Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tales from the Loop Review Part 4 of 6

Chapter 4:  The Kids

Now we’re getting somewhere. Here is where we find out about character creation.

But wait! There’s already a problem. On page 49 it says “There are four pre-made Kids at the end of this book. These can be used to start playing immediately, without having to create characters for the game.” THEY’RE NOT IN THE FUCKING BOOK! I searched high and low to find them. I scoured the interwebs only to find out on Fria Ligan’s forum that pregenerated characters will NOT be included in the book. Character generation appears to fairly fast and easy but that’s not the point. If you say you’re going to include some pregens then put them in the book or at the very least send out an addendum and apologize for the inconvenience. Okay, I'll get off of my soap box now.

As I said earlier, character creation appears fast and simple. The steps to create a character are as follows.

  1. Choose a type.
  2. Pick an age between 10-15.
  3. Distribute Attribute points.
  4. Figure out how many luck points you start with.
  5. Distribute 10 skill points.
  6. Pick an iconic item.
  7. Pick a problem.
  8. Pick a drive.
  9. Pick a pride.
  10. Define relationships to other kids and NPC’s.
  11. Select an anchor.
  12. Name your kid.
  13. Write a short description.
  14. Choose your favorite song.
That may seem like a lot but they have made it easy because for every character type they have broken down most of these steps into multiple choice options for you. For example, the first character type is Bookworm. The Bookworm has a choice of three different iconic items. They are Dog named Plutten (named Tiny for Americans), an Encyclopedia, and a Magnifying glass. Each character type gives you options for Iconic Item, Problem, Drive, Pride, Relationships to other kids, Relationships to NPC’s, Anchor, and Typical Names. Of course, you don’t have to pick any of the choices given to you. You can make up your own. So that takes care of items 1, and 6-12.

There are eight character types in this book.
  1. Bookworm
  2. Computer Geek
  3. Hick
  4. Jock
  5. Popular Kid
  6. Rocker
  7. Troublemaker
  8. Weirdo
 Before I go too much further I will attach a character sheet here so you can see what all the attributes and skills are. Here is a form fillable character sheet.

Next. we need to pick an age which can be from 10-15. Your age determines how may attribute points and luck points you get. You start with attribute points equal to your age (e.g. 10 years old = 10 attribute points). You can never have more than 5 points in any attribute and you also must have a minimum of 1 in each as well. The four attributes are Body, Tech, Heart, and Mind. Body is the equivalent to strength and agility (dexterity for you D&Der’s). Tech is your ability to comprehend, fix, or manipulate all technology in general. Heart is basically charisma. It’s your ability to make friends, persuade someone, or know some contacts. Lastly, we have Mind. This is your smarts or intelligence. It allows you to solve puzzles, find weaknesses, and know shit.

Luck points are used to re-roll dice when you get into trouble. The younger you are, the luckier you are (beginners luck?). These luck points get refreshed at the start of every session (bennies for the Savage Worlds fans). Luck points are determined by subtracting your age from 15 (e.g. 10 years old = 5 luck points).

When you grow another year older, you gain an attribute point to spend. You also lose a luck point every year and it is permanent. Once your character reaches the age of 16, you’re too old for this game and need to make a new character.

Now we need to pick our skills. We start with 10 points to distribute for skills, but before we do that, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Each attribute is related to three skills.

Body – Force, Move, and Sneak.
Tech – Calculate, Program, and Tinker.
Heart – Charm, Contact, and Lead.
Mind – Comprehend, empathize, and investigate.

Every character type has a set of skills that are considered key skills. For example, the Bookworm’s key skills are Calculate, Comprehend, and Investigate. Each of these key skills can have a maximum of 3 to start with and all other skills can only have a maximum of 1.

I’ll skip the last two steps of character creation as those should be self-explanatory.

The next two items are things that are supposed to be done collaboratively amongst the players and GM. First, every group of friends needs a hideout. Not only a place where the kids can be alone and feel safe, but also a place where NPC’s can’t go. Where is it? What is it? These are just a few questions to ask while building your fort.

After all characters are created and the hideout is built, the GM will have a series of questions for everyone. These should be answered before the game starts. Some questions are for the individual kids and some are for the group as a whole. There are 26 questions total but only 6-9 will be asked. One example of a question is “In what way has your Problem gone from bad to worse lately?”

Like I said, it looks like a lot but it is easy and well laid out. Character creation can be really fast, say 20-30 minutes, or it can take as long as you want, and come up with your own ideas.

There are two more things included in this chapter that aren’t considered a part of character creation. The first being Conditions. The fourth principle of Tales from the Loop is that kids don’t die. They can however, suffer conditions. “When you try to overcome Trouble but fail, or if you push a dice roll (Chapter 5), you may be forced to take a Condition.” There are 5 conditions and each one causes a -1 to your dice roll. These conditions are also cumulative (e.g. 3 conditions = a -3 to the dice roll). The 5th condition is called broken. When this happens, you automatically fail all dice rolls. You are not dead but something really bad has happened and you are hurt.

The last item is experience. The GM will award experience (XP) at the end of every session. It is covered in more detail in chapter 6 but they do mention that it can be used to raise skills and it takes 5 XP to raise a skill one point.

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