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Friday, October 18, 2013

The Original Fralli Prank

Jean Sexton writes:

I don't know what it is about the Fralli that inspires people to make fun of them. True, they aren't attractive by human standards, but neither are Dr. Seuss's creations. It seemed to start up when I was trying to reconcile two vastly different pieces of information. One source indicated their planet was a sulfur-based atmosphere; the other source had it listed as Earth-like. How could both be correct? I felt I had to explain this or someone would be forever pointing out the "other" source. Further digging into the Air Force tapes yielded the answer. Except for the toxic-to-human levels of sulfur dioxide, Frallia is a rather pleasant planet to visit. 

Other pieces had to be reconciled -- was a "Spark Wand" a performer or a tool? (Eventually we determined the answer was "yes.") How did we make the statistics for the Fralli create a species that would be fun to play without having the Fralli take over the universe? How could Fralli serve aboard Federation ships? All of these questions took time.

As a result of the time taken and the fact I kept adding to Federation PD20M, Steve Cole had been threatening to delete the Fralli for a couple of months before the book was finished. Every time I added a word to the book, he'd warn me that if there weren't room, the Fralli were gone. Every time John Sickels (the author) added a sentence, I'd get warned that the Fralli were doomed. I wanted to add the Mantorese; Steve would say, "Good, we can delete the Fralli!" "You want me to do WHAT!?! Fine, the Fralli are GONE!" After his computer crashed while we were editing part of the planetary surveys, he told me that the Fralli file was gone. If I mentioned he needed an accent mark "here," he'd threaten to do in "my" Fralli. When I triumphantly told him that he couldn't do them in without re-reading the entire book to fix the pagination references, he said he'd put in filk songs instead. "Fralli, filk, they both start with 'F'." He even told me that I wouldn't know if he'd omitted the Fralli until I saw my copy. 

Finally the book was done! Steve told me that he had mailed my copy of Federation PD20M to me personally. He explained that he was so excited by the book and he knew I would be as well, that he wanted to be with me (by phone) when I opened this long-awaited book. I got home from work, sat down with the package, and called him at home. He called back so I wouldn't have a big phone bill.

I opened the package and pulled out the book. Woooohooo! My name was up there with all the others. I flipped over to the Fralli page and saw ... a filk song! I opened the book wider and spotted the Fralli picture. The Fralli were safe! Steve (who did the layout) must have had more room than I thought in order to include the filk song.

I flipped over to another page to check as Steve said I would like to see the artwork. Oh the horror! The caption could not be right. Not only did it show a Fralli being blown out of existence, but the caption had a misspelled word!

With a sinking feeling I went back to the Fralli page and read the caption beside another piece of art. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! This could not be right. I started reading the Fralli write-up. I started spluttering in absolute horror and dismay. 

Steve finally could not hold it together any longer. Everyone in the company was in on making my "special book" since the first day of printing ... everyone but me. Print on demand has certain capabilities in making practical jokes come to fruition.

I laughed so hard it hurt.

I have a "real" copy of the book now and the other one is clearly marked so if it were to ever escape into the wild, no one would say, "Hey, my character is suffering from 'Fralli Fright' and just cannot get excited by that hot Orion slave girl chick," or "Whadddyamean you've got a Fralli engineer! Everyone knows they aren't allowed in space."

The art is wonderful...

And SVC deserves some sort of honor bar with stars for each time he's successfully pulled my leg.

Did I mention I love working with these folks? 

To see what Steve sent to me try these links: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Documents/fake_falli_81.pdf