I’ve abandoned this blog for a bit, but I’ve been recently inspired to start posting again by a book series I’ve been reading – Robert Sampson’s Yesterday’s Faces. It’s a study of the various characters that thrived in the pulp magazines of the early twentieth century.
The post-World War I era of pulp magazines was like a Cambrian Explosion of popular culture. A endless number of new tropes and characters blossomed. Virtually every fictional hero of today can be traced in some way to those early figures, perhaps in cruder form, but if you look, the lineage is there.
Only a few survivors of that ancient age still have any presence in 21st century imagination. Conan managed to battle his way out. Lovecraft was right – Cthulhu can’t really die. Doc Savage and the Shadow still have some faint hold in some quarters.
However, the survivors of the age of pulp are far outnumbered by the army of the forgotten.
Who remembers the exploits of Nick Carter?
Hopalong Cassidy and the men of the Bar 20?
Jimmie Dale, the Gray Seal?
The Four Just Men?
The super-spy Operator 5?
Professor Augustus S.F.X. Van Deusen, better known as the Thinking Machine?
All heroes who thrilled the nation, now lost.
My plan is to excavate these lost strata of pop culture, and dig up some of these lost ideas and characters for use in pulp RPGs.
I’m going to try to keep everything system-neutral, as there’s not really any one universal, or even most-popular pulp RPG system.