Three against the Shanghai Seven – a pulp cabal for Unknown Armies

unknown armies_4It has been said many times how Unknown Armies is an American game at heart. An important part of American pop culture are the pulp magazines of the 30ies, 40ies and 50ies. These were what created the image of the beautiful lady thief, the hardboiled detective hiding an ultimately soft heart, or the weird scientist, who applies himself to the advancement of mankind. What follows is a rough sketch of my take on a cabal, trying to translate these pulp hero archetypes to the no-less weird tales of the occult underground.

Ellen Anderson comes from a family of wealthy industrialists and philanthropists. Her resume looks almost preternaturally perfect. She attended high school at a renowned east coast private school, moving on to graduate from a prestigious west coast college, then went to work for countless initiatives and volunteered for trusts and other charitable institutions.
By now, Ellen is 33, calls herself the “Domino Thief” and has rooted herself firmly in the occult underground. Most of her old friends and acquaintances she doesn’t see anymore, and she no longer keeps in touch with her family. Her last remaining allies are Dr. Destructo and the Green Maharaja.
The Domino Thief is tall, graceful and physically quite attractive. She dresses in elegant evening gowns whenever feasible, favoring a black and white color scheme.

Perhaps unusually for the young heir of a multi-million fortune, Steven Huxlee lives as a quiet recluse in a downtown penthouse. His contact to other members of the high society is limited at best, and he spends almost all of his time on his private research.
Steven is an extremely unassuming person, someone who you wouldn’t look at twice – if you noticed him in the first place –, a fact the socially awkward young man is thankful for. He is uncomfortable with making eye contact and he has a hard time engaging in even basic social interaction. On the other hand, he is quick to fall in love with new scientific and para-scientific ideas and theories. As anxious he is in social situation, as focused and concentrated he becomes when faced with things he considers interesting.
Steven Huxlee, PhD, is a geek’s geek.

Darwin Chase may hail from a less illustrious background than his two companions, the Domino Thief and Dr. Destructo, but that isn’t to say that he grew up in poverty. His parents both were physicians, who had come to the US from Pakistan, and who provided their four children with a both financially and socially secure home.
Darwin, much to the dismay of his parents, was a superb linebacker and, up until a torn ligament made short work of his dreams during his final year at college, on the fast track to a career as a pro.

What brought this diverse group of people together – especially in the dirty confines of the occult underground, of all places?

For Ellen, things changed when she had to live through a campaign of slander and libel against her parent’s company and thus against the whole family. Lawsuits were filed, the press descended on them, and in the end the Andersons were branded pariahs.
Ellen couldn’t believe a thing of what was being said about her parents and she fled into extreme sports. After an extended bout of depression, she began to dig around on her own, who were those people going after her family, where did they get their information from. The longer she followed the trails, the deeper she got into the occult underground.
Nowadays, she is an experienced entropomancer, on the hunt for the “Shangai Seven” together with the Green Maharaja and Dr. Destructo.

Darwin Chase went down the rabbit hole when his parents died in a car crash, a short time after his nascent football career was headed off.
Unwilling to face the apparent fact that his parents had succumbed to an accident, Chase chose to investigate himself and swore to solve the mystery of his parents’ murder (for murder it must have been, he was sure of it).
In the guise of the Green Maharaja, the urbanomancer and occult detective doggedly stays on the heels of the “Shanghai Seven”, his path finally crossing with those of the Domino Thief and Dr. Destructo.

Dr. Huxlee doesn’t believe in the existence of limits to human knowledge. He is an obsessed mechanomancer, with enough money to both keep his eccentricities a secret and to finance his experiments. On his road to enlightenment and a brighter tomorrow, he had to realize that it is the “Shanghai Seven” who are keeping him from accomplishing his goals.

Key Stats:

Ellen Anderson, “Domino Thief”
Rage Stimulus: Miserliness in the face of misery. Ellen was brought up in the belief that sharing and caring will bring about a better world. People who refuse to share make her mad.
Fear Stimulus: (Helplessness) To ask others for help. Ellen always strives to solve her problems herself. She is highly adverse to asking others for assistance. It is not that she cannot accept help which is being offered, she just has an extremely hard time to ask for it.
Noble Stimulus: Poverty. Social and monetary injustices make Ellen drop whatever she is doing, to help those in need.

Body: 55 (strong, but graceful)
Speed: 65 (moves like a gymnast)
Mind: 55 (ivy league graduate)
Soul: 60 (seductive)

Steven Huxlee, “Dr. Destructo”
Rage Stimulus: Ignorance. Willfully ignoring proven facts is a surefire way to drive Steven into a blinding rage.
Fear Stimulus: (Helplessness) Death. Steven is afraid of his own mortality. This fear is one of the reasons for his obsession with mechanomancy.
Noble Stimulus: Mysteries. Steven wants to understand and uncover mysteries.

Body: 40 (wimpy)
Speed: 50 (doesn’t stumble over his own feet)
Mind: 70 (PhD, not just of destruction)
Soul: 45 (one amongst many)

Darwin Chase, “the Green Maharaja”
Rage Stimulus: Injustices by authorities. Whether it’s done on purpose or through simple neglect, any injustice committed by those in authority will make Darwin angry.
Fear Stimulus: (Helplessness) To be at someone’s mercy. Situations, in which Darwin isn’t in full control, where he is degraded to the role of a witness.
Noble Stimulus: Solidarity between strangers. Time and time again, Darwin is positively taken aback by it when he sees strangers help other strangers in his city. It makes him proud of his fellow citizens and of his hometown.

Body: 70 (almost a pro-athlete)
Speed: 50 (surprisingly quick for a guy his size)
Mind: 65 (clever)
Soul: 55 (enigmatic)

Unknown Armies and related names are the Intellectual Property of Greg Stolze and John Tynes and protected by Copyright. These items have been used unofficially and quoted exclusively as reference with no infringement on any associated rights intended and without implying endorsement by the copyright holder. Other contents of this articles are published under the following license:

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Unknown Armies und damit verbunde Namen sind Geistiges Eigentum von Greg Stolze und John Tynes und urheberrechtlich geschützt. Diese Elemente wurden inoffiziell und ausschließlich als Referenz zitiert ohne die Absicht damit verbundene Rechte anzufechten und ohne eine Billigung durch den Rechteinhaber zu implizieren. Andere Inhalte dieses Artikels werden unter folgender Lizenz veröffentlicht:

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