Monday, April 25, 2011


In reality, I don’t have a ton of RPGs. Back in the day, I can remember between my buddy Scott and his brother, they used to buy just about every RPG that came out. I was a lot more discerning (HA!), and tended to focus on a few core games. Today, I really only have 5 core games in my collection – 1st/2nd Edition AD&D, B/X D&D, WEG Star Wars d6, Cyberpunk 2020, and UNKNOWN ARMIES.

Unknown Armies was one of those left-field games for me. I knew nothing about the game. The only reason I found out about it was from talking with an acquaintance who worked at a FLGS. We were talking about THE X-FILES (when it was still on TV), and he said, “Well, if you like the X-FILES, you should check out this new game, Unknown Armies.” As it happened, they were on sale (plus, I had a discount because I knew everyone who worked at the store, so I used to go in and do painting demos or play Magic games to get a discount 8), so I snagged the rule book, the ONE SHOTS adventure book, and one of the supplements (Post-Modern Magick, as I recall). I loved the game from the moment I started reading it, and quickly snapped up everything I could. (As an aside, I have everything that was published for this game, thanks to Paizo selling off Atlas Games stock, which enabled me to FINALLY get ahold of the Break Today, To Go and 2nd Edition hardcovers. I have recently discovered that original printings of the rulebooks and sourcebooks for this game are going for OBSCENE amounts of money. We were just discussing on the Unknown Armies mailing list that a couple online retailers have copies of Post-Modern Magick going for $225+!!! I am now torn… should I try and sell my collection for what would likely be a VERY pretty penny, and survive with the PDFs I have *cough*acquired*cough*, or hold onto my beautiful books like grim death? So far, I am leaning towards grim death 8) ) Unknown Armies had everything going for it… from a very unique character creation process (I loved the skill system… your skills were entirely dependent on the names you came up with to describe them), some innovative (if occasionally confusing) play mechanics, and a general atmosphere that was one part C’THulhu-ish horror, one part Conspiracy Theory paranoia, one part Beat Poet observationalism, and one part Quentin Tarantino stylized violence. My biggest regret is that I’ve never had a chance to run a game… it has a rather “mature” character (one of the schools of magick is pornomancy – you can imagine the details), and since most of my pool of eligible players are all in their teens (and my students to boot), that kind of rules it out.

However, IF I ever run an Unknown Armies campaign, I already have an idea in my head. A few years ago, there was a weird little 3-episode mini-series called The Lost Room. The premise (as best I can figure out) has to do with some sort of supernatural event that occurs at a hotel in the Nevada desert, that ends up ripping the room and everything in it out of the space-time continuum. As a result, the “relics” of this room, all endowed with their own supernatural powers, are spread out around the world. Two groups are tasked with the retrieval of these items – one group wants to reunite the items with the room, as they think it will lead to… something (a new age of enlightenment? The apocalypse? I haven’t watched it in a while, so I don’t remember), and the other group seeks to keep these items out of the room. It has just the kind of weird paranoid feel that would make a perfect UA campaign. Once I figure out how I can shoehorn the other elements of UA into this (like archetypes, Godwalkers, and the various cabals involved), I might start working on this….. someday……

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