Monday, June 9, 2014

Astonishing & Weird Amazing Tales of Super Science and Sorcery

“Now, right here, I am about to utter what may sound like blasphemy to those ears of yours which drank in too much in those theology lectures of long ago, when you were just a plastic and impressionable boy. If I can do these things—if I can reduce and range the same elements so they'll again be organism to its components and then rear-instinct with life, will I not be God myself?” —H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau

One of my on-going tasks is reading from Appendix N and similar fiction. My first stop the golden age of pulp magazines; the wellspring of Appendix N. After all, pulp magazines were where many of my favorite authors from Apendix N started; Fritz LeiberEdgar Rice BurroughsRobert E. HowardH. P. Lovecraft and the list goes on. A quick search tuned up more pulp than fresh squeezed orange juice. It was like finding the dragons horde. The first pulp magazine I read was from the Internet ArchiveAmazing Stories Volume 1, Issue 7, January 1929. The authors in this issue include H.G. Wells and Jules Verne—this adventure is turning into a history lesson as well; I had no idea their stories originally appeared in pulps. 

As I began reading though such pulp magazines as Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Astounding Stories of Super Science, and Avon Fantasy Reader, my goal was to glean as much style as possible as well as any possible formulas or techniques and the ever elusive secret of the cliffhanger that would keep readers coming back issue after issue. 

One thing that occurred to me while skimming through these pulps was that the pulp format could be used as a possible format for my adventures. What if I created a collection of individual short adventures, but all of them taking place in the same local setting. They could be linked but it would not matter which one you started from, but when one adventure was started it would also begin a series of events in the other adventures. The entire set of adventures would be part of a living world. 

This fits in very well with my initial goals:

  • enjoyable, exciting, and playable in about 3 hours
  • procedural and serial episodes with cliffhangers
  • small local settings
  • allow for complete change in PC roster throughout the adventure
  • appendix N and pulp style and feel
  • published in a magazine format.