Last week we played another game of Pulp Alley at club, as a part of our ongoing Perilous Island campaign. As usual we had a cracking time with this ruleset; it’s fast, fun and totally unpredictable, and also captures that pulp feeling really well – plenty of crazy stunts, unbelievable jumps of logic, dirty tricks and backstabbing.
Not the most perfectly balanced set of rules perhaps, but who needs balance when you can have jetpacks, giant spiders, hooded minions and damsels in distress?
I had recently painted some extra Cultists to flesh out my league and was really keen to try them out – especially that handsome flamethrower bloke (models from Bob Murch‘s excellent Weird Menace range).
This time we played the Lagoon of Terror scenario. The setting is a secluded beach on an island in the South Seas, where the waves lap peacefully on white sand shaded by palm trees – the perfect tropical paradise. Also, rather boring and non-Pulpish, right?
Luckily, the silence is broken as three Leagues of Adventurers enter the scene, looking for clues to the whereabouts of the vanished Lord Barrow.
First off, we’ve got my very own International Egyptological Society, a.k.a. The Cult of Ra. Led by the ever-elegant Ike Naton and his deadly sidekick Nefertiti Jones, they represent a more violent take on archaeological research. And they’ve got Skinny Tut the mummy with them – living (well, technically undead) proof that the wisdom of the Pharaohs still has relevance in this decadent modern age.
Then Jeppan‘s Belgians arrive, led by the “King of Pommes Frites”, Dr. Roland Castroule. As usal, this self-styled philanthropist and hopeless womanizer is accompanied by sledgehammer-wielding sidekick Ms. Mayhem and the feisty redhead Slygge, plus the not-so-handsome Swede Ronny Snygg and some other trusty companions.
And last but not least Jocke‘s league: the Vatican’s own SWAT team Corpo di Spedizione Santa Sede. The leader, Monsignore Cadaverico, is fast becoming known as the “Monster Magnet of Perilous Island” – even the Christian martyrs of old would no doubt envy his capacity of getting torn apart by hellish abominations (see my last Pulp Alley AAR for an example). As always, he’s got obese sprinter star Soura Innocenza at his side, plus several other crucifix-wielding zealots – including a meaty dog.
Things start out with some bush-stalking: Mr. Naton is trying to reach a potentially friendly Native (visible in the background) who hopefully can provide some information about the missing Lord Darrow. Typically, Dr. Castroule has the same idea and the two League Leaders engage in a staring contest through the undergrowth. “My ancient sword is bigger than yours!” Naton calls to Castroule, who just smirks and keep stroking his moustache.
Meanwhile, Nefertiti and the cultist lads start running for another plot point – a barrel full of weird substances that might prove useful.
This time around we tried a different deployment method and the Leagues were quite unevenly spread out across the scene, which proved to be fatal to some participants.
To begin with, one of the Belgians finds himself jammed in between Catholics and the Flamethrower Cultist…
…but the latter is quickly taken down by the CSSS, as they decide that he is a major threat. Probably a wise move, as template weapons have proven to be extremely powerful in past games.
And they continue to be used in abundance – not least by the CSSS themselves. They now spam templates at poor Ronny Snygg, who tried to hide behind a rock. However, he miraculously survives both machine gun fire and shotgun bursts. Desperate for some actual bloodshed, the pious servants of Christ now release Maria the Mastiff, who immediately goes for the easiest target – the lone Belgian.
The Belgians, always suckers for the latest fashion in weaponry, have of course brought some template attacks of their own. A rather scruffy-looking Dynamitarde now produces a fat load of TNT and throws it at Mr. Naton, who just shrugs it off with not as much as a dent in his tuxedo – such crude man-made stuff as TNT is no match for the Son of the Sun!
Ms. Slygge then decides the time has come for a more elegant approach; using her trademark feminine skills, she rapidly hides, hoping to sneak around the jungle unnoticed while Ms. Mayhem tries to unlock a plot point. But Ra sees all! Another template hits the ground, this time representing Cultist machine gun fire. Unfortunately both Belgian damsels survive the attack and the machine gun-wielding Cultist is shot down from afar.
Meanwhile, Monsignore braves the murky waters of the lagoon, going for the main plot point in the central wreck. This is an extremely dangerous move, as the “Monster Magnet” should know by now. But he is not afraid. “The Lord is with me”, he cries. “Whom shall I fear?”
Well, Cultists, to begin with. Lots of them – a whole gang, to be specific (special rules apply for this type constellation). They start firing from the shoreline, wisely staying well away from the waters.
But the old priest displays some amazing staying power and manages to eliminate the gang totally. He also unlocks the major plot point. Perhaps the Lord really is with him?
Actually, things are going well for the CSSS overall. Soura Innocenza downs a Belgian with a well-aimed shot…
…while the rest of the League keep pushing forward, spamming away with their templates and unleashing Maria yet again, this time against the poor Flamethrower Cultist, who is on his feet again but still hasn’t managed to fire his weapon even once.
He dodges the animal, only to be hounded by an even more nefarious beast. Innocenza is suddenly upon him, sprinting through the swamps like an Amazon Queen on speed. The poor Ra bloke doesn’t stand a chance against such bizarre antics, and finds himself face down in the mud. Again.
But perhaps that was the blood sacrifice that the Elder Gods was waiting for, because now things start happening elsewhere on the beach. Two plot points are unlocked – Nefertiti kicks open the mysterious barrel and the friendly Native is won over by the sight of Ike’s immense sword. Now the Cult’s progress naturally annoys its competitors…
…but when a CCCS minion unlocks a plot point of his own, he finds that it’s only a Red Herring – a false lead. Has the tide turned? Has the Lord abandoned His flock?
Well, no reason to despair! The Lord might be elsewhere, but someone – or rather someThing – else is more than willing to step in and provide the Pious bunch with some company. A horrid Sea Monster suddenly emerges from the waters, throwing itself at Monsignore. Is that fear on the priest’s face, or just Déja Vu? Sometimes it’s hard to tell…
Meanwhile, Skinny Tut makes a brave advance towards the last remaining plot point, but with both the Dynamitarde and Dr. Castroule in the way the odds are against him, and he rapidly goes from undead to just dead. From the other direction Innocenza is mowing her way forward through heavy Belgian resistance, with Maria the Mastiff faithfully guarding her cyclopean rear. Blinded by bloodlust, she appears totally oblivious to the fact that her leader is in dire straits…
…but Padre Sicario does appreciate the danger and takes a shot at the monster. However, this only fuels its fury and it now intensifies its attacks. Monsignore’s martyrdom appears close at hand indeed.
But the carnage continues unabated on land, where the remaining Catholics and Belgians all make intense efforts to reach that last plot point.
Dogs, dynamite, shotguns – no tricks are too dirty when things are drawing to a close and the last turn approaches. But no one manages to unlock that pesky point in time.
Relaxing on a high cliff with his new Native friend, Ike Naton looks on as the other Leagues uselessly slaughter each other. “Such as beautiful sight”, he muses. “Reminds me of the battle of Kadesh”. Yes, he is that old.
In the lagoon proper Monsignore attempts a brave escape, almost getting away with both his life and the precious plot point. But then our Cult girl Nefertiti interferes, showing off her dagger-throwing skills and downing the priest, who ends up in a monster belly. Again.
And thus this game ends, with the Cult of Ra on top of things. Or, as the ancient Egyptian saying goes: business as usual.
Playing Pulp Alley was crazy fun as usual, with all manners of bravery, foolhardiness, audacious backstabbery and insolent cardplay involved. Jocke has posted a detailed AAR from the CSSS’s perspective (not as objective and neutral as mine, of course), so head over there for some alternative takes on the whole thing! More pulp goodness coming up in the near future.