It’s no secret that we at Yawning Portal are great fans of Scandinavian roleplaying games. There’s just something unique and fresh about the games that are being published in Scandinavia right now. Whether you look at Mutant: Year Zero, Trudvang Chronicles, Black Void, Forbidden Lands, Lexoccultum, Symbaroum, Coriolis or Tales from the Loop, these are all great and fun table-top roleplaying games.
Naturally, we keep a close watch on every thing that is happening in Scandinavia, as most of us are Icelanders, even though Askur Yggdrasils is the single Icelandic roleplaying game so far. And of course we try and participate in every Kickstarter campaign the Scandinavian publishers host.
Thus we got our hands on the Out of Time campaign for Tales from the Loop, which is a superb game about kids in the 80’s that never was by Swedish publisher Fria Ligan. This game uses the same system as other Fria Ligan games, which uses the d6, where you build a dice pool based on attributes and skills.
Out of Time – a Quick Overview
— SPOILER ALERT!!! —
Out of Time is a campaign in three parts, where the players take on the roles of kids that need to solve three mysteries, where time and space become unbalanced. A researcher named Kim Johnson manages to create and test an actual time machine, aptly named the Chronograph. The kids need to travel back in time, to the 60’s to fully understand the events that lead up to the creation of the Chronograph, and back to the 80’s again in order to solve a time paradox that threatens to break reality.
The narrative is written for both the Swedish and US setting, so you can choose whether you go for the Malaren Islands or Boulder city. Of course, the campaign can easily be adjusted to whatever setting you choose, so if you have created your own Loop facility using the rules from Our friends, the Machines sourcebook, you should find it easy to make adjustments.
The three modules presented in Out of Time are The Animal Ark, Summer Camp and The Storm in the Hourglass.
In the Animal Ark the kids search for lost pets, where they discover a madman and a reprogrammed robot that are trying to create a storm through a tear in the space-time. The madman has been building and placing so-called temporal keys all around the landscape. The madman is in fact Kim Johnson, who took over the madman’s body when she travelled back in time trying to stop herself from destroying the world. The kids get a chance to see Kim activate the temporal keys and step back in time.
In the next module, Summer Camp, the kids are taken from the homes one night by yet another version of Kim Johnson and wake up in another place and another time. What’s worse, is the fact they are no longer in their own bodies. They are in a summer camp in the year 1969 and they need to uncover the experiments that the camp’s nurse is doing on the kids and get back to their own time.
The final module, The Storm in the Hourglass, brings it all to a close. The Chronograph has become unstable and strange time bubbles show up in the area. The kids need to find the source of the time bubbles and confront the Chronograph and Kim Johnson, to fix the time paradox.
The book contains the three modules and two more chapters, one that contains nine great places or phenomena that can be added to your setting of choice. Finally, the last chapter contains a character and adventure landscape.
Having these makes it even easier to run a great Tales from the Loop game, almost from scratch, though a good session zero is always recommended.
The pro’s of Out of Time
I have to admit that a time travel module was almost the first thing that came to mind when I initially read Tales from the Loop. This kind of narrative is seemingly integral with the setting and the system.
The narrative is well laid out and what Fria Ligan does really well is to have flow charts accessible for each chapter along with summeries of events and npc‘s. This makes it so easy to run a game and the game master never gets lost, so to speak.
The artwork is awesome and it is really easy to see in your mind’s eye what to describe and how. This makes it easy for both game master and players to become invested in the narrative.
The con’s of Out of Time
The three parts of the module vary in quality, in my opinion. The Animal Ark and The Storm in the Hourglass are quite good, but I found The Summer Camp lacking. While the kids have amble opportunities to act and re-act in the first and the third chapter, I found that the second chapter has a weak start and the kids need to go through many camp activities, which for more action-oriented gamers might mean that they quickly lose interest and pick up their smart phones.
Out of Time is a great campaign for any Tales from the Loop fan. It caters perfectly to the setting and gives the kids a chance to discover a real and working time machine, and prevent a major disaster. Though I believe that the Summer Camp might need some extra work from the game master, the campaign as a whole is fun and extra-ordinary.