Black Campbell’s first adventure/module/booklet/whateverthe kids are calling them these days is live at DriveThru RPG and Set in 1936, it follows a band of explorers into the heart of darkness, looking for a lost biologist and his mythic White Ape of the Congo. It’s designed for two to six players, should take about four hours, and has a lot of tips for using the adventure in an existing campaign.

There is a Ubiquity version for you fans of Hollow Earth Expedition, as well as a Fate version.

The cover was done by comic book artist Bill Forster:


Interior art was by yours truly, with Jim Sorenson of Transformers fame doing layouts, and a last minute save on file size by my wife Susan! It’s 18 pages for Fate, 20 for Ubiquity of pulpy goodness and priced comparably with adventures of the same size at $4.99.

Have a look!

This week’s play saw our heroes finally arrive in London to inform Zara’s uncle, Lord Trevor Ansom, of his niece and only surviving relative’s probable demise in the Interior World. They passed through France by train, arrived in Dover only to be held up for almost a day due to the weapons they had brought with them. Without permits for the equipment, they had to wait for bureaucracy to be served.

Once the paperwork was settled, they got to the capital and were met by a Geoffrey Reece, a local private investigator and operative for the Terra Arcanum, who was there to drive them in his Morris Cowley around and generally keep them out of trouble.

Their meeting with Lord Trevor and the revelation of their discovery “beyond the Eye of Shambala” staggered the old academic, who had already surmised his niece was dead or as good as. On hearing of their plans to return, the old school professor demanded to be included in their next expedition — as a renowned philologist and archeologist, he would be indispensable. Also having encountered the weirdness of the disappearing city in Africa that started the campaign (a modified version of our White Ape of the Congo module), they figured he would be an excellent addition.

The next day they did some shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch — back when it was an outfitter and not some fashion shop for skinny-jeaned millennials — which allowed Gus to finally replace his gun bag and his hunting rifles. But on exiting the shop, Dr. Gould was contacted by the Russian psychic, Galina Obreva: they know about him, about his two brothers and other family…maybe they have the same abilities he does. The GPU won’t be waiting long to take action against them, and can the Gestapo be far behind? But if he willing joins the Soviets, helps them get into the Hollow Earth, they will be safe.

Gould refuses. At that moment, Gus and Hunter swear they see their missing companion Olga going into Regent’s Park. Dashing into traffic to catch her, Gould realizes they’ve fallen into a Soviet trap! That’s when “the Ghost”, Arkady Lenshev, knocks Gould, Amon, and their minder Reece cold and they never saw him through his ability to cloud their perception of him. Before Lenshev could instruct the burly dockworkers he’s got with him to bundle Amon and Gould into the delivery van, Hunter realizes it’s a trick and circles back for a one-on-one punch up with the man.

Gus is befuddled to have lost Olga, but instead sees Galina and knows they’ve been had. He tries to get at her, but she takes over his mind, causing him to freeze in the middle of Oxford Street traffic. He barely escapes being hit by a horse-drawn truck filled with German beer and a motorcyclist. He loses Galina, but sees Hunter and Lenshev going at it, while the dockworkers drive off with Gould and Amon in the back. He grabs the downed motorcyclist’s Scott Flying Squirrel and races off after them.

In the van, Gould wakes to find himself being trussed up. With a great effort, he rolls over, knocking one of the bad guys over, who in turn knocks the other baddie and Amon out into the street. For his efforts, he gets kicked in the face and knocked out.

With a last moment aid by Lord Trevor, armed with a blackthorn cane from A&F, Hunter is able to knock Lenshev down and run to aid Amon, while Lord Trevor checks on Reece. Lenshev quickly hoofs it and with Galina escapes.

Meanwhile, Gus chases the Morris van with his Scott motorbike, nearly gets pasted by oncoming traffic, but eventually gets behind the van. The last mook throws a length of chain at him, and missed, and Gus decides to board the van by ramming the rear bumper, launching himself into the back and onto the bad guy. (It is a pulp game, after all…) He and the mook wrestle, and in the mist of it, Gus kicked Gould out of the van when it’s taking a turn and has slowed down. For his attention, he gets choked nearly unconscious by the bad guy, but is able to find worm his way loose and shoots the guy at point blank range.

Not wanting to spend time in a British jail, Gus bails out of the van and quickly loses himself on the Underground. The rest of the group has crowded into Reece’s Morris and meets him there. They are visited by the police shortly afterward, who are following up on Gould’s claim of being attacked by communists — most likely a response to their having thwarted an attack on the Marquesa de Montealegre (utter crap, but it sounds good and is verifiable to a point) in Spain. The others corroborate the lie for the most part and the police set them free on their own recognizance while looking for the Russians and their allies.

The group holes up in Zara’s old country home outside of London for a few days while Gould telegraphs a warning to his faily in Spain and Hunter tries to get them Terra Arcanum protection from the GPU and Nazis. Gould is worried that the longer they stay on the surface world, the more danger he puts his family in…

They finally take a liner to the United States, and from there a train to the newly-opened (and beautiful, even today) 30th Street Station in Philadelphia — Hunter’s home town. They are put up by the navy in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel and dine with Admiral Byrd that evening at the Rittenhouse Club. There they learn the main issue with their transport has been Byrd’s support of the heavier-than-air end of the Division of Aeronautics, and he is having to eat crow and aid Admiral Moffett in defending the program from Congress and the budget cutters, especially after the near disaster Akron had offshore. (In our campaign, I had Akron survive her final voyage through a massive storm. Why? I like airships.)

That accident does mean the navy needs a big win with an airship, and a polar expedition — which is what Byrd is selling their mission as — sounds like the ticket. It also means they can’t take Akron and her five scout airplanes…instead, they are pulling the recently decommissioned Los Angeles — sister to Graf Zeppelin — out of mothballs. This takes time as they get her back into flying shape, load her with helium and fuel, and get the victual and crew together.

In the meantime, Hunter is planning to see his family and delinquent friends, and then they are accompanying Byrd up to New York City to meet with a scientific advisor who has been studying the ray guns they brought back from the Interior World.

That was where we left off for the night, with the Soviets and Nazis giving chase, an airship flight in the offing, and a visit with the Terra Arcanum’s mysterious scientist.

Why the #@!! am I not watching this now?

The last two sessions with our heroes traveling steerage on the Surface World. After having been sucked through the “Hole in the World” in the Hollow Earth, they had been deposited in the Arabian Sea, where for four days they were adrift — kept afloat only by the high salinity and some scraps of canvas they were using as flotation devices. Hallucinating, half-dead, they were finally rescued by the RMS Majolo, out of Calcutta and bound for Tilbury in England.

They were nursed back to health over the next three days, and deposited in Aden with only a few pounds from the good graces of the ship’s doctor. Fortunately, Gus had operated out of the port before, and had a few contacts, as well as a small bank account here. With enough money to get some clothing and a cheap used Enfield rifle and Webley pistol, they set up in the Mariners’ Hotel. They were able to make inquires to the local consulates — a German, US and UK one were present — to get some kind of passport. Gus was in luck, the others not so much.

This lead to Hunter’s using his larcenous skills to pickpocket a few documents, a Greek passport for Amon, and a Spanish one for  Gould. Gus and Hunter, however, were able to get temporary documents.

That evening, a German official arrived to present Gus with his new passport (complete with swastika) and make an offer directly from Reichfuhrer-SS Himmler himself! He offered to meet them in Trieste, to discuss their recent adventure and offered to provide them with the passage to Italy. After some argument between Gould and Gus, they agreed to head for Britain and try to gain some kind of support from the Royal Geographic Society or British government, and barring that, try the United States.

They were able to buy steerage passage to London. Two days later, they stopped in Alexandria, where the Terra Arcanum has a “library” — a safehouse cum storehouse for artifacts. Hunter had worked out of the place and knows the librarian, a Sam Gilroy — a dissipate former academic from England. They’d already gotten word from the consulate about their having been discovered in the sea, and their original report in India had reached the masters of the organization! After quizzing them on events, Gilroy put them in touch with a VIP from the Terra Arcnum — Admiral Richard E Byrd!

The admiral had claimed to have seen the Northern Polar Entrance to the Hollow Earth in 1926, but it was never seen again. He posits that his co-pilot might have had Atlantean blood, like Gould, and that was why they found it, but never again. He is in the process of putting together funding for another Antarctic Expedition, but is willing to change their focus to the north pole, once more. He already has subscriptions from the American and National Geographical Societies, as well as the Navy. He was already putting together a large mission with scientists and sailors…just what they need for their return to the Inner World.

They jump at the chance.

Their next stop in Gibraltar hooks them up with American passports, to throw off any German pursuers, and they take a train north to England. Part of the deal was they would inform Lord Trevor, Zara’s uncle, of her disappearance, and attempt to get the philologist and archeologist on their team.

This led to a stop in Madrid, where Gould made an attempt to warn his brother about their heritage and the dangers, but realized how insane it sounded…then they ran into his former lover, the now-Marquesa Inez de Montealegre. After some character development, talk about our feelings stuff for Gould and Inez, they boarded their train north to San Sebastian.

The train was stopped by bandits, leading to a gunfight between the characters and the bandits, before they drove them off. With the marquesa’s support, the Civil Guard in Vallavolid hailed the characters as heroes of the day and released them to continue their trip the next day.

We left it there last week, as they were entering France and heading for Paris, then London…

A little something from the Pixar gang:

Technically, it’s SSSR-v6 OSOAVIAKhIM, a Soviet-built seni-rigid airship designed by Umberto Nobile, an Italian aviator and inventor who was, after 1928, on the outs with Mussolini and was in exile in Russia. The name is from the acronym for the Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation, and Fleet…original, as only bureaucrats can be.


The ship is centered on a keel from stem to stern, and an envelope that has smaller gas cells inside — it’s part blimp, part dirigible. SSSR-V6 is based heavily on Nobile’s previous airships, Norge and Italia, which he used for polar exploration in the mid to late 1920s. It is, through the 1930s, the Soviet Union’s largest airship and most successful, until her loss in 1938.

At 344′ long, she has a total displacement of 685,000 sq.ft. — about a quarter the size of USS Los Angeles or Graf Zeppelin. It is, however, quite light, and only loses 3 tons of her total 13 ton lifting capacity, and is powered by three 190hp gasoline engines that can reach a face-peeling 58mph.

SSSR-V6: Size: 16   Def: 10   Strc: 10   Spd: 60   Ceil: 8,000′   Han: -2   Crew: 15


They’re almost essential to setting the mood in a ’30s pulp game…airships. Zeppelins. Dirigibles. From a boy, I’ve loved these damned things, from the first time I saw the Goodyear blimp. So I thought it might be time to write a few of the old girls up for Hollow Earth Expedition.

The first conceit I changed — the idea that these vessels were lightweights against attack. Outside of a hit by another vehicle, the sheer size of the airship means they can take a lot of bullets before they start to have an issue. This was why the incendiary bullet was developed, to set off the “dirty” hydrogen (hydrogen that had been adulterated with air.)

We’re just going to do the rigid airships that were active in the 1930s:


Launched in 1924 from Freidrichshaven, Germany as LZ-126, Los Angeles was part of the war reparations plan. The airship is the sister ship to Graf Zeppelin, and has a flawless service record with the navy. Built as a passenger vessel, Los Angeles has been used for scouting, zeppelin construction studies, and for scientific missions. She ended her active service life in 1932, but remained commissioned and maintained at Lakehurst, New Jersey until 1938, when she was broken up for scrap.

Displacing 2.7 million cu.ft., ZR-3 is 658’ in length, with a bean of 90’ and draught of 104’. She is propelled by five 400hp Maybach V-12 engines and is capable of 75mph for 6,640 miles. She has a pressure height (ceiling) of about 8,000’.


USS Los Angeles: Size: 16   Def: 12   Str: 18   Spd: 75   Ceil: 8,000′   Rng: 6000 mi   Han: -2   Crew: 36   Pass: up to 20

U.S.S. AKRON (ZR-4) & U.S.S. MACON (ZR-5)

Commissioned in 1931, Akron is the first rigid airship designed and constructed by the Goodyear Company of Akron, Ohio. Currently, the largest flying object ever constructed, the airship is 785’ long, with a beam of 133; and draught of 145’. She is propelled by eight 560hp Maybach V-12 engines that are connected to specialized condensers that use the exhaust to create water ballast to replace the fuel used in operation. She is capable of 80mph and a range of 6000-6500 miles, carries 8 M2A1 .30 machineguns and up to 5 Curtis F9C Sparrowhawk fighter planes in her launch bay.

From the get-go, Akron was something of an unlucky ship, experiencing several incidents where she was suffered minor damage due to mishandling. In 1933, she was on a patrol off the New Jersey coast when she ran into a storm. Unlike German airship handlers, who scrupulously avoided bad weather, naval airshipmen had a habit of running their craft through dangerous weather systems. In this case, the sudden drop in barometric pressure the altimeter in the control gondola left the crew to think Akron was higher than she actually was. Worse, with a high degree of up-angle, the tail of the craft was dangerously low (she was almost 800′ long and typical cruising altitude was between 1500-2000′.) The tail hit waves, and the sudden increase in weight from flooding dragged the ship down.


Her sister, Macon, had launched about the same period of time. The ship operated for two years without issue until her flight to California in 1934, when she was required to fly over her pressure height to clear the mountains of New Mexico. This did damage to her gas bags and engines, as she was running “heavy” and had to use her speed to aid in lift. Before the craft was finished repairs, she was used in a naval operation off the Pacific coast and was caught in a storm that tore a tail fin loose, causing her to rupture a few gas cells and crashing her into the ocean.

Akron-class airship: Size: 16   Def: 12   Strc: 12   Spd: 80   Ceil: 6,000′   Rng: 6500 mi   Han: -2   Crew: 60



Both Akron and Macon were designed to carry up to five Curtis F9C Sparrowhawk “parasite fighters” — the naval designation for the lightweight, finicky biplanes that the vessels used to increase their scouting range. The F9C could launch and return by connecting to a trapeze system that they lock onto with their top hook. Only seven or eight of these were built.

F9C Sparrowhawk:   Size: 2   Def: 6   Strc: 6   Spd: 175   Ceil: 19,800   Rng: 290 mi   Han: +2   Crew: 1   Armaments: 2 linked Browning .30 machine guns — Dam: 4L (6L linked)   Rng: 250′   Cap: 250 (b)   Spd: A