buy into it myself. That said, if it fits the game, I may well make a character who absolutely believes all that stuff is real.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up one theory that I can't help but partially believe: mass "false" memories like the Mandela Effect or the Berenstain Bears back-and-forth. The reality shift concept as a possible explanation is an intriguing one, since I'm willing to subscribe to the idea of multiple coexistent realities... and I'll swear to my dying day they were the Berenstein Bears when I was a kid.

What genre tropes would you like to pay homage to/eschew entirely?:
Humans as the real monsters/villains is a tried and true element of this sort of media at this point, and I think it's stuck around for a reason--even if it's a somewhat depressing and even disturbing one. That said, the ability of humans to stand up for what they believe in against all odds is an equally powerful trope that I like--and it's hard to say whether it's more impressive to bring down a corrupt politician or to punch an extra-dimensional horror in the face.

I think amnesia angles, especially related to mind control or sleeper agents, can be interesting to deal with, whether as players or with NPCs. Even just sleeper agents--or retired types who spring back into action--themselves can be a hell of a fun element when used well. Nothing like finding out the nice mechanic down the street is actually a highly trained killer who's suddenly back on call for those mysterious men in black suits...

As far as tropes that are played out, or ones that I'd want to avoid, the overwhelming despair angle isn't one I love dealing with personally. You know the one: where no matter what your characters do, no matter how hard they fight or how awesome or smart they are, they just can't make a difference. I'm not against that existing on a large scale--heck, the whole "we've won the battle but not the war" is a great way to keep characters invested--but when it comes down to the individual level, it sucks. Sure, maybe we can't bring down the Illuminati all on our own, or save Earth forever from the Great Old Ones. But we can sure as hell put a massive dent in their plans, and maybe even bring down a leader/hit Cthulhu with a boat.

I think that covers everything, at least that I can think of right now. Of course, the moment I sat down to type this half the things I'd thought of escaped me, but I got most of it, I believe.

Loup Blanc wrote:
--or retired types who spring back into action--

Not at all what you're talking about, but when I read this, the end of The Monster Squad movie suddenly sprang into my head. That ending blew my friggin' mind with awesomeness when I was a kid.

On a related note, I'm not really interested in re-imagined or modernized classic movie monsters at all (a la Monster Squad); I'm actually in a pbp right now that's running with that idea.

Glad to see this thread is back. In answer to the above questions, I would like to play a character who knows nothing of anything supernatural or horror-related and is somewhat blindsided by whatever we encounter (initially at least). As such, I am open to whatever plot is dictated by your imagination and the other participants' suggestions. My character will just have to figure it out as he goes along.

There are no subjects I can think of which I would be opposed to seeing in the game, as long as some degree of verisimilitude is preserved and the subject is actually useful to the story.

Unknown Armies is one of the coolest settings I've ever heard of but I've never played it myself. If I may answer your questions:

What kinds of things interest/disinterest you?:
I like the idea of societal taboos in games like this. Postmodern Magic probably leads lots of people to rebel against the oppressiveness of reality itself.

Are any subjects too far or you prefer not to see touched on/addressed? (If you prefer some privacy on these topics, feel free to PM me.):
Not so much. It's less the topic than the tone with me. Stuff like on-screen sexual violence won't turn me off provided it's treated with the gravitas the subject deserves, and this is a system and setting where some of the really nasty stuff could come up and make sense, but it probably won't be necessary to make a good story.

Is there a conspiracy theory that exists in Real Life that you would love to chase down in a fictional world?:
I mean, South Park did it first, but I'd love for conspiracy nuts to be the actual shills just trying to make the people in charge sound much more scary and competent than they really are.

That being said, if you wanted to be less comedic and more horrific I think the idea of the whole world running on chaos and randomness is both more thematic and much much scarier than some shadowy cabal planning everything from what you ate for breakfast to the stock market to the elections through super-scary mind control, plus the idea of an organization becoming big and powerful enough to even try that without falling apart from within from factions forming and internal conflict really strains my disbelief.
[spoiler=What genre tropes would you like to pay homage to/eschew entirely?]Like I said in conspiracy theories, the whole "Shadowy Cabal that controls EVERYTHING" is kind of beyond the pale for me at least as far as playing it completely straight. Several competing factions or something like a cult of an extremely powerful individual might make sense, or if it's played for laughs, but that's less UA more Paranoia.

As for tropes I like, I like characters who interact with those with magical abilities but for whatever reason can't use them themselves.

Thanks for stopping in, Derz.

Hot Button Topics: I'd like to think I'm sensible regarding the use of such material, but I would certainly not want to broach a subject that any players would consider offensive. Even though I don't have current plans to center a story around anything that could be offensive, I wouldn't want to make casual mention or catch anyone off guard if I have NPCs who are much more callous and cavalier in their attitude towards some sensitive topics.

Dark Archive

Hi there! =)

I have played games simply BECAUSE I did not know them. Indeed, that's how I discoved the Savage Worlds system. Also, I extracted a perverse joy out of playing Moria, a roguelike game that was short on "rules" and "documentation" and long on "being a rogeuelike game".

Mind you, when you have players playing a game they don't know how to play, gameplay can be slow and jerky. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but actions can take a bit longer when we don't actually know "what" to "do" or "which" dice to "roll".

With that said, tally ho! =p
Also, warning, there might be some adult talk here. You've been warned. ;-)

What kinds of things interest/disinterest you?:

I like horror in its written form. I'm gonna jump on the Lovecraftian bandwagon, but I think good ol' H.P. just took too gosh darn long. I like R.E."I invented Conan" Howard. He was a pen pal with ol' Lovey and his stories where Conan gets injected into a story with a Lovecraftian Horror is some good readin'.

Are any subjects too far or you prefer not to see touched on/addressed:

I'm a good deal more liberal than my colleagues. I know that what we do here is fantasy, so I wouldn't mind volunteering a character that undergoes some weird stuff. I know that rape and sex in general is generally shunned, but I've got a friend who's a no-seriously smut author, and what he does seems fine. If I found myself writing a character in his story I think that'd be okay. (But only if I get dark, forbidden power out of it. I'd be getting dark, forbidden power from it, right? =)

Oh, right. No kids. Everyone we see should be above 17. Once you hit 18 you've had your lessons and sometimes life puts you in the deep end of the pool. =)

Is there a conspiracy theory that exists in Real Life that you would love to chase down in a fictional world?:

Aliens exist. Magic is real. The Nazis have a back-up plan simmering in Argentina. All the classics are so good I feel no need to add to it. =)

What genre tropes would you like to pay homage to/eschew entirely?:

As stated, I like the "Conan" idea of a common man -struggling- against forces-he-knows-not and then somehow overcoming it. I've always -wanted- to play someone who starts out as a regular level-0 shuck and then slowly learns Dark Magicks. (I had a good shot at doing that in a CoC game, but the game had too. many. sidequests. The game suffered a collective analysis paralysis and died.

So, protip, don't throw too much at the party ever. =)

Welcome to the discussion, Atlas2112.

To clarify a bit about the "ignorance of the setting" to which I referred in my original post, I really mean the background of the world in Unknown Armies. Since the premise of the game is often normal people thrust into extraordinary circumstances of sudden and abrupt awareness of true reality, I was actually supposing that having the players learn the reveals right along with their characters would make for an amazing experience gamewise. By no means required, just something I was feeling would be a real treat.

I was fortunate enough to play Paranoia for the first time in a such a manner, so my clone's constant bewilderment to all the crazy things happening around me in game was mirrored by my own and that really lent itself to the roleplay. I was envisioning a similar situation could make the potential confusion, outright disbelief/rejection, and hopefully ever increasing horror of realization become a truly memorable game.

As far as playing completely system unseen, that was never my intention. A basic primer on resolving the everyday skills and abilities should be easy to provide leaving the "sekrit" abilities and knowledge to one side until those opportunities come up in game. The character creation can easily be divorced from meta-knowledge of the setting background. Especially since that setting is our true-to-life everyday world. No supplements or extensive reading required to get in-character. :)

I'm definitely seeing enough people interested potentially for a game here. I am still reading my materials, but haven't made it too much of a priority due to some life busy-ness. I will get more on top of that and get ready to open a real recruitment here possibly in a few weeks.

One thing I can recommend is if you want to find yourselves some cryptic quotes, clever fortune cookie sayings, odd pictures of places and people, and other things that help create a sense of unsettling and concerning mystery (think something like this or this or this); that can be really useful as part of the character creation phase. The GM section actually suggests having each person bring and introduce things like that during the first session collaboration. Then each player can use them for creating their relationships and backgrounds. The creation phase is very collaborative as each player finds links to the location where the game is played, the other players, and the NPCs the GM introduces.

For example, a Player 1 could decide they opened a fortune cookie and got the fortune I linked. A year later to the day, their little brother was struck by a car while riding his bicycle and his vocal chords were irreparably damaged. He recovered, but was never again able to utter a sound. Player 2 could decide that even though neither player yet knows it, Player 2 woke up while camping and witnessed these strange ice formations on a nearby lake the morning that accident occurred. Player 3 could decide they received that same fortune! Exactly 11 months ago...

Anyway, I hope that gets the juices flowing. I'm getting myself pretty excited about this!

Dark Archive

So, we are to abide our time for a few weeks until you have read all the books, yeah?

Until then do you want to guide us making our characters, or have a little intro vignette, or something?

I guess that is one way to put it. As I said in my original post, I was really testing the water since I've not seen any Unknown Armies PbPs ever! My current PbP plate is a bit heavy at the moment since I'm just transitioning a Hell's Rebels AP game into its starting rebellion and beginning another smaller superhero PbP for a couple of friends. Once I have those rolling, their own inertia will smooth out my ability to really devote time to starting this. The response I've seen shows me there could be real interest, so I do plan to open a recruitment

Truth is it probably won't be until late July. I have a vacation planned for the middle of this month, so trying to cram in my reading and writing the story of the expected campaign will be a little too much to try and get done with everything else. Once I'm back, I should be able to focus and get things really revved up.

I'm more than open to continue talking about the genre and keep the ideas flowing in the meantime, naturally.

On that note, I've been told about a Twilight Zone-like show called Black Mirror. Any of you seen it? Would it be a good place for inspiration?

Just posting in to say that I'm still very much here and interested. Also, hello, Atlas! Cool to see you here.

As far as the images and such for inspiration... well, I went searching through lists of weird and creepy Wikipedia pages before my last post (looking for conspiracy theories, but finding lots of other stuff), and I also have a saved folder on my computer titled "Strange Images." I actually have that tree saved there, along with a mix of photographs and some artwork. There's something creepy about some stuff, like Teletubbies without eyes, or shaved bears, or even just the oddities of people.

Plenty of inspiration out there, especially now that we have the Internet to look for it.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Going through the various threads and have to admit, Unknown Armies is something I have been told I have to look into by others in my gaming group but I just never got around to checking out. I did pledge for their recent KS but like a lot of my gaming stuff, unless I get some spare time from work, or we play a game, I suspect it is going to stay packed away. :(

However, if PbP does begin, please count this as a most sign of interest.

As for the questions broached above

1] What interests me? Given the game styles you hare listed above as similar themes for Unknown Armies, the things that interest me most is the one thing Man prides itself on, the trappings of 'civilisation' is merely a very thin veneer over a very dark and scary reality. It doesn't take much to brush aside said trappings of civility and dark things often find themselves imposing themselves in what we see as our safe haven.
ie monsters exist. We just choose to ignore or look around them to fit them into our world view.

While I tend to be by and large a fairly optimistic person, I tend to find the more pessimistic approach or outlook on life fascinating. What if vampires exist? What if there was a global conspiracy did exist to keep us from the truth. What is the truth?

For me, horror is not the blood drenched slash of a serial killers knife or the sick and sadistic ways Man's twisted mind is able to devise ways to hurt his kind. or even the sudden twist and turns of a slasher flick where the big bad suddenly jumps out at you from no where.

Rather, horror for me is more personal in nature. Like some of Lovecraft's stories, it is the gradual discovery that the world is not what you have perceived it to be. Add to that the personal nature of corruption on a personal basis as in the Shadows over Innsmouth, and you have the set up for a great horror story.

2] subjects to avoid?
personally there isn't too much that I would avoid. But one needs to be aware of the sensibilities of the other players.

also gratuitous use of sick and demented scenes merely to provoke a response is not warranted, but if there is a reason to run it in story, and it is not overly used, I don't see why not

3] favourite theory. got to to with the x files favourite aliens exist. a grand plan by the powers that be to suppress it.
or alternately, a spin on this is the Monster Hunters International novel series. Monsters exists and there is a grand conspiracy by the governments of the world to suppress it as they do not wish to give credence and power to the supernatural for fear it would prompt the masses to try summoning a greater power from dimensions unknown/unknowable

4] Like the previous members, I like the idea of the horror being personal. While it is great to say there are monsters/aliens/other beings in the world, at the end of the day, the greatest evil lies within. Man is his own biggest enemy, and the horror I see is what man Man is capable of when unfettered by the trappings of civility, or even reality if the case fits.

Excellent! Thank you for your contribution, -lupus-. I think your idea of horror is very much in line with my own. Probably why you backed their Kickstarter just like I did!

Just giving another check-in to say that I'm still here and interested! Mostly because I had a long absence from the boards for the last week or more, and I wanted to keep an eye on things.

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