Thursday, April 2, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Games That Shaped Me (Part 7)

Tales From The Loop - Fria Ligan (2017)

The final entry on my "Games That Shaped Me" little blog series is the most recent one too. I've tried to make it as chronological as possible, and this is definitely the game that has had a big impact on me. You're probably already familiar with the game set in the 1980s where a mysterious company has built a CERN-like particle accelerator style facility known as The Loop. It's the 80s you remember, kids on bikes, walkmans, VHS-tapes, skateboards and so on. But it's "the 80s that never was", so the world is the same, but there are robots, anti-grav vehicles, and weird science experiments that have unleashed dinosaurs and portals onto the rural landscape.

Based on the amazing paintings and art book of Simon Stålenhag, the art alone was to sell the game to me, but then the reviews started appearing and it was obvious that the game was something special.

Why did it have such an impact?

I grew up playing tabletop games in my teens, and so you could kinda call me an old-school gamer. I was used to pages and pages of rules, options, systems, and intricate details of how combat or car chases or crazy science works. Combat turns, rounds, initiative and the like...

Then along comes this game. This simple, beautiful game.

I mean, Character Creation is 16 pages. And 8 of those are full page descriptions of the Archetypes.

The whole game system is on 12 pages. And these are heavily illustrated with the gorgeous art.

Okay, I don't want to name and shame anyone so I'll pick a game I designed. The Doctor Who RPG, in its most recent incarnation (12th Doctor) has 46 pages of character creation, and 51 pages of rules. And I thought when I was working on Doctor Who that it was rules light, and I think it was for the time! I guess it is when you compare it to something like 5e D&D with 154 pages of character creation (just in the Player's Handbook). 

I read Tales from the Loop and thought "I need to rethink my life choices!" 

Okay, so Loop has a great system, but sometimes actually succeeding at a task is hard (nothing like rolling nine D6 and not getting a single success) but that's helped with the way you can push a roll, use your Pride, or take a condition to succeed. And you're playing children. So battling a security robot with a stick, a water pistol and a flashlight is going to be tough. 

It has certainly shaken up my game design. I guess at my age I can't be bothered to read pages upon pages of rules. I want it to be simple, quick, and not take me out of the story, while still influencing the narrative. Something I hope the Doctor Who RPG does anyway.

Looking at the rules for WILD I've been working on, the simplicity of Tales From The Loop (and to come extent Blades In The Dark) have certainly made me consider what you need to detail. At the moment, the complete rules for WILD run to about 10 pages. While it's a far cry from the awesome games that are being produced on a single page (I don't think I can ever be smart enough to do that), I feel this is a step in the right direction for me. 

We played Tales from the Loop for ages last year and it lead to some really cool and quite tense gaming - something I haven't encountered since those old Kult games. We took a break for some Aegean and Scum & Villainy, but have recently returned to Tales From The Loop - this time set in the late 80's ready to progress into its sequel game, Things From The Flood - where the Loop has closed after something bad has happened, and weird creatures are emerging from the floodwaters. Awesome


Well, that's the last of my seven Games That Shaped Me entries. I've just been challenged to do something similar with TV Series, which is going to be really difficult considering the amount of TV I've absorbed over the years...

Stay tuned...
Stay Safe...
Stay Home!

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