After gaming for a couple of years as a player in hight-fantasy, Feng Shui, Blue Planet, Werewolf, Mage, Vampire and as a Vampire GM, I found that I needed something new once more. In 1999 - I believe - I bought the Unknown Armies book after eyeing it for some time at my local gaming store. I read it, was fascinated by it and decided I wanted to run it. Well mostly I was fascinated by the 'Mental Stresses' and the insanity. Shortly thereafter I began to develop a campaign about turning players insane.
In early 2000 I ran a very very short scene with two of my future players as themselves. It was a successful experiment they were sufficiently horrified and I decided that I wanted to run a campaign where the players play themselves. After some asking around I found myself more than enough players to start the campaign. As a first introduction I ran the Bill Toge scenario from the main book which worked very well.
And now let me quickly explain why. I like this campaign, it is a lot of fun, but it did not fulfill my original expectation. In the beginning the point was, that I wanted to see how my friends would react if suddenly thrown into a game that is why the campaign is called "Just a Game" (the first scenario was also part of the reason for this name), after all they are all gamers. I had expected that they would somehow relate their gaming experiences and maybe that one or more would actually get into it and try and become an adept or avatar - I offered it to them - but noone did.
I was disappointed, because I had expected something more. But somehow all that happened was that they failed all their stress checks and turned mad and paranoid very quickly. Instead of trying to deal with things they kept running to the authorities and it was very very hard to get them interested in the usual campaign stuff. I am sure I made enough mistakes and I do not intend to blame the players. I blame the concept which was mine ...
Though I still have a lot of nice things that happen because they are themselves. But interestingly they often have trouble to play themselves! This shows that none chose an obsession in the beginning and that their stimuli were rather often like 'afraid of heights'. And: they never wanted XP. They had lots of trouble choosing skills and fights are definitely not good with such 'normal' people and of course it is very hard to invent 'hooks' when they have lived their whole life and would remember such things.
Well I have run a couple more sessions since I wrote the "meta" stuff and I have to admit that they have turned out quite nicely now. They took their time but they have changed so much from themselves. They have done some incredible things. And considering that we are playing in Germany, one of the most incredible changes is that they are now armed and dangerous :-)
Still I want to play my next campaign with 'real characters' instead of 'real people'. Characters can be tweaked and changed a lot easier and you can add some hooks and all that stuff. Characters are IMHO better for playing than people.