Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Robot Rampage Paralyzes Pottersville, PA - OR - A 1930s Pulp Game Report

As part of our games day at the church last Saturday, a semi-regular event which the players have dubbed "AngliCONs", we fought a massive and very strange pulp game which was the brainchild of James Manto (of Hotlead fame) and Lorenzo Gionet, two gentlemen whose taste for the weird and the arcane is a cause of awe and wonder to their friends. We are very fortunate to have this rare radio news recording of the game.

Music Then Announcer: We interrupt this broadcast of the dance music of Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra to bring you this live report from our correspondent in Pottersville.

Pottersville, PA - building models various maunfacturers from the collections of James Manto and Keith Burnett. Mike "La Bete" Barratt looks on

Reporter: This is Jim McConnell for the Columbia Broadcasting System reporting from Pottersville, Pennsylvania, where something amazing is happening. I'm here at the demonstration of the amazing new mechanical workers, or robots, from Russia. Ladies and gentlemen, these are extraordinary gadgets. They look like large dustbins on legs, with arms ending in huge grippers or pincers that look like they could cut through steel. In fact, a while ago, I was watching as they were bending steel I-beams. These things are terrifically strong, and they are being controlled by these three scientists from the Soviet Union. Here's one of them now. Sir, a word of you please. What is your name?

Soviet Scientist: I am Dr. Ivan Sholokoshnikov from Soviet Akedemy of Science.

McConnell: Yes, Dr Shol ... ummm, Dr. What are these amazing gadgets of yours all about?

Scientist: Is very simple. Are robots, mechanical workers to do all manner of modern industrial tasks.

McConnell: What for? Why can't human workers do these tasks?

Scientist: Robots will free human workers from tyranny of the capitalist dialectic, allowing them to truly become owners of means of production, ensuring harmony between states.

McConnell: Ummm, yes, I, ummm, I see. Ladies and gentleman, the good Russian doctor is holding some sort of box that appears to control the robots, I'm guessing through radio waves. The robots are walking back and forth, to the amazement of the towns folk, who are gathered in large numbers to watch.

Robots perform to the amazement of townsfolk in the main square of Pottersville as police maintain crowd control.

McConnell: Here's the chief of the Pottersville Police Department, Chief Cruller. Chief, any comment about what's going on here? I noticed a lot of feds on my way in - some army trucks, what looked like Bureau men, and a lot of your boys. Are you expecting any trouble here today?

Cruller: Trouble? No, I don't think so. Some folks don't like these tin cans here, we've had some threats. Some of the folks here are worried about losing their jobs, but that's your typical Red agitators and New Deal troublemakers at work. If things go ugly, what with my boys, the G-men and some other heavy hitters, we'll be just fine. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be getting to my command post.

McConnell: Certainly, Chief. Well, it is an incredible sight to be sure. I'm moving over to a group of men who are watching, some with heavy work coats on. Sir, what do you think of these amazing contraptions?

Man: They're abomminations! They'll put me and me family out on the streets! We're goin' to stop this once and for all.

McConnell: An angry man, to be sure, and he's not alone. What's this? A huge shadow is moving across the centre of town. People are looking up and .. there it is, ladies and gentleman, a giant airship. I can't see any markings, I can't tell you what it's doing here, just this giant shape hovering over the square.

Mike (Zeppelin Truppen) Barratt shows the limitations of our special effects budget as the airship hovers over Pottersville - the airshop is a Lego conversion by Dan Hutter.

McConnell: A mystery, folks. But what's this? There's pushing and shoving over there in the square. This looks like trouble.

Irish cop voice: Back, now, I'm telling you! I won't be tellin' ye again, or sure, you'll be regrettin' it!

McConnell: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm seeing a fight starting before my eyes! These workmen are lunging for the scientists with clubs and metal bars. One of the Russian gentleman is reeling with blood on his lab coat. There's a shot, and a man is down, and another! One of the cops has a tommy gun now and people are running and Ladies and gentleman, excuse me, while I take cover!

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, please stay with us. We now take you to a program of dance music from the Empire Lounge in the Ritz Hotel in Upper Manhattan. Gene Krupa and the boys offer some spirited dance melodies.

A mob of angry workers rush the scientists, while PPD officers try to protect the foreign dignataries.

McConnell: Ladies and gentleman, this is Jim McConnell again. I've moved to a position of cover and I'll stay on the air as long as I can to bring you this story. I'm watching the police struggle to protect these scientists, while people are running for their lives. I see men on the ground in police blue, and some of the rioters, too. It's amazing, but I've also seen these robots strike men down in defence of their creators, it's as if they know what they're doing. And that airship I told you about, men are dropping from it now, men in brown uniforms are descending on rope lines to the ground - I see a squad of them now over by the hotel.

Droning sound is heard overheard.
McConnell: NOW what? Ladies and gentleman, the airship has moved on, and now I see the silver shape of a Ford Trimotor approaching. men are jumping from it, and flying, each held aloft on a plume of flame. It can only be ... is it? YES! Ladies and gentlemen, it's America's finest, the Rocket Corps! Perhaps they can restore order to this scene.

US Rocket Corps land on rooftops adjacent to the main square. In the bottom of the picture, Chief Cruller leaves the saloon to take command of the police in the square.

McConnell: The square is quickly vacating as the surviving police escort the townsfolk away. I can see Chief Cruller hurrying out of the saloon to take charge of the scene, while the Rocket boys are conferring. Let's see if I can pick them up.

Rocket Corps Lt: Those airship boys look like ... yes, they are. Nazis! I hate these guys! Sgt, you take your section down there and secure the south end of the square. I'll take my section over and we'll get these Krauts the heck out of Dodge!

McConnell: The Rocket troops are flying into the square now, and as I look south, I can see more men approaching the square. This looks like trouble. Gangsters, by the looks of 'em. More than a few are packing heat. I can see Chief Cruller eyeing them warily, while a few newspaper boys are taking pictures. And ... oh no! Oh ladies and gentlemen, the humanity! The gangsters are opening up, a hail of lead. Chief Cruller and the reporters are bowled over like ninepins and lying there like broken dolls! Who are these murderous maniacs?

The vicious X-Men gang, led by my bloodthirsty son John, gun down some innocent civilians and Chief Cruller. These gangsters were in the pay of Dr. Evil, who wanted a robot specimen, but John interpreted his rules of engagement fairly loosely.

McConnell: Unbelievable, folks. I'm keeping my head down, but I can see the rocket troops confronting the strangers from the airship over by the hotel.

Rocket Troop Lt: This is your only warning! You Nazis get back on that balloon of yours and get the heck out of the United States of America, or we WILL use deadly force to remove you.

Rocket troops confront German Zeppelin Truppen at the hotel while the Pottersville PD struggle with rioters.

McConnell: To the south of me the Rocket Troops are now trading shots with the gangsters - I can see men going down on both sides. Across the square, amidst the warehouses, I can see more men in uniform - US Marines by the looks of them, and more trouble as what appears to be another mob of gangsters come marching towards the square. Ladies and gentlemen, some folks want these robots pretty bad, by the looks of things.

US Marines under their introspective and solipsistic OC, Lt. Walter, try to decide whether what they are hearing and seeing merits intervention, while another gang of baddies in the pay of Dr. Evil approaches the square.

McConnell: Those sirens you can hear are police reinforcements. More of the PPD are dismounting and wading into the riot. I can see some protesters in handcuffs now, being marched back to the wagons in no uncertain terms.

Irish cop: Right, ye Red scum, that's enough out of ye, to be sure, or me and me boys we'll be bustin yer heads open.

Police pursue their victory objectives by arresting protesters and removing them the little white rings on figures show they are arrested. To the top of the picture, Rocket Troops hold off gangsters, while to the right, more Rocketeers face off against Nazis, both sides keeping their weapons trained on one another. Meanwhile, the robots have formed a square to protect the Soviet scientists in the centre.

Another phase of the game involved the local Tong gang facing off against cultists. Here we see the Tong skulking in a sinister manner through the alleys of Pottersville. McConnell was too distracted to hear the sounds of their gunfire as they ambushed and shot down several cultists.

McConnell: There's a loud gunning of engines now, I can see a delivery van with some crazy fool of a driver racing into the square. With a loud thud the van collides broadside into the wall or these strange robots. A figure from the van throws something at the scientists, there's a loud explosion, a flash of light, and at least one of the scientists and several of the robots are thrown to the ground. I can see blood all over his once - clean lab coat.

The notorious X Gang drives a commandeered van into the robots, killing one scientist and wounding another with dynamite. My son John was very proud of this unexpected piece of mayhem.

McConnell: Ladies and gentlemen, things are going from bad to worse! It's hard making sense of this! I can see the robots now ... they appear to be going beserk! These strange machines are attacking police, rioters, gangsters, without any discrimination! The gangstes won't be using that white van any more, I just saw a robot punch it's claw right through the engine block! There's the sound of heavy fire coming from the warehouses where the Marines are, and now the Rocket troops are firing at the men in brown by the hotel! What's this? More mysterious men in brown are rushing into the square from concealment - by their brown overalls, leather boots and gloves, they must be from the airship. They're rushing for the robots and for the scientists. The police are resisting, but they are too few. And that shadow again -- the airship is back! I can see rope ladders dropping into the fray!

Mike Barratt's Zeppelin Truppen break cover and rush the melee to secure a robot for Der Fuhrer and for the sinister dawn of a perverted science.

McConnell: It appears that one of the immobilized robots is being winched into the airship .. I can see it swaying ponderously up and into the gondola. There's machine gun fire coming from the Marine positions but it's too late, these mysterious men in brown are scaling the ladders and the airship is starting to climb. I can see the red swastika at the tail ... Holey Moley, folks, these are Germans, in America! I'm sure Congress and the President will have a thing or two to say about this. And now, with a roar and a whoosh, America's finest, the Rocket Corps, are lifting into the air in pursuit. Will they catch them?

Happy players - Keith "Rocket Man" Burnett, Mike "Hindenburg" Barratt of the Zeppelin Truppen, and Dan "Tongs for the Memories" Hutter survey Pottersville.

Well, folks, that pretty well concludes this report from Pottersville. It was fun and silly. The robots were amazing, but they proved vulnerable to ordinary dynamite and bullets. Mike Barratt played his cards well and was able to win the game by snagging one (albet a damaged one) to take home to the Fatherland for analysis, assuming that Sky Captain doesn't intercept him en route home. My police forces were stretched hard and unable to protect both the foreign scientists and the good people of Pottersville - Chief Cruller will have a donut named in his honour. The Tong furthered their mysterious ends, while the Italian mafia held back and let the Anglo gangs slaughter themselves in pointless mayhem. Final verdict, we all had fun.
This is Mad Padre, signing off from Pottersville, PA.

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