Over the Edge – System Mastery 81


Well lookie here!  Written by Jonathan Tweet (author of 3rd Edition D&D).  Designed by Tweet and Robin D. Laws (Author of Feng Shui).  There’s basically no way this won’t be crazy and interesting.  It’s Over the Edge, almost definitely the only tabletop roleplaying game that purports to be based on the writings of William Burroughs.

13 responses to “Over the Edge – System Mastery 81

  1. Oh man, do I have stuff to talk about. I’ve had this game for the longest time, probably the single longest game I’ve owned after Cyberpunk 2013 and Twilight 2000. The simple character creation system really caught my eye and apparently Atlas Games spun it off around the 20th Anniversary of OTE into the WARP (Wanton Role Playing) System that can be downloaded from their website: http://www.atlas-games.com/warp/

    IIRC, the rationale of al Amarja being the focal point of so many conspiracies is that the D’Aubainne government allows for a free exchange between conspiracies (as long as it benefits her), but free speech isn’t exactly protected by the government, so if some enterprising journalist tries uncovering Kergillian infiltration or the secret history of humanity, D’Aubainne gets a phone call and the Peace Force and the Loyal Defenders get called out and enterprising journalist ends up on the top of the garbage pile the next morning. That’s something that you can’t exactly pull in the United States or in most countries. Or journalists and investigators are “corrupted” by the drugs and rampant sexuality or “driving crazy” being exposed that no one outside could believe or trust them any more. It makes sense that al Amarja is like Hotel California, you’re free to come but you’ll probably never leave, which made a great appeal to me. Your character’s past or background didn’t really matter, it’s what you did here, on al Amarja, that was the primary concern.

    I’m glad that you went over the Throckmorton Device. I felt that it was real interesting to begin with, but it’s also very ’90s metaplot. I remember reading the idea for it, but it feels they wanted to give players a campaign that they couldn’t win by just assassinating Throckmorton, Reyes, etc. to prevent it’s creation. For instance, I remember that there was an idea presented in the OTE GM section, that since the Device is modeled after Throckmorton’s thoughts and biases, the players, woke (and I’m using that intentionally) to the Device and it’s plans, could manipulate Throckmorton into becoming more liberal and tolerant, which would change the Throckmorton Device’s future. The Device would still be built but now it’s brainwashing makes people more progressive. It seems that they wanted players to find creative solutions. I’m curious you guys didn’t describe the metanarrative campaign, with players confront the idea that they’re PCs in an RPG, with mistakes leaking in by running into D&D characters paying in gold coin, or running into random D&D monsters, and concluding with PCs breaking into the real world and meeting their puppetmasters.

    There’s so much of the book that wasn’t covered, like the proto-Denver Airport conspiracy with the D’Aubainne international airport and it’s weird construction or the al Amarja College with Greek orgs filled with the racist jock frat and sexy bimbo slut sorority.

    • Manipulating Throck’s politics should also fail under the same logic that assassinating him will fail. The device does a specific thing now, meaning it will always end up doing that same specific thing regardless of any scheme the players try to pull, direct or indirect.

      It’s the kind of idea that’s fairly clever for a scifi book, but useless for a game. “Your actions are futile and meaningless” is usually not a thing that you want to tell players.

      • What you need to do with this conundrum is to make the conclusion of the adventure have a real success yet not be successful stopping it. Don’t make the ending be unfun. Let them win a major plot point, and the fact it was not stopped is a side effect. I ran it where they were uncovering the facts and learning, but never in a position such as “kill this guy to stop it” who would ruin the plot if he died. It is definitely a long term thing, where you learn a bit in this adventure, more in another, etc. Dies that make sense?

      • IIRC, the Device would also create it’s own enemies eventually, so there would always be someone for Throckmorton’s society to hunt, so it could be possible to have rival factions manipulated by the Device. It would be interesting if personally manipulating a more tolerant Throckmorton eventually created two equally-sized societies warring against one another.

        The other thing is I believe Throckmorton was immune to the Device, it’s just that the people around him would temporily manipulated into achieving the end goal, like hiring him for his exterminator business enough that he becomes wealthy, then they guide him into politics and eventually into the endgame of the Device.

      • Actually, just found my copy of OTE. They give the GM sample resolutions on resolving the Throckmorton Device plot, which does include the idea of “converting” Throckmorton so it alters the Device’s brainwashing; creating an alternate Device (I believe this was John’s solution) or an antidote to the Device’s effects that spawns anarchy and rebellion to fight the fascist tendencies of the Device; sabotaging the Device so it only works backwards in time and destroys itself as soon as it’s built; joining up with extra-planar aliens; or being somewhat immune to the Device and fighting Throckmorton following the switch being flipped.

      • Thanks! Actually I owned quite a few On the Edge decks. The cheapest CCG out there, but the setting was the main draw for me. (Must have read a review in Dragon Magazine.)

      • OnTE is a great source of inspiration. Wasn’t it OnTE that had a card for the one woman on Al Amarja who wasn’t in a conspiracy or in any way weird, and as such was immune to 90% of the random threats around?

  2. I loved this game. The background basically allowed you to do ANYTHING and make it work. And it was a rules light system before that was a thing. I cannot wait to hear your review; if you dis it I am never listening to your podcast again.

  3. Oh, other random thing. The guy who played Horace (the “munchkin” character in the GM examples) was Greg Stolze. And if you admire Robin D. Laws, I’d suggest reading Four Bastards, which made me rather sad.

  4. I think this is the best example yet of a world I would rather escape *from* rather than *to*. Remember when game worlds used to be fun places?

  5. Hey guys,

    Just wanted to let you know this has been one of my favorite episodes in a while. I really enjoyed hearing you get into all the bizarre details stuffed into this book. Maybe that’s spoiler heavy, but this is probably well past its use-by date.

    Very reminiscent of that LARP game you guys did a while back. The one with the cubes and the knock-off Eldar. You remember the one.

    This has been the worst week in living memory. Thanks for make an hour and a half a little more bearable.

    –Nick E.

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