Thursday, January 8, 2015

Famous Funnies #10

It's only May 1935, so what brings us back to Eastern's Famous Funnies again so soon?  Well, there's some interesting pages from Hairbreadth Harry.  This one has an intriguing idea for a trap -- beware of ledges shaped like luge tracks leading up to mountaintop hideouts!  Also, Editors, be careful about placing secret doors and/or secret elevators that allow villains to circumvent things you really want your players to encounter, as their Heroes may find the secret doors too (Ask me about the time I once placed a secret door that foolishly bypassed the entire dungeon straight to the boss villain)!

The equipment list for Hideouts & Hoodlums goes into specifics when it comes to guns, intended for the sake of historical accuracy, but it is actually rare for a gun to be called anything more specific than a revolver in the comics. This instance, then, of the villain's weapon being referred to as a .38 is actually pretty unusual and worth noting.

Harry also demonstrates tracking here, a pretty commonplace skill in the comics, that debuted as a skill for Mysterymen and Explorers (character classes debuting in Supplement I: National and The Trophy Case v. 1 no. 2 respectively), and then became a "stunt" (or temporarily effective skill) for Cowboys (in Supplement III: Better Quality).  In the next edition, Mysterymen will have stunts that they expend for automatic successes and a low percentage chance of success they can try all the time.

H&H started out being mainly a superhero-oriented role-playing game, but as it developed it became clear to me that it was equally adept at emulating other comic book genres, such as aviation, cowboy, horror, science fiction, true crime, and war (with the occasional nod to other genres, like how anthropomorphic animals were statted in Supplement III to represent the funny animal genre).  But H&H does require some degree of seriousness from the stories in order to best emulate them. And Hairbreadth Harry does, quite often, not take itself very seriously.

If a player says his Hero will break off the head of a cane, tie a rope to it, and use it as a boomerang to tie someone to tree, the Editor is within his rights to say "Not a chance".  Perhaps in a light-mood campaign the Editor might say "Roll me a 20-sider and, on a 20, that happens" or something like that.

Boomerangs will, incidentally, be on the starting weapons list for the next edition.

If Jane Arden was an H&H Hero, her player might be right to think the Editor was out to get her. Jane, our plucky heroine, seems to be a level 1 Fighter at best (though she might be a higher level Detective, the sub-class of Fighter that debuted in The Trophy Case v. 2 no. 6), and clearly outmatched by her opponent, an approximately 4 Hit Dice tiger (regular tigers were never statted for H&H, though sabre-tooth tigers and "black tigers" were; perhaps this oversight will be corrected in the next edition).  So what is going on here?  Or rather, how would I explain this page in terms of an H&H scenario?

Jane is unarmed and with little in sight she could improvise as a weapon (though a combat-happy player might improvise a garrote out of the safety line).  Vs. a tiger, this is clearly meant to be a thinking problem for Jane's player to solve. Does she climb back up the safety rope, out of the tiger's reach?  It seems to me that would have been her best option, but the Editor wisely places a wild card into the scenario -- the elephant. Not wanting the elephant to dominate the scenario, the Editor perhaps gives a 2 in 6 chance each turn that the elephant will become enraged and attack the tiger, and then dices for it.

Another possibility here is that Jane's player wisely prepared for this scenario before the tiger appeared. Her feeding of the elephant represents a successful recruitment of a Supporting Cast Member. True, she would need to have had an empty slot for a SCM or give up an older one, but once the elephant was on her list of SCMs, Jane's player could suggest its actions, for which the Editor would have to fail a loyalty check to veto.

((Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus))


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