I was a hipster RPGer before it was cool.

oteSo I may have mentioned Baron Munchausen a time or two. I don’t think I’ve mentioned Over The Edge. Back In The Day™ two of my favorite games, Role Playing wise, were Paranoia and Over The Edge. And now I have a confession to make, I was never a very good diplomat for the style of gaming I love. Half a year back or so the 20th anniversary special edition reissue of OTE came out and I got a copy because it was a thing I’d loved, and I knew that it was a limited print run. Here’s the second half of the confession, as much as I loved the game, I got it, flipped through it momentarily and then stuck it prominently on my RPG shelf in my living room where there was any chance someone would notice it and go “Oh wow,what a great game!” and then it’d be true love or something. Of course reality is that practically no one knows about a game from 1992.

Then last week I came across a blog post from Vincent Baker talking about how he’d borrowed some mechanics from OTE for Apocalypse World. And it clicked. What did I love about OTE? Story. It wasn’t about the mechanics, I mean really, they basically fit on a single page. However Al Amarja overflows with setting, and story. Conspiracies and weirdness abound. Dark and disturbing things, black humor, wacky silliness. Drugs, Sex, Rock & Roll. Magic and Murder. Mutants, semi-feral baboons, aliens, more criminal organizations than you’d want to shake a stick at.

So anyways, a year or so back Dave reminded me what I like in Role-Playing which is basically What It Says On The Tin™. That is to say, I’m no stranger to tactical combat, and I love board games, but really, when I sit around a table with some friends, I want to do whatever it is that we’re going to do. If we’re going to play board games, let’s do that, and really do it. If we’re going to Role-Play, let’s do that. I’ve long griped the tired and clichèd gripe that I want to Role-play not ROLL-play … but it’s only clichèd because it’s so damn true. D&D isn’t about Role-Playing. I mean… it can be. If you’ve got a great session you might barely engage the rules at all. Oh wait. Just because it’s the progenitor of a genre doesn’t grant it any special status besides that of actually being the progenitor of Role-playing. D&D is a series of tactical encounters loosely wrapped in a story. Often though, the story is almost entirely the creation of the DM. The players should be able to play too right?

I’ve played basically edition of D&D excepting AD&D1st Ed. That is D&D, AD&D 2nd, 3rd, 3.5, Pathfinder, and 4th. Actually no, I lie. Though I have downloaded the D&D Next files, and was in the Beta, I haven’t actually played it yet, or read the rules. And I enjoy it. Obviously I have fun, or I wouldn’t be doing it anymore. That said, there’s better stuff out there.

Back on topic we’ve been playing Monsterhearts, Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, and a bunch of one offs of other story and indie games, like Dread or Fiasco or Don’t Rest Your Head or Vesna Thaw and much more. And they’re great. Some are better than others, but they all attempt to do that thing that OTE did back before there was really an internet. Many of them have learned a thing in the intervening two decades, and in fact where the 1st edition of OTE had a section on how you could use the setting and convert it to other games, the latest edition has a section on how you can steal the latest tech from Indie/Story gaming to make your OTE game better.

Who knows how soon it will be, but I need to drag some people over the edge. I think maybe I know enough now to convert the world to one of the best games ever published.

 

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