Thursday 29 June 2017

Perilous Island 3: At Death's Door


Scenario 3 in the "Perilous Island" campaign book for Pulp Alley is set in a large customs warehouse, full of row upon row of crates.  The leagues are searching for a package that may contain clues to the location of Lord Darrow (the missing archaeologist), so they break in to the warehouse at night and hunt for the item, all the while avoiding (or overpowering!) the guards and each other.

Of course, I don't have a model of a large warehouse filled with shipping crates.  Instead, I decided to set the game in one of the Snake Cult's (see previous "Pulp" posts) outposts.  The cult was last seen being fought to a no-score draw in Perilous Island 2: Final Flight It's not unreasonable that while they and the Safari's characters are languishing in Lumbasa jail, the other two leagues in the campaign should raid their base!

The Setup

Somewhere in east or north Africa, the snake cult has complete control of a small village.  They have a big operation under way; the hamlet is full of crates of supplies and trucks - but for now there aren't too many cultists around.
The infiltrating leagues have decided to approach in the middle of the night, so visibility is reduced to 12".

Plot Points

Unwittingly, it seems, the cult actually have Lord Darrow's box [major plot point] hidden amongst their piles of goods.  There are also 4 minor plot points, any one of which might be able to reveal this important item:
  • Achmed: a night watchman.  Armed and potentially dangerous.
  • Baqil: another night watchman.  Also armed.
  • Jasar: the janitor.  Not particularly dangerous, but he might know a bit about recent comings and goings.
  • A catalogue/inventory: It's written in a simple code, but someone might be able to decipher the writings.  This document has been mislaid; it has been dropped on the road leading into the village.
To find the major item, a character must take any one of the 4 minor points into the centre of the board and query them [using finesse] to reveal the box's location.  It is then placed on the table close by and may be attempted as a normal, major plot point.


We decided on the following effects:
  • Climbing 1 level of a building would be perilous.  Climbing 2 storeys would be extremely perilous.
  • Anywhere within 2" of a non-building terrain feature would be perilous (snakes come out at night to hunt), apart from the path through the rocks to the north (marked with a blue arrow, as one of Tarzan's entry points).

The Leagues

Tarzan's Jungle Alliance.
Tarzan is mighty, the gorilla is savage and the monkeys are numerous.

Stahl Helm's Doom Squad.
A relentless Nazi leads an assortment of sinister sidekicks and heavily-armed goons.  Plus a robot.

As mentioned before, the Snake Cult is providing "guest stars" in the form of the watchmen and the janitor.  Officially the Cult isn't involved though; the fate of these extras will not alter the league's reputation, experience or other attributes in the wider campaign.

The Game

In the first turn of the game, all four minor plot points were attempted:

Koko crept up behind Jasar in the dark.  The first thing the poor janitor knew of the ape's presence was when a large, dark arm wrapped itself around him.  Jasar tried to struggle [the plot challenge was against might], but he didn't have a chance of escaping.  1-0 to the Jungle Alliance!

Johann and Herr Stengel approached from the south.  In a staggering display of bad luck, Johann tripped over something unexpected in the road and knocked himself out.  Herr Stengel then groped about in the dark to see what was there, but ended up stubbing his toe badly against a large account book [in other words, both of them failed the plot point challenge for the inventory rather badly].

In the east, night watchman Achmed took his job seriously.  When approached, he fought like a dervish and immediately felled Ernst.  It took all their energy for Stahl Helm and Panzerbot 5 to avoid the guard's flashing blade [another set of terrible dice rolls by the Nazis!].

Meanwhile, Tarzan had no trouble at all in subduing the other watchman, Baqil.  2-0 to the Jungle Alliance!

Monkey Time!

Stahl Helm finally convinced Achmed to stop waving sharp objects around [so that's now 2-1 in favour of the Jungle Alliance], but Herr Stengel just couldn't find the inventory in the darkness.  Life was about to become a whole lot more chaotic for the spectacled Nazi, as the whole troop of monkeys made a beeline for him - they could hear the sounds of him scrabbling about on the road and thought that this needed to be investigated!

It wasn't all good for Tarzan's followers, though: Caesar was bitten by a snake as the monkeys passed near the well and Kurt arrived to protect his Nazi boss, having been delayed by a random event.

Within moments, the monkeys were all over the Germans, hooting, throwing things and generally getting in the way.  They weren't much good at brawling, but the little creatures had a reasonable Dodge ability and it was hard to prevent them from making a nuisance of themselves [Importantly, their presence prevented Herr Stengel from attempting to complete the Inventory plot point, much to his frustration].

Bullets and more Bullets

At the crossroads, all the remaining characters stumbled into each other at the same time.  Tarzan and his captive watchman turned a corner and came face to face with Stahl Helm and his captive.  Awkward...

Meanwhile, the Nazi goons attempted to pin down Koko and the janitor with machine gun fire and grenades.  This just served to annoy the great ape!

In a brief lull, Koko seized his chance to reveal the location of the final plot point.  He dragged the janitor into the middle of the crossroads, held him up and shook him until the terrified man pointed towards the stack of crates and squeaked "it's over there!" [Koko's finesse skill was not great, but it turned out to be enough (just!) for this task].

Quick as a flash, Tarzan jumped onto the baggage and after throwing a few boxes aside he came up with a package addressed to Lord Darrow.  [As in a number of previous games, the random challenge for the major plot point was against might, which Tarzan has in spades!  He does seem phenomenally lucky in this respect]

Having reloaded, Ernst and Panzerbot 5 blazed away at the gorilla.  Bullet after bullet hit Koko; he fell, stood up again and then collapsed once more, not to recover.  As the ape's grasp weakened, Jasar (the janitor) decided that he was needed somewhere else; he fled before any of the Nazis could corner him.

On the other size of the truck, Stahl Helm levelled his pistol and shot at Tarzan, but he missed.  Thus alerted, the jungle man dodged around the corner of the building and ran away with his prize into the night.

Back down the road, the monkeys finally made a mistake and Kurt, the Nazi muscle man, managed to grab the pair that were taunting him and bash their heads together.  He then stepped into the other brawl and rescued Herr Stengel from the attentions of the third creature - but it was too late.  Some time during the fight, the inventory must have been kicked away and was now lost in the darkness.

With signs that more cultists were coming to investigate the fracas, the Nazis left the village, not particularly well-rewarded for their efforts.


That was another excellent game, though a bit one-sided!  Final score:
  • Tarzan: 4 victory points (1 major and 1 minor plot point), though almost all of the Jungle Alliance were knocked out.
  • Nazis: 1 victory point (for 1 minor plot point).  They held the field and only lost 1 follower, but in the long run this didn't help.
I don't make a habit of commenting on poor dice rolling, as normally such effects are more in the mind of the player than in any scientific reality.  However in this game, the Nazis really did have a tough time.  In particular, Herr Stengel's repeated attempts to pick up a book in the dark were somewhat comical.  Perhaps he broke his glasses when he tripped initially and couldn't see properly thereafter?

It could all have gone very differently, of course.  If Koko hadn't managed to make the janitor reveal the location of the final prize then there would have been an almighty fight in the centre of the village.  Both sets of potential combatants would have been fairly evenly matched, I think: Tarzan and Koko would be better in a brawl, but the Nazis had all the guns...

Follow me for the next game in this series ==>


  1. Great report! THANKS for playing and sharing Pulp Alley.

    1. And thank you for appreciating it :-) .

  2. Replies
    1. Well, I'm sure there's room for improvement, Michael :-) .

  3. I have to say this is right up my street. Not tried the pulp alley rules but they may be my thing afterall.

    Personally I am hooked and want another episode.

    1. What secrets will the diary reveal?
      Will Koko escape the relentless Nazi gunmen?
      Where will Herr Stengel find an optician to repair his spectacles?

      In true Pulp fashion, all will be revealed - in the next episode.

    2. Clint, if you're at all interested in the genre then I would recommend Pulp Alley wholeheartedly. The game system works well, it's got good support and is very evocative of the adventures it seeks to portray.

    3. I can only second the recommendation.
      The rules are well presented, well thought and provide a really entertaining game.
      They're simple, yet let the players field a variety of heroes and villains in a fast moving and challenging game.

      The represent excellent value as well with PDF downloads available and the DIY printer owner.

      The only other commitments are:
      * Dice, probably 6 each of d6, d8, d10 and d12.
      * A handfull of characters per side (typically between 5 and 8).
      * Tape measures, or sticks.
      * Scenery to depict your chosen pulp setting.

  4. Another great report! I have the rules and this campaign, must get around to giving it a go..!

    1. Yes, Lee - you must :-) ! I'd be very interested to hear about any such adventures.

  5. A really atmospheric battlefield.
    Observant readers will recognise the features from earlier blog posts.
    The models really worked well together.

    The action was very quick and direct, a shame since it would have been interesting to hunt through and over the village buildings.

    Tarzan and his apes made the most of their opportunities, using stealth, dodging and strength.
    They secured their major objective, and distracted the Nazis enough to ensure two minor objectives went unclaimed.

    The Nazis showed considerable incompetence in securing their objectives.
    By the time they brought their superior firepower to bear, the major objective had slipped away.
    Perhaps they could have posted a gunman on top of a building - a Fallschirmgewehr on the roof.

    1. I was mildly disappointed that the buildings didn't see more use, either interiors or rooftop chases/fights. But sometimes that's just the way it goes.

      I think that the Nazis were more unlucky than incompetent in this game - though maybe that comes to the same thing when the results are tallied?

  6. I do love your Oulp alley aars and your adaption of the scenatios to suit your needs.
    I think the Nazis got what they derved an d was cheeringon Tarzan and co throughout!

    1. Well, everyone cheers on Tarzan, don't they :-) ? Thanks, Joe.

    2. The advantage of playing the Nazis is that you never really lose.
      Either win the scenario, or enjoy a front-seat view of a bunch of baddied getting their just desserts.

  7. Well written report Colgar6. I can barely finish most batreps but I like how you weave a story and largely leave out the mechanics of the actual game. :)

    1. Thanks. I just wish that my terrain & setup was a bit better...

  8. Terrific stuff, and I'm going to be playing "catch up" with the previous episodes as well as looking forward to more as the campaign moves on!

    1. Glad you're enjoying it, WA :-) . There will be more to follow, but probably not in the very near future.