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[Setting Riff] Modern Pulp

Steve Hickey

Steve Hickey
Validated User
I've been watching videos of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and I've realised the thing I love about them is how they (deliberately) make the modern world feel like the 1930s pulp of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

My question to you: What are the places, people and threats of 2011 that have a modern-pulp feel? (And feel free to point out any other threads if this has been covered before.

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Some of my ideas

- tribal civil wars in Papua New Guinea
- the Camorra mafia in Naples
- African warlords
- pirates off the coasts of Somalia and Indonesia
- "forbidden" science like genetic engineering (to create insects with spy cameras wired into their brains - video of TED.com presentation)


Registered User
Validated User
If you're looking for interesting places, there's Sea Launch and its decommissioned relative, the Broglio Space Centre. And of course there's the old standbye abandoned soviet sub pens. Plenty of room for nefarious events there.


Back near the start of the Iraq war, I seem to remember some threads about extrapolating the looting of Baghdad's International Museum of Iraq into archeological MacGuffin fodder. Lost treasures are a staple of pulp, whether the items themselves have some unexplainable power or if they're just, you know, treasure.

The Rundown is an awesome movie and takes place in the Brazilian jungle, where a warlord has carved out a tyrannical gold-mining kingdom from the local villages. There's a lost treasure and jungles and gunfights and the Rock fights Ernie Reyes, Jr, who was also a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Donatello, I think).

The video game Far Cry is pretty pulpy: Boat captain (and ex-something badass or another) gets stranded on a jungle island filled with mercenaries hired to protect an evil genius and his experiments making mutant abominations.


Registered User
Validated User
large swathes of South America would be ripe for modern pulp.

terrifying in real life though.


Registered User
Validated User
Pretty much all of North Korea seems like pulp villainy, right down to its implied racism.



Retired User
I run a decent amount of modern pulp, and honestly the sorts of things that worked then work today:

Lost treasures ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber_room )
Unexplained mysteries ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hum )
Fearsome monsters ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chupacabra )
Abandoned places ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amchitka )

In fact, the last one I used (with significant artistic license) as the setting of a schlocky pulp-horror game last Gen Con. And it doesn't take too much digging to find plenty of film/novel examples of modern pulp. Tomb Raider, of course, The Librarian trilogy, The Relic, Sahara, National Treasure, Jurassic Park (haven't seen it yet, but Terra Nova)... the difference is more in the attitude, different stock characters, and enemies (corporate beauracrats vs. Nazis).


New member
Well, there's always a bit in the future, around Next Tuesday, when global warming starts melting the polar caps enough for there to be trade routes opening up and certainly more than a few newly discovered Great Old Ones floating around, and other lesser nasties of course.


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
For more pulp like heroes.... http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?594397-Life-and-Society-in-an-Action-Universe

The Thriller Novel and Action Films are the cultural descendents of The Pulp Story/Movie. (Yes there were movies that were basically pulp stories on film). So you might want to check these... and see where they are gonig and what they are doing.



Steve Hickey

Steve Hickey
Validated User
That chupacabra link is great. Reminds me of io9's recent Cryptid Summer series (offering a $2000 bounty for photos of scientifically unrecognised, possibly legendary animals).

@Iriah: could you tell me a little more about why South America would be so good for modern pulp?

Sea Launch and Broglio seem like amazing places for villains to use.
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