Why Al Amarja is so weird: God's Forgotten: The world is the combined thoughts of sentient beings. God watches over most of the Earth, stabilizing the "natural laws" as science knows them. But for some reason, God pays little attention to Al Amarja. Perhaps He finds it distasteful, or perhaps He is allowing some of His creations more freedom, as an experiment. As a result, human minds have more power over reality here than they do elsewhere, and human minds have created a slightly twisted reality. Depending on personal perspective, one can see this freedom as a blessing or a curse.
--Jonathan Tweet, On the Edge Second Edition
Unless you plan to run Over the Edge, or have already been spoiled,
do not read further! This document discusses secrets of the setting! (It
also assumes some familiarity with the OtE setting and rules.)
In the Mediterranean, there is a zone which is not part of the Symphony. It exists in the white space between the clefs, the area only reached by the ledger lines. This zone is centered on an island called Al Amarja.
Due to its in-between status in reality, Al Amarja is not watched by either God or Lucifer. It's possible that God has plans brewing here, or that it's an experiment, or just that some place like this must exist in an infinite universe.
The Symphony works differently in Al Amarja. It's not nearly so regular, or so neat, or even so loud. It's harder for angels and demons to affect it as reliably as they do elsewhere.
Over the Edge is a game in which secrets are very important, both to the players and the GM, and the last thing you want is a character who can figure out secrets too easily.
Three Choirs can do exactly this. Seraphim are the worst, but Malakim and Mercurians can also be a problem. The resonance of Seraphim, which implies that there is a single Truth out there, fits badly with the highly subjective nature of Al Amarja. Lie-detecting itself is troublesome but not too much so; no one knows the entire picture, and if you don't know the truth, you can't lie about it. However, if a Seraph gets a check digit of 6, they "know...what the Truth actually is." This could be Bad.
Malakim make it hard to fool the party, but only on the high results. Check digit results 1-4 are all relative to the target's moral standards, and the island has lots of people who think they're doing good by their own standards, even if everyone else would disagree. (Throckmortons, Pharoahs, LeThuys, Kergillians...the list goes on...) It's results 5 and 6, which step outside the relative moral framework, that could be a problem.
Mercurians can sense a character's relationships; this could be a problem in a setting where everyone seems to have a secret allegiance. This one isn't too bad, if you don't mind fudging (and reducing check digit result 6).
There are several solutions that can be taken here:
Armorguard: Cherubim can make a good living here.
Chrome Dome: Going anywhere near here will be excruciating for Elohim, Mercurians, and other sensitive types. Angels who can handle it are capable of appreciating micromonic music without Blue Shock.
D'Aubainne Asylum: Remnants will sometimes be brought here under the assumption that they're empties.
D'Aubainne Hospital: Dr. Nusbaum is interested in studying Celestials, especially those exhibiting Numinous Corpus.
D'Aubainne International Airport: As mentioned above, the Terminal will trap anyone approaching the island in Celestial form. Its non- Euclidean layout is just as confusing to Celestials as humans, although it is sometimes possible for an Ofanite to attune to it.
C&I: One technique for testing for suspected Celestials is to ask abrupt questions about their background; the less established the Role, the less information they will have. Roll 1 die and subtract 1; if the result is less than the character's Role, they are caught. (The GM may waive this; they may not use this technique at all. Additionally, Celestials won't automatically be stopped, though CPC will certainly take an interest.)
Dmitri's Fix-It Shop: Dmitri may be an inadvertent Soldier of Jean, Vapula, or even both.
E-Z Sleep and First Church of the True Sensation: See the section on Kergillians, below.
Giovanni's Cabs: Giovanni could be connected with any number of Superiors. Some have suggested that the phrase "A fair price for a fair ride" sounds like an invention of Marc's. Giovanni may even *be* a Celestial.
Gun Metal: A popular gathering place for certain Bands and Choirs. Clerks have some means of protection from the use of Celestial abilities.
Sad Mary's: Andre's servitors are definitely involved in some way here. Germaine may also hold Geases to some Lilim.
Safe N Sound: Another popular employer.
The Temple of the Divine Experience: A troublesome area for some Celestials; see the section on Sommerites. Habbalah enjoy the Wednesday "In Your Face" services, and the Saturday Party is also popular with many.
Winds of Change: Chick finds bets involving Celestials fascinating. One wager for Celestials is to bet Discord; the loser gets both sets.
Brain loopers: Have little effect on most abilities, except those that involve mindreading or a related effect. Their presence near someone using the Song of Possession or Tongues will generate interference, and other effects can also be dangerous. This can add to the difficulty, generate a penalty die, or produce Dissonance on a failed roll. They protect most effectively against Kyriotates (and to a lesser extent Shedim), who are in danger of possessing the looper instead of their intended target; they can also reflect a Habbalah's Resonance back to them.
Crystal traps: These will stop Ethereal and Celestial attacks; it is up to the GM how this works on certain Resonances, such as that of the Seraphim. Again, they can protect against Kyriotates and Shedim (more effectively than brain loopers; how effective they are depends on the role of these groups in the campaign and the GM's needs).
White thought generators: Will interfere with any Resonance that requires projecting the mind (essentially every Choir Resonance except the Ofanim's and Cherubim). The Cherubim (and Djinn) are not affected because they target a specific being, not reach randomly into an area. Incidentally, being around these too long is dissonant for Servitors of Jordi.
Psychovores: Psychovores can attack those in their Celestial form, and may possibly exist as predators in the Ethereal realm as well.
Empties: See the section on Tulpas for more; empties are related to Remnants. On Al Amarja, Remnants affect Celestials in the same way empties affect mages (draining Essence), and empties may have the same effect.
SACQ: Affects vessels the same way it affects humans. (The OtE book is unclear how SACQ affects animals, but it makes sense that it would affect anything with a nervous system that touches the air; a fish vessel in a tank could probably survive.)
Seversen disruption field: Will affect anything affected by brain loopers or white thought or crystal traps, including Cherubim/Djinn attunements.
N.B.: The GM should decide how effective all the above measures are against celestials; this should depend on the nature of the campaign and how much the GM wants to be able to thwart the players. Bear in mind that none of these measures have to be commonly available, but it can be important to have a way of stopping the PCs from bulldozing their way through an adventure using their Resonances.
Aries Gang: May be used as muscle by both sides. It may be interesting if a celestial with a poorly defined Role tries to join ("What's your birthday?" "Uh..."). It is possible for a celestial member of the gang to go berserk, though this is dissonant for Elohim.
Sir Arthur Compton: Compton may be a Soldier of some demonic power in this setting, or he may be a sorcerer with no special affiliation. If there are celestials on the island, he is probably aware of their existence and is considering the best way to handle them.
The Cut-Ups: Whirlpools emanating three golden fibers into the hurling antipodes. They aren't allied with either side, usually (though they're more likely to be on the side on the angels if push comes to shove), because the whole celestial hierarchy is just dripping with Control Addiction. The only Superior they think highly of is Eli (if the GM is using the Archdean, they probably like her, too, and Janus, Novalis, Kobal, and Valefor aren't too bad). All the others are Control Freaks to a greater or lesser degree; the worst offenders are David, Dominic (*especially* Dominic!), Lawrence, Michael, Asmodeus, and Baal. Yves and Chronos are the very essence of Control, and the less said about Lilith and her Geasa, the better.
By their nature, Ofanim and Kyriotates would make good Cut-Ups, while Elohim and Seraphim would make very bad ones. They would also be willing to aid a Lilim who wishes to Rise.
Cheryl D'Aubainne: Meeting her will be an interesting experience for a celestial. She doesn't like demons, but she will happily converse with an angel...and seems to know far more than you'd expect. She may well be a Soldier of Khalid. Talking to Cheryl is also a good way for an angel to work on getting rid of Dissonance; she's good at identifying the character's stumbling blocks.
Constance D'Aubainne: It's almost no stretch at all to assume that she's a Soldier of Marc...which means that this may be a dangerous assumption, in fact.
Jean-Christophe D'Aubainne: No one knows how aware he is of the War, or the effect the Terminal has on celestials.
Monique D'Aubainne: Who knows? She is clearly aware of the existence of celestials in some way, since she takes measures to protect herself from them, but whether she explicitly serves anyone is open to conjecture. She seems to consider all celestials disruptive influences; CPC takes just as strong an interest in them as any other paranormal. (There's a fair chance that she doesn't like the idea of God or Lucifer being above her, which is why she chose Al Amarja to rule in the first place.)
The Dog-Faces: If Jordi is aware of them at all, he's against them; it is dissonant for Mercurians of Jordi, in particular, to ignore any mistreatment of their baboons.
The Earthlings: They dislike any celestial interference with human affairs, but they don't mind angels and demons wiping each other out as long as no humans are affected. While they favor angels over demons, their attitude tends to be "a plague on both your houses."
The Glorious Lords: Considered a joke by most demons, although they aren't above using the Satanist image to manipulate clueless wannabes. Avan Bloodlord has the sense to avoid alliances with any demonic powers. On the other hand, most angels take the "Satanist gang" image very seriously, and many Malakim are itching to wipe out the whole lot.
Glugs: Their existence is unknown to most celestials; there are no glug Vessels, and they can't be possessed by Kyriotates or Shedim. Any servants of Andre who become aware of their pheromones will be very interested...if they don't get snared first. Glugs tend to be distrustful of celestials.
Lydia Goodman: Probably allied with Eli, in spirit if not directly.
The Government: Demons love it, angels hate it, for the most part. Angels just don't feel this is the way a hierarchy should work (possibly because it's more similar to the Heavenly hierarchy than they'd like to admit...)
Kergillians: Celestials are not aware of their existence; they know about celestials, since they screen potential recruits to avoid them. A Kyriotate possessing one will have to use three extra Forces, to possess the symbiote as well as the subject; they won't be aware of the symbiote, thinking it to be some sort of interference, but the symbiote will be aware of them. Shedim corrupting Kergillian hosts will experience greater difficulty if the implant considers its actions against its own best interest.
The Mr. LeThuys: Mr. LeThuy is not currently aware of the War; once he is, he may well try to bring about Armageddon as quickly as possible. Vessels injected with LeThuy genetic material will probably undergo only a partial physical transformation; any Discord they experience will hasten the change.
The Movers: Celestials are extremely wary of them, because they like to know where they stand in a hierarchy. The only cells likely to associate with celestials are the Hermetics.
The Neutralizers: Definitely interested in celestials. They tend to avoid direct confrontation with them, but Al Amarja is the only place where they have any chance at fighting back.
Otto's Men: Otto shares goals with David, though it is unknown if there is any direct connection. If he becomes aware of the existence of demons, he will take an interest in their elimination.
The Pharaohs: They and celestials are mutually ignorant of each other, although some older celestials may be suspicious if the encounter a Pharaoh they've met before. If the Pharaohs became aware of celestials, they would probably try to treat them the same way they treat humans.
Note: the Ur-Master power definitely affects celestials! It does not affect humans specifically, but the built-in tendency to obey authority, which celestials are definitely vulnerable to.
Note #2: The GM may find it necessary to alter Pharaoh history to mesh it with IN cosmology.
Sandmen: Very few celestials are aware of the truth about Sandmen. Angels who know the truth consider them an abomination; demons are afraid of them, because they can't understand a being with no empathy. Sandmen are invisible to Resonances; this also frightens celestials. (Since Sandmen are completely beyond redemption, they present little moral difficulty to the hard-line types, while followers of Novalis are confused and troubled by them.)
A few demons have considered getting involved with the Exalted Order of the Dream Kings, but the hierarchy has been considerably reluctant to get involved.
Sommerites: Her nature is no more clear to celestials than to anyone else. Those who are inclined to believe in her divine nature believe she is associated with Eli (or is Eli). Direct contact with her would be the only way to confirm her nature; no one has detected any sign of direct tampering in her songs.
Throckmorton: The implications of the Throckmorton device are particularly frightening for their implications about free will. Could God allow this to happen? Is this the result of a diabolic plot, or a harbinger of the Apocalypse? Or (worst of all) could this be a divine plot, as God takes a side on the free will issue once and for all?
The GM must determine the effects of the Device on celestials, if any. Certain Superiors could actually approve of the Throckmortonization of humanity.
Tulpas: A theory on the origin of tulpas: they are formed from the Celestial forces of the celestials that become Remnants. Their souls are not completely lost, and will eventually re-form, but without an anchor, they have no self. They have some idea of the need for an identity, a Role, but they can't form one on their own. In theory, a tulpa could unite with a Remnant and form a fully-functioning celestial, but this has never been known to happen.
Nightmare will restore Essence to followers of Beleth, but is dissonant to followers of Blandine.
There are three ways to handle an IN/OtE crossover; use the IN rules and fake it a lot, convert IN into the OtE system, or use both at once. (This is much easier than with most other systems, fortunately.)
Option One: Convert OtE into IN rules. This is probably the least effective method, as it loses the free-form nature of OtE, and IN may not be prepared for bizarre fringe powers. If you want to fake it, run an IN campaign and make up numbers for the OtE characters on the fly. This works best in campaigns that don't require a lot of number- crunching.
Option Two: Convert IN into OtE. This works better than the other direction. Just look at the IN character (or start with a basic concept and no numbers) and assign traits. There should probably be a "Celestial Package" of basic celestial powers (Choir/Band resonances, taking celestial form, handling Essence, etc.), which generally have three dice.
IN characters have 7 hit points (or two dice) for each Corporeal Force (or you can use the usual method; this can also be used to find Mind and Soul scores, if you choose). Songs and Resonances are handled as psychic powers, with a number of shots equal to their Will or Perception (this draws on Essence). If you need a number of dice for an IN trait, divide the total score by three (depending on the nature of the trait, as usual). A Resonance that adds a check digit to an effect, or subtracts it, instead adds a bonus or penalty die to the character or their target (it should be clear where each is appropriate). The degree of success may be substituted for the check digit if necessary (subject to some adjustment).
Interventions work the same way for three dice traits (in the case of bonus/penalty dice, choose the best/worst result, not necessarily the highest/lowest). The GM should make their own decision on how to handle Intervention in other situations.
Example: Nicole (IN, pg. 194) has the basic Angelic package, with a psychic pool of 7 shots for her Resonances. Her traits, judging by her IN stats, are: Sociable (superior, 4 dice), Lithe (3 dice), Driven (up side, 3 dice) Driven (down side; flaw). 21 hit points; 3 dice in combat. This is a top-of-the-head set of OtE stats, based solely on the sketchy information in the IN book and without too much knowledge of her personality; but it's a perfectly usable set of stats.
Remember that OtE is a conceptual game, not a number-crunching one; you should do fine if you remember this, but this may be a bit of an adjustment if your players are used to a lot of combat and dice- rolling.
Option Three: Run both systems at once! Why not? Just interpret the numbers between each. The only problem could come in combat; hit points don't convert directly (Nicole has 36 Body in IN and 21 hit points in OtE). You're probably better off using the OtE system and faking it; just assume you're combining both sets of attack and Dodge rolls into one.
Remember that in OtE you need to roll high and in IN you need to roll low; but a target of 7 for a 2-dice trait is the same for both systems, and in both systems you're essentially rolling against a target number. It's not always going to be precise, but if you want precision, don't use this method.
Everybody's playing the game,
But nobody's rules are the same,
Nobody's on nobody's side...
--Florence, "Nobody's Side," Chess
Al Amarja should be a change of pace for most celestials; everything is less certain, and humans have definite ideas for how they want to run things that won't necessarily mix with the PCs'. Al Amarja has a strong presence, which will tend to overbear even the strongest-willed celestials. Not "suffering evil to live" may seem easy enough, but what if the lesser evil contains your only hope of defeating the stronger evil? There are only two sides in the War; on Al Amarja, everyone is on their own side. If your IN campaign is already like this, Al Amarja will just be a new set of unknown circumstances; if it's not, it should be a major conceptual shift.
Note: If anyone actually runs this, please let me know how it goes. --Doug
Over the Edge is © 1997 John A. Nephew. Over the Edge and Al Amarja are trademarks of John Nephew. In Nomine is © 1997 Steve Jackson Games Incorporated.
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