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...