[19:07] <+GregStolze> My name’s Greg Stolze, and I’m the coauthor of the original UNKNOWN ARMIES, and the… what, developer? Chief cook and bottle washer? …for the third edition.
[19:08] <+GregStolze> UNKNOWN ARMIES (UA for short) is a modern occultism game that ditches the old tomes and pentagrams and Illuminati/Templar/Hermetic trappings, replacing them with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
[19:09] <+CamBanks> I’m Cam Banks, co-developer of UA3 and also the producer for the game at Atlas Games, which includes wrangling the people and the Kickstarter that’s going on right now.
[19:09] <+GregStolze> OK, so how’d you describe UA, Cam? I’m curious. Oh, and I’m going to quote the “Broken people trying to fix the world” thing first, to steal that from you.
[19:11] <+CamBanks> I think UA is a game of deeply obsessed characters coming at a world they want to change armed with DIY magick and a lot of baggage.
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[19:11] <~Dan> (Whoops!)
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[19:11] <~Dan> (wb, GregStolze)
[19:11] <+GregStolze> …where did I go just now?
[19:11] <+CamBanks> Room of Renunciation, Greg.
[19:12] <+GregStolze> That would explain a lot.
[19:12] <+CamBanks> You are now… Drew Carey with a mustache and a side of fries.
[19:12] <~Dan> Looked like you lost your connection for a sec there.
[19:12] <+GregStolze> …also a plausible explanation.
[19:12] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:13] <+CamBanks> Did you see my answer before you ghosted?
[19:13] <+GregStolze> I did not. Any way I can roll this back? Doesn’t quite look like it…
[19:13] <~Dan> [19:11] <+CamBanks> I think UA is a game of deeply obsessed characters coming at a world they want to change armed with DIY magick and a lot of baggage.
[19:14] <~Dan> (And no, I don’t think you can using the web client.)
[19:14] <+GregStolze> Its recurring tagline is “YOU DID IT”.
[19:14] <+GregStolze> (done)
[19:14] <~Dan> Thanks, guys!
[19:14] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:14] <+CamBanks> Yes! It’s also been described as, “you’re playing Die Hard only you guys are Hans Gruber.”
[19:14] <+CamBanks> (done)
[19:15] <~Dan> Do you consider UA to be a horror game?
[19:15] <+GregStolze> I do consider UA a horror game, in the way that MISERY is a horror novel. In MISERY, the horror doesn’t arise from supernatural elements, but from human interactions — gross ones. In UA, you do have supernatural elements, but it’s still gross people that make it scary.
[19:16] <+Kirkshoulderroll> Cam was tweeting yesterday about length of campaigns. What are Greg and Cam’s thoughts on length of a UA campaign? 6 months? Longer? Much longer?
[19:16] <+GregStolze> I’ve never had one last more than six months, attempting weekly sessions.
[19:16] <+CamBanks> If it wasn’t for the humans, UA would be a cool game about magic, yes.
[19:17] <+CamBanks> UA is great for one-shots, but I think I’d want to play it out for at least 6 sessions to make it show its pale underbelly.
[19:18] <~Dan> I’d like to look at how magic works, but would it be a good idea to cover the core mechanic first?
[19:18] <+GregStolze> The basic heart of the core mechanic is a percentile roll.
[19:19] <+GregStolze> The next level up is probably the Shock Gauge, which measures how much disturbing stuff has happened to you, along five different gauges.
[19:19] <+CamBanks> Game Designer 50%, rolled when I need to crank something out in a weekend.
[19:19] <+GregStolze> The more open notches you have on those Shock Gauges, the more aptitude you have for positive actions like trusting common knowledge, being healthy and active, and making emotional connections with people.
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[19:19] <~Dan> (Howdy, jeffszusz!)
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[19:20] <+GregStolze> The more hard notches you have on Shock Gauges — meaning you’ve had some kind of BAD STUFF go down but you’ve managed to incorporate it into your worldview — the better you are at negative actions like beating on people, running away, or telling lies.
[19:20] <~Dan> So the more you go GTA?
[19:20] <+GregStolze> The five meters on the Shock Gauge are Helplessness, Isolation, Violence, Self and the Unnatural.
[19:21] <+CamBanks> That’s a good analogy, Dan.
[19:21] <~Dan> (Oh, Lee Garvin says to tell you hey, and that you’re a couple of sick puppies.)
[19:21] <~Dan> (Says he means that in the best way.)
[19:21] <+GregStolze> Hard notches protect you from further shocks. If you’re already used to being a social outcast, a bad breakup isn’t going to shake you up as badly as if you’re really naive.
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[19:22] <+GregStolze> On top of the Shock Gauge (which gives you baselines for most actions that anyone could attempt), you get Identities. Those are the answer you give to “Who are you and what do you do?”
[19:22] <~Dan> That seems to make a lot more sense than CoC’s sanity mechanic, where you can make it through seeing Great Cthulhu but subsequently lose your marbles from seeing a Deep One.
[19:22] <+GregStolze> They get a percentile rating, and you can roll them in some specific situations, but also any time you can make a case for “I’m ______, of course I can _______.”
[19:23] <+CamBanks> GregStolze, did we decide whether you can use I’m an Adept/Avatar, of course I can X?
[19:23] <+GregStolze> “I’m a doctor, of course I can find out the mayor’s tee time at the country club.”
[19:24] <+GregStolze> That’s not nailed down in the current edition of the rules, Cam… I dunno, what do y’all UA fans think?
[19:24] <~Dan> Seems reasonable to me, but I only briefly played 1e.
[19:24] <+CamBanks> I’m a Plutomancer, of course I can mess with the accounts!
[19:24] <+CamBanks> We’ll talk about that later.
[19:25] <~Dan> Speaking of which, I seem to recall that edition having an attribute/skill mechanic. Is that no longer the case?
[19:25] <+CamBanks> This is sort of the evolution of the penumbra, for those who played 1 or 2.
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[19:25] <~Dan> (Howdy, Xenesis!)
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[19:26] <+GregStolze> Yeah, when I was looking at things I could throw away, attributes were the first on the chopping block. No one was really amped about attributes — they were just an endoskeleton for the more interesting skills.
[19:26] <~Dan> (Howdy, Lassekk!)
[19:26] <+CamBanks> Attributes were kind of there because RPGs always have them.
[19:26] <+CamBanks> (done)
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[19:26] <+GregStolze> Because people liked the Do-It-Yourself skills, I expanded on those — making them into 3ed’s Identities.
[19:26] <+GregStolze> (done)
[19:27] <~Dan> I see… So would you say that skills in UA 3e are akin to, say, Over the Edge Traits?
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[19:28] <+GregStolze> Oh, it’s not hard to see OTE DNA even in 1e UA. Jonathan Tweet got me drunk on creative freedom and now I’m a freedaholic.
[19:28] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[19:28] <+CamBanks> We’ve been doing player-authored traits at Atlas since the 90s!
[19:29] <~Dan> So lacking attributes, how do you determine the results of actions that would seem to depend upon them — the most obvious, to my mind, being feats of pure strength?
[19:29] <+GregStolze> Instead of attributes, you have those broad abilities based on your shocks. In that case, you’d use Health.
[19:30] <+CamBanks> You can rename it “Beef” if you like, we won’t tell.
[19:30] <~Dan> 🙂
[19:31] <+GregStolze> Health is based on the open notches you have in your Helplessness gauge. The more open spots you have there–the more you feel like you’re in control of your own life–the more likely you are to eat well, take care of yourself and be able to exert some effort.
[19:31] <~Dan> So when it comes to feats of strength, what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger?
[19:31] <+GregStolze> Actually, with feats of strength, what you don’t get exposed to makes you stronger.
[19:31] <~Dan> Hmm… Can you give an in-setting example?
[19:32] <+GregStolze> The dark side to having a ton of Health is that it means you’re not good at Dodge. People who have learned that they have to flinch away from danger are people who don’t feel in control of their lives. Also, they’re stressed and sickly.
[19:32] <+GregStolze> What kind of in-setting example did you mean, Dan?
[19:33] <~Dan> Oh… Actually, I think you explained it while I was busy typing. 🙂
[19:33] <+GregStolze> (cracks knuckles, blows pridefully on fingernails)
[19:33] <+GregStolze> Oh, and (done)
[19:33] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:33] <+CamBanks> Twitchy beat-down guy versus healthy never-really-been-tested guy.
[19:34] <+GregStolze> Well, for that, there
[19:34] <~Dan> Speaking of beat downs, how does combat work?
[19:34] <+GregStolze> Well, for that there’s Struggle, which is based on how much violence you’ve been exposed to.
[19:35] <+GregStolze> But every normal identity can substitute for one ability, so if you want to take “I’m a wicked knife fighter,” you can have that substitute for Struggle, have a low Struggle score but roll the higher Identity.
[19:35] <+GregStolze> OK, so how combat works…
[19:36] <+CamBanks> Beat-down as in “this world is beating me down” kind of beat-down. (done)
[19:36] <+GregStolze> Everyone says what they’re trying to accomplish. There’s a… vestigial initiative system if you really want it, but I find most groups don’t. Mostly it’s roll the appropriate Identity, or an Ability if you don’t have a relevant Identity…
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[19:36] <+GregStolze> The best roll goes first. Damage is based on what you roll. If you’re just punching someone, it’s the sum of your dice — I succeed with 16, I do 1+6 Wounds.
[19:36] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)
[19:36] <+GregStolze> If you have some kind of weapon, it amps up that damage.
[19:37] <+GregStolze> If you shoot somebody, it’s the result of your dice. I succeed with a 16, I do 16 Wounds.
[19:37] <+GregStolze> Weaponry of any type, of course, usually means that people take Shock checks against Violence. If you’re really used to people trying to dissassemble you with a chainsaw, you don’t need to make that roll…
[19:38] <~Dan> When you say (melee) weapons amp up damage, is that a flat bonus?
[19:38] <+GregStolze> …people who’ve led more sheltered lives have to try to cope with both the emotional stress of being attacked, AND the physical stress of a vigorous chainsawing.
[19:39] <~Dan> As opposed to a lackadaisical chainsawing?
[19:39] <+GregStolze> It’s actually something of a rubric. If an object is sharp, or heavy, or big, it gets +3. If it has any two of those traits, it’s +3. If it’s sharp, heavy AND big, +9.
[19:39] <+CamBanks> Or the aforementioned GTA character.
[19:39] <+GregStolze> Also, sharp stuff always does a point of damage even on a miss, which freaked people out in 1e but is now an accepted part of how games work.
[19:39] <+GregStolze> (done)
[19:40] <~Dan> Interesting… What was your thinking about that automatic damage with a sharp weapon? Is that just to make them generally dangerous, or are you trying to model real-world fighting?
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[19:41] <+GregStolze> I did some training with a guy who’d designed underwater knife fighting courses for the Navy, and his intro to knife fighting was “If someone comes at you with a knife, you will get cut.”
[19:41] <+GregStolze> “Try to get cut on your forearms, not your belly or throat or those big veins on the inside of your thighs.”
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[19:42] <~Dan> Even if you have a weapon that has reach on knife guy?
[19:42] <+GregStolze> And it makes sense. If I’m waving a cleaver around and trying my best to maul you with it… just how do you approach me (or avoid me!) without getting at least scratched and nicked?
[19:43] <+GregStolze> Dan — heh, that same instructor also said “knives are good, sticks are better, but a rifle on a windless day is best of all.” However, rather than clutter up the combat system with a lot of exceptions, we just did a dab of miss damage to keep people honest.
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[19:43] <~Dan> Makes sense for this particular setting, I suppose, when most people aren’t carrying around two-handed spears.
[19:44] <+CamBanks> There’s plenty of space in the game for you to make ad-hoc rulings, like “you can’t get close to the dude he’s got a pole arm, if you don’t mind taking a hit you can get in close and he’s screwed”
[19:44] <+GregStolze> “Okay there glaive-guisarme dude, I don’t want any trouble.”
[19:44] <+GregStolze> (done)
[19:45] <+GregStolze> (Hm, “I am a glaive-guisarme dude, of course I can tell you whether that Bohemian Ear-Spoon is a genuine antique or a replica.”)
[19:45] <+CamBanks> I had no instructors in diving or combat, but my people are famous for being elves and/or hobbits. (done)
[19:45] <~Dan> Do you still have the caps on firearm damage based upon gun type?
[19:45] <~Dan> (Again, IIRC)
[19:45] <+GregStolze> I believe so, yeah.
[19:45] <+CamBanks> Yup.
[19:46] <+GregStolze> Most of those are big enough to do wretched damage to most people. Moreover, if you attack with any weapon and roll an 01, you automatically kill a human opponent.
[19:46] <+GregStolze> …whether that’s what you were trying to do or not.
[19:46] <~Dan> Yikes.
[19:46] <+CamBanks> There as some monkeying around in development with how damage works. Now it’s very easy – you take wound points when you’re hurt, and when you reach your wound threshold (defaults to 50), you’re out.
[19:47] <~Dan> So when it comes to combat in UA, you pays your money, you takes your chances.
[19:47] <+CamBanks> This is why we still include the whole bit on how to avoid a fight.
[19:47] * ~Dan nods
[19:47] <+GregStolze> Yeah, there are a lot of games with very fun, cinematic combat, but UA is not one of them. It’s a game with deadly, intense, scary-as-hell combat.
[19:47] <+CamBanks> (done)
[19:48] <+GregStolze> (done)
[19:48] <~Dan> Okay, so! Let’s look at magic. How does it work from both a setting and a system standpoint?
[19:49] <+GregStolze> From the setting perspective, you got your avatars and your adepts. Avatars are people who are following some broadly accepted, universal social role.
[19:49] <+GregStolze> So, if you are the perfect Mother, it becomes easier for you to do Motherly stuff like protect your kids and give life. If you act like the perfect Executioner, you can fulfill that role by taking life at the behest of a higher authority.
[19:50] <+GregStolze> We can get into the cosmology of where those roles come from later, but that’s the lowdown on Avatars. You act like X, and you become X.
[19:50] * ~Dan nods
[19:51] <+GregStolze> Then you have adepts, who, instead of going with the flow and having the universe reward them with subtle benefits, go AGAINST what everyone (and also logic) ordains, and benefit from the static it causes.
[19:51] <+GregStolze> Schools of Adept magick are always focused on a theme, and that theme obsesses them. Take… uh, agrimancers, the farm-based wizards. Their magick is all about dominating the earth and taming the chaos of nature.
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[19:52] <~Dan> (wb, Xenesis)
[19:52] <+GregStolze> Most people know you CAN’T tame nature, but these folks say you can, and who’s gonna stop ’em, huh? YOU? So they ‘create life’ in the form of their livestock, and they reclaim that power by killing the animals they’ve raised…
[19:53] <+GregStolze> …and by arrogating unto themselves the role of nature, they can actually do things like make crops grow, make people stop aging (for a while), or use the ground as a sensory organ.
[19:54] <+GregStolze> Avatar and Adept powers are both just Identities. They don’t get all the features a normal Identity does, but that’s the price you pay for being able to do impossible stuff.
[19:54] <+CamBanks> The best adept schools are the ones that twist around on a paradox or some kind of conflict. Those are really fun to play out.
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[19:54] <+GregStolze> Oh, and they come with added burdens. Avatars have taboos — things they can’t do without losing percentiles off their Avatar rating. A Mother can’t passively let a child be harmed.
[19:55] <~Dan> Can I stop you there for a moment?
[19:55] <+GregStolze> Adepts have taboos too, things that are contrary to the spirit of their style. Agrimancers can’t cross untamed water. Moreover, adepts have to harvest ‘charges’ — units of magickal energy that arise from symbolic actions.
[19:55] <+GregStolze> (OK, I’m stopping, I was kind of running on.)
[19:55] <~Dan> No problem. I just wanted to clarify something…
[19:56] <~Dan> When it comes to Avatars, are their powers simply a matter of doing their thematic activities at a superhuman level?
[19:57] <~Dan> As opposed to, say, a Mother having “Mother magic”, I mean.
[19:57] <~Dan> Not sure if that made sense…
[19:57] <+GregStolze> Oh no. Most of the time, low level Avatars just have stuff go their way. But the high level ones can give the kiss off to physics. A powerful Mother Avatar CANNOT DIE in the presence of a threatened child.
[19:57] <+GregStolze> Once it’s safe, of course, all the damage she was staving off comes crashing back. But the Flying Woman? Yeah, get good enough at women’s liberation and it can liberate you from gravity.
[19:58] <~Dan> I hope you’ll forgive me for having a Flying Nun visual there.
[19:58] <+GregStolze> NEVER.
[19:58] <~Dan> 😀
[19:58] <+CamBanks> This ties into the cosmology of the Invisible Clergy and the Statosphere and archetypes.
[19:58] <+Lin_Chong> Aside from the Agrimancer, what new Avatars and Adept Schools can we expect? Compared to the previous edition.
[19:59] <~Dan> Do Adapts and Avatars find each other, well… metaphysically offensive, I suppose?
[19:59] <~Dan> (Greg: Jim Pinto says hi.)
[19:59] <~Dan> (Via FB, I mean.
[19:59] <~Dan> )
[20:00] <+GregStolze> Lessee… the new adept schools include Cameraturges (who really can steal your soul with a photograph, as long as it’s film and not digital), Viaturges (who have this whole open road car obsession thing going), Vestimancers (for whom clothes really do make the man)…
[20:00] <+GregStolze> Motumancers, who are determined to undermine all social systems… Cam, what have I forgotten? (done)
[20:00] <+GregStolze> (Hi Jim!)
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[20:01] <~Dan> (Howdy, NiTessine!)
[20:01] <+CamBanks> We spec out 10 adept schools and 16 archetypes. We also mention another 20+ schools and another 15+ archetypes but don’t give the whole write-ups.
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[20:01] <~Dan> (wb, Kirkshoulderroll)
[20:01] <+GregStolze> As for metaphysically offensive, not necessarily? But usually the preppie kids don’t mix well with the young jerks smoking in the boys room.
[20:02] <+Lin_Chong> If I recall, it was the adepts of the same schools that really couldn’t stand each other, because their worldview, and thus magic, was so personal.
[20:02] <~Dan> Hmm… On the flipside, do Avatars and Adepts feel any particular kinship with their own kind? Or are they each too different for that?
[20:02] <+CamBanks> It would be really hard, nigh impossible, to be both an adept and an avatar, with a couple of noted exceptions.
[20:03] <+GregStolze> Adepts tend to be solo acts, just because they’re rare and often competing for resources. But if they do get along, they could get a very tight “You and me against the world, with its bathing and tax codes and sneering glances!” vibe.
[20:03] <~Dan> I can see that.
[20:04] <+CamBanks> If you haven’t already noticed, Greg doesn’t have much trouble being mean to his game’s fictional occupants.
[20:04] <~Dan> Yeah, I kinda picked up on that. 😀
[20:04] <+GregStolze> Avatars, being more common, probably work together better (though with many exceptions) at the lower levels. But only one person can be The Best Avatar of a given type, so when your rating is at 90+%, suddenly everything turns into Highlander.
[20:04] <+Lin_Chong> It’s a good skill to have, says I.
[20:05] <+CamBanks> It’s a game of magickal chairs.
[20:05] <~Dan> So at 90+%, you’re one bad Mother?
[20:05] <+GregStolze> Indeed.
[20:06] <~Dan> So given the Adept solo act aspect, is there generally only one Adept in a PC group?
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[20:06] <~Dan> (Howdy, TimDKiwi!)
[20:07] <+GregStolze> Doesn’t have to be that way. Adepts of different styles don’t compete (though they probably don’t understand one another very well). They may still find each other more sympathetic than normal people.
[20:07] <+CamBanks> Kia ora, TimDKiwi!
[20:07] <+TimDKiwi> Dan, good to see you
[20:07] <~Dan> (Likewise! 🙂 )
[20:07] <+GregStolze> A figurative sculptor and a symbolist artist might still have more in common with one another than with a math professor.
[20:07] <~Dan> (TimDKiwi: Current topic: Unknown Armies 3e. 🙂 )
[20:07] <+GregStolze> (done)
[20:08] <+TimDKiwi> 🙂
[20:08] <+CamBanks> One thing I really like about UA is that unlike some games about magick or occult stuff, you can be just as effective story-wise as the dude with all the seething ego powers.
[20:08] <~Dan> Now, I vaguely recall a third form of magic being in earlier editions? Something akin to old-school spell0based magic? Or am I imagining things?
[20:08] <+Lin_Chong> Greg, what can you tell us about the quote-unquote “metaplot”?
[20:09] <+Lin_Chong> Ritual-based magic? Everyone can do rituals and they do things?
[20:09] <+GregStolze> Dan, there are crusty old rituals in moldy books. They’re there, some of them work, but they’re… not great.
[20:09] <+CamBanks> Gutter magick!
[20:09] <~Dan> Yeah, I remember them being weaker.
[20:09] <+GregStolze> Usually they’re (1) unreliable, (2) require EXACTING behaviors and ingredients and (3) do things that you can do better by spending $300 at Lowe’s.
[20:10] <~Dan> So they were things that might have been impressive in low-tech societies?
[20:10] <+GregStolze> Gutter Magick is the other kind of magick available to amateurs. It’s making a voodoo doll out of someone’s old gym socks and sticking it in a copy of “The Hunger Games” in order to mess with them.
[20:11] <+GregStolze> Gutter magick is ALWAYS deniable. It only tweaks coincidence. Compared to an Adept who can burn your photo and have the burns appear on you, it’s weak beer. On the other hand, that adept paid HEAVILY for their abilities, while gutter magick is free to anyone who dares try it.
[20:11] <~Dan> To clarify, rituals and gutter magick are two different things, correct?
[20:11] <+Lin_Chong> Including adepts and avatars?
[20:12] <+CamBanks> Artifacts and similar things also exist, usually with the same amount of really precise and exacting instructions or requirements.
[20:12] <+GregStolze> Some of the old rituals have huge, cool effects, but usually with huge, uncool costs. Sure, you can create an undying murder monster… if you’re willing to pluck out your own eye, AND accept that even then the spell might conk on you, AND accept that even if it works, you may not have as much control over your dollar-store shoggoth as you want.
[20:12] <+GregStolze> You feeling lucky? How many eyes have you got to risk on that?
[20:13] <+GregStolze> Yes, gutter magick and rituals are different.
[20:13] <~Dan> Okay, gotcha.
[20:13] <+Lin_Chong> If everyone in the room tries, we’ll get something that /has/ to work!
[20:13] <+CamBanks> The Winchester brothers on Supernatural have it way easier, in other words, because they’re on a different TV show.
[20:13] <+Lin_Chong> It’s /statistics!/
[20:13] <+GregStolze> As for Lin’s question about the metaplot… yeah, things have changed, but it’s not one of those things where the changes dictate what everyone’s game is about.
[20:14] <+CamBanks> So what is that game all about, Greg? What do you /do/? 🙂
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[20:14] <+Lin_Chong> As expected.
[20:14] <+GregStolze> So if you’re familiar with the old cabals from UA1 and UA2, most of them are still around, but have undergone some changes.
[20:14] <+GregStolze> Cam, why’d you have to ask that? You’re the one who came up with the “build your local setting during character generation and tell the GM what’s happening” process.
[20:15] <+GregStolze> (done)
[20:15] <+GregStolze> (Lin, if you have specific questions, let me know. I was trying not to overshare.)
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[20:16] <~Dan> You mentioned the game’s cosmology earlier. Can you say a bit more about that?
[20:16] <+GregStolze> OK, the cosmology.
[20:16] <+CamBanks> 🙂
[20:16] <~Dan> (Howdy, Vorthon!)
[20:17] <+Lin_Chong> Sure. For one thing, I’d like to know how Mak Attaxs remains relevant in today’s post Super Size Me, etc world.
[20:17] <+GregStolze> Individual people aren’t that important, but people collectively are the MOST IMPORTANT.
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[20:17] <+GregStolze> When enough people believe in a social role — like the aforementioned Mother, Executioner, True King, Necessary Servant and so on — the person who best exemplifies it becomes exempt from matter.
[20:18] <+Vorthon> (Hey)
[20:18] <+GregStolze> Changing into an intelligence of pure intent and probability, this person ascends as their Archetype into a realm of ideas, currently named “the Statosphere.” From there, they influence the great movements of history and populations.
[20:18] <+GregStolze> They rarely mess with individual beings, because individuals are too SMALL.
[20:19] <+GregStolze> When 333 of these Archetypes ascend, the world is destroyed. The Archetypes fuse into a demiurge that creates the universe anew. This has happened many, many times.
[20:19] <+GregStolze> If you can stack the Statosphere with positive Archetypes, by convincing people to pursue positive social roles, the next universe could be far better than this one.
[20:19] <~Dan> So the Earth is the center of all reality?
[20:19] <+GregStolze> Cleave to violence, suspicion and fear, and the next world could be hell.
[20:20] <+GregStolze> The Earth is the center of all reality and humankind, in various incarnations, has formed everything.
[20:20] <+GregStolze> The mess in Syria? It’s happening because the last gang of ascended Archetypes had elements that made it necessary, or even desirable. Same with every horrible thing that’s happened in history. We are all living in a world we DESERVE.
[20:21] <+CamBanks> Tough love.
[20:21] <+GregStolze> By the same token, every act of human greatness is also writ by our own hand.
[20:21] <+GregStolze> (done)
[20:21] <+CamBanks> In UA you can’t point at the weird alien space god and say “it’s all his fault and I mean nothing.”
[20:21] <+CamBanks> I mean, you can say that, but it’s not true.
[20:21] <+GregStolze> So Lin, Mak Attax is… diversified, let us say?
[20:21] <~Dan> So there are more than 333 archetypes?
[20:22] <+GregStolze> The central mailing list/golden arches approach has fallen on hard times. There are people still trying to operate that way, but they are… exposed, to say the least.
[20:22] <+Lin_Chong> There are 333 invisible chairs. Some, or most of those, are empty.
[20:23] <+GregStolze> HOWEVER, a lot of people paid attention to the elements of Mak Attax that were functional. That whole “infiltrate fast food franchises, control the flow of magick through the population, win big prizes”? Yeah, various philosophies are trying that now.
[20:23] <~Dan> Right, but Greg mentioned stacking the Statosphere with positive archetypes as a possibility. I assume that means that there are more archetypes than there are chairs.
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[20:24] <+GregStolze> Nope, Dan. When the universe is recreated, the Statosphere empties out. Resets to zero. And the count up to 333 begins again.
[20:24] <+Lin_Chong> If you sit in the chair, you become an archetype.
[20:24] <+CamBanks> Sometimes somebody already in the chair gets replaced, too.
[20:24] <+Lin_Chong> But what archetype, that depend on the life you lived.
[20:25] <~Dan> So did you mean that there are exactly 333 archetypes, and that the “positive” aspect depends upon the person embodying it?
[20:26] <+Lin_Chong> There are 333 invisible chairs. That means that there’s only room for 333 archetypes.
[20:26] <~Dan> As in, is it the case that there will always be a True King among the 333, who may or may not be a jerk?
[20:26] <+GregStolze> Correct. There can only be 333 at most. How many are currently occupied? A relevant question, as it determines how long the current version of reality keeps running.
[20:26] <+Lin_Chong> If that invisible room is populated by more Buddhas or Messiahs or Martyrs or Flying Women, then the next world /may/ be a better one.
[20:26] <+GregStolze> Nope, the True King is specific to our current edition. If people decide that the True Executive is a better model of authority… then things get interesting.
[20:27] <+CamBanks> Purely from a publishing standpoint it’s great because there’s no way we’re going to ever print up all 333 archetypes of any given universe.
[20:27] <+GregStolze> Whoever is the best living True King avatar has the opportunity to reinvent the role. If that happens, the old True King is overthrown and the new version (the True Candidate? True Tyrant?) ascends as a replacement.
[20:27] <+Lin_Chong> And if that invisible room is populated by more Tyrants and Reavers and Thieves, then well.
[20:28] <~Dan> Okay, so only 333 archetypes will make it, but there are more than that possible?
[20:28] <+Lin_Chong> Yes.
[20:28] <~Dan> Okay, got it.
[20:28] <+Lin_Chong> That’s the game. To see whose butt gets to sit in the chairs.
[20:28] <~Dan> (Sorry. Long day.)
[20:28] <+GregStolze> There’s in-character speculation that Adolph Hitler was trying to replace Alexander as The Great Conqueror. That’s why it’s a horror game.
[20:28] <+CamBanks> UA2’s big adventure To Go was great as an example of how this works.
[20:29] <+TimDKiwi> For someone new to the game, where do the player characters fit in to this?
[20:30] <+Lin_Chong> Dan: Basically, anyone can try to be a new archetype, and in trying, that’s an unborn archetype. But you’re really not one until you sit in the chair.
[20:30] <+GregStolze> The player characters DON’T necessarily have to fit into that.
[20:30] <+GregStolze> UA3 has a mechanic called an Objective. The very first thing the players do is define this, the THING THEY ARE DESPERATE TO DO. Then they design characters, and the local setting, around that.
[20:31] <+GregStolze> So in the first game I wrote, the Objective was “Find out what’s going on with the ghost of this serial killer who’s messing with all three of us PCs.”
[20:31] <~Dan> So they all need the same objective?
[20:31] <+GregStolze> Your Objective could be “Replace the Executioner with something kinder and gentler.” Or it could be “Rip off $5m through an elaborate occult Bitcoin scam.”
[20:32] <+GregStolze> The Objective is collective. You all go after it together.
[20:32] <+CamBanks> You each have an obsession, which is the thing you really want to do more than anything else, but that’s not the same thing.
[20:32] <~Dan> Hmm… Wouldn’t an Avatar already have a built-in Objective that would run counter to any others?
[20:32] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[20:32] <+GregStolze> That takes the sandboxy nature of UA2 and puts some kind of structure through it. The GM now knows where the game CAN be headed (as long as she doesn’t succeed at distracting the players, which she almost certainly will).
[20:33] <+GregStolze> But even if she distracts them, she’s doing that on her terms.
[20:33] <+GregStolze> Avatars have behaviors, which can come into conflict with the Objective, but that’s a feature, not a bug. Just as PCs have Obsessions that can conflict with the Objective, and that’s a source of intrigue and fun more than a source of hassle.
[20:34] <+CamBanks> The first session is basically everyone sitting down, coming up with an objective, making characters in a round-table fashion, and while they’re doing that they’re connecting their characters to game moderator characters, locations that are important to them, etc.
[20:34] <+CamBanks> So you end up with a fairly solid starting block.
[20:34] <+GregStolze> Objectives start at 0% and PC actions add percentiles — usually in a multi-session, gradual process. But when it hits 100% and you can find a reasonable way for it to happen, it happens. Even if your rolls were all garbage.
[20:35] <+GregStolze> (done)
[20:35] <+CamBanks> The great thing about the objectives is that you can sort of set the scale of the campaign just by what objective your cabal agrees to shoot for.
[20:36] <+CamBanks> “Kick out the mayor of National City” is one; “move the Earth off its axis to bring about armageddon” is something else.
[20:36] <~Dan> You mentioned ghosts earlier. What sorts of supernatural creatures exist in the setting?
[20:36] <+CamBanks> (done)
[20:36] <+GregStolze> Cam you are such a DC nerd. 🙂
[20:37] <+GregStolze> Most of the unnatural critters running around are either human, formerly human, or the result of humans messing around with stuff. Magick can create weird creatures, but others seem to just… show up.
[20:38] <~Dan> Can you give some examples?
[20:38] <+GregStolze> Again, the monsters of UA aren’t vampires and werewolves or things you already know the lore about. You’re more likely to run into something like Mothman.
[20:38] * ~Dan nods
[20:38] <+CamBanks> Or The Gentleman.
[20:39] <~Dan> The Gentleman?
[20:39] <+GregStolze> We got a couple great ones based on urban legends and creepypastas.
[20:39] <+CamBanks> It doesn’t fight you, it just watches you while weird creepy pasta shit happens around you.
[20:39] <+GregStolze> Yeah, it’s something like Slenderman. A dangerous observer that becomes more threatening the more you talk about it.
[20:39] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[20:41] <~Dan> How common are monsters in the setting?
[20:41] <+GregStolze> Another example is the statification of Japan’s Slit-Mouthed Woman.
[20:41] <+GregStolze> …huh. You know, we never really say how common they are. So I guess it’s going to vary a lot from group to group.
[20:41] <+GregStolze> One fun thing I tried very hard to do with the writeups of every weird critter was include a header on “How Do You Exploit This?”
[20:42] <+CamBanks> Yes. They really shouldn’t just randomly show up for no good reason.
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[20:43] <~Dan> Would you say that a monster-focused campaign of UA is somehow missing the point?
[20:43] <+CamBanks> It’s not like, roll on the random creepypasta table. Although that does sound like it’d be a fun thing to write up.
[20:43] <+CamBanks> Greg devotes a bunch of space on various ways monsters and creatures support, affect, or derail the story. It’s very good stuff.
[20:43] <+CamBanks> (done)
[20:43] <+GregStolze> I wouldn’t say that, actually. But if you set your Objectives around monsters, that’s one thing. Having monsters just show up because the GM couldn’t think of anything else to happen? We’ve tried very hard to design around that.
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[20:44] <~Dan> (Howdy, AnthonyHoltberg!)
[20:44] <+GregStolze> You could 100% run a game of cryptozoologists with “Catch The Gentleman” as your Objective, and it would be HORRIFYING. But also, I reckon, super fun.
[20:45] <+GregStolze> (Mostly because you would find that catching The Gentleman is a bit more like catching Ebola Zaire than it is like catching a tiger.)
[20:45] <+GregStolze> (done)
[20:45] <+CamBanks> It’d also be fairly easy to write up stats for creatures from other sources, like the Esoterrorists, or your favorite Korean horror flick.
[20:45] <+GregStolze> “This is our Candyman containment unit. As you can see, it’s empty… for now!” “This is going to work out so well for you!”
[20:45] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[20:46] <+CamBanks> In that game, Greg, one player is literally movie actor Tony Todd.
[20:46] <~Dan> I think you mentioned something about this earlier, but how well can “mundane” PCs survive in UA?
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[20:47] <+GregStolze> Adepts and Avatars have a lot of advantages, but they also have a lot of heavy baggage. Their behaviors are constrained. That guy who can summon Mr. Clean and the Keebler Elves to harass his enemies also has to be at home every day at 5:00 sharp to watch HIS TV SHOW, and if the power goes out, he’s borked.
[20:48] <+GregStolze> You can go a long way with a winning smile, a job people understand, and a liberal arts education.
[20:49] <+GregStolze> The argument made through TNI in the previous game was that a guy who could organize and motivate people was a much more effective cult leader than people who had no-fooling magick powers but were unable to relate to normal human concerns.
[20:49] <+CamBanks> By way of example, in my playtest game, with 7 players, one was an adept and it was a pretty weak sort of school based on homeopathy.
[20:49] <+CamBanks> Everybody else was just some lunatic or another.
[20:49] <+GregStolze> Did the homeopath start out with 1% in the Identity?
[20:49] <+GregStolze> “When it hits, it’s going to hit SO HARD!”
[20:49] <+Lin_Chong> The New Inquisition was so great.
[20:50] <+CamBanks> That was Mark DiPasquale’s “I’m gonna buy this old GNC and import special drugs from the Orient” character.
[20:50] <+GregStolze> Possibly the most effective character in my game was the guy who picked the identity “Local Cop.” Though he wound up SOOOO shady…
[20:50] <+GregStolze> Lin, remember the scary psychologist from TNI? The aversion-therapy specialist?
[20:50] <+GregStolze> She’s still around.
[20:50] <+GregStolze> (done)
[20:51] <~Dan> Quick note: While you guys are welcome to hang out with us as long as you like, in what remains of “regular time”, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
[20:51] <+Lin_Chong> Nice.
[20:52] <+GregStolze> Hm…
[20:52] <+GregStolze> Oh, well I could throw out a couple links. First off, to the UA KS: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/atlasgames/unknown-armies-third-edition-roleplaying-game)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/atlasgames/unknown-armies-third-edition-roleplaying-game
[20:52] <~Dan> Ah, good idea. 🙂
[20:52] <+GregStolze> Second, to that book I was talking about way back at the start, BIG MACHINE (Link: http://www.amazon.com/Big-Machine-Novel-Victor-LaValle/dp/0385527993)http://www.amazon.com/Big-Machine-Novel-Victor-LaValle/dp/0385527993
[20:53] <+GregStolze> Thirdly, when I think of “UA, The Movie,” it’s often this: (Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0220580/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0220580/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 INTACTO
[20:53] <+CamBanks> So, the big deal with the Kickstarter right now is that we’re shooting not only to hit some more stretch goals that unlock more content, but we want to get more backers so we can unlock a new set of campaign kits.
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[20:56] <~Dan> Looks like an interesting movie, re: Intacto.
[20:57] <~Dan> Oh, how do you see the game line developing? What would you like to see after the core book?
[20:57] <+CamBanks> Thanks so much for letting us shoot the breeze in here, Dan!
[20:57] <+GregStolze> The part where they’re smearing molasses on people’s heads and saying “It likes this best of all” is seriously, seriously creepy.
[20:57] <+CamBanks> I’ve already got two digital books lined up after the core set of three.
[20:57] <+CamBanks> Those are funded.
[20:57] <+CamBanks> GregStolze is writing one all on his own some.
[20:57] <+GregStolze> And I’m about 60,000 words into a UA novel.
[20:57] <~Dan> Absolutely, CamBanks! You guys are always welcome here. No need to wait for a Q&A. 🙂
[20:58] <~Dan> Oh, and if any of you readers out there are feeling generous, my virtual tip jar is here: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/ 😉
[20:58] <+CamBanks> My tip jar is the Kickstarter, natch.
[20:58] <+GregStolze> Well thanks. I think I’m going to sign off and get the kids ready for bed. Thanks for hosting, Dan!
[20:58] <+GregStolze> -G.
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[20:58] <+CamBanks> Later!
[20:58] <~Dan> Sure thing, Greg!
[20:58] <~Dan> Cam: Give me just a minute, and I’ll get the log posted and link you.
[20:58] <+CamBanks> OK.