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The Pulps and Victorians

The Terra Incognita timeline runs from 1850 to 1940, comprising both the adventurous Victorian and Pulp eras. Below are some of the resources I have found useful for gaming my favorite stretch of years.


1948 Signals would seem to be a pulp larp (live action roleplaying) game based in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area. The website has various interesting tidbits, including a useful period reference. Its predecessor was 1936: Horror.

Hero Games is releasing a pulp fiction anthology entitled Astounding Hero Tales, which includes previously unpublished fiction by Lester “Doc Savage” Dent, as well as a story by rpg luminary Robin Laws, et al. (320 trade paperback pages for $16.99 US).

Blackmask online is an incredible resource for free, downloadable inspirational fiction for gamers (and readers). With categories like Action Adventure, Esoteric, For Boys and Girls, Gothic Tales, and Pulp Fiction, Blackmask is the place for online literature, available in a variety of formats. You will find Percival Lowell on Mars, Ignatius Donnelly on Atlantis, Deadwood Dick, &c., &c.

Cliffhangers — The online journal Images features a special on Cliffhangers, an illustrated history of pulp serials.

Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls — An extremely informative site from Stanford University, offering history, chronology, images, and complete text. [Submitted by Peter McDonald]

The Dirty ’30s! — Paper Dragon Productions has posted a new, extremely informative website — Dirty 30s! — in support of an Adventure Campaign. You’ll find numerous pulpy resources all in one spot. Dig in!

Check out Joe Coleman’s excellent Fearless Pulp site for some information and useful free downloads, including some Fudge and Elegant Roleplaying material.

For those who like to wear their pulp on their sleeve (and the rest of their torso as well), Fusiontees can put the cover of a classic pulp comic on a tee shirt. The historical crowd might prefer the Antique images.

The Holloway Pages provide a plethora of information about classic pulp heroes, including online versions some of the original texts.

Have a look at the Lost Continents website for more about this upcoming pulp-era online adventure game. This looks like it will be quite good.

Got your Printed Poison? It’s “the ezine possessed by the ghost of a dead 30s pulp! Inside every issue you'll discover a treasure trove of pulse-pounding, two-fisted, spine-tingling tales of mystery, horror, adventure and sci-fi! Printed Poison is published bi-monthly and all the stories are newly penned by our stable of capable hacks!” is an online pulp RPG based upon Pulp Heroes d20 published in Dungeon/Polyhedron #90. Paul Lesack’s Gear Krieg page features a pulp adventure entitled The Flower of Al-Kiar (6 pages, 1.2 MB pdf—there’s a lot of maps!).

Pulp and Adventure Heroes of the Pre–War Years — Compiled by Jess Nevins. Catalogues over a thousand characters from the pulps. Look here to research obscure characters (or to get ideas for Nags or their adversaries).

Pulp and Dagger Fiction Webzine — Read some two-fisted fiction by modern writers who are keeping the pulp flame alive.

The Pulp Avengers — Brian Christopher Misiaszek's comprehensive introduction to pulp role–playing.

Pulp Magazine Heroes is a generous collection of pulp-related links. — Provides history, links, images, discussion forums… everything you could possibly want to know about the pulps.

The Pulp Page — Hosted by Matt Stevens, author of the formerly–free pulp RPG Two Fisted Tales. Contains excellent information about pulps and pulp role–playing games.

Stop by Clark Holloway’s Pulp Pages for the lowdown on all of your favorite pulp heroes: Doc Savage, the Shadow, John Carter, & Co. You’ll find info, excerpts from stories, links, and other goodies.

Members of the Pulp_Games Yahoo Group have decided to create a “Whole Pulp Catalog” using the Wiki format: Pulp Project 1557 (the intro page explains the title). As I understand it, Wiki allows you to contribute your knowledge to the collective document. As this grows, it will prove an extremely useful resource for games set in the pulp era.

From the Hero Games Pulp Hero forum page comes this excellent collection of Pulp Resources. Threads — There are two old threads on the forums that might interest TI GMs: Pulpy fighting locations and Pulpy villains.

Shades of Earth is a forthcoming roleplaying game set in an alternate pulp era. You can preview the art and download sample chapters from the Hinterwelt website.

Shadow Magazine — Here you find the complete collection of The Shadow's adventures, catalogued and ready to download.

Tales of Future Past — Have a look at the tribute to past dreams of the future, Tales of Future Past. The site includes wonderful little essays and images from various science fiction and pulp imaginations and how they thought we might be living in the 21st century. Future cities, future war, Hugo Gernsback — it’s all there. [Thanks to David Crowell and the GASLIGHT Yahoo Group].

Tales of the Gold Monkey — An unofficial site devoted to the pulp television show. I’ve, unfortunately, never seen it, but it looks appropriately pulpy. [Submitted by Peter McDonald]

Thrilling Adventures is a new website devoted to the d20 Pulp game Pulp Heroes published in Dungeon/Polyhedron #90. The site includes new Origins, Classes, NPCs, as well as a smattering of pulp links.

The Vintage Library is a great source for pulp, classic science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels (on paper and pdf), and pulp radio programs (on tape and CD). Poke around to find a few free stories.

Wide World Adventures is a new webpage devoted to a pulp setting (it even name checks Terra Incognita). The most significant portions thus far are a list of arcane tomes and a well developed set of d20 rules for voodoo.


Victorians (including Steampunk & VSF)

The Links page of the Æther Traveller has some links to various alternate history and Victorian science fiction related websites.

In an effort to bring more authenticity to your gaming (or to help when reading all those memoirs of nineteenth century explorers and soldiers) we give you Askew’s Glossary of Victorian Colonial Terminology. This website is an exhaustive guide to all the Victorian military slang that’s fit to print.

Brass Goggles looks to be a fabulous blog devoted to “the lighter side of steampunk.” Many thanks to Hank Harwell for sending this one along.

Stephen Luscombe created a useful site devoted to the British Empire. The site includes maps, biographies of eminent Britons, an extremely useful timeline, and numerous other tidbits that I haven’t yet discovered.

For those who prefer Tudorian Science Fiction is Da Vinci Automata: A Blog on the Clockpunk genre of Science Fiction (which, of course, predates the Victorian era, but one can see the VSF connection).

For TI campaigns set in the American Old West, the Desperado website provides numerous useful tidbits. (Beware of the musical accompaniment, though).

The Dictionary of Victorian London goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide anything you might ever need to know concerning one’s favorite city in one’s favorite era.

Difference Dictionary — A companion to Gibson and Stirling's steampunk novel, The Difference Engine. Annotates the personalities, events, and technology discussed in the novel.

Exquisite Victorian Links provides some portals to information for those interested in a more civilised time.

Fantastic, Mysterious, and Adventurous Victoriana — Compiled by Jess Nevins. An extensive alphabetic resource on fictional and real Victorian personages.

Forgotten Futures — Marcus Rowland's personal site for his scientific romance RPG; contains a hearty sampling of articles from Victorian and Edwardian periodicals. Order the CD for scads more.

Gaslight — Referring not to the VSF wargame this time, but to the Gaslight Electronic Text and Discussion Site. To wit: “Gaslight is an Internet discussion list which reviews one story a week from the genres of mystery, adventure and The Weird, written between 1800 and 1919.” The chronology and links to the stories alone makes this site worth a visit.

High TeaMorbid Outlook, an online magazine devoted to “Goth,” features an interesting article on the custom of taking high tea.

Ingenious Engines & Clockwork Enigmas, being in the main a utile and eclectic compendium of information and resources for simulating the fantastical adventures and speculative conflicts using vigorous imagination, miniature figurines, and scenics cunningly crafted, is my own humble contribution to the online cataloguing of useful VSF resources.

Firmly in the category of bringing the imaginary to life, the Neverwas Haul is “a self-propelled 3-story Victorian House, made from 75% recycled equipment and materials.” There is also, apparently, a comic based on the world. And here is the Neverwas Haul Times.

Nineteenth Century Websites is a collection of links to websites, mainly concerning popular Victorian authors, but also art, architecture, culture, &c. Many of the links will be familiar, but the author links are new.

OTTENSteam “offer[s] articles and galleries about Steampunk, related genres and Retro-futurism.”

Phil Masters' Steampunk Links — Various relevant links, annotated by GURPS Atlantis and Places of Mystery (et al.) author.

Steampunk 2 is a reasonably new site devoted to “Victorian Adventurers in a Past that Wasn’t.”

Sarah O’Donoghue’s Steampunk Central website is an impressive collection of articles, images, fiction, and links on the subject. Particularly interesting are the photo tours of Artemus Gordon’s Wanderer — the train from Wild Wild West — and the Nautilus. I will note it’s an Angelfire site, so the quantity of popup windows is prodigious.

The Steampunkopedia is Krzysztof Janicz’s indispensable compendium of all things steampunk. This is the mother of all online steampunk references. Many thanks to Krzysztof!

Steampunk Star Wars — Artist Eric Poulton has reimagined the Star Wars universe as it would appear as Victorian science fiction or steam punk. Have a look at the inspirational images.

The Steampunk Wikipedia page has a serviceable bibliography as well as links to a zillion other related topics.

Visit the Steampunk Workshop, in which intrepid inventors share some of their creative steampunk modifications and inventions. The keyboard and copper electroplated Altoids tins are my favorites.

The Steampunk Yahoo Group is a wonderful place for one to indulge a passion for gaming in an alternative Victorian age. Thanks to John Taber for sending along the link.

Beam over to Mark Toboll, Cory Gross, and Stephen Vossler’s Steam-Trek! “These are the voyages of Her Majesties Æther Ship Dauntless. Our mission, to explore romantic new worlds, seek out life, and expand civilization, to boldly go where no gentleman has gone before.” A combination of Space:1889, George Griffith’s Astronef stories, and, of course, Star Trek, the Steam-Trek website will combine PBEM role-playing and collaborative story-writing. I can’t wait for this one to take off.

Victoria Trading Co. — If it’s important to you to look the part, try the Victoria Trading Co. for your period dress and accoutrements.

For a sampler of the web’s numerous Victorian Adventure sites, try the Victorian Adventure Gaming webring. (I’m afraid I don’t know what the little green and red thumbs up and down signs mean.)

“Victorian Archetypes in a Steampunk World.” Jess Nevins, creator of the Fantastic Victoriana website, has an excellent article in today’s Pyramid Magazine [7/19/2002]. Mr. Nevins discusses a number of character archetypes culled from Victorian fiction, providing a wealth of adventure ideas in the process.

If all the little Christmas villages don’t put you in the right state of mind, has a Victorian Christmas section, with articles on period-appropriate crafts, toys, meals (in the Entertaining section), &c.

Dover makes available numerous collections of historical photographs which might interest gamers;— for example, Victorian London Street Life and the others listed below it are just a sampling.

Victorian Names — If you’re looking for an authentic name for your Victorian-era character, here a a couple of sites that can be of assistance: “Victorian Era Names circa 1840’s-1890’s Being a compilation drawn from old census and vital statistic records” offers a lengthy list of the same; and this page from the Great Dickens Christmas Fair (a kind of holiday LARP as far as I can tell) offers a list of surnames culled from the works of Charles Dickens.

Dr. Dennis Denisof’s Victorian Pulp is intended as a scholarly introduction to the lurid popular fiction of the Victorian era. The site provides some helpful links and the text of a number of penny dreadfuls.

Mark Whitley has assembled an impressive list of Victorian Roleplaying Themes. The site takes various themes from the Victorian era — High Society, Social Reform, Exploration, Weird Science — and collects links to literary and historical resources that the game master will find of use. If you move back one level in the site, you come to Mr. Whitley’s Victorian GURPS site, which provides more useful information, including a plethora of adventures and adventure seeds that could be adapted for TI. [Suggested by Ann Dupuis.]

The helpful folks on the Miniature Page posted these suggestions towards a Victorian Science Fiction reading list.

Here is a digitized collection of Victorian Stereoscopic photographs.

The Central Nexus presents a GURPS version of a campaign idea I‘ve long been considering: Victorian Super Heroes.

Victorian Web — A recommended source for matters Victorian.

Today we have a simple compendium of Victorian Web Sites, the depths of which, I imagine, will take some time to plumb.

The Victorian Women Writers Project is an online source for texts by Victorian women authors, notable and obscure.

Virtual Victoriana — I know nothing about the technology, but apparently one can purchase a virtual representation of a Victorian street, presumably for including in video games, I would imagine, if you happen to be a video game designer….