Disappointed: Over the Edge is political propaganda

So I finished reading Over the Edge 3rd edition. While I’m a huge fan of the prior two editions (I have every book and adventure ever published), I’m extraordinarily disappointed with the new book.
To me, it’s disappointing on several levels: 
  1. The player characters only get one main trait and one side trait. In the prior editions, they had more. But OK. Your character MUST be human, which is a ridiculous change and a huge disappointment when you compare it with the old edition where you were allowed to play everything and anything you could imagine and explain.  
  2. Jonathan Tweet constantly, and I mean constantly, pushes his political (left-leaning) agenda on the reader. He mentions Trump. Of course he mentions Trump. Of fucking course he does it. Cheap. And Boring. But, oh, there’s so much more: There’s “genderqueer” and “non-heteronormative” and similar artificial political language all over the place, and to read something like that in a rulebook just makes me go “bleh”. There is so much virtue-signaling going on, it makes it a really hard read.
  3. The setting! What in the holy hell has Tweet done to the setting? The Throckmortons are gone? What. The. Fucking. Fuck. Also, everything now is grimdark. Everything. Grimdark. So edgy. And so unbearably boring. Tweet has turned the weird and wonderful and crazy island of Al Amarja into a police state, for fuck’s sake. This isn’t fun to play, like the old editions were. This is a fucking political statement.
  4. The only good thing about the new edition is the new gaming system. Player-facing (which I normally don’t like), but without hit points, just a three strikes rule (this works for me, even with player-facing rolls).
I’ll keep the system but forget about everything else. 1st and 2nd edition are still the best.

Stop the presses! These rules are positively Over the Edge

I trying to avoid the F-word, so that’s that.
But: Daaaaaaayyum.

When the 3rd edition of “Over the Edge” hit the shelves, I bought the hardcover immediately. Today, I finally started reading it. I’ve loved every edition of OtE, and this latest one is no exception. Gawd, I loves me some Over the Edge!


Third Edition has the best rules system I can imagine. This includes, and that’s not particularly easy for me to say, my Landshut rules.

What’s so special about it?

A few highlights, neatly packed into a nutshell:

  • 2d6, player-facing rolls
  • compare player character’s level of competence (purely subjective) with the opposing force’s level of competence or difficulty; both on a 1 to 7 scale
  • if I start a conflict, I need a 7+ to succeed, if the other side initiates it, I need 8+
  • the difference between competence levels dictates if I’m allowed to reroll one die, or if the ref can force me to do that
  • a difference of 3 or more means either autosuccess or autofailure
  • rolling a 4 means a “good twist” on top of the success or failure
  • rolling a 3 means a “bad twist” on top
  • double-4 is called “Crazy Eight”, and is a really good twist
  • double-3 is called “Lightning Bolt”, and is a really bad twist
  • a 3-4 is called “Twist Tie”, and is one good and one bad twist at the same time 
It’s absolutely amazing how much narrative punch this little rules engine is packing.
Consider this:
Your rhino capoeira ex-soldier is surprised by 4 experienced barroom brawlers. He is competence level 2, but the goons are no slouches either (and there’s four of them). The ref says that’s a difference of 1 in the goons’ favor – and he can force one reroll on you if he doesn’t like your dice result.
You narrate how your rhino soldier goes in attack-mode almost instantly, after all, that’s what he has been trained for half his life. Taking initiative means you have to roll 7 or more to defeat the goons. You roll… a 4 and a 1: 5. Oof. That’s a failure, and because the ref feels it might be appropriate, he forces the reroll on you, saying “Hey choomba, please reroll the 4”. This move is NASTY because she’s taking the “good twist” (4, remember?) away from you. You roll the die again, and: score a 2, for a total of 3. That’s a really, really bad defeat, your soldier is getting hurt really badly, possibly with fatal consequences.
Replace this conflict with anything you want. It’ll work, and it’ll be rich and narrative and interesting and as crazy and bad and good as you want it to be. So so so good. 
Now, I finally KNOW what system I’ll be using for our next games. Thank you, Jon. Thank you, Chris.

Behold the Master of Contradiction

Well well well well… yesterday, on MeWe, I asked why we’re inventing new rules all the time instead of using the myriad of the ones already in existence. Today, I’m thinking aloud about a way to play without hit point and without damage roll. . . . . (dramatic pause) . . . . No hit points? No damage roll? Why? For several reasons: I, as referee, am much too lazy to keep track of hp. I tried using d20s as hp tracker, but even that is way too much work for me. The fewer numbers all players (including me) have to track at the table, the quicker the game moves. Different options a) I could ref like some of the old grognards: they simply don’t count hp. Instead, they guesstimate and handwave. This is a possibility, and I did that for many, many years in my games. The problem is: it started to feel very arbitrary, kind of like the Great Norbert Show. Nope. b) The most obvious path is to use “hits” instead of hit points. Things like “three strikes and you’re out”. Some old games do this. Apocalypse World does it. This works, but sometimes, it feels a bit… stale. c) The option I favor at the moment is to replace hits with “tags”. A prefect example for that is the pbtA game Legend of the Elements. Its combat move is as follows:

Commit Open Violence (+Hot)When you strike out violently with intent to kill or incapacitate, roll +Hot. On a 10 or greater, your attack is successful; Tag the target appropriately. On a 7, 8, or 9, choose one:~ You don’t Tag them.~ You’re left in a disadvantageous position. ~ You’re left open to their counterattack.

And how does the book define tags?

Tags are small descriptive words or phrases that are applied to characters, and Environment Tags are phrases describing the state of a location (…) In one sense, Tags do nothing on their own (…)All the mechanics in the game flow from the fiction, and Tags are fictionally binding. If a soldier has the Trapped In Ice Tag, just because the numbers haven’t changed doesn’t mean the MC can just describe them breaking free and running. They’re trapped, after all! The MC would need an opportunity to use one of the MC Moves to have that soldier break free.Similarly, with some moves it would make sense to apply lethal Tags. For example, if the Warrior swung his battle-axe and rolled a 10 on their Commit Open Violence roll, it makes perfect sense that they could apply the Mortally Wounded Tag or even the Dead Tag. That’s how MC characters are taken out of the action, not by any loss of a mechanical resource but when they fictionally aren’t participating any more.

If you analyze that move, you’ll find that what it does, basically, is:
it describes the result of an action that might hurt a character. The consequences (for npcs) are free-flowing, a successful ax attack to the face might (or should) result in the death of the character.

On the other hand, player characters are treated better. They can get hit three times; first mildly, then moderately, and finally, severely. They can mitigate the effects by spending Fortune points. I really like that mechanic, and I’ll definitely try it with my players.