Friday, January 19, 2018

(Review) Pulp Alley: The Lost World of Lemuria

The good folks at Pulp Alley recently completed their Kickstarter for their The Lost World of Lemuria  Expansion for their Pulp Alley (PA) game, and I happened to back it.  I've had it for awhile now and have read through it enough times to make an adequate review.

Huge Disclaimers first.  This is my first Pulp Alley product I've purchased.  Outside of the Quick Start pdf and dozens upon dozens of actual plays, I haven't had the pleasure of actually playing the game.  I love the mechanics, the multiple uses of the card decks.  I just happen to be satisfied with running my family's pulp campaign using Savage Showdown/Worlds, but that certainly doesn't mean Pulp Alley's material doesn't translate well.

New Rules: Lemuria covers Mounts, Skimmers, and Riders, with a nice list of special abilities.  The one thing that attracts me to Pulp Alley is that the base mechanics seem simple for everything, it's just the adjustments from the special abilities.

They then cover new Abilities for the characters, as well as special rules for Non-Player Characters and Spoilers.   PA is objective (plot point) based, so spoilers negate those plot points, or the Rewards, or even even prevent characters from taking the initiative.

While it's not active in all scenarios, the existence of spoilers teases a much tougher campaign than most PA, or at least with extra drama.

The next section covers Lemuria itself, the formation of this undersea realm, the politics of the people, places of interest, and even a way to randomly determine how you arrive in this place, complete with effects on certain scenarios in the campaign.

As cool as the setting is, the main draw that got me to support the Kickstarter was the chance at multiple scenarios, and this book has 11 of them, all intended for a 3' x 3' board.

To link these scenarios into campaigns, they focus on scenario cards.  Once the major plot is successfully obtained, that league (team of characters) earns the scenario's card, which may provide additional effects, allies, or bonuses.   Each card is also worth a different number of points toward Military, Politics, and Science objectives.  Once a league controls 10 points in any one category, the player become Champion of Lemuria, and the campaign ends.  This may make a problem for me, as my pulp campaigns are usually designed around 12 "issues" (scenarios), but it appears most scenarios can be run multiple times and there's only a finite number of scenario cards for points.

The last five pages are the various campaign cards for monsters, encounters, and NPC stats, as well as the above mentioned scenario cards.

Of course, PA is driven by plot points, as well as the fortune and reward decks of cards.  The cards have a dramatic influence on the competing leagues, and the game itself, so in my heretical desire to use this for a different system, I will need to work out system appropriate cards and perhaps a few random charts.

In all, I'm pleasantly pleased with my decision to back the Kickstarter for the physical copy of the book.  We're at least two or three "seasons" away from returning to an exotic lost world of ancient beasts and cultures, but I am adding Pulp Alley to my convention wish list to purchase, and hopefully, get a chance to play it.

Even with the extra conversion (or just manning up to try out a new system), The Lost World of Lemuria is a great expansion and campaign, with plenty of replay potential.

On the Gaming with the Gnomies 5-Gnome Rating System, I give The Lost World of Lemuria four gnomes.

The Lost World of Lemuria is a 44-page comic book-sized book with b/w glossy interiors and a full color cover.   Retail is $17.99.

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