Inquisitor/Pulp Alley: Backside Roasting

Kaptin Fiddy Teef commandeers Mushrööm Klöwds Töör Bus and takes Big Billy, Crackers and some other Skallywags on a road trip.

Just before Xmas PB and I got together for a couple of games of Pulp Alley set somewhere in the armpit of the 40k universe.  For the first game we particularly wanted to try out the PA vehicle rules.  This is how it went.


PBs nasty Purgator mercenaries s are joined by a massive Strider battle suit

The universe is a very big place.  The galaxy isnt even nearly as big as the universe, but it is still incomprehensibly vast.  Even the comparatively tiny area in the galactic South East on the border of the Ultima and Tempetstus Segmentae that concerns us today is really, seriously, way-bigger-than-you-are-imagining big.  An ork that travelled from one end to the other via standard, in-system, non-warp drives could never get from one end to the other in a lifetime.

In that tiny – in galactic terms – area there is a remote planet.  It is a planet where the entire society is corrupt in a narratively convenient way and the notion of a black market does not exist: its all black market and therefore an ideal location for spacefaring ne’ er-do-wells to get up to mischief.  The planet has an Imperial designation, a dull sequence of numbers and letters, but everyone who knows of its existence calls it “Backside”.

Backside is like the crummy part of town, except its a planet.  Today it is where alien pirates and genetically modified mercenaries collide.


The scene of the encounter, a shanty town.  Note the perilous pens of local livestock, Dungers.

As we wanted to try some new rules (vehicles) we stuck to a standard scenario: “The Trail of Clues” from the basic PA rulebook.


These five local inhabitants served as Plot Points in the game: each of them has information on locating one of the others, the last of whom will have crucial details for a future caper/scenario.



The bus full of orks hurtles into town…


…while a portion of the Purgator force walks/stomps towards the first informant…


…and the remaining Purgators head South, hoping to surround the orks.


The bus careens around the corner as the whooping orks and gretchin man the guns.  The salvo damages the Strider…


…spinning the mech around and also plugging a Purgator trooper.


The Strider pilot earns his mercenary paycheque by regaining control of the mech and dousing the front of the vehicle in flaming promethium.  Some extremely good luck results in the bus driver being hit directly by the flaming liquid, causing him to lose control and spin the bus dramatically back the way that it came.  Sir Reginald Beef Wellington (the Informant, in a boating jacket and gas mask, standing between the gout of flame, the out of control bus full of homicidal aliens and the giant, smouldering mecha) is not stranger to the odd scrape, but even he is finding it all a bit much.


The other detachment of Purgators focus their heavy weapon fire on the ork vehicle…


…taking the pilot out of action.  The rest of the orks leap from the driverless vehicle and head toward the informant.


Combined fire from Cpt. Fiddy. Hotshot and Big Billy cripples the Strider.


Bigface takes some return fire from Purgator Codename : Bull (out of shot, on the left), but that doesnt stop the Captain from pumping Reggie for information.


Meanwhile Purgator Captain Freeman – an oily customer only to happy to buy success with the lives of his minions – finds Vim Petrol (informant number two).  In exchange for cold hard cash, Vim is only too happy to reveal the whereabouts of Doctor Leghorn to the mercenary.


Having taken the bus driver out, the second Purgator group advance on the ork vehicle, pausing to take an opportunistic blast at Hotshot.


The Purgators then board the now empty bus and take the wheel.  Note the Nomad informant in the bottom right.


Captain Fiddy Teef has had his horn swaggled before, so he knows that drastic action must be taken to acquire the information that he needs.  Backed up by Big Billy (and Crackers) and with the recovered Bigface bringing up the rear, he cuts through the building, heading to intercept his opposite number in the Purgators.  Billy uses his decommissioned mining laser to good effect en route, blasting Codename: Buzzsaw into her component bionic parts. (building roof removed to facilitate photos)


The Purgators focus their fire on the shack.  Fiddy grits his formidable chompers as the explosion causes his cigar to go out.


The Purgators on the bus take their stolen ride on a vehicular rampage…


…but Billy and Bigface avoid the hit-and-run and follow the enraged Captain Fiddy on his rampage through the Purgators.  Buzzsaws reassembly protocols run efficiently – she literally pulls herself together.


But the oily Captain Freeman has located Doctor Leghorn (who may or may not be a medical doctor) and attempts to convince him to hand over the bio-data.


Having convincingly waded through the non-stolen bus mounted Purgators,  Captain Fiddy and Big Billy just catch sight of the Purgator leader as he escapes with the data.  Pausing only to relight his cigar from the burning corpse of a Purgator, Captain Fiddy retreats to plan his next move.


The game was fun and dramatic.  A few really rather unlikely damage results possibly gave us a slightly skewed notion of how vehicles function/explode in Pulp Alley.  That said, the stolen bus was memorable and amusingly cinematic.

As has pretty much been the case with every Pulp Alley game that I have played, the mechanics generated a narrative flow all on their own, leaving the players the opportunity to project whatever cheesy book/TV show/movie/comic book tropes we wanted on the characters and unfolding events.

Pulp Alley isnt role play (or RPG lite), plus the the game mechanics are not wooly – they are are as solid as I have ever seen for a tabletop miniatures game – so we play to win (as much as that is ever possible in a game involving moving toy soldiers around with a measuring tape).  Its just that PA manages to allow that alongside all of the amusing, tense, shenanigans filled things that we look for in our games.  Its my favourite tabletop miniature ruleset by a very long way.


26 Responses

  1. That makes me want to get a vehicle going.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A few mechanically unlikely things happened that left an empty enemy vehicle with the engine running in the middle of the battlefield. It would have been rude of my opponent not to steal it.

      I dont think that all PA games will be quite as Keystone Cops as this one was, but it was fun to get in a game with a stolen bus. Most vehicle rules tend to avoid that sort of detail, but its appropriate here.

      Now Mr Saturdays, where is that coven limo them, hmmm?


      • I enjoy vehicle rules that allow for a bit of entertaining madness.

        The limo is coming, have no fear. I just need some hood ornaments.

        Liked by 1 person

        • This sounds like I am shilling that Strider model that we discussed, but the walker rules will be easiest for us to get to grips with quickly if we are playing multi-player. The non-walking vehicles are a little more straightforward.

          So a coven walker might be a better one to work on first.


          • Works for me, I’m circling that strider in a way that I always do before I inevitably buy the thing. I might test ta paint scheme on one of the robots, which I start tonight.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Still rolling with ‘Pulp Alley’ I see. Have you modded them much? Oh, great stuff once again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Gareth. Thanks for the feedback.

      We dont modify Pulp Alley at all. The ruleset is intentionally generic: its intended to represent a certain sort of unlikely, hair-raising, cliffhanging sort of action. As that sort if action is, to my mind at least, consistent regardless of setting (Indiana Jones, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Terminator, Lethal Weapon, Inglourious Basterds, James Bond, Hart to Hart, Star Trek etc, they all follow close to identical patterns for action scenes) I dont feel the need to alter the rules at all.

      Trashy stories – the sorts of stories that I want to play games centred on – tend to be the same regardless of setting. Genuinely speculative sci-fi could be ill served by a set as heroic as PA, but for everything else its ideal.

      The only house rule that we use involves a certain Ability that becomes overpowered in multi-player games. We just outlaw that single ability when we play multi-player.

      If a game feel a little generic then I think that the best thing to do with a working engine like PA is to make the scenario itself inherently sci-fi, rather than the rules, if you know what I mean. Have multiple versions of the same character in play due to time travel nonsense for example or have the game take place in a depressurising space ship, or (like some have gone to great lengths to do) add on a cyberspace/hacking cyberpunk element, that sort of thing.


  3. Another great post mate, I don’t have the rules for the vehicles yet but I would agree with you on what PA is all about, which reminds me I must get a game in as it’s been a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vehicles in skirmish games are a risky proposition, rules mechanically speaking. I am happy to play PA without vehicles most of the time, but adding them here and there and building a scenario around them is always going to have appeal.

      Thanks for the feedback Frank.


  4. Great stuff! Very entertaining and nice photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks warburton1987. Although I very much like my jungle and shanty town terrain sets, I am working on another set at the moment as I am getting a little tired of looking at the ones I have. It is good to know that they still look decent from the outside.


  5. Nice mayhem. I love to read a story like this (i.e. one full of pictures; I am a child at heart).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just because kids – the humans most receptive to learning and personal development – use pictures a lot doesnt mean that we shouldnt. he opposite in many ways in fact. Its like comic books: they are not inherently just childrens stories (although in many cases they are written for kids).

      I prefer batreps driven by images rather than text. Its good to hear that the narrative comes through via the captions. Writing these things in isolation, its hard to know if its going to make sense or not, so I am glad that it made sense to you Argentbadger.

      Thanks for the feedback 🙂


  6. another brilliant looking game. Your terrain and figures really bring the game to life


    • Thank you riot. It has taken me longer than I wanted to get my hobby output to this stage, but I am quite pleased with it across the board these days. Thank you for the kind feedback.


  7. I’ve been trying to make PA something it’s not and I begin to think that was an injustice. In the end you’re quite right, it really is a skirmish level wargame, if a strange and stylized one. I think you may have just sold a copy of the vehicle rules for Dave and Mila. I’ll let them know they owe you a commission. 😉 (Beyond the free card you can apparently get for an appropriately posted 2015 AAR. Wish I’d noticed that in 2014!) Sounds like a great game and there’s surely something to be said for keystone cops oddness where orks are concerned. Well done, sir. As usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thats intriguing David, what were you trying to make PA into that it isnt? Were you originally looking for some more RPG elements? Something else?

      I dont write up these reports just to get the cards – I started writing them before I was even aware of the Phantom Agent promos – but it is a classy touch from the PA folks. Mila sent me a few last year, which was great. I do hope to pick up a few more this year, although I will write up the reports whether I do or not really 🙂

      Im a latecomer to painting and gaming with orks. The more I do the more that I like it though. If I had my time again I would consider running every toy soldier concept through the goblin filter: goblin vikings, goblin mobsters, goblin inquisitors, goblin space marines, the works.

      Thanks for the feedback David!


  8. I think I’m going to have to cave in and buy these rules.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a free quick start version available, but the basic rulebook PDF is so inexpensive that its worth taking on a punt on I think. I dont know if it will suit your gaming style and group as well as it suits mine, but it is far closer to perfect for our needs than any system that I have come across.

      If you do try it out then take a few photos and report back 🙂

      Thanks for the feedback gonzohistory.


  9. Will have to get vehicle rules picked up. Looks like they as another element to an already excellent game!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The vehicles rules are not an essential add-on in my opinion, but obviously its really nice to have the option. David Phipps (co-author of the rules) wrote up rules for using an Imperial Knight (the giant mecha variety, not the platemailed man on a horse variety) in PA games.

    That has to happen 🙂 I have plans…


  11. I have always liked the tanks and transport of WH40K (at least before the ones where the missiles have missiles with pintle mounted rocket launchers on them) and I hope to (one day) play a game where I can throw in a Chimera, Rhino or even a Landraider. I’m glad to hear you had some success with vehicles. Sounds like it was a great game!

    I just shot a parcel of lead to Paul Sanderson, for painting. When that comes back I’ll have a good chunk of different models to play around with. Just need some scenery, some spare time and most importantly – an opponent.


    Liked by 1 person

    • The vehicle side of 40k was never a big draw for me. Beyond the dreadnoughts and robots (what an early opponent use do refer to as my “robot penis envy”) tanks didnt appeal much. They can be fun in the skirmish sized games that I generally prefer and they become more necessary in company sized affairs, like Bolt Action or Beyond the Gates of Antarres, but by and large I would rather have more troopers and the occasional walking robotic thing than a tank or apc or whatever. From time to time they are fun though.

      This was my only PA game that featured vehicles and I dont think that it was representative. I think that they will work well though. Im am enthusiastic to try something that involves a car chase of some sort sooner rather than later… maybe with Lawmasters…


      • For me it’s more a matter of aesthetics. Not game function. I think the chimera and rhino chassis look good, and the landraider is such a big hunk of sillyness that I can’t resist it.

        Speaking of robots – got mine from Oathsworn yesterday. I quickly dubbed the plastic container “my robot box” and proceeded with putting every other unassembled robot model in it. The thought “Paul would approve” did strike me. =)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hah, you are the second person that I have seen comment on the box that the Oathsworn figures came in. I showed the box to my wife, I was THAT impressed 😀

          Its a pity to talk about the box that the Oathsworn figs came in at the expense of the cleverly designed, beautifully sculpted and immaculately cast figures though. They are absolutely top class.

          And yes, I do approve. I think that I will make that my robot box too.


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