Mad Maximillian 1934: A Hot Day of Death on Wheels

A hot day of death at La Cavalleria della strada

28mm Pulp Rules: Mad Maximillian 1934 (Grande Tour Expansion) GM: Walt O’Hara Description: Inspired by the chariot races of ancient Rome, the modern Autodrome excites the same passions from its audience with death-defying feats from its modern-day charioteers, the Cavaliere de Strada! Come test your mettle and your metal in Il Duce’s Grand Arena of Death!

Background: I have been working on running test games of the new (as yet unpublished) campaign supplement for Mad Maximillian 1934 from Mana Press. Actual racing is a big part of this supplement and campaign structure. When I was reviewing the scenario list I was immediately drawn to the one about racing in Rome, in Mussolini’s Italy. I liked the idea– In my version of Italy in 1934, Fascism has not taken hold nearly as completely. Facing a determined opposition and nearly constant revolution and coup attempts in the turbulent era of global depression. Mussolini embarks on a unique strategy to provide a distraction and keep the populace pacified. He enters into a secret cabal with the Pope in 1933 to flatten a decaying industrial sector and construct a special race track for armed racing vehicles– and La Cavalleria della strada was born.

Mussolini (center), presides over the Carnival of Death, with a little help from his allies in the Church.

The race was set up to accommodate 10 players and I could realistically handle a lot more, I just had to improvise more initiative cards. I greatly added to the pool of Dirty Trick cards.. this seemed fitting in Mussolini’s timeline. So there was a much larger deck of Scrap Bandits, Vamps, Dark Avengers, Interfering Archaeologists, Mine Dogs and False Waif events to deal with, and some of them actually did get pulled. My personal technique is to get a new person to randomize the deck every turn, and someone else to randomize the DT deck, and hand me one card face down, whereupon I add it somewhere inside of the initiative deck without looking. This might not be canonical according to the rules, but it really moves a convention game right along and the DT cards add a ton of period flavor to the game. I did also add something I’ve been working on as a side project, air power. I do not agree with the notion of an aircraft (even a very slow one) being in a race with automobiles– they would fly past them every time. I do like the notion of them interfering in the event as a random event triggered by a DT card, so I had three– two fighters and a bomber. As events are either Targeted, Environmental, or Random, I combined the plane cards to be something that could (kinda sorta) be targeted at a specific racer, but there’s not much chance of it, as they are going so fast.

The Racers shudder into first gear (speed 1) at start, many decided to FANG IT immediately.

Under the watchful eye of the Benedictines, the Franciscans, The Inquisition and some assorted Greek Orthodox, the racers rumble down the first lap. Gunfire was almost immediate.

The racers were a mix of old and new. There was the new Black Flame of Australia, the White Wings of Freedom, the Large Singular monowheel, up against old favorites like the Red Baron, the awesome firepower of the Brutarian, the People’s Collective, and of course, the Touch of Class (A well armed Bentley in British Racing Green). The race officials prohibit firing in the first turn, but they looked the other way when bullets started to fly almost immediately.

The False Waif was a DT Card drawn early. An innocent child who has wandered into danger? Or a kill-crazy dwarf in disguise?

Once the basics of the Mad Maximillian 1934 rules were explained, it was a relatively simple game to play, and people knew enough to run it themselves. Making a lot of copies of the QRC chart helped a lot.

This was a great game. Full of mayhem.

The White Wings of Freedom, the American Tri-wheel motorcycle, started with two bang sticks. He managed to launch one into Blues Magoos, and the other into Hot Shot. After that, he concentrated on getting around the violence as best he could.

The People’s Collective fighting with The Red Baron. The Red Baron took a lot of damage but kept going.
My friend Jeff took the Brutarian (999), an old, lumbering ox of a vehicle, with the biggest gun on the board attached with Mabel the Surly gunner. Unfortunately Jeff got shot up mid game and lost the heavy cannon to a critical roll.

This was maybe the largest game I’ve run yet. We had a great group of players, only one of whom had played Max 34 before. The Father/Son team running the Red Baron and Large Singular (the long red Plane-like vehicle and the monowheel with a spar torpedo above) were pretty effective.

The People’s Collective had played this game before… and he knew the risks about using a forward facing flamethrower. You usually drive right into the napalm cloud. He learned that lesson last time.
The Red Baron, Blues Magoos, and Touch of Class lead the pack.. it won’t last long
You know, going into a curve with speed 3 would daunt most people. Fortunately the curve is long enough not to die doing it. This course was 5′ wide by 10′ long.
Alas, The Red Baron pulled the Dark Avenger DT card. He rolled the Nemesis result and the Dark Avenger followed his car for the rest of the race, popping in and out of the shadows to take a pot shot at Red Baron.
Meanwhile Hot Shot gets pretty riddled by Touch of Class. He loses the pintle mount so the LMGs can only fire straight back now.
A game highlight was Big Singular doing for Hot Shot with a Spar Torpedo, then literally driving over the Hot Shot with a Lewis Gun. Unbelievably, he was still in that fight.
All kinds of problematic curves coming up. I was surprised to see Red Baron make this one.
In an act of near Insanity, the White Wings enters the curve at MAX SPEED (five). But the fun didn’t end there…
THEN Blue Horizon rams it at speed 3, causing damage and the speed to go up to 6 (which is allowed by the Ramming rules).. but wait, the fun is not over yet!
NOW, it’s rammed again, bringing the speed up to Seven. I don’t have a marker for seven. This is the fastest I’ve ever seen a Max34 vehicle go, and it was going to go into a curve.
That’s okay, he won’t last long. Meanwhile Red Baron encounters some armed scrap bandits. What’s that in the air over there?
Sayanora, Wings!
Oh hey! Look who joined the party! Another DT card reveals the strafing GeeBee event. And he’s got The Black Flame in his sites!
You can’t outrun a Thompson Trophy Winner, son. Sorry!
So, yeah.. that’s the Hot Shot with busted steering, driving in reverse and shooting with his stuck Machine Guns firing straight backward. You don’t see that every day!
Red Baron fighting Scrappers!

At this stage, it was past 11PM and the players wanted one more turn. At the end of it, Red Baron, shot to pieces, was in the lead. I gave out prizes to him and to White Wings of Freedom for driving like a crazy man.

This was the best event of Max 34 I’ve run.. full of mayhem and danger, and lots and lots of laughs. I tried to play fast and loose with the rules to make the game make a good story. I think we made it!

HERE are all the pictures I took during the game. Enjoy, and thanks for reading.
Mad Maximillian Rules and Cars.


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