Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Action Comics #5 - part 2

In Tex Thompson's new adventure, he takes a chance on sneaking into the villain's hideout and challenging him directly to a duel, rather than fight his way through the villain's henchmen. Should the villain accept? If it makes the story work better, he should accept. If the Editor doesn't have a good deathtrap planed for the villain to place the Hero in, he should accept. Otherwise, the Editor can use an encounter reaction roll, with a positive result meaning that he takes the challenge.

Scoop Scanlon, Five Star Reporter, has an unusual dilemma -- he's after a robber who is hiding out in the hill country, but he's been so generous to the poor locals that they all work together to hide him. This could be a good scenario for Heroes, forcing them to deal with innocent locals on the wrong side of the law without (hopefully) shooting them or beating them up.

Zatara, Master Magician, likes throwing around a lot of spells in his adventures, and we can almost always count on some new ones. Here, he casts a new spell, Invisibility 5' Radius, so that anyone standing right next to him becomes invisible too.  He uses Detect Thoughts on an unconscious person -- the spell description says nothing about if this would work or not, so it seems like a call left to the Editor's discretion (I like leaving things up to one's own discretion).  He also casts Passwall, Dancing Lights, Knock, Phantasmal Force, and Fly on himself. He casts a "suspended animation" spell on Tong, but this might just be Hold Person. The new wrinkle is that, apparently, if you have Hold Person cast on you, you don't need to breath.

He casts the new spell Spirit Projection -- which seems to be his favorite spell! -- and we find out something new, that high-level Magic-Users have a chance of detecting the invisible spirit form (or maybe it's an incremental chance that goes up by level?).  He casts the new spell we've seen him before that Polymorphs an object, temporarily, into another object or animal (a mirror into a snake -- or is this an illusion?).  Zatara casts another new spell that seems like Mass Fly -- everyone in a 30' x 30' area grows wings that let them move at twice normal speed? The narrator makes it seem like the spell is even more potent than that, but I'd hesitate to let it go even faster. Even now, I'd probably make this a 5th level spell.

Polymorph spells is going to be a tricky issue. Polymorph magic is currently just high-level stuff in H&H, even just to turn into an animal. But what about a spell that can turn someone else into a flower? I think we can bring that down to 5th-level magic, if it's temporary -- maybe lower if it was really temporary.  He also Mass Polymorphs five men into birds.

In Egypt, Zatara explores the inside of a pyramid that can only be entered by touching, and then merging, with the hieroglyphs on the statue outside the pyramid. Inside, he and Tong encounter at least six "ferocious guardians" that look like little green men, some with just one eye; they sort of resemble goblins to me.  Zatara casts a spell on them that "makes them disappear in a puff of smoke".  Maybe it's a spell that transports them all a short distance away -- or maybe he just cast Sleep on them, and they fell to the floor really quick and are out of sight.

In the next room, metal sticks move on their own accord and constrict Zatara and Tong. Magic items...or Hold Person with a lot of flavor text?  Zatara casts another new spell that Conjures Flame, enough to fill at least a 5' Radius (1-8 points of damage to anyone inside it?). This could be a 1st-level spell.

Behind a curtain and down some steps is a large seated statue of Isis that transforms anyone gazing on it (and a missed saving throw vs. spells) to stone.  Zatara either casts three Stone to Flesh spells, or perhaps they are under a curse or magic spell he can remove with Remove Curse or Dispel Magic instead.

When Zatara leaves and comes back to the pyramid, a Wall of Force blocks him from re-entering (though his Spirit Projection works through it).  Zatara's spirit form is attacked with Gust of Wind and Magic Missile (5 arrows, so he's up against a 9th level caster!) spells, though I don't really see how those would affect him in spirit form. Finally, the statue of Isis animates and attacks him (maybe it's a golem and can affect his spirit form because it can be hit by spells or enchanted creatures), but Zatara casts a Melting spell that works an awful lot like wrecking things.

The evil sorcerer carries a new magic item, a Staff of Smoke that releases a smoke screen (Fog Cloud?) out of the eyes of the cat face on the head of the staff.

Lastly, the evil sorcerer plans to cast Disintegrate on Tong, but Zatara reflect it back with a Spell Turning spell that can be cast on anyone, not just the caster.

(You can read this issue at Comic Book Archives)

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