Thursday, September 29, 2016

Star Comics v. 2 #7

Count Rocco may be the only count in comic books who's not a bad guy. Here, The Rat uses a cat o' nine tails on him. I've already added the whip to the weapons list in Hideouts & Hoodlums, but don't plan on a cat o'nine tails being different, mechanics-wise, from an ordinary whip.

Hanging from your thumbs is pretty serious torture, though. Maybe 1-2 points of damage per minute?  Sometimes time has to be measured in real time measurements instead of turns, since turns have a more flexible meaning, and torture that does 1-2 points over a 4-hour rest turn isn't that scary sounding.

Ooo, what's this? A haunted island? A land of underground caves? Sounds like a great set-up for a hideout crawl to me! And that this is the first stop on a quest to find the Lost Islands sounds like a full campaign! Sadly, this is the last installment we ever see of The Last Pirate.




The grappling attack only lasts one turn underwater. Shortening the length of the combat turn to 30 seconds will allow for longer underwater combats, since Heroes will now be able to hold their breath underwater for 1-12 combat turns.


This is from Dash of the 100th Century and, while a gag strip instead of an adventure strip, I include it because there's been no discussion anywhere else about how much an interplanetary rocket would weigh.  Five hundred tons seems a bit much for a rocket that size but...maybe it's made of super-dense metals, in order to survive the rigors of space, or to help establish gravity?

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Amazing Mystery Funnies v. 2 #8 - pt. 2

Air-Sub DX raises the issue again of giant robots. Should the basic H&H book include a mobster type that is impossible to beat in straight-on combat (discounting wrecking things for a moment), just to properly emulate the comic books of the time?

Should this be a giant robot, or is this too big for giant? Is this a gargantuan robot instead? Also note that Gargantuan robots have a chance of being armed with magnetic ray beams.



Ah, Carl Burgos, how you're giving me weird stuff to stat for H&H! Living diamonds turned out to be exactly what it said -- diamonds with faces that can talk and float in the area. Or is it flying on a little soap dish-shaped aircraft? It's hard to say. The living diamonds have a breath weapon consisting of molten glass. Yeah...weird stuff...



The Fantom of the Fair is less weird in comparison. We have the familiar story of a prehistoric ape brought back to civilization and runs amok, though this ape is far smaller than King Kong. This is more in keeping with Gigantopithecus, an actual prehistoric ape that was 9 1/2' tall and weighed around 1,100 lbs. It would be a 6 HD ape .



Curiously, The Fantom fought this exact same prehistoric ape only thousands of years ago, long after prehistoric apes like this would have died off.

The ape can wreck things, at least as well as a 2nd level superhero.

Perhaps more curiously, the police at the world's fair seem remarkably well-equipped, with gas masks, sleep gas bombs, and (on this page), anti-aircraft guns.



Once The Fantom gets the ape in a choke hold, the ape's low saves keep him from reversing the hold, and it can't use wrecking things to break the hold because The Fantom is a higher level superhero. The grappling attack renders the ape unconscious first, which is how it is able to take lethal damage from the fall (normally falling damage only makes you unconscious).

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Amazing Mystery Funnies v. 2 #8 - pt. 1

This is the first appearance of Speed Centaur, the first and one of the only centaurs to ever appear in comic books. It's like the editors at Centaur Publishing said, "How can we make a superhero like Superman without getting sued by DC? I know, let's make him half-horse!"

Speed comes from a futuristic city at the North Pole that explodes, leaving him the lone survivor. Sound familiar? I didn't share that page, but this one, that shows that centaurs should maybe have some kind of cold resistance.


I don't think centaurs are generally known for their leaping ability. Seems a lot like the alien race, though. Or would could make an argument for a centaur being a half-alien/half-human character.

Kicking the bear could be the Get Tough power in use. Or it could be the natural hoof attack of a centaur, depending on how one stats Speed.


Okay, we've been told that Speed leaps, but this sure looks like flying to me. That would make Speed Centaur the first flying superhero.


Speed appears to be attacking five hoodlums at once here. Is this the first recorded instance of the power Flurry of Blows?





This is a curious map. "Corubia" is almost surely Colombia. "Martique" looks like Ecuador. "Belcade" could be the Brazilian State of Roraima. Which would make Strath...part of the Amazon? And it's supposed to be mountainous too!  It's an interesting mix of real and fictional geography.


A little known benefit of riding around in a motorcycle and sidecar -- the sidecar can have a machine gun mounted on it. Who knew?



So, The Inner Circle stops this South American war, but with a pretty dodgy plan. It required two agents to slip into a foreign country, then kidnap a minister without getting caught or even detected. The minister had to go along with writing a letter asking the leader of his country to come meet him at a remote cabin with minimal guards, and the leader being stupid enough to comply with it. This was a very generous Editor.


This was a big catch for Centaur, picking up the license for Don Dixon and the Hidden Empire. And this looks to be a pretty exciting installment! This woman is like a will-o-wisp, luring Don out into the swamp so he'll drown, then vanishing. But as the story unfolds, it turns out she's not supernatural at all; she's the queen of the marsh monsters. It isn't explained, but she probably just sinks into the water because she can breathe underwater.



Marsh monsters -- or marsh folk, as they call themselves -- appear to be ugly, hairless humans with small fins on top of their heads and can breathe underwater, except for a small, elite segment of the population that look like ordinary humans (but can still breathe underwater). It is also implied here that marsh monsters are really good at camouflage and ambush.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)













Sunday, September 25, 2016

Comics on Parade #17

One of the earliest mentions of bulletproof vests in comics.



Bill and Nell use fire, strategically, as a barrier. I had just written about this for 2nd edition Hideouts & Hoodlums not too long ago, under combat options.





This is from a gag filler called Grin and Bear It. It's a rare sighting of anarchists in comic books, sightings that will become increasingly rare as Fifth Columnists replace the role of anarchists in stories during the war years.


I also think the top and bottom gags are pretty funny here...


As are the top right and the bottom left panels here. There's a lot of gag filler in this comic book.




Here we see a surprise turn, a morale save made, a successful disarming attack (I've already hinted that disarming guns is going to be much easier in 2nd ed.), and a really successful unarmed grappling attack, throwing this guy on the ground for damage. I have just recently, finally, written grappling rules I'm happy with.

I'm not sure how taking his boots are really going to stop Dave the Fox if he gets loose. Unless maybe he'll be at a -1 penalty to Move because of his bare feet...?

Here's an example of taking environmental damage from really cold weather, enough in fact to knock our hero Billy unconscious. We also learn here that Dave the Fox is actually Neutral in Alignment, making for an unpredictable reaction when meeting Billy again.



This is a reminder to myself to consider putting gnomes into 2nd ed.'s mobster section. On one hand, I'm getting interesting ideas for gnomish culture here (like flower shoes). On the other hand, it seems like gnomes are so tiny in this strip that they might not even qualify for 1 hit point.

Surprisingly, this might be the first mermaid I've seen in the comic books.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)








Friday, September 23, 2016

Popular Comics #42 - pt. 2

From The Masked Pilot, this is a rare sighting of a motorcycle and sidecar. Initially, I treated these as trophy items, but, really, it shouldn't be that hard for anyone to go out and buy one in a 1930s-40s campaign.


But this is why most forms of transportation better than cars are treated as trophy items. I mean, do you want this bomber plane, with its light cannon and machine guns, available to your players? Or the better question is, are you ready for it yet?



I've seen some complicated deathtraps before, but this is an overly complicated escape from a deathtrap. Our G-Man hero and this poor beat cop go to an awful lot of trouble relaying the explosive to each other. One missed attack roll to catch it and that bomb could hit the ground and go off! Or --our G-Man hero could have simply stepped on the fuse and snuffed it out...


Here is a good example of a hero's reputation, as I recently discussed here. This is also a great example of a neutral villain, one who might have attacked if he hadn't recognized Jack Randall, but is just as happy not to get into a fight with the Hero.


It seems like a smart plan; Bronc has let a prisoner go free so he can follow him back to the hideout, left a horse out for the prisoner to steal, and made sure a horseshoe was missing so he'd be easy to track. But what if the prisoner had skipped the horse and gone on foot instead? The save vs. plot can be used for when the player needs for his plan to work.

I like the verticality of this abandoned mine hideout already. I imagine there would be a lot of little rooms separated by ladders instead of corridors.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Popular Comics #42 - pt. 1

People have died from falling off horses in real life, but you don't expect to see that in a comic book and you don't expect that in most RPGs, where falling damage is assigned to specific distance thresholds (like 10' = 1-6 damage). Here, then, is an unusual example for two reasons -- a rare example of taking falling damage for falling less than 10', and a rare complication from an injury. Granted, this is a minor character and not a Hero, but I might still compile these injuries into a table that will be rolled on for non-Heroes.


Speaking of unusual -- here is a rare example of someone attempting to recruit a non-Hero character to, if not his supporting cast, at least to his cause, and failing; probably because of a failed initial encounter reaction roll.



The mobster type "cowardly hoodlum" comes from Bruce Wayne's famous remark "criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot." I had wanted there to be both cowardly hoodlums and superstitious hoodlums from the start, but I was stymied by how to make the superstitious hoodlum a unique set of stats. And I'm still not satisfied with how I did it.

Which brings us around, finally, to this page of Shark Egan. These are sailors, or sailor-hoodlums, but they are definitely superstitious. And I see now that the difference between a cowardly hoodlum and a superstitious hoodlum is that the superstitious hoodlum actually has good morale, until you spook him.

And then there's also a shark!

As of now, I have no plans to include any game mechanic about being blinded by your own blood to Hideouts & Hoodlums. Notice how the kid seems almost excited about it. Forget Batman -- I'd be scared to meet The Hurricane Kids in a dark alley!

And this vine climbing is a good example of why H&H has to move to a separate skill system instead of folding it into the saving throw mechanic. The kid isn't reactively avoiding anything, he's actively climbing. And I definitely wouldn't just hand wave the mechanics here, since there's a good chance of him falling and taking serious damage.

Now this is great example of concealing the entrance to a hideout. The only way in is to climb straight down a sheer vertical cliff face about 20' (with the risk of a drop much further) to a pterodactyl nest, with a crevice concealed behind it. Also note the small size of the tunnel -- not all hideouts need to be built on a 10' scale.

Mini-hideout map!



This is complicatedly named Mr. Wong, Detective, Featuring Boris Karloff. Sorry for the mystery spoilers, but the idea of glass balls filled with poison gas shattered by a remote siren seems like a good idea for a trap to me.


Funny! The page is called Hold Everything.




Really? An hour to extricate someone from a tree? That's six exploration turns. Either the Editor was making The Masked Pilot's player keep rolling skill checks and the player was really unlucky, or it's harder to extricate a person from a tree than I would have thought.

And what's this with The Masked Pilot's credentials? Is this the prototype for Dr. Who's psychic paper? Maybe credentials should be a trophy item that serves as a "gets the police to do whatever you want" card.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)





Friday, September 16, 2016

Feature Comics #23 - pt. 2

It's little uses like this -- ventriloquism for a non-serious diversion - that led me to rethink one-use stunts and expand it to include a skill system.

Used cigarettes, an empty matchbook, and broken glasses are all good clues to leave behind at a crime scene.


This seems pretty clever -- trick kidnappers into coming out of hiding by pretending you're trying to undercut them.

I also think more good guys should call the bad guys "suckers".



The first mobster clearly fails his morale save upon seeing The Clock. But later, when circumstances change, the same mobster is given a second morale save and gets a different result.



This is Rance Keane. It's unlikely that the rattlesnake is just a wandering encounter; more likely, the Editor has set encounter areas around the waterhole, like an open-air hideout, and the rattlesnake is just in one of them and the bandits in another. It's certainly unusual to set up encounter areas like this that are within line of sight with each other, but would make for a challenging scenario.


A pretty funny Off the Record panel.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)