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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 86 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Unknown Armies in Kilts  (Read 2573 times)
Stuart DJ Purdie
Member

Posts: 69


« on: March 10, 2003, 08:34:21 PM »

With the start of a new game, I thought I'd take the opertunity to introduce a new concept to the group - namely the group chracter gen session.  Previously the assumption was that each player generates a character independantly, and the GM supplies the why thier together etc.

I'd given each player a primer on UA, and then a week to gather thoughts, before the char gen session.  For those that know UA, this was a street level game.  The characters would not start with any occult knowledge, by player decision.

During the session, we got a group cohesion idea (think tank crossd with research group), a location (Edinbourgh) and one character per player.  The charchters were

Former pot boiler author, looking into occult stuff since meeting one of his (fictional) characters.
University dropout and burger flipper, trying to find a place in life.
Wheelchair bound history teaching fellow.  Lost his legs in the accident that killed his wife.  Saw his wifes ghost.
Psychiatric out paitent with a obsession about all things angels.

It took the players a while to adjust to the 'name your own skills' thing in UA.  I disagree with the text in UA that paints this as a minor thing - I think it significantly changes the balance of resolution away from the rules (in a fixed skill system), and firmly onto the characters.

I think the players got the hang of it.  Highlights from the skills made up include: "Survive a beating", "Play dumb", "Getting sympahy", "Find logical incosistancies" and "Singing the soprano part of reqiuem".

One realisation I made was about Theme.  This came from trying to do the design of the group level items (what ties them together, where the location is etc) at the same time as individual characters.  It ended up that a couple of the players gave strong input to the group design, to support the character they had already thought of, and then went with thier planned ideas, whilst the other players waited for the group steps to finish, before fleshing out thier characer ideas.

There are two ways to level the field more.  One would have been to do the group steps the week before the individual.  Another approach would have been an explict theme - which would have got everyone on the same page.  Never realised how useful they could be pre-chargen before.

The one thing I'm lacking from the players is a few of thier prominate relationships - making it difficult to fit them into the plot through them. I asked, but they've not been as forthcomming as I'd hoped. I'm tempted to utilise the few unnamed NPC they've briefly mentioned (nanny, psychiatrist, boss work collegues etc), but would rather make it more personal.

Anyway, I fitted a theme around the chracters (Re-birth), and built a plot.  The McGuffin is a (supposedly) occult tome,  which is neither occult nor a tome, but being saught after by a couple of members of the occult underground.  My initial thought was to have the tome capable of making some form of re-start of a person when used, but I not sure if that would detract from the post-modern aspects of magick in the setting.

The first session went ok.  Despite trying to get some initial direction out of the players, I ended up taking the plot to them - an MSP wants the reasearch group to locate the book.  Rest of the session was mostly a typical run around look for leads, which I need to open up more next session.  One good point was that when one of the characters (the author giving another chracer a lift) was clipped in a car accident, the response were very human, and showed much emotion.

Oh, one other nice point was during the 'I walk in, I look like <this>" step was one of the players whipping out a laptop, and showing an image she'd rendered.

So that's so far.  I think for next session I need to tie various PC's in more, rather than the employment kludge, and try and break out of the "PC's chase the plot, info source by info source" it's threating to become.  Any suggestions, or ideas on that front?
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Ian Charvill
Member

Posts: 377


« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2003, 03:35:57 AM »

Quote from: Stuart DJ Purdie
Anyway, I fitted a theme around the chracters (Re-birth), and built a plot.  The McGuffin is a (supposedly) occult tome,  which is neither occult nor a tome, but being saught after by a couple of members of the occult underground.  My initial thought was to have the tome capable of making some form of re-start of a person when used, but I not sure if that would detract from the post-modern aspects of magick in the setting.


You might want to take a look at The House of Renunciation - p.16, p.186 1st Ed. or p.229 2nd Ed - which pretty explicitly hits on the theme of rebirth in the Unknown Armies world.
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Ian Charvill
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2341


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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2003, 07:08:24 AM »

Hey Stuart,

My recommendation is for you to start problematizing the relationships between the characters and the NPCs that the players have mentioned. Consider a scene where the psychiatrist says to his patient, "You know Ms. Naimola, you are a very attractive woman." Perhaps the nanny is discovered dressing in her employer's dead wife's clothing, or telling a caller that the employer is not home when she doesn't think she's being overheard. Perhaps the boss confesses to the character that he's fucked up a critical project, or embezzled a bunch of money, and asks for help, maybe proposing a ridiculous harebrained con scheme for getting the money from a known drug dealer or mobster. Cut from the scenes at tense dramatic moments.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2341


WWW
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2003, 07:20:37 AM »

Hey Stuart,

One thing I forgot to mention: I don't think you need to feel out the players on these NPCs at all. If they were interested in a specific kind of relationship between their characters and these NPCs, I think you can trust that they would have said so...particularly the ones who were most proactive during chargen. What they're looking for from you is conflict that emerges from the situation they've created. They've given you as much detail as they care about, expecting that you understand where there's room for meaningful antagonism...now it's up to you to have the NPCs reach out in ways that destabilize the situation for the PCs.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Stuart DJ Purdie
Member

Posts: 69


« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2003, 08:26:18 AM »

Quote from: Ian Charvill
You might want to take a look at The House of Renunciation


Yeah, it's on the possible plots list - couldn't see a smooth way to integrate it initially, working with it though.

Quote from: Paul Czege
They've given you as much detail as they care about, expecting that you understand where there's room for meaningful antagonism...now it's up to you to have the NPCs reach out in ways that destabilize the situation for the PCs.


Ok, that's it exactly.  Sometimes I just can't see the blindingly obvious.  Time for me to go and sketch those guys in.

Thanks, Stuart
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