[Let’s Study: Tales From The Loop, Part 5] Mysteries, Landscapes and Review

Posted: June 20, 2017 by pointyman2000 in Let's Study, Reviews, Roleplaying Games, Tales From the Loop
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Today we’re taking a look at the Storytelling chapters of Tales From The Loop, called Mystery and Mystery Landscapes.

In keeping with the tone of most of the book, Tales From the Loop tackles Mysteries in an interesting manner, presenting a framework that will work in the context of a TV series episodic format. To help a GM formulate a session, they provide six phases of a mystery:

  1. Introducing the Kids – Each Kid gets a scene from Everyday Life to establish who they are and what the status quo is.
  2. Introducing the Mystery – The Kids stumble onto the Mystery and begin to investigate.
  3. Solving the Mystery – By pursuing the Mystery, the kids get into and hopefully overcome Trouble to get to the truth.
  4. Showdown – Upon discovering the truth, the Kids are then compelled to do something about it to put and end to the threat.
  5. Aftermath – The Mystery is solved, and the Kids return to Everyday Life, as mundanity sets in again and the status quo is preserved
  6. Change – The Kids apply changes to their character based on the adventure, and grow and evolve accordingly

Each phase is clearly explained in the Mystery chapter, and I have to admit that it does lend quite a bit of solid structure to one-shots or episodic games. However, Tales From the Loop manages to also provide options for those who want to bring the game to a broader feeling campaign with the introduction of the Mystery Landscape format.

The “Landscape” term isn’t new to me as Symbaroum also used it for “Adventure Landscapes” to denote sandbox type settings that are peppered with hooks, but rely on the actions of players to move the plot forward.

Tales From the Loop uses the same principle, and provides a sample Mystery Landscape with NPCs, plot hooks and mysteries that Kids could stumble into and explore at their own initiative.

The Landscape in particular is very thorough, and I can see entire campaigns revolving around the sample in the book. That said it’s also a great starting point for your own kind of Mystery Landscape featuring your favorite city.

Mysteries

The book then proceeds to go into several sample Mysteries, each of which is good for several hours of play. I’d rather not go into too much detail here as to avoid spoilers, but there’s plenty here to get a campaign up and running, and to school new GMs and players in how the feel of a Tales From the Loop campaign works.

Review

Tales From The Loop was an RPG that came out of nowhere with a unique selling point: “Play as kids in the 80’s that never was.” Combining Everyday Life with Weirdness and Nostalgia to create a strange, heady brew, Tales From the Loop is able to convey their setting extremely well. The artwork and layout are stunning and easy to read.

The Kids as a focus of the adventures are highlighted by the elegant system. Mechanics are just enough to provide structure, but are invisible in play. Instead, character-based traits like Pride and Iconic Items help build up on the “Who” of the characters and use that as a basis for play rather than a character build.

All of this comes as a particular cost, however: Tales From the Loop is an extremely specialized game. Focused on the mood of a specific time, and for a particular genre of mystery/adventure, don’t expect to be given a lot of flexibility in terms of other kinds of games.

But that said, if you are looking for the perfect fit of 80’s mystery as kids then you won’t find anything better than Tales From the Loop.

If you’d like to follow along or get your own copy of Tales From the Loop, you can grab the PDF over at DriveThruRPG for only $24.99

If you’d like to support me in making more Let’s Study Review series, then please consider contributing to my Patreon

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