I've been ramping up to run a pulp-y science fantasy game for quite some time, in true Planet Algol fashion, with setting and adventures liberally borrowed from the aforementioned blog.*
I was never quite happy with the idea of using D&D as the core system, though. I briefly considered using instead Stormbringer or Elric, but that idea never set well, either. As my desire to run an Algolian game grew, it seemed that finding a suitable system became harder.
Then, after several nights of indulging in '80s nostalgia (driven by watching several seasons of "Magnum, P.I.") and harkening back to the halcyon days of my intro to gaming - which happened to, thanks mostly to Raiders of the Lost Ark and Tales of the Gold Monkey, coincide with a burgeoning love for pulp-era fiction, style, and music - my mind wandered to a system I had briefly fallen in love with over a decade ago: Buck Rogers: High Adventure Cliffhangers.**
BR:HAC is about as rules lite as it gets. As one review I read put it, it's a game for people who think Savage Worlds is too crunchy. (I'm paraphrasing here, since I no longer recall the source.) It's fast, lean, and offers a cinematic/dime store novel feel without all the overhead that seems to come along with it in many other game systems. And even though it's clearly set in the Buck Rogers' "universe," its rules-light nature makes it a prime candidate for house ruling/shoehorning into one's own setting.
For a pulp-themed game, BR:HAC really plays into the style of the genre. I've toyed with TSR's Gangbusters and Indiana Jones, and spent far too many hours prepping for a Savage Worlds game that never materialized; I think this is because the systems for these games, although each worthy in their own right, never hit the pulp sweet spot in my mind.
I chose BR:HAC for my Algol game, because I didn't want to do the usual murder-hobo D&D game. I wanted a real pulp feel that D&D just doesn't deliver with its levels and hit points. BR:HAC just seemed to hit the right spot.
The proof is in the play: I ran a multi-adventure session of my "Planet Algol: High Adventure Cliffhangers" game over the weekend, and it was an unmitigated success. Furthermore, I've been badgered daily since then to run more PA:HAC games. It seems like using BR:HAC was the right choice.
Thanks to BR:HAC, it even looks like I may finally be running a few "standard" pulp/noir games in the near future. And that's something I've been yearning to do since those Gold Monkey days, when my 16-year-old self forewent contemporary idols for the likes of Humphrey Bogart, wore bow-ties and white felt hats, and listened to the Andrews Sisters.***
***RIP Patty Andrews (below, center), last surviving member of that wonderful trio, who passed away just a few hours prior to this post. Thank you and your sisters for helping fuel an awkward teen's love of a bygone era.
So, a bit of crass personal commercialism (sorry!!!):
I've been "restructured" out of job, so if anybody reading this needs or knows anybody that needs to fill a position for a senior web developer (specializing in Microsoft technologies) or a webmaster, let me know.
(Somewhere warm would be really nice - I've had enough of this -1-degree weather!)
I was looking through my early Heavy Metal mags recently, and got to considering the evolution of the book's covers over the years. I hadn't consciously realized just how lame they had become, starting in the mid-90s. (I bought my last ish of HM sometime in 2001 or 2002 because I just found most of its content uninteresting. I never really gave it much thought, though.) It amazes me how the likes of Olivia, Luis Royo, Julie Bell, and their imitators have managed to take the life out of the once fantastic art that adorned these covers, replacing it with naught more than scantily clad, wooden-posed women (obviously based very closely on photographs of real-life models).
Does anybody remember when artists knew the human body and could illustrate it without visually copying from a photo? (Sure, many of the greats used photos, but only for inspiration, not as actual blueprints.) Or when HM didn't just slap on its covers boring paintings of women standing/sitting around?
Turns out that my old-school sensibilities don't apply just to my game preferences - they apply to my fantasy/sci fi art preferences, as well.
"To me one of the best parts of DMing is that you get a chance to build all sorts of fun static pieces like monsters, dungeons, wilderness environs and then you let players loose on them to see what happens. Usually it involves watching your toys getting broken, but hopefully the players do an interesting job of wrecking your precious creations."
"I’m an adventurer. I want to know what’s in the box."
W. Dear, The Dungeon Master
Order of the d30
Since I bought my first d30's with the Armory's book of d30 tables several decades ago when they first came out (back when they were numbered 0 to 9, three times - none of this fancy 1 to 30 business!), I figure I can claim membership in this Order!