The Game: Edge
The Publisher: Outrider Studios
Degree of Familiarity: None.
Books Required: Just the one.
I picked up this game and another from the same company (Remnants) at GenCon or Origins some time back. I think I read Remnants, but I don't remember. I picked up Edge to read for my next character back in late June and I've been trying to get through it ever since.
Now, some of this is me. I don't really care for fantasy as a gaming genre, and I should probably stop pretending I do. But some of it is that the writing just doesn't grab me. There's a lot of history, a lot of weird, non-English terms that my eyes just *bleep* right over, and I find that the book doesn't make for good, light reading (which, man. I hope - I think - my game material is pretty readable).
With that said, the cover is pretty boss, and that's not nothing. The game has three character classes, Edgemaster, Chosen, and Dreamweavers. Discounting that one of the classes makes me think of Wayne's World (we'll get to the Ws), the cover has one of each, looking badass. There's no cheesecake art that I've found, and everyone I've ever interacted with from Outrider has been very professional. And their pitch was really good.
So, y'know. If I found someone running Edge, I might want to play it. Let's see how chargen goes.
We start off talking about concept and how you start with a calling (what I referred to as "class" above) and build out from there. The concepts that they list are actually pretty good - "poet looking for lost songs," particularly, is kind of nice.
So let's see. Edgemasters are warriors, but there's a lot of breadth to that - sneaky assassin and honorable knight fit. Chosen are priests and healers. Dreamweavers are mages, but what you hang your hat on is more "making things" - they can conjure things out of the Weave, which is a kind of collective dreams of humanity sort of thing.
Well, when I make fantasy characters I tend to like to do magic users, so yeah, let's do a Dreamweaver. In keeping with my policy of making characters with theme songs, I turn to the most recent mix CD that +Michelle Lyons-McFarland made me, and if I go in order, the first song is:
This song is pretty clearly about doing drugs and avoiding police notice. No one ever thinks about drugs in a fantasy context; narcotics have a pretty clear cultural context for us, and there are all kinds of financial reasons for the "war on drugs" to continue. So: If I want to make a character for whom this song applies, I need to consider either the literal context (narcotics) or the cultural (rebellion against oppressive government). Hang on.
OK, got it. There's a country in the lands of Deomeidh (the setting of Edge) called Braile Corsa. It's a theocracy, and the dominant church worships demons rather than angels (I'll need to read up on the religion in Edge). They're on the verge of waging expansionist war on a pacifist, representative democracy to the south, and I've gotta figure that there are people in Braile Corsa that think that sucks. So I think my character is a revolutionary of sorts - if war breaks out, he might rise to become a hero...or be considered a blasphemous traitor.
So, one thing I do like. Each section on the different nations gives you some instruction on making a character from that country, complete with some questions to consider. Also it tells you a size comparison to a real-world country, which is groovy (Braile Corsa is roughly comparable to Panama, BTW). Mostly it's my relationship to the church. I think my character is nominally a member of the Demonic Church. Reading up a little on the churches, they both kind of suck, but the Demonic one is more "do what we say or we kill you" sort of thing. So again, my guy is nominally Demonic, but is mostly, naw, fuck that. I get a free point in either Lore (Demons) or Medicine. I think I'll take the former.
The book is kind enough to give us example names. I name my guy Daman. The next step is Build a Background. OK, then.
- Where and when were you born? Let's say he's native to Braile Corsa, 29 years ago.
- Who are your parents? Where are they now? We'll say dad is a soldier - not someone on the front lines anymore, but a tactician and scout (he rides well). Mom died a few years ago.
- Do you have brothers or sisters? Where are they now? Daman's older brother (Ferelith) is in the army and is ready to go invadin'. His younger sister (Seren) is a Chosen, a priestess of the Demonic Church. Daman doesn't see much of his family anymore.
- What was your childhood like? Daman has always been the black sheep. He went to church with his family, but for whatever reason, it never really took, and he preferred to spend time on his uncle's (Jost) farm. He loved working with animals, and rather dreaded going home to his strict, militaristic parents.
- What is your most vivid childhood memory? His father beat his sister for some infraction against the church. Daman tried to intervene, but Ferelith stopped him.
- Who are your family, friends, or other support system now? If I were playing this game, I'd want them to be the other PCs. Other folks in Braile Corsa who know war is coming, and want to stop the war before it begins.
- How did you come by your power? Daman finds his peace and his inspiration out in nature. Deomeidh has the same sorts of wildlife as the real world (with dragons and orcs and shit), and I think Daman spent his time in the fields watching bugs and birds and other animals, and that inspired his art. There are paths to Dreamweaving, and one of them is creating life, but another is augment or creating weapons, which might be the way his power goes. Not because he's really interested in that, but because that's what he's needed to do.
- Did you have a teacher? What was s/he like? Dreamweavers have to have teachers, if I'm reading this right. Daman was instructed by a friend of his uncle, a woman named Jana. Jana was taken off by the government some time ago, and Daman assumes she's been executed. Jana was all about the cause, and had an engineer's mind, rather than an artist's, so there was a bit of a personality clash.
- Why did your teacher take you on as an apprentice? Recruiting for the cause, obviously.
- What is your teacher up to now? Probably dead, but it'd be interesting to see her come back as a brainwashed convert.
- What motivates you to take action? Indignation at the idea that his country would go to war and attack peaceful folks. Sure, animals do that kind of thing - nasty, brutish, and short. People can be better.
- Why did you become a Dreamweaver? Daman doesn't feel he had any choice. The beauty and poetry of the world is right there, visible in the Weave. The kinds of dreams he's Weaving, however, are mostly political and military, and he's not happy about that.
- Where do you call home? Daman is living on the road in Braile Corsa, but would like to immigrate to Allain.
- What do you do when you're not trying to change the world? Observe animals and nature, draw pictures.
Woof. OK, that's done, then. (I like chargen systems that include these questions, though, especially when they're specific.) Now I assign stats. We've got three stats: Body, Mind, Spirit. They start at -2, and can go as high as +2, and I get 8 points to spend. Let's see what's going to be most useful to me. Oh, actually, it says right there: Mind.
You know, this is actually some decent game design. Three classes, three stats, each stat mapping to a class nicely. I'll go Body -1, Mind +2, Spirit +1. Hopefully having a low Body doesn't utterly fuck me.
Now Skills. Same scale, but we start at 0 and can go as high as 6. Oh, and they relisted the free point you get from your country of origins. Nice job, guys. I also get Weave at 1 for free and a combat skill at 1 for free, plus 12 more points. But which Combat skill? Hmm. I think I'll go for Dodge. Oh, and we've got a max of 2 in Skills to start with, which actually makes it easier to buy them.
I'll start by pumping 3 into the free Skills, putting them up to 2. That gives me 9 points left.
Well, going back to the song, there's talk of guns hidden under petticoats. While there's some speculation that this refers to needles loaded with heroin, in Daman's case, I think that concealed weaponry ought to be a thing he does. So I shall take Larceny at 2, and spend 2 on a specialization for sleight of hand. That takes me down to 5.
Better take Lore (Natural History) at 2. Also Sciences (Biology and Engineering). Wait, crap, that's 13. I'll drop Lore to 1.
Now, secondary stats. Derived traits, nothing fancy. Except there are Path modifiers, and path is the next step. Guys. Derived traits go at the end.
OK, so skipping that for now. Path and Powers. So my path is Augment, which lets me create little augmentations to objects and creatures. I can have a maximum of 3 creations in play at once, at there are a bazillion little rules for Weaving that I'm not going to parse. Basically as a starting character I can make things louder, larger, smaller, and better. I also get a level one power.
Huh. All three of the level-one Weave powers are offensive (by which I mean "useful for offense," not "I take offense at them"). I'll take Nightmare, which allows me to make a mental attack by hurling scary bits of the Weave at enemies. I don't seem to have any path modifiers to my derived traits - it actually looks like just Edgemasters do.
Well, doing that, that just leaves advantages and disadvantages. Taking disadvantages only allows you to take advantages, so I don't have to go back and add skill points or anything, so that's nice. I can take a major and three minor of each, but the sheet only gives me three lines. Boo.
Major: I'll take Friends in Low Places. Might as well do this rebel thing all the way. And I'll take Good Luck and Beauty as minor advantages. I don't like any of the other ones.
So I need a major disadvantage and two minor. I shall take Infamy and Hunted as minor (he hasn't quite gotten infamous on a Robin Hood level yet), and Poor as the major (yes, he's a Weaver, but he's uncomfortable using his power to gain wealth and comfort in Braile Corsa).
That also means I basically start with the clothes on my back (plus anything I've Woven), so I'm basically done. Nice!
Oh, quick description. Daman is a young 29, with black hair that he refuses to comb, a full beard, and pale blue eyes. His clothes are held together by faith and an occasional Weaving of needle and thread, and he wears his sleeves long so he can pull things out of them.