Monday, July 31, 2017


Batman has always been one of my favorite comic book hero.  I have never subscribed to one interpretation of Batman, either. Old Dark Knight, 60s TV Batman, Batman TAS, video game Batman and many others all have their great moments. But the early Batman was truly something special. Batman's creators took a certain amount of mercilessness from dark vigilantes like the Shadow along with the gadgetry of Doc Savage and made something new and enduring. 

Playing Batman in Pulp Alley is not very difficult and there are many build options that are available. In my very first game, I ran the following Batman and Robin combo.

League: Dynamic Duo
League Perks: Duo, Bastion of Science and Associate (Alfred Pennyworth, Got the Goods and Supplies)

Always counts as in cover against shooting
Before each scenario, you receive 1 resource point (Tip, Backup, Gear or Contact). May be spent or saved
Quick Strike
Once per turn, shift Brawl down to gain a +2d Brawl bonus
Add +1d to Dodge (included above).
Dodge Move in any direction
Shoot and Finesse dice are not lowered due to injuries

For the figures, I rebased and repainted Heroclix.  There are some great option for Batman, this particular sculpt is based on the classic pose from Detective Comics #27, Batman's first appearance. 

Batman and Robin alongside a 1/43 scale die-cast Batmobile by Corgi. Getting a fully kitted out Batmobile into Pulp Alley requires a lot of saved Gear points or a house rule point increase. So far, the Batmobile is just for show. 
One of my favorite incarnations of Batman is the Gotham by Gaslight Batman. In this alternate worlds universe, Bruce Wayne becomes the Batman in 1890s Gotham City, facing off against Jack the Ripper and other appropriate period foes. 

For this Batman, I again repainted and rebased a Heroclix model. Robin never appeared in the Gaslight stories, so with that freedom in mind, I took an Artizan cowboy model and created Robin the Kid, an orphaned gunslinger who helps Batman clean up Gotham's mean streets. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Tarzan and Friends: An alternate Perilous Island league

My original intention for the Perilous Island campaign was to build a Tarzan/Jungle Lord league. For a variety of reasons, I changed my mind, but only after I painted the figures and designed the stats.  

My Pulp Alley Tarzan character borrows elements from various movie and tv incarnations through the years and less from ERB. The boy and chimpanzee come from the 40s and 50s movies. The ability to use Animal backups comes from my first exposure to Tarzan, the CBS Saturday morning cartoon from the early 1980s.

All figures are from Northstar, except for Jane, which is from Brigade games.

Tarzan  - Leader

Health: d10
B 3d12 S 2d8 D 3d8
M 3d10 F 2d10 C 3d10

Inhuman - increase one of your starting skills up to d12 (included above)
Flying Tackle - once per turn, shift your brawl dice down to give one engaged enemy a -1d penalty to all combat skills.
Loyal Following - all temporary characters which join the league benefit from league perks.

If you feel particularly brave, give Tarzan the Animal ability (League Perk) and raise two skills at the cost of removing his Shooting. Tarzan did use a bow and sling, and the idea of having a leader with no ranged ability seemed too risky.

Jane Porter - Sidekick
Health: d8
B 2d6 S 3d8 D 3d6
M 2d6 F 2d8 C 3d8

Crackshot - targets of shooting do not benefit from cover.
Quick-witted - once per turn, shift Might, Finesse or Cunning down to gain a +2d bonus.

Jane is built to be a capable shorter and leader in her own right, like the Margot Robbie version in the recent film.

Jungle Girl - Ally

Health: d6
B 2d6 S 0 D 3d6
M 1d6 F 1d6 C 2d6

Animal (league perk) increase to skills by 1d, you have no shoot.
Stealthy - hide as an action instead of a full action

Jungle Girl is not inspired by a specific character, but based on the a type of character that showed up frequently in films and comics of the time.

Boy - Follower
Health: d6
B 1d6 S 1d6 D 1d6
M 1d6 F 1d6 C 1d6

Crafty - once per turn re-roll one Dodge or Cunning die.

Health: d6
B 2d6 S 0 D 1d6
M 1d6 F 2d6 C 1d6

Animal (League perk)
Speedy - run up to 16" instead of 12."

League Name: The Jungle League
League Perks: Animals, Keen Senses

Friday, July 14, 2017

Perilous Island: Final Flight

The story so far... Clues from Lady Darrow's dig point to an artifact at a warehouse in Istanbul. Engine trouble with the steamer forces the team to disembark in Morocco and they hope to catch a flight to Turkey. Unfortunately, with only one plane available, and other parties trying to get to Lady Darrow, it might be a close run thing.

ONe ofthe great things about Pulp alley is that it is a story game, and the players should focus on telling an exciting story. Terrain is key to any great skirmish game. As the scenario suggested, we placed the plane at the center of the table. Instead of rolling for the amount of terrain and alternately placing it, me and the other player went in a direction that was more visually and thematically appealing. We used as much pieces as we felt the setting demanded - and we placed it as it would

Some of the later Perilous Island scenarios have maps and more specific instructions for the layout of the board, which I generally prefer to a IGYG method of terrain placement.

An establishing shot of a small airstrip in Morocco, circa 1930. In the top left corner sits the ticket building and a control tower. A few small building are in the other corner, along with trees and fountains. A small crowd of civilians mills around the ticket booth, hoping for a trip out of the area (apparently rebels have been on the attack nearby).  As this is a French controlled area, Foreign Legionnaires mill about. Anyone who shoots or brawls will have to contend with them.

Hawkins' team starts near the ticket booth, the first plot point they need. If they can get a ticket, they will be able to get Lady Darrow out of here and on to Istanbul. 

Harry Hickman starts it off and unfortunately he bungles the attempt for the tickets, arousing the suspicion of the nearby Legionnaire. He is now wanted. 

James mutters something about having to do everything himself and gets the tickets himself. Below, Hans and his ne'er do wells look to secure the package from the pile of baggage. If they can get this to the Mechanic, he might stop the plane for them.  

Harry runs around the building in an attempt to elude the guard.

Above, Hans closes in on the package while James looks for Lady Darrow. He heard she was somewhere near the fountain. 

Got it!

Above, James is on his way to Lady Darrow, but Hans' men block his path. Will there be a fight?

Hans and Benny are almost to the Mechanic.

With victory so close for wither group, fights erupt all across the airfield. Surely the Legion can't be everywhere at once?

Benny takes out Rory as Hans and the Mechanic head for the plane.

James and Lady Darrow try to avoid the general melee going on by the fountain, but it's too late. Hans and the Mechanic shut down the plane.

Because James Hawkins and his league bungled the mission, Hans and his crew will benefit from Lady Darrow next time. I was a great game, and the stakes will get even higher in the next mission. Both leagues have a decent amount of points to spend on gear and backup. Next stop: a warehouse in Istanbul. 

A future post will be a closer look at the terrain that I have built for Perilous Island. The scenery and setting is one of the attraction of Pulp Alley, and I hope to really stretch my terrain making skills over the course of the campaign. I can't take credit for the game table, though. It was a great looking neoprene mat at Gigabytes cafe and something I am going to look at finding in the future.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Perilous Island: Hidalgo Fire

For the first chapter of our Perilous Island Campaign played at Gigabites Cafe. Set up on a large 4x4 table, but marked off a 3x3 area.  The 

The Story: Lord Donovan Darrow was once a respected and wealthy archaeologist, but he lost his reputation, wealthy and eventually in his sanity in his quest to prove the existence of an ancient civilization called the Enochean Empire. Recently discovered evidence may now support his claims, but unfortunately he has gone missing. However, his daughter, Lady Elaine Darrow, a noted archaeologist herself, is working at an ancient Toltec site in Hidalgo, Mexico. She may have a clue to his whereabouts. Competing leagues rush to her location, either to persuade her or force her assistance. 

The number of terrain pieces was randomly generated and figure placement was not per side but throughout and across the board. An interesting condition, and it certainly allowed the action to begin immediately, just like in a pulp novel or adventure film. 

Terrain pieces included tents, hills, an adobe house and an abandoned church to represent an abandoned village in a valley in the rugged hill country of Hidalgo, Mexico. 

 James and his son Miles (left) make a run for Lady Darrow, as she is the main objective, and they are closest team members. 

Meanwhile, Hans and his men (below) decide to search Lady Darrow's tent for clues. 

Harry, in the top right corner, tries to pick off Benny as he closes in on Lady Darrow's tent.  However, quick use of a Fortune card by Benny neutralizes his shot. 
James Hawkins manages to successfully make contact with Lady Darrow, despite Shorty Pete's attack. 

Inside Lady Darrow's tent, Benny the Brute stomps a spider and finds a clue.

Meanwhile, Miles who ran off when the fighting started, finds the crystal skull artifact, a minor plot point.

Meanwhile, Desh engages Shorty so that James can get away with Lady Darrow.

After four turns, the mining company's dynamite charges begin going off. With all of the plot points secure at that point, the two leagues take a few shots at each other as they exit the valley. 

Overall, it was a great first scenario. Combat was not an integral part of this game as the leagues focused on securing the plot points closest to their figures. My main replay suggestions is that if the terrain and buildings have removable tops or coverings, have a neutral observer or GM place the plot points so that the players don't know exactly where to go. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hans Heinrich and his Crew of Ne'er Do Wells

Competing against James Hawkins' adventurers in the Perilous Island campaign are Han Heinrich and his motley crew of thugs.

From left to right: Shorty Pete, the Hunchback, Hans Heinrich and Benny the Brute

Hans Heinrich (leader)- German archaeologist with a background in the theosophy movement. Rumored to have studied under Aleister Crowley before the Great War. In the ten years since, he has been quietly assembling an impressive collection of mystical objects, some of which have found their way into his arsenal of weapons.

The Hangman (sidekick) - Though his name and nationality are unknown, he is presumably French or Belgian in origin. A powerfully strong and crafty hunchback, his preferred weapon is a noose that he uses to immobilize his victims while colleagues finish them off.

Benny the Brute (sidekick) - a former circus strongman that Hans "acquired" in his travels. He is tremendously strong and loyal to Hans, and not near as dim-witted as he looks.

Shorty Pete (ally) - an American hitman who fled to Europe when the heat got to close to him. Especially deadly with the razor and other small arms.

This league uses the perk for two sidekicks, along with whatever backup thugs the leader can generate before the game.

All the figures, except Hans, are from the Pulp Figures Freakish Flunky pack. Hans is from Artizan's Thrilling Tales line as Herr Tohdt.