Monday, May 15, 2017


It's been a while since I was really excited about a published RPG.

I've looked forward to things that were lackluster upon release, just weren't what I thought they'd be, or that never ended up coming out at all. As noted on the blog several times, especially here, I not only have enough games in my collection to last me a lifetime, I also tend to go back to the same five, or six games again and again and don't need new ones to do what I like to do.

At the same time, I like trying new games. That's a thing with me, and it always has been. I like discovering a new approach to the craft, or being inspired by a new take on things. 

Periodically I will hear about a new game coming out, get interested, do some research, and more often than not take a look at a friends copy. What I mean is, my excitement wanes and I don't feel driven to buy it when it comes out. Sometimes I do, but it is very rare these days.

However...I just found one that I really like. Maybe even love. I'm talking about...

Inspired by the art book of the same name by Swedish artist Simon Stalenhag, Tales from the Loop is an RPG set in an alternate history 1980s.

In addition to catching the thrilling adventures of Knight Rider, and the A-Team on television, listening to the music of Bonnie Tyler and Culture Club, and going to the movies to see The Breakfast Club, or Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, you can watch industrial robots, flying cargo haulers, and ominous towers pass by as you bike home with your friends.

The premise is that The Loop, a massive particle accelerator first built in the 1950s, and active recently has caused weird machines and strange occurrences to happen around your otherwise normal suburban home town. You play kids, between 10 and 15, who investigate the odd goings on and try to unravel the mysteries behind them. 

The setting that comes with the game postulates the creation of one such Loop on islands just offshore of Stockholm, Sweden, and another not far from Boulder City, Colorado and the Hoover Dam in the US.

The feeling evoked by the game's concepts are reminiscent of films like E.T., The Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, Back to the Future, and the recent Netflix phenomenon Stranger Things. 

Perhaps it should be...

I think the game is brilliant, with an easy to understand and play set of rules, and an intriguing premise. I have a plethora of ideas for running it, but I would definitely change some things.

I am not a fan of the alternate history where advanced technology openly exists along side analog devices like the walkman, and the Sega Master System. That just doesn't make a lot of sense, and more importantly it doesn't fit the genre.

In all the cases I mentioned above - The Goonies, Stranger Things, etc. - the world is normal, without any fantastical elements prior to the situation that arises. It is the very fact that the world perceived by the characters and the audience matches the real world that makes the events that take place in the story so extraordinary.

I would set my game(s) in a world with the only amazing thing being that some government, or independent scientific research foundation/corporation has built a super collider near the PCs' home town. After the particle collider is tested, strange events start happening, and fantastic elements are introduced to the world. Also, when I say the world, I am really talking about the immediate vicinity of the Loop, and the PC's town. 

I am also thinking of moving the central location to somewhere in the North Eastern United States. Why? Well, simply put, I know it better. Stalenhag obviously based his book on the suburban region of Sweden where he grew up. I would probably go with the suburban/rural areas of Upstate New York where my father lived during the 80s. The low mountains, the large number of rivers, and streams, area weather, the small town feel coupled with isolation in the winter - all these components are familiar to me and would be easier to convey to players than Sweden or Nevada, which are places I've never been, or haven't spent much times in [respectively].

Anyone else check this game out yet? Curious to hear what others think of it. 

Hopefully more to come on this...

Barking Alien


  1. I was this close to backing the Kickstarter but I realised my group would never go for it so I held back. It does look super interesting though so I'm looking forward to seeing what you make of it.

    1. A bummer that your crew wouldn't at least give it a try.

      I'm sure I can get a group to give it a whirl, but running it long term may be a very different story.

  2. I was wondering if you knew about this game. I've been hearing about it from a kid in my gaming group who really loves it.

    1. The game's premise - or at least, the potential one I see in my mind - is pretty powerful.

      I remember vividly (sometimes more than I'd like) being a kid during the 1980s. It was a difficult time for me for personal reasons, but it was also a time of discovery, and forming friendships I still have to this day.

      I plan on tapping into the good, the bad, and the nearly unbelievable experiences I had as a middle school kid to make it work. I think it can.

  3. So I get some of the attraction based on the concept but does it do anything mechanically that is special? I mean I could see doing a game of "80's kids getting into trouble" in a bunch of systems from BRP to Savage Worlds.

    1. Well, for one thing I wouldn't use either of those systems to run this. T crunchy. This is a game for playing kids, and kids don't need detailed skill lists, or an tactically involved combat system.

      Tales from the Loop has a number of adaptions that make it work well with the genre. What a kid is most proud of about themselves or in their lives (Pride), what scares them or hampers them (Problem), what drives them to solve mysteries and rush into danger (Drive), and their relationships with the important people in their lives - edpecially the other kids in your group - (Relationships) all impact the game both mechanically and story wise.

      As I have noted on this blog many times, the game rules should fit setting. They should taste the same. I'm not a fan of using generic ingredients to create a specific flavor.