Saturday, November 4, 2023

2023 Unknown Armies Halloween Jam Results

Participants had one week and 1333 words to write whatever they wanted for Unknown Armies 3rd edition, provided it fit one or more of the six prompts. We got fourteen entries, plus three examples by me and three more I wrote during the week. The most popular prompt was Subway (seven entries) and the least popular was Non American Occult Underworld (three entries).
Thank you to everyone who submitted. I've posted my feedback on the submissions under the cut.

Examples by me
Unknown Armies Cabal: Four of Chimneys (example by mellonbread) non magickal cabal, 571 words.
Named after a “hidden suit” from a China Meiville short story about a card game. I wrote the first three entries as fast as possible as an example of what could be done within the timeframe.

Unknown Armies Scenario: The Greggs and the Graveyard (example by mellonbread) non-American occult underworld, 1331 words.
This was originally going to be the Court of the Burger Queen intro scenario, but it got bumped early for something set in America. Took me about two days to complete this one - outlined it the first day, filled in the details the next.

Unknown Armies NPC: Darla Jean (example by mellonbread) subway system, 994 words. 
Blatant fetishism is an excellent way to speed a product to completion. Darla came together in about four hours.

User Submissions
Alexander Head and the Undercroft.pdf by Traskomancer, starts with u ends with t, 805 words.
I considered making “Unknown Armies is a horror game” one of the prompts, because I wanted  submissions like this one. My only problem is that everything happens instantaneously in the real world - if someone is imprisoned in the ghost jail by the poem, the other players can’t do a rescue operation because from their perspective only a few seconds of real time pass.

STYX_SUBWAY_Ritual-1-1.pdf by Indigo, subway, 299 words. 
This one reminds me of that old 2ch thread about the Japanese lady who liveblogged her trip to a non existent city filled with ghosts and bizarre rituals. I would love a few examples of people found on the train.

Unknown Armies UnPheno: Otherspace Sickness by Valiant, starts with u ends with t, subway station, 830 words. 
An Unknown Armies version of Gate Bleed from the old Farcast yearblog. Farcast was a great website. It was the inspiration for Oddities and Endlings, which is the reason I’m even playing Unknown Armies. Good entry.

The Secret Saints of the Cecilites (UA Halloween Jam) by tormsen, halloween, 879 words. 
This one has a lot of cool supporting details, but most of it won’t be visible to the players because each only works one day a year in specific circumstances. A couple shrines with relics of the saints would make it more player facing. The What You Hear section is great.

Felix Kaufman, Not a Medium by Ben, non magickal GMC, 429 words. 
This one is fun. I don’t know how useful it would be to players or GMs, but the beauty of Unknown Armies is that characters don’t have to be useful, just interesting enough that someone puts them on the board.

UA - University Street submission by Justin Miland, starts with u ends with t, subway, 1327 words
Unfortunately this ritual can never be cast, because it requires a working elevator at a Sound Transit station. The otherspace is maybe a bit too utopian but that’s not necessarily bad - some magickal realms are a vision of a genuinely better world than the one we live in.

Unknown Armies Scenario: The Cleaners by Kate C and mellonbread, subway, non-American occult underworld, 1319 words.
This one started as a short story I wrote about a project Kate was working on. She wanted to write a whole scenario about it, and contributed the investigative skeleton, the framing device and a ton of flavor details (including kanji for all the major players).

Unknown Armies Cabal: Galatea by Valiant, authentic thaumaturgy, nonmagickal cabal, 931 words.
I’ve never been that into super-AIs, but I can imagine a good adventure for the Galatea company. Ever since the Fed raised interest rates, venture capital is harder to come by. Companies that spent a decade burning free money are now under the gun to actually turn a profit.  Which means the Galatea devs have to leverage their blue sky magick robot research into something they can feed the investors so they don’t turn off the money faucet. Leading to cheating and bad behavior - just summoning a demon to possess the computer and make it look like they created a conscious machine.

Bartlett and Sprouse, College Thaumaturges.docx by Traskomancer, authentic thaumaturgy, 1060 words. 
These rituals are finicky and largely useless, but that’s part of the fun. I especially like the second one, it reminds me of the magic item from Pathways Into Darkness that slows the player down relative to the world around them - it seems worthless until you need to slow your breathing down to avoid suffocating when sealed in a room for several hours.

UA Jam Ultraflat by Cliomancer, starts with u ends with t, 1058 words. 
I was lukewarm on this one until I got to the part where the room flattens you into one of the 2d posters on the walls. It rules.

CÁBALA DEL REY DEL INVIERNO by Mechristopheles, halloween, 1329 words. 
This is the most Tim Powers entry in the jam, both the location and subject matter. The lengthy backstory is balanced by a wealth of playable information, both about the character and a fun new supernatural creature. It might be my favorite.

Gert (subway station, mundane GMC, 625 words) by Dennis Kearney. 
A tightly focused entry with a clearly defined use case, a progression/blowback section for longer term play, and enough color to hold the reader’s attention.

UA3 Halloween Jam, Urizen Shaft by Cliomancer, starts with u ends with t, subway, authentic thaumaturgy, non-American occult underground, halloween, non magickal GMC, 1247 words.
This one is cool. I offered to proofread it for the author, so if there are any spelling or grammar issues that's on me for loooking it over and giving the thumbs up. The London underground is a popular urban fantasy location thanks to China Meiville, Neil Gaiman, Ben Aaronovitch and probably a lot of other authors. I didn't realize until now that the British Museum did recently discover a rash of thefts, some 2000 items stolen by unknown means over an indeterminate period.

Avatar: The Mascot by Gatto Grigio, halloween, 804 words.
I don’t think this is a coherent concept for an avatar, but I’m willing to overlook that because the mechanical effects are fun. The last channel lets you become the Phantom of Truth, which is good. I think you should be able to take the costume off and not taboo, but none of your powers should work without it on.

Bonus submissions by me
Unknown Armies NPC: Samuel Pin Bone mundane npc, 959 words. 
I got the idea for this one after reading about Tribal lending on one of those poverty subreddits, and after re-reading Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven when I found a copy in a Little Free Library. I don’t know how much face time the players would actually get with the character, since he doesn’t show up to break legs if you don’t pay.

Unknown Armies Ritual: Uncut Gems starts with u ends with t, authentic thaumaturgy, 752 words. 
This one was originally going in The Cage Cup, an Unknown Armies drinking game set in the Roman Republic. I ended up cutting it, but I should have had some balls and left it in.

Unknown Armies Scenario: The Midnight Screening halloween, 1301 words. 
I was cleaning out my commonplace book and found an entry from a year or two ago, suggesting I use the Night’s Templar from Lawyers, Guns Money for something. I hadn’t done an entry on Halloween and this was the obvious choice, inspired by Halloween screenings of The Room and Cabinet of Doctor Caligari I went to in undergrad. Some of the characters are returning mellonbread NPCs.

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