Two relics from a forgotten era
Today I’ve been lucky – a friend sent me two games that I was missing from my collection.
In the last few years I started collecting roleplaying games with a pulp theme. Now, the definition is pretty loose – after all, a game set in Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian age would be technically pulp, because Conan debuted on a pulp magazine. The same goes obviously for Call of Cthulhu (that now has its own “pulp” subset of rules), considering Lovecraft’s presence in the pulps. And of course, a Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers influenced game like Slipstream would also be “pulp* in theme if not in substance.
So, to clarify the classification, I am collecting roleplaying games, and in particular those that are either inspired by pulp authors (like the Conan roleplaying games) or properties (like the old Masterbook Indiana Jones game), and those that are designed to play in a pulp universe, a pulp version of the 1920s and 1930s.
Of these, I am most attached to White Wolf’s Adventure!, and I consider Hollow Earth Expeditions the current gold standard in terms of pulp gaming.
And yet, pulp games are not a recent thing, and indeed one of the games I received today was published back in 1982 – the heroic age of roleplaying, when games came in boxes and many-faced dice were considered a strange new artifact by many.
The game was called Daredevils, and was published by the same guys that had created Bushido (a game of Japanese samurai action) and Aftermath (a game of post-apocalyptic survival).
Daredevils is not particularly well-remembered – and has to me mostly an archaeological value.
In 1984, Justice Inc. was published, using the Hero rules systerm – and here my interest is a lot more piqued. First, because Justics, Inc. has been so far extremely elusive, and secondly because it is the work of two authors I always admired: Aaron Allston and Michael Stackpole, in this case joined by Steve Peterson.
Justice Inc. is an old game, for sure, but it’s filled with roleplaying and pulp goodness, and if it’s probably true I’ll never play it, it is certainly a source of inspiration. The fact that I spent almost a decade to try and find me a copy is another welcome extra.
Only two supplements for the game were published, both written by Allston – one is called Trail of the Golden Spike, and is a standard campaign, while the other is Lands of Mystery, a sourcebook on lost worlds and other wonders, that’s been on my shelf since the late ’80s, and always was one of my most cherished possessions.
And now I could really do a post on pulp roleplaying, or even better set up a page on this blog on the subject. Or maybe both.
More work to do, but fun.