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AlHazred

Pulp Hero

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Since I started running a Pulp Hero game, I realized how many resources are available for 5th Edition modern that don't really apply to the Pulp setting. I've done most of the work I needed to do for my campaign already (just need to get Weapons and Vehicles out of the way) but I thought it would be a good idea to ask other people what resources they found to work for Pulp Hero.

 

For the purposes of this topic, I'll define the Pulp setting as: the setting of the Pulp magazines of the 20s, 30s and 40s. A time when heroes took care of problems the two-fisted way, science was promising everybody flying cars in twenty years, and a dollar would buy you five gallons of gas, a shirt or a night in a dingy hotel.

 

I'll start.

 

Hero Games produced a game by Aaron Allston called Justice Inc. which had rules for running "pulp adventurers." It was pretty good, and the Talents which it let you buy made it into the 4th Edition rulebook, but it's somewhat outdated now. It's chock full of two-fisted crimebusting. There was an adventure published for it, called Trail of the Golden Spike, also by Aaron Allston. I haven't seen it, so I don't know how good it is.

 

Lands of Mystery, also by Aaron Allston (note the pattern), was billed as an Adventure Sourcebook "designed to be used with all Hero System games," but the stereotypes it lists have a definite Pulp feel. The supplement covers "lost worlds" adventures. Highly recommended.

 

I've found Dany St. Pierre's Hero Pulp website to have some nice info in it. Note that it has absolutely nothing to do with Aaron Allston. Dany's got some interesting ideas and some things I'd do differently, but I'd recommend his page as a starting point. Hasn't been updated in a while, though. Don't know how long it'll remain...

 

That's all I can remember off the top of my head.

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You can also mine other games for material, of course. Possibilities include SJG's GURPS Cliffhangers, ICE's Pulp Adventures, White Wolf's Adventure!, Flying Buffalo's Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes, West End Games' The World of Indiana Jones, Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu, and Otherworld Creations' Forbidden Kingdoms.

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Originally posted by Derek Hiemforth

You can also mine other games for material, of course. Possibilities include SJG's GURPS Cliffhangers, ICE's Pulp Adventures, White Wolf's Adventure!, Flying Buffalo's Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes, West End Games' The World of Indiana Jones, Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu, and Otherworld Creations' Forbidden Kingdoms.

 

Talk about leading a cow to slaughter....

 

He'll not know what hit him after getting Cthulhlu (pre d20 version please!!!)

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Originally posted by GradonSilverton

Talk about leading a cow to slaughter....

 

He'll not know what hit him after getting Cthuthlu (pre d20 version please!!!)

 

Horror Hero has a section of pulp-era horror.

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Originally posted by GradonSilverton

Talk about leading a cow to slaughter....

 

He'll not know what hit him after getting Cthuthlu (pre d20 version please!!!)

 

I've run Cthulhu for years. I just didn't want to salt the pot too thoroughly... :D

 

There've been a number of RPGs that cover the 20s, 30s and 40s. In addition to the ones Derek mentioned, there's TSR's Gangbusters (1982), The Adventures of Indiana Jones (1984) and Crimefighters (Dragon #47, 1981), Taupe Games' All-Adventure Action Roleplay Game (which I've never actually seen, only heard of), Fantasy Games Unlimited's Daredevils (1982), and Archon's noir (1997).

 

I'd even include Dream Pod 9's Gear Krieg RPG (2001) and R. Talsorian's Castle Falkenstein (1994) in the mix, since they draw heavily on the pulp-genre for their action theme.

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Another great resource is the Federal Writers Project. If memory serves, it was a gov't sponsored project in the 30's and 40's to give out of work writers something to do. They produced guide books of the States (thats all I know of anyway). I have one on Illinois that I used constantly for my Justice Inc game. They are great resouces for 'period' information. I'll dig my copy up (its still in a box after a move) and post publisher info.

 

Aroooo

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I'd foprgotten about that project!

 

Since you jogged my memory, I'd like to add the Automobile Green Book, which you can find periodically on eBay or other auction sites. This is a reference work put out by the Automobile Legal Association during the 20s and 30s. Billed as a Road Reference and Tourists' Guide, it contains what amount to detailed directions (called Routes) between various cities. Since signs were scarce or nonexistent in that era, references like these gave drivers the info they needed to get where they were going. It's full of old gems like period advertisements for restaurants and hotels, maps, etc. If you're going to be running a wide-ranging campaign in the era, see if you can find a copy cheap; I got mine on eBay for five bucks...

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Excellent suggestions, guys!

 

I myself have assembled a pretty good collection of atlases, almanacs, and encyclopedias from the period. They're tough to find, esp. for reasonable prices, but worth the hunting. For example, I've got one very cool atlas from 1941 that I bought at the Renaissance Bookstore near where GenCon is held for a mere $7. Even better, when I got it home and started leafing through it, I discovered that someone had stuffed it full of WWII newspaper clippings. Tres nifty. ;)

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Can't beat that one, but I can come close...

 

[Edit to remove unattractive gloating. Ego Attack - 2 points!]

 

My father has an old 1928 World Atlas. The thing is chock full of details like industrial production, exports, etc., mixed in with the color maps. I check it every time I visit my dad in Florida, just to soak up the period...

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An excellent source of material is the "War Years" reprint books that many newspapers published on WWII 50th anniversary. They compiled full pages from their papers into a book form. Lots of ads and local information as well as world events, you could even find local high school sports reports in there.

 

Another source that is even more complete is the newspapers themselves. Many libraries have the complete run of the local paper available on microfilm. By now they may have them on CDs. Everything from the most sensational murder trials to the price of milk is right there for you.

 

There was also a series of books titled iirc "This Century". It was published back in the early 80s I think with one volume for each decade and a set-up volume on the last decades of the 19th Century. Lots of material that could be useful, particularly the Volumes for the 20s, 30s and 40s.There's a salary list for 1932-34 in one volume as well as a price list for the same period. If you were say a Public School Teacher you made $1,227.00 a year, a Coal Miner made $723.00 a year and a Lawyer - $4,218.00. A pound of Bacon would set you back 22 cents, a 3 piece Bedroom Set was $49.95, a new Studebaker automobile was $840.00 and a Modern 6-room House with a 2 car garage in Detriot would lighten your bank account by $2,800.00. Oh and gas was 18 cents a gallon which was considered high, very high.

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The Novels....Don't forget the Novels...

 

I have a collection of all 89 issues of Doc Savage written by Lester Dent aka Kenneth Robison. There were a couple of Doc books written by ghost writers but you can definately tell the difference in Dent's writing. My Champions campaign characters didn't know that their HQ sponsor, The Hidalgo Trading Co., was Doc and da boys (in their twilight years).

 

Hmm...gives me an idea for a new champions character

 

Quick to HD.....

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Doc Savage is nice, but very often he goes over the top; I tried to stat him out for my Golden Age/Pulp game, but he came in at way too many points to be a good "role model" for the players to base their characters on.

 

Slightly more equivalent to a starting PC's power level is The Avenger, also by "Kenneth Robeson". His team is much more useful and interesting, and he is not unbeatable.

 

In that regard, The Shadow (book version, not the radio Shadow) can be built on 250 points.

 

Others I haven't managed to read yet are The Spider and Operator 5. Have to haunt eBay until these guys show up...

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You can also occasionally find reprints of catalogs, I used to have a 1900 sears catalog reprint (loads of everyday items from irons and washtubs to shotguns and butcherknives) and another from Remington or Winchester from about the 1920's or 30's which had lots of outdoor equipment such as camping gear, ammunition, guns, canoes, portable lights etc. There is also a company the standard catalog of ..... (firearms, American cars, 4x4's etc) which is quite useful, they typically cover a period of the topic, I have several of the automotive ones, they give a pretty good escription of the cars (whatever) and typically include the price when new. I also had a similar book on homes which I was using for the floorplans but they also included the price when built.

 

 

There are lots of resources out there the tricky part is finding them (and then not misplacing them once you do).

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Don't forget G5 and his air aces.

 

Spy Smasher was a great one to.

 

Dont forget the Cool Serials of the 30.40 and 50s

 

The Purple Monster Strikes, Adventures of Capt.Marvel,

Daredevils of the Red Circle, Nikota of the Jungle, Lash Larue,

Radar men from the Moon, BlackHawk and many more

 

These serials can be found on ebay decently cheap now as many are stwiching over to dvds.....

 

they are worth watching....

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Originally posted by Thag13

Don't forget G5 and his air aces.

 

I believe that's G-8 and his Battle Aces. That's another interesting one, much more supernatural in orientation than most of the Pulps.

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Doh!!!!

 

yep its G8, but I stand by my statement that its very pulpish in genre...

 

I think Lee Falk wrote some Phantom books also, while I think they were written in the 50 ans 60s, I think they quailfy as pulp style reads.

 

 

And lets not forget the insidious DR Fu Manchu!!!!!

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Yes, defently watch as much serials as you can get your grubbie littel hands on. Why, you may ask? Well...

1) Thay show you how to set up a good clifhanger. Just remember to leave the heros (and prehaps the pritty leggy NPC damsel) in a bind until next week.

2) Thay give you ideals on action sceens.

3) Thay give you ideals on deathtraps. Especaly the sound era serials, since many of them went away with the simple girl tied to the train tracks/buzzsaw, and done some new things.

4) Thay give you the ideal of how, fitunaly, that erra was like.

 

The same can also be said about comic books and pulp magazeens of the time period, of course.

 

Steriaca.

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I always loved the way the stunt men and women just thru themselfs in the fight scenes. No Wire work here , just huge men throwing anything they could get thier hands on and just duking it out...

 

My wife reminded me to tell everyone one about J Men forever, and really funny send up of the old serials, the dialoge was redubbed and the finished product is killer funny.

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Hey Steve or Darren!

 

Is any of this helpfull?

 

I'm sure that we all hope so. :)

 

Also I'm assuming that Pulp Hero will have the usual supporting books coming out at about the same time. What were you thinking of for this? I'd suggest a villian book full of Gangsters, Petty Tyrants and Insane Geniuses to start. And a setting book, maybe Aaron Allston's planned but shelved "The Big City", or even a reworking of Hudson City for the pulp era.

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Don't forget old radio shows! You can listen to many of the original shows for free at web sites such as:

 

http://www.radiospirits.com

http://www.radiolovers.com

http://testbox.cob.rit.edu/

 

In addition to obvious picks such as "The Shadow," "Doc Savage," "Blue Beetle," "The Green Hornet," I recommend "I Love A Mystery" and "I Love Adventure" -- two radio series which highlight the escapades of a trio of adventurers and freelance detectives. I think medical student Jack Packard, Texas cowboy Doc Long, and English prizefighter Reggie York are better templates for Pulp Hero characters than many of the better known heroes.

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