The previous editions of Unknown Armies have some good examples of the different passions.
They also have some clarity about when and how they are used.
You could previously only invoke your fear passion advantage when your character was trying to get away from their fear trigger. You could not fight back, but had to flee.
Examples of Fear Passions
- (Helplessness) Fire. Fire claimed your house, and with it your wardrobe, your record collection, not to mention all your photos and yearbooks. It’s bad stuff, not just dangerous and painful but unpredictable as well.
- (Isolation) Foreigners. When you were overseas, you always knew they were talking about you behind your back, jabbering away in that weird monkey language. Now they’re all around you, even in the streets of your home town.
- (Self) Temptation. You don’t drink anymore. When you get drunk you do terrible things, so you don’t drink. Much. No, not at all. In fact, you’re careful to stay away from bars, restaurants, and that liquor store on Third and Main.
- (The Unnatural) Possession. You don’t like to talk about the exorcism. You don’t like to say the creature’s name. You know it’s still out there and calling it could bring it right back.
- (Violence) Dogs. You’ve got marks on you from the red jaws and white teeth. Even those barky little shit dogs make you nervous, and big beasts like a Doberman or Saint Bernard? Forget it.
- (Violence) Victimization. You weren’t the one who got hurt, you were just the one they made talk. You tried to be tough, and that made it all your fault. Now you can’t stand to see people get hurt. To you, watching the victim is worse than being the victim.
You could previously only invoke your rage passion advantage when your character was trying to lash out against their rage trigger. It had to be an immediate reaction. There would be no time for a careful, measured or cautious response.
Rage Passion Examples
- Backchat. Is it too much to ask that people be polite? You understand someone who throws a punch at you, but a sarcastic loudmouth really gets your goat.
- Enemy Drivers. You’re an excellent driver. You wish all the bad drivers around you would just realize it, hang up their cell phones, and get the hell out of your way.
- Laziness. When someone does a half-assed job, they’re not just disrespecting their duties or their boss. They’re flipping the bird to everyone who has to put up with their shoddy work. God help one of your employees if you catch her slacking.
- Sleaze. Booze. Pornography. Foul language. Toilet humor. The country is swimming in filth, and no one’s doing anything about it. It’s time someone took a stand. Someday a real rain is gonna fall.
- Stuck-up Assholes. Just because you didn’t go to college and don’t drive a Lexus doesn’t mean those rich fucks get to look down at you. Goddamn snobs. Someone ought to take them down a notch.
- Those Fat Cats in Washington. Democrats and Republicans are just the competing teams in the “Screw the Taxpayer” Super Bowl, brought to you live by the Army, the Post Office, and your local Police Department.
You could previously only invoke your noble passion advantage when your character was selflessly acting on their noble trigger. It had to be an immediate response, rather than an extended or delayed action.
Noble Passion Examples
- Entertainment. How much better would the world be if people devoted as much effort to making one another happy as they do to getting rich or becoming powerful? You believe laughter is the best medicine—so if you cheer someone up now, the future takes care of itself.
- Historical Preservation. If we can’t learn from the past, we’re doomed to repeat it, and all those who suffered did so in vain. Preserving our links to the past gives us a firm foundation to build a better future.
- Landmine Removal. Landmines are deadly, indiscriminate, and a bitch to remove. You’ve seen their carnage firsthand and you’re dedicated to removing them physically (by working as a minesweeper) and politically (through activism to get landmines banned).
- One for All. Most people are crap, but you’ve made a tight bond with your friends. They’re all right, and your loyalty to them is unshakeable.
- Pedagogy. Education is the key to it all. Knowledge rinses away prejudice, eases misery, and exalts all that is good about the human condition. Educating others is your mission in life.
- Protect the Elderly. Most old people have already had seven courses of misery and heartache in their lifetimes without an extra helping in the eleventh hour.
The first edition of Unknown Armies has a couple of examples that show how the passions have been considered in line with obsessions. They are the same characters used for the legacy obsession examples.
First up, Phil’s character Cage, who is obsessed with being the toughest guy around:
Having figured out Cage’s past, it’s pretty easy for Phil to come up with some realistic passions. The Rage stimulus is anyone who tries to pick on Cage and belittle him. Any time someone has challenged his status as “the toughest guy around,” he’s likely to get really ticked off.
The Fear is keyed to Self; he’s afraid that people will find out that underneath it all, he’s a fraud. If he’s in danger of looking cowardly or weak, he can justify a reroll or a flip-flop (as explained on the next page). The GM suggests that Phil make this “in danger of looking physically cowardly or weak.” Otherwise, Phil could justify re-rolling any failure, since any failure could make Cage look cowardly or weak in a variety of ways. Phil counters with the suggestion that it be any time he might look emotionally weak, and the GM says okay. (Phil figures any serious physical challenge might be handled by his Rage—besides, he’s worried that Cage is going to have trouble with [stress] checks … so the chance to flip-flop or reroll such checks could come in handy.)
Finally, there’s Cage’s Noble impulse. Phil considers having it be “protect the weak,” but that doesn’t really fit Cage’s philosophy—he used to be weak and he became strong. He hates his weak self, so he has only contempt for those who accept weakness. Phil decides that Cage’s Noble impulse is to help those who are weak but trying to become strong. He can really identify with people who are working to overcome their difficulties.
And then Kim’s character Jennifer Zaraya, who is obsessed by transcendental knowledge:
Kim needs to choose her Fear, Rage, and Noble passions for her character, Jennifer. Noble is obvious to her: “oppose ignorance.” Whenever Jennifer encounters some form of ignorance, she is moved to attempt to enlighten the person in question. The GM asks if this means Jennifer will stop to help someone do their homework or work out a bus schedule, so Kim refines the Noble passion to “oppose ignorant prejudice.”
Then there’s Rage. What would tick off the calm, compassionate Jennifer Zaraya? Kim decides that the answer is “savage cruelty.” The modulation “savage” means her passion only gets invoked during intense physical or emotional situations, rather than every time a kid pulls the wings off a fly.
Finally, Kim considers Fear. What would Jennifer be afraid of? Kim mulls this and eventually decides that Jennifer fears “personal selfishness.” In other words, Jennifer fears that all of her aspirations could be false, egotistical projections of what she’d like to be, rather than what she is. If Jennifer is in a situation where she acts to help herself before helping someone else, her Fear passion is triggered—as is the connected madness meter of Self.
Reference: UA2 p31, p34.