So, one RPG I’ve been looking to run for quite a while is Tales From The Loop, a game developed by Modiphius Entertainment based on the excellent sci-fi artwork by Simon Stalenhag. Taking place in a 1980s that never was, the players take on the roles of a bunch of kids who end up getting into adventures with the futuristic and the paranormal– which should be familiar territory for anyone who has watched Stranger Things.
The RPG’s rules are quite interesting in that they emphasize character development and storytelling over the number-crunching that is so prevalent in other RPGS– the kids themselves cannot die, but can still suffer traumatic events that may hamper them further in the story unless they can have a scene that helps them recover. In turn, while skill-based dice rolls will still determine successes or failures, they aren’t as punishing as they are in some other RPGs. While I still have yet to playtest any of the major episodes or one-off stories from the book, I really like a lot of the narrative mechanics in it, particularly the ones that allow a kid’s unique skill, driving motivation or innate problem not only impact the story in a meaningful way, but also change over time.
I was, in fact, considering how I could entice my player group into testing out a few of the mini-episodes in Tales From The Loop when I discovered a trailer had dropped for….(drumroll) a Tales From The Loop series to be streaming on Amazon.
What little the trailer showed me depicted a beautiful and surreal-looking series that practically lifts scenes right out of Stalenhag’s artwork (Stalenhag himself, apparently, is on as an executive producer). The robots and flying vehicles of the setting are all there, as is the idyllic yet also desolate landscape in which the kids are left to roam. While it was difficult to parse details of the story from the trailer (other than what looks like some sort of possible time travel angle), it doesn’t seem like any of the campaign episodes or self-contained mini-stories of the book are going to be the focus of this series. This is a bit of a relief to me, as if I ever do run a Tales From The Loop campaign, I don’t want my players to have the story spoiled for them.
Beyond that, I can say that I am hyped for this series so far. Tonally, it seems like it is trying to be as different from Stranger Things as possible (with Philip Glass-composed soft melodies as opposed to synthwave and 80s beats, and a bright, optimistic-looking colour palette). The cast seems to have Rebecca Hall as one of the kids’ moms, and Jonathan Pryor (who was excellent in both Game of Thrones and The Two Popes) as one of the scientists at the Loop facility. To top it all off, it looks like one of the producers and directors of this series is Mark Romanek, who has done some of the best music videos out there as well as Never Let Me Go and the criminally underrated One Hour Photo.
Thus far, I have resisted the temptation to go for Amazon’s streaming service (even though The Boys was apparently really, really good), but Tales From The Loop is going to put that resistance to the test, I think.