Pulp Alley AAR – Mike Hobbs- The Castle of Clichés, Part II

DSCF0345 - CopyPodcast host Mike Hobbs presents the second part of his Pulp Alley AAR…

The rain was pouring down as the “the Dark Night gang” moved silently towards the Castle, it was only a few days since their last visit and the gang were eager to see what lay behind the hallway door. The moon was high in the sky and a few of them wondered about the legends they’d heard of the monster who strikes at night and rips out the hearts of men and women alike, the rest wondered why they weren’t doing this in daylight when no attacks ever happened.

After last week’s thrilling adventure playing Pulp Alley Marks league “the Dark Night gang” had completed the scenario and escaped from the Castle with 3 “Plot Points” which included the “Major Plot Point” this now allowed him to regroup, rearm and get ready for part 2 of the campaign.

In Pulp Alley scenarios have a number of “Plot Points” and players try to capture them, and they all give a number of Victory points which are used to work out the winner of the game, but winning a plot point also allows a player to draw a “Reward” card.

The reward cards have 2 sections, the first one gives a benefit that players can use in the scenario they are currently playing, or a Resource that can be used to advance their league post game. Players have to choose if they want to use the benefit now or after the game they can’t do both. In our last game Mark had kept all the reward cards so he could the benefits post game (he’s clever like that)

EDIT — after chatting to the Pulp Ally team Mike has found out that this rule is wrong and both sections of the record card can be used, so players get an immediate benefit from winning a plot point plus they get a reward to use after the game

After a game a few things happen;-

Firstly players increase the reputation of their League by the number of Victory Points they’ve collected and as their Reputation increases extra League Perks are made available (these things like giving extra fortune cards or getting an extra slot to use in the league roster)

Secondly they need to record the Resources and Experience that are listed on the Reward Card so they can spend them before the next scenario

Next the players get to reorganise their league, they can remove characters and add new ones (except the Leader that is) and then they can see if any characters who didn’t make it through the scenario actually recover. This is an optional rule but it allows for players to roll on the aptly named “Harrowing Escape” table which gives a few fun options.

Then finally before the next scenario the players can decide what to do with all the Resources and Experience they have collected, they can spend or save them.

Experience points can be spent increasing characters abilities by 1 dice, but the amount of experience points required to do this is 1pt for each level of the character, so a leader needs 4 experience points to raise one of their abilities by 1 dice where as an ally would cost 2 XP to raise it by 1 dice. And just so you know there is only 1 experience point available in each scenario so they are rare things indeed.

There are 4 types of Resources in the game, they are Tips, Backup, Contact and Gear and they each give different benefits.

Tips – these allow you to take extra fortune cards during the scenario, choose a Scenario event (these change the scenario a bit) or they can be converted into Backup, Contact and Gear points.

Backup – these are characters that join the league for 1 game (red shirts in Star Trek terms)

Contacts – these are a collection of things that the player can use during a scenario to mess up the plans of their opponent, like getting a better chance of grabbing initiative at the start of a game, or even turning an enemy character into a member of their league mid game.

Lastly we have Gear which as you would expect are bits of kit that can be given to a character to use during the game, like a bulletproof vest, gas grenades, utility belt and even vehicles.

In our game Mark had 3 cards and got 1 point each for Gear, Contacts and Backup and he spent them all.

With his Gear point he got “Gadget X” which would allow him to pass 1 plot point test without rolling, this would have been really useful if only he remembered to actually use it

Contacts gave him “Rumour and Gossip” which translated to him drawing an extra fortune card in the first turn.

And he also got a level 1 shooter character with his Backup point.

So let’s re-join the action as “the Dark Night gang” sneak up to the Castle and make their way into the deserted hallway.

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Olga the purple clad temptress loses the game of rock, paper, scissors with the rest of the gang and therefore has to open the door with key that Black Boris, the leader of “the Dark Night gang” managed to find last game. The door opens with a completed expected squeal (honestly why don’t castle owners oil the hinges) revealing a corridor. The corridor is completely ordinary with the exception of a missing section of flooring and 2 very large spikey contraptions beneath the gap.

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Lets take another look at the floor trap as it took me ages to build

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Olga moved into the corridor in the distance she could just make out another door and what looked like 2 switches on the wall, unfortunately between her and the switches was the ominous turning spikey thing.

Black Boris (so called because of his black cloak that he always wore) took one look at the gap and told Olga to get on with it and jump over.

The floor trap was an “Extreme Peril” which meant that jumping over it would require the character having to pass a test. I had the choice to play a fortune card from my hand for Olga to beat or we drew a random one from the deck. So I played one which in the best traditions of Pulp she failed to beat, took 2 hits, failed her health roll and fell into the pit.

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Black Boris tutted and looked around for another volunteer at which point everyone looked away sheepishly, he was going to have to do it himself. So 1 jump, 1 challenge and 1 pass later Boris found himself on the other side of the pit looking at 1 locked door and 2 switches, one was close to the pit and the other close to the door. Boris had a 50-50 choice so he pulled the switch closest to the pit and the door swung open

“a shot rings out” I said, and placed 2 robed minions on the other side of the doorway, took the initiative for 1 action (same rules as last time) and fired at Boris. Boris with his lightning fast reflexes fired back and the minion fell wounded to the floor.

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Sensing his master was in trouble Mr Choppy ran through the door, attempted to jump the pit, failed his challenge and fell in. Luckily Olga was there to cushion his fall and he wasn’t wounded, but he was at the bottom of a pit surrounded by turning spikey things and an unconscious Olga. The rest of the gang piled into the corridor to see if they could help out whilst the other minion charged Boris and took a bullet to the gut for his troubles.

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At the end of the turn I managed to pass both my recovery rolls but Olga unfortunately didn’t and remained in the pit.

In the next turn Mr Choppy crawled out of the pit, probably using Olga’s body to stop the spikes from turning and pulled the other switch, the ground moved and slowly the floor closed over the pit

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This left 2 minions to be dealt which the gang did in their usual style (i.e. badly) halfway through the battle Mr Choppy decided to open the door he found in the end of the corridor and revealed yet another minion lurking in a room with a spiral staircase descending into the darkness.

Eventually and with no further misadventures the gang managed to deal with the minions and found themselves at the top of some perilous looking stairs

Boris did the only sane thing and sent down his backup character, whilst muttering to Mr Choppy “if he falls I won’t have to pay him”

Remarkably he made it down the stairs so the rest of gang made their way down with only 1 small incident (it was a peril so I decide to play a couple of cards)

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The gang found themselves in a small antechamber and in the darkness they could make out 3 stone sarcophagi and a stone ledge with shiny things on top (gasp! was it gold)

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Boris in a display of bravery moved towards the gold just in time for me to say “a shot rings out” 2 more minions appeared out of the gloom. You know the score by now the gang all charged into the room and general carnage occurred, but 2 notable things happened in all the action; firstly one of the gang managed to get the lid off one of the sarcophagi and found a plot point, Boris leapt up onto the ledge and found another. Also they all noticed some strange smoke in the room to the far end of the crypt and was that some strange wailing?

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Still the fighting went on until both minions were dispatched, Mr Choppy who was further forward then the rest of the gang had a perfect view as Vlad the owner of the castle stepped out of the smoke and smiled a fangy smile

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Vlad is a special character called a Terror  and rules for them are introduced in Perilous island, Terrors are single figures that make up a league on their own, they are very powerful so I decided to only use some of the abilities allowed to give Marks group a fighting chance.

I gave him the Horror, Drain Life and Summon abilities

Horror is a Terror Ability that forces all enemies within 12” to make a health check or run away, I decided that characters had to have line of sight to Vlad for this to work, which brings us back to Mr Choppy who found himself gazing into Vlads undead eyes. He rolled his health dice, failed it and scampered back towards Boris who was still on the ledge probably counting his money

The next turn and Mark made me activate first, so I played my second ability “Summon” and out of the darkness appeared 2 imps. These were level 1 characters with the reanimated ability that meant they can’t dodge and only make a health roll when they receive 2 hits

Ok; I’ll admit it they are zombies, but come on we’ve had Vampires in this game we may as well have zombies as well

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And carnage once again ensued, Vlad summoned up a few more minions, Allies and followers fought vainly on until only Mr Choppy and Boris remained, and then finally and with a huge gasp from the audience Mr Choppy went down and failed his recovery roll, the big guy was out of the game

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Boris was alone in a dungeon full of Vampires and odd little undead imp like creatures (I don’t have any Zombie miniatures) so he took the only action he could think of and ran for it with the imps at his heels all the way home.

So at this point we finished the game, Mark was so happy with the game that he now wants to continue the adventure next week, so I have to come up with another scenario.

It was as you can imagine another fantastic game, I am continually amazed by how good they are and how easy it is to model different adventures. As before we didn’t refer to the rule book once and game just took on a life of its own; it was that natural.

So tune in next time for part 3 in the Castle of Clichés trilogy

For more info go to the Pulp Alley website, or if you are in the UK you can buy the rules at Statuesque Miniatures or get the PDFs via Wargames Vault 

Also, look out for episode 132 of the Meeples & Miniatures podcast (due to be published on the 15th September) which will contain an in-depth review of Pulp Alley.

2 Comments on Pulp Alley AAR – Mike Hobbs- The Castle of Clichés, Part II

  1. opps I made a mistake in the AAR as the 2 benefits on reward cards can be used by players, they just choose one

    sorry about that

  2. AAR has now been amended to reflect the above…

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