Roleplaying The 80s With Tales From The Loop: Part One

September 26, 2018 by lancorz

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With the recent release of Things from the Flood from Fria Ligan, I thought it was perhaps time to talk a little about my favourite Roleplaying Game based on Simon Stalenhagg's artwork; Tales from the Loop.

Roleplaying The 80s With Tales From The Loop: Part One

Click here to see more Tales From The Loop

It seems like only yesterday when I was suggesting this Kickstarter to Warren for the Weekender back in 2016. Now time has caught up and I've played countless scenarios, GM'd my team through thick and thin and even converted the rules system to suit a Potterverse RPG where you play the kids in their first year at Hogwarts.

So What Is Tales From The Loop?

Tales from the Loop is a unique storytelling adventure that has a very unique rules system based on the previous RPG made by Fria Ligan, Mutants: Year Zero. Each character you play has a specific role within the group, whether it be the Jock, Weird Kid, or perhaps the library's resident Booknerd.

Each character has suitable attributes which equate to Body, Mind, Tech and Heart, which then have their own sub-skill of various actions to take during your adventures. Add your attributes and skill together to collect a handful of dice and if you roll a single six, you succeed! Huzzah!

Roleplaying in the 80s with Tales From The Loop - Part One

Obviously, there's luck, drive, leadership skill, pushing rolls, pride and many other things that can aid your rolls, but I'll not get into the nitty-gritty. Read the rulebook for that.

Let's Talk About The History Of The Loop

The main project cycles around the Swedish landscapes, but you can plant it anywhere in the world that suits you and your players. Here's a brief timeline that has developed the mystery revolving around the project of the Loop.

  • 1950-59: Scientists in the Soviet Union discovered the Magnetrine Effect and the world's first particle accelerator is built.
  • 1960-69: Iwasaka, a Japanese company, develops the self-balancing machine. Riksenergi, the government agency tasked with operating the Swedish accelerator is founded and the construction for the Loop is founded.
  • 1970-79: Scientists from all over Europe are recruited to work at the Loop and the first civilian autonomous robots enter service after a failure to make them weapon grade.
  • 1980-89: Strange sightings are reported around the Loop and wildlife patrols are increased.

Why Kids & What Happened To The Adults?

Here comes the most important part for playing Tales from the Loop. Players are kids, between the ages of 10-15, with 10 being the luckiest and 15 having the most experience. With that said, players must remind themselves that they are most importantly still kids. I've played with a few people and I'm always constantly reminding them that sometimes logic must be left at the door and embrace the child-like whimsy that comes from playing pre-teens interested in the mystery.

Roleplaying in the 80s with Tales From The Loop - Part One

Adults are out of touch and out of reach. Adults don't believe your phoney stories of the Stegosaurus you saw at the edge of the woods. They're too busy dealing with bills and who's slagging who in Eastenders.

That's not to say they're not helpful. Some adults can help the kids and in a big way. However, they will see the logic in your adventures and the GM will recognise that as limitations for the kids to solve puzzles themselves.

During every scenario, the GM and the players should KNOW...

  • Your hometown is full of strange and fantastic things.
  • Everyday life is dull and unforgiving.
  • Adults are out of reach and out of touch.
  • The land of the Loop is dangerous, but kids will not die. (keep in mind; the kids may not die, but they can be put in detention)
  • The game is played scene by scene.
  • The world is collaboratively described.

How Do I GM A Game Of Tales From The Loop?

In the game, and like most RPGs, there's usually a list of story arcs that you are required to hit during each session.

Since TFTL heavily relies on storytelling, you can schedule these as chapters during a collaborative story. Think of your sessions as a movie, it needs an Introduction, Middle Investigation, Peak Action, Conclusion and finally an ending.

Roleplaying in the 80s with Tales From The Loop - Part One

In TFTL you play in Six Phases. Here are some examples...

Phase one: Introducing The Kids

It's 4pm. One kid's in the library and they can't find the book they need for an assignment due next week. How do they deal with it? Another kid is at the lucky arcade and they've just beat the highscore on Pac Man. What initials do they put on the machine? Dad's baked a cake with a mysterious secret ingredient. What does it smell like?

Phase Two: Introducing The Mystery.

Looks like all the adults above thirty years old are collecting at the town hall. Flyers are strewn across the town of a missing cat with a 500 quid reward. Old man Jenkins is missing and he was last seen at the docks.

Phase Three: Solving The Mystery.

Looks like a malfunctioning servant robot was delivering too much pasta to room 206. All the plants are growing four times as fast because of a chemical in the rain. The alien we thought was in the woods was just an old man in a dressing gown drugged up on meds.

Phase Four: Showdown

The ape-like creature is standing on top of the huge cooling tower and is about to transport the building to its homeworld. The school bully finally breaks and has taken his teacher hostage at the quarry. You gotta deliver the letter to your crush before curfew.

Phase Five: Aftermath and Closure

Life moves on, the kids have a familiar story to tell but nobody will believe them. Personally, I use this chance to explain the closure to my story and give the players a what-if.

Phase Six: Change

This is where you assign your kids experience and ask your players if they're happy with the character they have, during the adventures they may get injured, have more relationships or change their problem.
What has changed your character after playing the adventure?

Roleplaying in the 80s with Tales From The Loop - Part One

What's Coming Up Next?

In the next few weeks, you'll expect to see some resources for a variety of mysteries, day to day life and my very own adventures made for my own players.

Thanks for reading, let's get adventuring!

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