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I've been reading my way through the 3rd edition of the RPG Unknown Armies lately, and I keep running into frustration. I love the idea ("broken people trying to fix the world"), and the broad strokes concepts (avatars of archetypes, ritual and "chaos" magic, modern schools of reality bending), and the central notion that human belief and action can change everything...

But. The mechanical details have driven me crazy since a previous version, and it clicked for me today. Everything feels too tidy, too small, too contained, systemically, despite all the descriptive writing about how everything is up for grabs. My impression, for better or worse, is that this is a creative bit of game design for the writer, and from that perspective, it's pretty good (made it to a 3rd edition, after all). What it does not seem to be is an attempt reflect any given flavor of mystical/magical experience into collaborative storytelling form.

I'm drawn to this setting, this concept because (to mangle St Jeanette) the kind of stories we tell one another matter. Stories matter. I want to share some of my world with others, both in the general this-is-how-things-are-connected/this-means-more-than-you-might-think and in the more generally mystical experiences. I am very open with potential players that I want to plant my seeds in their heads, while hoping to have their seeds take root in mine. These rules aren't for that, I don't think. They're too small a container for what I hope to achieve.

Now to figure out if they can serve as a working foundation.I think the setting is redeemable; I think the cosmology will require some substantial change. I *think* I can work that into the narrative, if players will indulge me.

(It strikes me that I keep returning to this because I don't write, don't think I have the discipline to learn to write, and want a faster feedback loop than I think writing enables. It could be laziness and familiarity, too.)

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adrienmundi

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