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Modern-day Pulp?


tkdguy
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I recently had this idea about doing a Pulp campaign in a modern-day setting. The game mechanics wouldn't be too different, of course. It's mostly the visuals that need a bit of tweaking.

 

To me, Pulp has a certain look, which should remind people of another era. The trick then is to give the game a retro look while staying in the modern world. It's not that hard to do. Describe the people the PCs meet in suits and fedoras or in dresses. Have them drive around town in a Chrysler PT Cruiser. If they need to fly somewhere, let them hop on board a Cessna Caravan, or maybe even a Zeppelin NT. If you add music to your games, some of the songs by Norah Jones and Dave Matthews Band work well.

 

What do you guys think?

 

I also found this: Modern Pulp Comics

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

The original Batman: The Animated Series from the early 1990s is a good source of visual inspiration for this kind of campaign IMO. Despite the sometimes advanced-looking technology, the style is reminiscent of what Americans in the 1930s thought the future would look like: lots of Art Deco skyscrapers, police patrolling the sky in dirigibles, gangsters in suits and, yes, fedoras. It's also very film noir in that most of the action happens at night, and scenes are full of shadows. Action sequences tend to look like pulpy stuff, too, with fights in warehouses, on docks, on top of trains, etc.

 

I would recommend looking up a few episodes online or on DVD.

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

I'd forgotten about that one, thanks. Definitely that would be one of my sources.

 

The nice thing about living near San Francisco is that there are lot of places with Art Deco buildings and warehouses by the docks. I can always take pictures and use them in my game.

 

I wouldn't be neglecting the modern technology altogether, but I'll gloss it over. A passing mention or two, just to move the action along, will do.

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

In addition to the Chrysler PT Cruiser that you mentioned, don't forget the Plymouth Prowler and the Chevy Super Sport Roadster. Also, while electric cars don't look pulpy, the idea of a car that runs on electricity is definitely pulp.

 

As for architecture, you can't go wrong with the Flatiron Building in New York City and Coit Tower in San Francisco.

 

If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

Other stuff to include:

 

* Lots of people, including myself, still use land lines. Maybe one of the phones the a PC has to use will be rotary dial.

 

* Restaurants, diners, theaters, and nightclubs with neon signs are a must. The train to/from work takes me past this place every day. The interiors of the nightclubs and restaurants should ideally include a place for live performances.

 

* As the Doctor says, "bowties are cool." Not many people wear them, but I have worn them on a few occasions, and I'm not the only one.

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

If music's a big part of the game for modern pulp, one could also look at the swing revivalists like Royal Crown Revue and Squirrel Nut Zippers, or even further back to jump blues artists like Louis Jordan and Louis Prima.

 

Another thing to consider besides the look is the slang. Street language, especially if the GM is going to voice the NPCs, is pretty crucial to a Pulp game.

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

Good points, thanks. Modern slang may go over the heads of some of the players, though. I tried that with a group of players about 15 years ago, and they didn't understand a word I said.

 

As for music, Matt Dusk would also work for the jazz crowd.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

Other stuff to include:

 

 

* Restaurants, diners, theaters, and nightclubs with neon signs are a must. The train to/from work takes me past this place every day. The interiors of the nightclubs and restaurants should ideally include a place for live performances.

 

I know they still have them, but nothing speaks "retro" like a jukebox. Having those little flippy things at every table (Formica of course), along with the neon speaks volumes. Adding some kind of virtual "touchscreen" pinball machine would do it too.

 

There is a very strange episode of Fringe ("Brown Betty", Season 2, ep 20), where a tripping Walter Bishop tells a stream of consciousness story to a visiting child. It's a forty's noir with modern contrivances (a PC with wood paneling etc). You might mine it for ideas.

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

I know they still have them, but nothing speaks "retro" like a jukebox. Having those little flippy things at every table (Formica of course), along with the neon speaks volumes. Adding some kind of virtual "touchscreen" pinball machine would do it too.

 

There is a very strange episode of Fringe ("Brown Betty", Season 2, ep 20), where a tripping Walter Bishop tells a stream of consciousness story to a visiting child. It's a forty's noir with modern contrivances (a PC with wood paneling etc). You might mine it for ideas.

 

Good idea. I can use this site in the game.

 

And let's not forget:

 

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

This reminds me of how one day I gave up trying to run a Pulp campaign when I can just overlap Pulp style over any campaign instead. It's surprising how applicable the Pulp HERO templates are to campaigns (Fantasy HERO too). Gave me an even greater appreciation for the style really.

 

I've noticed that's the way to go with my current group. They're not into campaigns based on period pieces, so I just overlay the style I want to run (Pulp, Martial Arts, etc.) into the modern day. That seems to get a better reaction.

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

I've noticed that's the way to go with my current group. They're not into campaigns based on period pieces' date=' so I just overlay the style I want to run (Pulp, Martial Arts, etc.) into the modern day. That seems to get a better reaction.[/quote']

Indeed. More fun and interesting that way too, in my opinion.

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

Thanks for the rep, tkdguy.

 

The idea of inserting pulp into other campaigns first occurred to me as I watched the Doctor Who serial "The Talons of Weng-Chiang." I realized that the Doctor could be made with the Scientist and Detective package deals from Pulp HERO (and maybe even Explorer). His companion, Leela, easily could be made with the "Wild (Wo)Man" package deal. Then I thought of Sarah Jane, the previous companion - Reporter package deal. Ian and Barbara - from the very beginning - both Professors. And Adric, sweet Adric, could use the Goblin package deal from Fantasy HERO.

 

From there, I took a new look at a lot of superheroes. Superman - Reporter, Scientist, and Two-Fisted Hero; Batman - Dilettante, Detective, Masked Crimefighter; Iron Man - Gadgeteer and Scientist; Spider-Man - Amateur Scientist, Masked Crimefighter, and Amateur Reporter (as Photographer); Wolverine - Explorer, Soldier, Veteran.

 

It all suddenly made so much sense to me. In a similar vein though, the same goes for Fantasy HERO templates. Returning to the Doctor for a moment, one could easily also assign him the Divine or Demigod (just change the name) and Contemplative Culture templates. Wolverine could easily be a Barbarian. Batman could also use the Martial Artist Template.

 

Fantasy and Pulp - much broader usage than meets eye. In fact, the ultimate infusion of the two in my opinion is Conan the Barbarian himself - a Two-Fisted Barbarian if I ever saw one (maybe with more sword than fist, but still.).

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

Century old buildings are nothing unusual where I live. (It's the 150 year old ones that are rare, and 200 year old ones just don't exist - the town didn't exist then...) Furthermore, the local streetscapes haven't changed all that much from when I was a kid in the 60s. That means it's probably true of the 50s as well. The 20s and 30s are a stretch, though.

 

I suppose that means that you could walk around town and basically be seeing what you would see in the pulp era. Details would differ, but a lot would be the same.

 

Building interiors might be more important.

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Re: Modern-day Pulp?

 

George Sanders wanted to give up the role, so he passed the torch to his brother. And Tom Conway proved to be even more popular as the Falcon. I was able to find a couple of full movies with George Sanders as the Falcon on YouTube.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVctrzt940U&list=PL6358A2FC9DBA0527

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNcAR55aovU&list=PLB48B4025A6226914&index=1

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