Sunday, January 13, 2008

Trying out some Pulp Adventure

I’ve been collecting some pulp era miniatures lately with the intention of running several pulp adventure games. My favorite pulp era is the years between the world wars. Largely the 1920s and 30s. There were a lot of interesting things going on historically as well of a lot of great pulp adventure literature being written at that time. It’s the era when the last corners of the map were finally being filled in. Aviation was still a new and wondrous technology; automobiles were crafted with style and grace. It was the era of prohibition, depression, and revolution, the mafia and Hover’s FBI. Communist, Fascist, and Imperialist, threatened Democracies and each other. It’s an era full of opportunities for high adventure both exotic and domestic.
The biggest problem I’ve had was coming up with ideas that I could pull off. I’ve had a number of campaign ideas but they all ended up getting too big too quickly so I’ve had to abandon or at least put them aside in favor of working adventures around the miniatures and props I own. Not that I’m no longer collecting new pulp adventure miniatures and props. I intend to expand my collection to rival my fantasy and Star Wars collection. Another problem I’ve had is that my regular group has been a bit unstable lately. One of my members is expecting a new addition to his family any time now and another just purchased a new home that needs quite a bit of work. This leaves me and my wife as the group regulars. Our daughter sometimes games with us as well but not as a regular member. So we decided to focus on a campaign based on a character developed by my wife and myself and let the other players who show up play supporting or co-staring roles in a serial story about her character. The main heroine of the story is Abigail Blackfeather. Abigail is an American aviatrix and co-owner of the Blackfeather ranches. She’s part Crow on her father’s side and she has a teenage daughter named Karen who’s father was killed during The Great War.

Now this campaign is going to be neither a traditional role playing game nor at regular table top miniature game but rather a miniature adventure game with elements of both RPGs and miniature battle games. Unlike a regular role playing game the players won’t be sitting around for hours doing detailed investigation with a the occasional action sequence. The action sequences will be the focus and any off board role playing will be used mostly to set up the next chase or shootout, or exploration of some underground tomb. Although unlike a regular table top miniature battle role playing during the course of the action is just as important as winning the fight. The action sequences will also often require non combat skills to resolve special problems during the action sequence. For instance half the party may have to hold off a group of cultist while one of the party deciphers an ancient manuscript. The action sequences and role play interludes will tie together into a serial campaign.
I plan to experiment with several rules sets during this campaign and since I’m planning on presenting my campaign reports as narrative battle reports the rules used for each particular session are of lesser importance. For this first episode I chose to use No Limits for my game rules although I altered them to suit a smaller character driven game rather than a sci-fi battle game. The No Limits rules are really quite flexible and include a detailed system for creating your own characters, troops, creatures, and vehicles. I really like the No-limits combat system and I especially like their force building system. The rules worked pretty well for this episode despite the fact that I was using some house rules and I’ve only played this system a couple times. No-Limits is also totally free to download and a very complete game with active support on their forums.
Ok enough explanation. On with the report. In the future I will be presenting these more as a narrative web comic based on the game play but for now I’m just going to show pictures from the game with some description of the action. This was a small simple encounter we used to test out some of my rules ideas.

Colorado 1928 at the Blackfeather Ranch south of Denver. It’s early spring. Abigail Blackfeather and her daughter Karen are loading equipment and supplies into a Lockheed Vega. A black sedan pulls up near the airstrip and a man in an old military uniform steps out. It’s U.S. Marshal Leland Grant. Marshal Grant needs Abigail’s help to track down a group of armed men who broke into the Denver Museum and stole, among other things, a coded treasure map that supposedly leads to a cache of lost Spanish gold somewhere in the area. What’s unusual about these men is that one witness described them as German soldiers. The local law enforcement hasn’t been able to locate them but it is believed they are still in the area searching for the treasure. Abigail agrees to help the Marshal and they take off in her plane to search for the robbers.

After hours of searching they spot a camp. Abigail flies in for a closer look.

Strangely enough the men do resemble German Soldiers. Then men in the camp shoot at Abigail’s plane and one of them scores a hit but the plane is not badly damaged. Abigale flies away from the camp and lands in a nearby field.

They decide to approach the camp from the South West sneaking through a wood to avoid detection by any patrols.

The party sneaks up a hill over looking the camp.

Karen get’s a little too curious and despite being very well hidden she is spotted by one of the soldiers who begin to shoot at her.

Marshal Grant moves to the edge of the woods and guns down one of the soldiers shooting at Karen.

Abigail pulls Karen back down the hill and she and the Marshal engage the soldiers in a fire fight. Karen ignores her mothers order to say down and used the confusion to sneak around the side of the hill.

The heroes trade fire with the soldiers in a fierce gun battle. Three soldiers are shot but the last two have heavy cover.

Karen moves out of her cover to try and get a better position. Abigail realizes Karen is no longer behind her and runs after her daughter trying to catch her before she gets shot.

Marshal Grant rushes down the hill to distract one of the soldiers from shooting at Abigail. He ducks behind the front of the truck just barely avoiding getting shot.

The Marshal then charges the soldier and engages him in hand to hand combat.

Being an expert at hand to hand Marshal Grant knocks the soldier out in one punch.

Karen decides to follow the marshal’s lead and she charges the soldier.

The soldier laughs and tries to knock her out.

It’s a good thing Karen took those karate lessons. “HAI YA!” The soldier goes down clutching his privates.

The Heroe’s interrogate their prisoners in the camp. At first the Germans are reluctant to tell the Marshal where the rest of their group is so Abigail threatens to scalp them winking at the Marshal. The Marshal explains to the Germans that Abigail is a wild Indian and they better take her threat seriously. “Please do not scalp us. Ve know vhere zhey are!” The heroes have a laugh that the Germans fell for such an old trick.

Fade to black. Roll Credits.