Tales from the Loop at Chicago Gameday 46
I ran Fria Ligan’s TftL yesterday as a one-shot for Tim Jensen, Todd Nicholas, Kelly Johnson (can’t tag you, dangit!), Dain Lybarger, and MadJay Brown.
In my opinion, the session was awful, and I’m the one to blame. About two-and-a-half hours in I came up with a great idea for how I should have run the event, and I wanted to punch myself in the face. While my core idea was good — better than anything in the book, IMO — I made my usual missteps. My prep kind of evaporated in my mind, I was too hesitant to get to the main situation, stringing the players along, and I just could not effectively process the r-map I sketched out at the start of the game. (I definitely need more practice with those; I totally fucked this one up and had to re-draw it.) I’m not sure why this happens to me, but it’s pretty consistent the last handful of events I’ve run. Game time comes, and I go blank.
The players told me they had fun, and maybe they did, but I could also see lots of blank faces staring off into the middle distance as focus moved around the table, which for me is always a sure sign of my not having the game well in hand.
Also, as I noticed with Genlab Alpha, all of the time we spent doing the r-map and adding finishing touches to the PCs seems largely wasted. I feel like this is a limitation of the one-shot, but I also wonder how well these elements are really integrated into the game itself. I could have sworn I learned this lesson with GA, but I feel like no way am I going to spend time on this stuff in future Gameday events. Too much of it goes totally unused. That, or I need more practice in how to use it.
As far as the product itself goes, it basically met my expectations. It’s a solid simplification of the ruleset we’ve seen in Mutant: Year Zero, and the core setting concept is good. I feel like there are aspects of the “playbooks” (i.e., the Kid types) that could stand a little more scrutiny, and some more concrete guidance for Mystery creation would have been helpful.
That said, I think the sample campaign presented in the book is kind of goofy. I don’t feel like it really connects to the setting as presented earlier in the text, nor does really explore the possibilities presented in the game. I was hoping for a meta-campaign setup — a la the Mutant games — where the Kids slowly get to the heart of the Loop’s mystery, and the scene depicted on the cover of the book is the big climax — Kids, armed as best they can, about to storm the cooling towers. But, no, there’s nothing like this in the book. Honestly, that was a huge bummer for me.
Naturally, of course now I feel like I could run a much better version of this — or make it the frame of an extended campaign — but I dunno if that will ever happen.
Call it con drop, but I think I need to take a serious look at how I practice this hobby.