Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Sinastrian Candidate - a Pulp Alley Game

The glorious day has arrived. A glittering ceremony where the Governor will proclaim one of our heroes as 'in viro in imperium', Hero of the Imperium. (If you haven't followed the campaign through, you can start here.)
But our heroes have uncovered a dark and shattering secret. During their captivity at the hands of the chaos cultists, one of them has been mentally reprogrammed to assassinate the governor. At the start of the game, each player receives an envelope with a playing card. The player who sees the Queen of Hearts is the assassin!
The ceremony begins with the heroes proceeding to meet the Governor. At the same time, the heroes retinues gently jockey for a better position once things get interesting.
The beginning of turn three and nothing untoward has occurred. At least not until the marine scout suddenly opens fire on the commissar!
At the same time, one of his men hurls a grenade at the mechanicus retinue.
The other retinues are stunned by the sudden violence of the scouts (the scout player played a Parley card, meaning no combat or running for the remainder of the turn).

The civilian onlookers scatter.
Another scout grenade, as the rest of the teams head towards the podium.
At this point, the scout player pointed out that if he was in fact the assassin, he surely would have been taking potshots at the Governor by now. His action was designed to draw out the assassin. He suspects that the mechanicus player is in fact the killer.
The commissar is all too happy to act on these suspicions!
The scouts move up to protect the Governor.
At this point, a small robot appears.
It has no effect on the battle raging around it...for all but one man. For him, the robot triggers buried memories. A jolt of pain fills his head. A grim apparition fills his vision.
He lurches up the stairs and fires at the governor!
The other players scramble to respond to this sudden treachery. The scouts hurl grenades at the Commissar's men.
Commissar Burns moves in for the kill.
But the other players are desperate to stop him. His laspistol fizzes rather than firing, and he narrowly avoids a chunk of falling statue dislodged by stray gunfire.
The other players rush to prevent the Commissar closing in on the Governor. But while they are still scrambling up the stairs a shot rings out. The Governor is down and dead!
A tragedy for the heroes, a triumph for the minions of chaos!

This played out beautifully as a game. I had told the players that one of them was the traitor, but then gave them all non-traitor cards at the start of the game. I wasn't sure how the guys would interact, but it didn't take long for the paranoia and gunfire to kick in. Then, at the start of turn five, a random player was shown the Queen of Hearts. Mark was quite devastated to discover that he was the assassin, but he carried out his new mission with ruthless purpose. I think it would have been nice to see the governor survive, but that was out of my control!

My first extended Pulp Alley campaign. Heaps of fun! This felt like a fine finish.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Raid - A Pulp Alley Game

It is just days away from the ceremony where one of our heroes will be honoured as  'in viro in imperium', Hero of the Imperium. As they wait though, they receive an urgent communication. The hive city of Sinastras IV is surrounded by sparsely populated wastelands, dotted with abandoned dwellings. Local security forces on a training mission spotted intense activity at one of these buildings. Observation suggested a chaos cult may be involved. Given their ongoing 'interest' in cult activities, the heroes have been called in to clean up!

The suspect building. Heat sensors suggest the building is a hive of activity (green counters).
Sure enough, those are chaos cultists lurking in the doorways.
Go! The teams move in.
The players get a little panicky as they discover a flamethrower in their path. A quick grenade puts him down before he is able to wreak havoc.
One of the fun benefits of GMing games that aren't just straight up fights: your players get nervous about all manner of inconsequential extras: here the scouts go rat hunting.
The mechanicus move in.
That flamethrower is up again, with a very enticing field of fire. However,he went down again before he could get off a shot.
The teams move further in: only two chaos cultists still lurking.
Wait a second, that doesn't look like a cultist!
Chaos marine!
The players rush to engage the marine. As they do so, the last chaos character is revealed: the psyker who has plagued them since the very first battle!
Over the next three turns, the chaos marine took more than thirty shots from the heroes! He was an absolute tank!
Finally he goes down! And with him, the psyker.
The psyker is down but not dead and the heroes rush to interrogate him. With an enthusiastic application of good old fashioned 21st century intimidation and torture, they uncover a shocking truth!
He has been masterminding a plot to kill the Governor of Sinastras IV.
The assassination attempt will take place during the upcoming ceremony to honour our heroes.
The assassin will be a traitor.
The traitor is one of the heroes!
The traitor is...urgh...gasp...ack...
The psyker is no more...

To be continued!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Meet the Governor - a Pulp Alley Game

The fiftieth anniversary of the last stand at Sinastras IV is immanent. The hive city's new governor, Rordan Karthur, has announced a commemoration of the event.
The high point will be a ceremony honouring the three heroes of the last stand. One of the three will be proclaimed 'in viro in imperium', Hero of the Imperium. Governor Karthur has recalled the three heroes to Sinastras IV, welcoming them at a formal reception. For the heroes, the reception is an opportunity to make a favourable impression on Governor Karthur and his entourage.

This game was played using the Social Affair scenario from the Vice Alley book. As befits a formal reception there is no shooting, no fisticuffs, no running. This will be a battle of wits and repartee!

The reception begins. The hero's leagues are scattered across the table, ready to hone in on the Governor and his hangers-on. The governor is the major plot point. The dog, the jokearo and the singer are all wandering perils. The other characters are minor plot points.
Mme Cantorina spent most of the night trying to decide whether to make a dramatic entry down the stairs or to spend the evening at the food tables.
Two of the admech league approach the Governor's wife. She endures repeated overtures throughout the night, but remains resolutely unimpressed by their spindly appendages.
A scout hovers uncertainly in the shadows, plucking up the courage to chat up Councillor Akers.
But what's this? Romulus Decima, the Admech leader, has cut in on him! The cheek of him!
And he's brought his friends. The scout feels decidedly on the social outer.
Adding injury to insult, he's the subject of some probing inquiries from the robot.
Meanwhile, the scribe contemplates hurling himself from the balcony: surely it would be less painful than having to endure the competitive boasting of soldier and scout.
Eventually, he falls in with Commissar Burns' offsider.
The main game, though, is the Governor himself. Amos O'Gore is the first one to approach the Governor.
But the initial impression is obviously not a good one!
The scouts are not easily discouraged.
But they don't make much of an impression either! Commissar Burns joins the conversation, having already gained the ear of the Governor's mercantile adviser.
Burns tells a few choice stories about his shared past with the scouts. By the time he gets to the story about bed-wetting at the academy, the scouts are reeling with embarrassment.
Burns, with the scouts rebuffed, Burns wins the ear of the Governor and, with it, the game.
Another great game. The lack of combat made for a really different game as players were forced to rely on their other skills.