A simplified set of rules for creating wargames based in the weird and wonderful times of both the Victorian-esque and Pulp era.
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© 2011, Stephen Gilbert
(a simplified set of rules for creating wargames based in the weird
and wonderful times of both the Victorian-esque and Pulp era)
In 2002 Kurt Hummitzsch and Robert Murch gave the gaming world Rugged Adventures; an
enchanting set of free skirmish style rules (with a heavy role playing feel to them) for playing
Pulp era wargaming. A few supplements later and an introductory article from Bob Murch
himself (originally written for Wargames Illustrated) introduced even more gamers to the
wonderful semi imaginary and alternative world of Pulp fiction. Even Victorian and
Steampunk gamers were soon cottoning onto the fact these rules were a little different, not
quite the norm, and started flooding to the cause; especially because the rules complemented
the overall genre vividly bought to life by Bob`s growing myriad of superb 28mm wargame
figures http://www.pulpfigures.com/main.php, which covered a range of miniatures diverse
enough to allow gamers to play just about any style of Pulp adventures the avid collector
might chose to re-create on his or her own table top.
But these rules, excellent as they are in their original state, don`t q-u-i-t-e do what I need
them to do in my personal solo games. So, a few years ago with kind permission from Bob
Murch, ago I went about altering, simplifying, and sometimes extrapolating the official rules
until I had a system which still incorporated most the neat and unique ideas contained within
Rugged Adventures, but I altered things just enough to work better for me and my simple
mind; which needs fast, snap decision results (practically from memory without having to
look at the rules book every few minutes) allowing me to get on with enjoying the game
without things bogging down too much during play. I also needed the rules to allow for
Victorian Colonial, Steampunk, adventures as well as Pulp; and now the rules works equally
well for both types of game set up. This alternative set of Rugged Adventures rules (which I
have called Vivid Imaginations) is now presented to you here in Table Top Titans and is free
for anyone to enjoy. However, I emphasise once more, the bulk of this work belongs to Kurt
Hummitzsch and Robert Murch; without whom these rules would never have existed.
I also urge anyone interested in this style of play to look into collecting at least a few of Bob
Murch`s Pulp Figures; they really are utterly delightful. Pretty much my entire personal Pulp
collection is made up of these wonderful and superbly detailed miniatures. Many of these
pieces are also (I find) ideal for using in Victorian and Steampunk games.
PRELIMINARY CORE RULES
These basic rules will allow you to start gaming in a pseudo Victorian and Pulp Era. The core
rules focus primarily on combat mechanics, as conflict is a driving factor in this type of
action story. A Vivid Imaginations adventure is much more than a wargame though. Players
are expected to act in character and contribute to the story development.
What is necessary to play games using these rules?
Most important, you will need a game master or GM. The GM will design the scenario
and assign the goals and restrictions of each player. The GM will also have the last word
in rule interpretation and may modify die rolls to suit a specific situation. Remember, the
most critical part of Vivid Imaginations is the STORY. All other aspects take a back seat. It
is the job of the GM to govern the story as it unfolds.
If the game is being played as a solo affair (i.e. the player controls the heroes as well as
determining the actions and responses of the bad guys) then he or she takes on the dual role
of both player and GM.
Player main characters usually enter play with a group of followers or sidekicks (or if playing
the bad guys... these are sometimes called thugs or henchmen). Heroes may act alone there is
nothing wrong with a player side comprising only of heroes or may start a game with just one
or two followers. Some games might call for an entire unit of armed Police, Soldiers, or
Special Agents to back our heroes to the hilt... these are usually led by an Officer, NCO, or
similar equivalent rank... in effect, a side kick.
5 to10 figures are an ideal size for a regular unit; 10 to15 or more for larger native
contingents and other irregular groups. Military officers are followed by soldiers. Gang
Leaders are followed by assorted thugs. Archaeologists are followed by simpering grad
students and local labourers.
Numerous other miniature ‘extras’ can be used in the game but they must be managed, to
some extent, by the GM. You will need a playing surface. This tabletop area might be a large,
highly detailed landscape with buildings, jungle, hills, mountains and waterways or it might
be an interior layout of a seedy bar, roughly drawn with crayon on blank sheets of paper. Get
as involved as much as your time and budget will allow. Finally, you need a tape measure or
two, and quite a few ten sided dice (D10). The game uses D10's to resolve combat and
morale. Die rolls of 1 are good and a die roll of 0 (i.e.10) means bad news.
Scale is 1:1. Each miniature represents one individual/vehicle or non-player.
There are three figure classes in these rules: Player Characters, Combatants
and Non-Combatants. Inventive gamers may add Special Figure classes that will include
monsters and the occasional killer robot.
The primary Class is the Player Characters or PC`s. PC`s represents you the player(s) on
the gaming table.
Combatants are units of soldiers, native warriors, gang members or rioting civilians.
Units of combatants must be lead by a command figure such as a military officer or NCO,
tribal chief, head of the local gang or the hothead civilian who probably started the riot in the
first place. These leader figures may or may not be PC's.
Non-Combatants comprise all those unarmed bystanders wishing no part in the danger
or action. Examples might be villagers, missionaries and government bureaucrats. Non-
Combatants are useful plot devises for adventures. The players may have to rescue them from
an evil villain or help them to reach the ship ahead of an oncoming lava flow. They can also
be sources of information, supplies or loot. In the role-playing aspect of the game Non-
Combatants will be played by the GM.
Designing the Scenario
This is the critical part of the GM’s job. When creating the setting in which the players
will act, the GM must present a rough plot around which the action will evolve. Keep it
simple but clever. Start by describing the situation in a Log-Line:
Curse of the Jade Buddha: A motley assortment of archaeologists, soldiers and treasure
hunters vie with Sinister Dr. Koo and Chinese locals over the whereabouts of a legendary
Jade Buddha. Is it hidden somewhere in the seedy port of China Station or lost deep
within the steaming bamboo jungle?
Of course it must be fleshed out from here but don’t get over complicated. This is a
framework. It is up to the players to inject the details. Establish the setting, determine the
characters and assign their respective motivations. The scenario might be a straight up battle
or a role-play intensive mystery. Solo gaming is also an acceptable alternative style of play.
Remember that the hallmarks of Victorian and pulp fiction are atmosphere, character and
Initiative: at the beginning of each turn, both sides throw a 10 sided die: the side with the
highest score may move and shoot first, and the loser gets to go second. Hand to Hand
Combat is semi simultaneous (the side whose turn it is fights first, then survivors fight back)
and is initiated at the end of the turn after movement and shooting... i.e. there are in effect
potentially two Hand-to-Hand phases in every full game turn; each conducted at the end of
each side`s turn: Remember to check morale after every Hand-to-Hand Combat.
Movement & Shooting:
Each player may move any of their own figures capable of being moved up to their full
movement allowance. The initiative turn winner`s side moves and shoots first (then initiates
any Hand-to-Hand attacks), then the other side gets to do the same. Units capable of moving
and shooting may do so. Moving and shooting may be conducted by the owning player in any
order he or she chooses to use his or her models.
Hand-to-Hand Combat Phase: All friendly figures in base contact with enemy figures
may fight hand-to-hand combat.
Each PC needs to be created prior to the game. A PC must be assigned Luck, and might
possibly be assigned one to three Character Traits.
Luck: Luck is mostly used to determine if a PC can lower a wound table result. It is useful in
other circumstances but these are governed by the GM. Luck is only available to PC type
figures. When creating their PC, the player rolls a D10 on the following chart to determine
the PC’s luck. The Luck number is usually permanent unless the GM decides to make an
Die Roll Luck (D10)
1 Why Me? / Luck 3
2,3,4 A Bit Unlucky / Luck 4
4,5,6,7 Fairly Average / Luck 5
8,9 Above Average / Luck 7
10 Born Lucky / Luck 8
When a PC must roll on the ‘Wound Table’ they may be able to reduce the affects of the
wound by making a luck roll. The player rolls a D10. If the die roll is less than or equal to
their ‘Luck’ number on the ‘Wound Table’ the result is reduced to the next lowest level. For
example: if a killed result is rolled and the PC makes his Luck roll the killed result becomes a
wounded result. Sometimes luck can be used in other circumstances determined by the GM.
An example might be a PC who wants to risk leaping over a treacherous crevasse. The GM
can have the PC roll their luck to see if they make it or not.
Some PC`s have special traits they may use or be forced to use if a negative trait during a
game. When it comes to creating your personality types... before your campaign game
actually kicks off; if a PC rolls a1 or a 0 (on a D10 roll): that character will possess one to
Each player successfully gaining trait(s) rolls a D6. This will determine the number of
character traits a PC may have: a roll of 1 or 2 means the PC has 1 trait, 3 or 4 means the PC
has 2 traits, 5 or 6 means 3. If a PC only has 1 trait he or she may choose either a negative or
positive Character Trait. PC`s who have two Character Traits will have a negative trait if (on
a separate D6) a 6 is rolled. PC's who have a third trait will have a negative trait if (on a
separate D6) a 5 or 6 is rolled. Character Traits are permanent once assigned. Certain
Character Traits apply specifically to PC's from certain regions or of specific nationalities.
The Character Trait description will indicate who may use those specific traits otherwise a PC
may choose any trait. Some character traits and how they are used are listed below. I strongly
encourage you to create your own, provided they keep within the ‘Victorian and Pulp’ spirit.
But the GM always has the final say.
(Optional): Before starting play... typically a campaign game, a player may choose one of his
PC`s to be a main character (oneself, or game outer ego). This main character is then
automatically assigned 3 traits: though determine using the normal random procedure
whether the second and third trait will be a positive negative. In addition, a main character
may choose one side-kick with 1 to 3 traits; determine randomly per normal the exact
number of traits and whether these positive are or negative,
Positive Character Traits
Ambidextrous: The PC may fire two pistols in one turn or fight a hand-to-hand combat
with two weapons. Two dice will be allowed each combat (as long as it’s with
weapons which can be used one-handed). The ‘To Hit’ roll remains the same.
Sixth Sense: The PC has an uncanny ability to sense trouble. When the PC figure
moves into detection range of an unseen enemy or hazard, such as a trap, the player rolls
a D10. If the die roll is less than or equal to their luck they will be told by the GM that, “you
have a bad feeling about this”. They will not be told specific locations or details. Detection
range is 10” regardless of terrain.
Sure Shot: This PC has deadly aim with a specific weapon. The figure’s basic ‘To Hit’
number for shooting is 6. This skill usually applies to rifles or pistols but works for bows
or throwing knifes also.
Excellent Weapon Master: (H-to-H weapon only) The PC is particularly good at hand-tohand
combat when using their weapon of choice. This figure will add +2 to their base ‘To
Hit’ number in hand-to-hand combat.
Strong Like An Ox: This PC is particularly robust. The PC treats the first wounded or killed
result (that turn)| as abstract damage, and ignores the result. A second “Wound” or “Killed”
result counts as a normal hit.
Inspired Leadership: The PC is truly admired by their followers for their charisma and
bravery. Any unit directly under the command of the PC never flee the field due to a casualty
loss morale check.
Charmed Life: Only available to Far Eastern PC`s. The PC has more luck than others
ordinarily do. This trait permits the PC to re-role any failed luck rolls. The result of the
second luck roll must be used.
Ancient Training: Only available to Far Eastern PC`s. Think ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden
Dragon’. The PC has received training in ancient arts and may fly short distances or run
up walls. The PC may use these special moves 4 times during a game in place of normal
movement. They may fly from ground to a rooftop or visa-versa. A flying figure may only
make hand-to-hand attacks but may not shoot while flying.
Martial Arts: Usually only available to Far Eastern PC`s. This trait gives the PC an
improved hand-to-hand combat base rating of 8.
Medical Training: Turns a wounded figure back into a fully fit figure. Turns a Killed PC
into a wounded figure (usually, but this trait must be applied within 3 turns of death). A PC
bought back to life by someone with medical training may attempt to recover fully (see
further on in the rules); but not on the same turn the medical training was administered.
Negative Character Traits
Remember that negative Character Traits can often be more fun to play then positive
Blind Eye: The PC is blind in one eye. You must specify right or left. A ‘blind eye’
PC may only see straight ahead and up to 45 degrees to the side of their good eye. A
‘blind eye’ PC can't spot or shoot at any figures currently on their blind side.
Extremely Arrogant: This trait only applies to western PC's. The PC feels that all
natives or foreigners are inferior. Native troops will receive no benefit from any Positive
Character Trait this PC possesses.
Near Sighted: A nearsighted PC must wear their glasses or a monocle at all times. They
may never have a trait rating above 6.
Clumsy: The PC is prone to bad cases of the shakes during tense situations. They must
pass a luck test before shooting at an enemy single figure or unit, or before fighting in handto-
hand combat. If the luck test fails they have dropped their weapon, stand frozen on the
spot, etc and may not shoot or fight back during that turn. The PC may still be shot at and
attacked in hand-to-hand combat.
Impetuous: The PC prefers closing with cold steel to shooting from a distance. Any turn in
which the PC is within movement distance of an enemy unit they must check their luck. If the
check is passed the PC will act as the player wishes.
If the test is failed the PC must charge the nearest enemy. If the PC is a commander he/she
will take their unit with them in the charge. If they are commanded by another figure (the
character is an NCO and has a superior officer for example) they will obey their commander.
If they are not currently under the command of a superior officer (he/she may not be with the
unit or is currently out of sight) then the PC must check for the impetuous charge.
Open, Crops: Open areas have light or no vegetation. Open areas do not affect movement or
visibility. Mature crops provide concealment but do not affect movement. Visibility is 4”.
Forest, Jungle: Foot units move at their normal rate through forest. Visibility in a forest is
16". Jungle cuts movement by ˝ and visibility is 8”. Forest or jungle provides light cover.
Rivers, Streams and Swamp: Streams can usually be crossed at ˝ of the figure’s movement
rate. Rivers are normally too wide to cross but can be crossed at a ford if one exists. Units
crossing at a ford move at ˝ their normal move rate. Swamps can vary and crossing them is
the prerogative of the GM. Avoiding quicksand or black mambas might require a Luck Roll.
Roads and Trails: Roads and trails pass through and over any type of terrain and figures
move as if it were open ground. Units on a road do not benefit from any cover.
Cover Provided by Built Up Areas: When in towns, villages and other settlements visibility
is line of sight. Figures may see up to a building but not through it. Huts provide concealment
but do not provide cover from shooting. Buildings made from mud or clay bricks provide
light cover. Buildings built from logs, fieldstone or kiln fired bricks provide medium cover.
Fortifications are deliberately stronger than civilian buildings and provide hard cover.
Hills: The GM will govern movement penalties depending on the grade of the hill. Default is
˝. Line of sight can also be affected by the presence of a hill.
Western Male 6”
Armoured (Impervious Suit, Kreighosen Clockwork War Pants etc) 4”
Pigmies, Western Female 4”
Pack Horses, Camels 6”
Slow Animals (Mules, Oxen, Elephants) 4”
Horses, Fast Animals (Lions, Tigers, etc) 10”
Ranged combat occurs when a unit fires at an opposing unit. The target must be within
range. Combatant may move then shoot, or shoot then move... or may move part of their turn
allowance, shoot a weapon, and then continue moving the rest of their movement allowance.
Small Arms Weapon Class / Short Long Range
Pistols, Bows 4" 12"
Bolt Action Rifle 6" 14"
Shotgun (2 Dice) 4" 10"
Jezzail, Musket 6" 12"
Thrown Spears 6" NA
|Small Arms Machine Gun Type Weapons (3 dice) 6" 12"
High Powered Rifle (3 Dice) 6" 18"
Heavy Machine Gun, Maxim Gun – or Death Ray (4 dice) 10" 20"
The firing unit must have line of sight to the target. Most weapons roll only one D10. (e.g. A
unit of ten rifle armed figures throw 10 D10 for hits). Each weapon has a Base Hit Number
of 4 or less. A PC with the sure shot character trait has a base hit number of 6. The base hit
number is modified according to the Shooting Modifiers Table.
Target is within short range +2
Shooter is stationary +2
Target is in soft cover -1 (jungle undergrowth, hedge, behind a tree, etc)
Target is in medium cover -2 (behind a stone wall, barricade, etc)
Target is in Hard cover -3 (inside a building)
In addition: firing at an Impervious Suit, Kreighosen Clockwork War Pants receive -1
Each D10 that rolls less than or equal to the modified hit number will score a hit. The GM
may decide to make Players roll dice to determine randomly which figures within the target
unit are hit. PC`s may always pick their targets for themselves. Any figures that are hit must
roll for results on the ‘Wound Table’.
Jezzail/Musket Firing Restrictions
Due to the process required to load a musket, figures with these weapons shoot only if they
remained stationary that turn, but do not receive a stationary bonus while taking their shot.
Heavy Machine Guns (Maxim or Lewis types)
Due to their high rate of fire machine guns roll 4 D10 for hits. Machine guns usually
require a crew of at least 2 figures. One figure fires the gun while the other loads ammo.
If a machine gun is being fired by a single figure it only rolls 2 D10. It takes one turn after
moving with a maxim type machine gun to prepare the position and ammunition before it
may be fired. A Lewis type machine gun is fed ammunition by a round canister that is
mounted on the top of the gun. A Lewis gun will always roll 4 D10. A Lewis gun must spend
one turn reloading for every three turns of firing and may not fire during the reloading turn.
The crew must remain stationary to change the ammunition canister. If loaded, a Lewis gun
may be fired in a turn during which the gun crew moved.
Machine Gun Type Weapons
These weapons can be carried by a single figure. They roll 3 D10 per figure. For simplicity
players do not have to worry about reloading these weapons; therefore they may fire every
turn and are treated as a regular small arms weapon for moving purposes.
(All) Machine Gun Following Fire
Follow on fire for machine guns means that once a target has been picked (and hit) the next
`to hit` die must be placed on a target within 4” of the first, and so on with the next `to hit`
roll etc. GM discretion may be called for.
Hand-to-hand combat occurs when enemy figures are in base contact. Non-combatants and
groups armed with improvised weapons (table legs, farm tools, broken bottles etc.) normally
will not advance to engage properly armed figures.
Resolving Hand-to-Hand Combat
Hand-to-hand combat is resolved in a manner similar to ranged combats. Each figure in base
contact with an enemy rolls one D10. Figures have a base hit number shown in the ‘Hand-to-
Hand Combat Chart’. This base number can be modified according to the ‘Hand-to-Hand
Combat Modifiers’ chart.
Hand-to-Hand Combat Chart
Weapon Base Hit Number (D10)
Figure trained in Martial Arts.
Traditionally armed Native, Soldier with bayonet
Trained Swordsman, Experienced Street fighter. Impervious Suit, Kreighosen Clockwork
Figure armed with firearm without bayonet, Native with
firearm, Peasant with club, axe etc.
figures with improvised weapons, non-military personnel
and all others who have limited knowledge of fighting
Hand-to-Hand Combat Modifiers
Opponent is behind a low wall or barricade -3
Opponent is defending a doorway -2
Opponent is on higher platform/up-stairs -1
Opponent is an Impervious Suit or Kreighosen Clockwork War Pants -1
A modified hit number can never be less than 1. For each D10 roll that is less than or equal to
the final hit number one enemy figure receives a hit. The GM may make Players roll
randomly to determine which figures receive the hits. PC`s may pick which figures they
attack. Figures who are hit must roll on the ‘Wound Table’ to determine results.
A PC led unit will generally act in a manner responsive to the leadership displayed by the PC. This
may be good or bad for the player depending upon how the GM views his leadership. The boys may
fight to the death for a particularly inspiring leader or they may surrender early just to be rid of the
slob in command.
Combat Results For Shooting and Hand-to-Hand
Each figure that receives a hit during combat must roll a D10 and check the ‘Wound Table’
to determine the result. Figures hit more than once must take the worst result.
D6 Die roll Results
1 No effect
2,3,4 Figure wounded
5,6 Figure killed
Wound Table Modifiers
+1 if shot by shotgun
+1 if fighting in hand-to-hand combat
-1 if hit figure used shield in hand-to-hand combat, is an Impervious Suit,
or Kreighosen Clockwork War Pants
Wound Table Results:
No effect. The figure may continue to act as the player wishes.
Figure wounded. The figure may not move independently, shoot or fight. The figure must be
helped by another figure if they wish to move. Wounded figures may be taken prisoner or
attacked by an enemy figure in base contact. A wounded figure that is wounded a second
time is killed. Only PC`s may be wounded. Others count this result as “killed.”
Once per turn (at the end of that player`s turn), a wounded PC may roll a D6. If the result of
that roll is a 6, the wounded PC returns to fighting fitness and the wound is forgotten.
Figure is killed. The figure is dead. Consult the ‘Cliff-hanger’ rule if the figure is a PC.
The morale point is a number that is used to check a figure or unit's state of mind. Figures
must check morale if they were shot at or after hand-to-hand combat. The base morale points
are listed below.
Troop Type Base Morale Value*
Trained Soldiers, Fanatics 10
Native Warriors, Untrained Militias 8
Villagers, Civilians 6
*These are only guidelines and may be modified as the GM sees fit.
The base morale point of a figure or unit can be modified by circumstances. The morale
modifiers are listed in the following chart.
Morale Condition Modifier
Adjacent to enemy figure having been engaged in hand-to-hand combat this turn -1
Each friendly figure within 2`` killed this turn -1
No leader/ PC present -1
Seeing another friendly figure within 2`` run this turn -1
Led by inspired leader +1
To check morale, apply any applicable modifiers to the tester’s base morale point. Roll a
D10. If the resulting number is less than or equal to the modified morale value, the tester
may carry on unaffected. If the die roll is greater than the modified morale value, the tester
fails the morale check and must suffer the appropriate consequences.
Failing morale from shooting
If a figure fails another morale check caused by shooting, that figure must retreat a full move
away from the enemy (use GM`s discretion when in doubt). Figures retreating in this way can
move, shoot or hand-to-hand normally next turn.
Failing Morale after Hand-to-Hand combat
After hand-to-hand combat, figures must check morale. Any figure failing a morale check
routs. A routing figure moves immediately a full movement away from the enemy (use GM`s
discretion when in doubt) and is not permitted to make any ranged attacks or defend itself in
hand-to-hand combat. At the beginning of each successive turn roll a D6: if the roll is 1 to 5
(1 to 4 for PC`s) the figure continues moving away from the enemy. If the roll is a 6 (5 or 6
for a PC) the figure stops running and may continue to fight as normal.
A figure retreating or routing off the table is removed from play.
Specialist Units and Individual models such as a Maxim Gun, or a lone Impervious Suit never
Optional Rule: When the bad guys suffers over 50% figure loss. The whole side must retire
from the game; this can either by played out (if time permits) or the game ends immediately
and is classed as an automatic win for the good guys.
Optional Rule: Good guy (hero) PC`s s never need check morale. However, bad guys do,
and must retire from play with their men if their unit suffers the 50% casualty rule.
Optional Rule: Instead of having figures rout when failing their morale, the GM may decide
that routed figures become disrupted or broken. Such figures have a token placed under their
bases. They do not run away (unless safer cover lies less than a single move distance away)
but cannot make ranged attacks or defend themselves in hand-to-hand combat. Determine
rally attempts each successive turn, as normal.
The Cliff-Hanger Rule
If a PC is killed during a game there is a chance that, through some incredible miracle, they
may have cheated death in spite of what all the other players witnessed. At the end of a game,
a player who’s PC's died may invoke the ‘Cliff-Hanger’ rule. If the GM decides to allow it,
the player is allowed to make one last Luck Roll. If the final Luck Roll is passed, the PC has
indeed survived and is available for the next game.
The Cliff-Hanger rule can also be applied to non-combat or non-lethal situations, such as:
(Victorian) “Climbing to safety in a conveniently placed tree before the charging Lion
reaches its next meal” “Remembering just enough Native tongue to persuade the tribal chief
to postpone boiling their guests over the flames of the huge cooking pot” “Making in safely
across the ancient and rickety rope bridge - just before the ropes break”.
(Pulp) “breaking free of the chains and managing to leap to safety just before the giant saw
cuts the hero in half” “jumping from the car just before it plunges over the cliff” Winning at
cards when under cover in the Gangster Bosses gambling den” “Flirting with and winning
the heart of a swell dame”
Also, use this rule to tie up all the loose ends in an ongoing campaign story line.
© 2011, Stephen A Gilbert.
Pulp Tools of the Trade
The pulps were brimming with gizmos and gadgets. Some devices were designed to aid the
hero and facilitate their daring escapes or otherwise thwart the evil villain’s plan. Other
devices were inventions by the villains themselves-usually something pretty nasty that no self
respecting hero would ever dream of using themselves. This list is a compilation of gizmo
and devices we believe are typical of the genre. It is by no means complete but we hope these
examples can guide Rugged Adventures scenario designers to invent their own fantastic
gizmos for use by and against the forces of evil. Keep in mind also that these are only
suggestions and the GM should modify the equipment to suit the plot-line of the game.
Heroic Devices & Inventions
It should be noted that many of these devises, the apex of fantastic inventiveness within
classic Victorian literature and the pulp magazines, are now devices we have with us as
reality in the modern world. Please forget the actual known properties of items such as bullet
proof vests and scuba gear in favour of the fantastic and imaginative uses to which the Great
Pulp Heroes put them to.
Silk Grappling Line: This is a compact but strong rope made of super-silk. It has a small,
folding barb grappling hook attached to it. The line can reach up to three stories and will
allow a PC to scale walls.
It takes one turn of movement to scale a 2 story building with this line. Shorter obstacles will
require the GM to decide how much movement is needed. Any excess movement can be used
to move past the obstacle or on the roof of a building. The grapple once removed and folded
up, conveniently fits into a pocket.
Vials of Acid: Although these might sound like a recipe for disaster, characters in the pulps
could use their acid vials to eat through metal bars, jail cell locks or rope that was used to
bind hands and feet. Many a pulp hero carried at least one acid vial which was always handy
when the hero found himself in a tight spot.
Anaesthetic Gas Grenades: These grenades are glass balls that break when thrown or are
stepped on. Anaesthetic gas grenades have a 4” burst radius. Any figure inside of the radius
must roll 3 or less on a D10 to successfully hold their breath, otherwise they are knocked
unconscious. Figures that successfully hold their breath must move out of the burst radius of
the gas grenade and cannot move or shoot during their next turn.
Unconscious figures may not do anything until they waken. The strength of the anaesthetic
gas and the number of turns it produces unconsciousness should be determined prior to the
game by the GM.
Unconscious figures may be captured if they can be carried or dragged by another figure or
loaded into a vehicle. Unconscious figures should not be killed-it just isn’t done.
Smoke Bomb: These grenades create a greasy thick smoke that blocks all lines of sight
through it. The smoke cloud has a 5” radius and lasts for 2 turns. It may last less time if there
is a strong wind. The smoke bomb is a handy technique for an emergency exit from a tight
spot. The smoke is non-toxic and does not cause damage.
Mercy Bullets: These non-lethal bullets contain a powerful anaesthetic that is absorbed
through the skin when the bullet hits a body and disintegrates. Mercy bullets have no
penetration. It is assumed that the anaesthetic is also absorbed through clothing. Mercy
bullets can’t hit figures in vehicles unless there are open windows or the GM decides
otherwise. Figures hit by mercy bullets roll on the Wounds Table but add +2. Non-PC figures
killed or wounded are considered knocked unconscious and may not be used for the
remainder of the game.
Of course they will awake a few hours later, bruised by the mercy bullets but otherwise
unharmed. PC`s rendered unconscious by mercy bullets roll a D10 every turn thereafter and
regain consciousness on a roll of 3 or less.
Rapid Fire Machine Pistol: This weapon is a highly advanced miniature sub-machinegun
with an exceptionally high rate of fire. It has the same range as a pistol. The rapid fire
machine pistol may fire on full automatic: 4 dice per turn with a base hit number of 3, or
single shot: 1 die per turn with base hit number of 5. Certain moralistic heroes have adapted
this otherwise deadly weapon to fire mercy bullets. The GM will determine if there are
Anaesthetic Thimble: Designed to fit on the end of a finger, the anaesthetic thimble uses a
tranquilizing drug that is injected into the victim during hand-to-hand combat. A non- PC
figure hit by a PC who is using anaesthetic thimbles adds +3 to their Wounds Table die roll.
Killed figures are considered unconscious for the remainder of the game.
A PC who is tranquilized by this devise rolls a D10 every turn thereafter and regains
consciousness on a roll of 3 or less. The thimble may only be used 3 times during a game
before it runs out of anaesthetic.
Resuscitating Drug: This compound will cancel the effect of a knock-out anaesthetic. The
unconscious figure will wake up during the turn the resuscitating drug is administered on
any result of a D10 roll except 10. Only PC`s with medical skills should be equipped with
Resuscitating Drugs. A D6 can be used to determine the number of doses available.
Flash Grenades: Flash grenades are used to stun all enemy within the grenade`s blast radius.
The flash grenade is thrown at the beginning of the Shooting Phase. The resulting flash
temporarily blinds anyone who has not shielded their eyes in anticipation of the detonation.
It is assumed that the figure tossing the grenade and their immediate unit of followers have
been warned in advance. Flash grenades will cause all enemy figures within 8” of the grenade
impact point to become stunned and unable to move or shoot for the remainder of the turn.
The effect of a flash grenade will only last for that turn.
Underwater Breather: This apparatus is a self contained, compressed air supply. It has an
air hose and mouth piece attached to it. The figure using it is assumed to have the compressed
air tank with them and can access this emergency air-supply when needed. As well as being
useful when used under water it can also be used to negate the effects of certain types of
A breathing apparatus will have enough air to last for 4 turns. Larger breathing apparatus
may be available and the GM should determine how many turns of air they contain.
Rocket Propelled Zip Wire: To outward appearances it is an ordinary fountain pen set. In
reality this device is a miniature rocket connected to an ultra thin and strong spool of wire.
The hero equipped with this device can use it to make a speedy decent from a high cliff or
building by firing the line to another location of a lesser height and then zipping down the
wire. The PC must be stationary during the movement phase to shoot their zip wire. The wire
has a 14” range. They may fire the line and then “zip down the wire” in the same turn. The
figure finishes the turn at the bottom location where the zip wire was shot. The figure may
not move any farther that turn. The PC may still shoot or take part in hand-to-hand combat
after using a zip wire. A luck roll is required to ensure successful deployment of the zip wire.
If the luck roll is unsuccessful the zip wire has missed the target and can’t be used. The PC
who misses with his zip wire may use up to ˝ of any other type of movement rate the player
Bullet Proof Vests: Usually concealed beneath clothing, these vests are designed to stop
bullets and most cutting types of weapons. A nasty bruise will often result but the wearer’s
life will be spared. If a figure wearing a bullet proof vest is hit in any type of combat roll a
D10. If the die roll is 6 or less the vest took the hit. Any killed or wounded results become
misses. If the die roll is 7 or more the vest was missed so all Wounds Table die rolls apply
Lock Pick Set: These handy tools are not only used by the criminal element but come in
handy for getting into secret evil lairs and getting out of not so secret jail cells. It will take
at least one turn to pick a lock. Often, a luck roll will be the requirement unless the figure
is a skilled locksmith. A PC who is picking a lock may not move during the turn he or she is
Whips: Whips may be used as a weapon during the hand-to-hand combat phase. The basic
hit number is 6. A whip has a range of 3” and may be used against an enemy. As well, whips
may be used by PC`s to grab an object, knock a weapon from an enemy’s grasp or snare an
overhead structure to swing over a gap. To swing, the GM must rule that a suitable
chandelier, tree branch, beam or the like, is available. To snare the overhead structure the
player must roll a successful hit with the whip and then pass their luck roll to guarantee a
hold. Up to two figures may swing over a gap up to 6” wide. The action requires the whole of
the movement phase and assumes that the whip can be retracted.
The Universal Multi-Tool: This type of device is often a standby for the faithful and
inventive sidekick. It is a wonder of complex gadgetry which encompasses nearly all of the
contents of a well equipped tool chest in a single compact and miniaturized device. At a
critical moment of the plot, the Multi-Tool is whipped out with a dramatic flourish
whereupon it is used to undue bolts of any size, cut important wires (the red one or the
blue?), or otherwise perform miracles with machinery or electrical equipment. The Multi-
Tool is most often used to facilitate impossible escapes.
The figure equipped with this type of device receives a +4 to their luck roll when attempting
a GM approved, appropriate task. Please note that the other members of the Universal Multi-
Tool equipped figure’s group should scoff at the device at the beginning of the game, with
phrases like; “That crazy thing’ll never work!”
Implements of Evil
Pulp villains can also draw from an arsenal of bizarre and innovative devices. The main
difference between these inventions and those used by heroes is, of course, the deadly and
destructive nature of most of the articles listed below. Please note also that these tend to be
small weapons, useful only in battles against limited groups of opponents and not the world
threatening weapons of mass destruction that are often the plot device Alfred Hitchcock
called ‘a muggufin’, - an object of enormous but irrelevant power that drives the plot of the
story. Please avoid giant death rays capable of destroying whole fleets of battleships, unless
they are missing a critical component which by being absent from the device, renders it
useless. These omnipotent weapons can drive a game plot but should never over-run it.
Poison Gas: A nasty invention like poison gas is used by villains. It may be coloured but
will always appear as a fog. Due to its weight it will remain close to the ground and settles
downward from higher doors and walls. Poison gas lasts for 3 turns unless the GM decides
otherwise. Figures caught in a poison gas cloud must roll 7 or more to hold their breath
successfully. They must then move as quickly as possible away from the gas until they are no
longer within the cloud or it has dispersed. Figures that fail to hold their breath are affected
by the poison gas. They must roll on the Wounds Table and add +3 during the first turn, +2
during the second turn and +1 during the third turn that the gas is in play. Gassed figures that
receive wounded results on the Wounds Table are considered killed. Poison gas is dispensed
from bombs, artillery shells, gas grenades and compressed air cylinders.
Acid Vapour: Attacks are resolved the same as for poison gas except that the result is a
dramatic and horrible dissolution of the victim. The affected figures are dissolved leaving
only a contorted skeleton to warn those who come after them.
Madness Mist: This is similar to poison gas except that the victim suffers not death but a
violent madness wherein they will charge and attack their nearest friends or enemies in an
uncontrolled frenzy. The effects of madness mist last for 2 turns. All fighting is hand-to hand
(biting and clawing) and no morale tests are taken. When the madness has passed on turn 3,
the figure must recover for a turn.
Hair Pins of Death: Often a weapon used by a Femme Fatale, these appear to be normal hair
pins at first glance but in reality are sharp steel stilettos. They are used as daggers in hand-tohand
combat. The first turn they are employed, the user should get a +2 Hand-to- Hand
Combat Chart modifier for surprise. Use the Wound Table to determine the result. These hair
pins may be treated with poison or knock out drops as well.
The Death Ray: This device is usually a large apparatus composed of steel and glass, often
as big as an automobile. Able to project its beam of energy over miles, the Death Ray will
melt metal and ignite flammable materials. As mentioned above, such a device is often too
powerful for use in a game. If a functioning death ray is present on the table, we recommend
that it requires a D10 roll to determine its ‘power-up’ time.
The GM will have to determine the radius of the effect area and the number of hit dice it
does. A Death Ray has a base hit number of 6. Due to the destructive nature of the beam,
non-PC`s suffer a +3 on the Wounds Table. PC`s role normally on the Wounds Table. A
Death Ray has no range limitation on the table but does require a direct line of sight so
remember heroes, stay behind that hill.
The Mind Transference Machine: By using this device, which resembles a pair of barber
chairs and some fancy electrical do-hickys, a villainous scientist can swap minds between
two different people. It takes two turns to complete a brain transfer. Roll a D10 and a result of
6 or less indicates a successful transfer. After the transfer, the figures must assume reverse
roles and characteristics. This device offers some interesting possibilities, such as the villain
taking the guise of General ‘Bullwhip’ Curtis to gain access to the Pentagon planning room!
Knockout Drops: Sometimes known as a Mickey Finn, these potent drops are added to the
food or drink of the intended victim. This is a preferred tactic when the villain needs to
kidnap a character without resorting to a noisy scuffle. Knockout Drops are effective
immediately, the victim having only time enough to slur the words, “why you dirty...” The
duration of unconsciousness depends upon the GM’s requirements. 2 turns is usually enough
time to pack the victim into a car and get away with them. If the victim is a PC, there is a
chance they might have ‘got wise’ and avoided the Mickey Finn by pouring their drink into
the nearest potted plant. This should be determined by a luck role. Heroes often fake
unconsciousness to get inside of a villain’s hideout. Antidotes: An antidote is a cure for
poison. Pulp villains will have an antidote for their poison so they can mock or manipulate
Dr. Koo gazed at Costigan, “Over the last week, you have been given a slow poison in your
food. The antidote has been added to your drink. Reveal the secret code or I will withhold the
antidote and you will suffer a most slow and painful death.” Or “Your daughter has been
given a dose of very toxic venom. In 3 hours she will die unless she is given this antidote.”
The Crimson Scorpion held up a small vial allowing the clear liquid within to glint in the
candle light. “If you carry out my instructions she will be given the antidote. If not, her death
will be on your head not mine!” Of course, a hero with medical knowledge can make an
antidote for the poison if they can get a sample of it.
Sometimes it is even prudent to take an antidote in advance when setting off to confront
certain evil fiends who are known to employ poisons. Antidotes act quickly (in the pulps) and
their effect is almost instantaneous.
Voodoo Zombie Dust: A mystical powder known only to the highest Voodoo priests of Haiti
the swamplands of Louisiana, or any semi-mythical lands the GM has created. Zombie Dust
is rumoured to enable the user to raise the dead and enslave them for evil purposes. The evil
user of Zombie Dust must find a suitably fresh corpse, preferably one only a few hours dead
and it must be physically intact, i.e.; no missing parts. Successful re-animation requires a roll
of 6 or more on a D10. The dust requires 1 turn to take effect. The zombie requires a direct,
simple command from its master who must keep within 12” of the zombie to maintain control
and keep it moving. A zombie out of control range will stop moving and stand passively with
a blank expression. Zombies always shamble- use combat speed as they are slow. They may
not use firearms (effectively) but machetes and clubs are suitable weapons. (Pulp zombies do
not eat brains!) Zombies can fight in hand-to-hand combat and are destroyed when wounded
or killed in the regular way.
The main advantage of commanding a zombie or a zombie unit lays in unquestioning
obedience to their master. Zombies do not take morale tests. The effect of the dust is
temporary, 2-6 days. Eventually the Zombie will return to being an ordinary corpse. It is
rumoured that Zombie Dust is a remnant of an ancient Egyptian recipe used for reviving
mummies. If this were true, one might apply these guidelines to a game set in the Nile Valley.