Fringeworthy

Tagged: Game

Role Playing Game (1982). Tri Tac Games. Designed by Richard Tucholka.

Along with the board and counter Wargame Down Styphon! (1977 Fantasy Games Unlimited) designed by Mike Gilbert (based on H Beam Piper's novel Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen [fixup 1965; vt Gunpowder God 1978]), Fringeworthy was one of the earliest games to be set on Earth's Parallel Worlds. The background is often reminiscent of two later television series: Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007), itself derived from the film Stargate (1994), and Sliders (1995-2000). Ring shaped portals created by a vanished Forerunner species link a multitude of worlds, including both extrasolar planets and alternate versions of Earth. These extradimensional universes, connected by "fringepaths", include histories where the Soviet Union won when the Cold War turned hot, worlds buried beneath the glaciers of a new Ice Age and Pocket Universes created as playgrounds for the absent gate builders. Small teams of explorers, made up of the titular individuals who are the only humans capable of using the technology, are dispatched through a portal discovered in the Antarctic; these explorers are the player characters.

There have been several versions of the game since the first: a very similar second edition in 1984, an expanded version in 1992 and a thorough revision from 2009 which uses the d20 system. The mechanics employed in the first three editions are complex, dominated by combat and often suggestive of early versions of Dungeons and Dragons (1974 Tactical Studies Rules) designed by Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson; the d20 edition is a marked improvement. Unfortunately, while the essential concept of the game is novel and interesting, the actual descriptions of its milieux tend to be somewhat bland. It is difficult to avoid the sense that Fringeworthy represents something of a missed opportunity, one which was far better exploited in the 2004 fourth edition of GURPS and the associated GURPS Infinite Worlds (2005 Steve Jackson Games) designed by Kenneth Hite, Steve Jackson, John M Ford. [NT]

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