Friday, August 28, 2015

Feature Funnies #4

The next offering from 1938 is this early issue from Quality. Jane Arden reprints were still as close as we got to action stories, but there's also...

The comedy of Mickey Finn is seldom suitable for Hideouts & Hoodlums lessons, but I thought the sergeant's admonishment "You never want to lose your temper when you're in uniform" is a lesson some police all the way here in the 21st century could benefit to remember.

I also thought it was an interesting idea for a H&H scenario sometime, if the Heroes got a bunch of police officers mad while they were on duty, and then had to confront them all at once later when they were off-duty...

As I sometimes will do, I shared this gag filler because I thought it was uncommonly funny.

Though not referred to by any kind of name, the bad guys on this page of Lala Palooza certainly seem to be anarchists, as statted in Supplement II: All-American.

I've talked several times already about the extreme devaluation of used cars in the 1930s, but the cheap auto you could get for $10 might be serviceable, but would not be in great shape. Here, Bungle has a shot at unloading his refurbished used car for up to $200.

And, lastly, we have an example of a Japanese warplane (the Kawasaki) and its top speed (143 MPH). Good to know for any future H&H campaigns in the Pacific Theater!

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Funnies #16

We finally have reached 1938!  And we'll start with the Alley Oop feature from Dell's The Funnies.  I'm still not sure about showing Alley Oop pages here, so I'll just mention that Alley Oop has to deal with that old trope of crossing a pond full of crocodiles here while hunting for a flightless bird. Crocodiles would be statted the same as alligators, which can be found in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies (and, in fact, the alligator entry supports this).

Goat joke #12!

According to Dan Dunn, at least, a used car in good working order could be had for just $10 in the late '30s.

Bronc Peeler brings us the first instance of "being tied to the ground over an anthill as a deathtrap" in comics, as well as possibly the first instance of male nudity in comics. As far as deathtraps go, this one's pretty mild, since Mexico isn't known for having overly aggressive ants...

Here, Don Dixon tries to make a case for weapon proficiencies, or a rule that limits Fighters to only knowing a limited set of weapons. Or maybe Don is just pretending he doesn't know how to use a bow, because he wants that high Strength modifier for melee combat...

Hideouts & Hoodlums, of course, does not use proficiencies or weapon skills, though some classes are restricted in what weapons they can use.

I can scarcely pass up an opportunity to share a page of my personal pre-Superman favorite, Captain Easy. Here, we're left to interpret how effectively mobsters can feign death. Was Easy really fooled when he checked the man's pulse, or was picking the man up and threatening to throw him out the window just an elaborate way of calling him out? I'm half-tempted to give cowardly hoodlums the ability to feign death...

Here, Easy sees through a disguise, demonstrating that disguise should either have a percent chance of success or a saving throw to see through (auto successes should only occur by magic).

Mutt & Jeff (or at least Mutt, in this case) demonstrates that ability scores like Strength don't rise in H&H no matter what training you do.

...Unless they do. There is an optional rule in H&H that allows for ability score advancement. It has proven to be popular in past campaigns, though it really only seems to apply to Superheroes in the actual comic books...

Renting horses, for 60 cents an hour.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New Adventure Comics #22

I'm doing New Adventure Comics twice in a row to catch up, so this is the December 1937 issue.

And we'll start with Steve Carson of Federal Men, who's helping out the local police on a case (because different levels of law enforcement cooperate perfectly in the comics) and is able to crack a safe, despite safe cracking being "not exactly" in his line. More evidence that skills like cracking safes (picking locks?) should be available to everyone, or at least as one-use stunts.

Further, here Steve Carson applies make-up to disguise himself like an expert.

Previously, I would have bet money that Steve Carson was a good example of the Fighter class...but with these new skills on display, maybe he's a better fit for the Detective class, which appeared in The Trophy Case v. 2 no. 6.

This page is from the Monastery of the Blue God serial. Our Heroes see tat old stone tower and think it would make a nice place to sleep. I see that old stone tower and think it calls out for exploration!  There could even be a multi-level hideout under a spooky old tower like that.

This page also gives us a mini-history lesson, revealing that inflatable air mattresses were around in the late '30s.

New feature star, G-Woman, is pretty lucky here to have a charitable Editor. There is no game mechanic reason why kicking someone in the knee should make them drop their gun.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Archives)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Adventure Comics #21

I'm still playing catch-up on this title, so this is actually the issue of New Adventure Comics from November 1937 and, hopefully, I'll be able to review December 1937 next.

Captain Jim of the Texas Rangers shares a little history lesson for you on how common it used to be for men to write their names in their hats. A good clue if your Heroes happen to find a hat at a crime scene!

Note that the cowboy here is surprised, but his horse isn't. Normally, the Editor only rolls surprise once for each side, but if a Supporting Cast Member (particularly an animal SCM) has extra-keen senses, then that could be reflected in a second surprise roll for that side.

In the Golden Dragon serial, Reilly is frustrated that he can't find a secret door. Actually, he knows the secret door is there -- he just saw some mobsters open and shut it on the previous page. What he can't find is the way to open the secret door. Of course, if there is no opening mechanism on this side, no number of search rolls will find it.

Instead, Reilly could choose to try non-Superhero wrecking, but a stone door would have a very good saving throw and he is probably wary of attracting wandering mobsters for however long that could take.

This month's Federal Men is again devoted to the Junior Federal Men Club (J.F.M.C.). This installment makes crime-fighting look like easy employment; no sooner have the police taken their prisoners then Steve Carson of Federal Men telegrams them congratulations, and another telegram promises them a $500 reward. This system could level up Heroes fast!

There are arguments for and against keeping track of ammo in a H&H gunfight.  A quick argument against: mundane "bean counting" runs counter to the fantasy elements of comic book action; a quick argument for: Cal n' Alec, counting bullets to know when their opponent's gun is empty.

Nadir has a magic crystal ball with an interesting limitation -- it can only be used between 3 am and dawn!  Time restrictions, race restrictions (like, only a merman can operate it), and items that can only be activated by destroying other items (like draining the magic out of lesser magic items) are all more inventive ways to keep a powerful trophy item from being too powerful, without saying it can only be used once per day, or it only has x number of charges.

What's this?  Nadir, Master of Magic, using guns! That's a big no-no for Magic-Users. But he's not really using them, is he? He's just holding them and, perhaps, planned to bluff his way through an encounter holding them, but wouldn't be able to hit the broad side of a barn with them.

I had a similar situation in an earlier H&H campaign, where a player wanted his Magic-User to carry a bow and arrows. He accepted that he would have no chance to hit with them in combat; he just wanted them for how he envisioned his character.

Another magic item, and this one's a new one -- Nadir apparently has a Ring of Alertness, that keeps him from being surprised.

Sandor encounters a lion here who treats him as if he already knew him. It's possible, actually, that Sandor had encountered this lion before and recruited it as a SCM, either behind the scenes or during some earlier installment I've forgotten or never got to read. An Editor can also, at his discretion, allow a player to make up SCMs from his backstory. The Editor must be careful, though, to consider the implications and how the Hero might benefit. Having a lion for a friend could be an unfair advantage over the other Heroes.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Archives)

Monday, August 24, 2015

More Fun Comics #27

Sandra of the Secret Service encounters one of the first gas guns in comics, well before the debut of the Sandman. Gas guns are a trophy item statted in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies.

This issue's Dr. Occult story is a tricky one. We have seen Dr. Occult (although he was called Dr. Mystic at the time) travel through other planes before, but here the implication seems to be that Dr. Occult can follow "trails" through the spirit world to places he doesn't know. This would seem to combine ethereal travel with a spell like Find the Path, which sounds like it would be powerful enough to at least be an 8th level Magic-User spell. Since I doubt even Dr. Occult should be high enough in level at this time to be casting spells of that level, there must be something else going on here.

I propose, then, a new spell called Improved Locate Object, or something like that, which not only tells you where something is, but allows you to get there twice as fast you can normally travel. The story doesn't actually support that Dr. Occult knows an object from the crime scene, but perhaps there is more going on there that is behind-the-panels. Also, travel through the spirit world could be a flavor text description of how you travel at x2 speed to your destination.  The range would have to be pretty good for this as well, at least twice the range of a normal Locate Object spell.

Dr. Occult battles a new mobster called the snake-god.  It appears to be a giant constrictor snake, but is intelligent and able to hypnotize with its gaze. I'd give it at least 5 HD, and possibly as high as 7 Hit Dice.  The death convulsions of a snake-god are particularly vicious, so that anyone in 10' would have to save vs. plot or take 1d6 damage from being smacked by a dying snake.

 Dr. Occult also casts Enlarge (or Enlargement) on himself, which definitely should increase strength and give a damage bonus in some way.

Moving on, we have this page from the Fang Gow serial, showing Barry O'Neill lassoing a rooftop and crossing that rope hand-over-hand. Lassoing has been talked about before here; what I wanted to bring up was when and when not to require saving throws.  At first, Barry is not threatened or under any pressure to hurry while crossing the rope. He has no encumbrance weighing him down. I would not make him roll any dice to determine if he makes it across safely.  Only once he is threatened -- in this case by the rope being cut -- would I consider requiring a saving throw vs. science to keep a hold on the rope.

This page of Pirate Gold, with its whipping scene and improvised weaponry, strikes me as a solid case against all weapons doing the same 1d6 damage.  If a whip could do 1d6 damage per lash, not many people would get past the first lash!  I also have trouble accepting that a thrown rock and an auto pistol do the same range of damage -- but maybe that is an example of comic book logic that I should not think about so much!

Brad Hardy has been facing a lot of weird underwater threats for awhile now, but this one is a giant barracuda! Curiously, the barracuda looks like a swordfish in the last panel. I would make a giant barracuda 12' long, weigh 800 lbs., and have 4+1 HD.

In The Yucca Terror, we see the Cowboy stunt Summon Posse at work.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Funny Pages v. 2 #4

A mini-history lesson for you, courtesy of gag filler, where one might not expect to find lessons. It's worth noting, I think, that most Americans in 1937 had no idea that Japan was committing war atrocities in China -- hence, the sandwich board accusing them of being "unfair".

Note that, in comics, bullets cannot shoot through doors, or anything used as cover.

I'm not sure what I should do with the fantasy strip Abdallah. It's definitely an adventure strip, and normally any adventure strip is fair game for H&H treatment, but I don't's also so D&D-like, that it might wind up skewing our results.

Here, Abdallah fights a gigantic snake. It has come up before on this blog that H&H needs a snake bigger than a giant snake.  I'm not sure what to make of the "gigantic monster", though. Is it a dragon...?

Here we see bandits again, but this time they are refreshingly not Mexican bandits.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Feature Funnies #3

I took a few days off there, but I'm back and so is Joe Palooka! Here's a great economics lesson on how far you could stretch $65 back in the 1930s.

Genres are good. They confine characters with similar motifs and tropes into easily defined categories. Genres are a good fit for a class-based game system, if each genre is treated as a class.

The Clock liked to test the boundaries of his genre. He is usually a Fighter or a Mysteryman. But sometimes he used hypnosis like a Superhero, and in this story he seems an awful lot like an Aviator. It's not good for a class-based game if Heroes can casually borrow from other classes' skill sets.

I present this as further evidence that stunts need to be opened up to all classes.

Doing good deeds, I have advised elsewhere, is an easy and potentially steady source for XP in H&H.  Here, Jane Arden reminds us that there can be in-game rewards for doing good deeds as well. Indeed, every good deed is a potential plot hook, if handled creatively.

$26.10 for a doll.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Funnies #15

We've made it to December 1937!

Tad's player is taking a huge risk here, shooting at a snake, while his friend is standing directly on the other side of the snake. Given the circumstances shown here -- and provided Tad's player understands those circumstances, and still chooses to shoot -- I would give the bullet a good chance of hitting his friend if the shot missed the snake (maybe a +1 situational modifier to hit).

Captain Easy is like a comic strip tutorial for playing Hideouts & Hoodlums.  Here, Easy shows you how to create your own plot hook characters!

Scribbly's Mom shows us that, even when a mobster encounter begins hostile, you can still ask the Editor for another encounter reaction check (finally -- finally! -- I found an excuse to showcase a page of Sheldon Mayer's remarkable Scribbly!)

Goat joke!  I've lost track of how many goat jokes we've had so far...

And lastly -- I'm not sure if this was a real thing or not, because we typically haven't seen $100 fines for anything so far in the comics, but according to Daisybelle you could get a $100 fine for picking up a hitchhiker on a highway.
(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New Adventure Comics #20

I didn't realize when I covered the October 1937 stories that I had access to New Adventure Comics #20, so I'm covering it just a tad out of order...

This page of Captain Jim of the Texas Rangers doesn't give us much of a sense of scale for that "gigantic" rattlesnake, but this could be the first giant poisonous snake in comics that isn't from a "tall tale"-like story.

This probably won't ever become an official Hideouts & Hoodlums rule, but if you ever miss a cowboy with an attack roll that's only 1 number off -- it should shoot off his hat.

There's a lot of grappling attacks going on here on this page. In some game systems, the player of Ian Murray would have to pick a different, specific grappling move each turn, each with different game mechanics attached to it. In H&H, the Editor has more latitude and is expected to describe the fight based on the dice rolls.  This seems to be a particularly vicious fight, so both sides must be rolling very well to hit and for damage...

There might be some exceptions I would make to my above statement, like in the case of a flip/throw attack, since this attack is unusual in that it leaves the opponent prone instead of held.

It's difficult to have a realistic rate of fire for missile weapons -- even for comic book realism -- and have any kind of game balance that would make Heroes reasonably choose melee over missile weapons. Here Ian cracks off 2-3 shots per combat turn with a single-shot rifle. Two shots would be possible if he was 4th level or higher in H&H.

This issue's installment of Federal Men is dedicated to the demonstrating the value of having half-pints as your Supporting Cast Members. Heroes like Steve Carson can recruit half-pints via ham radio! Half-pints loyal to Heroes are ever-vigilant for signs of crimes, and may be willing to put themselves in danger flattening tires and tripping robbers.

A history/technology lesson here from Monastery of the Blue God for anyone who had trouble picturing what a wireless radio looked like in the 1930s. This is not as portable as an iphone...

A patient Hero is just two lucky rolls away from finding the average secret door -- one roll to find the door and the second roll to find the way to open it. The impatient Hero, though (like Nadir, Master of Magic) finds the door, and then wrecks his way through it with a pick axe (using the non-Superhero wrecking rules, unless a Superhero obviously).

If there was a contest for best feature in this issue, The Adventures of Steve Conrad just won it. Behold the glory of natives riding trained alligators.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Archives)