Champions of Pulp
Magic and horror in the campaign world
When you read a lot of Pulp stories you often get a glimpse of the occult world, where you have either real or faked magical influences in some cases could have Earth shaking consequences if Mankind as a whole was aware of them. So, why is it that Magic seldom does, in fact, change the world in the Pulp stories. Well, like comics today, Pulp stories are supposed to reflect our world, only in a more idealized way (i.e. The Great Depression is almost never noticeable in Pulp stories.) and hence changes, if any, are often temporary. But why aren’t these elements transforming the planet in this particular game? I will endeavor to come up with some justifications for that reason.
Most “magic” is fake. Now please don’t think that the heroes are never going to run into real magical threats. However, the group could run into their fair share of fake criminal mediums, evil cults who think they are worshiping some elder being, and the like. The world is full of gullible people and those who wish to exploit them.
Also, there are ways to simulate magical effects by employing certain mental techniques or other means, such as using certain chemicals to put someone in a trance like state to make others think they are a zombie, or hypnotic suggestion rather than outright mind control. And bear in mind there might be scientific means to achieve these ends as well; in my table top Pulp game the wicked Karkas Khan used specially rigged lights to hypnotize entire audiences to turn them into his murderous patsies, willing to give up their fortunes to him.
The reality is, true Magic is comparatively rare.
Magical beings don’t like publicity. The Elder horror that lurks behind the scenes is careful about the minions it chooses as it’s slaves, vampires shun the light, and immortal beings would much rather not have their nature known for fear of people hounding them for the secrets to their longevity. Those in the magical realm realize they are greatly out-numbered and regardless of how they feel about “mere mortals” they are aware they are always at a disadvantage and must tread carefully…for now…
Magical traces are hard to find. It seems that those beings of a magical nature possess bodies that quickly decompose upon their deaths, it is as if once their energies no longer inhabit their corporeal forms the mundane flesh rots away at an astonishing rate. This is why you do not see stuffed vampires or werewolf skulls adorning some mystical big game hunter’s hall.
And some creatures do not photograph or film well at all; something about them causes film to become ruined, or they do not show up at all. And often times “proof” via photographs or film is dismissed as a hoax, like the Arthur Conan Doyle faerie photographs.
People don’t want to believe. Let’s face it, if you were aware vampires were real how comfortable would you be going out at night? If werewolves existed could you ever leave your home on the night of a full moon without feeling some trepidation? Could you possibly ever live a normal life with the knowledge Lovecraft’s horrific creations might still exist on Earth, or be lurking in space? Insanity or suicide are the only logical alternatives. So people remain blissfully ignorant of the potential horrors lurking in the shadows.