Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Speed Comics #3 - pt. 1

You know, sometimes I have to wonder about the randomness of plot hooks. What if Shock had missed that page and seen a sale ad for washing machines -- is that what this adventure would have been about? More seriously, was that the only plot hook the Editor presented to Shock's player, and he knew he had to bite on it or go home? Or could his player have simply waited for another plot hook...?

It was pretty common for superheroes to wreck things and leave the pieces for others to clean up, but Shock Gibson seemed as likely to use his powers to fix things as wreck them. I'm hesitant to allow wrecking things to be reversed on a 1:1 ratio, but maybe you could reverse-wreck things as if half your level, rounded up?  Either that, or I'd have to introduce a Mend/Weld power.

I wonder, in which week of marching through the desert with the Foreign Legion did Shock begin to doubt the wisdom of his plan? Once he joined the Legion, there was no guarantee they would ship him to the same area Jim was lost in.

Here's where Shock's Lawful Alignment works against him -- as a sworn member of the Foreign Legion, Shock has to commit murder with a gun, despite this typically being taboo for superheroes. Though, since he's out of costume, Shock can fight as a Fighter, according to 1st ed. H&H rules.

As a superhero, Shock could have "unerring aim" because of the Bulls-eye power, but here it must refer to his better chance to hit while a Fighter.

Shock renders himself Invulnerable to pass safely through the gunfire. No idea why the nomads don't shoot his camel out from underneath him, though.

Here we have a rare occurrence of a non-gun weapon being disarmed (though sword would be the next most common category, if we were using categories). 

Shock uses the power Improved Missile Range to turn the nomad into a missile! Rather than picking a target, he just tosses him up so he'll take falling damage.

There's a Dig power that's a powerful, 4th-level power (though a mistake in an early draft made it a 1st-level power briefly). And I feel we still need Dig because I have a hard time accepting that Shock is wrecking his way through tons of loose sand. That would take a very charitable definition of wrecking, since Shock isn't actually damaging the sand in any way.

This last sequence was one of the reasons for the No Encumbrance power in 1st edition. I've lost it in 2nd this might have to fall under Raise Car now.

One presumes that this isn't the first time Shock has asked anyone about the missing man, Jim Worth. Hopefully he's been asking lots of characters he's met. But how did the Editor decide that this particular soldier knew where Jim was? Perhaps the Editor had a rumor table he rolled on and this was the first time the correct rumor came up. Perhaps this was the first time Shock's player got a friendly reaction roll. Perhaps the Editor pre-planned when during the scenario he would dump such a big clue in the player's lap if he hadn't solved it himself by then.

Shock tosses away his gun for it "only gets in the way" is the correct superhero attitude towards guns.

Less clear is what power Shock is using while he charges into melee. It could be Flurry of Blows; though he doesn't appear to be actively punching, he does hit eight targets in quick succession. Or, he could be using Blast II and hitting them with an area-effect power, though he can apparently then center Blast II on himself and take no injury from it.

This is peculiar -- for three days Shock chases his quarry, but never once prepares a power that would let him move faster. Now, in previous issues, we saw Shock able to fly pretty fast, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. How was Shock not able to prepare new powers over the course of three days? Is it because he had time to take no rest?

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Silver Streak Comics #1 - pt. 3

Capt. Fearless and Lt. Dugan are "hopelessly outnumbered" by what appears to be just five thugs, or yellow peril hoodlums (or do we need that distinction? Their stats were always similar...).

Boxes as a thrown weapon would seem to be not too effective, and thus probably the type of improvised weapon that only does 1-3 points of damage. But, depending on how heavy the box is, it might do 1-4 or 1-6 damage.  If the Hero has a Strength of 15+, I might even consider 1-8 for a really heavy box (but you can only attack with it once).

This is Calling the 'Duke', Ace Inspector, and this seems as good a time as any to point out that Heroes should not get saves vs. missiles to dodge attacks if they are surprised; Duke only dodges the falling bag because someone shouted and warned him. But do the rules really need to spell that out, or is it just common sense that you need to see it coming to dodge it?

There's interesting dressing here at the airport, from the catapult used to launch gliders (something Heroes who acquire glider trophy planes will probably need) and piles of balloon silk, which is apparently absorbs all falling damage.

This is The Wasp, another mysteryman. So far, he's recovered missing blueprints and found the mobsters who wanted to sell them. The Wasp could have simply handed them all to the police at this point, but instead The Wasp shakes down the crooks for $5,000 and gives them fake plans. Good way to find out how much treasure your opponents have!

This is Barry Lane the Adventure-Hunter, and it's another good example of how easy it is to slip into the "Mythic West" from any modern day state out west (see Supplement III for more on the Mythic West as a setting).

This is -- well, obviously, Spirit Man.  The TV that acts like a crystal ball is cliche already, but the new twist is that Spirit Man can apparently transport himself through the "futurescope" to whatever scene he's watching.

But wait, there's more!  The futurescope also turns you invisible after it teleports you!

The mistodine ray gun wrecks things as if a remarkable man (4th level superhero).

The futurescope bestows Passwall too? I'm beginning to think that the futurescope is just flavor text and Spirit Man is statted as a magic-user of 9th level or higher.

There's a peculiar trap here. I may not have been reading carefully, so I don't understand why the floor of the next room is electrified, or why the switch that keeps the current off is disguised as a folding chair.

Spirit Man kills!

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Silver Streak Comics #1 - pt. 2

This is Mister Midnite and he's a strange duck. He looks like a Mysteryman, acts like a Mysteryman, but has a ridiculously powerful magic spell -- every night, during the final strokes of midnight, he can choose to stop time. In That Other Game, this would be the 9th level spell Time Stop, but with a very specific limitation. I, frankly, don't know how you would build this Hero with Hideouts & Hoodlums.  You would need a very flexible and accommodating Editor to let your Hero have such a potentially campaign-breaking ability, especially right away in the campaign.

Also note that, despite telling us through the story to this point that Chief Birey has it in for Mister Midnite, he's easily persuaded to cooperate with Mister Midnite on this case. Past encounter reaction failures do not weigh against you in present encounter reaction rolls.

Speaking of Heroes with campaign-unbalancing powers when just at first level -- Red Reeves is just a half-pint, an ordinary boy, until he finds a magic marble that releases a genie, or djinni, to serve him. That's a potent magic item -- unless the marble and the genie are all just flavor text, to explain Red's magic-user abilities.

As if having a genie serving you wasn't enough, the genie gives Red a "wand of power."  There's no wand of power in That Other Game, but there's a Staff of Power, and that's yet another potent magic item. Or, the wand is Red's normal magic wand for casting spells with, as a magic-user, and the genie is then more of a supporting cast member.

Red's first spell is Create Food & Water.

It seems that Red is casting Wish spells, but they can be explained other ways. He casts Enlarge on his dog and then Fly.

This is an odd one -- no spell really matches this one, but it does match the power Raise Building.

Plant Growth.

Teleport.  And then Fly again (unless the duration hadn't ended from the first casting).

Red has to be at least a 9th level magic-user, if he is the one casting all these spells.

A sloop is present in the transportation section of the 2nd ed. H&H rules. It's an expensive item, at $8,000, well beyond what most Heroes have for starting money. So, what is it? The exploding dice option for rolling starting money that I'm introducing makes it hypothetically possible for even a 1st level Hero to start with that much. Or, it could be a house rule where every Hero gets to start with a trophy item of some sort.

Captain Fearless has three sharks advancing on him when a seaplane comes down to save him. Is Lieutenant Dugan a Hero or a Supporting Cast Member? Is this a wandering encounter? And did Dugan roll to hit the shark with his plane? How much damage does hitting a shark with a plane do? I can come up with an easy mechanic for basing damage on speed, but it would get complex if it had to take the mass of the vehicle into account too.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Silver Streak Comics #1 - pt. 1

Here we are, finally at December 1939, and with our first comic book from Lev Gleason, or Your Guide Publications, as the company was called this early.

Comics had plenty of yellow peril villains by now -- Fang Gow, Chen Chang, and even Fu Manchu -- but none as monstrous as the Claw until now.

Ricca is a fictional South Seas island. Judging by its population of 10,000, it must be a medium-sized island; Fiji and the Solomon Islands far eclipsed it in population at the time, while 10,000 was well above the populations of Easter Island or the Pitcairn Islands. The name may itself be an inside joke, since the artist here is Don Rico.

How big is The Claw?  When I statted the clawed giant for Book II, I arbitrarily set them at 12' tall, but gave them the ability to grow to 100' tall. Here, in his very first appearance, Claw seems to be 50' tall -- and possibly immune to heat.

The flames actually seem to be behind the throne, but that could be some kind of trick. When The Claw expands to what appears to be hundreds of feet tall, that could be some kind of trick too. A projected image of some kind? The "hypnotic hum" is telling -- maybe some sort of mass hypnosis, making everyone think they see a giant that size?

Jerry Morris has a humdinger of a potion there -- a potion of invulnerability that also protects from mind-controlling attacks. What a superhero he would make if he just made more of the stuff!

The trap is a rather clever twist on the dropping cage cliche, since this cage becomes portable.

What is described here sounds an awful lot like the spell Nightmares from Supplement III, but with a reversed version called Happiest Dreams. Other than its addictive quality, it's unclear what game mechanic effects happy dreams would give.

This also means The Claw is at least a warlock (5th level magic-user).

Is a leach-boat going to need to become a trophy item? There's a pretty good description here of how it works.

Acetylene torches have been on the trophy list since Book II.

The lethal qualities of carbon monoxide make it ideal for traps, if not a weapon, Since it would count as a poison, I wouldn't let Heroes use it.

Gas masks, on the other hand, are super handy. Some Heroes build their whole personas around their gas masks. Here is a chance for Jerry to pick up five of them in one haul!

We also see that Jerry's potion lasts at least a full day here -- which seems like a really long duration, until you realize Jerry spent most of that in rest turns.

This is why Jerry isn't a superhero -- superheroes are usually selfish with the source of their power and keep it to themselves. Jerry makes an invulnerability potion, and just hands out samples to anyone who agrees to go fight beside him.  Good way to keep morale high, Jerry!

This trap, with liquid fire raining from the ceiling, looks like it would be pretty deadly if you don't happen to have an invulnerability potion in your system.

In an unusual, if not singular occurrence, the good guys are rendered invulnerable, but not their clothing. There could obviously be some hilarious role-playing opportunities here.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Four Color #2: Don Winslow of the Navy

This special issue includes just about every page of the Don Winslow comic strip Dell had reprinted up to this point. Here's some things I missed discussing the first time round.

There needs to be limits to trophy items. A good rule of thumb would be to set a weight limit. For the basic book, nothing weighing more than 3 tons will be available. At 10,000 tons, a tramp steamer is going to be way out of bounds, not to mention the naval carrier.

Here we see what the international code flags are for distress. We also see how much easier you make it for your players when your villains aren't smart enough to board ships under fake names.

Centaur's paralyzing machine is different from a raygun in that it effects all targets with a radius instead of in a straight path. That would make this a mad science invention instead, categorically.

Sound-muffling hoods that can protect against sound-based machines could also be a trophy item.

I'm having some serious deja vu here, having shared this page way back when.

The reference to the "Cyclops" is explained here.

Not sure why Dr. Centaur keeps a handkerchief soaked in cobalt salts, but apparently cobalt salt is a good ingredient for invisible ink.

When a villain endangers innocents in order to escape, the Heroes have to save vs. plot to pursue the villain instead of saving the innocents.

I'm skeptical that you could turn a ship at just the right angle to make a smokescreen, but smokescreens are another classic villain strategy. When I get to the evasion rules, I'll have to make mention of smokescreens.

Centaur's lair is this ring-shaped island, but like every island it has a door. This is a big one, though, a concealed drawbridge made to look like part of the wall. It could be a clue to the scale of the hideout on the other side, or just a trick to make it look more impressive than it is inside.

The entrance to the hideout is trapped, there's a dynamite charge here that will create a landslide. On the next page it sends tons of rock crashing down. That's a lot of potential damage.

A school of sharks is the proper term. This school seems to have five sharks, which isn't a lot, but it's probably the most sharks I've seen in one panel yet.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Famous Funnies #64

Okay, so this month's Hairbreadth Harry is pretty awful racist -- but it does contain two standout features. One is a pretty awful (but delightfully awful) trap -- our damsel in distress is tied to a giant candle that is going to set her on fire when it burns down. I can just imagine the Adam West Batman being tied to something like this by a villain called the Crime Candle.

And then there's an unusual trophy/treasure item to collect -- a solid gold bell clapper.

This is from Life's Like That. I find it particularly amusing because this seems like just the sort of thing that would happen to me.

Again, yes, racist -- but if we look past that, we see that encounters with wild animals tend to end in violent attacks more often than they would in real life. This fits, of course, with That Other Game where encounters are usually resolved with violence.

Detecting poison - is this a skill Heroes could have, or just their dogs?

Dickie's guardian, Dan, is in a tight fix and seems to have no other choice but to bribe the crew to mutiny. That he's bribing them with money he hasn't stolen yet could mean a penalty to his encounter reaction roll. On the other hand, the high amount and the promise of going free afterwards could cancel that modifier out.

We also learn that you can fit two machine guns and belts into the same crate.

Mike is willing to betray Dan because a) he's a mobster, and b) his reaction roll must have been positive or less (friendly or higher would have secured his loyalty for the mutiny).

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)