Pulp Hero Ground Rules

For reason's known only to myself and the imp that sits on my shoulder while I type this nonsense, I've opted to choose the middle of 1934 as the start time for the campaign.

Ground rules. Like another popular point-based role playing game system that will remain nameless, The Hero System has a multitude of rules options that are not necessarily appropriate for all campaigns. Below is my ground rules sheet for this campaign.


Justice, Inc. Campaign Ground Rules Sheet

Campaign Tone


Good and Evil are mostly clear-cut, very few shades of gray.


Varies wildly from cinematic to graphic.


The god guys are expected to win (this doesn't mean, however, that blatant foolishness will be rewarded).


In theory, mostly serious. In practice, I have difficulty maintaining a completely serious tone for an extended period of time.


Some long stories and some episodic ones; campaign continuity will build upon itself (meaning that events from early adventures can have a distinct effect on subsequent events).

Physical World Description

This is the world as seen through the filter of the Pulp publications of the mid 1930'. It is the "real" world in that the Great Depression is in effect, organized crime is a noticeable part of life, and the threat of another world war looms large. In addition, secret conspiracies really exists, as do the odd occult menace, "weird science", lost worlds, and maybe even alien schemes. Quite often, the campaign world will diverge from current scientific theory (or maybe even fact); examples from prominent pulps that may or may not be part of the campaign world (but provide a god example of what I'm talking about) include the world being hollow and Venus being a cloud-covered jungle instead of an acidic hellhole. If the campaign continues long enough, the PCs may even get the chance to visit places truly unheard of.

Character Building Guidelines

Many currently-available Hero System Sourcebooks contain a wealth of information that can be useful in this campaign. Rather than reproduce entire tables or sections however, I will simply refer to page references in the following works: Justice, Inc.; Horror; Golden Age Champions; Dark Champions; Hero System Almanac 1; & Hero System Almanac 2. If you do not have these books and wish to read the sections referenced I can make these books available to you.

Starting Points for Pcs

75 Points plus disadvantages

Maximum allowed points from any disadvantage category

25 Points

Average expected points from disadvantages

75 Points

Character automatically have Characteristic Maxima disadvantage implied at no point value.

Characters can carry normal tech level equipment at no point cost.

All powers require GM approval.

Campaign Rules

Combat uses hit locations.

Knockdown rules used.

Long-term endurance rules rarely used (only used when GM feels they are applicable).

Limited "push" available (on a successful EGO roll character may push for '5 + amount EGO roll made', up to a total of 10 points)


Most skills are appropriate for the Pulp Campaign. However, the following skills deserve some comment. Also, the modified Base Times for skills chart (AC #23) will be used as it represents a slightly more realistic usage of many of the Hero System non-combat skills.


Very useful. More useful in this type of game than in the more typical genres.


Given the cumbersome state of electronics gear, electronic bugs will probably be about the size of a handheld microphone, with wires that can be traced to a listening post or transmitter. Alternatively, the Bugging skill can be bought as Eavesdropping, which enables the PC to find the best possible place to overhear a conversation without being noticed; of course, Hearing Perception rolls and Stealth or Concealment will still be needed to actually listen and not be seen.

Computer Programming

Not available.


Knowledge Skill: Makeup Artists would be a good complimentary skill for this skill.


The Language Similarity Table will be used.

Martial Arts

The list below covers how common the Martial Arts styles from the basic Hero rules would be in the campaign setting. (Use of Martial Arts styles from Ninja Hero and The Ultimate Martial Artists subject to GM approval.)

  • Boxing, Fencing, Football, & Wrestling are commonly available.

  • Savate is known mainly in France. Is available to any PC who background can justify it.

  • Dirty Infighting is available, but mostly limited to thugs and hoodlums; most Pcs would not know it unless they have a "mean streets" background.

  • Classic Comic Book / Generic Martial Arts is not a style and would not be appropriate as Martial Arts in general are not common enough to the genre to justify a generic version.

  • Pro Wrestling (as opposed to real wrestling) is in its infancy, and would be practically unheard of.

  • All other styles would require something special in the character's background to justify as they are all of the "mysterious Oriental fighting techniques" that haven't penetrated strongly into Western culture yet (most people haven't even heard of most Oriental fighting styles).

Security System

Mostly consisted of various kinds of locks; electronic alarms are limited to the very wealthy and and small number of corporate and government entities. All in all, Lockpicking is probably much more useful.

Systems Operation

Mainly applies to telephone and telegraph operators, radio operators, and (late in the period) radar and sonar operators.



Very appropriate for the time period, and can provide valuable support and information when necessary. Scientists, the police, the mayor, military officer, mob lieutenants, mystics, professors, gang members, and wealthy industrialists are just a few examples of the possible kinds of Contacts. Once play begins, however, the GM will determine what Contacts can be added to a character.


May be bought when the character is created, but should be approved by the GM. Rarely appropriate to add to a character after character has been in play.

Fringe Benefits

Most listed in basic rulebook are appropriate for the genre (expect for some that are glaringly inappropriate like Starship License). There is one that come sot mind that some players may think is appropriate but is not, and that is "License to Kill" - this one only belongs in a James Bond style cold-war espionage game.


Quite common for Pulp style games, serving a multitude of plot functions. On the down side, followers are occasionally considered "disposable". Players should supply a rough outline of the follower to the GM, who may add some campaign specific items to the follower's write-up and background.


The Wealth perk and Poor disadvantage are used in Pulp games. So, if your character's background call for him being extremely wealthy you gotta pay for if you want the benefits of wealth.


Danger Sense, Find Weakness, and Universal Translator are only available with explicit GM approval. All other talents are available at player discretion.


Power Effects are available to PCs in several ways, but are strictly controlled by the GM due to the nature of the campaign. Possible special effects that could justify Powers are Extended Skills; Psychic Powers, Mystic Abilities, and Weird Science Gadgets. If your character concept seems to require the use of Powers to build, work with the GM to define how the Powers will be bought and used.

Package Deals

The use of Package Deals (character archetype templates) is encouraged, but by no means required. I have a large assortment of genre-appropriate package deals that players may use, including (but not limited too) Archeological Explorer

Bodyguard, Ex-Military, Mystic, Occult Investigator, Police, Priest, Private Investigator, Professor, Scientist, Student, Reporter, Socialite, Writer, Inteligence Agent, Aviator, sailor, Inventor, Bounty Hunter, Doctor, Psychic, FBI Agent, Active Military, etc., etc., etc..



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