Category Archives: Pulp

Playtest Rules for BOOM! ZAP! a pulp SF skirmish game

Here is a playtest version of BOOM! ZAP! a very light hearted attempt at creating a set of workable 28mm PULP Science Fiction skirmish rules for tabletop games.

I’ve been looking for a very light set of rules for running a sort of “Space Port Bar” or “Cantina” game akin to the Blood and Plunder Tavern brawls but in a pulpier era for a while now, at least 2009. I’ve tried a few out but have been disappointed with a lot of them.  What you see here is a very, very high end look at the subject as I’m finding “Pulp” to be a much broader subject than people give it credit for. Do we mean Flash Gordon and Emperor Ming? Crash Corrigan and the Undersea Empire? Buck Rogers and Killer Kane? Do we mean John Carter and Planetary Romance? Do we mean the Skylark of Space? Do we mean the Rocket Man? Commander Cody? There’s a lot of subgenres that are evident, and ONE set of rules just might not cut it. So in an attempt to make a one size fits all approach to a very broad picture, I’m starting with a decent set of Western Skirmish rules, the old RULES WITH NO NAME that appeared in an old MWAN magazine way back in the day. This version has been Science Fictioned up a bit, and I’ve added a very broad brush attempt at Gunfire, Melee, Robots, Rocket Packs and Aliens. There’s so much I can do with this idea, don’t even think this is the final.. I’m adding to it as we go, consider this 1.0. I need to add explosions, malfunctions, space ships, beserk robots, planetary romance, more swordplay, anti-grav travel, and a host of other appropriate topics. This will be enough to get me started in a low key way.

If you want to get in touch with me with suggestions or questions, try me at

In the meantime, you can download BOOM! ZAP! here.


Pulp Science Fiction Miniatures 2/2

And here’s some more of the same series.

New Sources of classic Pulp and Horror fiction magazines on the Internet

Just one of the Zines in the Hevelin Project

A posting by John Shirley on the Lovecraft Eternal group on Facebook tipped me to the efforts to digitize a voluminous collection of old paper magazines for a library collection at the University of Iowa. The original collector was Rusty Hevelin, a noted collector of pulp magazines. Hevelin began collecting pulp magazines in the 1930s when they were just published. Pulps were cheaply produced weekly fiction magazines. They got their distinctive nickname because of the poor quality of the paper used to print the magazines on. Pulpy paper might have been cheap, but it doesn’t last long due to the high acid content– so the Hevelin Collection is an important glimpse into the worlds of many early writers that became classic science fiction greats. The pulps were the training ground for many of the most famous science fiction writers like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. So in a very real way, if you value the content of this archive Rusty Hevelin is a bit of a Godsend. The collection contains thousands of pulps, ranging from the early Thrilling Wonder Stories, Weird Tales, The Shadow, The Spider, and Doc Savage, and many examples of mystery, western, and aviation pulps. More importantly, it’s perhaps the largest collection of fan created magazines (fanzines or Zines, as we called such things back in the day)

The digitization process just started.. if you are interested in accessing it it will be reported on regularly by the lady in charge of the project, at the Rusty Hevelin Project on Tumblr. Nothing really new to report at the moment but work has just started.  If you’re a pulp/noir/weird fiction geek, and goodness knows, I am, this is exciting news from a lot of angles .. not just that the original work of some famous (and some obscure) authors will be saved for future generations– that’s a big plus.  However, I’m even more charged about the fanzine content.   Before the internet, social media, Facebook, Twitter, even email, we had Fanzines.  This was how geeks networked over the years. It’s great to have this window into the past, I think.

In the meantime, someone else turned me on to Internet Archive Pulp Collection
on the Internet Archive.. you can’t beat that!  Many (not all) Weird Tales from bygone eras and magazines I’ve never heard of.  A couple of examples (these are supposed to embed on, but that doesn’t seem to be working so I left the link to the digital copy in the titles):

Here’s Seabury Quinn’s DEVIL’S BRIDE in “The Magazine of Horror, Vol. 5, no 226

Here’s Weird Tales 1937 with the Hounds of the Tyndalos by Frank Belknap Long:

Thanks, Internet!

A Golden Hope Christmas (Audio)

Words by Robert Howard, narration by your humble narrator.. it’s a Golden Hope Christmas.

Robert E. Howard

A GOLDEN HOPE CHRISTMAS was famed pulp writer (and creator of CONAN) Robert E. Howard’s first professional sale. He won a cash prize for having his story published in the Tattler, the Brownville High School newspaper, in 1922. A Golden Hope is by no means the best of Howard’s literary efforts, but one can discern the seeds of the writer that Howard would grow up to be in this short Christmas themed effort. A Golden Hope was the December “group read” for my Goodreads Robert Howard Fans group.

The full text is HERE.

To hear the audio, press the play button below″

If you are on Facebook or don’t have flash, visit the Airy Persiflage site link HERE.

Merry Christmas!

My Pulp Science Fiction Project: Draco’s Tavern

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I love pulp Science Fiction as a genre and have always wanted to run a pulp SF game, given time and a decent set of rules. Or I’d write my own, no matter. There have been some decent figures now and then over the years but nothing in sufficient depth to float my boat, until recently. I discovered Killer B Games’ GAFDOZ series back in 2009 and started buying individual figures. There’s about 40 of them out in the series as a whole, more or less, although some of them are in groups of figures– like the Lost Legion, Kappa Drones, and Murphidian Miners. I have resisted buying multiples of groups of Gafdoz types, not just because they are very pricey but also I don’t intend to create military units with this stuff.. it’s going to be a man to man game with these figures or nothing at all. Too much variation, not enough depth to do anything but that for the time being. That’s okay. I love the whimsical look and feel of GAFDOZ, and a man to man level game should be a blast in a real corny “space bar” setting. I will be naming this DRACO’S TAVERN after the collection of short stories by Larry Niven which feature the action that takes place at Draco’s Tavern, a location where people of all races congregate and (sometime) come to blows. I think this will be a lot of fun.

At the recent Cold Wars, I picked up some of my GAFDOZ figures from a guy who paints for me on occasion, Mr. John Montrie.  I think he did a fantastic job on them and it’s time to show them off.

Pulp SF figures

"The Good Guys", mostly..

Pulp SF figures

The "Bad Guys", mostly

This is only a start.. I think there will be more Gafdoz and other retro-looking pulp figures in my future.

Fall-In! 2007 Travelogue

My Fall-In! 2007 Vacation!

(Belated, I know.. and as always, all commentary is my own)

(crack Events staff Pat Shields, Cleo Hanlon, and a somewhat blase Mike Hillsgrove)

I had a pretty good convention overall. I showed up a little early to work the con, and I schlepped a few things here and there, and fetched wood and carried water Thursday.

(Convention Director McWee and Gruppenfuhrer Mattes)

Friday, my friend Ed came down from central PA and we did a battlefield walk and had lunch, then I did the staff thing on the afternoon shift. I worked the Flea Market, briefly, and also spelling the guys at the front desk of the Vendor Area. More work than I thought it would be!

(Dan Muraski, the only flea market guy in HMGS history who got a VENDOR table to sell on)

There were tons of games put on at this convention and lots of activity, to judge by the impossibility of getting a parking spot in the lot. That’s a GOOD thing.. I was struck by the influx of boardgaming in various nooks and crannies of the con, here and there, and sometimes right out on the main tables as bona fide events!

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(Hal Dyson, running perennial favorite AERODROME)

(DBA competitors in the New Ballroom, Friday)

(that Featherstone Cup you’ve heard about…)

(.. and some folks who japed that it was rightfully theirs..)

(and MORE games)

(and even MORE…)

(son of MORE games..)

I did very little shopping, but got a pretty nifty game of Pulp Adventures! in late in the evening, run by Chris Vaughn.

F-174 On The Shoulders Of Giants
Pulp; 7 PM;
Length: 4;
Hosted by: Chris Vaughn;
Scale: 25mm;
Sponsored by: Rattrap Productions;
Rules: .45
Adventure/Super Science Tales;
No. of Players: 4.
A dense, low-lying fog blankets The City, reducing familiar objects to menacing shadows, when you feel a low rumbling in the pit of your stomach. It gradually becomes an earth-shaking tremble as out of the swirling mists appear monstrous mechanical creations – robots taller than many of the surrounding buildings! The diabolical Dr. Kroon is at it again and it’s up to you and your fellow pulp heroes to stop him on the rooftops high above the city! Rules taught. Beginners welcome.

Alas, no pictures of this game were taken, but it was a hoot. Chris, who has a great sense of humor and creativity, was running a sort of micro-scenario of giant robots invading New York City. We only got to see the tops of them, see, as the rest of the robots are hidden below fleecy white clouds. The idea was to leap from robot to rooftop as the robots march by, searching for the mcguffins that would turn off the robots. Of course, it’s never quite that easy. There were different groups in New York together, trying to turn off giant robots, and some of them were bad and some of them were good. I played a baddie.. the Purple hood, an overarrogant intellectual genius with followers that looked like klansmen in red robes. I played the guy with a Boston Brahmin accent, looking down my nose at my evil minions. Unfortunately the clean cut hero of the story had homicidal followers that decided it was best to shoot first, ask questions later– so instead of working for the common good, they attacked my poor minions (and myself), changing what could have been a historic alliance of major proportions into bloody internicine warfare. Typical goody two shoes stuff. and they’ll blame it on ME in the papers. Sniff! It was a fun little game, very well done visually. I particularly liked the robot heads, which were simple plastic bowls balanced on white plastic powdered laxitive jars. I was concerned.. not only was there enought to balance a robot head on, but enough to run SEVERAL robots on.. I mentioned the benefits of more salad to Mr. Vaughn but he didn’t see the humor in it. Seriously, great game, sir! (Update: Chris has since contacted me and provided details of how to view pictures of this game. His Fall In! 2007 album is viewable HERE).

People, places and games…

Saturday I worked the Flea Market thing and did some front desk work for the vendor hall. Then I ran my own game, Return to Lilliput, from 2-6, when we got kicked out. I’m going to take another pass at the mechanics. I got a complaint that they were too fiddly and slow to look up everything. (if anyone wants to take a look at them, let me know, I’d be happy to have a second opinion).

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I opted to eat in.. not great… chicken and mashed potatoes. At least it wasn’t incredibly greasy. Then I played in Ed Watts’ Pulp Action game Saturday night, as Professor Rick Ruthless and his fleet of giant walking metal men. Pretty danged funny game. A tad chaotic.. Ed probably could have used some assistance.

S-182 Sand Seared Rugged Adventures, North Africa, 1930s.
8 PM;
Length: 4;
Hosted by: Edward Watts;
Scale: 25mm;
Sponsored by: Monday Night Adventurers;
Rules: Rugged Adventures;
No. of Players: 8.
Enigmatic characters, steel visaged Nazis, square jawed heroes and plucky heroines in pursuit of McGuffins mysterious and arcane midst dune and palm tree.
Teens and adults preferred.

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There were some great games run Saturday night. HMGS President Panzeri was running a multi-table, Lewis and Clark thing that I personally found very intriguing. The design was run off a series of random event tables. Here you see some of them being set up.

Some other games being held Saturday:

I then went to the MST3K event hidden in one of the far rooms. I missed the first movie but caught the second.. “Crippled Masters”. Hilarious! A guy with no arms joins up with a guy with no legs to become kung fu masters! And they used two memorable actors– one who was a thalyidomide baby and one who had withered legs as a result of birth defects. They started the movie with prop (real) arms and had the props “chopped off” or “burned away with acid” during the course of the movie. It was pretty over the top funny and perfect faire for MST3K. COuldn’t stay awake for anything more, so hit the hay.

Sunday, I was up early and attended the TriaDCon planning meeting. Not much was accomplished, as we only had Mike, Otto and myself attending. One thing we seemed to agree on was that we wouldn’t be eager to put on another con without more volunteers stepping forward. The same six guys have done most of the work for the last two, and that is getting old.

So, with that inconclusive note, I nosed my car into traffic heading south, and fall in! was done for another year.

They’re onto something here…

Thrilling Tales of Adventure!

As I’ve often said, I have a ‘feel’ for the pulp noir, pulp serial and adventure series set in the thirties or forties. I guess I was just born out of time. So when my pal Todd Goff sent me this information, I was pretty impressed..

The game is “Thrilling Tales of Adventure!, set in the milieu of pulp serials and adventure novels. There’s a nice long thread on it at Boardgamegeek.


character card
Character Card

Game Cards
Action Cards

The design seems.. laborious at first glance, but heck, it might work. The only other game I know of even remotely close to a setting like this is Arkham Horror, and that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

To quote Wayne Campbell, “It will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine.”

New "Shadow" movie in the works

With Sam Raimi at the helm!

Good news in the pulp fiction front. Sam Raimi, the highly capable director of the new Spiderman movie franchise and the older Darkman films, along with, oh, a little film project called THE EVIL DEAD TRILOGY! (Duh) is signed to direct the next incarnation of a movie adaption of the old SHADOW story. As in Lamont Cranston, and the power to cloud men’s minds, and Margo Lane, and “Who Knows the Evil that Lurks in the Hearts of Men?”, and all that.


Sam has been hit and miss over the years, obviously hitting quite solidly with Spiderman 1&2 (and by all predictions, 3). And the Evil Dead series, particularly Army of Darkness, well, that’s just great fun to watch. Of course, he also was involved in some turkeys, like THE QUICK AND THE DEAD. Frankly I don’t care. The source material is well documented and he will have a wealth of good stories to work with. My only concern is that they might try another stupid maneuver like brining the Shadow into a modern setting. Say what you like about the 1994 Alec Baldwin Shadow movie (and much there is to say!) it LOOKED right. The setting, costumes, etc. were just right. The Shadow doesn’t work in a modern continuum. Keep him in the 1930s!

Hooded Minions

bullet rocket

Evil Cultists from Pulp Figures

I’m all over this like stank on a pig. Check out the new hooded evil cultists from Bob Murch’s PULP FIGURES line:

I like these a lot more than the OTHER hooded cultists I know of in roughly the same scale, from Reverisco. Mostly because of the heft on these figures.

I could have used these when I was running some evil cultists (headed by Ah Pook the Destroyer) in the last VSF game I put on for the Kid’s Gaming Camp earlier in the month.

I can see why they aren’t painted white….