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Atlas Games

Grokking the Difference: Jeff Tidball on Unknown Armies vs. Over the Edge


People sometimes offer vague descriptions like ''It's about weird stuff' when they're trying to describe Atlas Games RPGs, especially Over the Edge and Unknown Armies. That kind of description is is accurate but insufficient, like describing a car by saying, 'Well, it's an object,' or describing Star Wars as 'a story.'

The perennial 'weird stuff' description especially falls down when it comes to describing how Over the Edge and Unknown Armies are different from each other. It turns out that there are as many ways to talk about the difference between those two games as there were people around the Atlas Games conference table on the day the question came up. Here's my personal take: 

Over the Edge is a game with international flavor that's best at telling stories about political conspiracies and outrĂ© behavior. It's about how people relate to each other in strange ways. Over the Edge has secrets that people keep from each other, but the secrets are MacGuffins (sometimes conceptual, but still) around which dramatic relationships revolve, rather than ends in and of themselves.

Unknown Armies, on the other hand, is a game about occult knowledge and the secret underpinnings of the universe. It asks the question, 'What will you sacrifice for power, to reshape the world in your own image?' It's about how the protagonists define themselves. Its secrets are their own ends, things its characters must find out because their demons drive them to it. Although it can be played on a global scale, Unknown Armies retains a uniquely American outlook and feel even when it's taking place in the farthest corners of the globe.

Naturally, these generalizations have their shortcomings too! Neither definition is true for all aspects of their respective games' backgrounds. Over the Edge has secrets that primarily drive inter-group conflict, and Unknown Armies has outré behavior. But broadly speaking, if you were presented with a series of character or adventure summaries and had to use these definitions as your only working understanding of these two games in order to sort them, they'd guide you to a high degree of accuracy.

The best news? Both games are awesome! If you're only familiar with one, try the other. And if you've never played either of them, now you have a way to figure out which you'll explore first.


Witches of the Revolution in Spanish

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla. Was witchcraft involved? Who can say. But consider: If witches helped the American revolutionaries defeat the British — as Witches of the Revolution supposes — why wouldn't they want to stick it to the French, too? Read more about Cinco de Mayo on Wikipedia and draw your own conclusions.

In any case, to celebrate, we've released the rules for Witches of the Revolution in Spanish, nicely laid out in PDF format. Have a look!


Butt-Kicking Feng Shui 2 Bundle of Holding!

We've got a very special Bundle of Holding sale going on right now. Other Bundles have featured our classic RPG line Feng Shui, but this is the first one to offer the bestselling update, Feng Shui 2!

For just $14.95, you can get our Feng Shui 2 releases in PDF, and for just $10 more, you get some of the greatest books from the original edition. That's over $120 of high-flying kung fu action for just $24.95.

As an additional bonus, you can feel good about your support of The National Film Preservation Foundation's work with your purchase. You'll be contributing to make sure the best of Asian action cinema will inspire generations to come.

Run with the speed of a thousand feet to Bundle of Holding to get your books of mystical wisdom!

Improving Conventions for Everyone

Bright lights are shining on harassment in every part of society, and it's no different in the game industry. The time has arrived when victims and witnesses can seek justice for harassment at conventions and trade shows. I've got some pretty hair-raising stories I could share about creepy stalkers and inappropriate physical contact at game conventionsonce while holding my three-month-old son in my arms! Open secrets finally have consequences. And more fans and makers are insisting on the ethics of the industry we love so much.


San Diego Comic Con anti-harassment policy
(photo credit BleedingCool.com)
It's been more than a year since Atlas Games joined Pelgrane Press in requiring conventions to have an anti-harassment policy in order to receive our support for their events. We insist on a clear definition of harassment, a public procedure for violation, and a policy that's easy to find in the convention's physical space and online materials.

Overall, our stance has been well-received, and conventions have responded by adding and expanding their protections for attendees of all kinds. I've had productive discussions with folks about how a clear anti-harassment policy actually boosts attendance, since people can see before they even register that they'll be supported. And it feels great to support a con that's improving the experience for everyone.


Anna Kegler (L), Rochelle Keyhan (C), Erin Filson (R)
of geeksforCONsent (photo credit Brian van der Brug)
If this is a stance you support, you can bring it to the attention of your other favorite publishers. The more these become community standards, the more leverage we'll have. But don't forget that you can also have a major impact by asking your local conventions about their anti-harassment policies and encouraging them to post them prominently. Local organizations who are skeptical can look at the policies of large cons like the Origins Game Fair and midsize ones like CONvergence. Our conventions will only become more fun for more people with these efforts.

A PAX Primer

Convention season used to be a summer thing, but these days you can find a convention any time and place. One of the cons that's both spread out and sized up is the series of PAX shows across the calendar and the globe. Their next convention, PAX East, is coming up at the beginning of April in Boston, and since Atlas will be there, we thought it would be fun to look at the PAX family of cons.

The creators of the popular webcomic Penny Arcade started PAX in 2004, at a time when they saw disconnected fan conventions for everything from anime and comics to video games, but none that celebrated geek culture all together. They definitely found an audience for this unified approach, and attendance at the show doubled year after year, from 1337 in 2004 to over 70,000 in 2011. Fans enjoy video game previews, open play, LAN parties, tabletop gaming, panels, and performances. And with all those features, PAX has attracted a more diverse attendance in terms of gender and race, which has allowed them to take positive steps to build a safe, accessible convention.

PAX has introduced a number of shows in places beyond Seattle (whose event was renamed PAX West). PAX East, PAX South, and PAX Australia have expanded the brand successfully around the world. They launched PAX Unplugged in 2017, creating a new kind of tabletop-focused convention for a whole new audience. And there are even "Powered by PAX" events starting up in other places, like this spring's convention in Paris.

Whether it's your first PAX or you're a veteran, and say hi to your Atlas Games friends at PAX East this spring!