Monday, January 11, 2016

New Adventure Comics #30

We rejoin Don in Anchors Aweigh as he's lowering himself into the dark hold of a ship and praying "he wouldn't land on anything sharp cornered."  It's true that, while the base damage for falling is 1-6 points per 10' fallen, the Editor is free to lower this for falling on soft terrain, or raise it for falling on sharp, or otherwise more dangerous, terrain.

In the hold of the ship, Don takes a quick look around and manages to appraise the value of the cartridges being smuggled in the hold at a quarter of a million dollars. The first edition Hideouts & Hoodlums rules say nothing about appraisal (the implication being that everyone could do it automatically), but the second edition will treat it as a basic skill everyone has a chance to perform.

The first sailor who comes down into the hold is said to have "the agility of a monkey" and "runs down the rope ladder".  I'm tempted to add sailor as a mobster type, with the ability to climb up and down ropes and ladders faster than an ordinary person (or just give that ability to pirates).

In Tom Brent's adventure, Tom practices that most important of player tips -- when you have important papers to deliver, meet your contact first without the papers on you, in case something goes wrong.

When Tom tries to escape from the clutches of the fake consul, a guard has his rifle trained on Tom. Tom is somehow able to pick up the other guard and throw him at the rifleman before he can fire a shot. Now, it's possible that Tom won surprise, got a free action (the grapple), and then won initiative on the first regular turn of combat. Or, Tom picked up the first guard during his first turn, but the rifleman refused to fire because firing into a melee has a chance of hitting your ally if you miss.

Tom is captured again and tortured for information -- specifically, he is hung from his thumbs and whipped while shirtless. I would not expect an Editor to have to go into that much detail; torture can be glossed over and summarized by a save vs. science to resist. I would, ironically, require this save once per 4-hour "rest" turn.

In the adventure of Steve Carson of Federal Men, our story opens on the trial of three men accused of treason, with the judge saying "I regret that the sentence for treason carries only a twenty year penalty!"  Actually, according to the U.S. Constitution, treason can be punished with death. It is, however, appropriate for the courts to be more lenient in a comic book universe, as this allows a lot more repeat appearances by the same villains (something that will become more of an issue starting with the Silver Age).

A wanted poster shown to Steve shows a $500 reward for a wanted criminal.

When Steve is about to lose a fight, he is saved by a boy who throws a baseball and beans the mobster in the back of the head. I would normally allow a full grown man to do 1-3 points of damage with an improvised missile like a baseball; for a half-pint, I would probably restrict damage to 1 point of damage. Of course, the mobster could be on his last hit point from the unarmed combat with Steve before the baseball hits him.

Later, another half-pint Junior Federal Man thwarts an attempt on his own life by having rigged an alarm system for his bedroom -- anyone climbing the drain pipe outside his window pulls a string that causes a ball to drop and land on the boy's sleeping head to wake him -- after which the boy can bash the intruder with a baseball bat while the intruder is prone and hanging from the window ledge. If this comic strip -- and the movie Home Alone -- has taught us anything, it's that half-pints should be good at setting traps and alarms.

Nadir, Master of Magic, deals with river pirates in his adventure. They are well-equipped pirates, piloting speedboats and armed with sub-machine guns; they might be better statted as robbers than as pirates, since robbers tend to be more hi-tech. Nadir defeats them with a Charm Person spell on their leader, who Nadir gets to sound a retreat.

Later, Nadir is ambushed by peculiar attackers using a noose. I would say that a noose could do normal 1-6 points of damage on a hit, but only if the hit occurs during a surprise attack. If the victim is somehow unable to free himself, he will continue to take damage each combat turn.

Cal n' Alec is a joke strip about two old prospectors, but they remind me of played characters in this installment. Frustrated that their mine was buried in a dynamite explosion, they briefly decide to swear off prospecting. This can happen to players too, who can feel disgruntled by too much failure in a game scenario. In the end, though, Cal and Alec bite on their next plot hook when a stranger runs up and hands them a map -- and stalwart players will often bite on that next plot hook too.

Incidentally, I'm not keen on preparing any game mechanics to determine the extent of a cave-in when a mine is hit by dynamite. There just needs to be things for the Editor to wing as he goes along.

Another example is The Adventures of Desmo and Gabby.  Gabby loses his wallet during a fight. There does not need to be a game mechanic to check for seeing if you lose something from your pockets during fights. Sometimes, players just need to accept that their Editor has a story-based reason to make something happen.

Tod Hunter, Jungle Master, finds rubies worth $5,000 each, which is 10 times what I guessed rubies were valued at in Book III: Underworld and Metropolis Adventures (in the gem table previously found in Book II: Mobsters and Trophies).  Guess I may have to revisit that!

(This issue can be read at Comic Book Archives)

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