As it turned out my package of the Kickstarter backed materials, that was supposed to arrive by "end of business day" on Friday didn't. I figured that we'd do some board games instead, but...
Once Kathy and Ellie showed up at my place around 7:00 pm or so last night, we chatted for around 10 minutes or so and caught up on the weekend. Afterwards, I explained that the Tales From the Loop game material hadn't shown up, and that we would be board gaming that night. However, Ellie said that she knew I had the PDFs of the game and all, and begged me to have her and Kathy create characters. And when your goddaughter pleads with you like that, what can you say? So we sat down and started creating player characters. I started off the night by giving the players a very brief overview of the game world of Tales From the Loop. The game is based on artist Simon Stalenhag's paintings of Swedish 1980s suburbia, populated by fantastic machines and strange beasts. Players play teenagers solving mysteries connected to the Loop (ask me about what it is in the Comments, please!), and the game uses a simpler set of rules based on those found in the Mutant: Year Zero game. I started by going over the basics of the world of the Loop, and Kathy was very intrigued by the concepts found therein. We talked about the basic rules of the mechanics, and then got into a couple of the sub-systems they were intrigued with. Since they were familiar with the game mechanics of Coriolis - The Third Horizon>, we discussed the basics of character creation, I answered a few questions about that, and then we got down to it.
The players decided they wanted to have their game set in the Swedish setting, and I was cool with that. The two player characters that Kathy and Ellie created are both interesting, and will make for a good variety and some sub-plot material as well.
KathyB - She wasn't sure what she wanted, but Kathy settled on Sara Stahlberg, one of the popular kids at school who has an interest in ornithology and wants to find a cute guy for herself (as she's still never been kissed).
Ellie - She, on the other hand, new exactly what she wanted. Ellie created Linnea Sundstrom, a troublemaker with a knack for skateboarding and an alcoholic father.
Character generation took less than an hour and a half, even with going over the game world stuff and mechanics, and both Kathy and Ellie wanted to *play* the game somewhat given that we still had a good 2-1/2 hours of time left for the session. So I started a scenario...
Sara Stahlberg (KathyB) - Popular Kid
Linnea Sundstrom (Ellie) - Troublemaker
It's late spring, and the kids from the school that both Linnea Sundstrom and Sara Stahlbert attend are on a field trip with two of their teachers, Sven Lundgren and Anita Malmstern, in the Agni Woods, some 15 kilometres outside of the town. Sara has been sticking with her clique, but is a bit ashamed as they tease one of the poorer kids at the school, Halbert. Halbert goes off, crying, into the woods. While her friends continue their petty attitude towards boys (and girls) of "Halbert's status", Sara feels guilty about what they did, and worries about Halbert. She goes after him, sneaking away, though one of her friends, Leena, spots her but says nothing.
Linnea has been very "attentive" where a group of students are being taught about trees, but becomes bored somewhat early on, and decides to go skateboarding for a bit. There are several trails in Agni Woods, and she takes off down the nearest trail. Something of a loner, and a total outsider, her departure isn't noticed at all. She has an excellent, if somewhat, dangerous time, skateboarding through the forest, the paths not completely clear of debris. She almost falls of the skateboard as she rounds a small copse of trees and sees the rusting corpse of a humanoid robot of some sort in the foliage near the path. She stops, and goes over to examine the remains, but doesn't find them all that interesting, though she does take a couple of strange objects that look like vacuum tubes.
Meanwhile, a despondent Sara decides that she's gotten lost in the woods, and curses herself for not following one of the trails. She catches sight of a piece of cloth stuck to a leafy branch very low to the ground, and realises that it's part of Halbert's jacket. She heads in the direction of the branch in question, not really worrying how she's going to get out of the woods again, and sees Halbert's footprints in the mud. She follows the trail he's left, and eventually she finds the boy, sobbing away, leaning against a rocky outcrop. She hears a sound that is suspiciously like a "quack", and turns in that direction...
Elsewhere in the woods, Linnea examines the vacuum tube-like items, but can't make head or tails of them. She shrugs, figuring she'll trade them for something valuable later, and pockets them. Once back on her skateboard, she continues to follow the trail and realises that it's angling back towards another part of Agni Woods. She's a little bit afraid, but follows the route and spots a couple of other kids from the school field trip. She recognises the popular girl, Sara, but not the boy that she's been comforting. She hears a "quack"-like sound from nearby.
Sara sees what appear to be a group of ducks and ducklings waddling through the woods towards her and Halbert. But something about them seems odd - and she quickly realises they're robotic ducks! One of ones closest to her sees her, and makes an odd, quack/spitting sound, and something goes "thock!" into the tree next to her. She looks at it, and realises it's a small dart of some kind. She grabs Halbert, and shouts at him to run back towards the area where the rest of the students are, but then realises that she might be putting them all in danger. Another of the robotic ducks is now close enough to her, and she looks up in horror...
...and then is astounded when a young girl from the school whom she recognises as a troublemaker swings her skateboard at the duck with all her strength. The head comes smashing off the duck's body, sparks flying everywhere. Thinking quickly, she shouts a warning to the girl as another of the ducks starts to aim at her - she remembers her name is Linnea - and does the only thing she can think of. She sprays the duck's head with her hairspray (that she always carries with her, 'cause you never know!). Thinking quickly, Linnea grabs her lighter, and ignites the hairspray (nearly getting caught in the backlash herself), and crying out with delight, the two girls attack another of the robotic ducks, destroying it in a frenzy of sparks and small explosions.
Sara and Linnea are suprised when the rest of the robotic ducks come to an abrupt halt, and then turn and move off deeper into Agni Woods. The two come together in a hug of congratulatory backslaps, but Linnea says, "I don't like you much", to which Sara says, "Feeling's mutual". Once the adrenaline wears off, Linnea grudgingly admits that they worked pretty well together, but Sara is more concerned about the robotic ducks, where they came from and who controlled them. Linnea shrugs, and says it was probably just a mad scientist or something to do with the Loop, but Sara's not so sure.
The two girls quickly decide to head back and re-join the school field trip group, Linnea helping Sara get out of the woods and back to a trail. When they reach the field trip students and teachers, a worried but angry Sven Lundgren asks where they've been, and why they're so messy. Not listening to either one, he says that they're both getting detention the next day. Both Sara and Linnea groan at the thought ("There goes my perfect school record," says Sara), but only Ms. Malmstern and Leena see the smile that passes between the two.
The session of character creation and a short scenario of the Tales From the Loop went pretty well, I thought, given that I was running it from the PDF of the game on the laptop and that I put together the basic scenario that I ran (see above) in about 15 minutes or so while Kathy and Ellie were just putting their character game stats on character sheets. Both players told me they really enjoyed themselves (though Kathy did mention she had to remember what it was like to be a tween/teenager!), and they loved the sheer simplicity of the game mechanics, even easier than those in Coriolis as Kathy said. They were curious about where the antagonists in this one came from, but I wasn't about to give away that secret. :) Ellie mentioned that she was suspicious about Miss Malmstern, but she couldn't put her finger on why.
So, a very enjoyable Friday night impromptu game session of the Tales From the Loop RPG, and I'm looking forward to getting a chance to run this again. Especially now that I've received my actual books and maps from the KS. Much easier than having to read material off the computer to run the game. :)