Thursday, November 12, 2015

Detective Comics #16

We're just six months away from the debut of the Bat-Man at this point, so instead of him -- let's talk about Larry Steele, Private Detective!

This installment of Larry's adventures features a pretty exciting gunfight in a burning warehouse. Caught on a four-story roof ledge with fire behind him, Larry jumps and catches a fire escape on another section of the building to save himself. This is a big warehouse -- four stories tall, with what appears to be an alley running up the middle of it, nearly dividing the warehouse in two (and hence providing the gap that Larry has to jump over). Heroes could spend a whole game session just exploring this warehouse!

It does bring up the question, though -- how far can a Hero leap (without being an alien, or buffed by powers)? The world record for a running broad jump (and we'll assume in this case that the fire was not so close behind Larry that he couldn't back up and get a running start) is over 29 feet -- but I'm not suggesting that every Hero should be able to jump that distance. Indeed, I would say that any Hero trying to clear over 15 feet should have to save vs. science to clear the rest -- up to 29 feet maximum.

There's even an idea here for a nifty trap, when the floor gives way under the bad guy called "Snow", and then the ceiling collapses on top of him and pins him to the floor. Now, in an ordinary building, with 8-foot high ceilings, falling damage between floors would be negligible, because it's less than 10 feet. In a high-ceilinged warehouse, though, falls might be 1d6 or even 2d6 damage (per 10' fallen, of course), with the weight falling on top of them doing an extra 1d6 of damage, and necessitating a save vs. science to avoid being pinned and immobile.

Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise, investigates a case of jewel theft from a museum perpetrated by (spoilers!) fake undead. Night watchmen are being temporarily driven mad or dying from fright when they see a mummy costume, painted in phosphorous, hanging from a pole so it appears to be floating. I'm interested, now, in introducing a new mobster type called undead imposter, who can Scare Good Guys (like the power, reversed) -- but Editors have to be careful with using this. If fake undead can do this, then what would happen in your game if people saw real undead?

Bruce Nelson encounters the world's worst secret door -- it's opened by turning the light switch in the room.

Bart Regan, Spy, demonstrates how easy it is to unlock a door with a hairpin. Very likely, picking locks will become a basic skill for all Heroes -- with the prerequisite of asking a woman for a hairpin.

Buck Marshall overhears the slang term ranny, which I've found out means "cowboy" or "ranch hand".

This month's Slam Bradley confirms that Slam is from Cleveland, same as Superman. Slam not only takes tap dancing lessons for $3 a lesson, but learns to tap dance in only five hours.  Hideouts & Hoodlums has no skill system, nor any game mechanic you could tie directly to tap dancing. You could use a save vs. plot to decide if the Hero tap dances well enough, offering a +1 bonus for every four hours (length of a downtime turn) spent practicing beforehand.

Despite taking place in New York, Chief Gage from Cleveland, Slam's nonviolent foil, returns. This police chief turns up just to laugh at Slam and Shorty and impede their investigation. These characters should not be treated as Supporting Cast, since they have no loyalty to the Hero. Likewise is a new rival character, PI Joan Carter. A rival is looking to complete the same scenario faster (though by the end of the story it appears that Slam has recruited Joan into his SCM roster).

(Available to read online via Comic Book Archives)

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