Expedition through my rpg bookshelf: Part 1: Hush Hush

HH is a sourcebook for Unknown Armies 1st edition. An in-depth description of a clued-in cabal of mystics and the non-magickally gifted people following them. They’re calling themselves “the Sleepers”, and their self-ascribed job is to police the Occult Underground for abuses that might lead to exposure of real magick. Sounds cool. The concept certainly is, and that’s what pulled us into buying every single sourcebook for Unknown Armies.

But. BUT. BUT. 

Hush Hush suffers from the same problem that plagues all Unknown Armies (and more generally, all turn-of-the-millenium rpg) books: TMW. Too. Many. Words.

One “witness” account after another, one location after another, one mystical artifact after another, one historical tidbit after another, yadda yadda fucking yadda, ad nauseam. The endless stream of words, words, words just won’t stop.

My god, there’s even a chapter on “Gear & Weapons” in that book. For what? Does this help in any way? Does it really help that the following TEN pages describe firearms, non-lethal weapons, “tactical clothing” and miscellaneous equipment in detail? Does this anything to increase mood and setting? Or is it just pointless rambling filling page after page with boring descriptions? And, don’t get me wrong, every NPC, every location, every single fucking everything gets the same treatment. It’s a 128-page exercise in complete boredom.

How is anyone supposed to take anything away from that? Did the authors, did Atlas Games really hope someone would use this material in their game? How many hours does a day have?

Call me spoiled, and as a full-blooded old school and OSR DM I surely am, but OSR handles topics like that so much better and more efficient. Take a look at Zak S ‘s Vornheim, for instance. Or at Chris McDowall’s Into the Odd. Or at David McGrogan’s Yoon-Suin, or at Paul ‘Geist’ Gallagher’s Augmented Reality, or many others. These are all books filled to the brim with random tables, allowing you to create your very own version of a setting. And they convey facts about the setting in the most concise format possible.

Bottom Line: Interesting concept, lousy execution. 
One of five Indiana Jones hats.

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