Most video game arcades in the early 1990’s were absolutely dominated by the smash hit go-kart racing game “Trap Dash.” Developed by Studio Harmony in Japan for high-end home entertainment systems and arcades, Trap Dash was unique from other racing games. Trap Dash featured a cooperative play experience rather than pitting players against each other. One player controlled the A-CART (Artificially Competitive All-terrain Racing Transport), while the other controlled the Trapper. While the A-CART player did his or her best to keep the pair safely on the road and dodge any hazards or threats, the Trapper collected tools and weapons and actively tried to disable other racers. Trap Dash was the top selling racing game all throughout the 16-bit console generation but with the arrival of CD-ROMs, true 3D graphics, and more powerful home entertainment systems, the brand lost its luster.
Trap Dash had a somewhat forgettable storyline that featured its main character, and runaway pop-culture icon “Dasher McSpry.” A quick-thinking rabbit-racer, Dasher’s image adorned the sides of each Trap Dash arcade game. Although Trap Dash was released years before Steampunk went mainstream, Dasher had a certain clockwork appeal, complete with an aviator’s cap and goggles, a tool-laden vest and belt, and big magnetic feet.
The Ultimate Import Tuners
Six months ago John Scirrotto discovered that his favorite game from the 1990’s had become more than child’s play. A Philadelphia native, Scirrotto had three loves: fast import tuners, illegal street racing, and classic arcade games. His suburban Philly garage had dozens of racing games along its walls, and when he paid top dollar for a working “Trap Dash 2” arcade system, Scirrotto was thrilled. But when Scirrotto got the game up and running, the unknowingly quickened driver felt a surge of energy and was transported somewhere all too familiar.
Frazzle Fern Forest was well-known amongst Trap Dash 2 players as the most challenging course. Built alongside a great, green mountain, the composition of the figure eight track was not uniform. Along the base of the mountain the track was thick and sticky with mud. Racers traveling further up the mountain faced rocky paths, perilous ledges, and a completely unforgiving jump. The course was named for the dangerous and unpredictable foliage that lined the edges of the track. Frazzle Ferns could lash out and stun A-CARTS and their drivers, or rain chaos spores onto the track, causing Trappers to throw away power-ups or attack themselves. The center of the figure eight was called “The Crossing” and featured randomly generated power-ups and Trapper-tools. Some might call these “cyphers”.
Of course Frazzle Fern Forest’s native racers were also dangerous. Trap Dash 2 featured over a dozen Trappers and their A-CARTS, however this recursion only had three:
- Mrs. Nimbus, a light-weight, tornado shaped “bot” (Level 3, drives as level 4, all physical strength related difficulties as level 2)
- The Brat, a geeky but skilled human child with pig-tails and mismatched socks (level 5, can throw taunts as level 6)
- Goataur, a goat/minotaur hybrid featured in previous games as a default, computer controlled Trapper (Level 2)
For Scirrotto to get access to the recursions’ power-ups, he needed to race. The new recursion miner soon discovered the “easter egg” portion of Frazzle Fern Forest’s “Off-Screen”. Off-Screen, there were dozens of generic A-CARTS, just collecting dirt and grime in several cartoonish garages. It didn’t take long for Scirrotto to collect his own crew of quickened drivers and mechanics, and bring them through to Frazzle Fern Forest. Tuning and customizing the A-CART’s was simple, and soon Scirrotto’s crew was supplying several illicit organizations on Earth with illegally acquired cyphers. Scirrotto was a king of his new world.
Until Dasher McSpry showed up.
A-CART Racing in the Frazzle Fern Forest
This course is a figure eight, with one lobe resting at the base of the mountain and another along the edge. The forest at the bottom half is quite dense and allows little light to reach the forest floor and track. Along the mountainside the fern canopy recedes and the hot sun beats down on Trappers and their A-CARTS. Frazzle Fern Forest features five distinct zones (including the Crossing), and each race consists of three laps.
(Note, each zone has a “difficulty” related to all Speed related Driving rolls.)
Zone 1 – The Mechanical Marsh (Starting Line): Difficulty 3. Once the racers dart out from the starting line they have only a few hundred feet of solid terrain before bogging down in mud. This slows the carts down and keeps them packed together, allowing A-CART’s to bump and nudge each other off course. Should an A-CART end up forced off of the track, a Frazzle Fern will lash out (Difficulty 3 Speed Defense roll) to knock the Trapper from his transport. At the end of the Mechanical Marsh, Frazzle Fern spore rains down upon passing vehicles. On a failed Speed related Driving roll, the Trapper must make a Difficulty 4 Intellect Defense roll or become confused in the next zone, forcing them to use their next power-up (cypher) on an ally.
Special Zone – The Crossing: Difficulty 1. After clearing the Frazzle Fern spore, there is a large open area, covered in gravel and dirt. Small mounds of glitter appear throughout this area, and successfully driving across one of these patches causes a power-up (cypher) to pop from the ground. Catching a power-up is a difficulty 4 Speed roll, and a Trapper gets to make two grab attempts at the Crossing. Power-up abilities are determined randomly, and as the Trapper’s A-CART makes its way to the next zone, he or she may attempt to identify the cypher.
Zone 2 – The Mangling Maw: Difficulty 5. This long curve takes the Trappers and their A-CARTS along a steep and precarious part of the course. Along the right hand side of the track is the sky above. To the left is a great chasm called the Mangling Maw, that leads all the way through the recursion and into the Strange itself. Trappers who find themselves falling into this empty void are subject to the 1-Up trait, and re-spawn at the beginning of the course. Should a Trapper tumble into the Mangling Maw a second time during the race, they fall into the Strange itself.
Zone 3 – The Skysnare Jump: Difficulty 6. The hardest part of the course, the Skysnare Jump resembles a terrifying ski-jump across a five-hundred foot crater in the side of the mountain. Failing the Speed based Driving roll causes the Trapper and his or her A-CART to crash into the center of the crater. The crash causes 6 points of Might damage and forces any involved characters one step down the damage track. The bottom of the Skysnare Jump’s crater is a dark and ominous pit of broken bots, automatons, and a stray bone or two.
Special Zone – The Crossing: Difficulty 1. A second pass during the lap.
Zone 4 – The Ficklest Frazzle Ferns: Difficulty 4. During the last zone the Frazzle Ferns stretch fully into the track and lash out at each A-CART one time (Difficulty 3 Speed Defense roll). These ferns cause 4 points of Might damage.
The victor of the race gets 2-3 power-ups (cyphers) to carry into the next race course. However, since there is no second race, the Trappers can just hang on to these souvenirs.
Off-Screen: On the other side of the Frazzle Fern Forest is a series of warehouses and garages, full of spare parts, fern-wood, rubber tires, and all sorts of supplies. John Scirrotto’s crew now occupies this area, and uses it as a base of operations for their budding cypher-trade.
Dasher McSpry (Level 7, Level 8 for all Driving related tasks): This clockwork rabbit appears as a steampunk-cyborg, with magnetic metal legs. Not only is Dasher the only Frazzle Fern Forest native to have the Spark, he is also now Quickened, and has figured out how to escape from this course. Unfortunately, his quest to be reunited with his sister Sylphie, has proven fruitless, as she most likely does not exist in reality. Yet.