Wednesday, January 13, 2021

31 Days / 31 Characters - GATES

Teenagers from Outer Space is one of my all time favorite RPGs for so many reasons.

First and foremost, its super simple, straightforward, and easy to modify. Second, the game is written in a fun, humorous manner with enough personality to get you into the feel of things right away. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it is a game about Japanese Animated Comedy by Mike Pondsmith, a man who understands Japanese Animated Comedies. 

When this game came out I was already a huge Anime fan at a time in which not everyone in the USA knew what Anime was. This game and its author 'got it' though and I used that to introduce this particular brand of awesome-ness to all my buddies. 

My first and possibly best TFOS campaign was 'Blast City Blues' and my own character in that setting is Gates.

Character: His real name is a series of high-pitched squeeks, chirps, and clicks that end in what sounds a bit like 'GEEL'. 

AKA: Gil Gates

Player: Non-Player Character, turned PC. Played by Adam Dickstein.

System: Teenagers from Outer Space - 1st and 2nd Edition. 'Advanced TFOS' Houserules.
Campaign: Blast City Blues and Blast City Blues: Summer Break.

Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein and Others

Circa: 1987-1989

Origins: The original version of Gates came about from a practice drawing.

I was teaching myself to illustrate in an Anime/Manga style, with my major influence being Rumiko Takahashi, the renowned female Manga artist famous for some of the most popular series of the 80s and 90s (including Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2, and Inu Yasha to name a few). I drew a basic male character who bore some resemblance to Ryunosuke from Urusei Yatsura (a female character often mistaken for a boy) and Ryoga from Ranma 1/2. 

A few days later, after buying the first Teenagers from Outer Space book and reading it through several times, I found myself opening up a notebook to joy down some campaign ideas and I saw my drawing right there in front of me, having been put into the book for safe keeping. I think I stared at it for a few moments before I added glasses to the fellow. Then antenna. That's when the character and the idea for Blast City Blues rushed into my head. 

Backstory: Unpronounceable-GEEL and his twin sister Unpronounceable-GEEGEE were orphaned when their parents stayed behind during the mass exodus from the United Galaxy Alliance region of space to the Earth. It was implied they had invented the Star Drive technology that got everyone else away before the voracious Dreggetti arrived. 

The two infant Googlimooglians (Gates' species) were not in the main ship but one of several vessels forming a convoy behind it. Their vessel finally reached Earth some years after the capital ship that became Blast City and were released from stasis about 15 years before the first campaign's 'present'. The twins were adopted by First Contact Specialist Gertrude Gates and her Exobiologist husband Godfrey Gates. This is how the Googlimooglians got their Earth names, Gil and Gigi Gates.

As they grew up they couldn't be more opposite. Like all Googlimooglians the twins were remarkably intelligent and good at engineering and science but Gil was an introvert, nerdy, emotionally detached (on the outside), and socially awkward. His sister, who was considered very attractive by Humans and other aliens, was outgoing, cool, in-your-face, and wore her feelings on her sleeve. 

The rebellious Gigi was a trouble-maker and too much for the aging Gates couple to handle, so she was sent to live with relatives on Mars. 

Gil on the other hand was a genius, a model student, excepted into all kinds of advanced programs, and felt very, very alone. With his sister gone he had no friends, was teased for his odd appearance (there weren't any other Googlimooglians around), thick glasses (our Sun generates more light during the day hours than their home star), and his egg-headed pursuits. 

He begins Blast City High School a sad and lonely super-scientist.

Overview: When we meet Gil for the first time in the game he is attending Blast City High and getting picked on/bullied by a bunch of Humans and aliens. He is saved by Miguel 'Mecha' Herrera and the two end up becoming best friends. The cast builds and builds with all sorts of offbeat and even downright bizarre Humans, aliens, robots, and other manner of people getting involved in their crazy adventures. All but one...Gigi Gates.

For nearly a year of play, no one knew Gates (everyone called him by his last name) even had a sister. She is never seen or referred to. Then there were a couple of more serious episodes and in one Gates mentions that there are very few Googlimooglians left in the universe. To his knowledge, "We may be the last." The other Players/PCs thought he meant 'we' as in the ones living in Blast City but what he really meant was he and his sister. 

In one of the last story arcs in the original campaign, Earth is invaded by a fleet of Galactic Pirates who are there to obtain some Time Travel device they think is hidden in the bowls of Blast City. Leading the charge is...GIGI?!? Yep, Gigi Gates, who had been attending Blast City's rival school Mars High, quit school to become a space pirate. 'Mech''s player begins a running joke were he is trying to defeat the Googlimooglian Space Biker Chick with Gates' help while also trying to get Gates to fix him up with his sister. "But...It's...THEY'RE THE SAME PERSON!"

"I know", says Mech, "You're a genius Gates. Multi-tasking like this should be easy for you."

The Highlights:

Gates was often the catalyst of the trouble in many adventures. 

Gates once invented a teleporter that ended up being a duplicator, generating an exact copy of the person who used it...only evil. 

There was the time he determined the mathematical calculation for Cool and made himself the coolest kid in school, as well as a complete mega-jerk. He attracted a legion of other mega-jerks resulting in a horde of smooth, well dressed, zombie a-holes. 

There was the time he borrowed a library book while on a school trip to Alpha Centauri and relativistic time from lightspeed travel made it over 4 years overdue. The Library Network sent a Librarian to retrieve it; a Terminator-like combat android whose exterior looked like a thin, grey haired old lady but she could smash through steel walls and fire stun blasts out of her eyes. This story was illustrated into a comic book for our RPG Clubs entry into the Art & Design High School Art Festival. 

During the Boogie Ball Championship between Blast City High and Luna Prep, Gates and Speed (my friend David Concepcion's character) realized the Luna team was cheating. While Mech played against them despite this, Gates and Speed investigated and had to deal with some tough opponents and a kid who was essentially as smart as Gates! That was fun and really challenging.

Legacy: Gates hasn't been seen in a game in many years, which makes me a little bummed just thinking about it. The image I used above is the first picture of him I've done in forever and it made me smile to depict him once again. 

Hopefully he'll get the chance to mad-science again in the near future.

Game Info: As I've mentioned before, one of the first changes I made to TFOS was to change its die type from a D6 to a D10 to get a greater range and make it more compatible with the other 'Interlock' games from R. Talsorian. Therefore Gates' stats read like this:

'Gil' Gates - Near Human, Male.

SMARTS: 10                    DRIVING: 4
BOD: 4                              LOOKS: 6
R.W.P.: 7                           COOL: 3
LUCK: 3                            BONK: 5

KNACKS: Super Science: 4, Latest Invention: 4. Investigate: 2

POWERS: Mad Genius: 10

Next up, we warp into the Final Frontier - FINALLY! Let's go where no one has gone before with Lt. HEREK of the USS Gryphon!

Barking Alien

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