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Investigate Tales from the Loop in the Starter Set

In 2017, Tales from the Loop took five gold Ennie awards. In 2020, a starter set comes with an optional virtual offer to include Roll20 content with the setting also playing on Amazon Prime as a mini-series. Is it worth getting? What’s in the box?
talesfromtheloop.jpg
Three years ago I started freelance writing for EN World by running and reviewing Tales from the Loop. I’m thrilled to return to the Loop with the new starter set sent to me as a complimentary copy.

The box comes shrink wrapped with iconic art by Simon Stålenhag on the cover. There is a nostalgic feel of mystery opening it, which is perfect for this game. Inside is a bag of ten orange dice, two booklets, a poster map, five character handouts, and a catalog. Like getting an old D&D Basic boxed set. The setup is simple with rules and an adventure with ready to use pre-generated characters, double sided poster map, and dice. The catalog covers Free League’s other RPGs and board game. The PDF is under $5 so if you don’t need the dice or poster map, that is a great option.

The poster map is made of sturdy paper with a Swedish setting on one side and an American one on the other. The five player characters are teens with lots of challenges: stealing, parents drinking and ignoring and cheating on each other, problems with love, social pressures, and more. Two of the kids are popular (jock and popular kid), two are not (weirdo and bookworm), and the last is a kid sister (computer geek). I really like these PCs and would enjoy seeing them work through their difficulties and get some wins in life.

The boxed set is like an extended quickstart with everything needed to play the included adventure. There are no rules for character creation or advancement or for making further adventures. You can use the set to quickly introduce new players to the game or to provide a new GM with a much smaller ruleset to get started. Because everything needed to play is included it is quick to read and easy to get started at the table.

The rules cover the six core principles of the Loop that create the theme and mood, the 80s that never were to cover the setting, the rules used for the kids, and the trouble the PCs can get into. The PCs cannot die, but suffer conditions which make succeeding at skills rolls more difficult. The teens can be upset, scared, exhausted, injured, and finally broken.

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The Recycled Boy is a 16 page adventure. Here is the intro: What if your friend suddenly isn’t himself anymore? What if he accuses you of wanting to hurt him? And what if he disappears and strange things start to happen all around you? The adventure delves into an iconic Mystery involving science and the weird tech of the setting. Straight forward and easy to run, but interesting and driven by the players’ search for Clues. It opens with a giant robot iconic to the setting.

I suppose the real question is, what do you do with the boxed set once you’ve run it once? If you can run it for multiple groups that is a good option. If you have an aspiring GM you are helping you could pass the box on to them to get started. Also, the included dice cost around $20 as does the map, so you actually save close to $10 from retail price buying them in the starter set instead of separately.

To advance PCs and so they can better investigate further Mysteries requires the Tales from the Loop RPG (PDF). Two adventures have also been published so far Our Friends the Machines and Out of Time. Tales from the Loop features novel mechanics and is well supported. Try it out with the starter set and if you enjoy the featured Mystery buy the full rules and any adventures you need to help your Kids continue to gather Clues and find Trouble.
 
Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody

I'm curious how this compares to the Alien starter set. That one seems to have a similar big savings on the dice, first adventure and other peripheral stuff, but I was under the impression it included character creation rules, too.
 

I'm curious how this compares to the Alien starter set. That one seems to have a similar big savings on the dice, first adventure and other peripheral stuff, but I was under the impression it included character creation rules, too.

I haven't ordered the Alien starter set because I pre-ordered the full rules instead. I really like the full system. The description of the starter set reads: A 104-page rulebook with a fast and effective ruleset designed specifically to support the core themes of ALIEN: horror and action in the cold darkness of space.

So I'm not sure if it has character creation rules. But with 104 pages it would be shortened. Character creation in the core book starts on page 25 and ends with gear on page 140. Many, many options.
 

SavageCole

Punk Rock Warlord
When I was an angst-ridden team starting in gaming, we used to play characters that we fantasized being. An Army Ranger, racer, wealthy, powerful lawyer, scholarly writer. Now I literally have all of those as actual people in my group, and we’re talking about playing angst-ridden teenagers. Wild how life works.
 

When I was an angst-ridden team starting in gaming, we used to play characters that we fantasized being. An Army Ranger, racer, wealthy, powerful lawyer, scholarly writer. Now I literally have all of those as actual people in my group, and we’re talking about playing angst-ridden teenagers. Wild how life works.

If only we could overcome tpday's s problems by working together as a plucky group of colorful teenagers Actually sounds nice. And so much more simple.
 

Skywalker

Explorer
I'm curious how this compares to the Alien starter set. That one seems to have a similar big savings on the dice, first adventure and other peripheral stuff, but I was under the impression it included character creation rules, too.

The Alien Starter set doesn't include full PC Creation rules, and neither does the Tales from the Loop Starter set.

The two sets are similar except the Alien one has more given its a bigger and more complex game. The rulebook is bigger, the adventure is bigger, there is more dice, and there are also cards. Both have a map and pregens. This is also reflected in the price as the Alien Starter is almost twice that of Tales.

Other than the adventure, the real value of these sets is the dice (if they interest you, as they are a good portion of the overall cost) and the rulebooks. Though they don't include PC Creation, they are great table reference books when playing the game as the rules in them are otherwise complete.
 

Awesome, thank you. I had wondered why/how Free League was giving away the farm with the Alien starter set, but if it only works with pregen characters, that means the core book has a lot of value beyond the world lore and art.

And yeah, once you add the adventure and dice sets in, everything else in the starter set is essentially "free" compared to buying it a la carte.
 

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