Posts Tagged ‘roleplaying’

The hubbub

Over Presidents Day weekend as is my ritual I attended Con of the North, the local tabletop gaming convention here in the Twin Cities.

One of the two games I ran was Tales From the Loop. The game has generated a lot of buzz winning a lot of awards this summer, all well deserved, the game was the darling of this years ENie awards.

The nostalgia

I first discovered the universe of The Loop when art by Simon Stålenhag started popping up in my instagram feed. The art showed the landscape of a 1980s similar but different from our own. A world of robots, weird science, a world changed by discoveries made possible by supercolliders aka Loops! Juxtaposed with the weird science are normal kids doing kid like things in this fantastical world that the adults take for granted.

This is the space where the game lives. Player characters are tweens and early teens living near a supercollider and dealing with kid problems and Loop related weirdness. The kids largely fend for them selves, adults are too busy adulting to notice or care about the wonders or the weirdness.

The game hits all those sweet spots if 80s nostalgia that Stranger Things hits for the Gen X set. No worries the game is still fun for folks under 40. My players at the con ranged from twenty somethings to 40 somethings. If you have seen 80 kid flicks and teen movies you will be just fine, although the lack of cell phones can be a bit jarring for some.

The game features a nice guide to the 80s so you can get the feel of things.

System and gameplay

TFTL is very rules light. The basic dice mechanic is a pool of D6s consisting of an attribute plus any applicable skill. The system puts player agency first and is very narrative. The game works best when players run with the story elements the GM lays out.

In my convention game the players added things into the story that took it into many interesting directions that I wouldn’t have planned or even occurred to me. The unobtrusive rules allow the story to keep rolling.

The game does have a GM screen and it is great all of the minimal crunch fits nicely on the 3 panels. I only had to open the book once during the game almost all rules questions are dealt with in the screen.

Final thoughts

In the whole this is a beautiful game inside and out. It has an elegant rules set that stays out of the way and lets you tell a story with your friends that will leave you wanting to delve deeper into the world.

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If you have been reading this blog you have been thrilled by the I Fought the Law story-line. Sadly the player of Sean Hastings has dropped out of the game. The group as a whole has moved forward and we have played a few more scenarios since the last session detailed on this blog. The solution to what happened in Sri Lanaka is this: as the game moves forward, someone will drop a line about Sri Lanka, then every one eles will simply comment. “Hey, we agreed we would never say a word about what happened in Sri Lanka”

tc skyline

Our cast of characters:
Dylan Eldridge – Teenage Wiz kid
Professor  Ray King – Soldier of God
Tyrone Mayfield – Werewolf on the Rise

At the University of St Thomas-Adjunct Faculty Office Ray King Finds himself doing the end of the semester clean-up when the monsignor asks him to stop in and have a chat with a student who is having some trouble.  The student, Billy Wright is freshly back from Afghanistan, and insists no one else can understand why he is hold up in his dorm room.  Ray being a vet of the first Gulf War is able to convince Billy he might understand.

Billy hems and haws but tells a story that to most would be unbelievable story of he and his squads las night in-country and a horrible atrocity committed against an Afghan village,the slaughter of the community and the village elder calling down a curse of vengeance against he and his comrades, with his last breath. The vengeance comes in the form of an Ifrit that is working its way through his comrades, immolating each one of them, Billy knows it is just a matter of time. Ray knows what he needs to do, he starts making calls to Tyrone and Dylan.

Dylan is not answering his phone. Dylan and his friend George Marcone are at George’s fathers bowling alley/bar, Memory Lanes to hopefully meet some girls at the newly established Ladies Night promotion. The place is hopping a local disco tribute band is on tap for entertainment and Dylan and George are starting to make time with some female patrons when Dylan falls to the floor with a vision of the bartender bursting into flames as the song Disco Inferno plays.

Once on his feet he explains he is fine to the onlookers and notices a sign over the bar that says “Welcome back Nick!” A bartender with a military haircut is dutifully slinging drinks. Dylan goes for his phone, and returns Ray’s call as the opening bars of Disco Inferno play over the sound system. Dylan tells Ray to get to Memory Lanes ASAP, as a humanoid dower of flame erupts from thin air and the bartender is set a blaze. Dylan quick on his feet uses cold magics from his Winter Court heritage to fight the creature and save the bar before the whole place burns. The Ifrit warns Dylan not to stop him on his mission before exiting back into the Never-never.

EMS arrived as do Ray and Tyrone. Statements are given, nobody admits to seeing a anthropomorphic pillar of fire attacking the poor bartender. After comparing notes they round up Billy and head over to the Basilica hoping that it will offer some protection from the supernatural threat.

Billy is encourage to make use of his time at the church repenting and seriously consider turning him self in for war crimes. Billy eventually after some soul searching agrees to take responsibility and turn him self in to the the military police at Fort Snelling. Ray calls detective Baker to take him into official custody and do the transport.

On the road the Ifrit strikes, manifesting in the middle of the highway. The car slams into the the creature, it appears no worse for wear. Baker and Billy run for Tyrone’s bike while Ray faces off with the Ifrit. It warns Ray not to interfere, as he like Ray, serves the Almighty and is on a quest of holy vengeance. Ray exchanges blows with the creature but is taken out of the fight, leaving the Ifrit to attack Billy.

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The Ifrit belches fire that imomolates the young man and causes the bike  the crash. Dylan arrives intime to cool down the bike with his cold magic. The Ifrit moves
on, eventually Billy’s confession is passed up the line to his unit and the remaining memebers of the squad taken into custody.

Some of you may have noticed that this story is very similar to a subplot of one of the last couple of seasons of the HBO series True Blood. You are correct I am a thief only the urban fantasy series and foreign war and names have been changed. No appologies though, it felt right for the game.