Thursday, December 8, 2016

Marvel Comics #1

And now we finally reach this milestone. Until now, half the Hideouts & Hoodlums Hero races didn't make sense!

The Human Torch story that starts this issue is the inspiration for the android race. The special abilities of the android race emulate the ability to burst into flame, shoot flame, and take off into the air on a fiery jet -- though all these can be disguised through flavor text (like turning "Fiery Jet" into spring-loaded feet). Androids are H&H's verion of dwarves.

That The Human Torch is of the superhero class is evident by how much wrecking he does in this story (as if wrecking trucks, if not tanks). He's encased in a 10' cube of cement and busts out, he melts bars (as if wrecking doors).  He sets a warehouse and a regular house on fire (automatic, if around combustibles). He melts three doors, a truck, and the roof of a building (treat as a car). The amount of wrecking suggests to me that The Torch has three brevet ranks right here, despite being first level.

Other than wrecking, The Torch seems to demonstrate Fly I and possibly Nigh-Invulnerable Skin. At one point he badly scalds the mobsters who fled from him into a swimming pool by boiling the water -- I don't have a power yet for that one. Heat Water?

Sardo (that's an Italian name, apparently, though it always seemed science fiction-y to me), the villain in this piece, has a wealth of trophy items at his disposal -- he has a diving suit, a glass tube large enough to contain full-grown man, a gas mask, a gas bomb, a tank of liquid nitrogen, a tube of nitro gas, and a tank of sulfuric acid.

Likewise, The Sub-Mariner is the first merman hero in comics, and the inspiration for the merman race. Being able to breathe underwater was a given. We may or may not see faster swimming in this story. Later stories establish that mermen are weaker out of water, hence the wrecking things penalty out of water. And as for the magic doesn't really emulate Namor at all, but mermen are H&H's version of elves, and I figured it helped round out the race and maybe would make it a more appealing choice to play.

Speaking of swimming faster, at one point Namor and Dorma travel from Antarctica to New York City in two days. That means they were traveling at, at least, 190 MPH -- way faster than I let mermen swim. That means they were either boosting their speed with a power, like Outrun Train, or -- even more likely, were using some sort of underwater vehicle we didn't see.

Wrecking wise, Namor crushes a diving helmet (wrecks as machine?), and he jams a rudder on a huge ship (maybe treat as a generator?). Curiously, Namor uses an axe to break glass at another time -- perhaps the only so far we've seen any kind of a limitation to how often a superhero can wreck.

Power-wise, he uses a leap power (probably Leap II) to catch a plane and Extend Missile Range (at least I, possibly II) to throw a man out to sea. Not a lot, so even though Namor surprises wrecks very little, he probably also has three brevet ranks even at first level.

Lastly, it is worth noting that Namor is actually only a half-merman. H&H works under the assumption that all half-mermen have the abilities of full-blooded mermen, though in actual comic books a half-merman is apparently more powerful than a full-blooded merman (this discrepancy could just be from Namor being higher in level too).

Both The Torch and The Sub-Mariner are also killers, or at least we know for sure that Namor is and The Torch very probably killed some people. They are Chaotic in Alignment.

The Angel also debuts in this issue. In many ways The Angel is typical of the Mysteryman tropes, particularly with how criminals fear him by reputation. For the most part, The Angel could even just be a Fighter, as he solves almost every problem with fists. But there is one instance where he leaps from the roof of a courthouse and lands safely. We never actually see the courthouse; we're just told this. So, maybe this courthouse has a really low roof, keeping The Angel from taking falling damage. Or maybe The Angel has unusually high hit points for a low-level Hero (high Constitution score?) and just absorbed the damage. Or maybe The Angel has a leap power and is actually a superhero? I'll watch for more evidence in future installments.

In the one-shot "Jungle Terror", the story's macguffin is a lost diamond in the Amazon and the apparently false rumor that the diamond can "enslave people". Rumors are good -- they get Heroes to go do things, and you only have to pay out on the rumors half the time! The twist in this story is that, instead of one diamond with special powers, our heroes find lots of ordinary diamonds. However, the Editor wisely doesn't give them time to collect them all, throwing endless waves of natives at them so they'll just snatch a few and run.

Lastly, I reviewed this issue on one of my Scottenkainenland blog.

(Issue read in Marvel Masterworks: Marvel Comics v. 1.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Action Comics #17

I have a surprising lack of information about this issue.

In Superman's adventure, Superman's "commanding voice" could be some use of a power, or it could mean that he gets a bonus to encounter reaction rolls because of his high Charisma score. Since Charisma always does this, I don't see the need to duplicate it with a power.

Superman demonstrates Resist Fire and Push Ocean Liner as powers in this story. We also see he can leap while using the Raise Car power at the same time. At another point, though, he listens in to a phone conversation via an extension phone because, presumedly, he didn't prepare the Super-Senses power for that day. At another point the narrator claims that Superman is using "super-hearing", but he's only eavesdropping from outside a window, and I'd allow a skill check for that.

Superman, still dressed as Clark Kent, gets mad and lifts a man over his head in this story.

Ultra-Humanite demands $5 million in extortion money in this story, possibly the highest monetary sum featured in a comic book to date. Ultra -- as he's referred to in this story -- uses an acid gun, a transparent metal wall, and an image projector against Superman.

In Clip Carson's adventure, he's on safari in India when he kills a tiger, rescues a plot hook character (one of those "old friends" you've never seen before, but ties into a character's backstory), and investigates a cult. Next installment we're likely to see cultists actually show up -- just like they are as a mobster type in 2nd edition Hideouts & Hoodlums.

Tex Thompson is a high-Charisma Hero too, as evidenced by his growing number of supporting cast members. In addition to regular SCMs Bob Daley and Gargantua T. Potts, Tex picks up a temporary SCM, Ali-Baba, while adventuring in Turkey.

Zatara, not wanting to feel left out, picks up two temporary SCMs, "old friends" John and Beth Jordan. They go on a cruise in the Mediterranean. For reasons likely never explained, Queen Setap of the Lost City of Ophir wants to cast a spell that will drain Beth's youth and give it to Setap (a high level-sounding spell). Zatara destroys Ophir to get Setap to surrender to him, though it isn't clear what spells Zatara used (or why he didn't use spells on Setap instead).

Setap and Ophir are clearly stolen from Tarzan's Queen La of the Lost City of Opar.

(Superman story read in Superman: Action Comics Archives v. 1, Clip Carson adventure read in summary at DC Wikia, and Tex and Zatara adventures read in summary at Mike's Amazing World of Comics.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Feature Comics #25

Feature Comics is still pretty adventure-lite at this point, so I don't have a lot to go over.

This is from Off the Record, my favorite gag filler. When I was growing up these were called shadow puppets; note how they're called "hand shadow tricks" here.

This is from The Clock. None of the original Heroes I've ran Hideouts & Hoodlums for so far have had secret lairs, per se, though one has a secret hangar for his planes. A secret lair is like a hideout for the good guys. When designing their own lairs, players will want to consider security, like being able to lock and bar the place, and whether it should be soundproof or not.

We know these as sunglasses. They're also known as polarized glasses, but they're called smoked glasses here in Dixie Dugan.

Jane Arden is posing as a thief -- highly appropriate considering my making a case earlier on this blog that Jane was one of the first Mysterymen.

The bracelet here is worth $60,000 -- which seems to be about a mid-range value for jewelry in the comics.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Keen Detective Funnies v. 2 #10

The Masked Marvel seems to have forgotten he has superpowers in this installment. Instead he does things like creep on others with his "raudion-detector" -- yet another TV set that can see anything like a crystal ball.

I'm including this page because this ordinary mob boss has 500 lbs. of dynamite at his disposal. Sometimes, you can just go crazy outfitting the bad guys with resources. Plus, it makes for a more level playing field once the Heroes are higher level and still facing mobsters.

This is from Spy Hunters. I like to include any maps I find on this blog. This one is more of a tactical map than a terrain map, but maybe it would be useful for someone planning a battle scenario in India.

The guy rolling around shirtless is Gabby Flynn. I share this page because tripping attacks seem unusually potent at knocking people out in two different fights here. Could a trip do as much damage as a weapon?

I'm not sure what to make of this. Bellows with a red pepper attachment, as a stunning weapon? If it's that potent, I'm not sure why Heroes would ever rely on anything else. I could see maybe allowing this as a blinding weapon, but not incapacitating.

The reference to an "ogre" shouldn't be taken literal; Gabby's opponent barely qualified for a thug, let alone ogre stats.

This is from "Foggy Night", a serial with Officer O'Keefe as the hero. Somehow, O'Keefe is stunned by a bullet, is dropped from a height, and still manages to come around a little later (on the next page). If the bullet had knocked him unconscious, by H&H rules he should have been killed by the fall.

Dean Denton may be a scientific detective, but he can't seem to figure out a way around a smokescreen. H&H will have evasion rules for chase scenes...but maybe the real issue here is Dean being afraid of hitting pedestrians in the smokescreen. In that case, Dean's Alignment stops him, not the smokescreen itself.

Stunts have come a long way already since they were first introduced in 1st edition. Here we see Out of the Sun, a relic from the Aviator class and its stunt list. Though these are going to be absent from the 2nd ed. Basic Book, they will likely have a place in an Advanced Hideouts & Hoodlums Heroes Handbook, which should come out...someday.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus.)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Funny Page v. 3 #8

The Arrow leads this issue, and I have to say I think this is the best installment yet.

This page tells us something about the value of gems, without really telling us much. A "set" of star-sapphires can be worth half a million dollars!  But how many are in a set? Assuming it was a set of 10, that would still be $50,000 each.  At the end of the story it is revealed that each set is mounted on a bracelet, so maybe this is more reflective of the value of jewelry.

Here we get an interesting tactic for bad guys to use. Borrowing a car for a getaway car is an unusual twist on the cliche of using a stolen car. The pro is that it's easier to trade cars afterwards, and the con is that you might leave a witness behind who can describe you and your "new" vehicle.

And here's a good tip from the other side -- our Hero, The Arrow, is chasing a car, but doesn't know if this is the right car or not (we don't know if the garage attendant gave him the license plate number or not). So he follows the car anyway and watches for a suspicious reaction. Even without knowing details of the car, he could have followed any car he saw on this road until one driver betrayed himself.

Just last post, I talked about that being the first time I'd ever seen a waterlogged gun not work in comics. Here we already see another dripping wet gun shooting normally again.

Wreck at range. An Editor can require an attack roll with wrecking, but it depends on circumstances (I would require it here, given the size of the target).


The price of duck was 32 cents per pound.

Windy, normally a one-page gag strip, was upgraded to two pages this issue. Though not a serious adventure strip, this haunted house could still make a good encounter area, and "Haunting Inc." is an idea worth exploring...

After a long absence, Abdallah finally returns with a new installment. Here we see that the "dragons" that inhabit Abdallah's Arabian fantasy world are actually dinosaurs. This is the first allosaurus in comics. Wisely, Abdallah high-tails it out of there on the next page and doesn't try to fight them. Dinosaurs would have such scary high Hit Dice that I haven't included any of them yet in the 2nd edition basic book (except for giant pterodactyls).

This is the 2nd griffin/gryphon in comics. Interestingly, it is an underworld guardian and not encountered outdoors where it could make use of its wings.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wonderworld Comics #6 - pt. 2

We rejoin Yarko today in the lair of vampires!  It's never clear how many vampires are in this lair, but this page shows there are at least four.

That clever Yarko cast Resist Fire and Protection from Missiles on himself before entering the room.

The clearest evidence yet of the "contest of wills" game mechanic. At first I was leery of including this in the official rules, but even considered putting it in an optional appendix to the 2nd edition basic book. But, as of now, it's right in the combat section.

I'm not sure what spell is being cast here. Stone Shape? Earthquake?

It's also worth noting that the true appearance of vampires is that of a gruesome monster, and they can only make themselves appear to be handsome men or beautiful women.

This is Dr. Fung and Dan, the full-grown sidekick who doesn't get title billing.  Here, Dan is in unarmed combat with a Genghis Khan-type. Genghis Khans were a mobster type in 1st ed., though I'm really not seeing anything too special about these characters, upon closer reading. Dan is really kicking this guy's butt, or just literally kicking him (the first kick is actually a trip attack and is treated as grappling).

I've posted many times about fighters using combat machine for multiple attacks, even when it doesn't appear that they are.

I think I've already covered the tactic of using stairs to one's advantage in a past post. For a heavy weight like this barrel, I might allow it to roll over the first opponent and possibly knock down others; it's not multiple attacks so much as setting up a trap on the stairs. The first target would get to save vs. science to resist, with each subsequent target getting a +2 bonus, and whoever makes the save stops the barrel.

You can't recognize K-51 in that diving suit, but that's him getting his butt kicked by an octopus, and apparently not even of the giant variety. I'll have to remember to add a note to the giant octopus entry about what Hit Dice ordinary ones would have.

This is also a rare instance of a hammer being used as a weapon, without the wielder being named Thor.

This is Mob Buster Robinson, also getting his butt kicked -- though we've already established that head blows should do more damage in a surprise attack.

Robinson observes the man in the mirror because of an unlucky set of surprise rolls for the hoodlum.

This is lousy hideout design. Who puts trapdoors in prison cells? Especially trap doors that lead to underground streams that lead out of the hideout?

This is the first time we've ever seen a gun not work because it was wet.

Rocking the boat caused the thug to save vs. science or fall out.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Wonderworld Comics #6 - pt. 1

The Flame appears on the scene thanks to the Teleport through Focus power. He shows up here in the middle of an investigation, just courteously turning over evidence he's collected so far to the D.A.

Collecting evidence isn't a requirement in Hideouts & Hoodlums, nor is respecting due process. Rather, they make for additional challenges that a player choosing a Lawful Hero might enjoy.

The Flame makes what looks like a 15' leap downward, apparently without taking 1-6 points of falling damage. I believe I've covered this on the blog before, but leaping down should not be treated as an uncontrolled fall (when the Hero is taken by surprise).

This is Lou Fine at his artistic best. I like this page so much that one panel of it became the cover art to the first H&H module Sons of the Feathered Serpent. Just soak it all in.

Now, this time, The Flame doesn't just leap down, but has to take the extra step of swinging from the wire to land safely. It's unclear which floor he is leaping from, as it looks like the 2nd floor in panel 1, but could be the 7th floor or higher in panel 2. Maybe he doesn't have a leap power prepared for today, so he can't make the leap safely from that height. Or, maybe the power would only protect him, but someone being carried would still take jarring damage from the landing.

The Flame catches a break at the end; instead of having to catch the thug himself, the thug just gets handed over to him. That's moving the pace along!

300 MPH?  That is one fast car, in any age. It was called a super-charged car in 1st edition. I might be making transportation trophies more customize-able in 2nd edition. For example, this would be a Car +2, with each plus representing a bonus feature in the car (or, more specifically, one plus per extra 100 MPH the car goes).

Leaping up or down, easily handled. Leaping sideways into a moving car? That might require an attack roll, or burn a stunt.

The Flame is buffed by Imperviousness here.

The Flame doesn't need to be using a power to get that "heads slammed together" attack. In unarmed combat everyone gets two attacks per turn, so this would count as separate attacks on each head.

It doesn't take one of the raise powers to pick someone up and throw them out of a car; anyone can try to do that too.

Somehow, he ties up Mr. Crass remarkably quickly. It seems like it's less than a turn he spends on it. And how is his car matching speed without anyone's foot on the gas? Autopilot? Maybe this is a Car +3.

The Flame doesn't seem too concerned about blowing up mobsters, so long as he has the boss villain to take into custody. Does that make him Neutral in Alignment?

Should cars be extra susceptible to flame guns? Or could this be an example of Wreck at Range? I suspect the latter.

And now we move on to the Yarko the Great adventure in this issue. Here, Yarko is on a treacherous journey through Devil's Pass in the Himalayas. His encounters along the way are with natural disasters instead of mobsters (though he finds evidence of vampires at his base camp).

A blizzard this fierce might do 1-8 points of damage each exploration turn that the traveler fails a save vs. plot. While the rockslide might do 3-18 points of damage or more if a save vs. science was missed.

The hoshai plant is a strange sort of trophy item. It's really bizarre -- a giant lilly-like plant that grows in molten lava and has blood inside it. But, other than doesn't actually do anything. In this sense, it's more of a trophy to have, like a giant penny, than something to actually use. I plan on having some examples of these sorts of trophies on the 2nd edition trophy list.

After beating the Devil, you would think Yarko wouldn't be scared of three vampires with bows and arrows. Perhaps he's more concerned for the safety of his traveling companion, or just wants to get captured so he can be taken to their leader.

Speaking of which, vampires with bows and arrows is a fairly novel idea.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)