It was another foggy night and Black Boris the leader of the “the Dark Night gang” was wandering the streets of the tiny village of Kurtafstein* alone, he needed this time to think and the silence of the night helped him do this. He was working out of the best way to persuade his beaten up band of ne’er-do-wells to join him in another trip into the nearly deserted castle, but for some reason they weren’t too keen. It may have been because they got the stuffing kicked out of them last time and none of them wanted to face the castle owner again, but Boris knew there was gold in that their castle and he wanted it.
It was at this point Boris realised he was not alone as a grey skinned man wearing some very old fashioned clothes stepped out of the mist in front of him and smiled a fangy smile
The rest of the “the Dark Night gang” were in the village pub when they heard a high pitched girly scream in the distance, “Sounds like the Boss has got into trouble again” said Mr Choppy “I guess we should go and have a look to see what he’s done now”
And so the “the Dark Night gang” wandered into the darkness to find their lord and master**
In the previous 2 articles covering Pulp Alley I’ve set the games in a dungeon environment and added a few tweaks to the rules to handle this, but this game was played using a standard scenario setting with no tweaks at all, which gave me the perfect opportunity to describe who scenarios are generated.
So before starting the game I had to convert the characters I’ve used in the previous 2 games into a standard League (the name for a gang in Pulp Alley)
This wasn’t too difficult as Vlad became my leader, DoctorJ/MrH was his trusty sidekick and all the minions became level 1 followers. I also added a ‘League Perk’ called ‘Altar’ which meant I had the possibility of expanding my League with 3 more characters, so in total I had the possibility of fielding 11 figures in my League (I was going for quantity over quality here)
Mark who had finished last week’s game with 2 plot points had spent them on adding a level 2 minion to his League and a few extra minor changes.
So onto the scenario, there are 6 basic scenarios in the rule book and we decided to play one called ‘Death Trap’ as this seemed to follow the story arc we had played so far. The scenario starts with 1 leader separated and surrounded by the enemy whilst the rest of the league race to rescue him, it also has a nice twist where the isolated leader takes on the role of the major plot point and can be captured by the other side.
Mark allowed me to set up the terrain before he arrived, so I created a small village (the afore mentioned Kurtafstein) on a 3×3 sized table, we then rolled for Scenario events.
Scenario events are little twists that players roll for before a game, Mark got the ‘Reconnoitre’ event, which meant that no character could run, shoot or otherwise engage another character in combat on turn 1, whilst I got ‘Familiar area’ which allowed me to shift my dice up 1 when rolling initiative.
Next up we each picked 3 perilous areas in the village, this was done by picking areas of the table or by using figures to represent areas, after much thinking we decided the crossroads in the village, all high fences, the town drunks, a nervous looking gentlemen and Rex the guard dog would count as perils. Rex the guard dog was off his lead so we included a rule where he would move 3” in a random direction at the end of each turn.
Next up we diced for Initiative, which is normally a d6 roll with the highest score winning, but because of my roll on the scenario events I rolled a d8 and won. This also allowed me to choose if I would play defender or attacker, so I choose to be the attacker. At this point I also rolled my league perk (a d6 roll) and managed to get a 5 which meant I got the extra characters in my league
Now Mark had to deploy his league, his leader would be placed within 6” of one corner whilst the rest of his league would be placed within 12” of the opposite one, then I had to place my whole league with 12” of his leader.
Finally we took turns and placed the other 4 plot points on the table, each plot point as marked with a figure or a piece of terrain and a small glass bead so we didn’t mix up plot points with perils, at the end of all this the table was set up and we could start the game
In turn 1 we knew we couldn’t run or engage an enemy in combat so in the set up phase I placed my figures around Marks leader and once the game started I made Mark activate his characters first. His gang moved forward ready to run to the aid of Boris in the next turn, with the exception of Mr Choppy who moved up to a plot point and managed to complete the challenge, this meant Mark had the initiative. However Boris hadn’t activated yet and was still surrounded by the majority of my gang
So in a typical Boris move he jumped over a low wall and ran for it, or rather he walked for it as it was still turn 1. With all of Marks activations complete he was forced to make me activate, so 5 of my minions followed Boris whilst Vlad and Doctor J went hunting for plot points
I worked out that even though Boris was the major plot point and was worth 3 Victory points I still had to capture a few more plot points to win the game, so I had to split my forces. The other problem I had was only Vlad and Doctor J were experienced enough to have a chance of getting a plot point and holding onto it when it was in there control. This meant I had to try and use my level one followers to swamp Marks characters and try and slow them up whilst my leader and sidekick ran around collecting the plot points.
In turn 2 Mark made a tactical mistake and forced me to activate, I think he thought he would be better off making my followers move into base contact with his leader one by one as this would allow him to thin the herd a bit before he ran for it, instead I moved a good portion of my league towards the center of the table aiming to get the plot points and I also used Vlads ability to summon minions to add a few more figures to the table
I did move one of my minions into base contact with Boris and it didn’t end well as it got knocked out and removed from the table, but still Mark made me activate and so I moved a level 2 minion into base contact with Boris and somehow managed to win the brawl, this meant I had the initiative again and I was then able to get the rest of my gang in to surround Boris
Because of the way multiple combat works by the end of the turn all Mark could do to was to dodge my attacks and I was able to swarm around him and pin him down.
Turn 3 was a blur, I used the initiative to move up and use Doctor J to grab a plot point whilst Vlad raced across the table ready to grab another, I had 3 minions armed with crossbows commanding the center of the table which meant Marks group had to try and out flank me
Boris was holding his own against the swarm of minions that surrounded him but he was losing health and he couldn’t last much longer.
It was at this point that I completely forgot to take any more pictures, so I should just summarise the last 3 turns.
In Turn 4 Doctor J turned into Mr H using his shape shifter ability and moved towards yet another plot point, Vlad got to his plot point and failed to capture it (curses), Mr Choppy started running towards a ladder that would allow him to get over a perilous fence, the rest of his gang where engaged in a shooting match with my crossbow men and it was neck and neck but my superior numbers were starting to have an effect.
Turn 5 – Vlad won his plot point, Mr H got to his and won it, Mr Choppy made it over the fence and charged towards Mr H but was too far back to catch him and then finally Boris took enough wounds to knock him out. And at the end of the turn Mark failed his recovery roll so Boris was converted into a major plot point that I managed to win and I gave to Vlad to look after.
Half way through turn 6 Mark worked out he was unable to catch me and so conceded the game
The result was 4 plots to me and 6 victory points to 1 plot point and 1 victory point to Mark, a landslide win for my team, maybe Stalin had the right idea and quantity does beat quality.
Well that pretty much completes the 3 after action reports I promised to write for Pulp Alley, even though this game is based on Pulp games set in the 20’s and 30’s it is easily adaptable to games in other genres, my next idea is to use it in a pulp sci-fi setting so look out for more on that in the coming months
* it’s a made up name any village called Kurtafstein doesn’t exist
** Well they finished dinner first and had a few more drinks, but then they went out to see what the screaming was all about.