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Unknown Armies – CC

Posted by paradisio on October 15, 2008

Today’s game is another Greg Stolze game, this time it’s Unknown Armies. Unlike Reign, UA uses a roll under system for resolution. Like Reign however, the game is very freeform. I have a hard time pinning down the game to an archetype of what kind of game it is, modern Occult is the best description I can come up with. The game can be funny, serious or silly; about magic or conspiracies or killer robots or bad chicken nuggets. I also thoroughly enjoy the way magic is used in the game; nothing like a mage who gets power from getting stoned or being drunk and having historically relevant drinking apparatus’.

The game has a few supplements, although I don’t believe any more are in production, regardless, they are all quality stuff. To be honest, I don’t even know if the book is in print anymore, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to find.

The game has three levels of play; this game will take place on the most basic level, street. Anyways, these character creation things I do are generally pretty light on the back story. But because so much of the character generation system is relevant to background I’m going to throw in a bit of back story right now.

The characters name is Elie Anderson, a college drop out with a big drug problem who is intensely paranoid of the government and into conspiracy theories and all that jazz. Truthfully, this character is modeled after an actual friend of mine.

The first step is to determine your character obsession; people in this kind of game are frequently going to have some personality quirks. Elie’s obsession is self indulgence, whether it be drugs or just agreeing with himself about his own crazy theories.

Next are your characters passions, which are a role-playing tool and a game tool that can help you in certain situations. You have three passions, one for Fear, Rage, and Nobility. They should be fairly obvious, what scares you, what angers you, and what prompts you to do good.

Elie is obviously afraid of the government, so I give his character: (Isolation) Government Officials. Each fear is related to one of five things; in this case I picked Isolation since he obviously doesn’t want anything to do with them. Rage is a bit of a tougher one, Elie is a pretty laid back guy, but I pick an example from the book: Stuck-Up ***holes. For the noble passion I pick One For All, also an example from the book; he’s loyal to his friends against the fat cats with probes.

Next is your personality, this can be something you pick, or one from the group (of which there are different types), I pick the zodiac Gemini as a personality archetype.

Next is the more mechanical stuff, your stats. They are rated 1-100, higher being better obviously. The game only has four stats: Body, Speed, Mind and Soul. I have 220 points to spend between the four, 30-70 being the average range. I don’t imagine that years of drug abuse have helped him physically, but he is fairly popular at the parties and raves and a pretty sharp if a bit paranoid. After all, if you knew, wouldn’t you be scared?

I distribute the points as follows:
Body 45
Speed 45
Mind 60
Soul 70

After that I pick a descriptive term for each stat. Body – Runny Nose, Speed – Butter Fingers, Mind – Recites bits from government documentation, Soul – Life of the party.

Next are skills, unlike pretty much every game I’ve played, there is no skill list. You make up the skills; they shouldn’t be incredibly broad and can be descriptive about your character at the same time. You get a number of points equal to the relevant stat plus a few bonus points to put anywhere. There are some free skills everyone gets as well.

So first, I have my free skills at the following:
Body: General Athletics 15%, Struggle 15%
Speed: Dodge 15%, Driving 15%, Initiative 22%
Mind: General Education 15%, Notice 15%, Conceal 15%
Soul: Charm 15%, Lying 15%

After a bit of work and spending, my skills come up as follows:
Body: General Athletics 20%, Struggle 25%, Enduring the Drugs 30%
Speed: Dodge 20%, Driving 20%, Initiative 22%, Running from the Man 25%, Firearms 15%
Mind: General Education 25%, Notice 25%, Conceal 40%, Law 15%
Soul: Charm 40%, Lying 40%, Getting a Fix 30%

That’s basically it for the basic level of play, flesh out some traumatic occult event in the characters life and discuss with the GM about whatever equipment you may have.

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