Unknown Armies is an occult game about broken people conspiring to fix the world. It’s about humanity, and how those among us who are the most obsessed have the power to alter reality until it aligns with their fevered desires. It’s about getting what you want despite others trying to keep it from you.
Unknown Armies presents magick as it might exist in a world co-created by Tim Powers and James Ellroy, as twisting wrinkles in reality created by greater and greater risk, sacrifice, and obsession. In Unknown Armies we ask, what would you risk to change the world? Your friends? Your family? Your health? Your sanity? Magick finds a way to ask the very most from you, until you achieve what you want or you are left with nothing.
Unknown Armies lets you play one of these characters. Resolve your character's actions through the luck of percentile dice. Track your character's emotional response to significant forms of trauma and shock. Try to accomplish a self-assigned objective or goal in order to get what you want. As part of a cabal, your character helps others to achieve their own goals, as well as a group objective that can — and will — have long-lasting consequences when it is met.
Co-created by Greg Stolze and John Tynes, Unknown Armies presents an entirely original and yet disturbingly familiar approach to mystery, horror, and action in roleplaying games. This new edition, helmed by Stolze, also features the diverse talents of a cabal of contributors: Cam Banks, Tim Dedopulos, Shoshana Kessock, Sophie Lagacé, Chris Lites, W.J. MacGuffin, Ryan Macklin, Chad Underkoffler, Monica Valentinelli, and Filamena Young.
Here at Atlas Games we love Unknown Armies. Fans love it, too. We want to bring it back. It's a beloved roleplaying game that created ripples throughout the tabletop community when it first came out in 1998, and again in 2002.
This Kickstarter campaign is all about taking that game — a game that has inspired, disturbed, and excited gamers for almost twenty years — and updating it for a new generation and a new era.
We need your help to do this. Change won't happen without broad consensus. Reality won't twist without the focused expression of your collective will. This is Unknown Armies Third Edition.
Unknown Armies consists of three books presented together as a complete set. Initially softcover, we expect to upgrade them to beautiful case bound volumes in a slipcase once certain stretch goals are met. The books are:
Book One: Play—The book for players.
All of the rules for resolving actions
The central shock gauge mechanic
Obsession and identity
Avoiding fights and then dealing with them when you end up being dragged into them anyway
The magick of adepts and avatars
Book Two: Run—The book for the Game Moderator.
Presenting the players and their characters with obstacles to their fevered dreams of changing the world
Procedures for overseeing character creation and setting collaboration in the first session of play
Plenty of background on the world of the occult underground
Book Three: Reveal—The book of the weird.
Fuel for the Game Moderator: packed with ideas, hooks, tidbits, scraps, lies, truths, and horrors
What's heresy and what's just hearsay?
Freaky Game Moderator characters, locations, creatures, and events
Even more magick
By backing this project at the $10 level or greater, you get early access to drafts of the three books in their raw, dangerous state. Look for the link in the first backer update. With these documents also come access to the Gamma playtest of this edition, which means we want your feedback about the game before we seal the deal with the Invisible Clergy, AKA our talented production team.
We are funded!
Publishing three full-color, beautifully illustrated, expertly crafted softcover books is certainly appealing, but we want more for this game, and we want you to help us get there. Here is what we plan to do with backer funds that exceed the initial target set for the campaign.
$50,000: Hardcover Upgrade - FUNDED! We upgrade all three books to casebound volumes with soft-touch laminate covers. This is a free upgrade to anyone who gets the books in print.
$75,000: Deluxe Set Magnetic Slipcase - FUNDED! We add a Deluxe Set option, which is the three books in a full-color slipcase with magnetic clasp. The slipcase unfolds to serve as a full-function Game Moderator screen. This unlocks new backer levels, including a $150 Deluxe Set backer level.
$85,000: Add Ascension of the Magdalene to Crazy Pack 2 - FUNDED! We add this dual-stat scenario by Rick Neal to Crazy Pack 2. Set in Prague, 1602, it showcases the breadth of possible stories in the occult underground and features both Unknown Armies (2nd edition) and d20 game stats.
$100,000: Add Book Four as Bonus Digital Content - FUNDED! We add Book Four: Expose, a digital-only offering that begins as a 32-page collection of new material and content by Greg Stolze. Automatically added to any backer tier that gets bonus ebook content.
$110,000: Book Four Grows to 64 Pages - FUNDED! We expand Book Four: Expose to include an additional 32 pages, bringing Greg’s unnatural corpus of additional material for Unknown Armies to 64 pages.
$140,000: Soundtrack Cycle 1 - FUNDED! We commission renowned game soundtrack artist and composer James Semple to craft a 15-minute composition of Unknown Armies music – or should it be “musick?” – suitable for inspiring your cabal to greater obsession at the game table. Added as bonus content to all tiers from CHECKER upwards.
$160,000: Book Four Grows to 96 Pages - FUNDED! We unlock the final set of chains on Greg Stolze and lock his full talent upon Book Four: Expose, increasing it to a total of 96 pages in PDF and EPUB for all backers eligible to receive bonus ebook content.
$180,000: Add Book Five as Bonus Digital Content - FUNDED! As we delve into the occult underground we uncover new and diverse rituals, organizations, archetypes, and magickal phenomena. This stretch goal unlocks Book Five: Mine, which includes expanded game content in PDF and EPUB for all those eligible to receive bonus ebook content at no additional cost. Written by Unknown Armies adepts Chris Lites and Tim Dedopulos.
$190,000: New Book Five Author: Filamena Young - FUNDED! We draft UA writer Filamena Young to tear the band-aid from a new set of rituals for Book Five: Mine, extending it to 48 pages.
$195,000: New Book Five Author: Ryan Macklin - FUNDED! We take Ryan Macklin, UA writer from the Internet, and lock him in a chamber of small animals until he hands over an additional 16 pages of material for Book Five: Mine, bringing it to a total of 64 pages.
$200,000: New Book Five Author: Chad Underkoffler - FUNDED! Catching sight of UA writer Chad Underkoffler trying to escape, we strap him in and extract an additional 16 pages for Book Five: Mine, for your eventual enjoyment, bringing it to a total of 80 pages.
$210,000: Soundtrack Cycle 2 - FUNDED!
We return to the orchestral forge of James Semple to commission an additional 15-minute composition of Unknown Armies–inspired music to collide with your willing senses.
$215,000: New Book Five Author: WJ MacGuffin - FUNDED! We summon the spiritual essence of WJ MacGuffin, UA writer and scribe, to embody a mint condition Western Digital Pascal MicroEngine WD900 installed within an oak box just long enough to produce 16 more pages for Book Five: Mine. New book total: 96 pages!
$220,000: New Book Author: Jason L. Blair - FUNDED!
Dredged from the bottom of the lake and risen anew is Little Fears writer, Jason L. Blair, who adds another 16 pages to Book Five: Mine, making it 112 pages!
$225,000: New Book Author: Kenneth Hite - FUNDED! From out of his cyclopean library somewhere in Chicago, award-winning author and Night's Black Agents designer Kenneth Hite seals the deal on Book Five: Mine, capping it at 128 pages!
$230,000: Add PDF Reference Companion - FUNDED! Designed and developed by Cam Banks to accent, accommodate, and accessorize your Unknown Armies gaming experience, these PDF tools include cheat sheets, study guides, full-feature form-fillable character profiles, and bonus content bringing together material from all five UA3 books for easy reference.
$240,000: Soundtrack Cycle 3 - FUNDED! Our third and most potent 15-minute soundtrack cycle from James Semple is unlocked at this level, ushering in a new era of tabletop accompaniment.
$250,000: Godwalker - FUNDED! If we reach this level, everyone who backs the project at the Digital Pony ($10) tier or greater gets a digital copy of Greg Stolze's trend-crashing Unknown Armies novel, Godwalker.
Backer Count Stretch Goals!
Not only are we excited to reveal stretch goals based on the total pledged amount, we've set aside an entirely separate ladder of goals based on the number of campaign backers.
These backer count stretch goals start once we reach 2000 backers, wherein we reveal the first of our Campaign Starter Kits. These digital-only products contain everything you need to get an Unknown Armies campaign started:
Five pregenerated characters, broken and damaged and ready to go
One group objective for the cabal to pursue
A first session scenario to get things moving quickly
GM hooks, additional objective ideas, GMCs, and suggestions for your aggressive GM planner sessions
Every backer who has pledged at a tier that provides bonus ebook content or bonus digital content gets these at no additional cost. Ponies who missed out on backing the Kickstarter can purchase these kits at a later date for a low cost.
2000 Backers:Campaign Starter Kit 001 - UNLOCKED The first of the Unknown Armies Campaign Starter Kits, written and designed by one of our UA3 contributors!
2100 Backers: Campaign Starter Kit 002 - UNLOCKED A second Unknown Armies Campaign Starter Kit, written and designed by one of our UA3 contributors!
2200 Backers: Campaign Starter Kit 003 - UNLOCKED A third Unknown Armies Campaign Starter Kit, written and designed by one of our UA3 contributors!
2333 Backers: How to Play UA3 Video Tutorial 001 - UNLOCKED We'll produce the first in a planned series of UA3 tutorial videos, focused on specific elements of the game. The first is the collaborative character creation method that appears in Book Two: Run!
2400 Backers: Campaign Starter Kit 004 - UNLOCKED A fourth Unknown Armies Campaign Starter Kit, written and designed by one of our UA3 contributors!
2450 Backers: Campaign Starter Kit 005 - UNLOCKED A fifth Unknown Armies Campaign Starter Kit, written and designed by one of our UA3 contributors!
2500 Backers: Campaign Starter Kit 006 - UNLOCKED A sixth Unknown Armies Campaign Starter Kit, written and designed by one of our UA3 contributors!
2550 Backers: Campaign Starter Kit 007 - UNLOCKED A seventh Unknown Armies Campaign Starter Kit, written and designed by one of our UA3 contributors!
2666 Backers: How to Play UA3 Video Tutorial 002 - UNLOCKED We'll produce a second UA3 tutorial video, focused on the various ways UA3 handles conflict and trauma (i.e. shock gauges and combat) in rules that appear in Book One: Play!
We have other things you can add on to your pledge if you so desire. Some of these are built into the backer levels already, but you might want to add on more copies of them. Or customize your own rewards ad hoc. It's a new world, baby.
Unknown Armies Dice (+$10)
We're having a set of six prestige ten-sided dice crafted specially for this Kickstarter campaign by Q-Workshop. The set includes three dice each of two colors. You decide which is the tens and which is the ones.
These are PDF bundles of previous edition UA books.
Crazy Pack 1 (+$15): All 1st edition books:
Unknown Armies core rulebook (1st edition)
Lawyers Guns & Money
Crazy Pack 2 (+$10): All 2nd edition books:
Unknown Armies core rulebook (2nd edition)
Ascension of the Magdalene
Additional Print Books
These are extra copies of print versions of the UA3 rulebooks, at our special add-on cost.
Book One: Play (+$35): The player's book
Book Two: Run (+$30): The GM's book.
Book Three: Reveal (+$30): The encyclopedia of occult knowledge.
Deluxe Set (+$120): All three books + magnetic clasp slipcase.
Musick for Unknown Armies
Moody, curiously disturbing, and inspirational occult soundtracks to your UA3 game, by musician James Semple. All are digital downloads.
Unknown Armies Cycle 1 (+$5): Moods.
Unknown Armies Cycle 2 (+$5): Disturbances.
Unknown Armies Cycle 3 (+$5): Transcendences.
Here are the people to blame.
Greg Stolze, Lead Design and Writing
Veteran crowdfunder and game designer Greg Stolze (@gregstolze) is co-creator of Unknown Armies and has been drizzling the property with his particularly unwholesome attentions since the first edition came out. You can thank (or blame) him for several of the new schools of magick in third edition, as well as the pile of free fiction he’s gradually accrued at www.gregstolze.com/fiction_library. The most UA relevant stories there are probably "Careful, She Bites" and "Enzymes."
Cam Banks, Project Management and Development
Cam Banks (@boymonster) is Atlas Games' RPG Director. A native of New Zealand, he now lives in St. Paul with his wife and two children. He has spent the last fifteen years creating, developing, and managing over seventy-five roleplaying games and sourcebooks, including award-winning RPGs based on MarvelComics, Leverage, and Firefly, and new editions of games such as FengShui and Demon Hunters.
Aaron Acevedo, Art Direction
Aaron Aurelio Acevedo is a full-time artist, art director, and game designer living in New York. He is most widely known for his work in the tabletop games industry. He's currently art director for Pinnacle Entertainment Group, an illustrator for Savage Mojo, and he owns and operates an art production studio, Sigil Entertainment Group.
Aaron has worked on some well known properties, including: A Song of Ice & Fire, Babylon 5, Call of Cthulhu, Deadlands, Legend of the Five Rings, Rifts, Solomon Kane, Suzerain, Torg, and Wheel of Time, among others, and produces art and design for bands, comics, films, games, and concept work.
Thomas Deeny (@denaghdesign) is a graphic designer who specializes in book layout and game design. His work can be found in RPGs such as Growling Door Games' Chill, Dead Gentlemen's Demon Hunters, Margaret Weis Productions' Firefly RPG line, and John Wick Presents' 7th Sea; and in boardgames published by AEG and Tasty Minstrel Games. Thomas lives in a spooky forest by the coast.
Colleen Riley (@wordbunny) is a freelance editor, writer, artist, and immigration paralegal. Her recent projects include Feng Shui 2 and Laser Kittens. Once described as a robot from a future where grammar rose up and destroyed mankind, she is currently enjoying her new lifelike form in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Jeff Tidball, Financials
Jeff Tidball (@jefftidball) is an award-winning writer, game designer, and creative executive with a breadth of experience ranging from the Ars Magica RPG to the Horus Heresy board game. He's one of Gameplaywright's co-founders and currently serves as Atlas Games' Chief Operating Officer.
John Nephew, Publishing
John Nephew (@JohnNephew) is the president of Atlas Games. He got his start in the gaming industry by writing articles for Dragon Magazine while he was still in high school. His writing paid his way through college, and he started Atlas Games in 1990 while he was still pursuing his BA in Philosophy at Carleton College, as a way to publish his own work.
John manages the business side of Atlas Games, handling distributor and retailer orders and queries, fulfillment (i.e., packing boxes), accounts payable and receivable, translation queries, and even a little layout and proofreading once in a while. Somehow, it turned out that he hasn't actually published much of his own work, since he kept finding amazing works like Unknown Armies to publish instead.
Latest Updates from Our Project:
Update: Publisher Copy of Deluxe Set Arrived!
9 days ago
– Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 06:43:55 PM
For some reason, this update never got sent out to all of you. A hiccup in the Kickstarter UI? I got distracted by something in the corner of my eye? Failed notch on Self? Regardless, here's the update that failed to post, from the middle of February. It's got pictures. You'll love it. A newer update goes out later today.
Fresh off the FedEx truck this morning and waiting for me when I got into the office was a brand-new copy of the Unknown Armies Deluxe Set! I took a few photos to share with all of you. The arrival of this set means Regent, our printer in China, is right on schedule for April delivery of books to our warehouse, which means YOU get them as fast as we can ship them out. Our friends in EU nations get theirs at around the same time thanks to the magick of Kixto. Remember: We take care of you. It's what we do.
And now: photography via the minor ritual of "using an iPhone."
And of course, as always, feel free to pre-order this and other UA3 products if you missed out or want to get your "friends" a "gift." PRE-ORDERS CLOSE MARCH 28, 2017. That's when we shut it all down and get packing.
All our best,
--Cam and the Unknown Armies production team
Preorders and Digital Files Clarification!
4 months ago
– Wed, Dec 07, 2016 at 07:35:59 PM
Today I'm going to clear up some confusion about how the preorders work and how the digital files are distributed.
Pre-Ordering the Unknown
We handle all preorders through BackerKit. This is the best option for you to get Unknown Armies 3 before retail (unless your retailer was a Merchant backer - hi Merchants!). Using BackerKit, you can select which items to order, from digital editions of the books to printed Deluxe Sets to dice. Unlike the Kickstarter backer rewards, none of these are packaged bundles. This means that if you place an order for a Deluxe Set through BackerKit, you won't get any of the PDFs or the UA3 musick or other bonus items. If you want those, you need to add them individually. We're sorry this has been confusing!
Digital Content Distribution
For those backers who are expecting digital rewards, such as the PDF/ePub/MOBI files, the UA3 musick suites, and (down the road) the PDF Resources, those will appear in your Digital Downloads tab under your BackerKit profile. If you preordered a digital item, it will also be here, but again, if you only preordered physical books, your Digital Downloads folder will be empty.
I hope this clarifies things for all of you! As always, you can contact me with questions or concerns at the crowdfund AT atlas-games DOT com address, or leave a message here on KickStarter or below this update. We'll try to get back to you within 48 hours or as soon as we can.
Cheers, Cam and the UA3 production team
Musick for Unknown Armies
4 months ago
– Thu, Dec 01, 2016 at 10:17:39 PM
We've just released the soundtrack to Unknown Armies as composed and arranged by James Semple in the form of three cycles of musick to all backers at the $99 Checker level and above, as well as those who included them as add-ons or pre-orders. They can be found in your Digital Downloads folder on your BackerKit profiles.
It is an understatement to say that these compositions are magnificently creepy and heartbreakingly appropriate to the many thematic elements of this game, and we owe James a deep debt of gratitude for putting them together for us.
From soulful twangy guitars to moody cello and suspenseful electronic synth tunes, the Musick for Unknown Armies has it all. We hope you enjoy it.
Note: For those who weren't able to include it or add it on to their pledges, or are otherwise unable to pick these up now, we do plan to release them widely by appropriate vendors and outlets.
Best to all of you, Cam and the Unknown Armies production team
Unknown Armies Update November 23, 2016
4 months ago
– Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 11:20:49 PM
Here in the Grand Nation of our Founding Fathers we are about to commence the annual Great Rite of consumption, giving thanks to our ascended masters for their beneficent blessings and various terrors visited upon us year-round. It's also time for an update.
Files to Press!
This is it, they're all done. Well, mostly. A couple of tiny last minute in-house proofs remain, but today is the day Book One: Play, Book Two: Run, Book Three: Reveal, and the slipcase (with GM screen) all go off to press. Enormous gratitude to our UA3 production team members Thomas Deeny, Colleen Riley, Aaron Acevedo, Jeff Tidball, and avatar #333 himself John Nephew for getting us to this milestone. Our "Create a Third Edition of Unknown Armies" objective is at around 90%, so maybe Greg should roll the dice for it now.
Dice to Backers!
We got our glorious dice in from Q-Workshop. We are very thankful for them. Anyone who is expecting dice from the Kickstarter or from add-ons or pre-orders is being sent those dice beginning next Monday. That's right — before you even get the books, we're shipping the dice to you. Everywhere in the world.
Your dice set includes 2 each of red, blue, and purple dice. Here's a picture.
There's a long wait while we get the books printed, but in that time you can expect to see more news about Book Four and Book Five, the Campaign Starter Kits, and other goodies. More importantly, at least in the short term, a package of excellent digital editions of the core books (in PDF, MOBI, and ePub) is next on designer Thomas Deeny's list. We hope to have those to you before the year is out.
And, as always, we are incredibly thankful to all of you, our backers, our beloved cabal, whose generosity and enthusiasm got us here. Have a wonderful holiday if you're one of our Stateside backers, and if not, know that we are grateful to all of you for supporting Unknown Armies the way that you do.
Best, Cam and the UA3 production team
UA3 Production Update September 29, 2016
6 months ago
– Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 07:01:03 PM
Over the last month Thomas has been working hard to integrate in-house proofreading feedback on the first draft of the three UA3 books, and has now sent out a second draft for a slightly wider group of proofreaders to catch any stray layout or text errors that have eluded us. Once this is done, Thomas will prepare a backer-ready set of documents for you to look over. This set will be the almost-final versions, giving us both a way to share the beautiful layout work with all of you and a way to work in a third proofing pass.
Once we're sure we've caught as many errors and issues as possible, the books are going to go off to press. Thomas then devotes time to creating screen-friendly and user-accessible versions of the PDF files, as well as ePUB and MOBI versions. You should expect those closer to the end of the year. It's our aim to make them more than just flat PDF versions of the files we send to the printers.
Dice and Shipment News!
As we speak, Q-Workshop is creating our sets of UA3 Dice. Those are due to arrive in our warehouse in about a month, assuming there are no hold-ups. When we get them, we plan to ship them and one or two other items directly to all backers who're expecting dice. This shipment will NOT include the printed books for UA3, which are still on target for next April. We did not want you to wait to use them with your digital versions, assuming you've decided to get a UA3 campaign going right away.
A very small number of you already have some older UA2 and UA1 books being sent along if you've added them during BackerKit. Again, those are being sent separate from the printed final copies of the rulebooks, so don't be alarmed if you've had a shipping notice sent to you!
Books Four and Five move to editing soon after being delayed a few weeks for revisions. We hope to see those in layout later this year and in your hands before the holiday season, or early in the new year in any case. We're probably going to drop the manuscripts into your download folders before layout, too, just so you'll have a working version of those books in your hands earlier.
Feedback and Questions?
As always, please send any and all comments, feedback, questions, or complaints to us at crowdfund AT atlas-games DOT com, and keep following us on Twitter at @atlasgames and on Facebook! For those of you who love Google+, we have a presence there as well, and we strongly encourage you to start a community for your games and share the links with us so we can spread the good word of Unknown Armies worldwide.