Free RPG Day 2017: Ran a Fringeworthy Adventure

From here to there to everywhere. Are you Fringeworthy?
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ORTrail
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Free RPG Day 2017: Ran a Fringeworthy Adventure

Postby ORTrail » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:39 am

Hello, I'm new to the forums. I wanted to post about my experience running Fringeworthy (for the first time in forever) at Guardian Games in Portland, OR during Free RPG Day 2017.

With the passing of Mr. Tucholka, I wanted to run a Tri Tac game as my little way of thanking him for all the great RPG moments his games brought me (especially back in the 80s/early 90s). I dug out my 1992 Edition of Fringeworthy and was going to go back to using that game system, but given the prep time involved I ended up doing a quick conversion of the Fringeworthy setting to a super hero RPG called Supers! Revised ('Supers RED') which is a simple dice pool system but has some really cool options for combat and skill use. I am also using Supers RED to run a Gamma World campaign and it works very well. High Tech weapons/armor and mutations are really just super powers, right? I wasn't sure if the more normal human levels of Fringeworthy would work that well with Supers RED, but it worked out fine. The Fringeworthy setting is the main draw after all.

I've posted my write up on a Supers RED forum, but I'll paste it here. I was scheduled to run a Fringeworthy and a super hero adventure that day, and honestly I wondered if ANYONE would show up for an older and lesser known RPG like Fringeworthy. Three people did and it was fun.


Fringeworthy: Exploring the Alternate Portals at Location Code +101


The setting for the Fringeworthy RPG is that an ancient alien race called the Termelern built a system of interdimensional platforms and connecting 'roads' that allow travel to alternate earths. The players are part of IDET (Inter-Dimensional Exploration Team) that work under the United Nations as humankind of Earth Prime go out to explore the alternate worlds. Not everyone can pass through the fringe portals though, only 1 in 100,000 is "fringeworthy" so the IDET explorers are a very diverse group as they are pulled from all UN member nations.

I had planned to use the rules from the 1992 edition of Fringeworthy but as I sat down to write up the pre-gen characters and the expected enemies? It would have taken five to six hours to manually fill out nine character sheets and some NPC sheets. I switched over to Supers RED and cranked them all out in under two hours. Another plus was using an easier game system for new players to learn.

Each Alternate Platform has eight portals, each to a different earth. Since we only had two hours (a bit less since you try to wrap it up 10 minutes early so the players can get to their next game, and another 5-10 minutes to select characters and give them the basics of the setting) I decided they were following up after 'IDET Team Panda' who had already checked half of the alternate portals at location +101. Once I told them each group of IDET explorers gave themselves a name, they instantly called themselves, "IDET Team Trash Pandas". Funny moment, and that sense of humor carried throughout the adventure.

So, they knew that alternate portal #3 lead to a primitive volcanic earth with a few plants, but no other visible life. Alternate portal #5 opened inside a gated housing development in the year 2045, with a horde of zombies outside the gates. Alternate portal #6 opened at Alexandria, Egypt in a world where Alexander the Great didn't die young, but went on to conquer the Romans/Italian peninsula. Finally, alternate portal #8 opened near a forest clearing with a circle of stones (Stonehenge-like) in the middle. I explained there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to what lay behind the alternate portals, so you might find a primitive world next to a futuristic world or a close alternate to Earth Prime, or a mostly empty world.

They were free to explore any of them, but decided to start at alternate portal #1. They appeared on a rocky beach, a small community of log cabins was nearby, and a rock with "Plymouth 1620" engraved on it. Yep, they had found the colony founded by the Mayflower pilgrims in 1620. Soon an armed group of pilgrims (blunderbusses and flintlock pistols) approached them cautiously. After some conversation, where the players claimed to have been hiking from their ship which was down the coastline, they were offered shelter in a cabin and a meal of bread and strange fruit. They felt a sense of euphoria after eating the fruit (I didn't think they would eat it but the pilgrims were partaking so...) but everyone made a TN of 4 versus their WILL to avoid the desire to binge on it. They soon realized that all or most of the pilgrims had actually survived (the first winter, about half actually died) and in fact they looked to be at the peak of health. The current year was actually 1671, yet they had hardly aged, and the handful of children born shortly after arrival seemed to be 7-8 years old. Instead of a graveyard up on the nearby hill, there was a paved path up to a garden where the "God-Plants" lived.

They arranged for one of them to go up to speak with the "God-Plants" who the pilgrims explained had been sent by God to guide and protect them in this new land. The wife player had chosen an African-American woman, who was also a Muslim. Her character was assumed to belong to the white men (an American and a Finnish dude) and was never directly addressed, but was free to accompany the young American man up to the "New Eden Garden", while the Finnish character walked through the colony to look around for anything interesting.

To sum things up, the "God-Plants" were aliens who had landed on a North American continent that never had a Bering Strait Bridge (so no humans crossed over from Asia) centuries before. They saw that the IDET party had advanced technology and would understand their story. The alien plants had a plan to spread more seeds around the world, and gain more control over the barbaric humans. Later the player characters got together and decided to leave things alone, marking this alternate portal as a "follow-up" location. They noted that the next team needed to bring flamethrowers -in case the God-Plants needed to be... removed. Also, any changes on the alternates would not have any effect on Prime Earth, which the players wondered about and I explain that IDET already knew that. This took about an hour to play out.

Next, they went through alternate portal #2. They stepped through into the hydroponics module of a moon base. They really geeked out on this location. I had given them an Alternate Map form so they could make notes on each alternate portal and the husband started portal #2 with "Moonbase!!!" as his first note. Looking through some of the module windows they noticed two things; First, the moon base had a horseshoe design and one of them saw a figure moving in the module across from them, and second, they noted the earth was covered in brown and tan colors. As the earth rotated, they noted a hole punched through the mantle in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Yep, an extinction level event had taken place in the last couple days. Deciding to track down the astronaut in the other module, they stumbled across a spacesuited body as they got to the doorway out of the hydroponics module. No response when poked, they pulled off the helmet and stared at the head of a deceased reptilian humanoid. In his notes, the husband player wrote down, "Asteroid that killed dinos came late." and he commented on how he liked the twist I had set up. Suspicions of mass suicide were confirmed as they went through some habitat modules and found more bodies. In the command module they figured out this base had been set up to mine helium-3, which was suggested by the single player after I mentioned it was a mining base, but I hadn't thought of what they would be mining. Always a cool moment when a player helps add details for you.

The last reptilian survivor had noticed them also, and had thrown up a barricade of furniture and boxes to the workshop module he was in. Fringeworthy explorers are given some Termelern technology (little beads dropped into the ear) that will act as a universal translator. Soon they knew the angry hissing from the reptilian astronaut was a demand to know why they had destroyed his world! It took some effort, but they convinced him that they nothing to do with the meteorite, checked to see if the astronaut was fringeworthy (using a Termerlern crystal key which glows faintly when held near a person for the first time if they are fringeworthy). I let the wife roll 3D6 and said if she could get 18, he would be. She got 15, so nope. They did ask about taking some research notes back with them, and ended up giving the reptilian astronaut-scientist a reason to continue living. They promised to send a team back to check up on him, and he was going to work to record and note the effects of the meteorite hit from the moon base in hopes it could help other worlds. It was cool how they found a way to bring some hope to a terrible event.

The young single player (around 22 yrs old?) questioned me when I noted the reptilian tech was about what we have in 2017. He didn't think that would be advanced enough to establish a moon base. The husband player (late 40s?) jumped in to say that it could have been done back in the 1970s or the 1980s at the latest. I added it was a matter of priorities, not technology, that have kept us from setting one up. The kid found that interesting. The second portal took about 35 minutes to play out.

Checking the time, I noted they could take a quick look at another alternate portal before we wrapped things up. Unexplored portal #4 or #7? Nope, the wife player really wanted to check out the Stonehenge-like place at alternate portal #8. They stepped through and found themselves in the middle of the circle of stones. The circle of stones was surrounded by a dozen female knights, who were demanding that a centaur step out and face justice. The knights were accusing the centaur of helping kidnap the young prince, son of Queen Arthuria. As Protectors of the Realm, the knights were going to capture and interrogate all the strange beings in the land until the prince was found. The knights kept referring to the IDET men as "minor giants" and noting they were not like the normal men of the realm who averaged around 4 feet tall. Yep, on this world, the women (at 5 to 6 feet tall) were the physically dominate human gender.

Seeing no way to reason with the knights, the single player took careful aim with his AR-15 and shot the sword from the hand of a knight. He rolled 14 on his 3D and as the echoes of the gunshot faded away, the knights decided to continue their search elsewhere. The players asked the centaur why the knights couldn't enter the circle of stones, and he said they could, but were afraid of being "tainted" by doing so. He also explained that a nearby Dryad had taken the young Prince just for the fun of it, but they could impress her with another display of wizardly might, to get him back. Which I said they did as a way to wrap up things.

I took a couple minutes after that to tell them about the last two unexplored alternate portals. The fourth one went to St. Petersburg, Russia in November 1913 where a contest between propeller driven snow sleds was being held. This actually happened according to an article in a French magazine (found on Gutenberg.org) and a French team won it. Nothing ever came of it here on Earth Prime, but in this alternate the Soviets want to create an army of these snow sleds, with a Madsen machine gun mounted on the front of each to help overthrow the Czar.

Finally, alternate portal #7 led to June 17, 2017 in Central Park. In this world, cats gained intelligence and super powers back in January of 2000. The opening scene was them near The Pond at the south end of Central Park, and watching a cat eyebeam a dog that had gotten loose and was running around. A couple more cats would arrive, including an old one named Max who still remembers the old world, before the uplifting of the cats. Max grew up with a dog around, and still has affection for his previous owner, Jessica Mayor. Max worries that she (and the rest of the world) will be in increasing danger as the latest generation of cats is growing more cruel and unforgiving of mistakes. Max would have told the IDET team this while he used telekinesis to smash mice into the ground. The players got a kick out of hearing about it.

So, it was unusual in that there was no real combat, but lots of role-playing and locations/situations they enjoyed. Another hour would have been awesome to have, but I sincerely thanked them and enjoyed the experience too. Looking back, it helped balance the disappointment of not getting to run the Supers RED adventure or actually play some myself. I was reminded how much I like the Fringeworthy setting, so I will probably run a one-shot adventure for my own group with Portal Location +101.
PSN: ORtrail
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kedamono
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Re: Free RPG Day 2017: Ran a Fringeworthy Adventure

Postby kedamono » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:31 pm

Thanks ORTrail for the actual play report! I hope you had a lot of fun running your game. Out of curiosity, do you listen to our podcast?
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ORTrail
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Re: Free RPG Day 2017: Ran a Fringeworthy Adventure

Postby ORTrail » Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:37 pm

It was the best of both worlds, a great setting and a great game system. Not one of the players had played a Fringeworthy game before, they just liked the description of Fringeworthy.

I have listened to the podcast. Good stuff.
PSN: ORtrail
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kedamono
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Re: Free RPG Day 2017: Ran a Fringeworthy Adventure

Postby kedamono » Sun Aug 13, 2017 2:20 am

Now I have to ask a crazy, personal question: With a name like ORTrail, do you live in Oregon? I live in Washington, and on occasion go to Game Storm. I might be tempted to run a Fringeworthy game at the con.
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ORTrail
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Re: Free RPG Day 2017: Ran a Fringeworthy Adventure

Postby ORTrail » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:37 am

Seems like a reasonable question actually, as most people figure ORtrail is pronounced as "Oregon trail" and I mentioned Portland.

Game Storm? I actually thought that was a board game thing. I'm in the Northeast corner of Oregon, so Portland is a 3-4 hour drive (depending on traffic, gas stops, and so on) for me. Would I make the trip for the chance to play some Fringeworthy? Probably. A quick Google search tells me the next Game Storm is in April of 2018, so plenty of time to plan.

Do you happen to know how long the time slots are for games? Like more than 2 hours? I so badly wanted another hour to play out more of the alternate portals during Free RPG Day at Guardian Games. Also, do you use of the newer editions of Fringeworthy? I never bought anything after the 1992 edition.
PSN: ORtrail
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kedamono
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Re: Free RPG Day 2017: Ran a Fringeworthy Adventure

Postby kedamono » Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:04 am

I usually do 4 hour games, and I think you can reserve a 6 hour slot.

Of course I take the train to get there, so my commute beats yours. :-)

They are testing a new system for registration and game events, Tabletop Events. It's a nice system and useful.
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ORTrail
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Re: Free RPG Day 2017: Ran a Fringeworthy Adventure

Postby ORTrail » Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:17 pm

kedamono wrote:I usually do 4 hour games, and I think you can reserve a 6 hour slot.


Four hours would be the sweet spot for me. I'll look over the Game Storm website later in the year to see how they are organizing things and see what else might capture my attention. I have made the Free RPG Day at Guardian Games the past two years, but make it a long day (but relatively cheap) by driving there and back instead of staying in Portland overnight. I end up spending the motel/hotel and extra meals money on gaming products and comics of course. Leave home by 7am and get back around 12pm-1pm.

Not sure I'd want to catch every day of the Game Storm events, but let me know what day you'd be running Fringeworthy and I can plan accordingly. Staying at least one night in Portland is not a big deal, as I'll no doubt want to run a game or two myself.

Oh, and I've taken the Max in Portland a couple times, and a NY subway years ago, so I do enjoy rail travel if time/speed is not a big factor. I like how you get to view a city/place from a totally different perspective.
PSN: ORtrail

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