Tag Archives: pulp

Links of Interest, 3 September 2013

Quiet around here recently; I’ve been gaming regularly through the summer but not doing a whole lot of painting, scenery building or much of anything else!

Here’s a few cool links to share, though. They’re all, mostly by coincidence, on that perennial Warbard theme, zeppelins! First off, some notes, sketches and other cool stuff from Kevin Conran, the lead designer of the movie Sky Captain.

Over on Dark Roasted Blend, there’s Airship Dreams, Part One and Airship Dreams, Part Two which both, especially Part Two, have some awesome photographs of real and imagined airships & zepps.

Actual substantial blog posts soon, I promise…

A Pulp Alley Game

We’ve been playing a lot of Pulp Alley recently; this photo is actually from ten days ago, not our most recent game, but it’s better than any of my snapshots from the more recent game!

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Russians & others crowd around a Plot Point Marker in a backwoods jungle hamlet! Click to view larger over on Flickr.

I’ve whipped up half a dozen teams (Pulp Alley refers to them as Leagues) that we’re swapping back and forth between actual players as the spirit moves us. Being pulp, we’re well off into stereotypes, I’m afraid! There’s the stiff-upper-lip Sir Charles, who denies being an agent of the British Crown; the Teutonic schemer Stahlmaske, as dangerous to his underlings as he is to his enemies; the sinister but intoxicated General Vodkanovich, White Russian exile; the mercenary Captain B., and various other gangs of pulpish skulkers.

I’ve even brought back crowd favourite Red Lily, International Women of Mystery, although she and her crew haven’t yet appeared in a game.

We’re having a lot of fun with Pulp Alley, as should be obvious. The printed, softcover book has just been published, along with the Fortune/Challenge cards in playing-card style. I’ve got copies of both enroute, and I’ll do a proper review here on the Warbard of both when they arrive!

First Game of Pulp Alley

I picked up a copy of the recently published pulp skirmish rules Pulp Alley sometime last month, and we finally got a game of it in today.

Pulp Alley is published by the father & daughter team of Dave & Mila Phipps; the $10 45-page PDF has all the basic rules for pulp mayhem, designed around teams (“Leagues” in PA) of about 5-8 Heroes, Sidekicks, Allies and Followers. I’ll likely do a full review of PA soon, but the basic rules are well-written and well-edited, with nice pulpy graphic touches throughout.

For this game I copied the sample League provided in the book, hacked together a second League quickly, then assembled two more Leagues by getting players to play mix-and-match between the two existing Leagues. This left a lot of rules and features unexplored, but as a quick-and-dirty method of assembling four not-quite-identical teams it worked OK. We got out my underused tropical buildings and a few bits of jungle terrain and got to it.

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Early in the game. Air Pirates in the foreground, Sailors barely visible bottom-right, Russians in a clump top-right. Cultists are off-camera top-left. Click to view on Flickr.
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Fairly late in the game. My Air Pirates are mostly down, the Cultists have forted up in the lefthand building, and the Russians and Sailors are brawling in the street to the right. Click to view on Flickr.

I’ll be writing up a proper review of Pulp Alley sometime soon, probably in a few weeks after we have another couple of games. The initiative system is different and interesting, with initiative changing hands based on winning fights or capturing objectives. The Fortune Card deck is a great idea and added quite a lot to the game, especially a few turns into the scenario when we were all a bit more comfortable with the rules. The combat system is elegant, although I can tell I need to stop at my FLGS to get a few more d8s before our next game. Before next weeks game I want to properly build several Leagues to get a better idea of the character and League creation rules; there’s also several questions I’ll need to ask over on the Pulp Alley forums, mostly to do with wounding and recovery from wounding, which we got slightly confused by!

It was great to get back to pulp gaming again, and I’m looking forward to getting more familiar with the Pulp Alley rules.

GottaCon 2013, Friday

Spent the morning doing a few bits of last minute prep for my Russian Civil War game, mostly putting the finishing touches on the field gun and crew. Headed up to the convention site a few hours before it opened so I could get my pass ahead of time and avoid the 45 minute wait at the official doors time, then loitered in a coffee shop until just before the doors opened.

Going to the will-call pre-con ticketing turned out to be a good plan, as the lines were fairly long at the ticket door!

The evening session was taken up with a fairly quick, highly entertaining game of pulp racing run by Corey; the rules are super light, less than a page, and consist mostly of “roll something and make sh*t up, then everyone crashes!”. Scatter dice, FUDGE dice, card-based activation and possibly averaging dice are involved. Corey claims to have been sober when he wrote the rules, but I have my doubts. I ran over a skunk, an escaped circus elephant narrowly avoided being very large roadkill, one or two sheep weren’t so fortunate, and ultimately Our Hero crashed, his car nudged from behind by a Comically Evil Henchperson, and was unable to prevent the Dastardly Villain from marrying the Tragically Brainwashed Heroine. Pulp silliness ensued, in other words.

I even remembered to take photos, and one or two of them even turned out OK!

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Early in the pulp racing game. The oncoming lane is blocked, there’s sheep in the middle of the road, a fuel truck has just pulled out to try to get around the obstacle, and here we come, driving idiotically fast! Standard pulp nonsense, in other words!

See the full GottaCon 2013 photo set on Flickr.

Pulp-era Aviatrixes

“Aviatrix” is the feminine version of “aviator”, but of course you knew that already. This fabulous pair is courtesy Kemon’s Flickr stream, which has a huge array of mostly aviation-related stuff, a lot of it from the interwar pulp era!

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Dorothy Sebastian learns to fly.

Dorothy Sebastian (Wikipedia link) was apparently an early Hollywood actress.

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Joan Blondell, another 1930s movie starlet.

Joan Blondell (Wikipedia again) was also a Hollywood actress, active from the 30s right through to post-WW2.

Need inspiration for a pulp-era glamorous female aviator? Here you go!

US Marines in Interwar China

Dusting off my sadly-neglected blog this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend to post a link to a very cool trio of old movies shot in the early 1930s by the US Marine Corp in China. The US (as well as the British, French and a few other Western powers) maintained military forces in China right up into the Second World War, including aviation forces.

I can’t seem to embed the videos, but head over to Leatherneck Magazine’s USMC Aviators in China article to find all three short, silent movie clips.

If you were looking for scenery inspiration, a lot of this footage is at fairly low level, and while it isn’t hugely detailed you could get useful inspiration for Chinese buildings and compounds by peering past the airplanes!

Hope any Canucks reading this are having an excellent Thanksgiving weekend. I’m trying to get back into the gaming thing after a summer and early fall of practically zero activity, so more content soon, hopefully!

Pulp Atmosphere

Urban pulp is often about the dark alleyways, the gritty industrial districts, the shadowy corners, the threatening figures in fedoras and trenchcoats lurking in the misty dark… so here’s a pair of photos from Shorpy that just ooze that sort of atmosphere!

Via the always excellent Shorpy, a very atmospheric streetscene in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Noir over on Shorpy, just in case the hotlink doesn’t work. (Sometimes Shorpy links work beautifully. Sometimes they don’t work at all…)

More noir-ish images from Pittsburgh, via Shorpy. Sure, they’re from 1907, which is technically early for the sort of pulpish goings-on that interest us here at Warbard, but close enough, and awesomely atmospheric!

And again, Shadowland over on Shorpy.

Having just been away for a week, and July having been awfully slow on the wargaming front around here, I hope to resume more regular posts soon, as I get back into gaming regularly. Still, that seductive summer heat will keep luring me out outdoors (you know, the bright room with the blue ceiling and lousy wifi reception…) so the summer doldrums might last a bit longer. We shall see. In the meantime, go explore Shorpy, there’s a huge amount of great stuff on that site!

Red Airships!

I am, as mentioned in the last post, neck-deep in prep for my Russian Civil War game less than a week away at Trumpeter Salute 2012. Nevertheless, something near and dear to the very core of the Warbard’s raison d’etre needs to be linked to…

Via the excellent Dieselpunk, who in turn got it from kitchener.lord’s spectacular Flickr stream, this Red Airships photomontage poster:

Nikolai Dolgorukov. Soviet Airships. 1932

I’ve long been a fan of pre-WW2 Russian design; there were some very talented people doing great stuff even in terrible conditions.

Anyway, back to final drafts of initiative cards, then painting the last 16 White Russian infantry for the game!

Spectacular Zeppelin Model

Bit of a quiet week here on the Warbard. I’ve been burning up all my available hobby time painting Russian Civil War figures. There’s two dozen Cossack infantry finished, another three dozen regular White riflemen nearly finished, twenty Red infantry in progress, and a new unit of ten Red sailors well underway. Yes, if you total that up, it’s nearly 100 figures, all 28mm. I’ve been a busy chap. There’s six or eight half-written articles in the Drafts queue here on the Warbard, but I haven’t touched any of them in days!

Nevertheless, a short Saturday evening diversion from the painting table… we are well known to love zeppelins here. We have to bow down to the gentleman featured in this Popular Science article, though. (via Bayou Renaissance Man, who has more photos)

Even better? By my quick admittedly rough calculations, a 20ft-long model of the USS Macon is roughly 1:56th scale, ie 28mm… the gentleman in California has created a wargaming model, possibly without knowing it!

Tomorrow we game the Russian Civil War again using the Mud & Blood rules, photos and a game report tomorrow evening!

Zeppelins From Foam

This has minimal bearing on the 28mm pulp gaming we usually do that might involve a zeppelin, but it’s such a cool and masterful technique I have to share: Creating Zeppelin bodies with foam insulation.

Basically, take long billets of foam, run a hot wire knife across a profile, and rotate the billet to create that distinctive “faceted” look of a Zepp body. Very cool.

Of course, I once calculated a 1/56 (28mm) scale of Graf Zeppelin would be about 19 feet long (nearly six metres!), so doing the gondola and a bit of the body in 28mm is (marginally!) saner. Only marginally, mind you. The small-scale foam zepps in the first link are a lot smaller and saner; they’re still about 3ft long, though.

If you are minded to do some zeppelin construction, in whatever scale, you could do worse than following the useful links from this Propnomicon posting called “Zeppelin Goldmine“, which has links to high-quality scans of a book of speculative 1920s designs for a Graf Zepp-sized trans-Atlantic zeppelin. The gondolas of those look fairly buildable as 28mm skirmish terrain, actually. One of these days…