These pages are devoted to providing resources for, and information about, my PBEM 1930s roleplaying campaign, in pursuit of the most villainous evil mastermind of them all, the Diabolical Doktor Depravo.
The World of Depravo
The campaign is set in the world of the mid-thirties, (Note: not the real one - I can't be bothered doing that much research. So it's the world of the thirties that I remember from old books and movies and stuff like that) and while the players (and villains, of course) will have access to Astounding Scientific Devices with lots of dials and big switches which hum a lot and give off impressive electrical discharges, the wireless is about as technological as Joe Public is going to get. The worst of the Depression is over, the Great War is comfortably far behind, and (apart from those durned ructions over in Europe, will they never learn) things are starting to look pretty optimistic.
Everyone wears hats, men wear suits with baggy trousers, and everyone smokes because not only is it indescribably cool, but it's also good for you (clears out the mucus, you see, with all that early-morning coughing). Formal evening-wear means tie-&-tails for the guys, and evening gloves-&-gowns for the dames. Movies are all glamorous and in black-&-white, and most people go to at least one a week, though the prime source of information and entertainment is the radio. Howard Hughes hasn't gone completely loopy yet, there are still plenty of biplanes buzzing around (though speedy new monoplanes like the DC3 are definitely the coming thing) and great airships ply the Atlantic. International travel is pretty expensive, and generally means a long sea voyage. Long-distance travel within the States is generally by train; only the very well-off habitually travel by aeroplane. All American policemen are Irish, even the Polish ones, and all the British police walk about twirling their truncheons and saying things like "'Ello 'ello 'ello, what's all this 'ere then?".
Heroes of the time knew in their hearts that the Punch was a more manly means of expression than any cowardly old gun, but if you must have a gun, (and let's face it, the chance that your average roleplayer won't want as many Big Guns as s/he can carry is pretty gosh-darned slim), the most appropriate sorts in genre terms are, for the Americans, the trusty 1911 Colt .45 automatic and the Chicago Piano (that's a tommy-gun for the ignorant among you), and for the British, the trusty Webley .455 Service revolver and a 477 Express elephant gun.
Character Design Considerations
Beginning characters are built on 75 pts plus up to 75pts in Character Disadvantages. All characters must take the Normal Characteristics Maxima disadvantage, since this is not a superhero game. Unfortunately, you don't get any points for the disadvantage. Tough luck. Bear in mind that the Age disadvantage affects the cut-off points for normal characteristics.
The pulp fiction of the era was not without its dark, brooding heroes by any means the Shadow was a prime example. But regardless of any Inner Torment, the good guys just didn't go around wantonly blowing villains (or anyone else) to kingdom come.
All of the players must be Heros, and that means no Collateral-Damage-Man types. You do have to defend the weak and helpless from harm, and you do have to be Good Guys. Try to remember that, when somebody (not pointing any fingers here) decides that it would all be so much easier just to bomb an entire island flat and let God sort out the bad guys from the good. It also means you say things like "You'll be going up the river for a good long stretch for this, Doc!" during the victory denouement, rather than "Blechh! Did anyone bring the extra crate of body-bags?" A Code Against Killing is definitely appropriate, though not compulsory, for this campaign.
I would recommend that the players undergo a certain amount of consultation amongst yourselves during the creation process to avoid ending up with a totally mismatched, unplayable party. Also, try to remember that you're all supposedly friends and on the same side. Even if you're not, just pretend. Please don't start killing each other without good reason. I have enough problems holding a campaign together without having to accommodate internecine carnage.