Monday, April 3, 2017

Tales from the Loop Review Part 6 of 6

Chapter 6:  The Mystery

This marks the start of the GM section of the book and will be the last post in the series. If you’re a player and want to be surprised by how the game will flow through the session, then I recommend you don’t read this.

A Mystery is the term used for an adventure module that the Kids must solve. How the mystery plays out is up to the Kids, depending on the choices they make. The first part of the Mystery is called The Truth of the Mystery, this is a short overview for the GM which also gives insights in order to help tie the story to the Kids.

There are six phases to a Mystery, they are as follows.
  1. Introducing the Kids.
  2. Introducing the Mystery.
  3. Solving the Mystery.
  4. Showdown.
  5. Aftermath.
  6. Change. 

Phase one is introducing the Kids. At the beginning of a mystery each Kid gets to play a scene from everyday life. This scene may or may not include a trouble. This is an opportunity for the player to show what his Kid is like to the other players and the GM. These scenes should be kept short.

Introducing the Mystery is phase two. This is where the GM lets the Kids see something or hear something that should be looked into. You should try to make sure that all the Kids are present together during this scene or at the very least have another scene to allow all of the Kids talk together and discuss the problem. You may need to emphasize the players Drives in order to get them to bite on Mystery.

Here we get into the meat of the Mystery. Phase 3, solving the Mystery. The GM sets scenes about the Mystery and everyday life. The Kids should be together for the most part during this phase but as we all know sometimes the party gets split up. When this happens, the GM should provide a means to get all the Kids back together.

In most Mysteries, there will be more than one location to visit. Each location should have some clues and possibly a Trouble. You shouldn’t force the Kids to visit all the locations. If they figure out the clues sooner than expected, then let them move on. A clue can be anything really, a letter dropped by Mrs. Smith or shell casings from a gun. Somehow the clues should be connected together that allows the Kids to search out the next clue.

Once the Kids solve the Mystery, they can move on to the next phase, the showdown. This is the crux of the Mystery. This is where the Kids must stop someone or something from happening. Typically, this will be an Extended Trouble. All the Kids should definitely be present for this scene.

After the Kids have stopped little Johnny from crushing the life out of Mr. Johnson by using the robot he stole, we can move on to the Aftermath. Phase five is where we let each of the Kids play out a scene from everyday life. This is meant to show that even though the Kids managed to save the town, no one will believe their story and life moves on. Everything can be explained or rationalized and their story has no merit. These scenes should not have a Trouble associated with them.

Finally, the last phase of the Mystery is change. This is where we allow the players to change their characters. If there is something the player doesn’t like anymore or if the Mystery changed something that dictates a change to one of the Kids, it should be done now. Perhaps a relationship changed, they want a different iconic item, or maybe they solved their Problem and need a new one. If a player went past their birthday during the Mystery, then they get to increase one Ability but they also lose a luck point.

To round out this chapter we will discuss experience points (XP).
After every Mystery or session (up to the GM), the GM will ask each Kid 5 questions. If the Kid can truthfully answer yes to any question then they get one XP, with a potential of up to 5 XP total per Mystery. The five questions are always the same and are: “Did you participate in the session? (Each Kid present always gets at least one XP.) Have you been in Trouble because of your Problem or your Relationships? Did you use, or struggle with, your pride? Did you put yourself at risk for the other Kids? Have you learned something new? (What is it?)”

For every 5 XP, a skill can be raised by 1. Remember that a skill can never go higher than 5. Kids can save their XP but only up to 10 can be saved. XP can only be used to increase a skill before or after a session, never during the session. It would be a good practice for the GM to ask the players if any of them want to increase a skill before starting the session.

Chapter 7:  The Landscape
This chapter provides the GM with some locations and tips on how to use these locations, in both settings of Boulder City, Nevada or the Mälaren Islands in Sweden, to create a sandbox environment for the players to run around. This is different in that it allows the Kids to discover their own Mysteries to solve. I’m not going to delve further into this section because it could potentially reveal information not meant for the players.

Chapter 8:  The Four Seasons Of Mad Science
This chapter contains background information on the mini campaign included within the last four chapters.

“The first three Mysteries each take about 3-5 hours to play. The Gamemaster can extend them by adding more Locations or setting more scenes from Everyday Life within them. The fourth Mystery, I, Wagner, is longer, and will take 2-3 sessions to play. It is intended to be played as the finale of the campaign and not as a standalone Mystery.”

As I said in the last post, the last 4 chapters are mysteries for the Kids to solve and I won't be covering those. I don't want to give spoilers on the mysteries included in chapters 9-12, especially since I'm considering hosting a game.

I hope you all enjoyed the overview on Tales from the Loop as much as I had writing it. I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, or criticisms on the book or on the way I have presented and written the review. I mean overview.