The playtest for the Pulp version of A Team of Losers went exceedingly well last night, both from a story level and mechanically. In this post, I’ll talk about the story, mostly as a reference for those players who were unable to attend.
The team includes the archaeologist Dr. Nicholas Hollows, the martial artist and occult enthusiast Johnny Cargen, and the gunslinger Gertrude Blaze, a trick-shot artist with a background in circuses/ travelling carnivals.
It’s 1936, and Dr. Hollows and his team are contacted by colleague and sometime competitor Dr. Rene Emile Belloq, who is working for the Japanese Imperial Army in Manchuria. Belloq hints that the site on which he is working has links to the Pithos of Pandora, a mythological relic Dr. Hollows has sought for all of his professional life.
In Manchuria, the team encounters multiple strange rumours – a white river witch, a Japanese gentleman who seemed to constantly follow the team but was always ahead of them (whom the team nick-named Ghost-san), some indications that the temple site on which Belloq is working is anachronistically large and architecturally complex.
The team meets with a German officer from the Ahnenerbe who is willing to pay a lot of money for access to Belloq’s research or, even better, access to the temple site itself.
To add to all this, the team is attacked as they arrive back at their hotel from a day of exploring and investigating. They quickly dispatched their foes – smoke bombs distract, a trick-shot from a .45 kills the gun men, then Dr. Hollow’s bullwhips the drivers out of their cars – and in questioning them, learn they are called the Priests of Thoth, they consider the team dangerous, and they each have a tattoo of an obscure hieroglyphic rendering of the Greek god Hermes.
The team’s Japanese military liaison pulls out all the stops after the attack – which also makes the team, already somewhat famous for their various pursuits, local celebrities – and he brings in a small army to protect the team. Belloq’s dig is being privately funded by a colonel who is the commander for military intelligence in Manchuria. After the attack, he accelerates their schedule and arrives with a military aircraft to take the crew to Heiho, where they will take a river steamer to Shouwei, the site of the dig.
Ghost-san appears on the ship as the second mate. Further, Dr. Hollows recognize one of the kitchen staff as a much younger version of a hotel maid with whom he spoke. On questioning, the young lady seems to panic, Dr. Hollows is blinded by a flash for bright red light, and the lady is gone, leaving only a tuft of red fur behind her.
The ship stops at Moho for fuel and re-stock, and the team go assure, only to be attacked by more Prists of Thoth, whom they quickly dispatch, leaving one alive for questioning.
A Team of Losers is based on the Untitled Game System. You can find out more here.