Monday, August 15, 2016

Mystery Men Comics #1 - pt. 2

We're still on Wing Turner today, and that's because of the "large Coast Guard auto-gyro" pictured here. Now, it's true we do have helicopters that big (and bigger!) today, but I wanted to look up if there really were transport auto-gyros in 1939. Now, I didn't make an exhaustive search, but the biggest auto-gyro I've found so far is this two-seater, which is clearly much smaller. But if this auto-gyro seems fanciful and futuristic, that makes it perfect for a Hideouts & Hoodlums trophy item!

This is George Tuska's Zanzibar, probably my second favorite Golden Age Magic-User after Yarko the Great. While Yarko deals with metaphysical threats, Zanzibar is a street level M-U, dealing with hoodlums. That doesn't mean he isn't crazy powerful (and way too powerful to be dealing with hoodlums!), as demonstrated by him casting a 5th level Telekinesis spell here.

But Zanzibar must not have too many hit points, because here he is getting clocked with one blow!

Now, this page is slightly problematic. Traditionally, a Magic-User can't cast spells with his hands tied, yet Zanzibar casts Knock by just looking at the door. There are two explanations here: one is that every M-U Hero should get to choose which factor he can't cast his spells without -- seeing, moving hands, or talking -- or the other possibility is that Zanzibar is actually a psionic. I'm thinking some pared-down version of psionics might have to go in the basic book as an appendix at this point.

It is not clear at all how Zanzibar snaps his bonds. Brute strength?

Zanzibar casts Knock again (he had it prepared twice), Disguise Self (very clever use of a spell), and ...Hypnotic Pattern? We don't see a pattern, but we can't see how often his eyes were flashing.

This is the Waco Kid, coming into a new town where a gang has killed the sheriff and taken over. Now, normally, most players would get that this is a situation they're meant to fix. But every once in awhile, your players might need a little more motivational kick to get them going. So have the gang approach the Heroes and threaten to take their stuff. That'll motivate them fast!

Also, "Brazos Teale" has got to be the lamest name for a Western bad guy I've ever seen.

This is Inspector Bancroft of Scotland Yard. Now you, as the Editor, might draw a map and think it's a great clue, but it may not be as easy for your players to draw the same inferences from it. Maybe your players infer that the bomber was riding the morning train, and you only meant to clue them in that the bomber is a train enthusiast. You can, at that point: a) change the plot to fit their idea, b) let them pursue a false lead that goes nowhere (frustrating, but it happens!), c) have someone else present suggest the inference you planned (not recommended -- your players will stop trying to solve puzzles and wait for you to tell them the answer), or d) let them learn a new clue while pursuing their inference.

Sometimes you just have to let a stupid plan work. There's no reason why the conductor should implicate himself by filling out the questionnaire, when he knows he's been hand-writing all his threatening letters. But it's the best plan your players have come up with, so you sigh a little inside and roll a save vs. plot for the conductor to see if he falls for it.

This is The Blue Beetle -- yes, just a Mysteryman with goggles on in his very first appearance. There's a couple of points to take away from this:

If you're playing a Hero with a job, and you want to get sent home from work so you can do some heroing, just get hurt. One or two hp of damage, and you're on sick leave!

I'm not sure if this chemical that reveals scratched out numbers is a real thing -- so it seems like a trophy item!

There does seem to be some psychological benefit to being announced by your calling card (in this case, a scarab). I haven't decided yet if there should be a game mechanic benefit, but I'm leaning towards no...

This is a pretty clever, but chancy, strategy, and only works for new Heroes without a reputation for being honest. Claim you want to work with the bad guys, offer them information, then have someone working with you offer the bad guys the same info in an anonymous call to corroborate your story.

There is no game mechanic for having a reputation, though how much XP the Hero has could serve as the Editor's guide. A good rule of thumb might be that you have a reputation within 1 mile for every 100 xp you have.

The first wireless phone wasn't invented until the 1970s, so this is a pretty advanced trophy item!

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

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