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Action set pieces?

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Indiana Jones always has a cool opening scene. Can you think of a cool 1935-era opening for a pulp game?


There are some criteria:

-Imagine it is for a group of low-powered PC's, meaning there have to be obstacles, rolls, and a feeling that they are doing something and making decisions rather than passively experiencing something

-It should have some element of spectacle, like, I think every Indiana Jones opening has that element

-It should have a pulp feeling if possible


Thoughts? Ideas? :)

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An airplane flies into view, then two others.  The second two are overtaking the first when it executes a perfect immelman and races for the lead pursuer head on, upside down, machine gun blazing as it rolls to right itself.  Bullets rip through the canvas of the plane and it droops out of control and begins an undirected drive toward the ground.  It's path will bring it to a spectacular crash within yards of the PCs, but before they notice that, they have time to see the third airplane veer toward the first and open fire, and sharp-eyed characters may see the pilo9f pull back on the stick even as machine gun fire  tears through his plane.  He is not hit, but a miraculous bullet has snapped the stick in half.  The first plane smashes into the third, the planes burst into a shower of flaming (and not flaming) parts.


As the smoke billows upward, the PCs see the pilot from the first craft falling to earth when a parachute billows out from his pack, flutters, and fails in a tangle of cords.  He falls to earth just moments before the first plane dives into the earth in front of the PCs.


I have no idea if that is pulp-appropriate, as I have no idea when the parachute was invented, but it seemed kind of right to me.



Edited by Duke Bushido
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Digging it, Duke!

I'm trying to come up with an opening for my players, and this is definitely in the right vein.

The PC's have been together for a few adventures but there has been a short break and this seems like a good time for an Indy opening scene to get everyone in the right mood. I have been thinking about Bond openings too, or set pieces from modules, but I still have some time before the session. :)

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Here is one I did a few years ago--  keeping in mind the era; we are not talking today's Mega-liners.


Late foggy night; PCs are on a steamer heading from one port to another.  They are rammed amidships by a second completely unlit ship of slightly smaller size, but not by much.


Miraculously, neither ship is sunk.  The seas are remarkably calm for the season.  The damage is extensive, but entirely (just barely) above the waterline.  The collision is sealing the hole in the PC's ship, at least enough that the water leaks aren't ahead of the blige pumps, but the front of the other ship (now in the PC ship's cargo hold) is ripped open in a number of places.


But the winds are getting harder, the seas are getting rougher, and there is a soft rumble of thunder off in the distance.




Edited by Duke Bushido
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The PCs are riding on on the new ultra-modern underground train-  perhaps they are persons of note locally and were asked to attend a ceremony and inaugural run; perhaps one of them is filthy with lucre and has funded it; perhaps it is the fastest way to get to where they think they need to be; you decide.


As the elevated section of track plays out and the track slopes downward to make its decent under the city,  it seems to be picking up too much speed (roll to notice).


Sabotage is afoot, and the operator has been killed; as he slumped over the controls, he pushed the throttle a bit.  Within moments, the train is hurtling through the darkness of the tunnel, the gas lights passing by like fireflies blinking in the distance.


Inspection of the engineer's area reveals blood, a hand-carved stone that resembles a tiny charm or totem, a bizare symbol painted in red on the wall, and an ornate gold-handled dagger- too fancy for utility use- sticking from the engineer's back.


The train turtles through a cave, leans sickeningly and rolls off the track, metal screeching and rending as the train slides on its side next to the track before crashing into the wall of the new tunnel and then through it, where the engine and the first two cars dangle precariously into a natural cavern.  The only light seems to be a fire, but the blackness makes it impossible to tell how far away it is or how large.


Twenty feet beneath the dangling engine, brave explorers will find a cold body of water- aquifer?  Underground river?  Who can say?


In the distance, with a row of burning torches before it, even more courageous souls will find a temple of gold, lapis, and onyx.  It is almost Incan; almost Aztek; almost Myan.




What's going on?  Is it an ancient cult?  A forgotten or unknown native civilization?  A Bass Pro shop?


That's up to you.


To be honest, this one isn't my favorite, but with the temperature on the sun-baked asphalt today, you can understand why a swim in an  underground river came to mind today, I think....




Edited by Duke Bushido
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On 7/20/2023 at 4:09 PM, Duke Bushido said:

I have no idea if that is pulp-appropriate, as I have no idea when the parachute was invented, but it seemed kind of right to me.



The parachute was invented in the late 18th century and was used to jump out of a hot air balloon not long after if I recall correctly. Totally pulp feel. The airplane stuff was cool by the way, you seem to have a good grasp on the subject. 

Edited by Khymeria
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  • 4 weeks later...

Our intrepid heroes are being shot at. (This works better if they don't have plenty of guns of their own, yet.) Luckily, they're on a riverside pier, surrounded by a maze of box walls, made of wooden crates full of dried corn. (Whether its true or not, we're going to say that these would stop bullets.) All they need to do is sneak round to clock the mobsters in the head without the mobsters getting a clear shot at them. 


Throw in a falling crate or two as a crane got hit by a stray bullet, and a few screaming animals running away from the sound of guns, and even maybe a small boat pulling up at the pier right at the end for a get-away, just as the mob's reinforcements arrive by car.

Edited by KingAdipose
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