WEEP Capsule Review by Justin Unrau on 26/08/01
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)
Weep for those who will not play them. Weep because you didn't write them. Weep because they are just so good.
Author: Rick Neal, James Palmer, Greg Stolze, John Tynes, Chad Underkoffler
Company/Publisher: Atlas Games
Line: Unknown Armies
Cost: 22.95 US
Page count: 176
Year published: 2001
SKU: AG 6006
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Justin Unrau on 26/08/01
Genre tags: Modern day Horror
WEEP is a scenario anthology for the excellent contemporary horror game, Unknown Armies (or UA for short). It is billed as "Six Scenarios of Woe and Ruin" and does not disappoint. The first Unknown Armies scenario anthology (One Shots) was designed for pregenerated characters and single sessions of play. That book was an excellent way to introduce people to the game, and I understand that "Jailbreak" from that book works beautifully at conventions. WEEP is a bit different.
The six scenarios in WEEP are designed to be part of a long running campaign. They are not linked together as written, but they would all make a pretty decent fit in most UA campaigns, unless a really wacky structure was being used.
First, a note about the intro fiction. Greg Stolzeís "The Decision of Paris, Texas" is a nice little scene that follows up on a few canon GMCs. The main criticism is that not a lot actually happens in the story; it is just a scene with background and resultant motivation of each of the characters sort of explained. On the upside, there are some excellent bits of game mechanics translated into purely narrative terms. The line, "Now, Iím a gun" was a highlight. "Roll Your Bones" from Lawyers Guns and Money was a much better piece on the whole.
Spoiler Warning. Iíll be talking about the adventures in fairly general terms, but some of the details just have to be shared, so be warned.
The first adventure is "A Few of My Favorite Things" by John Tynes. This is a quirky little one session jaunt into a surreal city where people shoot bullets from their mouths and cars attack people and a little girl is held captive in a Veterans of Foreign Wars building. This adventure is bizarre and inexplicable, and might best be used as some sort of a dream sequence. When I ran it, my characters were under the influence of The King In Yellow so it all sort of fit. Jesus, the ambulance driver from "Bill in Three Persons" (UA rulebook) also makes some appearances, which was enough to flip one of my PCs out.
Next in the book is "Swap Meet" by Rick Neal. This adventure is best run if your group of PCs needs something. Three broad possibilities are artifacts, information or abstract qualities. The Swap Meet is a meeting of Merchant avatars, where all these things (and more!) can be bought sold or traded. The first half of the adventure deals with finding out about the Meet and then finding where it might be happening. This part has some interesting GMCs who give out information, but make the players feel like they are being led by the nose a bit. There is a useful sidebar which gives ideas on how to avoid that feeling. Once they find out where and when this Swap Meet is, though, things are just about setting the scene and whoís there and what the characters might do there. There are a few different options as to events at the Meet itself. Overall, this adventure is a good way to get something your characters need to them, but making them sweat a lot for it.
"Drink to That" by Greg Stolze is labeled as more of a GM resource than an adventure. There are three scenes that get played out when appropriate situations arise. They involve a petty dipsomancer who helps the PCs out twice and then needs some help in return. It gets them involved in a little family drama that highlights the difficulty of living a normal life when you are involved in the Occult Underground. The final scene plays out a bit weirdly, and could prompt a cry of "What the hell was that?" but I know Iím going to use it.
Chad Underkofflerís "The Green Glass Grail" is the longest adventure in WEEP, running about 50 pages. This one is also set up as a completely non linear collection of GMCs and cabal responses to the existence of a powerful artifact and some stuff that happens when the artifact is discovered (or not). This scenario would take a lot of work, because everything is left open ended and there are three separate plotlines that the PCs can deal with (unless you want to be the cool GM and interweave everything brilliantly). Basically, there is this Coke bottle that is hugely important and people want it. Any more details really depend on the GM. Iíve never seen a published adventure done in this exact kind of way before, but Iím sure it would make for quite the experience.
The third Greg Stolze offering is "Stoon Lake." This is a good old fashioned Bigfoot hunt set in a small Minnesotan town. Thereís a love triangle going on and developers trying to invade the district. One excellent tool in this adventure is a matrix of what each of the main GMCs would say about each of the others, as well as their real feelings about the person. Itís a handy reference so you donít have to read everyoneís backstory over and over during play. Also included in the adventure are some ideas on running an entire campaign based on cryptozoology and other Mystery Hunting kinds of things.
Finally is "Garden Full of Weeds" by James Palmer. I cannot wait to play this scenario! Itís set in an awful slum where babies are dying and the Mirror Man walks. It deals heavily with racial tension, isolation, gangs and child abuse. The scenario depicts this area as "the paranormal equivalent of Chernobyl." The PCs are drawn into this mess and have a number of things to resolve, including finding out what the root cause is. Iíll just say that this adventure is my favorite because of what that root cause is, and how the PCs have to deal with it.
To sum it all up, WEEP is an excellent collection of UA scenarios. Each one offers a number of means for differing PC groups to get involved, including each of the major canon power groups. The art was decent, I especially like the simplicity of the cover. The only picture that I gritted my teeth at was the picture of the three major GMCs from Stoon Lake on pg 124. The faces just donít seem to fit the characters at all. Iíd definitely give it a five for substance and a four for style.