Thursday, September 10, 2015

Detective Comics #11

Okay, now back to 1938!

Who knew Speed Saunders was so science fictional? Here, Speed has an oxygen evaporator on his diving suit that keeps him from needing an air hose. I'm pretty sure this was never a thing.

Speed's plan is even more unbelievable. He's jumping out of a biplane, after a power dive, in a diving suit, to get quickly to the bottom of the ocean right outside of New York Harbor.  So Speed wants to add the momentum of diving at maybe 300 MPH to his falling speed before hitting the water, bearing in mind that the water here may not be all that deep (New York Harbor was only about 20' deep, though I don't know how deep it falls off outside that).

An Editor would be within his rights to assign Speed's reckless player 30 points of damage...or an Editor could award him 25 XP for a creative way to keep the scenario exciting...

Here, Speed has a portable submarine detector, also known as a remarkably convenient plot device. This is something else that didn't exist; RADAR was around in the 1930s, but you couldn't work it from a device that tiny. Being a kindly Editor is one thing, but "area of effect" or "blast radius" are still things that need to be considered. If you jump overboard from a submarine full of TNT with seconds to spare before it explodes -- and you're a human swimming in a diving suit -- there is no way you swam out of range of taking some damage.

This is from Larry Steele, and I include this as a maybe history lesson. I was not aware they had underground parking garages in the 1930s -- and maybe they did, or maybe this is as fanciful as Speed's portable submarine detector...

Cosmo is a tough character to pin down to a class. My first thought was Fighter, last issue he acted like an Explorer, this issue he starts out like a Detective, and here he is, slinking into the shadows like a Mysteryman.

Speaking of classes, this is the third time in two issues I've seen a disarming shot by someone who's not a Cowboy. I am seriously thinking we need an easier mechanic for disarming shot. Maybe it could be automatic on a successful hit, in lieu of damage?

This is Bruce Nelson using a penknife to pick a lock. Bruce Nelson is clearly a Fighter. Should lock-picking be a skill available to everyone, or a special stunt?

It's also worth remembering, for those of us not in big cities, that street level is not always uniformly level, creating instances like here where basement windows might be accessible in an area behind and below the sidewalk.

No one intentionally kicks a bucket while sneaking; this is what happens when the Editor fails your surprise check.

Like a Jackie Chan fight scene, make sure you've stocked encounter areas with stuff the Heroes can interact with and use to their advantage. Here, Bruce has one bullet left and two "bandits" (they are called bandits, but are not like typical comic book bandits) to defeat, so he shatters a jar of acid and splashes both of them with it. 

I would have handled this by assigning the jar a simple AC of 9 (it is stationery, after all), with a hit causing a 5' radius splash for 1d3 damage.

And, lastly, in this issue's Slam Bradley adventure, Slam demonstrates the Aviator stunt, Wing Walking. I'm more convinced than ever that all of the genre-specific stunts I had previously assigned to the Cowboy and Aviator sub-classes need to become available to all Fighters.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Archives)

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