Unknown Armies 1:4 The Weirdness of the World


I’m not sure quite what the purpose of this chapter is, apart from to introduce the next couple of chapters to players. It starts with a rehearsal of what we read in Chapter 1: that behind the “normalcy” of our crowdsourced reality is another weirder one, but it firmly makes us, society, humanity, whatever, responsible for the creation of that weirder world as well as the vanilla one most of us experience.

We created the Invisible Clergy, you see?

When enough people believe in an idea, a person who stands in for that idea, or archetype, ceases to exist in the matter-world and ascends instead to a realm of pure idea.

It then explains why Atheists are wrong, the Invisible Clergy may not technically be “gods” but they certainly are higher powers that impact upon the world of men and women. That’s said Religious people have it wrong too, by oversimplifying things, and more importantly, by expecting the gods to be benevolent. If you accept the universe was designed by committee, you can exploit the inefficiencies and contradictions, and that’s what magick is.

All of that introduced a section on Unnatural Phenomena which seems mostly written for the GM’s benefit, and slightly out of place in this book for players. It is a pretty useful introduction to the flavour of weirdness that Greg Stolze is aiming for, with some great examples. I particularly like the minor phenomenon, The Wrong Vomit, wherein somebody spits up something impossible, from razor blades to a fresh egg with a yolk made of gold-dust, apparently with no harmful effects. The section concludes with a piece that is written for players, which explains how they might make use of Unnatural Phenomena, as a source of insight, resources, or just something to show to people to freak the norms out.

Even more useful though are Artefacts. This section explains that some artefacts are natural and some constructed (but we’ll discover how to construct them in a later chapter). It describes a few, like the Magic Bullet which always hits (but not round corners for through walls or anything like that, its only a minor artefact), or the Nightingale Watch, which protects you from death, though not from being mangled, maimed, blinded etc. There’s a slightly strange diversion into the mystical properties of the penny or cent at the end of the chapter, but it works quite well as inspiration fro how you can turn proverbs and idioms into gutter magick and ritual.

As usual before the next chapter there’s a piece of fiction. The story being told here is beginning to get compelling.

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