Friday, March 30, 2018
This looks pretty good for early Tuska and makes me wonder if he didn't have help from a better inker...
I think I've talked before about underwater clams -- traps or mobster-types? -- and am still leaning towards trap, rather than something that needs statting for combat.
But, come on, Nanka's been down there for 20 minutes already, and now you're wondering what happened to him? Ten minutes is good for a pearl diver. In fact, I'm thinking of extending how long Heroes can hold their breath underwater, from 1 turn to 1 turn per 2 points of Constitution (rounded down).
I'm not crazy about the idea of letting Heroes make homemade grenades with gunpowder and pineapples; I think I would make them half as effective as real grenades.
I would also be inclined to say that, if you're using explosive weaponry like grenades, you should not be able to take your opponents by surprise afterwards -- though that is exactly what Shark manages to do on the next page (before getting captured).
(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus.)
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Monako casts Mirror Image to fool the mobsters waiting at the bottom of the pit trap, then attacks them with what appeared to be a new spell that I think I would call Flying Fists. It would make a pair of fists appear in the air and both attack for the caster, per turn, allowing the caster to continue to do other activities. I would probably make this a 4th level spell.
Despite how powerful Monako is (he must be at least 8th level?), when a steel cage drops over him, he appears to be powerless.
Monako and Josie's brother are put in a deathtrap where they are strapped to a table and a razor-shape axe swings lower towards them. Monako, who has apparently been biding his time all this time -- despite the fact he just watched Josie's brother getting whipped -- now casts another new spell to get them out of the deathtrap. The spell appears to be Speak with Weapons -- the caster can talk to the weapon and convince it to serve him, and empowers the weapon to float through the air and attack or cut things on its own. This has got to be a 5th level spell.
I've seen stories before where the villain has a back-up hideout, but this is the first story where the a hideout is on a tugboat. I guess it's more of a "hide in plain sight" plan rather than a "get away at top speed" plan.
Muro sets up a very unusual deathtrap for Josie. She's tied to a chair with a keg of gasoline next to her and a lit fuse on the keg. Okay, that part makes sense...but it's a two-hour fuse. Is Muro that unsure about going through with this? And the fuse doesn't even look that long -- how on Earth does it take a whole two hours to burn?
At her brother's lab, Monako casts a series of protective spells on the canister holding the secret explosive powder. One is a Magic Mouth spell that makes the canister appear to speak. Two is an odd one -- it seems to be Heat Metal, making the canister too hot to hold, but that seems like an awfully dangerous thing to do to a canister holding an explosive powder in it. So...the heat must be illusory heat? A low-level illusion spell like Phantasmal Image can't do that...maybe a higher level one, though. And then the third spell is a Phantasmal Image of Monako himself.
I don't have a lot to say about Phantom of the Underworld...except what a jerk he is. He takes the place of a doctor in order to infiltrate a mob looking to recruit the doctor -- all well and good -- but then he allows himself to get captured and lets the newspapers report that the doctor turned criminal, ruining the man's reputation.
The "Phantom" -- though he's actually called "Doc" Denton all through the story -- has a solution he can give people that makes them temporarily blind. Then, after blinding the mobsters, he simply pretends to have a gun and gets them all to fail their morale saves.
Lastly, Barney Mullen, Sea Rover, has an unusual sea journey, starting in Lisbon and ending in Rotterdam to deliver some gold. At this time, The Netherlands were still neutral in the war. Barney has to deal with German cruisers that try and stop his steamship, French officials who try to con him out of his gold, and a mutinous crew (though, c'mon, guys; this is a "you knew the job was dangerous when you took it" situation...).
One of the cruisers is evaded thanks to thick fog, which should add a high modifier to evasion rolls.
(Read at Marvel Unlimited.)
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
There is a delayed reaction from John shooting the bomber that's been dropping bombs at him -- a delayed explosion that crashes the plane. This seems to back up my initial notion that damage to vehicles should cause complications instead of hit points of damage.
When John completes the scenario of delivering the agent to the general, all he gets is thanks. A Hideouts & Hoodlums player would probably appreciate getting some kind of tangible reward instead.
The next feature is The Texas Kid, Robin Hood of the Range. Again, without preamble or set-up, our Hero plunges into action when he catches raiders in the act of burning down a ranch. Instead of statting raiders, I think I would just make them outlaws (chaotic cowboys). The outlaw/raiders have to make their morale checks in the first turn of combat, before even taking damage, after the Texas Kid goes first.
When The Texas Kid needs to get into the burning building fast, he makes his horse Spot wreck the door down with its hooves. If we assume horses should have a chance of wrecking things (which seems plausible, given their size and mass), then The Texas Kid could order his mount to use its special skill with a skill check of his own, or burn a stunt for it. So...at this point, I wonder if I even need a Cowboy class and couldn't just use the Mysteryman class.
The rancher from the burning building is one of those dying plot hook characters who you can't revive in time before he reveals too much plot information.
Before riding away, The Texas Kid just happens to spot something. I've always held that searching needs to be an active skill use and not incidental, but sometimes the comic books contradict me. Generally, I feel it's not good for the game to make it too easy to find things, but this should be up to the individual Editor...and my skills section should specify that.
To look for trouble in town, The Texas Kid wears the hat one of the outlaws lost. It turns out to be a very fast way to get a hostile reaction from the outlaws when they spot him in town. In the ensuing confrontation, The Texas Kid disarms one of the three outlaws, but instead of pushing his luck against the other two, he escapes out the window so he can observe what they do next, and have them lead him to the stolen loot from the ranches. As I observed just recently on another story, an equally valid tactic would have been to capture all three men and force them to reveal the loot.
At the outlaws' hideout, The Texas Kid douses the lights, get the advantage of surprise -- and uses it to steal the loot back, again putting off a three-to-one battle. If The Texas Kid is 1st level, this makes complete sense. Instead, he rides to the ranch they planned to hit next and raises some help. Now, luring the outlaws into an ambush of angry ranchers would have been an acceptable ending, but the author throws one more wrinkle in the plot when our Hero somehow deduces the identity of the outlaws' ringleader on just a hunch. Now, instead of beating up the bad guys when they arrive at the ranch, the rancher gives them his money so the Texas Kid can follow them, get caught, and have them confess when the ringleader shows up in an overly complex sting operation.
Next up is Monako, Prince of Magic. The story begins with a very implausible spell -- Monako saves a woman from a hit-and-run driver by making a bridge magically appear underneath her. It seems like nothing short of a Wish spell could create a bridge and lift her up on top of it in the second it would take for the car to hit her. Maybe he was already casting Levitate and the Editor allowed a lot of flavor text.
While spell range tends to be huge for other comic book magicians, Monako can seemingly do nothing when the hit-and-run car drives too far away, despite the fact that he saw the passenger and recognized it as his old nemesis, Mr. Muro.
The woman rescued, Josie, is both already a Supporting Cast Member, but doubles for this story as a plot hook character. She needs Monako to save her brother from kidnappers.
Mr. Muro uses two thugs (a mobster type we haven't seen in awhile) for the abduction. Monako pays his taxi driver the princely sum of $50 to "follow that car."
Monako casts a spell he calls Vision -- it would be a new spell, like an improved Phantasmal Force, but it is intelligent, can communicate, can travel pretty far distances, and the caster can see the Vision and its immediate environs by concentrating. The Vision cannot pass through thick metals, like a heavy steel door. This might be a new 4th level spell.
Monako casts Reduce Person on himself (and carries a small rope ladder he can use while shrunk). He casts a spell that seems to be the high-level Find the Path -- though maybe he just used the tracking skill and pretended he was casting a spell.
(Read at Marvel Unlimited.)
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Suddenly, a green light comes from nowhere, animates the corpse into a talking zombie, and paralyzes Castle. Only Benson makes his saving throw and shoots the zombie, killing it in one shot (but it can still monolog before it expires).
And so begins Jack's scenario -- he's given a list of places where bums and tramps like this zombie were last seen and told to check them out for clues (the police must be too busy). His list of stops include a gambling den and a bar -- good locations for adventures, but Simon and Kirby have something bigger in mind, so those leads turn up nothing.
Luckily, Jack thinks to check for high electricity usage in the waterfront area, where all the missing people were from. He's guessed correctly that the green light came from a raygun and one that was run from conventional electrical power. It's a handy method of tracking down mad scientists, and not the last time we'll see it used in comics. What is extra ballsy on Jack's part is that, when someone answers the door at the hideout, he pretends to be from the power company and asks to come in to read the meter. A good Editor should at least give him a save vs. plot to see if the man opening the door falls for such a clever ploy.
That the doorman happens to be a zombie seems a delightful touch, recalling to my mind the balrog butler in Tegel Manor.
We get told, rather than see, a lot of details about the hideout Jack is led into. The ramshackle house on the surface is perfectly ordinary, but through a secret door in the kitchen is a set of stairs -- no, not a set, a "winding maze of stairs" suggesting that the stairs branch off in all directions at various landings. One of our first multi-level hideouts! The deeper levels are cave-like, with rows of zombies waiting in upright coffins. Some rooms are truly cavernous, with space enough for giant vultures to fly around. Giant vulture stats debuted in Supplement I: National, but these buzzards are much larger and probably at least 4 Hit Dice.
As if sometimes the case in comics, these zombies are the result of scientific experiments. There is at least one woman present who hasn't been changed yet because she needs more "treatments" (and gives Jack an opportunity to earn xp for rescues!).
Somehow, Jack leaps to the conclusion that the master criminal behind this uses hypnosis. Maybe he's trying to disbelieve all this as an illusion? Hideouts & Hoodlums needs clear-cut rules for disbelieving illusions (probably tucked into the description of one or more illusion spells).
The Master seems to be a giant free-willed zombie, appearing to be about 14' tall. That might put him at 10 Hit Dice. The Master may also be a mind reader, because he seems to immediately know who Jack is. Curiously, the Master's monolog makes it seem like he's always been this height instead of it being the result of some experiment of his. Perhaps he's Marvel's first mutant?
Up to this point, this has all been origin story for Jack, with him earning XP as a Fighter. When The Master's raygun explodes, it transforms Jack into a Superhero. His costume seems to just be having a ripped shirt. He punches out The Master with one blow, suggesting he has enough brevet ranks to already have the Super Punch power. His ability to melt chains with a touch is just wrecking things with flavor text added. He uses a Leap power, but it isn't clear which level of Leap he's using (it could be as simple as Leap I). Blowing away the giant vultures with his breath...that seems like it must be the power Gust of Wind, but the Editor has either added some extra kick to it or has created a higher-level version of that power (Greater Gust of Wind?).
The next feature in this issue is John Steele, Soldier of Fortune. It opens in the heat of battle – though where and between which warring nations we don’t yet know! John rushes into a building for cover and finds an enemy soldier about to shoot a woman, so he disarms the soldier with a disarming shot from his gun, then drops it so he can punch the guy a few times. The last punch serves as a pushing attack instead, sending his opponent reeling across the room. But he must have split his damage between pushing distance and real damage, because the hit still knocks his foe out.
Rescuing the woman turns out to have been a good deal, because she was a plot hook character – with a secret mission (which she promptly tells John Steele all about).
To complete the mission, John has to get this unnamed lady across enemy lines. To accomplish that, John comes up with the bold plan of stealing a tank. Luckily, John manages to gain surprise on the tank crew of a passing tank. Also luckily, it’s a small WWI-era tank, so it’s too small to have a rear-facing machine gun mounted on it anyway. They get pretty far in the tank, but a grenade takes it out. Now…I’m wondering if explosive weapons should have a wrecking things chance?
John has grenades of his own, but it isn’t clear if he started with them or found them in the tank and took them as trophy weapons.
That a motorcycle with a passenger seat just happens to drive past just as John needs fresh transportation for them both seems too coincidental for a random encounter. And, indeed, it seems the encounter was planned to lure John and the female agent into a trap. Players could be forgiven, though, for thinking this was a lazy giveaway from an Editor who just wanted to keep his story moving.
(Issue read at Marvel Unlimited.)
Monday, March 26, 2018
First, a rare example of lighting conditions affecting missile fire (or at least Slim thinks it will have an effect).
The girl in the background is going to be offering running commentary on what she feels are each of the white hunters' best attributes. Here she comments on his Charisma.
Also of interest here is a rare instance of camping for the night and setting up watches -- staples in fantasy games, but a rare sighting in comics.
The wandering encounter with crocodiles is surprisingly glossed over as nothing. What level are these guys?
(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)
Sunday, March 25, 2018
I'm guessing the secret formula in the ring is for the longevity potions. But if they were such a bad idea, why is she sharing it...?
I think Jon Dale's player just saw this whole scenario as a quick XP grab.
It would be highly unusual for that to happen in H&H, where the slavers get a surprise attack, but then are still unseen afterwards. For the sake of fairness, anyone who attacks is visible to retaliatory attacks in combat.
Slavers, incidentally, are going to be a mobster type in the AH&H Mobster Manual.
The snake might be a set or a wandering encounter in the tunnel. Wrapping it in a shirt might be a bit of a stretch for the grappling rules and is more of an entangling attack, like dropping a net on someone. I think the real stretch, though, is that he held it in his shirt all that time until the slavers showed up, hours later?
It might make sense to give a morale bonus if the bad guys outnumber the good guys (say, +2 for 3 to 1 odds?). I don't like to include a lot of formulas for modifiers in the rules, leaving it to the Editor to decide on what the situation warrants.
Cover sure comes in handy.
We solved the mystery of how all those soldiers kept dying -- they died of boredom, having to play Solitaire with only five cards.
I guess the trap door was a secret door from the top side, since you can't find a secret door without looking for it. Even a concealed door you would figure a guard would have stumbled across eventually.
I call shenanigans on that rock attack, and not on a rock rolling down a slope being an effective weapon. I question why the three thugs would be running up the slope in such tight formation that the rock could hit all three of them. It would have made more sense to spread out and try to flank him, even before figuring out what he planned to do with that rock.
The clearest thing is that I'd never allow a low-level hero to have an elephant as supporting cast. Because they can trample all over an entire village.
(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)
Friday, March 23, 2018
Jungle Torment might be a magic-user spell in the making here. For the duration, up to 7 targets cannot rest and must make morale saves each turn. Seems like a good 1st level spell to soften up opponents.
Since that pool of slime looks like green slime, I'm very tempted to include green slime now in the AH&H Mobster Manual (now in progress!).
It's unclear if this tiger is huge, in the sense that it has extra Hit Dice, or it just looks huge to someone when it's advancing menacingly on you in the wild (I'd probably think it was huge too!). Apes and tigers have both already been statted for H&H.
Oh, it's not green slime after all! They climb out unharmed.
I cheated and used that illustration of the giant snakes as a hydra in Supplement I: National, but I'm pretty sure that's meant to be two giant snakes.The next page reveals that they are constrictor snakes.
Tabu, still just showing off, demonstrates Polymorph Self and Transmute Mud to Rock (the latter spell has not debuted in H&H yet.) The jungle tree-vine was statted in Supplement I: National (I believe), based on this very picture.
Tabu levels up!
I don't think any game mechanics are behind this accidental entangling; more likely, this is set-up for the scenario instead of part of the scenario.
This is the second story in the same comic about a hidden land of secret white people in Africa. I'm guessing the authors were inspired by the Prester John legend, although it might be just good old-fashioned racism.
Still no idea how a Norsewoman manages to go by the name of Camilla.
Potions of longevity belong in H&H. But if it's that volatile, how is it safe to drink...?
The reference to electrodes tells us that these Norsemen have had enough contact with the outside world to at least catch them up to 19th century science. They probably also heard that modern society doesn't approve of human sacrifice, but just didn't care.
(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)
Thursday, March 15, 2018
First edition Hideouts & Hoodlums had an explorer class for heroes like Kaanga, but there's really little reason not to use the fighter class for him, so far.
Also note that Kaanga only needs "a few weeks" to learn English, so picking up new languages is something heroes can do on their downtime.
I like the unusual Macguffin of magical healing stones.
White Panther is clearly a superhero (or maybe a speedster from 1st edition!). He activates Race the Train to outrun the natives, and it is interesting that he uses his power only as a distraction instead of trying to use it to fight anyone.
It's unclear from panel to panel if White Panther is a naked albino or wearing skintight white clothes from head to toe. He also seems to have a magnetic disc on his belt that holds his dagger in place, which is pretty cool.
Here's a reason not to carry guns in cave complexes -- gunshots apparently have a chance to cause cave-ins! Cave-ins are pretty brutal, delivering fatal damage for those who miss their saves vs. science, and tearing the clothes of even those who make their saves.
There are three crocodiles on the next page, so we know crocodiles can be encountered in groups of up to 3.
(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)
Friday, March 2, 2018
The "sounds phony" clue is a tricky thing to impart in game play. Is my player going to know I know it's not the Navy Secret Service, is he going to assume I didn't know and just got it wrong, or is it going to go right over his head? I've talked about this before on the blog, and there's really no easy solution to this other than to talk to the player out-of-character and explain that this was a clue or hint.
The gunshot through the window is evidence of how difficult it is to shoot the correct target in melee, though I do suspect that it did not really matter for these bad guys' plans which one of them was shot.
This deathtrap sounds pretty brutal -- scalding water shot through a firehose seems like it would do 1-6 points of damage. It's not a lot, but because a hose has an area of effect (let's say it's a ray 10' wide at its base), the pirates don't have to roll to attack with it.
A "steam cock" is an actual thing, by the way; it's part of the boiler.
That ape looks pretty intense. Note the value of a captive ape. They're almost too valuable to give Heroes a chance of capturing one!
Being a non-Hero, Kit can bleed to death from being injured (strict hp rules only apply to Heroes).
There was recently a kerfuffle in my home campaign, where one of the Heroes gave a semi-automatic to his 12-year old sidekick. Here we have Dickie, arguably even younger, hauling a sub-machine gun.
Not sure, but I probably won't be statting large butterflies, unless I find much bigger and more dangerous examples.
We also learn how much it cost to shoot that much of a movie.
(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)