Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Popular Comics #18

Evidence that the best traps are the ones that are activated by your players' own curiosity -- "best" in that they don't appear arbitrary, or seems like the Editor is out to get them.

I've written before about cover, and soft cover vs. hard cover, but maybe that's too little to cover situations like this, when Pat is behind a window with most of his body shielded from harm. Should penalties to hit instead be based on percentage of cover, or is that not abstract enough? Things to ponder...

Like the importance of knowing the range on missile weapons, as evidenced here.

There is a long tradition stretching back to mythology of imagining ways to make man fly. It seems a little odd how often this keeps coming up after the invention of the airplane, but here we have an invented trophy item that makes people float in the air.

Killer whales -- 30 HD, with 10-sided dice? Not something you want to fight unless you're really high level.

Streaky is really observant. In some games, this would come from using the skill system to roll-play the situation, but another way to play this is just to ask smart questions, as the player, and have the Editor come up with smart answers.

Cars that can turn into airplanes are useful trophies. Tolls are terrible things and, apparently, could be as high as 50 cents back in the '30s!

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Adventure Comics #16

Most WWII-era stories follow the familiar narrative of history -- we know who the bad guys and the good guys were from countless stories.  But what's really interesting is to see writers in 1937 trying to guess how things were going to play out in Europe and Asia. Here, in the Monastery of the Blue God serial, we get hints of Russian intrigue in China, and more interesting still is the casting of Poland and Sweden as bad guys!

The adaptation of Haggard's She continues. Here, She administers a Potion of Healing (though one with an apparent onset time of 12 hours), followed by casting what appears to be a new spell. Aging Touch would be a powerful spell -- perhaps a 5th level spell! -- that would cause 1 recipient touched to age 3-30 years permanently.

When Steve Conrad is done monkeying around, he has to tangle with a giant vulture. Giant vultures got statted for H&H in Supplement I: National.

Here's an early example of a whip being used as a weapon, albeit not a very useful one. It seems clear here that a whip should be treated as a melee weapon, despite its length.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

More Fun Comics #21 - pt. 2

I'm not sure what that is Brad Hardy and his buddy are running away from, but the narrator calls it a "land monster" and it looks an awful lot like a dragon. Maybe dragons don't like water? Kind of makes sense.

Here, Brad stumbles across a hidden land, underwater, surrounded by a coral reef that somehow makes the air breathable down here. This is a perfect idea for getting low-level Heroes into an exotic environment and keeping them safe there (although maybe not safe from deadly fish...).

Jack Woods' player might cry foul here, as a cave-in smacks of railroading the players ("railroading" being a technique where the Editor eliminates all other options from the players to move them in the direction he wants the story to go).

The concealed trap door entrance to a hidden hideout is a nice touch, though.

One could easily spend $3.65 on a taxi ride across town in 1937.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

More Fun Comics #21 - pt. 1

I wish we had more of an overhead visual of the layout of this island, because it sounds like an interesting locale for a remote hideout on, not just one, but spread out over a chain of small, uncharted islands. The building that looks like a covered bridge apparently conceals the entrance to the administrative building, which must be mostly underground.

And the hideout is extensively deep, with an elevator needing to go down to where The Brain keeps his lair.

Should punches stun temporarily? There are slim precedents in That Other Game, particularly an old Dragon magazine article I can recall, for setting a small percentage chance of punches stunning, in addition to causing damage.

For this particular instance we don't need it. In this combat, the captain goes first in turn 1, throwing his knife, and then Wing Brady punches at the end of the turn.

At the beginning of turn 2, Wing wins the initiative and attacks first. The captain misses -- but, the results of that miss can be explained away as anything by the Editor using flavor text. "Stunned temporarily" would be a good excuse for the Editor rolling a 1 to hit.

It does seem that H&H needs to have fatigue/exhaustion rules for scenes like this.

Barry O'Neill is going to learn his lesson from this scene -- always disable your enemy's transportation if you find it outside the hideout (or, if you have time, steal it first!).

I might give Mark Marson and his pal a +1 bonus to their saves vs. poison for having smashed the window first.

It seems very unlikely to me that kicking a bear would knock it off-balance. This seems like more flavor text to explain how the bear managed to miss a prone opponent (which the bear has a +2 bonus to hit!).

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Famous Funnies #35

Ah, tetralethadahyde, the ultimate weed killer!  It's easy to make up names for poisons by combining words that sound like poison.

It might be worth it to play a Hero with a hook hand sometime, just so you can have trick hooks that double as files...

Note the unusual gas masks, with big air tanks strapped to the stomach. Definitely early models, if they ever looked like this.

Note that you can punch underwater, even against huge octopi. Giant octopi were, of course, statted in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies.

Also note the way artificial respiration was performed in the 1930s.

Note the short length of time it takes for Dan to recover, even after being beaten unconscious by an octopus. That doesn't happen in H&H. Might still need to think more about that.

The Phantom Magician can't get through a locked door. This shows that spells do have to be prepared in advance, or he could have just cast Knock.

Instead we see what appears to be a couple of new spells. A 2nd level spell would be Conjure Minor Item, which causes something like a coil of rope to appear temporarily.

Magic Sword has got to be a more powerful spell, maybe 4th level, which causes a +1 sword to appear in the M-U's hands and lets him use it temporarily as if a Fighter. In fact, the spell seems so potent, that I wonder if P.M. isn't just a Fighter/Magic-User who already had a +1 Sword on him...

Oh, and there's a green dragon!  Instead of exhaling chlorine gas, it breathes fire through its nostrils.

Since auto-gyros are fairly common in comics (even the Bat-Man had one!), it might help to know how they work.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Star Ranger #4

The topic of reducing falling damage was sort of already covered here.  "Hit the water cleanly" could mean one of two things. It could be that the Editor just happened to roll low falling damage and explained it that way, as flavor text. The other way is that a game mechanic came into play here, either the Editor allowing a save vs. science for no damage because it was a controlled dive into water, or perhaps the player using a stunt like Hit Water Cleanly (which doesn't exist yet, but could).

Player tip -- when playing in the Mythic West, always know the warning signs of a poison water hole.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Star Comics #4

Not much at all to comment on from this issue -- other than this above-average page of Dan Hastings by a young Fred Guardineer.

Is Dan getting too many attacks here? No, the Editor has given him a surprise turn to punch, and then Dan shoots first in the first full turn of combat.

The next edition has disarming rules.

(Scan courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Western Picture Stories #4

We've seen lots of bad guys called bandits to date, but these might be our first "desperadoes".  Apparently, desperadoes like to abduct women; they can ride by and snatch a woman up without slowing their horses.

This game isn't as concerned as some other games are with "stacking" -- that is, the game-within-the-game of finding ways to build bigger and bigger modifiers by stacking cumulative ones. There are some instances where "cumulative" matters, though.

One mechanical area that Hideouts & Hoodlums shares in common with some other current games is "buffing" -- that is, certain powers and stunts "buff-up" a Hero so that he can do things he can't normally do. And, so long as they last long enough that one's duration does not end before the next one is activated, powers and stunts can accumulate.  So that, on this page, it is possible that the good Cowboy on the right has both Quick Draw and Disarming Shot prepared as active stunts.

And then, of course, since this is a Centaur book, there's blatant racism.

Now this page intrigues me for the Chinese Cowboy's apparently throwaway reference to dope. It is possible, of course, that he isn't being too literal here, but then that just begs the question, what did he put in their food?  Dope is not going to show up on either the starting equipment list or in the trophies section of the game anytime soon, which is partly because the comics themselves never seem to know what dope actually does. In this instance, dope makes you sleepy. Later, I'm sure we'll see other, stranger examples of what dope makes characters do.

This page and the next has useful illustrations of weapons that might still be around in an H&H game.

Here we see the Fancy Shooting Cowboy stunt.

This is not a game mechanics issue, but it is a good idea for an Editor to assign a strength and a weakness to each Supporting Cast Member, even animal companions, to help flesh them out as real characters. Sometimes these may figure into the story, such as how this Cowboy Hero's horse is afraid of tumbleweeds, and gets frightened and just the right moment, as someone is trying to steal her.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Funny Picture Stories #7

This page illustrates a) Centaur's horrible racism, b) the importance of evasion when encounters prove too dangerous (see "Avoiding Mobsters" in Book III: the Underworld & Metropolis Adventures), and c) the danger of encountering more than one wandering encounter at a time if an encounter runs long enough.

Also illustrating Centaur's lack of originality at this time, the guy running away was dressed just like Goofy on the first page of this story.

Space adventures are good for fantastic settings, like cloud cities.

Also remember to rename everything with "space" in it, so telescopes become "space-o-scopes".

The valkyrmen are the inhabitants from that floating city. They seem a pretty barbaric lot (so it seems odd that they have a floating city) and fight with spears, but they can fly, they're fast (Mv 120?), and probably 1+1 HD.

Plot hooks don't have to be complicated. They can be as simple as waiting on your sloop for a guy to stroll up and ask you to sail him to an island with an old pirate fortress on it.

When your plot hook comes from some guy named Brute Bransom, though, you've got to be a little more cautious.

Rocky may be willing to fight using biting and gouging, but I don't recommend it for Hideouts & Hoodlums. Let's try to keep things a bit more above the board there, Rocky!

Grappling and pinning an opponent, so you can wail on them with your fists and get the bonus for attacking prone targets is also awfully un-heroic. I might ask a player to save vs. plot before allowing that kind of attack, unless it was a really dangerous situation or the stakes were really high.

It makes sense that mobsters would take advantage of the layout of the hideout and could lure Heroes into position over trapdoors. If I was the player, though, I would balk about how the scene started with my Hero outside the castle, so why is there a trigger for a pit trap outside the castle?

A good cutaway shot of a pit trap, with one wall extending only partway underwater, separating the pit from a natural cavern. The natural columns are a nice touch.

The placement of the treasure seems a bit of a giveaway, though.

Mighty suspicious wall protrusion at that dead end. Show it to your players and see if they trust to touch it!

And lastly I include this page because Lance Darrow is so concerned about U.S. neutrality in the Spanish Civil War. Isolationism was a big deal for the U.S. in the 1930s, but it's a starkly different tact than I took for Superman in my fanfiction.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Funny Pages #11

Another weak, early issue from Centaur Publishing doesn't give me a lot to talk about.

There is the Natural History 2-page spread, with the theme of elephants. Wooly mammoths were statted in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies, but elephants have not been yet. As previously mentioned, elephants will finally get a stat entry in the upcoming Supplement V, but even that will only be for African elephants.  For more variety, treat an Asian elephant as having 5 HD, a pygmy elephant as having 3 HD...

 ...treat mastodons the same as wooly mammoths, but treat imperial mammoths as 11 HD and Colombian mammoths as 12 HD (all d12 Hit Dice, of course).

Sometimes you don't have to go in search of a hideout -- sometimes you accidentally fall into one while skiing. Now, you could take the time to research Indian burial practices and find out they didn't build tombs and start from scratch with a new idea, or you could just ignore facts and build an underground hideout around a tomb, and stock it with all kinds of Indian-like artifacts like totem poles and really wicked, demonic hatchets that are probably +1 or better -- look at that thing!  OR, maybe it's not an Indian burial mound at all, but belongs to some secret race only being discovered now...

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Funnies #9

It's taken me almost half a year now, but we're finally one year before the debut of Superman now.

First rule of being a secret operative: don't tell people you're a secret operative, Dan!

Here's how you do it, Dan. G-Man Jim here will show you how to wear a secret camera in your jacket. And looking for clues on people's clothing (2 in 6 chance to find one, for humans).

I suppose I could say I shared this page for a playing tip, to always remember that the Editor can have people overhear your players plotting whenever they do it in public. But, really, I'm just sharing this page because he's Captain Easy, so it's awesome.

This is an interesting escape, for what Easy doesn't need to pull it off.  He doesn't need a climb skill; since he reaches the rooftop off-panel, we could easily assume he used a ladder. He doesn't wreck things or bend bars to open the window -- he hands her a saw and makes her do it!

I include Tailspin Tommy here because of that great closing shot of the Sargasso Sea. What a hideout crawl that would be, moving from ship to ship, separated both by centuries and only a few feet...

This page is a handy companion to the article on famous jewels I wrote for The Trophy Case no. 9.

This page of Og Son of Fire is fascinating. First we see the cavemen fighting a snow leopard (leopards were last discussed here). We see a caveman skinning a giant sloth (both cavemen and giant sloths were statted in Book II: Mobsters and Trophies) -- and the last encounter looks an awful lot like my gibbon men!  As I mentioned back here, the gibbon men were a cheat, intended to fill a niche in the game without any evidence of their existence, but it's nice to finally see them on the page!

Don Dixon is in a humdinger of a deathtrap -- he and all his friends are tied to a huge stone that will swung down into an active volcano. Other than waiting for the volcano to erupt and make your superstitious executioners afraid, how would you escape?

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)