These days, blockbusters get sequels. Movies, TV shows, albums all have follow-ups to breakaway hits. Tabletop RPGs rarely get them, but few are as anticipated as the follow up to the Kickstarter sensation Tales From The Loop. The game, set in an alternate 80s that clashed between the high-tech world of the setting and the mundane drama of the people living in it, came out right when Stranger Things fever was hitting its peak. The game also features killer art and simple mechanics, all set within a world that’s spawned three great art books and an upcoming series on Amazon Prime. The sequel game promised by the first Kickstarter, Things From the Flood has just fulfilled its own Kickstarter. We fired up our favorite mix CD and dove into the two books we have in hand.
Things From The Flood shifts the timeline of the original game a few years forward, from the Spielbergian 80s to a gloomy interpretation of the 90s. The titular Loop has been shut down after a mysterious flood bubbled up through the ground and shut down all the experiments. The lab is now run by Krafta, a corporation that’s somehow shadier than the government agency that previously ran the Loop. Not only that, but the wondrous technological items created by the advances of science have started breaking down as well. Some of them have gone so far as to contract what’s commonly called “machine cancer” that turns common household items into nightmarish combinations straight out of H.R. Giger’s last garage sale.
The character focus has also moved forward from wide-eyed kids exploring mysteries to moody teenagers dealing with changes both internal and external. Players make characters by choosing a teen archetype, such as the Jock or the Raver, and putting points into attributes and skills. Each archetype also features a few questions that fleshes out the background and setting by asking players to choose their rivals, their crushes and hooks for the GM to use in their game.
The game runs on the same basic system as Tales From the Loop but with a few key differences. Players roll pools of d6 looking for successes, but now lasting harm—even death—can come to main characters. Taking the Broken condition leaves a Scar that reminds the character of the danger they faced. The Scar can be mental or physical and the more Scars a character has, the more likely the character will be removed from play.
Teen characters must also choose a Shame in addition to a Pride that they can use to give themselves additional successes at the cost of revealing to others what they hate about themselves. Instead of a hideout, the players must also choose a Friction that reflects the tension that teenage friends must often deal with, such as unrequited love or a secret relationship between certain members.
The game encourages players of Tales From the Loop to bring their characters forward in time. There aren’t mechanics to convert characters, explained by the idea that most kids go through some profound changes between grade school and high school. There is, however, Out of Time, a collection of adventures that can be played either by characters from Tales From The Loop or Things From The Flood. The short campaign serves as a bridge between the games as the kids age into teens and watch as the Loop goes from a source of mystery to a source of dread.
Things From the Flood offers an excellent twist on an already excellent game. Players rarely get to revisit their characters after time has passed. This game provides a chance for Loop fans to do that, or for those players not heavily steeped in 80s nostalgia to instead simmer in a time of grunge rock and brooding.
- Stranger Things now officially in D&D!
- How about more adventures with KIDS ON BIKES?
- Get Ready For Tales From The Loop TV
Images Credits: Free League Publishing
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer (Star Wars RPG, Firefly RPG, Camelot Trigger) and professional nerd. who occasionally tweets and livestreams RPGs with the Theatre of the Mind Players while his meat body resides in scenic Milwaukee, WI.