The Alexandrian

Posts tagged ‘tales from the loop’

Tales from the Loop - System Cheat Sheet

(click for PDF)

I usually prep these cheat sheets for RPGs that I play or run, and I’ve shared many of them here on the Alexandrian in the past. For those who haven’t seen them before, they summarize all the rules from the game — from basic action resolution to advanced skill options. It’s a great way to get a grip on a new system and, of course, they’re extremely valuable during actual play and for introducing new players to a game.

This particular cheat sheet is for Tales from the Loop, a very interesting game in what I call the “nostalgia kids” subgenre of urban fantasy / supernatural horror. The players take on the roles of young children in an alternative version of the 1980’s based on the astonishingly beautiful artwork of Simon Stålenhag:

Tales from the Loop - Simon Stålenhag

The enigmatic Loop (some form of experimental particle accelerator) has been built around the kids’ hometown, which has subsequently become plagued by any number of fantastical oddities which will draw the children into all sorts of trouble as they investigate their mysteries.

HOW I USE THEM

As I’ve described in the past, I keep a copy of the system cheat sheet behind my GM screen for quick reference and also provide copies for all of the players. Of course, I also keep at least one copy of the rulebook available, too. But my goal with the cheat sheets is to consolidate information and eliminate book look-ups: Finding something in a couple of pages is a much faster process than paging through hundreds of pages in the rulebook.

The organization of information onto each page of the cheat sheet should, hopefully, be fairly intuitive. The division of pages is mostly arbitrary.

PAGE 1: A visual reference for the pieces of technology known to the public in the alternative history of the Loop – magnetrine vehicles, robots, and Loop surface stations.

PAGE 2: All the basic mechanical structure of the game. Some may be surprised by the inclusion of the Principles of the Loop and The Mystery in this position of primary importance, but although the game falls short in actually realizing the structured experience of Apocalypse World (something I will perhaps talk about at greater length at some future date), I think it is nevertheless true that following the Principles and the Mystery is essential for making Tales from the Loop work as a game.

PAGE 3: Primarily the advanced rules associated with specific skill uses. I’ve seen (both firsthand and through various secondary reports) a lot of these rules get glanced over by groups playing the game, but here, too, I think understanding and implementing the very specific structures the game offers here (particularly what I refer to as the “Question and Tinker” mechanics) are essential. (And if you’re not using bonus effects whenever possible – particularly in carrying their effects forward into the next beat of the scenario – you’re really fighting the system more often than not.)

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

These cheat sheets are not designed to be a quick start packet: They’re really useful as a tool for an experienced player teaching the game to new players, but you’ll find it really difficult to learn the game from scratch by just reading through them. (They are an adjunct to the core rulebook, not a replacement.)

You also won’t find character creation rules here.

MAKING A GM SCREEN

These cheat sheets can also be used in conjunction with a modular, landscape-oriented GM screen (like the ones you can buy here or here).

Personally, I use a four-panel screen and use reverse-duplex printing in order to create sheets that I can tape together and “flip up” to reveal additional information behind them. Since there’s really only two pages of mechanical information for Tales from the Loop, that’s not really necessary, of course. I’d suggest slipping a map of the kids’ hometown into your third panel. If you’ve got a fourth panel, you could even drop your scenario notes in there (which I’ve found can fit comfortably as a series of bulletpoints on a single sheet of paper).

Tales from the Loop

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