Edgy Movies: Repo Man

Kamikaze - CBFThere’s a good essay by Jonathan Tweet in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Over The Edge, where he advocates keeping Over The Edge scenarios and campaigns in the 80s, around the time the game and the setting wa thought up, and not updating them for the current age.

If that is how you roll on Al Amarja, Repo Man is spot on, for zany and camp alien conspiracy madness, starring Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton.

The first mention of Repo Man I ever saw, was in the suggested media list in The Over Edge Player’s Guide, so this recommendation also comes from the top.

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NPC: Josefina Shoukry

Psychic PerformerJosefina Shoukry - CBF

Josefina Shoukry has taken the art of stage magic to a new level. She can bends spoons in the same league as Uri Geller, and gladly shows of her skills, in expensive varieties on the Edge and once in a while at the Temple of Divine Experience.

She arrived from Kazakstan a few years back, fleeing a society where her special skills were looked on with fear. Shortly after arriving on Al Amarja, she joined a society of likeminded, The Cabal. Her new friends also persuaded her to register her skills at the Center for Paranormal Control, so her skills are, to some extent, known to the D’Aubainnes.

Russian woman, aged 33, 180 cm, 65 kg, blond hair, usually dressed in snappy cocktail dresses.

Languages: Russian, English, Al Amarjan Patois, a little French.

Traits

Psychokinesis, 3 dice – Josefina can bend and shape objects of metal, by focusing her mental energies on them. It takes time, but she can do this from a distance and even heavy/strong objects, like a metal door or a sword (Sometimes gives a small electric shock when touched or touching)

Legerdemain, 3 dice – While Josefina has actual psychic powers, most of what she puts on display when she performs, is simple sleight of hand, without any touch of the supernatural. (Fiddles with small objects, like cards and marbles)

Stunner, 3 dice – Josefina is a beautiful woman, with a flair for stage presence (Carries herself extremely well, classy dressed)

 Story Ideas

– The players need some sort of security feature taken out from a distance. They hear of Josefina’s talents and now just needs to persuade her to help them out. This could lead to working for The Cabal.

– The dimensions of Josefina’s skills are discovered by some of the more powerful groups on the island, and they want to either enroll her or take her out. The Cabal hires the players to protect Josefina or to stage her death. With the help of her special talent, this can be done in pretty spectacular ways.

Edgy Movies: Southland Tales

Charismatic Reservoir - CBFSo – this blog will flourish in December. It must. A post a day until Christmas. Promish.

And I’ll start out with a good Over the Edge inspiration.

But first let me make one thing clear. Southland Tales is NOT a good movie. It’s a mess. A long mess. Richard Kelly went from the brilliance of Donnie Darko to a big budget flop.

But there is Edge-stuff galore in there. Crazy conspiracies, a hard-handed semi-fascist government, drugs, over the top characters and lots of brainwashing.

So for the Over the Edge-gm, it’s pretty much a must see. I think.

And the soundtrack is kickass!

Advice on running Over The Edge

In the comments to the last post, Esteban asked for advice on running Over The Edge and getting players hooked. Some of my advice would be:

  •  When the players created their characters they each gave them both a secret and a goal. Use them. In my experience, players love when something is based on something they made up or created and with the many conspiracies on Al Amarja, it is pretty easy tying goals/secrets up with the groups you dig and would like active in your campaign. In my last campaign one characters was searching for his missing daughter (kidnapped by his wife, who had joined a cult), one had the aim of discovering a new/forgotten species, which instantly had him chasing rumors about both Kergillians and Agaras (the rat people) and one had psychic powers that he had a hard time controlling, which had him targeted and watched by numerous groups. None of this was planned on my behalf and created several sessions.
  • Drop stuff into their laps that they can’t ignore. It’s hard to be bored when a session starts with you finding a dead android in the bathtub of your hotelroom and/or people with strange gear starts following you on the street. The Edge is a weird place, so try and freak out jaded players – especially experienced gamers. It’s not likely they have played anything like Over The Edge before, so make them sweat a little.
  • Throw them a bone. Players want to find out what is going on and you should show them glimpses, but only that. Like the teaser of a good series, it should be enough to keep them interested and wanting more. I also really like the way a “victory” in Over The Edge is described in “The OTE Player’s Guide” (page 55):

“An Al Amarja victory is when you got a good clue about a conspiracy after suffering only minor injuries and gaining only two new enemies.”

  • Have a common thread in the series, but take detours. When I run Over The Edge I generally pick 2-3 conspiracies that I want to include, that the players can bounce between. They can be in opposition, working together or just crossing paths. Knowingly or unknowingly. I think by reusing npc’s, groups and locations, you get a connection with the characters and help building a rapport with the players. But, as it is Over The Edge, there should of course be plenty of space for detours and following the whims of the players, if they decide to go elsewhere with the leads you pass along to them.
  • Have lots of interesting npc’s ready. Personally one of the major reasons I like to GM is that I like to come up with and play interesting/spooky/outrageous/weird npc’s that can both freak out and catch the players imagination so they want to have more to do with them, be it to kick their ass, foil their mad plans or help them save the world. And on Al Amarja the good guys and the bad guys should be hard to tell apart, keeping the players on their toes.

That was some of the stuff I have used. If you got other good pointers or ways to do it, please chip in.

My second Over The Edge ensemble

The cast in the first Over The Edge campaign I ran is pretty much lost in fogs of the past. I think there was a cat burglar and sumo wrestler, but apart from that I’m pretty blank. It’s around 15 years back in time and there has been a lot of groups and roleplaying going on since.

My second run on the other hand stands out perfectly clear. The three players created:

  •  A Russian spec-ops soldier gone awol after being part of some sort of government drug project.
  •  An Irish leprechaun disguising as big burly man.
  •  A travelling salesman, specializing in pipes for plumbing.  Unfortunately for him, he had a striking resemblance with a well-known mob goon, and due to an identity mix-up, a syndicate had, without his knowledge, implanted a bomb in his head. Before we started out, the player gave me the ok go, to blow his characters head up at any time.

Unfortunately I never got to blow his head up a fitting, or ill-fitting, place in the campaign, but the three of them generated some quite memorable situations.

The blue book arrived

So it arrived. The Over The Edge 20th Anniversary Edition. #188 outta the 400 printet.

I’m not a big fan of Ovi Hondrus artwork, and there’s a lot of it in the second edition, so I would have preferred that it was the first edition that was inside the gorgeous blue faux-leather cover, but hey. It’s a pretty tome, with fantastic content that, as always, screams “play me, play me!”.

Is it a book you need, if you already got a copy of Over The Edge? Fuck no.

Is the book worth every penny? Fuck yes.

Slacking & healing

Less than ten posts, and already I’m letting the blog go a little. Alas, real life, and especially scoundrels, like the one depicted below raiding my On the Edge cards, can take a lot of time.

 

But the blog is not dead! And neither is Jonathan Tweets blog over at Pelgrane Press. Today he talks a little about the healing system in Over The Edge. A rather brilliant and easy to use system, in my opinion.

More updates will follow in the next couple of days. More Edgy movies and some house rules for On the Edge.

Edgy Movies: Videodrome

Meetings with sleazy Japanese businessmen in equally sleazy hotels. Dead professors, with names like Brian O’Blivion, adressing you from tv-screens. Talks of “the subeterran marked”. Guns hidden inside, or merging with, people. Mind control. Assassinations. Snuff. Paranoia.

Videodrome is what Over The Edge  looks like, played at its hardest and bleakest and at the perfect match for the sourcebook “Airwaves”. I have yet to experience a session with the intensity and style of this movie, but I think it is worth aiming for.

Highly recommened for your darker Over The Edge needs.

Al Amarja: Sharing the setting

Al Amarja as setting for both the roleplaying game and the card game is probably On the Edge’s biggest strength as well as weakness.

As an Over the Edge game moderator I love how the card game ties in with the role playing game. The joy of recognition, when a character you have used in Over the Edge turns up in your deck or your favorite conspiracy gets new characters as cards that can be used as npc’s or card combinations set up perfect plot twists in the roleplaying game.

At the same time, I think this is also what made/makes it hard to recruit new players to On the Edge. Because it can be hard to grasp what it’s all about, just from the cards and the little rulebook that came with them. The Al Amarja universe is vast and unlike for example Magic: The Gathering, that is set in a pretty generic fantasy universe, On The Edge is very tied in with the setting.

For example, if you as casual card gamer pick up a deck of On the Edge cards and in there finds members of five different conspiracies, no of them really explained bar a little flavor text at the bottom of the card, and they include a baboon, an alien, two artists and a member of what is apparently an ancient brotherhood, I can understand why you are not automatically enthralled. It’s a bit much, even if it is awesome.

Overall I think On the Edge mainly appeals to people who are familiar with Over the Edge. And that opens up for a different problem as one of the big strengths of Over the Edge is, that the players are kept in the dark about the movers and shakers of the setting. So if Over the Edge players, start playing On the Edge, they will get a lot of background knowledge through the cards on the conspiracies that they will be facing or joining in the roleplaying game.

On the Edge > the ccg

In the great flood of collectible card games that were launched in the mid-90’s, in the wake of Magic: The Gathering, was On the Edge, a  card game inspired by Over the Edge, the roleplaying game.

I didn’t play the game when it came out – I stuck with Magic and Illuminati: New World Order, but has since, by ways of Ebay, acquired a rather sizable collection of cards. And it seems like a pretty solid game. Haven’t played it as much as I would have liked to. Yet.

In On the Edge you are the mastermind behind an Al Amarja conspiracy – fighting a covert war for influence through your pawns and puppets. These range from lonely low lifes to the upper crust of the controlling D’Aubainne family along with aliens, talking dogs, mutants, cab drivers and all the other possible, and impossible, crazies that Al Amarja and Over the Edge has to offer.

People familiar with Magic: The Gathering will quickly grasp the basic rules. You have your Characters (Creatures in M:TG), that you get onto the table by tapping (or “Cranking” in On the Edge) your Resources (Lands in Magic). Some of these characters can then generate Pull, which is what you accumulate to win. They can also punch the shit out of each other. During the game you can place Conditions (Magic: Enchantments) on characters, mainly, and affect the outcome of things with Whammies (something like Instants in Magic).

So very Magic-like.

One of the differences is, how you place your cards, once they are on the table. From what I remember from my Magic-playing days, you just place your creatures in one row in front of you and then pitch attackers and defenders up when attacked. In On the Edge you arrange your characters in three rows, called Ranks, symbolically showing their position in your conspiracy. You got your front rank, where you put your aggressive characters, ready to attack your enemies. You got your second rank, where you will place your defensive characters, ready to defend the influential, but often weak, characters of your last rank. Since you can’t attack characters in a conspiracy that has uncranked characters in front of it, the placing of hitters, blockers and specialist/influential characters become quite important as well as the timing of cranking.

That was the very basic outline of On the Edge, the ccg. Later I will post on decks, qualities, weaknesses, play and house-rules.