Explore A Strange World Without Death In Tales From The Loop
  • Explore A Strange World Without Death In Tales From The Loop

    Most RPGs are designed around slipping into the shoes of someone exceptional, but in Tales From the Loop the heroes are a bunch of teenagers whose powers are limited to baseball, punk rock and half-remembered DOS prompts. Perhaps that’s what makes it one of the most fascinating games to be released in a long time? Produced by Sweden’s Free League Publishing, Tales From the Loop was spawned from two interwoven strands of inspiration. The first is a series of paintings by Simon Stålenhag showing an imaginary town based around a powerful and mysterious particle accelerator known as 'The Loop.'

    The second comes from the hard-to-pin-down genre that sees teenagers set out on adventures that grown-ups are too dull or distracted to notice. It conjures up feelings of E.T.and The Goonies, as well as more modern fare like Super 8 and Stranger Things. More than that, it pulls from our own memories of building dens in the woods and dealing with teenage angst.

    The bit where raptors turn up is probably a new one, though.

    While the setting is unusual, the principles of Tales From the Loop should feel familiar to experienced gamers. For example, the traditional classes/roles found in most RPGs replaced by ‘types’ drawn from schoolyard stereotypes such as Jocks and Computer Geeks.

    Over the course of a ‘Mystery’ the kids are likely to encounter a few of the weird and wonderful happenings caused by the research station, posing problems to solve and questions to be answered. Perhaps they befriend an escaped robot who will have its brand-new consciousness wiped if caught, for example, or they notice a snatch of music on the radio that makes all the adults behave weirdly whenever it plays.

    Getting to the bottom of the mystery requires all the exploration and danger you may expect, and this is handled with a handful of core mechanics. There are no rules for combat and no such thing as hit points –in fact it’s plainly stated in the rules that characters cannot die – and generally it's light on the crunch side of things.

    However, it’s worth noting that rules-light doesn’t mean the same thing as simple. Tales From The Loop is a game that asks an awful lot from both its players and the GM,and probably won’t be something that everybody is going to find particularly easy or even enjoyable. For example, while you won’t be expected to dredge up the rules for grappling, you will need to be comfortable improvising and offering up ideas for scenes. If even one member of the group is hesitant to step up and do some proactive role-playing, the session can easily grind to an awkward halt.

    If you can step past this, those that are willing to risk a few bumps and take a shot at quick-fire story-telling will find a lot to like in the game. It's brimming over with imagination and charm, and for the most part the art is absolutely stunning.

    The game’s Swedish heritage shines through in places and may be an acquired taste, but if you approach it with the right mindset and the right players at your table you won’t be disappointed.
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