Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Popular Comics #2 - pt. 1

A little Chicago blizzard slowed down my posting there for a few days, but we're now up to March 1936 and the second issue of Popular Comics!

In Little Orphan Annie, is Punjab casting some kind of Message spell by drumming on an old log, or is this some more plausibly scientific form of communication?  As with many things about Punjab, we're left unsure if it is magical or not.

Mutt and Jeff don't get into a lot of adventures, so we won't be seeing much of them here.  Bulls, however, are featured in comics at least as often as goats, and just as absent in the Hideouts & Hoodlums game so far.  Bulls are powerfully big animals; I would assign them a whopping 6 Hit Dice, a gore attack that does 1-10 points of damage, and a trample attack that does 1-12 damage, but the bull must be charging to use both and then suffers a -2 penalty to hit if the defender dodges from side to side. 

Mutt clearly survives here solely by very lucky damage dice rolls from the Editor...

It might be constructive to point out when something is not indicative of a game mechanic.  Here, in Terry and the Pirates, we see our Heroes forming a human pyramid to reach a high window. This does not necessitate any kind of climbing check. A particularly strict Editor might require a save vs. plot to climb a tree, as Terry does, but most people can climb a tree easily enough so -- unless there were no low branches -- such a roll could easily be waived.  And when Terry dons a dress, he's not attempting to disguise himself in the sense that he's trying to pass muster as a girl while interacting with the skull-faced villain; Terry is using it to try and get surprise at the beginning of the combat turn. If Terry succeeds at his surprise roll, then we can assume the disguise was successful; it would not need a second roll to determine if the surprise was a particularly good one.

Here we see an example of an old trick that any Editor can use. The Editor tells his players the mobsters shoot, rolls some dice -- and then ignores the results because the mobsters never intended to hit in the first place.  The rolling of the dice was just for unnerving the players.  This also works great with wandering encounter checks...

Just happening to find an old biplane in a barn, like Smilin' Jack does, could have been circumstance forced by a stunt used by the Aviator, but it is not so unlikely a plot point that the Editor did not place the plane there himself. Back in the 1930s, when airports were much less common, renting space in barns and taking off on their property was much more common.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum at  http://www.digitalcomicmuseum.org/index.php?dlid=1631)

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