Flashback Friday: Teenagers From Outer Space

Even with this A-to-Z Blogging Challenge thing, I’m still managing to crank out a Flashback Friday post (albeit a short one). This week is Teenagers From Outer Space (or TFOS).
TFOS was one of those odd duck games. I knew about Toon, but it never looked appealing. TFOS had anime stylings though, and anime was a new and trendy thing in the late 80s. At the time I was also reading Ninja High School and similar comics, and R. Talsorian Games was on my radar because of Mekton.
There were 3 editions, but I only have the first and second. The first edition was by far my favorite of the two. The system was extremely easy and freeform, comprised of a handful of attributes (including “Relationship With Parents”) and then Knacks that were created by the players. We had an alien with the Knack I Accidentally Ate the Kid Who Was Doing My Homework For Me. Also, the writing was pretty funny, particularly the GM section. For the life of me, I can’t remember the die mechanic except it used d6s (the 1st edition came with a baggie of miniature dice), but I think it was a simple roll over system. Instead of hit points or wounds, characters had Bonk and could not be permanently injured or killed.
Like most of R. Talsorian’s Games it was apparent many of the characters and ideas came from the actual games that were played. I realize this happens with a great many roleplaying games, but in RTG’s games it always had a familiar, kind of cozy quality to me that made me feel like Mike Pondsmith might magically pop up when we were playing a game.
Our games tended to rip off Ninja High School quite a bit, liberally mixed with movies like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and even The Lost Boys. We also had a lot of Mekton involved. We had a Kargan exchange student heavily inspired by Worf from ST:TNG. Another character was a parody of the Miami Vice-inspired cop from the Roadstriker supplement. And, of course, lots of mecha. Our TFOS games actually contributed to several comedy routines that later showed up in Mekton games, such as failed missile attacks deviating toward the target most likely to produce comedic results (like a food cart, popcorn store, pillow factor, sewage plant, etc.).
These days, I could see TFOS as a brilliant system for an Invader Zim inspired game, or even something like Gravity Falls. It also is philosophically in the same space as Fate Accelerated Edition, which is pretty awesome for a game that’s 25 years old. TFOS is available in PDF from DriveThruRPG.

4 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Teenagers From Outer Space

  1. Yay! I ran a great TFOS campaign back in the 80s with friends from high school shortly after we graduated, using our own school as the setting with alien students mixed in. I was never able to find a group that Got It after that, though.


  2. I still have my copies somewhere. It's a great game to play with people who know it's not meant to be played 'straight.'


  3. I've got third edition on my gaming shelf. Its the one with the Rumiko Takahashi inspired cover. It's still a few basic stats, plus player devised abilities, but its a lot more honest about the influence things like Ranma and Urusei Yatsura had on the game :)Plenty of great sample characters (which the examples heavily imply were once PCs), and a a whole season of plot ideas.Only bad thing is I've not had much fun with it. But that's more down to my group not really being in the right head space.


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