Friday, March 23, 2018

Jungle Comics #1 - pt. 2

We return to check on Tabu today. We see him perform some tree climbing so uncanny that I hesitate to say that could even be done in Hideouts & Hoodlums as an expert-level skill; that is more likely the power Wall-Crawling in action.

Jungle Torment might be a magic-user spell in the making here. For the duration, up to 7 targets cannot rest and must make morale saves each turn. Seems like a good 1st level spell to soften up opponents.

Still going easy on them at first, Tabu decides to use Gust of Wind on their torches. Then he starts to get serious and lets loose with Insect Plague, a 4th level spell. Insect Plague hasn't made its way into any H&H product yet, but you can bet it'll be in the AH&H Heroes Handbook whenever I'm done with that. It will do continuous damage to whoever is caught in the swarm, so either these explorers have really good hit points or they escape from the swarm pretty quickly.

Since that pool of slime looks like green slime, I'm very tempted to include green slime now in the AH&H Mobster Manual (now in progress!).

It's unclear if this tiger is huge, in the sense that it has extra Hit Dice, or it just looks huge to someone when it's advancing menacingly on you in the wild (I'd probably think it was huge too!). Apes and tigers have both already been statted for H&H.

It's harder to say what's going on here, since we can't see where these paralyzing thorns are coming from. Is there some monstrous form of plant life that should fire paralyzing thorns? Or should this be a new spell? Or are the thorns simply flavor text for a Mass Paralysis spell? I'm leaning towards the first option, simply because there is not a lot of plant life you can fight in H&H compared to animals and people.

I'm going to have to call shenanigans here. Yes, I'm all for making Gust of Wind a more useful spell (and feel I did more to increase its effectiveness in H&H already), making it strong enough to bend over trees so that they can knock over people seems like it would be way too powerful, almost on par with an Earthquake spell (which, frankly, is where I thought Fletcher was going with that at the bottom of the last page).

Oh, it's not green slime after all! They climb out unharmed.

I cheated and used that illustration of the giant snakes as a hydra in Supplement I: National, but I'm pretty sure that's meant to be two giant snakes.The next page reveals that they are constrictor snakes.

Here we see evidence that the Leap powers allow for safe downward movement, though a controlled leap is different from a fall and I'm not sure if I'd allow this to protect heroes from falling damage (I've gone both ways in game play).

Tabu, still just showing off, demonstrates Polymorph Self and Transmute Mud to Rock (the latter spell has not debuted in H&H yet.) The jungle tree-vine was statted in Supplement I: National (I believe), based on this very picture.

I'll have to review my stats and make sure I gave the tree-vine the ability to stretch out its vines before entangling.

Tabu levels up!

So many animals in old comics are killed in one shot that it's refreshing to see an elephant just take the hit and keep moving.

I don't think any game mechanics are behind this accidental entangling; more likely, this is set-up for the scenario instead of part of the scenario.

Here's more evidence that Jon Dale's player isn't in control of his actions yet -- just what is the rationale for climbing to the top of the plateau? In his shape, after being dragged, you would think he would choose the easier journey of going around it.

This is the second story in the same comic about a hidden land of secret white people in Africa. I'm guessing the authors were inspired by the Prester John legend, although it might be just good old-fashioned racism.

600 years would put these Norsemen as coming from the 15th century, which is really late for Thor-worshipping Norsemen. Of course, maybe this is not the first generation of them isolated in Africa, which may explain how they got their own religion wrong and think Thor takes human sacrifices.

Still no idea how a Norsewoman manages to go by the name of Camilla.

Potions of longevity belong in H&H. But if it's that volatile, how is it safe to drink...?

Daily sacrifices? These people make the Mayans seem mild-mannered.

The reference to electrodes tells us that these Norsemen have had enough contact with the outside world to at least catch them up to 19th century science. They probably also heard that modern society doesn't approve of human sacrifice, but just didn't care.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Jungle Comics #1 - pt. 1

At long last we begin January 1940! With this "brand new" title from Fiction House!

Kaanga is a Tarzan clone with a few wrinkles thrown in. Note that he's not adopted by apes (Tarzan), nor by natives (Sheena), but by something that doesn't quite look like either...

First edition Hideouts & Hoodlums had an explorer class for heroes like Kaanga, but there's really little reason not to use the fighter class for him, so far.

Also note that Kaanga only needs "a few weeks" to learn English, so picking up new languages is something heroes can do on their downtime.

Kaanga's strength and leaping abilities almost put him in superhero contention. And yet...both editions of H&H have had rules for non-supeheroes to wreck things, and greater than normal leaping could also be a mysteryman stunt.

Here we learn that it was ape people Kaanga was adopted by. Ape people are statted already in 2nd edition, and this shows that they occur in numbers of up to 13.

I am not sure what to make of this backstory. White Panther and his father are the last of their tribe in the jungle...but they are whiter than whitebread, and the father looks weirdly Odin-like.

I like the unusual Macguffin of magical healing stones.

If you thought those ape men were racist, wait until you see these cannibals.

White Panther is clearly a superhero (or maybe a speedster from 1st edition!). He activates Race the Train to outrun the natives, and it is interesting that he uses his power only as a distraction instead of trying to use it to fight anyone.

It's unclear from panel to panel if White Panther is a naked albino or wearing skintight white clothes from head to toe. He also seems to have a magnetic disc on his belt that holds his dagger in place, which is pretty cool.

Apparently it wasn't hard to find the healing stones at all; you just had to keep wandering the jungle and the cave/mine is like a random encounter. Although the mine must have already been played out, someone was careless and left some healing stones just lying around.

Here's a reason not to carry guns in cave complexes -- gunshots apparently have a chance to cause cave-ins! Cave-ins are pretty brutal, delivering fatal damage for those who miss their saves vs. science, and tearing the clothes of even those who make their saves.

We can tell White Panther is low-level because he avoids combat whenever he can. He also doesn't know much about the fauna of Africa, since he calls that crocodile an alligator.

There are three crocodiles on the next page, so we know crocodiles can be encountered in groups of up to 3.

If we weren't sure if Kaanga was a superhero or not, there's no confusion where Fletcher Hank's Tabu is concerned. Tabu's magical sixth sense is the source of his powers, which include Outrun Train, Wall-Climbing (a 2nd ed. power), and ...well, moving silently is usually a stunt.

Here we see Tabu has access to the powers Leap I, Fly I, and some kind of super-swimming power (though maybe Outrun Train can cover this territory). He also demonstrates tracking, which was the primary skill of the explorer class. Maybe Tabu is an explorer/superhero character.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Famous Funnies #65 - pt. 2

Morse code is a handy way to send messages to Heroes, but as a non-traditional language it is not necessarily something Editors will let all Heroes know. Translating Morse code could be a basic skill check.

The "sounds phony" clue is a tricky thing to impart in game play. Is my player going to know I know it's not the Navy Secret Service, is he going to assume I didn't know and just got it wrong, or is it going to go right over his head? I've talked about this before on the blog, and there's really no easy solution to this other than to talk to the player out-of-character and explain that this was a clue or hint.

This is the flipside of the issue I just talked about -- what to do if the player is the one testing your knowledge while in-character? Did he just trick the mobster into admitting he was a phony just because I didn't know that thing about West Point? Again, this will require out-of-character discussion about what the player is trying to find out.

The gunshot through the window is evidence of how difficult it is to shoot the correct target in melee, though I do suspect that it did not really matter for these bad guys' plans which one of them was shot.

Dickie Dare features a partial map of the interior of a steamer ship. Looks accurate enough to me!

This deathtrap sounds pretty brutal -- scalding water shot through a firehose seems like it would do 1-6 points of damage. It's not a lot, but because a hose has an area of effect (let's say it's a ray 10' wide at its base), the pirates don't have to roll to attack with it.

A "steam cock" is an actual thing, by the way; it's part of the boiler.

No one is dying too fast from this steam, but I have a couple of possible explanations for that. One, the Heroes in the room, at least, should get saves vs. missiles (or maybe science) for half-damage. Two, the pirates might have started their trap too early, before the water was hot enough to do more than a few points of damage.

That ape looks pretty intense. Note the value of a captive ape. They're almost too valuable to give Heroes a chance of capturing one!

All I'm going to say here is that is some pretty fancy shooting, to spray bullets from a sub-machine gun and only hit his hand, for a disarming shot.

Here's an interesting page! For starters, Dickie and friends have a problem that no players ever have because of player knowledge -- knowing which of them was shot in the dark. To do this in-game, the Editor would need to keep information from everyone -- even the player who was shot, in order to make sure the others do not know.

Being a non-Hero, Kit can bleed to death from being injured (strict hp rules only apply to Heroes).

There was recently a kerfuffle in my home campaign, where one of the Heroes gave a semi-automatic to his 12-year old sidekick. Here we have Dickie, arguably even younger, hauling a sub-machine gun.

I'm sharing this because I'm amused by the fact that Oaky has been sleeping under a tree, and his supporting cast has been out doing much more exciting stuff without him. When your players' SCMs come back after being away from the campaign for a bit, make sure they have interesting stories to tell.

Seaweed Sam surprises me again with more Hideouts & Hoodlums-relevant content. Here, in this land of giants, we see that giants (and, really, any mobster class we want) can also be magic-users. This giant magic-user is at least 7th level if that is a regular Polymorph Other spell. The Polymorph Other spell is not supposed to be able to turn you into any animal smaller than a bird, but bear in mind that the scale is way off in any panel with giants in it, and that butterfly is really quite large.

Not sure, but I probably won't be statting large butterflies, unless I find much bigger and more dangerous examples.
Big Chief Wahoo's feat here could have been accomplished with one of two powers -- either Improved Missile Weapon, with the heavy lifting hand-waved, or more likely Raise Car, since the distance thrown itself looks pretty normal and the lifting is the only really impressive part.

We also learn how much it cost to shoot that much of a movie.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Famous Funnies #65 - pt. 1

Spunky gets an unusual layout to his page here. The mine is guarded by bats and a skeleton. As fake undead, the skeleton has a chance of scaring people. There's an awful lot of gold strewn around the mine, which means easy XP for anyone who gets past being scared by the skeleton.

Also, having a goat and a turtle for Supporting Cast is pretty novel.

There's some unusual pricing information here, for rare scenarios where Heroes would have their babies photographed. More likely would be Heroes being paid to parachute somewhere (probably somewhere dangerous, which could lead into a scenario...).

Hidden in this page of Goofy Gags is the price for a cobbler to stretch your shoes. And to think I kept buying new shoes for my son all those years when he was growing up.

There's two features I like from this page of Roy Powers. One thing I like -- and an old trick many game referees has mastered, is to make sure the player characters don't get to see the monster they're facing right away. Hearing it, or catching shadowy glimpses of it, allows the player to imagine something there that might be much worse than the encounter will actually wind up being.

And then, "Witch's Acre" is just a great name for a hideout area.

Although we never see the alchemist (other creators might have given us a nice flashback scene here), and most likely the alchemist will turn out to not be real since (since this is a realistic strip), the rumor of the alchemist is a great story and sounds like it could be part of a really fun scenario.

Here's more atmosphere-building from Roy Powers. Old ruins are always fun for characters to explore. Mysterious noises are always good for luring characters in certain directions. And darkness can be a handy tool for making encounters more challenging. But I really have to take issue with how the eagle scouts see the spooky man in the shadows and just let him go. My players would be talking to him, trying to grab or tackle him, or -- heck -- some players would just shoot first and ask questions later!

I haven't included Skyroads in a long time, but I'm including this one because ordinary hoodlums with cool codenames like Scorpion is such a rarity. Plus, the definition of "service ceiling" could be handy in an aviator-themed scenario.

This page illustrates the importance of facing during aerial combat, but more importantly I think, the sidebar gives us a figure for the blast radius of a bomb. If planes need to stay more than 50' from the ground to avoid bomb blasts, then bombs must have a 50' blast radius.

From Hairbreadth Harry we learn that pirate maps are worth $10,000. Also, villains sometimes carry up to $10,000 in cash on their persons.

Harry is accosted by a hired thug. Thugs have been a statted mobster type since Day 1 of Hideouts & Hoodlums, though I don't think I ever gave them a chance to be armed with sub-machine guns, as this one appears to be.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Amazing Man Comics #8 - pt. 4

This is from Minimidget. Minimidget and Ritty are captured and taken to the island hideout of The Power. The Power uses wealth and influence to take over nations, and it is suggested that he already controls several behind the scenes. His hideout is outfitted with television-phones, as you can see here.

Minimidget barely does anything in this story; he carries the note from a captured scientist and then gets strapped to a bird, but the scientist could just as easily have strapped the message to the bird.

We do get to see what a sleeping bag harness for two tiny heroes would look like strapped to the back of a bird. Previously, I've stated that shrinking heroes don't need separate game mechanics, as their special ability at tiny size is usually being able to do whatever a full-grown person can do. There will be situations, though, like when the tiny hero wants to ride on the back of an eagle, where the Editor will still have to do a lot of hand-waving.

Assuming an eagle's average flying speed is 30 (30 MPH), and the eagle flies for two days before sighting land, The Power's island must be 1,440 miles from shore, or roughly the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

This is Brad Hardy, the really bad Dan Dixon clone. Here's a rare moment of gold and silver pieces occurring in a comic book setting.

I didn't bother including the previous page, but it had Brad being put on a quest to find fire, or at least the special fire that can rekindle their hollow world setting's mini-sun. The natives have been "getting by" on geothermal energy in the meanwhile, but they're doing just fine from what I see. Why not just just stick with the new energy source? One of the benefits of a long quest is that it buys you time to think up rationales for it before it's over, and if you're lucky your players will come up with an even better explanation for you.

The steam seems to cause them only discomfort; perhaps they have to miss a saving throw vs. science to take any damage from it.

The two-headed reptilis doesn't look too dangerous, since it has no claws and doesn't appear to even have teeth. It looks big and heavy -- maybe it flops on top of its victims and crushes them, then swallows them whole?

One thing the reptilis has going for it is a really low (low is good) Armor Class and resistance to heat and fire.

I'm unsure what a steam rifle is. Is it like an air rifle, firing a cartridge or bullet with steam pressure, or is it actually shooting a thin ray of steam? The former makes more sense, except for how the reptilis' heat resistance has anything to do with making it bulletproof. More likely, it has an AC of 4 or better simply because it's hide is so thick and rubbery.

Is Mighty Man not a superhero? Here he doesn't think he has a chance of wrecking through that steel door, like most any superhero would be able to do. Or maybe it's the sleep gas making him too woozy to wreck? That's a good example of combining challenges in a trap.

Here we see giants (10-12' tall) created by mad science (giants created by science must have only a 3 Intelligence). Giants can be encountered in groups of 1-10, apparently.

What is going on here? This is The Shark. Does he now have access to the power Teleport through Focus, like The Flame does? Or is he using some sort of projected image that appears to be coming out of the water? The ghostly look of The Shark makes me suspect the latter.

Here's a rather clever tactic, with The Shark sneaking into the hideout, finds the crooks are out, and before even gathering up evidence he takes all their weapons and disposes of them. When they return, they have no choice but to fight unarmed!

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Amazing Man Comics #8 - pt. 3

Dr. Magno turns on his own hoodlums and kills them with gas; bear in mind this is 20 years before the novel Goldfinger.

If Dr. Magno is statted as a superhero (or supervillain in his case, making him one of the earliest in comics), then his redirection of the bullet could be flavor text for Nigh-Invulnerable Skin. With his Armor Class buffed, Dr. Magno simply made the bullet miss.

It's time we dealt with the elephant in this room -- why didn't Iron Skull wreck his way out of this trap before now? After all, a lot of people are dead now for his inaction, including an innocent museum guard. Remember that, last post, I said the magnet's effect seemed like Hold Person, which is much different than just immobilizing someone with chains. If he was not paralyzed, I could see two other factors in play; both the electromagnet and the lack of leverage could be giving IS some serious negative modifiers to his wrecking things roll vs. the chains, perhaps as much as -6.

But assuming he is paralyzed, how does the chains breaking have anything to do with him breaking free of the electromagnet? It doesn't; the chains breaking is just a coincidence. The duration ended on the Hold Person effect -- more evidence of durations in comic books.

Here we see (turn 1) punching (Dr. Magno being knocked prone doesn't seem to affect the combat and may be flavor text), (turn 2) grappling (Iron Skull definitely knocks Magno prone this time), (turn 3) Magno reverse-grapples and establishes a choke hold (with some lucky rolling), (turn 4) Magno breaks loose of hold, (turn 5) delivers 2 punches (both of the final panels are in the same turn).

Jane, the Magician from Mars, looked like a magic-user/superhero last time, but she is all-superhero in this issue.

This page explains how she's half-alien, and how using more of her brain gives her super powers.

Immortality is going to be a high-level power, if it's needed at all.

Telekinesis arrests the jumper's fall? It says Jane jumps down, grabs him, and then bounces back up off one of the boats. It's possible that happened exactly like that, since half-aliens can have fantastic jumping ability.

Jane and the Suicider take an air taxi, as shown here. It seems to be a self-driving vehicle (those Martians sure are advanced!).

Jane displays the power Raise Building. Then she appears to use Super-Punch to knock the Crook into the sky. Of course, there's no way he would still be conscious after a Super-Punch unless he is a high-level Fighter, so perhaps something else like Telekinesis is going on here.

Jane keeps really busy! Now she's helping out at a rodeo (Martians love Earth culture). She grapples with a bull and tosses it pretty far (Extend Missile Range?).

Later, while flying around in her rocket ship, she gets in an aerial dogfight with another rocket ship. The saboteurs' ship has a melting ray mounted on the front, while her ship has some sort of "slices ships in half" ray (or is she Wrecking at Range with her powers?).

We see that trains on Mars travel through pneumatic tubes.

There is a Stop Train power and this seems to be that power reversed.

Jane remembers she's also a magic-user and finally uses a Minor Polymorph spell.

It seems unlikely that we need a Create Ink spell. Jane would probably not ruin the entire lobby just to teach this one guy a lesson, so I'm guessing this is an illusion spell.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus.)