Tales from the Loop: A Review by Devon

Hey everyone and welcome to Rocks Fall Reviews! on NonZero Sum Games! The podcast Rocks Fall! is your home for the best game reviews, creator interviews, and actual play in the podcasting world! Like what you see here? Check out my podcast on your favorite podcatcher. I’m Devon and this week we’re talking about Tales from the Loop—The Roleplaying Game.

Tales from the Loop RPG by Free League Publishing

  • System Name: Tales from the Loop-The Roleplaying Game
  • System Creator(s): Nils Hintze, Tomas Harenstam, based on the Loop Universe art from Simon Stalenhag

Flow of Gameplay:

This game flows similarly to a Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) setting like Monster of the Week where the party determines how things will proceed (within reason). The interesting spin this game takes on flow however is that most “combat” will not involve any fighting. The issues the party confronts are called Trouble and rarely does that involve actual combat. The most fighting the book describes is kid versus kid and basically scuffling, where both players roll a die and compare the outcome. Highest wins the contest. Regardless, Trouble is resolved by cooperatively dealing with the situation using smarts and the skills the kids have. It is a pretty simple process and is interesting because kids can’t die in this game, therefore combat is not really needed.

Character Creation:

The character creation system with this book is easy to pick up and super simple. I detail it pretty comprehensively in the last two episodes of the podcast where my wife and I create characters in this system. It was pretty fun so go give it a listen to hear our takes on it.

For a brief overview of character creation:

Choose your type of kid:

  • Bookworm
  • Computer Geek
  • Hick
  • Jock
  • Popular Kid
  • Rocker
  • Troublemaker
  • Weirdo
Tales from the Loop

Tales from the Loop

Next you move on to the details:

  • decide on your age, between 10 and 15 years old
  • distribute points equal to your age to the four attributes (Body, Tech, Heart, Mind), making sure that each has at least 1 point but no more than 5
  • distribute 10 points to the various skills (see photos of the skill section on my Instagram @rocksfallcast)
  • select an Iconic Item
  • choose a Problem
  • pick a Drive
  • pick a Pride
  • define your relationships with the other player’s kids and NPCs
  • select an Anchor
  • name your kid
  • write a description of your kid
  • choose your favorite song (basically flavor text)

The next really cool part is that the group discusses the following:

  • Defining a location of a hideout
  • Answer questions from the GM to determine relationships, group goals, motivations, etc.

Art:

The art for Tales is definitely unique because it includes the extremely harrowing dystopian photography from Simon Stalenhag as well as his brilliant illustrations. One of the consistent gripes I have with core rule books is the art. Some, like Dungeon World, have great art in only a few places while others, such as Call of Cthulhu, have masterfully detailed art spread throughout the entirety of the book. I know this is an unfair comparison because Dungeon World is an indie masterpiece and CoC is published by one of the biggest publishers in the industry but… you get the idea. This book falls squarely into the Cthulhu camp with its art because it is joyful and beautiful, even down to the color scheme throughout the book.

Tales from the Loop

Tales from the Loop

Crunchiness:

This isn’t a crunchy system at all. With combat removed it’s even smoother than most other rules-light systems, which is saying a lot.

Setting/Lore:

The dystopian setting in this book is subtle, beautiful, and mysterious. The story that is presented here is broad enough that anyone who wants to tell a story will be able to jump in and do just that. I love this game. A lot.

Supplements:

To date, there is one supplementary book out for this system called Our Friends the Machines. I don’t have too much experience with this book but it looks to be of the same quality that the main book is. On a side note, the publisher just ended a Kickstarter for a sequel to this book called Things from the Flood that is set in the 1990s. It looks very fun and I can’t wait to get my copy in next year!

Wrap-Up:

Pros

  • rules-light system
  • amazing art
  • beautiful art
  • fascinating setting
  • interesting character development system
  • ingenious use of items

Cons

  • low combat
  • no magic
  • kids as characters (kinda weird playing a child in an RPG)
  • rules-light systm

Overall, I love this system. It’s intuitive, it’s fresh, it’s modern and it’s beautiful. I think the biggest selling point for this system is that my lovely wife Lauren is actually excited to run a game in this system, and she has absolutely no drive to ever GM. That’s how good this system is (take a listen to the episode of Rocks Fall where we go in-depth on this game’s character creation to hear more on this subject). Give it a shot. The physical book is difficult to find but PDFs of the book can be purchased online, just follow the links below.

Where to Find It:

You can find the physical book by using the first link, but it appears to be sold out at the moment. You can find the books on reseller sites but they are going for ridiculous amounts of money. I would suggest waiting until they are restocked. You can find the PDF version by following the second link or DriveThruRPG (click the image below).

Tales from the Loop

Tales from the Loop on DriveThruRPG

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Written by
Devon Trube is a social worker, rights activist, podcaster, gamer and occasional freelance writer best known for his flagship podcast The Streamer’s Guide to the Galaxy, which he co-hosts with his lovely wife, Lauren, and his mystery podcast, Fabled. Devon has been playing Dungeons & Dragons for over a decade, starting with D&D 3.5 in middle school where he fell in love with the game. Devon has since branched out and explored, studied, and played many other systems of tabletop role-playing games and boasts a personal RPG library of over 200 books. His latest podcast, Rocks Fall! was born from that love and seeks to explore the different types of TTRPGs that are out there, as well as a way to highlight the many innovative creators in the role-playing community. Devon can be found all over social media @Moundhousedude and his various projects can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and on your favorite podcast platform as well as occasional writings on http://www.nonzerosumgames.com/

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