Today I bring another role playing game review, this one also distributed by Modiphius , although belonging to the Swedish publishing house Free League Publishing, this time we move away from the dark universe of Mutant Chronicles to get into other issues, something we might consider closer or more familiar. Today we'll be to talking about Tales From The Loop.
Attention! it is recommended to click Play to the playlist
and enjoy eighties music while you read this article.
Tales From The Loop is a game frequently compared with a recent and successful series produced by Netflix called Stranger Things, this being a resource that greatly facilitates the explanation of the environment and tone of the game but I feel it takes away merits to the RPG, both works are awesome and we could say both of them are related to a certain point, because they drink from the same sources and therefore they work with several common concepts and we could say they have a similar look.
Today I am almost 40 years old, I was born exactly in 1980, the beginning of an interesting decade that left us great references in popular culture and we could say without fear of making a mistake that shaped the subsequent decades in ways that we still may not understand.
The 80's, the decade that inspired Tales From the Loop and Stranger Things
Among my cultural referents I can say that I saw a group of children hiding their alien friend and helped him to return to his planet, as a band of young people allied with an ex-intelligence officer to rescue their kidnapped dog, as an ingenious forgotten child at home defeating a pair of awkward thieves once and again and or as another group faced, first as a child and then as adults, a killer "clown" in a story of the master of terror Stephen King, how to forget the strange cases in Eerie Indiana or the plans of Parker Lewis and company? The references are too many and although some will be of the 90's can be considered direct heirs of other productions from the previous decade.
In short, we grew up watching movies and series where children, those beings as loved as sadly ignored by most of their parents, were protagonists of incredible and sometimes a bit gloomy stories. But at the end of the plot, there were usually only a handful of friends with an interesting story to tell.
Such is the spirit of Stranger Things as Tales from the Loop, in fact, the first one could be easily adapted as an adventure module of the second, but only because both were inspired by these same productions. At the end of the article I will propose a list of content recommended by me to enter the mood of the game.
Tales From The Loop Origin
Tales from the Loop began as the vision of the Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag who began to paint Swedish neighborhoods from the 1980s but adding science fiction elements, creating an uchronia, this mixture of elements and his mastery in carrying it out resulted in a collection of beautiful and impressive paintings which draw attention through the whole Internet.
Therefore, unlike what we commonly see Stålenhag did not make illustrations for a role playing game, in this case it was his art which inspired the creation of the game around it, a game that also took the name of his series of paintings that had been published as an art book through a successful Kickstarter campaign in September 2015.
The Tales from the Loop RPG was also proposed through a Kickstarter campaign by the Swedish publishing house Free League Publishing. In this campaign the backers were offered that all the art of the book would be made by Simon Stålenhag, most of the art would be taken from the pages of Tales from the Loop Book of Art (the booklet of illustrations published by the artist in 2015) many scenarios of the game would be based directly on illustrations of the same, however would also contain unique art, including its cover. In that campaign Free League Publishing obtained massive support reaching more than 3700% of the proposed goal.
As stated above, Tales from the Loop is an uchronia, that is, it develops at a point in history where something happened differently than our real history, entering into the same category of a story where the Nazis win the Second World War or another where the Soviet Union conquered Europe after the same war establishing socialism in that continent. The setting is basically the 80's that we met with two superpowers in a threatening Cold War, but with some changes like the existence of at least two large particle accelerators, large floating ships and impressive technological advances, even if they were made today.
In this case the event that generated the uchronia was the construction of the world's largest particle accelerator in the rural area of Mälaröarnain in 1954 by the Swedish government and the resulting concentration of economic resources in technology by the major powers worldwide. This wonderful construction was baptized by the inhabitants as The Loop because of its circular shape. For the inhabitants of the surrounding areas the immense cooling towers are a permanent part of their landscape.
The Tales from the Loop handbook brings two different settings, Sweden and the USA, in both cases sufficient details are given of how people lives in those countries and specifically in the areas where these technological wonders are located, time lines are given, important events are described, they even tell us about the films, activities and games of the children of that time, all contributing to enrich the narrative in the games. It is notable that although not included Gamemaster is invited to place an accelerator in his hometown.
It is extremely relevant to say that one of this game , that unlike other RPG's , the protagonists are not seasoned warriors or soldiers under a megacorporation, but fragile children (10 to 15 years ) that stumble upon an event that they will have to deal with on their own because adults do not believe them or are engrossed in their own affairs.
The game really invites us to immerse ourselves in this new world full of familiar things, and some new ones too, and it is so precise with the changes and explains so well everything that it should be a simple task for those who read the book and have not lived in the 80's. By the way, among other things when creating the character give us the option of linking a song of the time to our character, one that describes or relates to him or her in some way, this has no effects on mechanics of the game but could be used at some spotlight moment of the character, as part of the ambient that you want to achieve.
Media Content Recommendations
Want to finalize this first article with a list of recommended works that can help both the game director and potential players to enter the desired atmosphere with the kind of stories and situations that are wanted.
Stranger Things Serie (2016-?)
Eerie indiana Serie (1991-1992)
The Monster Squad (1987)
Super 8 (2011)
Harry Potter (2001-11)
The Sandlot (1993)
Stand by Me (1986)
The Goonies (1985)
The Breakfast Club
Are you afraid of the Dark? (1990 – 2000)
Goosebumps (1995 – 1998)
About music, the former playlist has the Billboard hits for that decade but if you are more about rock and heavy metal you could try this other playlist.add