We've finally decided that we enjoy playing Pulp Alley so much that we're going to run a series of linked scenarios. Fortunately for us, I already have a copy of the existing (and most excellent) Pulp Alley campaign book: Perilous Island. We'll use that; it fits well with the type of leagues that I've created and played in our past games, though there will be some adaptations to the fluff to make it more based in or near Africa, at least to start with.
The background (condensed version)
Eminent archaeologist Lord Darrow goes off grid to search for a lost civilisation. His daughter (Lady Elaine Darrow), also an archaeologist, is currently at a dig on the fringes of civilisation. Various leagues attempt to enlist her aid in finding him.
As written, scenario 1 ("Hidalgo Fire") is set in the Mexican desert. However, that seems an unlikely location for Tarzan and his apes, though the other leagues would be at home there. Instead, we'll relocate Lady Elaine's expedition to the Congo jungle. So, here we go...
Hidalgo Virunga Fire
This scenario revolves around Lady Elaine's campsite; she is the major objective. Because we had 4 players, we increased the table size and doubled the number of minor objectives. As well as Lady Elaine's tent, maid, luggage &c there were a number of other items of interest scattered about the table, thus providing plenty of opportunities for squabbles between the various leagues.
Placement is interesting: each league places 1 model in turn, with restrictions on how close they can be to an enemy or a plot point. You can see in the picture above that the Nazis managed to surround the campfire, the Safari were concentrated in the north, Tarzan's forces were scattered through the west and south, whilst the Snake Cult hid in the trees to the east. [Also note that not all the models are marked; some were in the part of the table that is out of the picture, whilst I swear that some were just too hard to find in the jungle when I examined the image!]
As might be expected from such a chaotic setup, the action swiftly dissolved into a series of semi-independent vignettes:
Stahl Helm had found a discarded fedora and whip; he was trying them on and had just about worked out how to make the hat fit over his helmet (2 successes scored out of 3 needed) when he was attacked by the cultists' giant snake. The two of them fought and wrestled for most of the game with neither gaining any real advantage, much to the relief of the other two leagues.
Koko the gorilla tried to grab Lady Elaine's maid. He almost had her, but she broke away and ran screaming through the forest and across the stream.
Captain Goode and Lady Constance both tried to pluck a rare purple orchid, but succumbed to the mind-numbing, soporific scent. In the end, an ascari managed to retrieve the blossom and carry it off.
Caesar fought Ernst, the Nazi grenadier, for possession of an ancient dagger. The simian lost, but his place was taken quickly by Koko, the gorilla.
Alain Quartermain approached the pit beast gingerly. In a stroke of good fortune, the jungle terror was asleep; the hunter retrieved the camp's radio from its lair with ease.
The Lady run
Under the noses of the Nazis, Tarzan charged in, picked up Lady Elaine and ran for cover. She struggled a bit, but the feisty archaeologist was not strong enough to resist the jungle man [the plot point challenge was a test against might, which is one of Tarzan's best characteristics!]
The three other leagues (Safari, Cult and Nazis) made a tacit agreement to pursue Tarzan as he tried to escape with Lady Elaine. Sir Henry (a fairly mighty man himself!) caught up with the jungle lord, but wasn't able to wrestle the maiden free.
In the meantime, Herr Stengel went quietly about acquiring minor plot points for the Nazis. He had already raided Elaine's tent; the softly-spoken German now persuaded her maid to come with him as well.
At this point, the world seemed to explode! Secret agents had planted bombs all around the campsite [scenario special event] and these went off all together. In a slight change to the written scenario rules, we allowed 2nd and subsequent blast markers to be overlaid with each other to create an even bigger bang. The other leagues really didn't want Tarzan to get away!
As enemy reinforcements were arriving, Tarzan broke free from Sir Henry and dashed through the flames. still carrying the semi-conscious Lady Elaine. His danger sense served him well and he timed his run perfectly to avoid taking any injury from the land mines. With one bound, he was free!
Ernst had been trapped between another explosion and an angry gorilla. Surprisingly, he survived for longer than anyone had predicted initially, though in the end Koko flattened him and took the ancient dagger plot point.
Skeech, one of Tarzan's simians, had been chasing Jasham the sharpshooter for pretty much all of the game. Neither was able to gain the upper hand: the cultist kept missing the nimble ape whenever he had a shot and the simian didn't have a decisive enough advantage in hand-to-hand combat. However, in the final turn of the game, just when it didn't make any real difference any more, Skeech finally caught up with his foe and banged the man's head against a rock until he stopped moving.
Nadeem spotted an unusually large land snail crawling amongst the overgrown ruins. He shinned up the pillar to retrieve the animal and, even though some ascaris shot at him, was successful in capturing this plot point [I just hope that the cult leader is a nature lover, else Nadeem might be in a bit of trouble for this. He was sent out to retrieve Lady Elaine or her diary, after all!].
As Tarzan fled, something fell from Lady Elaine's grasp. Sir Henry dived through the flames to grab her lost diary. He was just able to clutch the precious book and protect it with his body before he fell unconscious from the smoke and heat.
Having backed off from the fight with Stahl Helm, the giant snake now went after Herr Stengel instead. Although the serpent managed to knock the man down, it was too late to retrieve any plot points. Instead, it slid away quickly when called by its master to retreat, leaving the German with his trophies.
A few more acts of petty revenge were carried out...
...by several leagues. However, by this time everything was settled; nobody had any realistic chance of acquiring any more plot points. All the survivors melted away into the undergrowth just as the authorities arrived to investigate the noises of battle.
That was a cracking start to our campaign! I think all four players enjoyed it immensely (I know that I did) and we're looking forward to the next match already.
The next 2 scenarios in the Perilous Island campaign are designed for only two leagues, so we'll need to make some adjustments. The simplest solution would be to have one pair of our four players play in scenario 2 and the other pair face each other in scenario 3. I suppose that other arrangements could work as well.
Final scores were very close, but for the record:
- Tarzan: 4 victory points, including Lady Elaine. Tarzan delivers, the simians were disappointing and for once Koko wasn't strangled unconscious by the cultists' snake!
- Safari: 3 victory points. A solid performance, though somewhat unlucky to have 2 characters drugged unconscious by a flower.
- Nazis: 3 victory points. Herr Stengel went quietly about his business gathering evidence whilst other league members shot, wrestled and punched all manner of enemies. A clever setup.
- Snake Cult: 2 victory points. The cult always seemed to be on the back foot in this game; their usually overwhelming numbers just weren't in evidence at any of the critical points. In particular, the high priest grabbed an early plot point [Lady Elaine's luggage] and ran off with it, leaving his minions leaderless. I hope he's happy with a set of women's clothing and a snail!