There are two ways to play this crossover: one in the era each setting.
Bringing Over The Edge into Reign of Steel is the more difficult way to do it. One way to leave the Edge much the same but still move it forward is to assume that there is another ZoneMind that controls only Al Amarja. There’s a number of candidates for the origin of that ZoneMind (which will be dealt with in the other half of this article), but what matters for gaming purposes is that, either through preference or inability to imagine a different way, the ZoneMind of Al Amarja has kept the Edge more or less as it was, and largely untouched by the wars that wiped out most of humanity. (“Transmetropolitan” is recommended reading for this approach.) There are a lot fewer burgers, and certainly some things will have evolved and changed, but it’s basically the Edge – although now it’s also the endpoint of an underground railroad, the greatest bastion of the human resistance, and the last, best hope for over-throwing the Reign of Steel. (You could also assume that some other element of the Edge keeps it this way, and forgo the Edge ZoneMind.)
Alternately, and perhaps more interestingly, you could set it in the present, where the characters somehow know about the impending robopocalypse, and seek to avert it – but have incomplete information about how to do so. Where did the ZoneMinds come from? Was the first ZoneMind the Throckmorton Device? Was it some strategy of the Movers or the Pharoahs that got out of their control? Was it something to do with the coral entities and how they interact with this dimension? Or was it something even further out? There’s any number of potential answers waiting to be found on the Edge, you just have to pick one and run with it (while, of course, leaving red herrings to help distract experienced Edge players).
Or you could combine the two: maybe after their victory in the future, the players decide to come back to the present to change the future, all Kyle Reese style. But they won’t really know what the past was like, and so they’ll have no way of telling that the whole world wasn’t just like the Edge if that’s where they happen to land, will they?
Two games of modern conspiracy and horror that go together like… well, like two things you didn’t think would go together but that actually combine surprisingly well. Because, you see, the various clans have each made themselves friends on Al Amarja:
A hugely psychologically addictive drug, Zoroaster (usually just called Zorro on the streets of Al Amarja) is named for the ancient Persian prophet whose ideas of a dualistic cosmos contantly torn in struggle between Good and Evil have affected almost all subsequent religions – and the name is well-deserved.
Taking Zorro fills the user with an absolute sense of right and wrong – their side is Absolutely Good, all others are Absolutely Evil. This state of psuedo-Randian objectivity lasts never quite long enough, and the user will almost always crave that feeling again.
The drug does not turn its users into raging psychotics, but rather, into fanatically fundamentalist holders of whatever positions they already held. Violence does frequently result, but it is the result of the extreme intransigence of the users, an indirect effect of the drug, not a direct one. Perhaps unsurprisingly it was created and is now sold by a nihilist conspiracy intent on worsening conflicts in order to hasten the wider embrace of nihilism.
Related Drugs: Blue Shock, Communion, MDA-Cubed, Nightmare, Relapse, Slo-Mo and Wings.
A stimulant that slows perception of time, Slo-Mo is the drug of choice for those in Al Amarja who wish to either heighten their orgasms or improve their combat reflexes.
A single dose does not last long – thirty minutes at the outside – although for its two most common uses, that is generally more than enough. Slo-Mo was created by Dr Nussbaum on Al Amarja, but is now produced by organised crime networks and largely used by low level enforcers of those same networks.
Prolonged use tends to result in brain damage, and even first time users may suffer such effects. The heightened firing of the neurons induced by Slo-Mo can also result in users becoming catatonic.
Related Drugs: Blue Shock, Communion, MDA-Cubed, Nightmare, Relapse, Wings and Zorro.
Deadly and dangerous, Nightmare is a drug that, as the name suggests, causes nightmares in the user. Perhaps more disturbingly, it implants pre-recorded nightmares in them.
Found only in Al Amarja, Nightmare is made from the excretions of tulpas – dream entities that have managed to acheive a physical existence in the mundane world. Pushers of the drug, known as Sandmen, gather this dung, and record the nightmares of potent dreamers by smearing it on their foreheads while they sleep.
The dung is then collected, and processed into an injectable serum, and sold to the rich and jaded whose capacity to experience strong emotions has atrophied.
Related Drugs: Blue Shock, Communion, MDA-Cubed, Relapse, Slo-Mo, Wings and Zorro.
Communion is a bitter-tasting powder that causes the user to experience ecstatic union with their god or gods. Usually taken by mixing into tea (generally with a lot of sugar), Communion is particularly popular with the devotees of Karla Sommers living on Al Amarja.
The drug is all-encompassing, affected all five senses. Users often come back from their trips with missions – often vaguely-defined – from their deities. The objective reality of the experience of Communion is a hotly-debated topic in theological and pharmacological circles.
The drug itself is made from the glands of dead glugs, the secretive original species of humans who hide in our midst – although most glugs would be horrified if they knew the drug’s origins, and would almost certainly kill those of their number who are responsible for its creation.
Related Drugs: Blue Shock, MDA-Cubed, Nightmare, Relapse, Slo-Mo, Wings and Zorro.
Blue Shock looks like a shiny blue cough syrup and kicks like amyl nitrate’s bigger, stronger brother. Generally taken in doses of no more than a teaspoonful at a time, the immediate result of ingestion is agonising pain.
Fortunately, the pain wears off after a few seconds, leaving every nerve in the body more sensitive than usual. As such, it can be used to heighten sexual pleasure (and it is popular in Al Amarja’s S&M scene for both its effects).
Of course, having your sense of touch heightened also makes pain more intense, so it’s not all good. Not to mention the statistically improbable correlation between Blue Shock use and spontaneous combustion.
Related Drugs: Communion, MDA-Cubed, Nightmare, Relapse, Slo-Mo, Wings and Zorro.
Perhaps the ultimate aphrrodisiac, MDA-Cubed is a spectacularly potent date-rape drug that heightens the sexual impulse to the level of insanity. Users have been known to couple with anyone and anything, their usual sexual preferences notwithstanding. This is not limited to people, but also includes animals, plants and the occasional mechinical device or piece of furniture.
Immensely dangerous to social mores, MDA-Cubed is also in that class of drugs that is never as good afte the first time – not that this stops chronic users from chasing that high again and again.
Related Drugs: Blue Shock, Communion, Nightmare, Relapse, Slo-Mo, Wings and Zorro.
Relapse isn’t so much a drug as a way of making drug use less safe and predictable. It’s a chemical coating applied to almost any other drug that dissolves inside the user’s stomach at some random time after ingestion.
Long term users of Relapse sometimes claim that the drug has a malign sense of humour, and deliberately waits to mess people up by going off at the worst possible time. Possible side effects of use include heightened paranoia, a tendancy to anthropomorphize and denial.
Related Drugs: Blue Shock, Communion, MDA-Cubed, Nightmare, Slo-Mo, Wings and Zorro.
Wings is a cheap marketing stunt disguised as the high of tomorrow. While many of the drugs that are found in Al Amarja are unique and potent, the same is not true of Wings.
In fact, this vaunted hallucinogen is in fact nothing more than plain old LSD, dressed up with some inert chemicals and put into pill form. Pushers claim that it leads to out of the body experiences, but giving the hallucinogenic nature of the drug, this is little more than a self-fulfillling prophecy in most cases.
Particularly shady pushers of Wings will tell you that taking it with LSD heightens the experience, which is, techinically, not a lie.
Related Drugs: Blue Shock, Communion, MDA-Cubed, Nightmare, Relapse, Slo-Mo and Zorro.
So, I’m sure I’m not the only person to have thought of this one. Probably the first time they watched the episode, same as me 🙂
How about this? One of the most wholesome books of recent years – well, before its fans got to it, it was – and one of the least wholesome. I love it.