I am writing this essentially because I noticed that not all of the Unknown Armies books had been reviewed, and figured that even my paltry two cents might be useful to someone out there.
However, I say this at the start: I am a UA devotee. It is the only game-line that I have collected everything from, ever. As such, my biases are noted.
A further note: All you need to run UA is the 2nd Ed core book, which is a thing of beauty to behold. However, I've found that there is not a single one of the additional books which wouldn't reward the time spent reading them.
Hush Hush brings you the Sleepers, who are the occult boogeymen of the Unknown Armies setting. Think of them as the less cuddly MiB: Attract too much attention and you get noticed. You don't want to be noticed.
The cover and interior are are all good, and if you've seen any of the other UA splatbooks the visual theme continues across. Creepy, disjointed imagery and each chapter begins with quotes from famous people mixed in with ones from fictional people mentioned in the book. The book has a very consistent vibe, and I appreciate it.
The opening fiction, a short piece entitled The Dog in the Night-Time by John Tynes, does a good job of setting the mood and raising the hairs on your neck, and certainly doesn't detract from the rest of the content. Beginning with:
Chapter 1: Our Lives and Times.
The first chapter is brimming over with good information and a few bombshells. It has a very succinct summary of Who, Where and Why the Sleepers exist, What they do, and How they get away with it. It looks at what people believe, including snippets in side-boxes from Witnesses, who have encountered or been sideswiped by the existence of the Sleepers in some way. Again, very good stuff for getting you in the right mood.
It also contains some great, startling facts. Like how many Sleepers there are, the organisation's viewpoint on TNI, Mak Attax and the rest of the big group movers-and-shakers... and about Dirk Allen. It's not a pretty story, but wow. And then there's the Secret History of the Sleepers, for GMs to cackle evilly about behind closed doors, no players admitted.
We are introduced to the damned-sexy Riot Roll (ported to the UA 2nd Ed Core) and discussions of why one doesn't want to Wake the Tiger.
Chapter 2: Our Treasures of Ages Untold.
Here we get to see some of the meat of how the Sleepers function as an organisation, spread across four main global operational centres. This means a) You get a damned good feel for what happens as a new Sleeper agent and how it feels, and b) you get introduced to all sorts of potential plot-seeds that almost write themselves.
Are your players contemplating getting to the center of the Tootsie-Roll of whatever the occult knowledge the Sleepers are sitting on might be? This will give you enough bait to have them slavering, along with details of what they'll find when they do take the plunge without simply resorting to "They kill you so hard your old neighbours, yeah the grumpy ones, they die too."
This includes books, artifacts, and rituals that the Sleepers are hording. And they're just pretty.
You're also given a quick introduction to the four main people in command of the Sleepers, and the fact they have their own schemes going. Not to say that this is anything silly like the endless intrigues of V:tM when played badly, but it brings them to life and shows they have secrets.
There are also rules for Sleeper gear, including all sorts of cloak-and-dagger Mission Impossible stuff, and some Big Shiny Weapons for when that falls through.
Chapter 3: Our Grand and Secret Company.
Here we have more detail for who the Sleepers are, including the four heads of the Cabinet. And they are very interesting people. Through them we are introduced to Authentic Thaumaturgy and someone who could be a challenger to The Freak (if they hadn't already been warned off by having an arm torn free decades ago. They have two arms. Funny you should ask, it's a long story...)
It's a good and densely detailed source for characters in your campaigns, be they villains or appropriately alive NPCs. There are examples and cabals ranging from the Cosmic to Streetlevel, so it's a good resource. There's also a neat writeup of a combined Bibliomancer/Hunter.
Chapter 4: Our Glorious Enterprise.
Here's the adventure seeds. They're broken into the Flashpoint, which is the summary of what Doom approaches - and its cause, the Summary, which gives a more detailed breakdown of the situation, and Targets - what you have to do and who you have to kill to stop the problem before it's noticed.
There are a lot of them and the format puts them across swiftly. There are some truely grotesque and lovely ideas here, ranging from street-level legitimate confusion about the facts through to a frenzied developing war over laying claim to the first (clockwork) object in space, its spring winding down and coming home. The Gullyhooter is a particular favourite of mine, but creepy kid's poems will do that.
Generally these are slanted towards a group of Sleeper PCs, but there's no reason they can't get involved from some other direction... And just have to avoid the fact the Sleepers are involved too.
It's worth it. Hopefully this will give you an idea of how, although the Core gives you all you need to know about bringing the Sleeper's to life, this book is that extra slice of chocolatey-gateaux that you can't convince yourself you don't need.
At least, I couldn't.
The only question the book raised for me involves the Black Dog. Lucifuge (introduced to us in the opening fiction) is an ancient Unspeakable Servant. As such, someone lost an eye to make him.
He is currently attached to Antoinette Hamilton, who you will also know after having read the book. She has had an interest in making Unspeakable Servants in the past.
There's information that she can see from Lucifuge's eye, but from the write-up in the Core, I thought you could only do that to a Servant you made rather than inherited. Then again, that is a very minor point of confusion for the ratio of horrible truths you can find here.
- The Unshaven.