Monday 2 December 2019

Pulp Alley AAR – Tomb of the Serpent Campaign – Cairo Caper

I teased about this game more than a month ago and I think it is time to tell the world of what the CSSS (Corpo di Spedizione della Santa Sede, or The Expeditionary Corps of the Holy See) was up to in the outskirts of Cairo.

In the last Pulp Alley-installment, The Evil Below, Monsignore and the gang found a crucial clue to the whereabouts of some ancient relics needed to get to the Tomb of the Serpent. Everything points to Cairo and cult activities there. 
The CSSS packed themselves into a plane to Cairo, a rather small plane as funding had suddenly dried. There were only four seats in first class, and those were swiftly taken by Monsignore, Sister Innocenza, Sister Sicaria and Ms Meschina, a Cairo guide who promised to help the gang getting to the right place at the right time. The unfortunate rest of the gang, Father Scuro and Sisters Morta and Maledetta, had to settle for second class... the uncomfortable luggage compartment. They were sure to be both cold and sore when they arrived at the destination, not that that could possibly cause any trouble when they arrived. Right?
The plane got an urgent radio-message from traffic-control when they closed in on the airport. It seemed the airport was beleaguered by red-clad cultists demanding the blood of all infidels. The CSSS made a quick decision to land on the outskirts of Cairo and find a suitable ride into the city and their safe-house.
The landing went without mishap, but they could see red-clad cultist observing the plane as it stopped. The gang jumped off the plane, intent on quickly finding a car or lorry that could help in escaping the red-clad hordes they could hear in the distance. Well, most of the gang, anyway, as the stowaways had to get themselves out of the baggage compartment and get some circulation going.
The first class passengers will have to find some wheels, while the second class passengers will have to get their blood-circulation going.
"Where do we start?" asks Suora Innocenza. "There is obviously one man here who see and hear everything. The snake charmer!" says Monsignore.
Mosignore strides forward and, while avoiding the lethargic snakes, he asks "Gentle sir, we are in grave need of a transport."
The snakecharmer says "What. Talk louder, I can't hear!"
"Have you seen a car around here!!!"
"What! Insults this early in the day. You can see I'm blind and you start mocking me!"
Monsignore squats, notices the empty eye-sockets in the weather-beaten face in front of him, swats away a snake with pulled fangs, throws some small change in front of the man and shouts "Apologies. We need a car. Eternal blessings if you could lead us to one"
"Ask Jermaine" is the short answer from the old man who quickly retrieves the money. "Can I change the blessings into hard cash?"
Monsignore looks at him, rises, kicks him in the stomach, retreives the money and mutters something about heretics.
While Monsignore interrogates the old man, Suora Innocenza and Ms Meschina runs into a narrow alley. Suora in the lead as she is an incredible sprinter. 
Suora Sicaria is still by the plane. She looks at the low buildings, flat roofs... a plan is taking shape. Something she has always wanted to do. Something absolutely not permitted in the Vatican. Who could possibly complain... But should she really? What will Monsignore say? She falters. Thinks. Looks back at her compatriots by the plane. What the hell... it's now or never.
Monsignore shouts "The German. Find the German!"
Ms Meschina asks the stern-looking man in front of her "Are you the German?"
The man looks at her and says "Ursäkta?" 
Monsignore comes running, sees the confusion before him and starts yelling about cars in German. His language lessons are useless as Herr Karlsson looks confused and says "Ni får ursäkta, men jag pratar bara ärans och hjältarnas språk. Men det förstår ni väl inte, förbannade papist!" The carpet salesman sees an opportunity and before Monsignore understands what has happened he is the proud owner of a Afghan mat. A very expensive Afghan mat. The carpet salesman, Jermaine, is the proud owner of a lot of Italian lira and points the easy mark towards his brother, Ahmed.
Suroa Innocenza is just confused. There are so many alleys and no clear taget to pummel. What is a girl to do? She waits.
Meanwhile Suora Sicaria is running down another alley. "Out of my way, heretic!" She's on a mission of her own.
She feel like a little girl when she scrambles up a ladder and starts running on the flat rooftop. She has dreamt of this. Jumping from roof to roof. She abandons all modesty.
Monsignore sees a black figure on a nearby roof as he is packing a rather large mat. Is that...? No it couldn't possibly be... 
With the mat safely tucked inside his smock he runs round the corner right into the waiting arms of Ahmed. "You want wheels, Padre? I have wheels, for the right price." Monsignore starts counting lira...
Ms Meschina looks around and sees someone that just might help her. "Dear sir, I value information very highly. If you could point me towards someone with a car or truck I will reward you handsomely."
The fruit-merchant smiles broadly as he reaches for her money "My brother is just the man you are looking for. He should be just a couple of alleys away, carrying fruits to my stall from his truck. He is easy to recognize as he wears a red fez. He is a bit odd, though."
Suora Innocenza see everyone else run, so she does the same, it's just that she is faster than the others so she is suddenly in the lead again. She stops, getting her breath. A man carrying a sack of pomegranates stops by her side. His eyes dart this way and that, his face twitches. He giggles. 
Meanwhile, Suora Sicaria is in heaven as she gracefully jumps from roof to roof. 
Until it is a rather long jump to the next one. She tries to stop, but...
...falls and hits a rather handy cushion in the form of a heretic old man. Not too bad a landing. Well, at least not for her. That's what's really important, though, as she is on a mission from God. The other guy is just... what's it called... collateral damage!
Soura Innocenza starts arguing with the man in the Red Fez. A man who smells suspiciously of petrol. "Why do you smell so awful?" He starts laughing. "Are you a total idiot? Talk to me!" He does not. 
Our heroic guide sprints by, shouting to Suora Innocenza.  "It him! He's got keys to a truck. Get them while I try to find the truck!"
Monsignore, who is now a proud owner of two extremely expensive wooden wheels, hears it all. He runs to the fez-clad man. "My dear man, we are on a mission from God. We must find the Tomb of the Serpent, and to do that we need that truck of yours. I'm willing to pay everything I have to get it. You can even get a genuine Afghan mat..."
The fez-clad man starts to giggle. "The Tomb of the Serpent?" he says. "I know the Tomb! I was there! You are doomed! We all are!"
Monsignore sighs. "Yes, I'm sure you do and I promise you, you will be doomed unless you hand over those keys" He is really surprised when said keys are pressed in his hand. "Dear sir. I am eternally grateful. May I ask your name, so we know who to bless."
He is gapes when he hear the reply "I am Aziz. They call me Mad Aziz, because they don't understand what I and Professor Pacoli saw at the Temple."
Monsignore grabs Mad Aziz's hand. "Follow me" he says.
Ms Meschina has just found the truck and she charms the man set to guard it against thieves and infidels. He is suddenly all for inter-religious talks and promises that the truck is hers if she could just show the keys.
Mission accomplished! That was easy.
...or not...
...really not...
Meanwhile, at the plane. Three black-clad heroes have just massaged their legs into something vagely useful as they hear loud shouts of "Kill the infidels" among the houses. The pilot revs the engines. "Ehr, got to go" he shouts while the plane start moving, gaining speed.
They are stranded!
A risen priest meets a risen nun and a risen and annoyed old man. The old man decides to take it out on some random beggar and legs it as fast as he can, while said nun mutters something about "Can't these savages let their dead rest like we sane people do?" She hits the mummy over its head, without any effect, when she adds "Well, except Jesus, of course"
Two well armed cultist closes in on Ms Meschina...
...while an insane mob and some well armed cultists set their sights set on Monsignore. 
Fighting risen priest is hard work, especially as they have hands of steel. Suora Sicaria falls under a flurry of blows, while Soura Innocenza runs to her support.
The insane mob takes a collective decision to try to suround the infidels, but their long red robes gets tangled in the wall they try to jump, with disastrous results. Two of them down, knocked senseless. Not that they had much sense before...
A father and two sisters runs as fast as they can towards the yelling and shots in the distance. Well, the padre is held up, as he sees a fantastic Afghan mat for sale. It would make a terrific present to Monsignore. He starts to haggle.
Nuns are made of stern stuff, as the risen priest notices when Suora Sicaria kicks him in the gonads before she gets up. Fortunately for him, or rather it, as it were, said gonads were removed when he was embalmed. I guess that is one reason he is so grumpy. Who wouldn't be?
Soura Innocenza makes a strategic move to protect Monsignore and Ms Meschina. They must hold out as long as possible.
Cultist start shooting, but to no effect as Soura Innosenza shoots back and they have to take cover.
The rest of the insane cultists try to best Soura, but...
...she is a close combat killing machine and they are not. The surviving cultist decides to be sane for a moment and runs away.
Suora Morta lobs a grenade at one of the cultists, while swearing like a soldier. It's a dud.
She actually does look very much like her brother, Soldato Morto. She sounds like him, too. The brother that has suddenly disappeared, just when he was about to go on a business trip to Spain. Strange that.
Monsignore has decided to not look too far into this...
The cries of "Kill the infidels!" can be heard all around the curageous priests and nuns. Is this the end?
Suddenly rifle-shots can be heard...
...the cavalry has arrived in the form of Foreign Legion soldiers. It's actually not as strange as it might seem, as the French Legation, situated just a few blocks away, got a frantic radio-message from a panicked pilot, telling about stranded priests surrounded by maddened cultists. As good Catholics the soldiers bravely cut and shot through the hordes. Saving the day in the nick of time.
Our heroes take their truck, and Mad Aziz that might be of use in their further adventures, to the safety behind the Legation walls.
All is quiet until the Legion doctor have to tend to a broken nose of a very surprised priest who mutters something about an ungrateful boss who show no gratitude and seem to be perveresly pleased to burn some rugs and two wooden wheels.
This scenario was based on the Cairo Caper from the Tomb of the Serpent campaign, but I made it more difficult, to be a bit more of a challenge. The minor plot points are placed one after the other, at the start of each round, and the major plot point is obviously the truck. The thing is, the plot points must be unlocked in order and if any plot point isn’t unlocked at the end of the round the alarm is raised, meaning lots of cultist. Also, if there is any brawling or shooting it will raise the cult hordes. The cultist were finally set loose as the Major plot point was unlocked.
It all went very well for the Catholics up until the final plot point was taken and the cultists arrived. They had to protect Monsignore and the Level 3 Scout, Ms Meschina, who had all the plot points in their protection, for two rounds. Until help arrived. 
The solo-rules worked like a charm, and it is a real pleasure to be able to have a game in my gaming room whenever I like to (or rather, whenever I have made some suitable terrain ready). Lots of fun.
Last AAR I presented more of the mechanics of the game, but this time I felt like telling the tale instead. I rather like that. 
What do you think?