Thrilling Tales of Adventure! is set in the world of pulp fiction and adventure serials of the 1920s and 1930s. One player, the Arch Villain, attempts to build and execute dastardly plots while the remaining players -- each of whom assumes the role of a classic pulp hero -- try to foil these plots. Among the 10 heroes to choose from are Samantha Starr (intrepid girl reporter) the Amazing Uri (former magician to the Tsar), and the Blue Falcon (ace aviatrix). The game plays out over three Acts, as the Arch Villain works toward the execution of a final Master Plan, such as the construction and activation of a massive death ray, or encasing the world in ice for all eternity.
The key mechanic of the game is the creation of "Adventures," linked sets of cards that the Heroes must investigate and overcome in order to collect Heroism points. There are two types of Adventures: "Wild Adventures," which are generated on the fly by a combination of card plays and draws from the various decks; and "Plots," which are custom-built by the Arch Villain player and have much higher stakes.