Monday 28 May 2018

Pulp Alley AAR – Tomb of the Serpent Campaign, part 2 – Sideshow of Horror

This is a scenario from Tomb of the Serpent, a campaign for Pulp Alley. I play it using the Solo Play and Pulp Horror rules from that campaign book. The heroes are the CSSS, and you can find a short description of them in the previous adventure. You can find info on most of the terrain in the last couple of months' blogposts.
In the last adventure, The Haunted Dungeon, our heroes failed miserably in their quest to find an ancient artefact needed in their quest to stop the rise of an ancient Egyptian god, Aphopis. One glimmer of hope was a pamphlet for a travelling carnival that Monsignore found in the dungeon. On it is scrawled “Hail Lord Aphopis”. If that is not a clue, then something fishy is going on.
As luck has it, the carnival is camped just outside Rome. Our heroes, boosted by a couple of backups, head for a day of merriment. Everyone looks forward to a day in the sun, candy floss, balloons, raffles and maybe even romance…

A group shot for the family album. From left to right: Soldato Cattivo (a lvl 2 scout, here to give some official support, courtesy of the Italian Army), Padre Scuro (ally), Suora Maledetta (follower), Suora Innocenza (sidekick), Monsignore Cadaverico (leader), Soura Sicaria (sidekick. Yes she is new and replaces her brother, Soldato Sicario. They are twins and have the same stats, but she is much cooler), Soldato Morto (ally) and finally Padre Crudele (a lvl 1 brawler, who wanted a quiet day out with a cool gang. I guess he will get everything but the quiet part.)
"In my days priests and nuns did not look happy and they certainly did not visit carnivals. What is wrong with the world?" mutters the old woman in the background.
Our heroes are actually enjoying the day out, observing the carnies and revelry makers. Somewhere here is someone who knows something, or even someone who’s got an artefact. After a while they have identified some likely suspects that are sure to have important knowledge.
In the dark information booth is someone who surely have some useful information. He is known as The Living Horror.
The Executioner is wandering about, observing. Might he know something? 
Madame Hammer seem to have two heads. Two pair of eyes will surely observe more than one, so she is worth speaking to. One thing, though, she seem to be in a really bad mood as someone actually won one of the big prizes just minutes ago. A bad mood coupled with a huge hammer... not a good combination.
Mr Muscle, said to be the stongest man on earth, is a strong suspect. The booth stinks of cheap wine and Mr Muscle seem to have a terrible hangover.
Finally we have this young reporter, or is he a private detective? Mr Nittin looks to be well travelled and might know a thing or two. I think he is looking for his dog, when he is not oogling the scantily dressed actors on the theater stage.
Here's a photo of the Carnival taken by a passing , brand new, Caproni Ca.111 from the Regia Aeronautica. The CSSS is ambling about in small groups, chatting and having a good time.
"I'm sure the hot dog stand is that way" "No, it is closer to the entrance" "Rubbish, you're both wrong, its behind that stage"
"Repent sinners!"
"Is there a shooting range here? I want to win a teddy bear!"
The air between two of the groups suddenly starts to shimmer, and in a puff of sulphur-smelling smoke a hideous form takes shape. Monsignore feels a shiver of fear. It can't be what he read about in a musty and ancient tome just the other day. But there is no other explanation. What stands before him must be.... an manifestation of the banished god Aphopis! It is a
Shadow of Chaos
The god must be much more powerful that expected and close to being able to free himself.
Overcoming the first shock, and fighting the feeling of horror that emanates from the ghastly Shadow of Chaos, Monsignore rushes towards Madame Hammer. Panting from the exertion, he can just wave his cross about as he stands close to the booth. Madame looks at him with open contempt, growls and take a steady, two-handed, grip on her hammer. Monsignore keeps his distance until he catches his breath.
Soura Sicaria conquers hear fears and rushes towards Mr Nittin, who seem to have seen something. His dog maybe? "Sooty!" he shouts.
Soura Innocenza freezes. Facing a god is something she had hoped would happen far in the future, and the god she had planned to face would be friendly and welcome her. This is not at all what it should be.
The Shadow of Chaos feels her fear, slowly turns its head and look at her. With a roar it charges.
The people around stares, and then start to clap their hands at this spectacle. It is surely part of the theater.
Soura Maledetta turns around and sees the monster charging toward her. She draws her dagger and holds it in front of her, menacing.
The Shadow of Chaos slashes with his two-bladed sword and Soura Maledetta parries and does her outmost to dodge the attacks.
She does. Amazing!
There is one thing that the carnies just don't accept, and that is brawling or shooting at the premises. If anyone would do such a stupid act the carnies will be really pissed off. That means that said anyone would have to overcome a hazard anytime they activate. The hazard seem to be an angry midget clown that will fearlessly follow the Shadow. Not that he cares...
Soura Innocenza finally unfreezes. She takes a look at the looming monster before her. Her face turns white. She scream, and rush away in blind panic.
This is not what we expected from her...
Padre Scuro has never felt such intense fear before. He cannot think, he can't utter a word. The only thing he is able to do is to slowly stumble toward the monster, standing between it and his beloved master. To reach Monsignore the monster must pass him. Please, make it go in another direction.
Soldato Cattivo sneaks toward the candy-shop, keeping an eye on Soura Maledetta's frantic efforts to stay alive.
Soldato Morto and Padre Crudele start to move. They have a plan, or at least that is what they will say later.
Soura Maledetta fights on, but a fight with a god, even just a projection, is doomed to fail. One blow slips through her defences and she is knocked down.
The Sadow of Chaos looks around. Its hungry eyes follows Soura Innocenca. They don't look down. That is a mistake.
Soura Maledetta regains her senses. She mumbles "I must buy my holy compatriots time."
She stands. "You want a piece of me, you rotting excuse for a  mummy!" she shouts.
The Shadow of Chaos looks down at her.
She gulps.
It's deadly quiet all around. Everyone has their eyes glued on the scene before them. Something here is not right. The blood streaming from a gash on the young nun's forehead looks awfully real. There is a sense of dread.
The Shadow of Chaos looks at the puny human before it. Two millenia of rage wells up.
It roars!
A roar so filled with hate that everyone in sight is filled with horror. People turn around and run. They run for their lives, because Death is here and no-one wants to meet him today.
Even the Executioner feels a bit scared and remembers that thing he was just about to do, away from all that screaming.
The young Mr Nittin suddenly sees a dame in distress. Here is his chance to get a date! Blinded by her beauty he doesn't notice her costume and he certainly doesn't notice the monster looming over her. He dismisses all the roaring and screams as blood pounding in his ears.
"Madam, I can dress your wound!" he shouts. "I can kiss it if it makes the pain go away..." he mumbles.
The Shadow of Chaos shrugs away the nuisance that is the midget clown and swipes at the nun before him. Her efforts to dodge the blade is in vain. Once again she falls.
Soura Innocenza has overcome her panic. She starts to move towards the Candy stand, but she sees her young protege go down. The monster looms above. Once again panic grips her, but this time she is filled with uncontrollable  hatred. "Get your filthy male hands off  Soura Maledetta!" she screams, whips up her huge revolver and lets go. The Shadow hits her with psychic energies in return but both comes out unhurt.
A midget clown sighs, and rushes toward the new menace.
The old lady runs as fast as her legs can while muttering "In my time nuns were not armed. What is it with youngsters these days?"
Everyone seem to have forgotten the bound actress on the stage.
"Help! Let me loose! Please!" she screams.
"Why didn't I go for that banana gig with Josephine in Paris instead?" she mumbles.
Soura Sicaria goes up to the Mr Nittin and says "Young man, I know for a fact that she is sort of engaged at the moment, so your efforts are bound to fail unless, of course, you would like to hear what I have to say."
He looks at her. "Tell me more."
"Well, you wouldn't by any chance have an ancient artifact on you, would you?"
"Nope, but that drunkard at the candy-booth had some sort of ancient egyptian ring, if that's what your looking for."
"You are a hero! Join our fight against this outerwordly abomination and I'm sure Soura Maledetta will look favourably at you"
"Sure thing" he answers and draws a small automatic.
Monsignore is just about to talk to Madame Hammer when he takes a look behind. The huge monstrosity fills him with dread. He remembers all those unspeakable monsters that nearly killed him in his previous adventures. All those miraculous escapes from the brink of death.
That blade looks awfully sharp.
The Shadow of Chaos looks at him.
His mind blanks. He is filled with dread.
He runs in full panic.
Everything is quiet behind the stage. Two women look up briefly, but continue to gossip when they see it's just a priest running past. Nothing new, nothing exciting, just a man in black rushing past. Probably on an important errand, seeking sinners. 
Soldato Cattivo  is nearly paralyzed with fear, but he walks up to the candy booth, sees a ring and understands that this must be the fabled Ring of Pharaos In a flash of inspiration he produces a flask of wine (actually some cheap communion wine he swiped at Monsignore).
"My friend, I have just what you need to clear the head."
Mr Muscle gratefully accepts the bottle, swipes it in one long gulp and promptly falls asleep. Soldato Crudele leans over the counter and grab the ring. He is rather... resourceful. 
The rest of the gang tries to hold their fear in check while manouvering around. They need to protect Soldato Cattivo who's got the Ring of Pharaos, and try to unlock more clues.
Soura Innosenza is followed by an angry midget dwarf that will make life a hell for her as long as she is at the carnival (everytime she activates she will have to overcome a challenge or face the consequences, just like the Shadow).
Suora Maledetta regains her senses once again in a short lull in the fighting. She slowly rises.
"If you want that ring you'll have to go through me" she says and spits some blood.
The Shadow of Chaos looks confused, and for the first time uncertain.
He roars and slashes at her.
She looks at the bloody tear in her frock in disbelief and falls to the ground once again, unconcious.
Soura Sicaria takes her chance and rushes towards the information booth.
Next up is Soura Innocenza who ignores the midget and runs towards The Executioner who has wandered closer to the commotion.
Monsignore, who has at last regained his senses, walks up to Madame Hammer, calmly points his cross at her and tells her to stop this nonsense and in the name of God tell him everything.
Madame is deeply religous and spills the beans.
Soldato Cattivo is still nearly paralyzed with fear and can only stagger away while the rest of the league move around and try to get into position to help their comrades. Some are gripped with fear and don't do much at all. 
Once again Soura Maledetta stirs. Miraculously she stands up, swaying.
"Is that all you got, vulture-face" she whispers.
Young Mr Nittin comes to the rescue, somewhat cautiously.
Soura Sicaria walk up to the information booth and ignore the eerieness of the man who stands before her. She starts to wave her cross around the detached head in the hat and while the poor creature tries to fend of the mad nun she grabs a note-book on a stand, without him noticing anything. Another clue retrieved.
Suora Innocenza threatens the midget dwarf with bodily harm and he seem to think about his chances against this formidable foe, giving Suora a chance to reach The Executioner and try to convince him to reveal everything he knows.
He doesn't, and walks away from this most annoying woman. 
Monsignore comes to the rescue, even though he doesn't quite reach them.
Sodato Cattivo meanwhile overcomes his fears and makes a fast strategic retreat. 
Suora Maledetta finally succumbs to the fear that has gripped most everyone. She runs away.
The old woman looks on in disbelief. "All this running around and screaming. In my days nuns paced and were solemn."
The Shadow of Chaos tries to catch The Ring of Pharaos, but there are a bunch of heroes in between that does their best to stop him. Padre Scuro acts as a human speed-bump, buying some precious moments for Soldato Cattivo before he he is knocked to his knees.
He cries "You shall not pass!" and stands up, once again.
The Shadow of Chaos stares, beak agape. What is it with these puny humans? Can't they just run away terrified and stay down when smitten, as in the good old days.
Monsignore decides to show Soura how to handle socially awkward hooded men, walks up to The Executioner and knocks him over the head with the gilded cross. Monsignore goes through the minimal pockets while the poor man lies on the ground moaning. With a shout of triumph Monsignore retrieves a map with a prominent X on it. Another valuable clue, and probably the final one to be had at this place.
Now, they just have to hold on to this for a while more.
Another midget clown gets really annoyed at that show of brutality.
Soldato Cattivo jumps over a hedge to get farther away from the Shadow. Everyone else holding a clue follow his lead and tries to get as much ground between themselves and the fearsome manifestation. All others try to place themselves between the Shadow and the holder of the Ring of Pharaos.
Padre Scuro decides that being a human speedbump is not a good idea when confronting a godly manifestation and panics. He runs as fast as his legs can take him....
...followed by said godly manifestation that once more let his sword do its job. 
With that Aphopis cannot maintain control of his manifestation anymore and it disappears in a puff of sulphurous smoke.
The league limps out from the carnival. This time it worked. They have one of the ancient relics, the Ring of Pharaos, and all the possible clues to be had at the carnival.
This was a roaring success.
A double success, thinks young Mr Nittin who will actually kiss all those wounds on Suora Maledetta tonight. But that is another story.
 And that is it. They will return to the Vatican to recuperate, study the Ring and all the clues. That map seem extra interesting, might it lead to another adventure?

As I read through this I just realized I had made a huge mistake; Soura Maledetta is a follower, and as such when she is knocked down she stays knocked down, and I had instead let her recuperate time and again. 
Well, I wasn't about to re-play the whole scenario, much less write a new AAR, so instead:

Monsignore sat studying the Ring of Pharaos when he noticed something... a faint inscription saying "Made in India"...

Stay tuned!

(By he way, this is blog-post number 750!) 


  1. I love it when one of these reports shows up in my blogroll, and this one certainly doesn't disappoint. The carnival set up looks good. It sounds like it was an epic game, even if the ring turned out to not quite be the real thing!

    That just means we get an extra scenario, right?!

    1. Thank you, really appreciated!
      I was a very fun game and once again the solo rules worked really well.
      The opposition was randomly determined and I think it would have been a completely different game with other baddies.

  2. Romance Joakim ? great set up mate it looked really impressive, I'd never play this scenario no read a report on it so it was great to see someone do it & do it so well :)

    The only disappointing thing was the CSSS getting the ring & so much information ;)

    1. I really wanted to play this scenario and bought and built all these different circus and carnival thingines just for it. I guess they will come in handy in other pulp-games in the future.
      I think the terrain is the problem with this scenario as most people don't have a carnival to just set up. But when you have it is a great scenario.

  3. What an impressive report, loved the action and great to see the Smog miniatures on the board.

    1. The Smog minis were perfect. I was so happy when I got them as I immediately saw the use in this scenario. Great fun to use them.

  4. Another great read, really enjoyed it. I'm a bit dissapointed that you chose the wrong card for Suora Innocenza and she ran away at first but then you came to your senses and picked the right card and she returned to her old self in style.
    Her acolyte the feisty young Suora Maledetta did remarkably well against that beaky thing, you should promote her, young blood is needed in the CSSS and she spilt a lot of it today.
    The horror deck seems to work ok, I used it in a game I played recently are you happy with it?
    Sorry for being late, I re-read part one again before reading this and then my tablet packed up, I'm using Mrs Vagabonds, she doesn't know I've borrowed it.
    A final - well done

    1. Thank you, John.
      The Horror Deck - well, I would like it to be a bit more negative than positive. I've got quite a lot of failed tests in the game that didn't do much and some that were more positive than negative. But the deck is fun and makes all your plans go south, which I rather like, but that's me.
      Suora Innocenza failing a check and become enraged and start shooting was rather fun and in this case not at all positive. Very much her.
      Soura Maledetta did remarakbly well, and I think she might have had an angel at her side this game, helping her a bit :-)
      I believe she'll have a bright future in this league.
      There is another acolyte, Suora Morta, waiting in the wings (actually waiting for paint to dry. She feels semi-naked now, which is not proper for a nun) and she will take up the role her bother, Soldato Morto, has now. I'm afraid Il Duce have other plans for him, as he is currently studying Spanish.
      More nuns for the people, that can never be a bad thing :D

    2. Hi Joakim for the Horror Deck I used the Pulp Alley ones and I got 11 others from somewhere, but I can't find the sheet, I did transfer them onto the same sized cards as the PA ones and shuffled them all together.
      There were some that would be ideal for you, such as Martyr - Suicidal charge, Kneel and Pray until horror is killed, Stand Transfixed, that sort of thing.
      If you are interested I can continue to look for it or I'm hoping to post the Hunt for Mary Scroggins Continues and I could type them out on that, they are not in the PA format but have the same sort of idea's.
      Let me know if you are interested.

    3. Thanks for the offer! I use the fancy printed horror cards so I guess the other ones won't work seamlessly :)
      Sounds good, though. If you happen to include them in that AAR I would certainly look, but only if it isn't to much boring job for you.

    4. You're right, I don't use anything fancy so these wouldn't fit in. Not to worry., I'll try and remember to make some reference to them, I'm currently writing a wings of war report for their forum, Vababond plays at being Biggles.
      Did you have Biggles in Sweden when you were a lad?
      Once I've done that it's back to Gothic horror.

    5. Biggles.... [eyes lost on the horizon, unfocused...] Yes. I think I had everything published in Swedish.
      All gone now, I'm afraid, and that's really a shame as it would be fun to re-read one or two.
      Or, maybe it is good, so I still have that rose-tinted feel about Biggles (or should it be camouflage-tinted)

    6. When I was a young lad I was only really interested in Biggles the WWI pilot and I kept 3 of the books, I started reading them again a week ago and I think they are still a good read, there's a lot of detail and depth to them, not necessarily adult reading but still a ripping yarn and I'm enjoying them. Also making notes for scenario's as well, might as well pick his brains, bound to get more than with my own.