Lawyers, Guns, and Money
Alex Abel is a bad man. He may also be a good man, or at least the best hope for humanity. He's a multibillionaire who wants to do right by humanity, even if humanity doesn't want his kind of right, even if he has to order people killed and tortured to do it. Abel's after the real power in the world of Unknown Armies: he wants to ascend to the Invisible Clergy and become a god. To that end, he's assembled, by hook or by crook, a collection of thugs, murderers, conmen, computer hackers, and other unsavory sorts to form his New Inquisition, which is the focus of Lawyers, Guns, and Money. Backed with Abel's money and connections, it's the job of New Inquisition teams to investigate the occult, put an end to Abel's rivals (or, better, recruit them), and basically pave the way for Abel's ascension. They're overequipped, underinformed, and typically well-paid to do some of the nastiest jobs on the planet.
The book opens with a story about a chaos mage who has been predicted to be either one of Abel's allies or greatest enemies. Naturally, Alex Abel would rather have him as an ally, and so he sends a couple of Inquisitors after him. Right off, this is not a book for the kiddies: the story opens with a masturbation scene, and from there is an unrelenting vision of murder, terror, and exactly what it takes to be a chaos mage (which may be the scariest part). The writing is exceptional, better than a lot of popular books that people keep telling me I have to read and lightyears ahead of most gaming fiction. There was one sentence, and only one sentence, that jarred me out of the story: That's what chaos mages mean when they say they're going to roll the bones. It's a shift from third-person to not-quite-second, and it seemed kind of awkward. Out of 15 pages of story, that's not too shabby. The quality continues throughout the book.
< p> Chapter One is a very short chapter on the history of the New Inquisition. Actually, it's a history of Alex Abel and why he felt the need to create such an organization. There's nothing earth-shaking in here, just a vision of a man who wants to do right but seems to have an essential moral element missing.
Chapter Two is titled "Operations" and this is where we get into the real meat of the book. How people get recruited into the New Inquisition (either they get approached openly for their skills, they sell their services in exchange for a new identity, or they get a "join or die" offer), what the security clearances are, how TNI operatives get paid (ranging from "room and board and I don't hand you over to your enemies" to "very, very well indeed"), and how TNI gets along with other groups in the occult underground.
Chapter Three covers equipment, including standard issue gear like silenced pistols and the distinctive "uniform" for wetwork: yellow raincoat, surgical mask and gloves, and the tricked-out "Bondwagon" company cars and nonstandard gear like Damnation Rounds and a magic cockroach that makes other people think you're a normal cockroach, provided you swallow it. Live. My own favorite item is the Therapeutic Pillow, which as described is strictly a roleplaying toy. It lets anyone sleeping on it experience a night without nightmares or haunting visions of the past. There's a long waiting list for a night with one of these, and out of three in existence, only two are in circulation. The third is on Alex Abel's bed.
Chapter Four contains information on all sorts of TNI personnel. There are three teams of ready-made operatives, plus profiles, though not statistics, for people ranging from shady shrinks to occult debunkers to obsessive ex-cops.
The fifth chapter, "Secrets," is a couple of pages of adventure seeds or little tidbits that you may not want your players to know. Obviously, I'm not going to spoil them here just for a review. There's another dirty trick in here for TNI operatives to learn to fear, and I'd advise players to stay out of this section. It's more fun to be surprised.
Finally, the book finishes up with several appendices. There are a large handful of new skills (since UA lets you make your own skills up anyway, these are more like guidelines than hard-and-fast rules expansions), rules for car chases which are pretty intuitive but nice to have, dossiers on several NPCs, and not one but two sample missions.
I always try to find something bad so that I'm not just giving a rave review. Every book has room for improvement. That one sentence in the introductory story is it. Just over a dozen words in 125 pages. If all supplements were this good, there wouldn't even be a need for reviewers.
Style: 5 (Excellent!)