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Pulp Adventure RPG Campaign Puzzles

Pulp Adventure RPG Campaign Puzzles


This package of five unique puzzles can be incorporated directly into any pulp adventure RPG game or campaign that you are planning.  We include a brief possible back story for each puzzle (as described below) however the puzzles themselves are not locked into them.  Once you know the answers to the puzzles, you can be flexible in how you use them. Additionally, each puzzle has more than one clue to offer the players. Feel free to get creative on how you will provide those clues to the players (i.e. make they earn the pieces one at a time, provide the collection of what they need at the end of a minor quest, etc.) Because each puzzle has more than one clue to be used in order to solve the puzzles themselves, they lend themselves perfectly to perception/intution/ and other character skill attributes.  The higher the roll, the more clues you offer them.

Our Pulp Adventure RPG Campaign Puzzles Collection comes with five separate puzzles: One requiring logic, one requiring decoding, one using a map, one discerning the order of operation and a final one involving overlaying clue sheets of paper.

The five puzzles include:

Paleo Decoding:   This puzzle involves using a double transposition decoding to decipher a secret message.  A double transposition code involves translating a message into another encoded message, then taking that message and decoding it into another.  We’ve provided two specific messages based on our included possible back story.

Possible Paleo Decoding Possible back story:  Dr. Raymond Maxwell is a well known paleontologist, though a bit of a mystery in his personal life.  He’s trusted by others in his field, but no one quite understands his quirky behavior and observed disinterest in building friendships of any type.  Although friendly, few would say they were his friend.  It took even his closest acquaintances nearly a week to realize that he was missing…indeed, presumably kidnapped.  The big mystery, though, was WHY?  The only evidence the investigators had to go on was the fact that his research office was in shambles, apparently ransacked.  It was unlikely that it was due to a struggle, more likely someone was after something that Dr. Maxwell had…and when they couldn’t find it, they took Maxwell himself.  What his colleagues weren’t aware of was Dr. Maxwell had potentially located a migratory path for ancient dinosaurs.  Along this path one would find prehistoric skeletal remains of countless species of dinosaurs – a paleontologist’s and archaeologist’s dream!  For the scoundrels of the 30’s, however, it’s also a way to make a lot of money selling dinosaur bones on the black market…and where there’s a lot of money to be made, people get hurt…and often killed.  Dr. Maxwell’s kidnappers were looking for some crucial research regarding the specifics of Maxwell’s findings, but they couldn’t find it and Maxwell wasn’t going to talk.  What they didn’t know was that the clever Maxwell wrote some key pieces of information in code, disguised as small drawings of dinosaurs.  This is where the message comes in, along with the ciphers the adventurer’s will need to decode the message.

Black Market Logic:  This puzzle involves the collection of three different logical statements.  How you choose to award/give the three statements is up to you, though we provide a fun way to do so in our back story detailed below. 

Black Market Logic Possible back story:  Once Howard Carter discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 the global public’s interest was set ablaze for all things ancient, ESPECIALLY if it was made of gold.  The black market is typically dominated by unscrupulous treasure hunters searching for a big score and don’t mind destroying history along the way.  However, they didn’t always have the funding to search out these ancient relics and treasures.  This is where the gangsters came in.  Although they didn’t know the difference between a Ming Dynasty vase and their left thumb, they were learning quick that a lot of money could be made in the trade and so funded three notorious treasure hunters and black market dealers to recover three separate artifacts.  The deal was that the Chicago gangsters (take your pick for the sake of your own campaign or you can use Hammer O’Malley’s gang) funded the expeditions and supplied the anonymous buyers for an even 50/50 cut (once their expenses were reimbursed, of course.)  It’s important for the adventurers that the three priceless historical treasures are recovered and placed in a museum. As luck would have it, the local Chicago police recently picked up a Chicago thug who was in a drunken stupor, laying in a back alley.  After a few questions they realized that they had one of O’Malley’s men.  After hours of a brutal and exhausting interrogation (for everyone involved) they were able to gather a few details as to which black market dealers were hired, what they stole and where they were beaded to meet the buyers.

Willdlife or Death:  This puzzle involves providing the adventurers with a grid of letters.  The names of several animals can be found all throughout the grid in a ‘word search’ fashion.  However, this will NOT be how they discern the animals in the puzzle.  Instead they’ll use one of three different decoders that will reveal the ‘answer animal’ that they’ll need.  The decoder sheet has small squares that are to be cut out with scissors, holes such that when the sheet is placed over the grid, specific letters are revealed through the holes that spell out a specific animal.


Wildlife or Death possible back story:  For months the adventurers having been seeing the letters GHS pop up in different unusual and dark conversations.  The GHS, or Global Hunters Society, is a secret society of wildlife hunters from around the world.  Although their earlier days were mostly focused on poaching and rarer animal trophies like ivory tusks, they’ve since become more ambitious and now have their eyes set on procuring diamond mines in Africa – stealing them, if at all possible.  The continent of Africa in the 1930’s was anything but unified and that left room for the GHS to make some back room deals with any corrupt official they could bribe.  They’re latest plan involves inciting wars between the African nations as a way of spreading the governments too thin against further poaching as well as concerns over land rights over a few quasi-abandoned diamond mines that might be ripe for the taking.  In order to gather more information, though, the adventurers must infiltrate the GHS.  As a major security measure, the GHS employs an ever changing password system.  Harkening to their roots, the password is typically the name of an animal.  Before two society members talk about society business, they both say the password at the same time.  Should one fail to speak the correct one, they are instantly shot without apology. 

Chronology Kaboom:  Sometimes the adventurers will come face to face with a true Mastermind Villain – you know the type, secret laboratories, intricate criminal plans and a propensity for exotic booby traps.  It’s with this last one that you’ll likely have use for this puzzle as you’ll read in the back story.  This puzzle involves getting clues as to the order the wire connectors are to be cut to keep a mysterious looking exploding device from detonating.

Chronology Kaboom possible back story:  When Dr. Mysterio chuckles in your direction, you know it’s a bad sign.  The adventurers are tied to chairs in a circle.  In the center of that circle sits a strange, explosive device…at least that’s what it APPEARS to be.  It’s difficult to tell.  Clear canisters of blue liquid bubble on top and a thin steam emits from various brass pipes woven throughout the device.  Numerous wires connect different parts, pipes and what appear to be explosive caps.   Once freed from their bindings (we’ll let you figure out how they do that based on their own skills) they are faced with trying to figure out how to keep the bomb from exploding (as they are situated and trapped underneath a large public building.)  A basic perception roll will reveal that the device is controlled by the six colored wires they can all plainly see (yellow, white, red, black, green and blue.)  They must cut each of them, but in what order?

Fllight Over China Map Puzzle:  This puzzle involves using a key square piece of paper on a map by overlaying it on top of the map.  The adventurers will need to move the key square around until they are able to align the letters with specific cities on the map.  Once they’ve placed the key square, they’ll take note of the city that the arrow is pointing to on the key square as their ‘answer.’  We’ve provided three different key squares to use how you’d like – using all three, using just one (choosing which city would fit your campaign best, etc.)

Flight Over China possible back story:  The mysterious Orient (as it was known in the 1930s.)  Little was known of the culture and peoples of the far East for the average Westerner which gave the whole region of the planet an air of exoticness and wonder for many.  When it was learned that the nefarious Li Quan Zhou was secretly building an airplane landing strip just outside of Shanghai it raised many questions – mostly because nobody thought the Eastern crime lord had any airplanes to speak of!  Or did he?  Point in fact, Li Quan Zhou had not one but THREE factories working around the clock constructing hundreds of fighter planes in an effort to control all the air space over China…and eventually the world…as his own brand of ‘atmosphere terrorism’, as he called it.  Although it has been learned that he has three factories in China building the planes, nobody knows where they are to stop or destroy them.  A messenger or two that are caught might provide some answers – especially when the adventurers find what’s inside his/her pocket.

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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on June 29, 2020.
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