Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

[Over the Edge] Al Amarja in the the 2010s

One of the points which don’t really gel with me is the way that Al Amarja, the setting for Over The Edge, does not really fit into the region as well as it should. Now, there are some nice points, some which I really like and would hate to miss. One of the propositions that were made for the setting was to just drop it somewhere else than the Med does not seem the right place for the setting. The problem is that this would get rid of some of the ideas in the setting that I really liked. Like the way the D’Aubainnes actually became rulers over the island. And all the ancient background that is not immediately obvious.

So, I decided to define the whole thing a bit more than it was defined by Mr. Tweet. He  was writing from an American point of view, and that was noticeable for Europeans. This is not necessarily bad, it just so happened that some of the things he was inventing for the game did not really fit in there. One of the most notable being the strange mention of the gun laws on the island. Strange in the sense that barely any European would doubt that better gun laws are actually something good to have and hardly would argue that law at all. But I have been following enough discussions on the matter on the internet to know that this is a topic where Americans and Europeans never really will see eye to eye.

So, lets define the island from a more European perspective.

Geography: Al Amarja is basically one of the few islands in the Med that is still named in Arabic. Different governments have tried to change this, as well as the other names on the island. But for some reason this name stuck. One of the reasons the island is so unknown outside of the region is that nearly no tourist agency has the same nomenclature for it than the others. There even has been a long editwar on Wikipedia about the fact if the island should be called Amarja, Al Amarja, Isla dell’Maria, Isla dell’Traboc, or half a dozen other ways. With some rather activist editors regularily moving or recreating the article in different namespaces all over the site, it is not really easy to find much even on the Encyclopedia. The government of the island is not really that helpful either. Various documents will have wildly different names for the current state on them.

Al Amarja, or rather Skylla, is a trade port of mediocre importance in the region, mostly famous for it’s liberal laws concerning drugs, and to a lesser extent prostitution. Other native industries on the island are small farming, fishing, and an extensive tourism.
The island is technically an independend state, albeit one that was never actually recognized by any other state besides some fringe nations (e.g. Transnistria has a small embassy here). While it technically should still be part of Italy, the state of Italy is and has been rather quite on the subject ever since the revolution. Neither have any of the other surrounding nations tried to claim the island as their own, despite it’s possible strategic importance.
While there have been careful approaches from the EU during the last 15 years,  the island’s well known role as a waypoint for illegal immigrants into Sicily and Southern Italy have lead to tensions with the EU, at least when the Eurocrats recognize the existence of Al Amarja at all.
The island was part of Italy between the two World Wars, and gained it’s independence when the current president Monique D’Aubainne lead a revolution against the fascist regime in Italy. Ms. Aubainne was elected president in every election since, but despite her clear intentions to create an American proxy in this region the USA has never formally acknowledged the existence of the Al Amarjan state. Nevertheless the penal code and the newly built capital “Freedom City” have been modelled as close as possible to American examples, and Italian/the Al Amarjan argot of Marjanese, have been supplanted by English as the official language. In similar ways places and offices over the island have been renamed into more or less correct English,  the most visible one being the renaming of the village of Bordo into the obviously americanized Edge City.

Technology: Al Amarja for some reason always is a bit better off regarding technology than the rest of the world, while still having areas which do not even have a single high speed internet connection. The internet of Al Amarja is famous for being a haven to the most spammers and scammers outside of mainlaind Africa. A lot of the better written English language scams come from this place. It has become a veritable business model to provide people from the lower end of the social scale with the means to cheat and rob people from the rest of the world, in some cases even intentionally snatching away victims from the Nigerians. The relative obscurity of the island provides the scammers with safety, the lack of international recognition allows them to operate with impunity, and the strange connections the island has regarding it’s internet makes tracking the scammers a nightmare for any law enforcement. And even if they were tracked they could not actually do much in the area as the island claims to be an independend state and will make good on this. It might be that they do not actually mind the additional money streaming into the local economy this way.
Currently some companies in the Barrios even are trying to make Al Amarja into a sort of anarchist data haven, but they regularly encounter the problems of the infrastructure here. There is only one high speed cable connection Al Amarja with the European mainland, and this one is going over Malta. On the other hand some satellite connections are available on the island, as well as one cable going to Tunesia.

Behind the curtains:
Al Amarja is not a very well known place even in Europe. Most people hearing about the place only connect it with cheap holidays in the South. Many people are aware of it, but not as many people as one might think actually go there for their vacation: despite it’s closeness to the EU the place is outside the customs union and therefore still demands additional documentation for visits. Even when these are present most tourists do not see much more than the sleepy town of Traboc in the south of Edge, or one of the resorts along the coast.
Some tourists come for other reasons though: what Amsterdam is for most of the world as a safe haven for drug use, Edge City is for those knowledgable in the true industries that keep the island’s industry afloat: drugs are a large part of the national income. Drug cartels give large amounts of money to the local authorities to mcapitalake sure their shipments are safe. While drugs are technically illegal they slowly have become one of the main reasons why people come to this place. And the government of Al Amarja dictates the price. Science is another local speciality, the local laws lacking most of the ethical borders that hinder research in other places, industry loves the lack of environmental legislation, trade the lack of enforcable copyright laws. The only boundaries a lot of them are subject to are those at home, meaning the knockoffs might be produced with dangerous high-tech and awful work conditions, as long as nobody can prove that, or find any harmful substances when the products are sold.

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One response to “[Over the Edge] Al Amarja in the the 2010s

  1. olepeder September 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Thank you for this! I will read it carefully. I recently wrote this tribute to Over the Edge, which might interest you: http://snarglebarf.com/2013/09/13/463/

    Like

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