Episode54

This episode we’re taking a look at Unknown Armies, a roleplaying game that’s not strictly horror, but is close enough that we feel little remorse for talking about it. We also have too many hardened notches to feel remorse in general. We’ve done bad things. One of these bad things is discussing many GM-only parts of the game, so be warned that we’re laying its secrets as bare as the Naked Goddess herself.

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This is how I’ve always imagined her ascension video to look.

If you haven’t encountered Unknown Armies before, don’t worry —  it already knows everything about you. It’s a modern game about magical weirdness wielded by obsessed, broken people. Whether or not you are one of these broken people depends on the type of game you play, both at and away from the table. If all this sounds a bit vague, it’s only because Unknown Armies is a difficult game to pin down. We spent around 90 minutes trying to do so, and all we have to show for it are a single ripped stocking filled with dead wasps, a half-used pack of incontinence pants and a weird feeling in our pancreas. Yes, we all share a single pancreas now. Don’t ask.

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But at least it’s prehensile.

While most of the Unknown Armies line is currently out of print, the second edition of the core book is still readily available, and a third edition is in playtest. As wonderful as the supplements are (and they are pretty damn wonderful) there is more than enough meat in the main rulebook to keep you and your players satisfied. And when we say “meat”, we’re speaking metaphorically. Probably. Unknown Armies is a strange, strange game.

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Some of the pages are particularly well marbled.

This episode we’re speaking about the unspeakable, mentioning the unmentionable and naming the nameless. More particularly, we’re talking about a recently published book that we co-wrote, Nameless Horrors, using this as a starting point for a discussion about the merits and techniques of creating your own unique take on the Mythos.

Nameless Horrors

Here’s one we prepared earlier.

If you’ve played Call of Cthulhu for as long as we have, you can probably spot a Star Vampire without dusting it with the powder of Ibn Ghazi, sniff out the most freshly scrubbed of ghouls and identify what lurks under the Pallid Mask without taking a peek. The Mythos is a rich playground, full of many horrible things for a Keeper to use, but nothing will keep your players on their toes like making new stuff up.

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Well, apart from hiding small snakes in their dice pouches.

I forgot to mention something in the previous show notes, where it would have actually tied into the correct episode! We would be ever so grateful if those of you who subscribe via iTunes could rate the podcast there. We’re a little under the threshold for having a visible rating, and we used all of our powder of Ibn Ghazi on that Star Vampire we mentioned earlier.

We’re back, and we’re doing our homework. In particular, we’re looking at what kinds of research can help GMs and players give their games depth, possible sources of information and how not to lose your mind during the process. OK, we may not be the best people to help with that last item.

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Scott’s manuscripts sometimes need a bit of editing.

We’re joined for part of the episode by Bret Kramer, editor of the Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion and the Arkham Gazette. Bret’s detailed work on these projects and his background in academia allow him to offer somewhat more substantial tips and insights than our usual “spend five minutes on Wikipedia” approach.

MoN

We probably would have spent double that on a project of this scope. That’s what makes us professionals.

We forgot to mention it last time, but we’ve introduced a new segment, named Lovecraftian Word of the Week. We select an unusual word found in Lovecraft’s work, define it, give examples from stories, and then fumblingly try to use it in a sentence. The results are often detestable, which, by a remarkable coincidence, is our word for this episode.

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An upcoming Word of the Week will be “week”, which we have redefined to mean “fortnight”.

And we have new Patreon backers, including two who were brave enough to get us to sing their praises! Paul seems to have discovered some new effects to apply to our already eldritch voices. The final result may induce light-headedness, bleeding from orifices and a sickening realisation of the futility of human existence.