Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Star Comics #1

Yes, Baby Ruth candy bars are awesome.  Yes, they should be considered treasure (though perhaps not worth actual experience points...).  This was the first of many Baby Ruth ads found in early Centaur comics.

Women's purses -- the equivalent of a utility belt -- are handy to have around and for carrying useful tools, like a file. Files, while missing from the starting equipment list, should be readily available and useful for cutting through ropes.

Bob Phantom demonstrates the value of traveling with magician's stage equipment, like a disappearing cabinet.  You always have a hiding place with you!

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Funny Picture Stories #4 - pt. 2

It's clear that Centaur led with their best submissions and were pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point in the issue -- though that is not to say we can not learn a few things for Hideouts & Hoodlums from even sloppy comic book work.

Continuing where I left off yesterday, here we find it suggested that quicksand not only sucks you under even when you're motionless, but that it somehow causes damage and can render you unconscious!  Not sure how that would work...maybe save vs. science or take 1-3 points of damage per turn?

This is from a story about poaching and, while not exciting territory for most H&H scenarios, I thought the fake post truck with a hunting blind hidden in the back might be a good trophy item someday.

And I include this page from the poaching story only for a playing tip -- weighing stations are a good place to get information about any trucks you might be following.

This story was awful confusing to follow, but I include this page because it shows how small miniature cameras were in the 1930s.

This is from yet another story, and I include this page to point out the importance of level titles and how they are sort of a game mechanic. The guy in the cap probably did not show up in the local police station and get carte blanc treatment because of a lucky encounter reaction roll (at least, the Editor probably should not use encounter reaction rolls in that way).  Rather, our Hero must "outrank" the police officer here, as a higher level Fighter than the officer. That allows the Hero to order lower level Fighters around.

In this example, our Hero remembers seeing a box of dynamite in the mobsters' lair. He intends to shoot the box through a window. If a player ever asks for a handout like this, the Editor would be within his rights to say, no, there's no way the box would have been left just so perfectly lined up with the window. Or, "roll a save vs. plot and, if you succeed, the shot is possible -- but you'll still have to roll a 20 exactly on your to hit roll to hit the box."

Sometimes, leveling the upper floors of a hideout may be the most expeditious way of gaining access to the "good stuff" on the lower levels of the hideout below ground. In this case, the underground passage connects two sections of the hideout -- the cabin and a nearby aircraft hangar.

Arr, matey!  Tom Dawson SeaScout is one of those series that tries to teach us all about how to talk like nautical folk. We also get a good sense for the scale and layout of a schooner, which -- while a trifle old-fashioned even in the 1930s -- could still make a good transport-trophy.

Tugboats could also be useful for Heroes to have, particularly if they have large trophy ships they need to maneuver in or out of the harbor.

I never statted monkeys for H&H, but that might have been an error. This little monkey is a combat machine, disarming this yellow peril hoodlum before stabbing her with her own weapon!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Funny Picture Stories #4 - pt. 1

Let's be honest -- Centaur might have never amounted to anything based on the issues I've reviewed so far here. But with Funny Picture Stories #4, here, we see the infusion of relevance with the arrival of Will Eisner.   The Brothers 3 will not stand the test of time as great literature, but we begin to see a cinematic elegance here that will become one of Eisner's trademarks.

 Here, in true Hideouts & Hoodlums tradition, we see how the Hero resolves an argument when the encounter reaction roll doesn't go in his favor!  We cannot say from here if Capt. Smith has surprise or not, but he definitely won initiative. How different this story might have gone had he gone last in the combat turn!

Here's some of that cinematic stuff I mentioned. With this, it gets hard to say how much we're looking at game mechanics being resolved vs. how much of it is simply flavor text. Should the Editor simply hand-wave all rolls to jump from horseback to the underside of a passing plane just because it looks so cool, or is this is a case of saving vs. science, coupled with a to-hit roll?

This is interesting -- the falling damage the Hero and the villainous sheik took seems to only be temporary subdual damage here, yet in H&H all falling damage is considered potentially lethal damage and heals slowly. Perhaps all reference to them being unconscious is merely more flavor text?  Then the contest here is only which of the fallen manages to get back up on his feet first, determined by a simple initiative roll.

And then there's Rocky Baird, a sort-of poor man's Captain Easy.  This guy even looks a little like Easy, though we'll find out in a page or two that this isn't Rocky.  But is he a SCM or another player-controlled Hero?

Note that hardly anyone in this deadly firefight is dodging for cover. Everyone seems to be counting on bad dice rolls!  Since our good guy is apparently dodging 12 attack rolls in this first turn, he is either extremely lucky, or is a player-controlled Hero getting his save vs. missile for each bullet.

We also get some idea here about how many bandits should be encountered together.

Okay, spoiler -- this is Rocky showing up in the plane. Rocky doesn't have the overwhelming advantage here he might appear to have.  As mentioned previously, there is the penalty to hit based on speed for vehicular combat, offset only barely by the +1 situational modifier he would gain for attacking from above. If the bandits had not failed their morale saves, he would still be a target to retaliatory shots fired (though he would have the benefit of both hard cover from the plane and his save vs. missiles for evading gunfire).

You can almost smell the testosterone as these two Heroes meet. That they intend to hurl themselves against an army of a thousand bandits might seem like suicide, but the coming pages will demonstrate how area effect weapons and morale rules work in the Heroes' favor.

The stats for grenades in H&H Supplement I: National say they are good over a 10' area of effect, but if thrown off a plane I would still make the Hero roll to hit the machine gun nest, considering how far off the mark the grenade bag could have landed. The players here would have been very lucky, considering the penalty to hit for the machine gunner is so great that the plane has been missed at least four times, and then the thrown grenade bag hits on the first try with much the same penalties.

Also, though I would treat the damage as cumulative for however many grenades are in the sack, I would not treat the area of effect as cumulative.

Though The Trophy Case no. 8 dealt with plane mishaps, it failed to cover what would happen in the event of a crash, and one's chance of survival.  Heroes tend to walk away from crashes fairly often, so I would be comfortable allowing them a save vs. science to take only 1d6 damage from a crash.

As this unnamed protagonist discovers, sometimes solving a mystery is just too hard, but hanging around waiting for wandering encounters to come by is a lot easier.

Now what to do about quicksand?  Most people by now know that quicksand doesn't really work this way, and yet should it not work in H&H like it does in the comic books?  In that case, any contact with quicksand might require a save vs. science to avoid being sucked down into it, even if motionless.  And if your players complain, show them this page!

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Funny Pages #8

Not much to report from this month's Funny Pages...

Just like the aviation genre was really all about the planes, some creators tried to invent a nautical genre that was all about the boats, and the jargon of sailors. Jerry Frost here teaches us exactly what a sloop is, which turns out to be a useful trophy item.

Not technically a goat joke, but again -- we have goats.

Skipper Ham Shanks and his pals learn about the wow bird -- part mobster/part trophy item. The wow bird is like a living lie detector.

And, being a Centaur comic book, there's rampant racism. Remember their motto:  if it's Centaur, it's racist.

And here's the bird itself.  As a non-combatant animal, it probably wouldn't get statted at all, but would either be considered a living trophy or a Supporting Cast Member, if the Editor wanted to ever roleplay a flightless bird that shouts "wow".

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Popular Comics #13

Nebbs reminds me that, when I statted half-pints for Hideouts & Hoodlums Book II: Mobsters & Trophies, I should have given them some natural climbing ability.

Maw Green's pearls of "wisdom" usually just annoy me, but this installment has some useful 1930s pricing information:  prunes – 10 cents a can, bananas – 15 cents a bunch, soup – 7 cents a can.

Dick Tracy runs into more "gangland trickery" -- a car with a concealed machine gun under the hood that shoots through the radiator grill. This is a good example of combining two hi-tech trophy items to create a new item.

Gasoline Alley features a map to a gold mine that you can read over Mr. Bat's shoulder and use in your home campaign.

This page of Tom Mix would take some explanation to fit H&H. First, he is hearing noise, as if at a door (with the same 2 in 6 chance of success).

The chance of the floor crumbling is a trap (perhaps a 2 in 6 chance of crumbling each turn 180+ lbs. remains on it).

Falling and landing on an opponent and damaging the opponent has been covered previously. Falling and landing on two opponents -- that's just a freebie from the Editor.

Here's another freebie -- apparently, the Editor rolled for surprise after Tom fell and gave him a free surprise turn to act. Normally, if the Editor felt the situation warranted a surprise roll, the mobsters could only be surprised long enough for Tom to get back on his feet, not to move as well.

The firefight in the dark is tricky too. Tom is in complete darkness, so the gunmen are at a -4 to hit penalty against him. But, the gunmen are in dim light -- a charitable assumption by muzzle flashes alone -- so Tom still has a -2 to hit them. That Tom hits them all with rocks before they shoot him is quite lucky.

I'm not sure, but remain skeptical that H&H needs a game mechanic to cover pinning someone's clothes to the wall. It seems more like flavor text to me...

Now, Don Winslow might be making sense -- I helped you against a rampaging jaguar, now you help me -- right? For a one-time favor, an Editor could easily hand-wave the encounter reaction roll and rule by common sense. However, if Don was looking to recruit those natives long-term, or to put them in mortal danger, then the Editor would still be right in rolling randomly for an encounter reaction.

Bos'n Hal learns that the U.S. Navy decided in the 1930s that dirigibles were obsolete, so they became available for sale (the police dirigibles on Batman: The Animated Series were probably Navy surplus dirigibles). However, given their limited availability and a presumedly high price, I still plan to keep them off the starting equipment list.

And, lastly, Skippy makes me think I may have underestimated how many hit points half-pints have. Or are these 3rd-level half-pint fighters?

(Scans courtesy Digital Comic Museum)

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Adventure Comics #12

Nomads are an obscure mobster-type in Hideouts & Hoodlums Book II: Mobsters and Trophies and one I always debated over including; there just didn't seem to be much I had that set them apart from brigands. Now I can see that nomads should, instead, stand out as the only mobster type that specializes in horseback combat.

As the Gold Dragon serial shows, "gold pieces" can still turn up as a form of treasure in a modern-day adventure -- at least ones taking place outside the U.S.

Sometimes I just ignore silly creatures in the funny strips, but the tree cobra seems like an interesting idea, so -- why not? -- I'll talk about the elephog as well.  The elephog, an evolutionary dead-end that includes characteristics of elephants and giant hogs, would be a 9 HD monster.  A tree cobra, on the other hand, would likely be no more than 2 HD, with its poisonous bite being more dangerous than its combat abilities.

The Spy character class debuted in The Trophy Case v. 2 no. 5 and remains unplaytested, to my knowledge.  Spies, as Sandor demonstrates, make useful allies, even if just Supporting Cast Members.  Spies should also have a higher than normal chance to hear noises, as demonstrated here.

I normally ignore imaginary tales/dream sequences...but it seems this imaginary glimpse into the year 3000 was meant to be taken seriously.  Some standard equipment items we can expect our police to have by then include "thought vibrators" (not as dirty as it sounds) that detect evil thoughts over a long range, one-man space flyers, and ingestible transmitters that allow their superiors to hear everything around them (not unlike dashboard cams).

Also standard issue are invisibility bills and a hypodermic needle that injects some sort of sleeping poison.  Invisibility pills are the one thing already found in H&H (Book II, of course!).

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Famous Funnies #30

We'll start today with War on Crime and the oft-ignored "no. appearing" stat for mobsters (so oft that you'll only find it in Supplement I: National!).  As you can see here, G-Men really like to outnumber the mobsters they hunt down -- in this case, by a factor of 8 to 1!

Goat joke #6 (I told you I was going to start keeping track!).

First appearance of throwing knives as weapons?

I love this page of Scorchy Smith.  We don't see much of the hidden hideout, but that it is accessible via a rope ladder concealed among overhanging vines, and then you climb up onto an overgrown ledge with a short, locked door, which leads into a laboratory -- those are great details for a hideout.

Also note that Scorchy picks the lock, a skill normally associated only with Mysterymen, but here performed by an Aviator.  Hmm...

A new mobster type: fortune hunter, hoodlums who seduce rich women?  Or is this just a slick hoodlum?

Another terrain map for someone to use in their Hideouts & Hoodlums campaigns.

It's not surprising for a page like this to have its facts wrong, but snakes aren't all this slow. According to a quick Internet search, black mambas can move at 10 MPH.  I might need to double-check how fast I have snakes moving in their stats...

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Funnies #4 - pt. 2

While a stone age campaign based on Alley Oop would be more like modern-day living with a stone age backdrop, a campaign more like Og Son of Fire would deal with more realistic issues, like hunting to survive, and navigating threats like superstitious people and the constant threat of stoning.
Should "sinister stranger" be a mobster type? These two are obviously some type of hoodlum.  Perhaps sinister hoodlums would try to corrupt others into working with them.  Looks like they have a vamp in their "secret hideout" too.

Don Dixon falls into a trap; the bridge is rigged so that the ropes can be pulled taut enough to snap (mechanically, from a remote distance), dropping anyone on it into the water below (it looks to me like a 30' drop).  Not sure what the bad guys mean by "microscope" here, unless they meant "television"...

Look-outs are a mobster I should have added ages ago.  A look-out would not be much in a fight, so maybe 1-1 HD at best, but they were be hard to surprise -- 1 in 6 only.

Added to the bridge-drop trap is that the water Don was dropped into is a "raging torrent" that leads to a whirlpool. A whirlpool is a pretty serious deathtrap, maybe save or die every turn until rescued.  I can't be sure why the water is warmer around the whirlpool, but can guess that Don might have wet himself...

H&H does not have much for dangerous fungi, a niche that the honey death mushrooms introduced in The Trophy Case v. 2 no. 6 was meant to fill.

Elks have not yet been statted for H&H, but would likely have 5 HD.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)