Roleplaying The 80s With Tales From The Loop – Part Four

October 17, 2018 by lancorz

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Welcome to Part Four of Roleplaying The 80s in Free League Publishing's Tales From The Loop. This article series is focusing on aiding GMs with a new perspective on creating your games and unleashing your childlike whimsy once again.

Roleplaying The 80s With Tales From The Loop - Part Four

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As a pre-cursor, this story does not adhere to the normal TFTL phases. Instead, it encourages players to get practical in their creativity and features more of the characteristics of a miniatures game than a pen & paper RPG.

The 32nd Annual Dad's Grass, Lawnmower Races

It's that time of the year again. Spring has sprung, the bees are floating around flowerbeds gathering pollen, kids around the neighbourhoods are picking up their water guns in preparation for war, and the whole town is in full swing for the 32nd Annual Dad's Grass Lawnmower Races.

Thirty-three years ago, Mr Dodds and Mr Warble bought the newest in blade cutting technology. The Victa mowers were fast, reliable and extremely precise in their blade cutting. Lawns were never the same again. Dodds and Warble were known town-wide for their competition. They would mow their lawns everyday and race to see who would be up earliest in the morning to complete their daily trim.

Roleplaying The 80s With Tales From The Loop - Part Four

Their competitive nature caused controversy among the neighbours with noise complaints and anti-social behaviour between Dodds and Warble. There was one solution to settle their dispute: the Mayor stepped in and announced the first ever Dad's Grass Lawnmower Races to declare the best trimmer in town.

Throughout the years, the whole town has been completely invested in the event. In the month leading up to it, the townsfolk will let their lawns and gardens overgrow in the spirit of the lawnmower races. Children will appear with small balloon lawnmowers and everyone will dress in bright green colours when attending. The competition is open to all ages, genders and technology with only one end goal... be the first to cross the finish line with the most chopped grass in your carry bag.

Introducing The Kids

The kids have the chance to join the races. Should they wish to join, begin the adventure with various scenes with their families or friends getting ready with their lawnmowers.

  • Perhaps the mowers are faulty and require some extra engineering to get started.
  • Nan is refusing to wear green as it's not her colour. If she gets her way she'll be the laughing stock of the whole town.
  • One of the people participating this year is your high school bully. They're walking over to confront you before the races.

Use these as a starting point to help build the scene up and create a vivid image in the minds of your players.

The Town Parade

Before the event kicks off, the town has an annual parade where they entertain the younger audiences and create some build-up for the races.

Let's get creative! Remember that we're playing an RPG that is highly focused on childhood experiences so this scenario will ask your players to invent their own lawnmowers during the town parade and present them in the showcase, before lining up at the starting line.

Roleplaying The 80s With Tales From The Loop - Part Four

As a GM, you should come prepared with coloured paper, pencils, scissors, glue, colouring pens, and a whole buffet of creative accessories that will really ask your players to get out of their comfort zone and live through their tween years once again.

While your players are focused on building their lawnmowers, the GM can begin to build the park in which they'll race. If you're a miniature gamer, this may be quite easy. However, if you're not, feel free to lay out small potted plants around your table for obstacles and use tokens for each of your players to see where they are on the tabletop. Scatter your obstacles around and set up small pieces that act as extra bonuses or negative effects.

Give your players at least twenty minutes to build their inventions and allow them to have bonuses based on their presentations. If they're especially creative with their lawnmowers, adding rocket fuelled acceleration, huge scissors to cut grass, or perhaps a punching glove to knock out the opponents, add two dice to their pool.

Mechanics Of The Races

As the focus of this scenario is to let the players invest their time creatively in building their lawnmowers, you want to build your race track to be at least two feet long with some obstacles in place to make it exciting.

Your lawnmowers will always move at least one inch in the races.

Offer your players five dice each, plus their bonuses. Each success (a result of six on the dice) will equal an additional inch of movement on the table. Allow the players to collaborate in the commentary of the races and let them thrive on wacky imaginative ways to pass their opponents.

Instead of experience, give your players blades of grass (or similar) to reward them to show how much grass they've been able to cut during the races.

In a five player game...

  • First position - 5 points
  • Second position - 4 points
  • Third position - 3 points
  • Fourth position - 2 points
  • Fifth position - 1 point

Tally your points and add your blades of grass rewards. The player with the highest total wins the 32nd Annual Dad's Grass Lawnmower Races.

Opposition & Obstacles

This year, it looks like the high school bully has entered the races and they're going to make the races hell for your players. Coming from a wealthy family,  they've brought along the Grass Hopper 5000, aka The Lawn Mowrderer. Designed by the engineers who helped create machines for lifting heavy parts to build skyscrapers in Tokyo, it has been manufactured to participate in this year's event.

Roleplaying The 80s With Tales From The Loop - Part Four

The NPC (whomever it might be) will always have four dice to play within the races. However, they may use some sneaky tactics to aid themselves in the race:

  • They've hidden a bag of pre-cut grass inside the machine.
  • The machine may sacrifice a movement to pick up a nearby small tree and toss it into the tracks of opponents.
  • It can fire smoke grenades in the distance to confuse opponents.
  • It may drop chunks of rubble to dull your lawnmower's blades.

Event Celebrations & Aftermath

Once the winner has been announced, the town bursts into a frenzy of celebration. Some members of the public will get a little too rowdy and attempt to drive home on their lawnmowers, intoxicated. Local teens will get frisky inside the hay-bale maze. Meanwhile, the winner will receive the grand trophy for winning the 32nd Annual Dad's Grass Lawnmower Races.

A week later, all the lawns in town will be freshly trimmed and everything goes back to normal; the mundane nature of modern life.

Adults will become downtrodden with their day-to-day activities and once again, there's homework to do.

Will you be giving this a go and if so please make sure to show off your creations here on the website!

Get your thoughts in on this new scenario with a twist!

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