Unsung is a game about ordinary people faced with extraordinary decisions. It's about the moment when life and death are on the line and you have to choose between the high road and the easy way. It's about cops and robbers, soldiers and cowboys. It's about morality under fire.
Most of the game is presented in terms of an example SWAT team campaign, and much of the art (a mix of line drawings and phtographs) supports this image, but there's a chapter of guidance on using the Unsung rules for anything from noir to cyberpunk to superheroes.
The core mechanics are simple, with few stats and a universal roll-under mechanic. By far the most important rules, however, are the ones concerning self-control and narration rights.
At any time, players can suggest details to be added to the scene in play. The GM may veto these, but is encouraged not to. A special kind of suggestion, called a gift, is one which forces another player character into a morally-challenging situation. Can the character do what's right, even under intense pressure and temptation? A failure will lead to a lapse, where the player loses control of the character and the easy way out is taken.
There are rules for sacrifice and savagery, for missions and medals and mortality. As said, the core mechanics are simple. A hefty chunk of most pages is taken up with sidebars offering advice, reminders, and optional rules. There's a detailed table of contents, a hefty glossary and an extensive index.
I've been talking so far about the 'standard' version of Unsung, a fifty-odd page illustrated and bookmarked pdf file. However, this is a remarkably comprehensive package. Not only does it come with both high- and low-resolution versions of this file, there's also a version without the artwork, a html document stripped of both the art and the sidebars, and a PDA version of this 'core' file. Plus, of course, a character sheet, although since Unsung characters have so few numbers it's more like a quick-reference rules sheet and a character sheet combined.
If you're interested in the kind of story Unsung is designed to tell, and are open to its somewhat unconventional approach to narration and control, then this is well worth investigating.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: A unique treatment of some surprisingly underused subject matter.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The writing occasionally wanders off on tangents, somewhat distracting from the focus of the book.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>