Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

Triplanes vs Terrordactyls (run by Evan D’Alessandro): An Offside Report

In 1930, the largest airship at the time, the Graf Zeppelin, could fly 24 passengers from Germany to Brazil in four and a half days. In the late 30s, the Hindenburg was flying 50-72 passengers between Frankfurt and New Jersey, in four days one way.

They weren’t the first flying ‘objects’ originating in Germany.

Pterodactylus fossils from the late Jurassic Period have primarily been found in Bavaria Germany.

On Sunday, 6 November, the ‘eccentric’ Professor Shigataki sought assistance for recovering his ‘experimental clones’.

Soon after, to the cries of Biggles Away, six hardy triplanes took to the air to rendezvous with the Red Zeppelin and escort her to safety.

This is their story … or perhaps I should say ‘game’.


Fig. 1: Ready for Takeoff


The Game

Described as a ‘pulp-adventure fight’ against a prehistoric enemy, Triplanes and Terrordactyls is a game designed by Evan to pit Triplanes against a horde of Terrordactyls attempting to bring down a zeppelin.

The Board

Fig. 2: The Board

A4 print outs of the hexed skyscape board were hexed and didn’t match up. Cotton wool clouds were deployed to blur the distinction and to create the sense of different altitudes.

The Rules

Rules were on one-page (Yes), then someone suggested a lot of maths was involved and my eyes glazed over. This mainly impacted my ability to count my movement points and turn my plane at the same time. For some reason, it also affected my dice rolling capabilities – not great at the best of times. Having a series of ones, I switched to a digital ‘dice roller’ and ‘rolled’ another one.

Planes and Attributes

Players chose their aircraft, and its capabilities. Armored planes were slower and could not increase altitude as much as planes without armour. All aircraft had weapons.

Players also chose one of six attributes for themselves as pilots, which could give an advantage in particular engagements e.g., speed freak, crack shot, good at rolling to avoid stalling

The Game

Blue Leader seemed to forget the aim was to escort the zeppelin across the board and defend it from attack. He saw a terrordactyl and veered off course after it. He was happy to call out ‘coward’ to those attempting to escape being attacked by terrordactyls.

Fig. 3: Terrordactyls


Fig. 4: The zeppelin heads out

The Red Marron quickly learned that choosing the red triplane did not work in his favour. Terrordactyls continually attacked his aircraft. Male terrordactyls sported red crests so perhaps they were attempting to get rid of the competition.

Fig. 5: Red Marron and Terrordactyl flying away from each other – not sure who was panicking the most

Eventually, most of us realised terrordactyls were forming swarms and closing in on the zeppelin.

Fig. 6: Terrordactyls swarming

Engaging terrordactyls at close quarters required great heroism.

Fig. 7: Tension rising

Fig. 8: Desperate stakes

Those terrordactyls surviving our efforts eventually took off.

The zeppelin, while taking some damage, survived, and headed safely towards port.

Fig. 9: All clear


I  was very engaged in what was a ‘boys (and girls) own adventure’ game. It was a lot of fun.



Noe, R. (2017). First Class Travel, 1930s-style: What were the Interiors/Floorplan Like Inside the Hindenburg?


I found the following resources a useful and interesting start to exploring this genre further:

Grady, R.J. (2003). In Genre: Modern Pulp Fiction

Grady provides an inclusive overview of modern pulp adventures including the elements of the genre as well as games, books and films that illustrate it.

Pulp Adventures

An online ‘genre-book’ for the Rolemaster Standard System (RMSS), Pulp Adventures provides an historical background to the genre and its era, as well as its elements: professions, weapons, gadgets, equipment, treasures, and settings. A list of fiction portraying pulp-style adventures is also included.

One Comment
  1. Andy Grainger

    This is disgraceful. Comic book games, people enjoying themselves. Anyone would think a so-called ‘Festive’ Season was in the offing. I leave aside what the RSPCA might think.

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