Friday, 25 April 2014

Two Fists To Cure What Ails You (Part Four)

So, to recap: 10-12 episodes of pulse-pounding pulp action, with just enough drama and character development to please Lawrence Kasdan, possibly involving a globetrotting quest for treasure and secrets.

But what else does a pulp game demand?

I've said before that a good deal of the appeal in this game is in the era itself -- the golden age of fedoras and cars with running boards. At least a portion of my responsibilities behind the screen will be about portraying this world, even if we're traveling to remote and fantastical parts of it. I think the talented Mr. Jess Nevins has provided me with enough background in STRANGE TALES OF THE CENTURY to be well prepared for globetrotting, lucky me, though I'll probably have to do a little research on my exotic locales week by week. That's probably okay -- I like to be engaged and busy when I'm running a "meaty" game like this. Learning new stuff is part of the fun.

The PDQ system also includes ways for players to make broad declarations of facts in the game world, which means that things could certainly go in unexpected directions.

Something I'm anticipating will shape the course of play is the presence of the villain or villains of the piece. A group of high-flying heroes may have their own particular cast of characters that enter the action, including a nemesis that also has his monocled eye set on world domination. How strange do we want those villains to be? How far are we traveling down the path of super-villainy?

Although they are the villain that people associate the most with the pulp era, do we want Nazis to punch? (I say yes, but for some this could be a thorny issue, and it's one worth talking about. Using them means that I can use a lot of riffs from Ken Hite's awesome book on THE NAZI OCCULT.)

And if we're talking about super-villains, what about super science? How much does the world of our Pulpverse resemble the real world of the early 20th century? Is this a world of soaring airships and rayguns and dodgy robots with flailing clawed hands? Or do we want to keep things more grounded, with the only changes residing in the world-shaking secrets Our Heroes are chasing from ruined temple to hidden city to secluded fortress?

Then there's the matter of what scope we want the storytelling to exist on -- do we choose our favourite pulp era (probably the Dirty Thirties if we want Nazis for our punching convenience) and stick with that, or do we really want to think big and sprawl out a story over the thirty years of the entire pulp era? Imagine the CITIZEN KANE of the pulp adventure genre, looking back from the Fifties over episodes in the lives of men and women who strode like Titans through their world. That could get confusing, if we were jumping around in time as well as in geography, but I like a challenge. As we did with TIANXIA, the players would likely need to sketch out the edges of the timeline and leave big gaps to fill in through play.

I'm ready to drag this one out of the endless, dusty warehouse it's been hidden away in for so many years and finally crack the crate open.

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