Thursday, August 4, 2016

Action Comics #14

Superman uses the powers Outrun Train and Leap I before he even gets the plot hook for this issue's story.

I've been thinking off and on and about the alien race's leaping ability. It's so good right now that it makes the Leap power pretty useless for aliens, and every other race needs to fill one of their limited power slots with Leap just to be able to do what the alien race can do.  So...I'm seriously considering weakening the alien's leaping ability dramatically. Instead of doubling at each level, it would go up incrementally at x2, x3, x4, and so on.

Superman refers to the mobsters who attacked the inspector as thugs, though neither mobster seems as tough-looking as thugs are statted in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies.

A hoodlum punches Superman's super-tough hand and hurts himself. I'll have to consider whether this needs to be a side effect of the Super-Tough Skin power, or perhaps of Invulnerability.

Superman also demonstrates wrecking things, Feather Landing, and Raise Trolley Car.

Ultra-Humanite has several trophy items this issue -- an invisible car (it can turn invisible and visible at the driver's wishes) and an Electric Crystal-Encasing Tank. The second was featured, as-is, in Book II, while the first was represented by an Invisibility Field Generator.

In Marco Polo's story, he and his family manage to escape because of a drowsy guard. Guards were first statted in Steve Lopez's module FS1 Sons of the Feathered Serpent. I might keep them around, and give them a percent-chance of being encountered asleep.

Clip Carson fights a combination of bandits and thugs in Cairo. His plot hook is that he learns about someone who has a treasure map to a room hidden under a pyramid. I just ran a similar scenario in one of my Hideouts & Hoodlums campaigns!

Tex Thompson's player, not willing to wait for his Editor to toss him a plot hook, has Tex put an ad in the paper requesting adventure opportunities.

Tex is easily knocked out by a blow to the head, despite the fact that he's surely almost 5th level by now. This vulnerability to blows to the back of the head is very hard to reconcile with the game mechanic of hit points. And I'm not sure I want to reconcile it. Quick knock-outs may be good emulation of the comic books, but it isn't much fun and it doesn't feel much fair when it happens to your Heroes.

Zatara goes in search of the fabled Fountain of Youth, just because someone asked him to. Somehow, the plot hook includes a good starting location to start looking -- Rio de Janeiro. Zatara uses a Mass Levitate spell (a 4th level spell?) to scare natives into helping him search, and then Mass Telekinesis (a 7th level spell?) to move canoes over rapids (rapids in...Rio Guandu? There aren't a lot of major rivers that end near Rio de Janeiro).

Zatara comes across a lost city (though, if he's following a river from a major city, how lost could it be?) of red sandstone (nice detail). The lost city is manned by natives (so it's not really lost at all) and Zatara stops them by turning their spears into clouds (yeah...I'm not sure about that one. Mass Weapon Polymorph? Vaporize Weapons 15' Radius?).

In a throne room in a temple, Zatara discovers a throne with a preserved woman's corpse sitting on it. Vipers slither out from under the throne dais to attack. Zatara casts a spell that...summons mongooses (that's either Mobster Summoning I, or an illusion spell that can fool vipers)?

Zatara encounters the man who released the vipers and uses Detect Thoughts/ESP to find out where the fountain of youth is. There is always a wrinkle to fountains of youth; this time, the wrinkle is that the water keeps you alive, but you still get old and infirm. By the time Zatara learns this, the old man had rallied 100 natives to stop Zatara, but Zatara turned them all to stone for an hour. And, yeah...I'm not allowing a spell like that. Fred Guardineer was one of the better artists of the early days of comic books, but his Zatara series reeks of power inflation and would throw game balance out the window.

(Superman story read from Action Comics Archives v. 1; summaries of the rest read at DC Wikia.)




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