A few years back I read a bunch of stuff on a website for a very dark, mature, RPG. I am sure that this was an actual for-profit print RPG, published by a company, not just a online thing its creators website.

I'm curious as to what game this was, but the following is all I can remember. Note: These descriptions are rather disturbing in nature and highly sexual.

There were two examples of magic items: The first was a pack of cigarettes that when lit caused paralysis. This was attached to a short story about a female mage and a male serial killer. The mage was a member of a group of mages that altered their bodies to be more attractive, change genders and swap bodies temporarily. She was having sex with the serial killer and swaps bodies with him. He freaks out and goes to light a cigarette. The memories left in his body warn her just in time. She winds up with one of the cigarettes and no lighter, some other stuff happens and they negotiate. They have sex to activate her magic, however she can only use her magic when having a lot of fun. Since she isn't having fun while worried about him killing her, she uses some of the instincts left in his body, and begins to abuse him (Still in her body). However, she losses control of the instincts and stabs him to death, trapping herself inside her body. Since the magic isn't meant to be long term, the story ends with her knowing she will slowly go mad in his body.

Hey, I said it was disturbing.

The second magic item was a set of makeup that enhanced the users charisma to insane levels, so no one could disagree with the wearer. However it has a side effect of inflicting ever increasing levels of harm on the user. The short story for this one was shorter: A man and a women find a pack of makeup somehow. Having forgotten her makeup, and with the two of them having a business meeting that night the women uses the new makeup. Everything goes perfectly, they make a big deal or something. Then the next morning she wakes up looking like someone beat her badly. They then discover that while the makeup turns her into an unstoppable force in the bordroom each time she wakes up beaten more badly. The story ends with her boyfreind leaving her, as she chouldn't resist using the makeup every once and a while to complete important negotiations.

As I recall there was a sample NPC as well, which was a young women in a seminary of flagellants. She gained her powers from self-abuse, and due to all of that she had done without knowing she had powers, she has now built up a a number of 'major and minor charges' or something like that.


1 Answer 1


That would be Unknown Armies, "A roleplaying game of transcendental horror and furious action." The "major and minor charges" gives it away. It was written by the famous RPG designers John Tynes (Delta Green, Puppletland, and a lot of Pagan Publishing for Call of Cthulhu) and Greg Stolze (Over the Edge, Godlike, Reign, A Dirty World) and is published by Atlas Games. It has two editions. The last reprinting was 2007 so I'm not sure if that counts as "in print" or not, probably not.

Any game with a supplement called "Lawyers, Guns, and Money" is a shoo-in with me. I have UA 1e, several of the supplements, and the 2e corebook.

The game is probably most famous, besides being an excellent mature RPG (not sophomoric at all like many other "mature" efforts out there) for its madness system. Tynes was of course a Call of Cthulhu veteran but they wanted something more nuanced - the CoC Sanity Point system is very hit point like - and so they came up with the idea of five mental stress categories (Violence, the Unnatural, Helplessness, Isolation, and Self) and the idea you can get failures in each track but failures can also cause you to become hardened to some degree in each track and become less liable to loss from, say, low Violence stresses if you are exposed to that a lot.

The occult system is also very cool, you get major, significant, or minor magick "charges" from items or activities unique to your school. You can get minor charges by cutting yourself for epideromancers or taking a drink for dipsomancers, for example - but to get a major charge it requires something quite unique, like reenacting a scene no one else ever has from the Naked Goddess' life or films for a pornomancer (yes, it's what you think it is).

The third most notable thing about the game is the cosmology; there are archetypes you can seek to become an avatar of - like the Flying Woman, The Masterless Man, the True King, or the Mystic Hermaphrodite. There's a large occult underground that is all trying to get more or less in touch with all this stuff. Dresden Files fans will find it all not that dissimilar.

UA is a very gritty game - mature, deadly, weird. It's one of the top ten games ever published IMO. Heck it even has a TVTropes entry.

It is now back in print, with a Kickstarted third edition.


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