Tales from the Loop Role Play System
We already reviewed the setting of Tales from the Loop , the fabulous RPG of Free League Publishing and distributed by Modiphius, now we're going to talk about the game system.
As we mentioned in the previous article, Tales from The Loop is a highly narrative game and its mechanics are oriented so that the Game Master (hereinafter GM) and players can narrate fun and interesting stories, focusing on narration and using the dice and chance as little as possible.
Role Playing Games are played through adventures, adventures are stories and as such should have a beginning, an intermediate and an end. In TftL these stories are called Mysteries, these mysteries are nothing more than situations faced by a small group of friends between the ages of 10 and 15 years.
These stories are extraordinary, as when children in ET choose to help an alien or when David decides to enter an alien ship in the Flight of the Navigator . However, these young people are not isolated from their families and their environment , should go to their schools, ask permission to go out and play, deal with bullies, everything. All of this is reflected in the game system.
Principles of the Loop
Something great about Tales from the Loop are the Principles of the Loop, six basic rules that should guide the Mysteries and their development. These principles are:
1. Your home town is full of strange and fantastic things: Who knows what experiments are carried out inside the facilities of the Loop? Is it true that the house in the corner of your block is haunted? Is it true that they have seen a Big Foot in the forest? In this game you have to see the world with the eyes of a child, remember those stories that used to tell with your friends to frighten one another, now imagine that somehow they were true.
2. Everyday life is dull and unforgiving: You are a child, you must go to school, do your homework, face bullies, live with your family. If you were an adult you could do what you wanted but you are not and despite having to solve an important mystery you must be home at 6 pm if you do not want to be grounded.
3. Adults are out of reach and out of touch: Older people are absorbed in their daily lives, between work and their duties they pay little attention to children and although at some point they seem to listen to you they will not believe you when you tell them that Mr. Bender is a robot.
4. The land of the Loop is dangerous but kids will not die : Children may be beaten, captured, mistreated but not killed.
5. The game is played scene by scene : in TftL is played as if it were a movie, moving from one important scene to the next, there is no need to narrate step by step what is done, unless it is necessary.
6. The world is described collaboratively : The GM has a responsibility to describe the scenes and their elements, but the players also participate in this process, adding elements that were not considered by the GM or describing some other things, the GM should be attentive and ask questions constantly to the players, in case that some player wants to add some very exotic element must remember the second principle.
Creation of characters
The creation of characters is quite simple and there is no luck involved. Once again the emphasis is on the narrative aspect of the game, in contrast to the numerical and random part of other games. The characters are created as follows:
- Choose type . There are 8 types of characters that correspond to common archetypes to these stories, you can choose between Book Worm, Computer Geek, Hick, Jock, Popular Kid, Rocker, Trouble Maker and Weirdo.
- Decide your age , between 10 and 15 years.
- Distribute a number of points equal to your age among your attributes. These are Body, Heart, Mind and Technology.
- Determine your Luck Points, equal to 15 minus your age.
- Distribute 10 points on your skills .
- Choose an Iconic Item.
- Choose a Problem .
- Choose a Drive.
- Choose a Pride .
- Define your relationships with other kids and NPCs.
- Select an Anchor .
- Choose a Name .
- Write a description .
- Choose your favorite song from that time.
After this you have to answer some questions that the GM will do to deepen the information of each character.
How the game unfolds
The mysteries represent situations that the kids try to solve, perhaps the disappearance of a companion or strange lights in the abandoned house at the corner of the block, to solve these mysteries they will encounter some obstacles, like to get out of house in the middle of the night or enter the school when it is already closed. These obstacles are called Troubles.
Troubles will be presented by GM with a narration of something happening, like some creature doing something and then asking the players how they act after seeing it, if they try to overcome it in some way, if they evade it or if they simply let it happen.
Most of the time the players will only describe what their children do, sometimes it will be necessary to make a dice rolling, the roll is made by throwing as many dice of six faces (d6) as points they have in the pertinent attribute adding as many d6 as points in the applicable Skill the have if any. Then count in how many dice they got six, every six is a success .
This roll can be modified or repeated by things like Luck Points, help received by another character, the use of pride or iconic objects.
In case of having successfully passed the Problem the GM will narrate what happens next. Sometimes you can have more successes than necessary, with those additional successes you can buy beneficial effects for yourself, such as doing the action very fast or impressing someone.
In case of failure, the situation could get more complicated, it could get into an even greater problem or get a condition, such as getting scared or tired and could even end up being caught.
In the resolution of the Mystery kids could find a really hard situation to overcome, something practically impossible to overcome alone, but solvable with a good team work. In these cases they must make a Plan combining their best skills and resources in order to solve the problem in a satisfactory way, as in the climax of the films where each kid uses his/her best ability to successfully solve everything.
As it must be clear by now the game focuses on the narrative aspects, while in another role-playing game you could say "I hide" while throwing a die in TftL the player is encouraged to describe his action, saying instead something like "I hide behind the bin next to me and I hold my breath waiting for the watchman to go without seeing me", after that the GM will determine if you should throw a die or not.
Another important aspect is the "immortality" of the characters, children can not die in this game and many people will not like that, we could say even that some will think that it could mean that players are more daring knowing their characters are immortals, but on the one hand the idea is that they take risks, we must remember that they can be captured, punished or sent to a hospital.
To me, all these narrative elements, the importance of the iconic objects and the characters relationships between them and with Non-Player Characters like their parents, seem to me simply great and make me want to play or run this game as soon as possible .
I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys adventure stories such as those already mentioned in the previous article, who have lived in the 80's and 90's or those who want a highly narrative game. I would not recommend it to those who love throwing dice to right and left nor to players who prefer tactical or highly numerical or random games.