Chapter One

A Momentous Meeting

It all began with Burroughs…

7TV: Pulp started out as a conversation about Edgar Rice Burroughs at the UK Games Expo in June 2017. Given Burroughs’ significance to pulp writing and popular fiction, film and tv in general, the development of 7TV: Pulp seems inevitable in hindsight.

Karl Perrotton, owner of Crooked Dice Games Design Studio, and Peter Wright, an academic and games writer from Edge Hill University in northwest England, met on Crooked Dice’s Expo stand and almost immediately found they had a mutual interest in 7TV, Burroughs and all things pulp.

Crooked Dice attending the UK Games Expo

Karl had planned a 7TV pulp supplement as far back as 2012 with a proposal for 7c Adventures: Two-fisted Wargaming in the Thrilling World of Pulp and had revisited the idea in May 2016 with a Pulp Programme Guide. Peter had been a long-term fan of pulp writers including Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Burroughs and their contemporaries. He had written academically on Burroughs and been part of the writing team for Modiphius’ John Carter of Mars roleplaying game as well as contributing to Cubicle 7s Cthulhu Britannica.

Their conversation ran through Burroughs’ Tarzan novels, the Martian books, the Amicus adaptations of the 1970s, especially Kevin Connor’s The Land that Time Forgot (1975) and At the Earth’s Core (1976), and Stanton’s more recent John Carter movie (2012). Between customers and enquiries, Karl and Peter decided to try out a Burroughs pastiche for 7TV: a programme guide for what later became known as The Terranauts.

The Terranauts: An Idea that Went Somewhere Else

After the expo, Karl sent Peter his work on 7c Adventures and the Pulp Programme Guide and Peter began work on the supplement. By the end of July, a basic outline of the 7TV series had taken shape. It was framed as fictional 7TV producer Sidney Barron’s first foray into retro-pulp telefantasy in the 1970s.

The premise was straightforward: a group of adventures boarded a mechanical mole that drilled into the hollow earth. There they made allies and fought new enemies, battling degenerate Atlanteans, the sinister agents and shocktroopers of the Thule Society and ghastly ophidians. Their exploits would be complicated further by deadly Creepers, Cultists, Spawn and other, terrestrial horrors. Four seasons of six episodes were planned to form a loose campaign that encouraged players to develop both skirmishes and settings. 72 profiles were sketched-out, with an additional 72 card Exploration deck intended to bring a different challenge to games of 7TV.

So…What Happened?

The Terranauts fell victim to its own success. Karl and Peter enjoyed themselves so much conceiving the programme guide, the archetypes and the situations, they began to think that a pulp edition of 7TV might be a better idea – but why?

See “Out of the Past”, Chapter Two of the 7TV: Pulp Design Blog.