Room 208

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Tzetze wants to run a game! Of Unknown Armies. It’s set in Cincinnati, roughly right now, but with wizards and demons and shit (actual shit) running about.


But he’s afraid, so maybe he’ll try a oneshot first. Background below is still mostly applicable.

It’s the early 2000s. You’re internet savvy; normally, when you see something about the Internet Hate Machine, you just have a good laugh. But. A few months ago, your board exploded in drama, as they sometimes do. A day before the climax (itself very dramatic, involving multiple fan writers of note quitting forevermore) a modestly popular artist native to the board threatened to kill herself.

The local news media has noticed, because as it happens the girl’s parents haven’t known where she is since then. Your board is now in the midst of a moral panic.

One of the moderators, a somewhat unstable guy who spends most of his time role-playing, has taken it upon themself to solve this problem, by threatening you, a player in the suicidal drama who happens to live in the same city, into solving this problem. Specifically, if you don’t at least try to find the girl, he will ban you and leak your name to the local FOX affiliate. Hell hath no greater fury.

Characters (example)

stats later

Valentina "GIR23" Klepin (GMPC)

A real-life friend of the deceased, interviewed enough by the media that everybody online knows her real name. She’s taken a leave of absence from the board, but has been convinced by the moderator to monitor your investigation and report on whether you should face consequences. Despite thinking it’s probably a matter for the cops, she might give you information.

She doesn’t like Invader Zim much any more. Please don’t ask her about it. She’d rather you ask about her makeup, which she spent quite a lot of time applying this morning, or her fashion sense. Girl’s goth and proud of it, through her dour personality.

"False Killer Whale"

If the media hears your name you’re probably fucked: less than an hour before the girl made her fateful post, you told her quite directly to kill herself. Does that count as manslaughter? You don’t know and you don’t want to find out. You don’t feel guilty, particularly - you were hardly the only one slinging those orders around, and the bitch was no saint - but on some level, you don’t want to have cajoled somebody into the river.

Nobody online thinks you’re a very nice person. You came to the board during an /i/nvasion and stuck around. You were actually banned a few weeks after the drama died down, for mostly unrelated reasons, but the moderator tracked you down anyway. Just your luck to live in the same city. In real life, you’re pretty boring, an art student. You like painting landscapes. And yes, you’re a bit fat.


Clytemnestra had nothing to do with the missing girl, and was aloof even from the drama. Your other account, though, had a few bones to pick and you may have said a few things that could be taken poorly out of their proper context. As it happens, the girl was fond of reviewing fannish writing, and as it happened, your other account was (you grudgingly admit) not a very good writer (but you’ve improved!). You don’t know why people can’t just follow “don’t like, don’t read”.

You have a boring job as a secretary, but you spend most of your time, at least mentally, as the famous, beautiful, aloof cosplayer Clytemnestra. You make all your own costumes and you are really damn good at it. If you could, you’d go into work dressed as Spike Spiegel, but even that modest crossdressing would piss your managers the hell off.


The internet forum you frequent is an old one. Some talk about its antecedents on USENET or the WELL. You don’t know about that; as far as you know it was originally a forum for fans of some TV show, Goro Goro Iki or Wormhole X-Treme or some other fixture of 90s nerdery. Since then, it’s grown into one of the larger general discussion forums on the internet, far larger than any TV show. Nobody reads all the boards, not even you, ya grognard.

Despite that, the place does have an overall sense of community, and that’s why you agreed to meet some other members downtown. If it so happens half a dozen or so people live in your city, why not take advantage? You might make some friends.

In particular, your group is from the “Paranormal/Conspiracy” board. It’s not like you’re a tinfoil hat kind of person (if only because you know aluminium is far more efficacious), necessarily, but something about the unexplained interests you. Maybe something very strange happened to you in the past. Maybe you’re just a wannabe magnet.

In any case, you’ve agreed to have lunch and then hit a local concert. Hope you like J-pop. (Ideally one or more of the player characters would have been the ones suggesting this. If not, you get an NPC weeb. Choose carefully.)

I’ve got a few session hooks but it would help to know some characters before I plan too much, yeah?


Your character is a resident of modern Cincinatti, or else can regularly show up downtown. You use the forum, or else somehow found out about their offline meets (you creep). Beyond that, go crazy with your character. Nobody too ridiculous, of course; how often do interesting people use internet discussion boards?

Think of it in terms of a minor aspect. Say your character doesn’t have a phone. Sure, you don’t need to explain that. Say they have one phone. Yeah, who doesn’t? Say they have six phones, a bluetooth headset, and a nonfunctional VGA port in one of their palms. You’d better have a good explanation for that one.

If your character knows about magic, that’s all well and good, but

You don’t need to have your stats perfect or nuthin, but try to have some broad ideas of what you want your character to be. Include some backstory, that kinda thing.

Want to play?

Put your name down, hopefully with a character sketch. This ought to include a backstory (a few sentences), and the parts of the mechanics below that don’t involve number crunching, e.g., passions.


This is a summary of Unknown Armies’ mechanics. If you want a look yourself, it’s chapter three of the 2nd ed. core book, page 30 on.

Here are a character’s mechanical characteristics. Obviously they have broader personalities and names and such as well, but here’s what you need game mechanics-wise.

As for using them.

There are some generalities with rolls. Basically everything is with percentile dice, a random number between 00 and 99. You want to get a number lower than something, but after that, higher is better. (So for example, if you’re rolling a skill check and your skill is 58, 58 is the best possible roll for you.)

00 is 100, which is a failure. Even if you somehow have a skill of 100 or what have you, it’s a failure. Nobody’s perfect. Not only is it a failure, it’s a critical failure, which, as we know from Dark Heresy, means that something hilariously bad is about to happen to the character.

01 is 1, which is a success, because nobody’s really bad enough at anything to merit a 00%. It’s also a critical success. Your character is trying to hack into the Pentagon, you roll a 01, your character gets root. Who knows? This supersedes minimum rolls, etc.

Sometimes there are minimum rolls. If you want to make a called shot and blow off someone’s leg, for instance, the book suggests a minimum roll of 30, so, again for example, if your character’s Struggle skill is 48, you’ll want a roll between 30 and 48.

In many situations you can “flip-flop” a roll. This just means you can switch the digits - if you rolled 84, a flip-flop makes it 48.

Skill checks are pretty simple. In a normal situation, the GM shouldn’t bother with skill checks. If they want to anyway for some reason, it’s an automatic success if the skill is over 15%. Easy. In a significantly stressful but still pretty safe situation, you succeed well if you roll under (or the same as) the skill level, succeed decently if you roll under (or the same as) the stat, and fail otherwise. For a major skill roll, such as in combat, less than or equal to the skill is success, and otherwise is failure.

For minor and significant unskilled checks, you roll against the stat minus 30. For example, an unskilled climber character trying to jump a fence, with a speed of 62, would need a 32 or less. For a major check, you roll against your stat with no reduction, but you need to get a critical success (01) or a matched success, meaning the digits are the same (11, 22, 33, etc.). Furthermore, there are some sanity checks here. An unskilled person is never going to succeed on a “Pilot an F-17” skill check.