Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Unknown Armies - UK?

As anyone who have had come into contact with Unknown Armies probably know, it's known to be a very American game. Not only is the Occult Undergound as described in the game mostly focused on what's happening in the USA, it's also grounded in Americana and the mythological landscape of North America.

I have seen a few attempts to broaden the scope of UA, mostly by including magical traditions from the Old World, and emphasizing things the like influence of the roman catholic church. None of these attempts have really felt convincing to me. Even though we have another relationship to time in this part of the world, nobody is that obsessive about having a cultural heritage that goes back for a thousand years. That's just how it is. It feels forced in a game text.

Lately I have been reading a novel that made me think of UA again. My wife mentioned before Christmas that she'd love to get Kraken, by China Mieville, and since the cover text made me curious I bought it. Having read most of it I think it is a very interesting take on modern magic. Things have mythical resonance and meaning in that book in a same kind of way like the obsessiveness of postmodern magic does in UA. Pop culture is not only an American thing, but some things like Londonmancers are an interesting twist. There are even the magical incarnations of memory, and time, in the Angels mentioned in the book.

Maybe it can be argued that what makes UA what it is, and not just Mage minus the new age and powered by BRP, is Americana. Still, I think Kraken could be a very cool basis for an Unknown Armies game in e.g. The United Kingdom. Take a peek at it if you dig UA. It is far from the best book by Mieville, but it's definitely worth mining for ideas.

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