Over the years I’ve only played with a handful of gamesmasters, some of whom have been very good while one or two I haven’t got along with as we have very different ideas and playing styles. I would like to think of myself as a good gm and that is something one of my players was telling me after each session; his feedback was really good and I’ll admit is was something of an ego boost for me.
So it is hard for me to pick out one specific GM and say they are the best overall since each have had their own unique ways of doing things. One of my friends managed to create such a spellbinding atmosphere, it was almost like being hypnotised and we were rudely snapped out of this state when a door in his house suddenly slammed shut; I don’t mind admitting that I jumped out of my seat when that happened!
During the Cyberpunk 18.104.22.168 Night City Blues campaign there was one particular session that really sticks out as I managed to weave two or three sub-plots into a scenario along with the main plot for them to discover and I received some very positive feedback about that.
When it comes to crafting my own scenarios I tend to go with the three act model as this works really well for me and gives room for creation of sub-plots. This style also works if you decide to play a pulp based game and I cribbed plenty of advice from the Lester Dent Master Plot formula, if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a read and I was able to use this advice to create a random pulp adventure generator. I’d like to share it with you all, but as it’s based upon a few commercial products I can’t as not only would it violate copyright, it could also hurt the sales of them.
Based upon the novels and stories of Charles Stross this game of modern-day horror in some ways it could be compared to Delta Green, but you play covert agents working in the UK.
Agents of The Laundry fight Cthulhu Mythos horrors and bureaucratic supervisors. They can save the world, but they have to get a receipt.
The game uses the Basic Roleplaying system as used in Call of Cthulhu and has all the rules included so there is no need to buy a separate rulebook.
The GM should read the following statement before and after every session of Over the Edge.
“All references to vices and to the supernatural contained in this game are for entertainment purposes only. Over the Edge™ does not promote satanism, belief in magic, drug use, violence, sexual deviation, body piercing, cynical attitudes toward the government, freedom of expression, or any other action or belief not condoned by the authorities.”
Over the Edge is probably one of the most unusual in my collection and unlike some of the other top ten entries I can’t place where I first heard about it, which is unusual for me. I do know exactly where I bought it from; the Virgin games store in Central London, I’m not saying I have a photographic memory but I left the price tag on it. Since it was a game I did try to play with some of the members of the Critical Miss gaming society when I bought it I can hazard a guess that it was about 1992 when I purchased it.
I was amazed by how free form character creation was, no fixed attributes rather you defined your own traits; this caused a little difficultly among the group as this was a radical idea and we didn’t know how to proceed. Not so much a radical idea these days as other indie games have taken to going down the route of allowing you to define your own traits.
You need nothing more than a few d6 to accomplish your task, either against a fixed difficulty or in the case of an opposed roll the highest number wins.
This was the main draw for me, the wonderfully detailed island setting of Al Amarja, a place of cults, cultists, conspiracies, fringe powers, magic, the post office and other things man was not meant to know or understand. I’d love to write about the rich tapestry to play with but I don’t want to spoil it for any potential players that have yet to explore the vivid game world or experience the weird and unusual. I know you can certainly search for other pages relating to the background but you’re not going to find anything here.
One idea I am still toying with is to get a game up and going but have the island adopt the swinging 60s setting of British culture; with all the classic tropes thrown in for good measure. Maybe some sort of Avengers style vibe mixed with Prisoner, Danger Man and Smiley’s people?
In the end I got one or two evenings play out of the book. The party had gathered at the Al Amarja airport and was walking through the depature lounge when I was just describing the general goings on including an announcement over the tannoy for Mr. Jones to pick up the white courtesy phone; I was unprepared for what happened when one of the group picked up the white phone and introduced himself as Mr. Jones. If at that time I had been more of an experienced GM I could have certainly run with it and perhaps sent the players off into the seedier side of the island but I panicked and the outcome was a little predictable and the party went back to leaving the airport.
I’d certainly recommend going and finding a copy of this almost forgotten gem just for the weirdness of it, the aforementioned background and the vast open ended sandbox nature.
Over The Edge can be found here at the home page of Atlas Games