Pulp World Touchstones


Characters, Events, Organizations and Situations in the Pulp World

copyright 2016 James J. Kinley

Blue Monks/Order of the Burning Skulls/Monks of the Blue Flame

  • Ancient secretive order of monks. What do they want? Who knows?
  • Hidden cavern cities in the mountains of Anatolia and Eastern Europe
  • Esoteric mental practices. Strange arts of thought. Strange methods of the mind and body.
  • When using their esoteric abilities their heads are haloed in a blue flame which reveals the skull underneath the skin.
  • Purposes of their order are unknown. Sometimes they’re with the “good guys” sometimes with the “bad guys”. Sometimes both.
  • Sure they stockpile mystical artifacts but sometimes they just destroy them or use them for their own inscrutable ends. What the hell…?
  • Robes in dark colors like the shifting shadows in a cave lit only by a torch. Usual a bar or stripe or dash of the color blue, in the exact shade of the mystic blue flame somewhere on their clothing.
  • A skull is secured in a niche in a cathedral cavern in the heart of a mountain.  The skull flames relentlessly.


Briny Maiden


  • The House Over the Shifting Waters
  • Run by the Changing Man

Character: Luck Gibson

  • Weathered, grinning world traveling adventurer. Master of languages and ex-trapeze artist. Started knocking about the world at a young age, has turned his hands to many jobs and many activities. Frequently wears a battered jacket and a necktie. Says the necktie makes him look professional. Also he can get into any restaurant.
  • Worked in the circus as a boy. Born in the American Southwest.
  • Involved when a beautiful assassin became ruler of the castle city of Morevia. See Luck Gibson and the Beautiful Death.
  • Luck Gibson and the Phantom Airship
  • Luck Gibson and the Burning Ocean
  • Luck Gibson and the Demon of the Heights


Character: Mr. Now

  • Strange horror space fantasy. Genius Earth boy creates a device that allows him to trick his way into the cosmic world of the multiverse.
  • Travels from planet to planet, dimension to dimension. Has suffered horribly and enjoyed glorious triumph. His experiences have changed him and he’s not entirely human any longer. Alien bacteria has infected his system and when he finally recovered after much agony he is immune to most diseases. Exposed to alien DNA which caused him to grow some unusual organs. Can eat more things and withstand environmental extremes that normal humans could not.
  • His mind is distant, existential and strange. Has his own motivations which are largely unclear. Lives for new experiences and the dictates of his ego.
  • The Device is a large glowing crystalline craft shaped like a human skull. Nine meters tall with black spirals whirling on its glowing opalescent skin. While it merely appears to be the sad affectation of a death obsessed space traveler it is, in a very real way, Mr. Now’s own skull. Super science! Sympathetic Science that allows Now to remotely control and communicate with the Device. With the power of his mind!
  • Tall, lean, pale skinned. Soft, slate grey hair the color of some cat’s fur. Dark glittering eyes.
  • The Device doesn’t warp space or anything like that. It does what it wants because it’s too weird and smart for the universe to do anything about it, and remember, it’s Now’s skull. And the universe, which is to say, Everything, is a bit concerned about that. Everything- that is the breath in your lungs and the tea in your cup. Every atom and element is wondering what’s the deal with this guy? Everything will test him, treat with him and try to suss him out but eventually Everything will want to do something about him. The closest thing to the Elder Gods, big and weird and very unhuman. And it will all come down to the Briny Maiden.
  • Has recurring nemesis: The Bottled Horror. Terrifying pan-dimensional entity committed to the suffering of others. The Horror passed through Now’s mind and learned a lot about him telepathically. Not necessarily facts but images and emotional content. The Horror knows about Earth.
  • Brings the Worn intergalactic union to its knees with a poem.

The Death Dirge of the Hurang

“The skull-shaped ship hovered above the ground for a moment and then, light as a kitten settled to the planet’s surface. The grill at the object’s base ramped open and a tall figure emerged. A  human man, so far away from his home planet, stood in the soft glow of his strange ship. He was the weird traveler known as Mr. Now come to this planet in fire and screaming to bring an ancient and powerful intergalactic civilization to its knees.”


Character: Sarano Clee

Journalist, traveler, satirist.

Born of a poor family in the American South.

Mark Twain in a pulp world. Not much of a fighter. Prefers flight to physical confrontation but has an insatiable curiosity and a sometimes surprising moral courage considering his skeptical existentialism.  His curiosity and desire for experience get him into trouble.

  • Writes the Narrative of the Restless Dead
  • Has great difficulty keeping his wives alive. Goes through more spouses than Sonny Crockett.
  • Second wife disappears into the Chasm of the Screaming Mists. Clee refuses to marry for a long time but when he finally does, complications ensue.
  • Has a predilection for scarves.
  • Moustaches? Sometimes.
  • He’s an older guy. Longish white hair.  He’s been around the block more than a few times. Hard to trick, trap or con him. He’s made his mistakes and knows how people are.
  • Not a two fisted battler. Good at hitting people over the head from behind.
  • Enjoys good food and drink. Prefers comfortable beds and will travel first class when the chips are in or his publisher is picking up the tab.
  • Has written entries for the Encyclopedia of Unreliable Information


Sarano Clee in:

  • The Howling Church House
  • Blackbird Chorus
  • Hidden Mirror

“I’d been warned time and again not to come to Mirenburg.  And then warned, if I was damn fool enough to come to Mirenburg, to  never, ever, whatever I do, take a room at the Hotel Husari.  And then I was told that if I was damn fool enough to come to Mirenburg, and suicidally idiotic enough to take a room at the Hotel Husari, to not, at the cost of my own sweet life, my very soul and sanity, and the sanctity of my own fashionable necktie to not, under any circumstances, ever allow the clerk at the Hotel Husari to give me room number 318.  This is why I found myself rummaging through my pockets to find currency enough to tip the bellhop for installing me into room 318 of the Hotel Husari, Mirenburg.”



Character: Scholar of Secrets.  

Works for The Museum. Archive of the strange, esoteric and fantastic.

“So much of what I’m interested falls outside of the realms of everyday jurisprudence –indeed outside the realms of everyday reality”


  • Works for mysterious archive/museum that collects and studies esoteric items/events. Subjects all have a lyrical or terrifying quality.
  • He is short and ugly. Unruly dark hair. Clothes are good quality but old and worn. Battered tweeds and wrinkled trousers.
  • Short but thick bodied. Very, very strong.
  • Driven by the lust to learn more and more esoteric information. Knowing what others don’t know gives him a thrill.  “Uncommon knowledge”. Loves strange, unknown facts and ideas.  Savors them as a gourmand savors a rich meal or fine wine.
  • Stakes out the dockland to find out about sailors smuggling recipes written on their backs.
  • The words of an epic tale are being written word by word on a petal of a black flower smuggled on one of the few remaining camel trains through the Sahara. Each year, one camel train, one flower, one word. This transport has been happening for centuries and the story is near completion.
  • The susurrus of the waves on a certain shore at a particular time whisper the secret names of the ghosts who work as postmen.
  • Goes to the high Andes to search out Condors that, seemingly by chance, collect fossils and assemble them into dinosaur skeletons in their nests.
  • Secret sex parties in Nevada where rich people use unknown machines to swap body parts. Not merely genitalia but digits, limbs and facial features.





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