Tales from the Loop
I’ve run a total of four sessions of Tales from the Loop now and I think it’s a great game. I, like many folks out there, was wrestling with whether I was just nostalgic for the source material and googley-eyed from the gorgeous art or if there was a good game in there. For me, I think it’s a great game.
Last night for our final session we broke into the Loop to confront the scientists who had maliciously placed our kids into stasis tubes only to find out that one of the kids was an android replacement and another was a transdimensional clone that was the first step in an invasion by really nasty creatures. The players made very good use of the Lead skill which brings me to something I don’t like. I didn’t like that you can roll Lead and clear conditions on another kid until I cracked the book open later and realized that it has to be in private, one-on-one. The interpersonal requirements to heal conditions are one of my favorite parts of this game.
This was scheduled to be a 3-shot game and I REALLY wanted to finish last night so things were a little rushed. One of the most important things I noticed is, like Lowell Francis mentioned in his post, keep the kids grounded in real life. The game is still cool but there is a layer of awesome that gets stripped away if you don’t see your kids interacting with the people around them WITHOUT crazy conspiracies and holes leading into alternate dimensions. Use the people around them. That is my advice to myself in the future.
We had our first test of the Extended Trouble rules. Given that most of my players angled for their best skills a 2xPlayer Trouble was very little trouble at all. As things heated up toward the end I did increase difficulties (they were breaking into Section 7, a super-secret area deep underneath the Loop facility after all!) and by the end one of the kids was a breath away from Broken and the other kids all had at least one Condition marked.
One part I have to call out is that one of my players had a small, robotic eye with spider legs given to him by his older sister, a roboticist. His sister was very ill during the first game and, when that character returned two years later, his sister was already in a coma. When they had to sacrifice the small robot at the end to destroy the dimensional doppelganger it said goodbye in his sister’s voice. “Goodbye, little brother.” Really heartbreaking.
The story I came up with we only barely scratched the surface of. This deep texture is partially a result of the relationship map that we kept iterating on as people dropped in an dropped out again. Despite some player turnover (a lot, actually!) every time we made a new character they added to the people in the background of the game which was awesome. This actually was kind of a 4-shot because we started with a single game and only two of the five players were able to return so I advanced the time a few years and we made new kids with the newer group. Layering the new kids’ relationships on top of the old, and then going through the older relationships and seeing what happened to them and how they changed made the setting feel like a living, breathing thing for me. Unfortunately, most of this I didn’t get to use given the limitations of the three sessions.
I would love to bring this to my table for an extended game with the fallout of one mystery coloring the mysteries to follow. People coming, people going. Even doing a generational thing with kids where the new kids can run into the older ones who have gone on to high school. Even though I don’t have any likely plans to bring this to my table again I went and bought the dice for it. I kickstarted the new book by Simon Stalenhag. Though my Tales from the Loop differs significantly from his I still appreciate the really evocative art that is like candy for my brain. Great game and I would love to come back to it sooner rather than later!