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Tabletop Game / Over the Edge

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This game is a coded message. You will decode the message in your dreams and execute its instructions in the spaces between moments of will. Neither you nor I will ever know the contents of this message.
—Jonathan Tweet, on the credits page of the second edition

Over the Edge is a tabletop roleplaying game by Jonathan Tweet in collaboration (to a certain extent) with Robin Laws and Mark Rein·Hagen.note  If Unknown Armies is the roleplaying game for the works of Tim Powers and KULT is the roleplaying game for the books of Clive Barker, then Over the Edge is the roleplaying game version of Naked Lunch. It also had a short-lived trading card game incarnation under the title On The Edge.

The game is set on the mysterious Mediterranean island of Al Amarja, which is ruled by Monique D'Aubainne and various members of her extended family. The D'Aubainnes have most of the laws of the U.S.A. (or something like them) on the statute-books but basically only enforce them if you attempt to mess with the status quo, making Al Amarja effectively a Libertarian despotism. As a result, it is home to every conspiracy imaginable (no, seriously, one splat-book has a table to determine whether any given housecat is an alien and part of the huge Conspiracy of Cats) as well as a haven for all sorts of freaks and malcontents.

The native Al Amarjians ("'Marjians" or "Martians" in local slang) are a mongrel and polyglot population, given to self-expression largely (but not exclusively) in the form of drinking, drugs, public weirdness and violence. And they wear nooses instead of neckties.

The rule system used was released separately as the Wanton Role-Playing System (WaRP System) under an Open Source license; a few adventures for the WaRP System were published.

A third edition was released in early 2019, moving Al Amarja to the Atlantic Ocean (off the coast of Africa) and making many other changes to the setting, both large and small. It also changed the rule system to one built around rolling two dice (called "lots") and rerolling based on relative ability levels.

All editions provide examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Winds of Change, the floating casino run by "Chick", specializes in these. Bet your life against someone else's - loser dies, winner gets a 1-Up. Just don't try to cheat.
  • Alien Geometries: The Terminal, Al Amarja's major airport. It's shaped like a step pyramid. An upside-down step pyramid. Try not to get lost.
  • All Myths Are True: At least, a good portion of them. And there's kitset rules for making up the rest of them.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Several, including the Movers, the Pharaohs, and the Earthlings.
  • Batter Up!: Baseball bats are the preferred weapon of Otto's Men (first/second editions) and their third-edition counterparts, the Clubbers.
  • City of Adventure: The Edge, as the primary setting of the game. The other cities on Al Amarja seem to be calmer most of the time.
  • City of Spies: Pretty much every secret service has a branch on Al Amarja.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: The core books include dozens of secret conspiracies, and those just scratch the surface.
  • Doomsday Device: Several, although exactly which ones may depend on edition.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even other drug dealers think the Sandmen are freaks.
  • Evil Twin: The Andalusia Dog's half brother, Rex.
  • Expy: Al Amarja for Interzone.
  • Fantastic Drug: Lots of them. And then subverted with Wings, which is sold as if it has the same weird psychic effects as the fringe-tech drugs, but is actually just LSD.
  • Frat Bro: Sigma Omicron Beta, especially in first/second edition. Third edition Sigma Om shades a little bit more toward barely-closeted Manly Gay.
  • Gambit Pileup: The inevitable result of Conspiracy Kitchen Sink.
  • Love Potion: MDA-Cubed, an incredibly powerful aphrodesiac.
  • Mad Scientists: They're called "Oppenheimers".
  • Maniac Monkeys: The Dog Faces are a gang comprised of one old lady, her freaky radio technology and a horde of intelligent baboons. They're dangerous, to say the least.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: These are also numerous.
  • Mutants: Many. Bitter and Herb's is run by one and is a popular hangout for them.
  • Public Execution: In Justice Plaza, in both settings. The State in third edition also allows private companies to buy the rights to perform executions for profit. These frequently are in the form of a Death Trap, only without the victim surviving.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Kergillians.
  • Reality Warper: The Cut-Ups Machine, and by extension the people in the Cut-Ups Project, will change reality if any organisation gets too close to running the world.
  • Serious Business: The Sommerites are a religion worshipping the rock vocalist Karla Sommers. They throw good parties.
  • Shout-Out: Al Amarja is basically Interzone on even more drugs.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The glugs are the real humans. The rest of the human race are mutants bred to destroy them. In the third edition, the glugs are pure Neanderthals, changing the details of the story while the broad strokes remain.
  • Tulpas: Useful for infiltration, but one must be careful. If they realize that you know what they are, it damages their ability to maintain their self-image, and they may vanish back into the nothingness they came from.
  • Vice City: The Edge.
  • Wretched Hive: Al Amarja.

The first and second editions, and the card game, provide examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch: Sigma Epsilon Xi sorority girls tend toward this.
  • Content Warnings: The "With a Long Spoon" adventure has a content advisory on the back cover marking it as for mature readers, and a note: "There are a lot of moral 'grey areas' in Over The Edge. This adventure isn't one of them."
  • Elvis Lives: And owns a Memphis-themed nightclub in The Terminal under the name "Aaron Parker", as he attempts to ascend to godhood.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The fraternities and sororities all spell out something characteristic of their members with their names.
  • Goth: Delta Epsilon Theta fraternity is Gloomy Goths.
  • Granola Girl: The girls in Alpha Rho Tau.
  • High Times Future: Drugs aren't legal in Al Amarja, but the law isn't enforced unless the Peace want an excuse for an arrest, or unless it's a drug they really want to control like SloMo.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: The "With a Long Spoon" adventure features a choice between multiple horrible groups, the least-evil of which is standing by and watching another group that tortures children. They're not planning to stop the torturers, they just want to know if their theory that abusing children can trigger psychic powers works.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Mr. LeThuy, an unassuming Vietnamese man. He's also a dangerous nihilist who wants to destroy the universe.
  • Reality Warper: The Throckmorton Device is a very slow-acting one.
  • Really Gets Around: Sigma Epsilon Xi sorority, typically with Sigma Omicron Beta fraternity.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Medieval alchemist Nicholas Flamel and his wife now reside on the island, thanks to the Elixir of Life.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: An uncommon side-effect of Blue Shock abuse. Ponder the effect of it happening in a room full of Blue Shock addicts, which enhances all the senses...
  • Stable Time Loop: The Throckmorton Device is controlling events in the past to ensure its own creation.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Monique D'Aubainne bought the island off them during World War II.
  • Word-Salad Humor: The Coatless Code of the Chaos Boys (of which the Cut-Ups are the local cell) is about two-thirds this and one-third Shout-Out to James Brown.
    "This is the weather the cuckoo likes, armored division submissive to vernacular the world into a gambling birdhouse velocity."
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Construction of the Throckmorton Device clearly cannot be stopped, because it is already controlling things to ensure it will be.

The third edition provides examples of:

  • Arms Dealer: Of a sort. Gun Metal doesn't sell guns, or even weapons. It specializes in sports equipment and tools that just happen to be extremely useful for beating people up.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Rebus, and its virtual assistant Reba.
  • Alternate Self: "A Conclave of Chikutorpls" features five different versions of Chickutorpl from alternate universes.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Several groups are convinced that it's imminent, including the Movers, the Stitch, the Cut-Ups, and the Pharaohs. It is possible that what they are detecting is C, the coming singularity.
  • Evil Mask: The masks in the "Sympathy of the D'Aubainnes" adventure, where people wearing masks of one of the D'Aubainne children are forced to compete in a contest between the siblings.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Most of the fraternities and sororities spell out something characteristic of their members with their names.
    • Sigma Epsilon Xi (SEX) is Sex Magic witches.
    • Delta Epsilon Theta (DETH) is wannabe nihilists.
    • Alpha Rho Tau (ART) is guerrila artists.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: Alpha Rho Tau, the forbidden sorority, uses subversive graffiti and other guerrilla art to attempt to liberate people.
  • High Times Future: Most drugs are legal in Al Amarja. Drugs must be taken for a medical condition, but exactly what it is isn't relevant. Any mood-altering substance is considered a drug, including alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and nutmeg. Fantastic Drugs like MDA-cubed are technically illegal, but the State doesn't care except for combat-enhancing drugs like SloMo.
  • Human Subspecies: Glugs are Neanderthals. The Pharaohs are homo erectus.
  • Improvised Weapon: Weapons are banned on Al Amarja. Baseball bats, wrenches, kitchen knives, and similar aren't weapons, fortunately.
  • Insistent Terminology: 'Mutant' is derogatory and dehumanizing; the term 'Phenotype Nonconformist' or 'PNC' is preferred.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Monique d'Aubainne, President of Al Amarja in the previous editions, did not take over after the death of her husband Jacques, "Our Martyred Leader". Instead, her son Jean-Christophe is now Head of State, and his sisters, Sister Cheryl and Sir Constance, actually run things. The book's index indicates that Monique is the secretive figure known as "Mother", leader of the Presidential Guard and likely power behind the throne.
  • Mythology Gag: Many important characters and places from earlier editions reappear in considerably different circumstances.
    • Throckmorton's Exterminators is a globally-recognized brand. The head of the local franchise is Clyde Blanche, who feels like he Missed the Call somehow.
    • Ms. LeThuy is a charming woman who fits in everywhere and seems to get along with everyone.
    • Total Taxi, formerly the epitome of discreet travel, is now short for Totalitarian Taxi, the only taxi service allowed on the island.
    • Tiffany Trilobite, the cartoon character, can talk to people, and had an infamous episode that triggered epileptic seizures. This was part of a plot by the Stitch.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: The Chickutorpls in the "A Conclave of Chickutorpls" adventure (in "Welcome to the Island").
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: Played with. The Ultimate Democratic Republic of Al Amarja is a pseudo-libertarian police state.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Rebus is based on a girl named Raaida. No one knows where her body is, if it still exists at all.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The goal in the "Battle of the Bands" adventure is to get the band "Betwixt" back together.
  • Recursive Canon: The earlier editions of the game exist in the game world, where they were created as disinformation about Al Amarja.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Ms. LeThuy's genome is somehow a perfect union of humanity as a whole. And this averageness might be contagious.
  • Sex Magic: Sigma Epsilon Xi appears to be a sorority of wannabe sex witches.
  • The Singularity: C might be this.
  • Stable Time Loop: C - the upcoming singularity - is controlling events in the past to ensure its own creation, and possibly has been doing so for millions of years.
  • Take That!: The core book twice comments on how you can tell it's set in a horrible dystopian Alternate Universe because Donald Trump won the 2016 election.
  • The Unfettered: Delta Epsilon Theta fraternity tries to be this. "Those who know that everything means nothing are free to do anything."