Same Tune, Different Words

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.


I've solved the "internet problem" (?) by restricting the Heck outta it in AA. Like Burma, China, etc., there's just no connection to anything in/outside the Island, unless you're willing to jump thru (deadly) hoops. AA has no web presence, officially :smiling_imp: (evil laugh).

PS: If you find your game 1Ks of years into the future, I guess one or more of the Conspiracies woulda won the war against the human-mutants: the Pharaohs being the first choice. Maybe it's a small rebel station?

I've said "no internet", I've put restrictions on it, I've said that everything is monitored, and regardless of what I do it becomes a focal point for the players. Internet access seems to be too important to what they want out of a modern-day RPG. Rather than take away their fun, I think an alternate setting is the right solution for my players.

You make a good point about one of the factions having won, but I'd really rather have everything hanging in the balance again. Maybe one faction won but squandered their victory?


That "web problem" you have seems quite weird to me... As a GM players usually "play along" (pun) with your ideas/tropes & if you state "no such & such/such & such is like this, period," they usually go along with it.


The problem with having one or more of the factions losing its predominace that way (for me) is that, if I correctly recall, most of them where pretty doom/apocalyptic/yer screwed absolutely kinda deal; once they took over it's pretty much "game over" & a stable sorta pax romana would be totally enforced.

Just my [ramblin'] take.

About the internet and hacking tools, I have the same problem.

My idea for now : web on the Island is local. There is one, but no contact with ohter countries web. It's not on www, it's not http , they invented their own protocols. Sooner than Silicon Valley. And this web DOES HAVE a center, they never let it become anything like the web we hae. And the equivalent of html is the only way to publish, and it's state property. Only one Internet Service Provider available, and it's belongs to police.

You can say anything on this web, but you can't be anonymous. You have to use some centralised ID tool to communicate.
You can have login names, but the owner and Her Highness have to know your real one.
And to hack is considered as stealing National Treason.