Sunday, December 13, 2020

Introductory Adventures for Tabloid! (spoilers)

Art by Newton H.Ewell


Interspersed throughout the Tabloid! rulebook are ersatz articles written by some TSR regulars.  “The articles are the 'background' of the TABLOID! world,” we are told.  Furthermore, the rules explain:  “Use the articles as inspiration for your own adventures – they are there to give you ideas.”  The list of articles follows:

Karen S. Boomgarden

  • Chainsaw Heals Injured Auras
  • Renowned Scientist Claims Atlanteans Made Crop Circles
  • Rosicrucians Contacted Aliens! Ancient Link Established by Scientist’s Hoax!
  • Stonehenge Mystery Creator FOUND!
  • Aliens Prefer College Grads!
  • Startling Research Reveals Aliens Built Ark! Holy Ark of the Covenant Designed by Visitors from Beyond; New Theory Links Ask to Coso Geode, Nazca Lines and Great Pyramids
  • Knights of the Crap Tables The King Part of the Secret Cult!
  • France: UFO Landing Fields?

 Anne Brown

  • Shocking Secret Revealed! Docs Turn Backs on Human Torches! Dozens of People Up In Smoke and No One Seems to Care!

 Jeff Grubb

  • Suppressed Manuscript Reveals Shakespeare Was a Woman!
  • Hitler’s Brain-Powered Death Machine
  • Mad Millionaire Wants to Build Dinosaur Park in Congo
  • Moon Flag for Sale Minnesota Farmer Hosts World’s Oddest Auction

Roger E. Moore

  • The Monster LIVES! Frankenstein’s Creation Discovered at North Pole; Escapes Vowing Vengeance Against Hapless Humanity
  • Hitler’s Terror Children Cannibal Nazi Vampire Dwarfs Turn Amazon Into Green Hell; Line Dancing, NAFTA Encouraged by Fourth Reich
  • Ghost Riders Plague Information Superhighway! Spirits Take a Grave View of Cable Placement; “Dead Ends” on the Information Superhighway!
  • Russians Battled Evil Atomic Space Aliens 30 Years Ago! American Space A-Bomb Tests Created Van Allen Horrors; Cosmonauts, Rockets Attacked By Ruthless Radiation Monsters, Soviets Retaliate With Doomsday Device
  • The Triangle of Terror Aliens, Atlanteans Battle for Captives off Bermuda Coast!
  • Giant Piranha “Not a Problem” Says Governor Boaters and fishermen protest handling “of nature gone mad” in Wisconsin lakes & rivers; giant beavers here, too

(The 'piranha' article quotes a resident of Lake Geneva and references Gamma Lake.  Said lake receives run-off from a nearby nuclear power plant, thus mutating its denizens.)

The articles are one or two pages each, except Moore's 'Russians' article (3 pages) and Brown's article on spontaneous human combustion (4 pages).  The headlines tend to take up more than one-half page each.  In all, the articles account for 20% of the book's page count.  A handful of articles would have been more than sufficient; perhaps a sidebar detailing apparent cases of spontaneous human combustion and another with a list of planes and ships that disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle.

“The Wedding of the Year” is “the first of two funtabulous, fully authorized and mostly realized TABLOID! adventures designed specifically to get your TABLOID! campaign to a running start.”  In this adventure, “your favorite actress” marries a “crime boss heir.”  The player characters are assigned to obtain photographs of this private event.  There are two days before the wedding and most of the six page adventure is a discussion of obstacles the characters face and the results of potential strategies the players may attempt.

The second adventure, “Faux Pas,” is a more scripted affair.  It asks the question,  “What's buried in Grant's tomb?” – a play on the riddle “Who's buried in Grant's tomb?”  The basis of this adventure is that a Canadian professor, Anton Sacka-Weejie, has announced that “Ulysses S. Grant was really a space alien!”  The player characters are required to introduce the professor in person.  This entails traveling to Yellowknife.  The author dedicates a few paragraphs describing how Canadians talk and admitting his ignorance about Yellowknife.  The player characters encounter a wendigo which, for purposes of this adventure, is an alien being.  “In another adventure,” we learn, “the wendigo might be something else, depending upon the conspiracy involved.”

Since the player characters only have a P.O. Box address for the professor, “they must go to the post office and bribe some mail clerk into looking the address up.”  Suggested complications include:  (1) The Canadian Postal Service is on strike – again, (2) Ultra-Patriot is working the desk today, and (3) The entire staff is Quebecois.

Eventually, once the player characters find the professor, he relates that...

[T]here is an evil conspiracy of ancient proportions that has been working for centuries to control humanity for its own evil ends.  According to him, some time in the 1800's THEY perfected the secrets of cloning and behavioral conditioning.  This allowed THEM to clone world leaders and then condition those clones into absolute loyalty to THEIR conspiracy.

The professor knows this because alien beings told him so.  These same aliens “taught THEM the secrets of cloning a long time ago” without realizing “THEY would use these secrets to evil ends.”  Said aliens show up and confirm this information.  We learn, “Grant was really an alien, planted by the good guys to try to undo some of the damage caused by THEIR clones...”  However, the good aliens “don't want their involvement known!”

No adventure is complete until the players submit the story.  To facilitate this, the game provides an “Instant Copy Generator,” a Mad Libs type template (shown below).  “No thought required,” the book assures us.



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