I really love this game. I own all of the books, and bought heavily into the card game just to learn the setting. It was Jonathan Tweet's involvement in D&D 3.0 that made me decide to give that game a shot, since I loved this game so much. I've played a bunch of OTE at home, and I've run public games at game days to try to drum up interest.
I haven't done this in years, though. Games inevitably revolve around smart phones now. I can put in hackers and data thieves and such, but (especially with players in their twenties) the games just turn into finding ways to use smart phones to solve problems, and my efforts to redirect the game frustrate the players rather than inspire them. The internet is too much a part of how people think these days for it to be easily removed, and I think that impinges on the feel of Al Amarja.
I've tried a bunch of different things to salvage this, and the games just never feel as fun as they did in the nineties. I think time has left those games behind, and the right solution (at least for me) is to run the game in a new setting that can have the feel of Al Amarja in the nineties. I'm working on the setting now, and will happily share how things develop with anyone interested. (nb I'm certainly not saying everyone should take this approach--it's just what I'm doing.)
Very basic synopsis: It's hundreds of years in the future, and the game is set on a space station tens of thousands of years old (at least), and inhabited by a bunch of aliens in addition to humans. There's a central AI, but it's not working right.
(I have more worked out than that, but you get the idea.)
So: What do I need to make sure is there in order for the game to have the feel I want? Secret societies, long term plots, the players never quite feeling like they're in control, a lot of weirdness going on around them, disinformation, interesting characters populating the setting: check. What else?
I'm going to replace Al Amarja Today with an electronic bulletin board anyone can edit. I may even create it as a wiki page.
I think some players are going balk initially at making up a science fiction character without knowing a lot about the setting, but I think that will sort itself out. (eg If someone makes a Jedi, people assume he's cosplaying.) As players make up alien races I'll have more to work with, and I'm not feeling the need to make up a lot of new species ahead of time as a result.
Final Question: Should I say that this is in Al Amarja's future? Should there be Pharaohs, for example? I could bring a lot of stuff forward, if I wanted to.
Thanks for any opinions.