Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Pulp Designs

Quite a long break since the last post, because I have been going through one of my periodic changes of direction. My current theme is Pulp gaming, the classic inter-war stuff - rugged archaeologists in the back of beyond, gang warfare in the Prohibition times, that sort of thing.

I got into this from the Old West games I was playing, and there's clearly a lot of similarity - small scale skirmishes, with 28mm figures at 1:1 scale. Lots of individual figures rather than military ranks, and a fairly stylised (and not entirely "realistic") back story.

I was using the Two Hour Wargames western rules, Six Gun Sound, and the first rule set that I looked at was Larger Than Life - Directors Cut from the same publishers. I bought this (in pdf) and read it through, but I wasn't really inspired. It is very much oriented to reproducing a "film", with a Star, scenes and so on. The scenarios are very rigid in many ways - for example each scene is a 3'x3' board, split into nine squares. Each square is a "scene" and you can't see from one to the next, even if two figures are apparently standing a couple of inches apart in the open. Similarly you are constrained to enter at one corner and fight the big boss in a building in the other corner. No doubt you could use the rules flexibly to produce a wide variety of effects, but it just didn't inspire me. It also has the trademark THW multiplicity of tables for everything.

So I investigated another rule set which is getting a lot of discussion on TMP and similar forums. This is Pulp Alley, published by Phipps & Daughter (that's Dave and Mila). This turned out to be exactly what I was hoping for - your characters are formed into Leagues, with Leaders, Sidekicks, Allies and Followers (in decreasing order of power). You have half a dozen characteristics, with different dice sizes to provide variation. Combat is fairly simple, but not simplistic, and no-one ever dies - the worst that happens is you are knocked out of a scenario. Scenarios are driven by "plot points" - things the leagues are trying to get hold of (typically) in order to win. These may be anything from a secret letter to a person you need to talk to or capture. There is a variety of basic scenarios, which can be used for many different backgrounds, and they have put out two expansions - with extra rules and a connected set of scenarios making up an adventure. There's one for gang warfare in King City, and another called Perilous Island which covers lost world style adventures, including some supernatural effects.

I have played a few small trial skirmishes, but I am now in the phase of most of my enthusiasms when I am painting new models, and assembling scenery ready for the fights. I have picked up a fair number of figures, mostly from Pulp Figures, but including a variety of others which I bought at Salute. I've been painting away at these, and I'll post some pictures soon.