Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Pulp Patrons - Supporting Cast.

A Pulp Hero is always in need of support, advice and indeed, an employer. Next up is a small selection of patrons, professors, allies and associates...

Doctor Milos Hartman, Professor Angus Irwin, Rick Malone, Tomasini Gasparetti, Doctor Wilfred Faulkner and Inspector Jasper Rhodes.

Professor Ackroyd of Arkham University.

The Nanny, Mayor Phelps and his young daughter Lucy.

Miss Sharp, canny reporter.

Miss Penny, canny investigator.

The Nunnery. Despite appearances, not all can be trusted...

The Good Reverend John Henton-Smullett and Mother Superior Mary.

Jenkins the Gamekeeper, Father Doyle and Sir Archibald Cathcart-Marchbanks.

A Cheap Magic Act...

The local gendarmerie, ready for action...or to look the other way...

Figures are a mix of manufacturers including Artizan, Footstore, RAFM, Redoubt, Victory Force, Warlord Games, Woodbine Design and of course Pulp Figures. Painted by me, Matt Slade and Dags.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Pulp Wheels!

One of the major parts of a good pulp story is a good old fashioned car chase! Here are a little selection of 'Pulp' style cars, roadsters and trucks...

First up, a simple 'Roadster' by Blue Moon.

A couple of old school motor cars.

A battered old truck, just out of Hicksville, USA.

Tin Tin, Captain Haddock and Snowy in a 'Saloon Car' by 1st Corps.

Thomson and Thompson in a '4-wheel Speedster', also by 1st Corps.

An old Innsmouth Police wagon. Long since abandoned...(Great Escape Games)

Another '4-wheel Speedster' by 1st Corps.

A selection of slightly more traditional 1920's and 1930's, gangster style cars with drivers and passengers.

Pure Pulp but no idea who produces this one...

A couple of 3-wheel Speedsters by 1st Corps.

Something slightly different but still within the Pulp genre was the classic Mark VII tank in Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade. Special effects artist George Gibbs visited a museum to negotiate renting a small French World War I tank for the film but ultimately decided on building one. The Mark VII Tank was a replica vehicle built on an old excavator chassis. It was based on the real-world Tank Mark VIII which possessed no main top turret. The replica measured 36 feet!

This is the HLBS/Copplestone version of the one from the film. It's a beast of a model, as shown by Lottie, who proudly stands next to it in the picture below.

Last up is a classic Sd.Kfz. 221/2 or 'Leichter Panzerspähwagen'. This is probably at the later end of the pulp period I am looking at but they did apparently go into production in 1935 so it still fits.

Models are produced by a variety of companies including 1st Corps, HLBS/Copplestone, Blue Moon, Great Escape Games and Sloppy Jalopy.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019


Most of my efforts seem to be put into RPG's at the moment so I have spent precious little time working on anything remotely 'tabletop wargames' - hence I have rarely posted on this blog recently.

Of course, like any other self-respecting gamer I have still been adding to the lead pile and buying terrain, scenery and rules, including a recent purchase of around twenty or so Old Glory 'Chicago' buildings. I also picked up a large 6x4 urban streets printed cloth tablemat. More on that in another post (if I get around to it...)

As I have been trying to concentrate on 1920's/1930's Gangsters and the Pulp genre I decided that picking up the above would give me a great 'city' setting for these games - it will be a lot of work painting them up though as I have also a fair amount of Sarissa City Block buildings to make too!

I have a large amount of painted figures now for Pulp genre games, such as those shown in previous posts, so it is now just a case of creating a few appropriate settings for them to adventure in.

I won't get into a detailed explanation of the various definitions of 'Pulp', as it seems to be a broad as it is long but I tend to subscribe to the classic 1930's style of Pulp, or 'Hero Pulp' along the lines of action/adventure/detective/horror/weird menace etc.

Wikipedia defines 'Pulps' as follows -

Pulp magazines (often referred to as "the pulps") were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the 1950s. The term pulp derives from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. In contrast, magazines printed on higher-quality paper were called "glossies" or "slicks". The typical pulp magazine had 128 pages; it was 7 inches (18 cm) wide by 10 inches (25 cm) high, and 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) thick, with ragged, untrimmed edges.

The pulps gave rise to the term pulp fiction in reference to run-of-the-mill, low-quality literature. Pulps were the successors to the penny-dreadfuls, dime novels, and short-fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many respected writers wrote for pulps, the magazines were best known for their lurid, exploitative, and sensational subject matter. Modern superhero comic books are sometimes considered descendants of "hero pulps"; pulp magazines often featured illustrated novel-length stories of heroic characters, such as Flash Gordon, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Phantom Detective.

The other consideration for tabletop Pulp games is of course the choice of rules. For a while it hadn't been in fashion so there wasn't a huge interest in the Pulp genre. Of course it is always fairly easy to adapt a chosen set of rules to the genre but but these mentioned below specifically captured the right 'feel' of such games. It's not a definitive list by any means but it outlines a few of the main ones...

The classic GASLIGHT probably leans more towards the 'Victorian Sci-Fi' side of things but certainly sets the right tone. The rules are small unit based with detailed leader or main characters. Command and control is accomplished through a card-based turn system with rules for movement, combat and morale.

Astounding Tales are a very rules-lite but deeply themed set that try to give players a lot of freedom to follow a story rather than worry about annoying details like rules. They also gave rise to the excellent Mad Dogs With Guns, my choice of rules for gangster games.

The Next batch were in the late 2000's with .45 Adventure and Where Heroes Dare! Both have a lot of meat to them.

Where Heroes Dare has 'schticks' that give abilities and flavour and uses 'Dare' as a main attribute used to solve plots and perform feats. Figures can be a handful to upwards of thirty.

.45 Adventure allows you to use archetypes to create graded characters (Grade 3 being the heroes and leaders, Grade 2 are the sidekicks and Grade 1 are the rank and file mooks) and uses a Hero Points system to give characters an edge. It has slightly more crunchy rules around combat side of things.

Probably one of the most popular set of Pulp rules arrived with the excellent Pulp Alley. This really approached the genre in a different way, with very story led, scenario driven games. They have simple rules from creating a 'League' of heroes, with a Leader (the out of the ordinary Hero of the group like Indiana Jones), Sidekicks (Marion Ravenwood or Henry Jones Snr.), Allies (Short Round or Sallah) and Followers (the general minions such as Soldiers etc). Characters are defined by their basic stats and descriptive abilities that give characters specific edges and are easy to customise to what you want your heroes to be. Scenarios are set up by the use of Plot Points placed across the table and card driven Perils that have to be dealt with by the characters. Most of the action is resolved by dice based on your stats. The Second Edition has just been released.

A fairly recent addition to the roster is Fistful of Lead by Wiley Games. These have evolved over the years from a home-brewed set of Wild West rules to a published full blown genre-spanning set. They have card driven mechanics and the potential for multi-player games with several figures per side.

Most recently is the just released Crooked Dice foray into the world of Pulp, named of course as '7TV Pulp'. This was co-written by Karl and The Edge Hill University Press. The basic 7TV2 rules remain pretty much the same but this injects more flavour via new character types and abilities.

Although 7TV still tends to be my 'goto' set of rules for a lot of games I think that Pulp Alley is hard to beat insofar as how it captures the flavour of the Pulp genre via the character creation rules and drives it's story based scenarios through the plot points system.

Decisions, decisions...but I still have to build and paint over thirty buildings first...

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

2018 Round-Up and Plans for 2019...

Well, I am certainly a bit late posting this and its going to be a shorter one than usual...

The first half of 2018 was pretty good gaming wise. A handful of games were played, mainly RPG and boardgames but there were a couple of tabletop ones in there too.

The painting table/desk got a fair bit of use and I finally managed to construct a few of the 4Ground and Sarissa buildings constructed.

I even had time to start 'modding' one of the basic Sarissa buildings to something a bit more fun...

I added a literal horde to my painted generic modern/7TV/70's collection, over 100 figures in fact!

February was a bumper month for skirmish games with great sessions of Doctor Who: Exterminate, 7TV2 and Mad Dogs With Guns played.

March saw us attend Cavalier in Tonbridge and play a Texan Revolution battle with Chris, Jon and Graham of the League of Gentlemen Anti Alchemists.

April was Salute month with some great games on display. Managed to play the 7TV2 Apocalypse vehicle rules with their writer Wayne Bollands.

In June I worked with DMB Games at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham. Another great show, very successful and we hung out with the Games Workshop gang who were in the same hotel and had an absolutely mahooosive stand next door to us. Which was nice.

The second part of the year was a different thing entirely. In retrospect it was nothing bad but just a tad stressful at the time. I think I lost my gaming mojo too which did not help, so it took a back seat for a while!

I did manage to add to my Pulp (1930's) and Gangster (1920's) collection but every figure went into storage almost as soon as it had been painted.

So, plans for the year? I will try to keep it brief this time as I never achieve what I set out to!

1) The 70's - I detailed this in my last 2017-18 summary so won't go over old ground but basically, Living on the Frontline, Geezers! "Shut It!" , Aggro and maybe Combat Patrol. I am well on the way to this, at least figure wise.

2) Gangsters - a classic 1920's to 1930's, Prohibition era game. Mad Dogs With Guns are still my rules of choice. Again, I added quite a lot to the painted figure collection, plus a stack of appropriate cars. So just need to get some more buildings and terrain done, as usual.

3) Pulp - still a favourite genre but still never played Pulp Alley. Stupid really as they are meant to be one of the best and I have now just backed the Kickstarter for the 2nd Edition... 

4) Dark Ages / Vikings - still on the list and I have missed my Vikings.

5) Sci-Fi - after an abortive attempt at Rogue Stars we never returned despite our desire to. I have a nice selection of suitable figures just aching to be used. No idea on rules so need to explore the options. Maybe Tomorrows War or the new Strontium Dog will get a look in?

6) More Doctor Who and 7TV - plenty of unpainted figures still to be done. Not Warlord.

7) Finish off my Stargate stuff...so close, so near, but so far!

8) WWII - once again, no WWII gaming in 2018. Chain of Command is still the default set of rules.

9) Anything Darkest Africa or Colonial - Congo, The Men Who Would Be Kings etc.

10) Fantasy - not really my thing as far as collecting and painting miniatures these days by certainly enjoy a game. So many rules to choose from. Song of Blades and Heroes looks to be our default but still need to try the Open Combat and Otherworld Fantasy Skirmish sets. A couple of the gang want to dig out 7th Voyage again!

11) Palaeo Diet - discovered this great set of caveman hunting rules last year and went for it as a mini project. I have a mammoth, smilodon, some wolves, ancient swine and a few cavemen painted so really hope to play this soon. Want to add a few more cavemen, apex predators and herd animals to the collection. They look like great fun! Robafett and I are considering adapting them for use with Runequest as a kind of 'Morokanth' hunting game...

12) Selling Stuff - a major aim this year is to start clearing out my large amount of 'stock' I have amassed over the years. A lot was bought specifically for when I was in the early stages of setting up a games business (that never materialised, obviously) and I need to motivate myself to finally start shifting it!

New potential projects?

I sort of managed to stick to the plan of concentrating on Pulp and Gangsters (and 7TV, natch) but as always, being a massive horror fan I am keeping it on the list. Zombies are likely but something Scooby Doo/Ghostbusters/"Groovy Teenage Monster Hunters" would appeal.

As far as zombie rules, my fave still remains All Things Zombie but Last Days looks interesting.

The only other new project I am committed to is Modern Africa, very much in the 60's -70's 'imagi-Nations' style. Lots of figures and a few vehicles bought already. Rules would likely be Living on the Frontline or Combat Patrol but I recently picked up Wars of Insurgency which look fun. Other options are Force on Force, the 2nd Edition Spectre Operations, Black Ops or Skirmish Sangin but the latter three are probably a bit too 'modern' for the kind of setting I want.

And that's it I guess....

I have dug out boxes of unpainted figures that include Wild West Mexicans, English Civil War (bought for horror games to be fair) and a load of Samurai (Daisho or Ronin) but I doubt they will get any more attention than the last few years!

I have already attended Cavalier 2019 so far this year but for the first time in ages it was quite a disappointment - there were not as many games that interested me, the traders had nothing I wanted  and very few of my usual crowd (even from SEEMS or The League of Gentlemen) were around. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood?

I will be working with Andy and Mark at DMB Games a little more this year and we will be preparing for the next UK Games Expo next month. We are currently trying to develop his dungeon-bash tabletop/boardgame, Rosebyrne Manor.

RPG's seem to have taken the fore at the moment and it is the only real regular gaming I get these days. Unfortunately none of us really have the necessary combination of space and time required to undertake setting up tabletop/miniatures game so various boardgames fill in when we don't play an RPG. Not sure what the answer is other than building an extension on my house...

The age old mantra returns - the main aim will be to try to PLAY more games and finish some projects for once.