Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dieselpunk Manifesto Episode Three

In strip 21 Buck and Wilma are making their way in a leisurely manner over the former farmlands of Ohio when Wilma twists her ankle and can go no further. I will give her the benefit of the doubt since the exact nature of her injury is not described and I doubt a mere sprain would stop her, Buck makes like a he-man and carries her (and her jump belt) to the Columbus Org.

The sentry challenges them and is revealed to be -Killer Kane. the weapon Kane carries looks like a Bren gun with a circular magazine and it might be the long sought after rocket rifle! He also has a metal helmet with a banded metal visor and frankly looks pretty bitching. While Wilma is mending Kane tells Buck to beat it and when Buck gives him the bird, Kane challenges him to a duel!

Yes the Columbus Org has duels and a formal code for them. Seconds are required and appointed by the Org for strangers. Buck's second is a woman soldier named Gilda (who bears a ceremonial baton). The duel is to be to unconsciousness or death. Each participant has their choice of weapons though both take melee weapons. That may be a restriction to make sure both duelists are serious.

Buck chooses a WW I era rifle with a bayonet. Kane takes a bizarre weapon he designed himself which looks like a shish kebab made with a spiked mace and a couple boar spears.

The strip said Rogers served in the Great War in the Air Corps and I'm going to hazard a guess that  transferred there from the infantry because he knew his way around a rifle and bayonet because he gives Kane point and rifle butt in rapid succession and soon has him seeing stars. He wins!

Of course he does. The strip is called 'Buck Rogers.' You always win in your own strip or nearly so. This is a familiar trope of the series. Apparently your 25th century types aren't as handy with their hands or melee weapons.

Quick everyone roll up 20th century characters! You know it would play out that way in a game. The mining industry would soon be destroyed by people causing cave ins to induce suspended animation. This of course weakened the American military industrial complex and left us easy pickings for the Mongols (though their disintegrators must have helped a little).

Wilma arrives in time to see Buck fist pumping over a horizontal Kane. She assumes Buck and Gilda are an item and suffers a nervous collapse. Gilda wants to know why Buck cals all the pretty girls 'sister'?

I'm not writing the stuff. Complain to the Dille Family and while you're there please ask them to reissue the XXVc game and The Buck Rogers Adventure Game!

Meanwhile the Han Viceroy of Chicago learns through a spy in the Columbus Org that Wilma is there and sends a raiding party to abduct her for the Emperor's harem and gain favor.

Hey it's the pulp era. I'm going to stop apologizing for this stuff now.

The Han land under cover of night. One of the curious omissions of the technology in this world is night vision devices. Bearing a huge gas projector the Han knock out the sentries and kidnap Wilma. Buck pursues but fails to stop them.

While we're at it look at this freaking gas gun. It looks like there's enough to gas everyone in Ohio.

Here they manage to penetrate the defense of an Org and merely leave after grabbing the woman they're after. Also wearing a jump belt makes you very easy to kidnap! I mean these guys manage to outrun Rogers carrying a woman! Either Wilma has her jump belt or they must all try out for track. Seriously though after they got Wilma there was nothing stopping them from turning a disintegrator on Columbus and wiping out the whole Org. As villains they suck.

Wilma manages to get a message off on her radio and tells the Americans the Han are heading Northwest to Vancouver. Buck asks the Columbus Org to mount a pursuit and is turned down so he steals the Org's only biplane, a one man scout.

The plane's engine soon quits and Buck lands in spite of the forest below. A couple of Canadian Org men find him and get the plane up and running for him and even give him a heads up on the ship he was seeking. It's apparently on a course for San Francisco or Los Angeles.

Apparently the Han are as bad at geography as Wilma, going through Canada to get to the West Coast! Buck figures they're making their way to L.A. and the Emperor! He tears out in the plane and ... hits rough weather. A control wire snaps and he gets thrown from the plane to his death!

Oh wait, inertron. He lights in the desert and starts walking/jumping with no food or water. Wilma meanwhile is subjected to the indignities of the Emperor's court. that is she gets a bath, beautiful clothes and three squares, all the while screaming how much she despises the Emperor and threatening suicide/homicide. Nevertheless Barla Ka Nizra, the toadie in charge of the Emperor's ladies, decides to present her, in a masterful show of pulp villain denial!

The Emperor is a sort of go with the flow kind of despot. He tells his henchmen to watch Wilma and if she hasn't changed her mind about a life of luxury in ten days to wipe her memories! Yes things look dire as strip 30 comes to a close!

Wiping a person's memories is an incredible technology for a pulp villain to obtain. Instead of disintegrating those wild Americans, the Han could gas them, wipe their minds and have a ready pool of day workers. Of course the Airlords already automated their entire society so disintegrators save them a lot of food bills for servitors.

Then again, Buck and Wilma encounter a bunch of people of mixed race (Wilma has a more racist term for them) who are apparently shunned by everyone. These individuals live in the ruins and forests largely by stealing and murdering whoever falls into their hands. It makes you wonder just what the Han were up to. Did they have brainwashed Americans in their cities. Was there some other interaction between the two, more than just a drunken dictator with exotic tastes. those gys probably weren't all his offspring.

These are the pulps and they frequently created villains and goons from stereotypes. Arm:2419 had none of this socializing. In fact a major plot point of the book was using new tactics to wipe out an Org that was in collusion with the Han. If you're setting up a game using this setting though a character of mixed race might be an excellent spy, having at least some knowledge of the Airlords' language and customs (before they grew up and weren't cute and thrown out to die in the wilds).

And what of the spy in Columbus Org? Hmmm.

While I'm at this, how are you enjoying these 'episodes'? If none of you are biting I want to know before I write another 170 episodes. I'll switch to some other topic I can blather about.

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