Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tales from the Loop Review Part 2 of 6

Chapter 2:  The Age Of The Loop

First off, an astute reader would recognize the fact that I forgot to include the sixth principle of Tales of the Loop in part 1 of my review. This last principle is the setting is a collaborative one between the GM and players. The GM sets the scenes and describes them but the players are just as responsible as the GM. The players are encouraged to help the GM by providing details. Why does the old cat lady down the street hate you?

On to chapter two. This chapter contains all of the fluff and background information on the Swedish Loop. This is where you find out that this game is about the 80’s that never was.

Those of us that are old enough to remember life in the 80’s will remember iconic popstars and movies of that generation. Not to mention the cold war and threat of Global Thermonuclear War (would you like to play a game?).

In this game technology is more advanced than what we remember. The particle accelerators in Sweden and the U.S.A. are still operating. Robots and flying magnetized ships called gauss freighters are commonplace. The Soviet Union discovered an effect of magnetization that allows robotic freighters to fly along the routes of the Earth’s magnetic fields. It is stronger in the northern hemisphere and larger ships are seen there while smaller ones are in the southern hemisphere.

It’s important to note here that “Tales from the Loop is science fiction, but it is not about technology. At its heart, this game is about growing up in the shadows of strange things and solving mysteries. It is about the Kids.”

By the end of 59’ the world’s first particle accelerator is built in Boulder City, Nevada. Then later in 69’ the Swede’s built their Loop which is the biggest in the world. It is operated by Riksenergi, a government agency of course. They are the largest employer on the islands and most of the populace consider their employer as “theirs” and are very protective when rumor mill is prolific.

They go on to describe life in the 80’s in Sweden as a tumultuous time with the government trying to navigate between capitalism and communism. Although Sweden is officially neutral, communism is a strong sentiment amongst the country and they refer to themselves as a Social Democratic government.

The Mälaren Islands is your typical middle-class suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. Almost in the countryside but close enough to the city to make a daily commute possible. Who cares about all this, right? We’re playing as kids in the 80’s. When I was a kid, all I cared about was what we would play after school. Not about politics and other adult shit.

The next section of this chapter is all about life as a kid in Sweden in the 80’s. During my childhood, the BMX was the king of the hill, it still is in this game. While the BMX is the preferred mode of transportation other means are of course available. Bus passes and walking being the most common. Homework, social life, tests, bullies, chores, and dealing with parents and siblings are just a few of the tools available to the GM.

The next three sections describe each of the three islands, Svartsjölandet, Munsö, and Adelsö. Svartsjölandet is the main island of the setting. Here they describe 6 points of interest which include settlements, an abandoned factory, a stone palace that was turned into a prison but has been dismantled, and the newer prison that replaced the palace conversion.

The three massive cooling towers as seen on the cover of the book are located on the island of Munsö. This is the heart of the Loop and is still open to the public. I know what you’re thinking. What the fuck? Open to the public? The island is open to the public, not the facility itself. There, you will need security clearance to access the Gravitron, the power generator for the particle accelerator.

The last island of Adelsö is covered by forests. Only a few farmers are the inhabitants. Three points of interest are detailed which include a small village, an old royal estate, and a youth correctional facility.

Hang on. We’re almost there. The Loop. There are three loops to be exact. Prim-1, Prim-2, and Aux-1. Visitors to the facility need to pass multiple security checkpoints and it should go without saying, NO KIDS ALLOWED. Although there are multiple underground service tunnels with unmanned entrances. There are of course security measures in place making it difficult but possible to gain access.

Inside the facility, secret projects and experiments are conducted. Speculations and rumors of large reptile animals caused by the high energy produced at the Loop fuel the wild stories told by the kids these days. One unexplained phenomena is the echo sphere. It is a large metal sphere that appears around the perimeter of the Loop. No one knows who made, what they are, or what their purpose is.

This is a very intriguing book to say the least. The artwork is amazing! I must confess, this is the main reason I made the Kickstarter pledge. The other being nostalgia, RPing kids in the 80’s, that was my childhood. My only complaint thus far is the font size used. In the PDF version they use a Sabon font sized at 9. This is slightly too small for my older eyes. I would prefer an 11 or 12 but this is being nitpicky and I can adjust the size of the pdf for my eyes anyway. I should also mention that this is the longest chapter in the book clocking in at 17 pages total.