I seem to be doing a lot of reviews lately…  I guess that’s what happens when I get offered review copies.  Check back here on Friday morning around 8pm EST for my review of Secrets of Pact Magic for Atomic Array.  In the mean time, I offer some quick thoughts on Thrilling Tales, a pulp adaptation for the Savage Worlds rules set from Adamant Entertainment.

I picked up Thrilling Tales today for the low price of $1.  That’s $23.95 off the regular price, and it was a major steal.  $24.95 would ordinarily be far more than I’d be willing to pay for a PDF, so I have to question Adamant’s pricing scheme, but that’s beside the point.  I highly recommend checking it out while it’s still on sale.

So, on to the actual document.  Production values rate an A+, especially their use of pictures.  Plenty of rule books (especially for modern games) list dozens of weapons, but Thrilling Tales actually includes pictures of every gun, car, and aircraft described in the Equipment section.  Way to go, guys.  It should be a requirement for every game manual.

There isn’t really a system to discuss, since this version of Thrilling Tales uses the generic Savage Worlds rules (I also bought the d20 Modern omnibus version for $1).  It’s nice that they don’t waste a lot of time explaining stuff in the core rules and instead spend the pages on a timeline of the 1930s that focuses on events relevant to pulp games, offers some extra guns and cars, and details a bunch of character concepts and sample villains.  Finally, Thrilling Tales closes with a customized character sheet and a serialized plot point campaign.

I’d say Thrilling Tales gets the tone spot on.  In many ways it’s similar to Two-Fisted Tales, a similar pulp game from Precis Intermedia.  Both offer great character concepts and absolutely wonderful art, but they differ greatly in terms of system.  I haven’t had time to playtest either game, but Thrilling Tales starts with a simple advantage due to the fact that I know the rules for SW already.  That’s not really fair to Two-Fisted Tales, but I promise to try them both out before making any kind of a judgment about superiority!

Back to Thrilling Tales…  I really appreciate their use of stereotypes and breakdown of pulp into the various genres (like crime fighting and horror) that together formed the backbone of the pulp stories back in the day.  While recommending that characters play up stereotypes, they also recognize that many of the stereotypes from the original pulps are now considered very politically incorrect (not to mention wrong and hurtful).  While it’s not really important to gameplay, it’s nice to see designers taking the time to be socially responsible.

My favorite thing about rulebooks is probably all of the characters and organizations that they give me to play with.  In that regard Thrilling Tales also shines.  It offers a few example groups of villains, as well as individual NPCs and ways to center a campaign around them.  These examples are staples of pulp stories, and blend a bit of the very real (Nazis, anyone?) with a bit of the weird (Oriental* mysticism).  The plot point serial also looks great, but I’ll wait to pass final judgment on that until I’ve actually played it.

I can’t wait to give Thrilling Tales a playtest with my gaming group at school.  Pulp is one of my favorite modes of story telling, and I’d like to see how it plays out in Savage Worlds.  I highly recommend checking it out at RPGNow and suggest that you consider dropping a dollar on it.  It’ll be worth the price, I promise.

*Oriental is considered offensive by many people and I apologize if you (the reader) are among them.  I am using it for consistency and because I’m referencing Thrilling Tales.