Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Adventure Comics #46 - pt. 1

This month's Sandman feature teases out more information from Wesley Dodds' past; now we know he was on a rowing team at university -- without any clue as to which university, or when (though it was likely '32 or earlier, since we know he was piloting in '33).

The Sandman keeps his costume in a trunk in a closet. He owns at least two cars -- which makes sense for a billionaire, and we know the license plate on one is B7501. He carries a pocket light in this adventure, in addition to his gas gun. The gas gun is shown to have a range of at least 15'. He also still carries a pouch of sand to scatter as his calling card.

On the scene of his old college roommate's death, Sandman makes a basic skill check to spot blood on the floor, a basic skill check to hide in shadows (in some situations this would be an expert skill check, but it's in a living room with lots of furniture), and when he (apparently) fails a pick locks check, he simply removes the locked door from its hinges.

The murder suspect fails to recognize the Sandman on sight and calls him "mystery man" instead (she knows his Hero class!). The Sandman hints that he might resort to torture on her to find out what he wants to know, but he shows no sign of following through on it. She honks his car horn, summoning a policeman, and it is true that making extra noise can trigger sooner wandering encounter checks. In the end, her intuition tells her she can trust him and he buys her story -- sense motive skill checks?

At the Coin's lair, the Sandman is able to shoulder open a (apparently) locked door. The Coin sounds like a cool name, but he turns out to be a rather ordinary counterfeiter, his only gimmick being cross-dressing as an old woman for a disguise.

Barry O'Neil is still trying to rescue Jean Le Grand from lions. A lion claws at Barry, but only shreds off his shirt. There is a rich history of pulp heroes being men in torn shirts -- should there be a rule about losing your shirt to soak up damage? If so, I would only implement it for flavor and allow it to soak up no more than 1 point.

The lions (there were three) do not all attack Barry right away; something important to remember about Neutral mobstertypes is that they do not have to want to attack, or even continue attacking from turn to turn. Encounter reaction checks are just as important as morale saves for determining this.

In typical racism of the times, Fang Gow's Chinese followers seem unable to identify a plane on sight, with one of them calling it a "great bird."

In unusually tough odds for an early comic book adventure, Barry finds their escape next blocked by at least 16 bloodthirsty/yellow peril hoodlums, and naturally he is captured.

Fang Gow's castle is said to be 50 kilometers south of "Dyon" France, which probably stands for Dijon, France. That puts them somewhere in the SaĆ“ne-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne. Inspector Le Grande plans a rescue mission made up entirely of non-Hero characters, which is spotted by a lookout on its way to the castle. Fang Gow has the bridges leading to his castle dynamited and rings the castle wall with machine guns, but his sentries fail to spot Le Grande and his men scaling the castle walls under cover of darkness. A terrific battle ensues, which must have been incredibly boring for Barry's player, as he has to sit it out and be rescued only once it's all over. Fang Gow, of course, uses an escape tunnel and gets away.

(Sandman story read in Golden Age Sandman Archives; the rest read at fullcomic.pro)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Detective Comics #35 - pt. 2

Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator is next. Speed calls himself a detective in this story, but by now he should have enough accumulated XP to be a 5th-level captain. He goes against a villain called the Snake Master in this Cuban-/voodoo-themed story. According to this story, Cuba is inhabited by natives who attack with darts. Speed is able to identify hemp rope as coming from Haiti just by looking at it (expert skill check?). Despite darts not having a great range, Speed has darts thrown at him three times before he is finally able to spot the thrower. By using a guide, Speed is able to avoid concealed snake pits on his way to the Snake Master. Not one of the Snake Master's followers has better than darts for weapons, so Speed just waltzes in with a gun and takes out the cult leader.

This month Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise seems to be all over the place. He starts out looking into the case of a man who escapes jail by appearing to be dead, then he's investigating the murder of a police captain who was looking into the case (weird, that a captain wouldn't have delegated that responsibility), then he's following a Hindu because the captain had mentioned a dragon before he died (even though India isn't known for its dragons), then he's in disguise as a bum, trying to get invited into the home the Hindu went into (why he thought a bum would be invited in, I don't get, but somehow it worked). The best part of the adventure is that the bad guys trap him in a room and talk to him through a bronze dragon statue, as the room slowly fills with poison gas. Cosmo survives by making his saving throw (with some likely modifiers for laying on the floor and covering his mouth with a wet handkerchief  -- wetting the handkerchief in a fish tank was particularly ingenious).

There's a second trap that's not as good -- he drops through a pit trap into a room the floods with water -- but the plot twist is rather clever that Cosmo is saved by city water works employees, investigating that the house was leaking water into the street. It turns out that the owner of the house is the man who escaped jail by using the "Oriental trick" of suspended animation. That doesn't sound like an Oriental trick -- that sounds like a psionic discipline.

Bruce Nelson is continuing an adventure in ...Africa? I forget. He and his native guide Mambu are canoeing along rapids, dodging whirlpools, probably requiring expert skill checks to avoid being in situations where they have to save vs. science to avoid drowning (I would be okay with affording them that double layer of protection because the penalty for failure is so steep). The "white goddess" they rescued last time wakes up after being splashed in the face, something I don't recommend for H&H play, so maybe it just coincidentally coincided with a duration ending.

Bruce learns the name of the "white goddess" and immediately recognizes who her father is. Should recognition be a skill check? The girl, Toni Hutton, was drugged by the natives with something that would knock her out for two days at a time (long duration!).

In Slam Bradley, Slam and Shorty are paid to bodyguard a group of swells on a "slumming tour" of dangerous dives. This should be an example of a situational modifier that increases chance of wandering encounters. Someone is murdered and Slam beats people up until a barkeep gives up the name of the murderers. Slam and Shorty deliver the suspects' names to the police and Shorty is ready to end the scenario, but Slam wants to pursue it further. This is one of the ways that traditional RPGs are so flexible, that the players can decide -- not just the referee -- when the scenario has been successfully completed. Luckily, Slam must have some supporting cast in the FBI, because he is able to just waltz into their HQ and request to see the files on the suspects.

On a crazy whim, Slam decides to sign them both up for the French Foreign Legion just because the suspects used to be Legionnaires (apparently it was for strictly enforced five-year stints too). Now, I'm not a very flexible Editor. When I'm running games, I have a story in mind and when Heroes go too far off the rails, I'm comfortable with just saying there are no leads in that direction. But Slam and Shorty have a very flexible Editor, because he rules that the killers are exactly where they get shipped off to, and even tosses in the wrinkle that one of the suspects is their sergeant!

To get rid of Slam, Sergeant Jensen sends them out into the desert and they are attacked by nomads. Slam, who can usually handle any fight, is overwhelmed by six-to-one odds. In fact, the scenario gets way out of hand and Slam is about to be executed by firing squad, so the Commandant of the Foreign Legion has to ride in at the last moment and save the day for him.

(Read at fullcomic.pro)  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Detective Comics #35 - pt. 1

This installment of The Batman infamously opens on Batman standing in a doorway with a smoking gun in his hands -- it has nothing to do with the story, but must have impressed Kane as being a really cool opening panel.

This is, I think, the only story that makes out Bruce to be an amateur writer.

The story is a confusing jumble of racism, as the Batman tangles with Indian natives, working for a Chinese Fu Manchu-like character, who is actually a white man in disguise.

The Batman pauses to announce his presence before springing on two robbers, making me think his initial signature move was making sure bad guys got a good look at his costume before attacking them (and it makes me wonder if I should have rules on changing signature moves over time).

The "Batmobile" (not yet called that) is still only a high-powered roadster the Batman happens to drive.

Sin Fang's henchmen use khopeshes (swords; at least they aren't hatchets). Sin lures the Batman into a trapped room where the door slams shut and it slowly fills with mustard gas. Anticipating the 1960's Batman, the Batman just happens to have an anti-mustard gas pellet in his utility belt (marking the first time something weirdly random is drawn from the utility belt). Utility belts have been a trophy item since Book II: Mobsters & Trophies.

Despite the fact that Sin has lured the Batman into a mobster encounter and a trap already, the Batman still falls into another trap -- this time, a pit trap that is filled with water at the bottom, but there's a pipe in the wall partway down that he can grab at.

The Batman seems unconcerned when he knocks "Sin Fang" out a window to plunge to his death.

Fictional names for foreign countries often change from issue to issue, but this is the second issue in a series of Spy stories where Germany is "Luxor."  Being a spy is easy when you see the ambassador walking down the street and then just have to look through a door transom and you spot him colluding with a submarine commander in person.

Bart Regan uses a "sensitive microphone" to listen to a conversation through a brick wall. He wears a bulletproof vest in his installment.

Tangling with the commander, Bart is grappled, thrown prone, shot at, and knocked out with a blow to his head. The shot narrowly missed his ear -- though combat in Hideouts & Hoodlums is abstract enough that it could have been a "hit" and still caused hit point loss, without causing any physical wound.

Commanders are 7th-level fighters, so Bart is hard-pressed every time they fight. Bart is twice saved by convenient encounters -- the first time by a passing beat cop, and the second time by a rival spy who takes Bart out of the scenario and finishes it himself (poor refereeing!).

Buck Marshall, Range Detective starts off with an unusual premise, making it the best start to a Buck Marshall story yet -- Buck robs a stagecoach! It turns out, Buck is robbing it because he knows robbers are on their way that are too numerous for him to stop (6 to 1 odds), so he appears to rob the coach and tricks the robbers into chasing off after him. Finding their lair, Buck puts aniline powder in all the gloves he finds, so the dye will make their hands and they can be found later. Aniline powder is a real thing.

One of the robbers calls Buck a "gink" -- this is old slang that only means "guy." 

Next up is Steve Malone, District Attorney. This story establishes that Steve is based out of New York, and that his secretary's name is Nancy. Steve has three assistants who serve as supporting cast in this story, but none of them are named.

Ethnic restaurants are not treated with much respect circa 1940; an Italian restaurant is called a "spagetti house" (not my misspelling).

The hideout of the kidnappers Steve is after is only accessible by a bridge. The kidnappers watch the bridge and plan to shoot anyone crossing it, but Steve foils them by swinging hand-or-hand underneath the bridge (basic skill check?)

(Batman story read in The Batman Archives v. 1; the rest read at fullcomic.pro.)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Amazing Mystery Funnies v. 3 #1 - pt. 3

This is Don Dixon, in a rather exciting but hard-to-follow installment. What I do know is that a dam breaks and an enemy army is wiped out by the ensuing flood. The question for me to ponder today is: is there a way to work out how much damage being hit by water should do?

Yes, there should be a way to work out a formula for how much a certain volume of water weighs, factor in the speed it hits you, and assign it a number of dice of damage. I think it would be high. But there are other things harder to factor for, like the chance of drowning, or the chance of being slammed into a solid object. For attacks this unpredictable, that's why we have a saving throw system. So this should be a save vs. science to avoid death for everyone caught in the path of the floodwaters.
I suspect this will be a stand-alone story and, judging by the crude artwork, its cancellation would be a mercy killing.

We've seen lots of trophy planes by January 1940 already, most of them being faster, but none of them have had silent running yet. It seems like that would be really hard to do with a plane, but I certainly see the value of it, when wanting to fly up to a hideout unannounced.

Sorry, I'm going to make you look at the amateur artwork on this page just for the last panel and the assertion that "they have no chance to use their guns." Should that be true in Hideouts & Hoodlums? Well, it sort of is, if the other side won initiative and rushed into melee before you could get off your missile fire. This is why it's good to let an entire side go before the other side in order of combat.

Not always is "hideout" an analog for "dungeon" -- sometimes it really is a dungeon! And this is another example of why I had to break down and open up wrecking things to all classes in 2nd edition.
Note panel 6 and, if you can follow this narrative, a pilot's plane is missed by anti-aircraft shells, but the shrapnel from the explosion still pierces the cockpit and knocks out the pilot. This is evidence that cover does not protect you from area of effect attacks.

This is Jon Linton, and he's pretty lucky because before he goes on an expedition he gets a map of the whole place from a handy non-Hero character. Most Heroes don't get a map to work with at the start of the scenario, but are asked to draw their own -- and, indeed, this exploration component is a vital part of what makes a RPG Old School.  I also think this is a great page of building suspense. 

Wow -- not only do we get to see the map, but we get the scale for the map too!

This is why you put bosses at the end of hideouts, because the Heroes need to gather XP and level up before they can face them.

The iota-ray tube is not unlike a magic wand that combines Hold Person with wrecking things.

Speed Centaur is still in his medieval lost world. We see lots of lances on display here, but also a "mace" being used by his supporting cast member Reel -- though it looks like it would more properly be called a flail, making it one of the earliest, if not the first, flails in comic books.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus.)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Amazing Mystery Funnies v. 3 #1 - pt. 2

And we're back to The Inner Circle, where we see the players have figured out that, if they pool all their supporting cast members together, they can form a military force of 30 men -- or more (depending on how high their Charisma scores are)!
But then this page shows us the disadvantage of having too large a fighting force on your side, as they easily take the "Mafio" island without any challenge or suspense. The Editor could always up the challenge level they encounter to match -- maybe give the Mafio some heavy artillery of their own -- while other Editors might feel that is cheating and run their scenarios as-is.
This is the first I've ever seen of Tippy Taylor, which is odd because it seems so tailor-made for Hideouts & Hoodlums conversion.

First we get a lot of establishing of a real world setting, with references to place (Metropolis, California, Mt. Arrowhead) and time (topical reference to Amelia Earhart's disappearance).  This is the first mention of a city named Metropolis in comic books and, while Mt. Arrowhead is fictional, there is a Lake Arrowhead in California.
The scenario really starts when Tippy and Hunk wash up on the island -- everything before it could be backstory read to the player at the start of the game. The dinosaur gains surprise on them, but has a neutral encounter reaction to them and does not attack.
Here we see more sauropods, apparently of different species, all socializing together. The dinosaur chasing Tippy seems to be more curious about him than hostile -- which is very good since Tippy is probably no more than a 1st-level fighter!  We also see that dinosaurs -- or at least sauropods -- do not run faster than humans (but not slower either).
This is interesting because we don't often see Heroes failing skill checks. It's so necessary for the plot that he fall in that pit, though, that it makes me wonder if the Editor did not fudge the results against him -- bad form, I say, favoring story over the dice. Or perhaps there are multiple ways to reach the underground lair, and Tippy just fell into the first one.

Wax statues of guardians seems like a good trick to put in your hideouts.
Well, it turns out they aren't just wax dummies after all, but androids waiting to be turned on!
The old man's recipe for activating androids is a quest worthy of an entire mini-campaign.
Tippy gets a free ride to the next destination on his quest on the back of a gryphon! I'll have to include a note that there's a chance they can talk.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Amazing Mystery Funnies v. 3 #1 - pt. 1

And we're back to Centaur Comics! This is Fantom of the Fair, though you wouldn't know that from this page. I really liked the early Fantom stories where he's hidden in the shadows and it looks like he could be Superman, so it's particularly interesting how much he looks like Clark Kent while in disguise here.

It makes sense to go in disguise when checking out a situation out of costume, and pretending to be a doctor may get you into places you would not normally be permitted to enter. But the fake English accent seems a strange addition.
That it takes the Fantom two punches to take down a rather ordinary mobster suggests to me that I was on the right track to keep superhero damage low except when they are buffed with powers.
And here, the same superhero who needed two punches to take down one guy, "literally mashed to a pulp" two guys. "Crashing blows" sounds like a good name for a new power, but most likely he activated his Get Tough or Get Tougher power.

Ever felt bad for hand-waving encumbrance rules in a RPG? Here, encumbrance is so unimportant that no one notices this nondescript English doctor is carrying three men at once.

This is going on behind the scenes in Daredevil Barry Finn. Bear in mind that, at the end of 1939/beginning of 1940, many Americans still want to remain isolated from the war in Europe, so people who want to arm for war can still be bad guys and not patriots.

I had to look up lemon soda. I'm only familiar with lemon-lime soda, but apparently lemon soda is still a thing, just not mass marketed (specialty grocery stores tend to carry it).

I'm liking Frogga as a character. Maybe more mermen should be like him in my campaigns.

Frogga's difficulty in wrecking through the hatch, even with a crowbar, makes me think he's a fighter rather than a superhero.

Note how "daredevil" Barry Finn does nothing this whole adventure but talk to people and tell Frogga what to do; like if Matt Murdock made Foggy Nelson do all the work...

This is The Inner Circle. I wasn't sure what "Itoria" was until the "Mafio" reference and then it all fell into place; the Inner Circle is about to tangle with the Italian Mafia, and the first time the Mafia has been named (or nearly named) in a comic book.

I suspect the blue hand tattoos are made-up...

Now, bear in mind that Carlos isn't supporting cast; the Inner Circle is presented as a group of equal Heroes -- so the IC committed the "cardinal sin" of splitting up the party. Now, I am not the type of Editor who forces Heroes to stay together as a group all the time; and in fact I am comfortable with having entire sessions where Heroes can pursue side projects or mini-quests during group downtime. But sending one solo and deep into enemy territory for such a risky mission -- even I would likely step out of character and advise the players against this.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus.)

Friday, October 12, 2018

More Fun Comics #51 - pt. 3

Betty, who helps Flying Fox search for her father, uses field glasses (a starting equipment item).

Rather than shoot down her "father" in a dogfight, FF uses a stunt to force his opponent to land. Landing on the island, FF has to fight his way out of a jam. He punches a gunman and, in a rare instance, the punch neither disarms nor knocks out his opponent. FF has to grapple and throw him on the next turn. Betty, meanwhile, trips the mobster disguised as her father and that does succeed at disarming him.

The disguise, when it's knocked off, is a mask that doesn't look like it would have fooled anyone. Worse, the villain's name turns out to be Bayou Borg, one of the worst villain names I've ever seen.

Detective Sergeant Carey is asked by an auto racer to investigate a death threat against him, then watches from the sidelines (with the binoculars from his starting equipment) when the racer's car crashes and the man dies. Remember, in the Golden Age, it's okay to fail and let innocent people die! The killer conveniently leaves two clues behind where he'd sniped the racer's tire -- his rifle and a wrench. Carey's sidekick Sleepy makes an expert skill check and appraises the wrench, realizing it is of foreign make (or an automatic skill check if it has foreign writing on it). When the killer tries to drive away in his race car, Carey has no compunction against shooting out the tire, the same way the first racer was killed (though the killer survives -- must have made a save vs. science!).

Sergeant O'Malley of the Red Coat Patrol has an unusual problem -- he encounters a group of bandits -- seven in number -- that he determines is too large for him and his sidekick Black Hawk to handle. Forced to resort to tactics, he uses the old "roll boulders down on them" trick -- but not to hit them (which is what most players would have done). Instead, the boulders are to knock out the ledge in front of and behind the bandits. If I had to referee that scene, I might use wrecking things for the boulders (maybe at O'Malley's level, or with a slight bonus), or I might just allow it outright because it's such a clever and nonviolent solution.

Black Hawk shows us that you can lasso a person falling past you from a higher ledge, that the rope does not swing the falling person into the cliff with enough force to do any serious damage, and that the momentum of the faller does not pull the lassoer over the ledge.

Bulldog Martin is asked to investigate a supposedly haunted house that a cute lady friend has inherited. It's a perfect low-level haunted house adventure, as most of it is just spooky noises that can be explained away (an open bottle left "under the eaves" so wind will blow into it, and a loud speaker hidden in the fireplace that plays "oooooo" noises). Bulldog finds the amplifier only by searching the walls and finding a concealed wire leading towards the fireplace.

It's obvious that the fake undead is digging for buried treasure in the yard because of all the upturned earth. Bulldog pretends to find the treasure, putting $2,000 of his own money at risk, and then gets robbed when the fake undead uses a secret door to take him by surprise. Bulldog has to spend time searching for the method of opening the secret door, even though he knows where it is. When he fails his roll, he decides to bash the secret door in with a sledge hammer instead. He wrecks through the secret door with such a good roll that the Editor rules that he can hit the fake undead guy hiding on the other side.

(Read at fullcomic.pro)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

More Fun Comics #51 - pt. 2

Still on King Carter. There are at least 10 more natives on the island, with a pet watchdog who alerts them to King (and his kid sidekick, Red). The natives really don't like intruders and throw spears as King and Red flee. In a cliched ending, a volcano just happens to erupt and sink the island as they escape, which seems a waste of a good encounter area to me.

The Buccaneer's new story begins with an odd premise. A man adrift is rescued, but goes berserk and kills a crewman. Then the man gets amnesia from the head blow and wants to help everyone follow the treasure map hidden in his wooden leg. The problem is...did everyone get amnesia about the dead crewman, or are they really that greedy for the treasure?

Later, the Buccaneer uses a whip to disarm a knife from a man's hand. And this is the last we see of The Buccaneer (who strangely looks just like Tex Thompson), as he retires so we can get the Spectre's debut next month!

"Kit" Strong is a "manhunter" (Private detective? Plainclothes detective?) working a kidnapping case when he finds bits of coal on the floor where the abduction took place. He smartly asks the father if they use coal in the house, and they don't. Just as smartly of the mobsters, they have the maid working as their inside mole and she tips them off that Kit is on the case. It is only dumb luck, or a freebie from the Editor, that allows Kit to accidentally hear the maid calling them.

Kit is waylaid by the kidnappers on the road and they try to force his car off a cliff. Last month I talked about the game mechanics of cars pushing cars, but timing it so it happens right at the cliff seems like it would take more luck than skill. I would, as Editor, perhaps pick a number between 2 and 5, roll a die, and if it comes up as that number or 1 away from it, then the timing is just right to go over the bridge (like a modification of the initiative rules). It's a risky maneuver, as the Editor fails the die roll and the mobsters go over the cliff themselves.

The mine where the rest of the kidnappers are using as a hideout is located in the "Larksville Mountains." It turns out that there really is such a thing as Larksville Mountain, in Pennsylvania. We don't know where Kit is based, but he needs a plane to reach the mountain quickly.

Lieutenant Bob Neal of Sub 662 tangles with spies this issue. Despite the adventure still taking place around Honolulu, the spies are Germans. The main spy is a femme fatale (a new mobstertype in the Mobster Manual, distinct from vamps). She is skilled at disguises, but her main tactic fails her. Had she not had hired thugs try to rough up Bob and his men first, Bob would not have been suspicious later when she tricks Bob and Dr. McDonald (the scientist who invented all the trophy items from last issue) into leaving a party. Later, Bob has to resort to throwing ink in her face to stop her because he must need a save vs. plot to strike a femme fatale (I'll need to make sure that's in their description).

After digging up gold from the underwater volcano, Bob jokes that they have enough gold to pay off the national debt. At the beginning of 1940, the national debt was somewhere around $41.5 billion.

Ah, Flying Fox... DC, I get that you were trying to meld the mysteryman genre with the aviator genre, like Dell had with The Masked Pilot, but Flying Fox just never works for me. Here, someone sends Rex Darrell on a mission to investigate a missing aviator. What does Rex do for a living again? Rex/Flying Fox arrives at the man's house in time to see an assassination, but he can't stop the mobster from getting away because he has to land his plane first.

This is really the frustrating thing about the aviator genre, in terms of putting a new class together for them in 2nd edition Hideouts & Hoodlums - half the time they are on the ground, and have no special abilities when not in a plane.

At least there's an interesting angle to this scenario in that the stakes are unusually high; the killings are to gain control of the shares of an island where the missing aviator found an old pirate fortress and $5 million in buried treasure. There still seems to be a big plot hole here -- why is ownership of the property so important, when they could just steal the treasure and leave the island with it? 

(Read at fullcomic.pro)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

More Fun Comics #50 - pt. 3 - More Fun Comics #51 - pt. 1

Sergeant O'Malley of the Red Coat Patrol tangles with arsonists. Since this is a rural adventure, the arsonists don't need any special skills; they just show up in the woods with lit torches. After they escape O'Malley in a scuffle, his faithful Indian companion Black Hawk finds evidence of blood at the scene and helps tracks them down (more of the "natives are excellent trackers" cliche).

Bulldog Martin and his racist caricature black friend Jonah are mountain climbing together in the Alps. To be fair, Jonah at least has a normal name and appears to be a friend instead of a servant. This is the first instance I can recall of climbers being shown tied together. Bulldog also claims that they cannot climb back down the mountain without their picks after they lose them; what he might mean is that climbing down will be an expert skill without tools instead of a basic skill, halving their chances, and he's not willing to risk it.

At the top of the mountain, they stumble across robbers planning to rob a hidden stronghold. Bulldog explains that "every foreign country has a hidden stronghold in which they store their gold." This was mostly true back when all countries relied on the gold standard, though I don't see how their locations would be secrets.

Unarmed against the robbers, Bulldog jury rigs bolos to attack them with. Normally, I consider improvised weaponry like that to do half-damage (1-3), but these bolos seem wicked effective.

Moving on to #51, which will catch us up!

Wing Brady has his first adventure in Paris, though it begins more like a sight-seeing tour (we are even treated to a surprising amount of untranslated dialog in French). He punches out a cutpurse and then socializes with two American tourists who have favorable encounter reaction rolls from him and could become supporting cast members for him later.

Biff Bronson deals with a Tong war in a caricatured version of Chinatown. I know I said recently I would do away with the yellow peril hoodlum...but maybe I need to keep them and revise them so they have a bonus to hit with hatchets? They sure use hatchets a lot in comic books.

Biff finds a vital clue hidden in a jade box that can only be opened after finding the concealed spring latch (find as a secret door). The murder list also serves as a directory for what 1940s whites thought of as typical Chinatown locations: curio shop, warehouse, silk shop, hotel, incense house, gaming place, restaurant, barber shop, laundry, joss house. "Joss house" is white slang for an Asian temple.

The "mayor" of Chinatown, a master criminal (as usual), wears a hollow signet ring containing poison powder for slipping into drinks. Biff foils him with a "spot check" (basic skill check) to notice that the signet ring is not sealed tight.

King Carter runs afoul of a shark while trying to reach an island, and a native on the island who (despite having as spear) hurls rocks down at him (maybe because weapon damage is essentially doubled when it's falling; see yesterday's post). King wisely dispatches both foes with his knife, rather than risk bringing more wandering encounters with the loud noise of his gun.

(read at fullcomic.pro)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

More Fun Comics #50 - pt. 2

We left off with King Carter exploring Ali Ghazi's palace. There is a pit in the middle of a hallway that leads to an underground stream.Confronting Ali in a shrine, King arms himself with a sword and engages him in melee. Ali triggers a trap that makes four poisonous snakes drop from a trap door in the ceiling.

Not all guards are bad, as evidenced in The Buccaneer (and backed up by the Alignment of guards in The Mobster Manual). Dennis is leading the rightful king and a small band of loyal followers towards the castle (again, it's weird this takes place in the West Indies), but a guard gives them fair warning not to come any closer or they will be shot at. Politely warned, they all turn around and go away (but plot how to come back later).

In Radio Squad, we learn that Sandy and Larry are not only patrol partners, but they share an apartment together, and share a car. They fail to encounter any random mobsters all day while on patrol, but happen upon car thieves in their own garage! Head blows are easy enough to deliver that they can even be synchronized; Sandy and Larry are both knocked out that way at the same time. Later, after trailing a crooked businessman back to the thieves' hideout, they are captured by armed lookouts (crooked businessmen and lookouts are both statted in The Mobster Manual).

Lt. Bob Neal is going to be testing several science trophies on his submarine today, including advanced Scuba gear, a machine that turns water into breathable air (Machine of Water Breathing), and a drill "powered by the ocean" (?), that can "literally go through anything" (so, wrecks as a 9th level superhero?).  Bob is in constant danger during testing these inventions; the Machine of Water Breathing doesn't work and he has to be rescued before he suffocates, and while testing the drill a "monstrous ray fish" bumps his air hose and fouls it. Giant devil rays are in The Mobster Manual (maybe I should include a note about how they like to foul air hoses). Oh, and Bob finds gold in the volcanic ruins around Hawaii, as unlikely as that seems.

The Flying Fox story has some rather obvious flaws in it. There's supposedly a mystery to how transport planes are being forced to land and their pilots killed, but when FF puts himself in danger, it becomes apparent that the air bandits shoot at the planes. How was that not evident sooner -- did no one think to examine the planes for bullet holes? This is the first story where the term "Immelmann" is used, to refer to the Immelmann turn invented in WWI (and I first learned about from playing Dawn Patrol).  FF defeats a "giant guard" on his way into the air bandits' hideout, but we never actually see all of the guard and what we do see of him in the panel does not make him look very giant.

Detective Sergeant Casey is solving the case of who is murdering the jurists who convicted a dead man. His strategy is to have police openly guard every jurist but one, luring the killer to that one, and then disguising himself as the vulnerable jurist. To build suspense for the reader, Casey refuses to confide his plan to his captain, which I can't imagine a police captain actually allowing.

(Read at fullcomic.pro)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

More Fun Comics #49 - pt. 3 - More Fun Comics #50 - pt. 1

Sergeant O'Malley of the Red Coat Patrol demonstrates balance by walking on top of logs floating in the river -- a basic skill check. As O'Malley and Pierre grapple on the bridge, O'Malley flips Pierre over the side, but Pierre still has a hold on O'Malley and pulls him over with him. This sounds like an Editor's interpretation of the grappling results (O'Malley's success on the turn following Pierre's established hold), as opposed to needing to become a consideration when one opponent pushes another.

In the water, the story shows how swimming with logs is dangerous; the logs bob up and down in the water like swinging clubs, so anyone in that environment is subjected to 1-4 head blow attacks per turn, depending on how densely packed the logs are.

Bulldog Martin is in Egypt, where the Phantom of the Pyramids has been raiding tombs. The Phantom wears a metal helmet that serves as armor (precedent for helmets helping Armor Class?), and carries a gun with a silencer and a crowbar.

Moving on to #50...

Wing Brady is riding to the rescue of a French Foreign Legion regiment who have fallen victim to vicious tactics -- nomads have snuck into their camp and killed the sentries so no alarm can be raised when the main force rides in.

Biff Bronson and Dan Druff encounter perhaps the first mad wax sculptor in comics. This is a dark story; the sculptor not only kills people and coats them in wax, but they stumble across a bust that is a cut-off head. They sneak back into the museum by climbing a tree and finding an open skylight. During their scuffle, a can of ether falls into a hot vat of wax and fills the whole room with poisonous fumes. Only Biff and Dan make their saving throws and leave conscious.

King Carter follows up on a hit-and-run in India and the trail leads to an "evil" prince, Ali Ghazi (groan), who is plotting an uprising against the British.  Ali has a guard who is armed with a scimitar, but is easily defeated with a punch. Ali is tough; he can throw a dagger so hard that it can crash through a window and stab someone (windows don't count as cover?). Ali doesn't use jail cells for prisoners; he seals them up inside brick walls, Cask of Amontillado-style. Brick walls are easily broken if the cement is not dry yet, apparently, making for a pretty weak prison. The palace (consistently called a castle) has at least one tiger wandering its halls.

(Read in fullcomic.pro)

Monday, October 1, 2018

More Fun Comics #49 - pt. 2

The Buccaneer picks up with a sword duel about to begin between Dennis and Dr. Killmen -- which would be a pretty good name for a supervillain! Instead, Killmen lasts about one melee turn before getting run through. Such are the vagaries of randomly generated combat results!  Dennis is trying to get the crown prince of Natria back on the throne, Natria being a fictional country on some island near Mexico, despite it looking an awful lot like Europe.

In Radio Squad (another feature ruined by lackluster post-Shuster art), Sandy and Larry are called to the scene of a stabbing, but can't reach the fleeing suspect because of people in the way. This would be an example of a "slowing obstacle," as defined on page 113 of the Basic rulebook, in the chase section. Outside, Sandy and Larry "take aim," and unload their pistols in the suspect's direction as he climbs a fire escape to the roof. Granted, the fire escape probably gives him cover and hence an Armor Class bonus, but this illustrates how there is a good chance of missing even for fourth level fighters (by my page count conversion, Sandy is just shy of 10,000 XP now and is a "lieutenant" for level title).

Sandy, Larry, and the guy they are pursuing all jump down through a skylight and seemingly land unharmed in the apartment below, demonstrating that a jump/controlled fall maybe should not cause damage. Sandy and Larry, twice, enter the apartment without a search warrant. Larry is shot in the arm and takes a week to heal from his injury.

Lieut. Bob Neal of Sub 662 is sent from Panama to Honolulu for maneuvers, but the scenario quickly becomes fighting ruffian/kidnappers in an alley hand-to-hand. They fail their surprise attempt on Bob and one of them gets thrown (grappling result), then punched out. The scientist he rescues lives on "Kolawura" Island, which could just be a typo for Kolavara Island.  "Mt. Palolo" erupts while they're there; Palolo Valley is where Ka'au Crater is. An interesting twist to the scenario (which seems to have no connection to the kidnapping attempt) is the volcanic eruption, forcing the submarine off its maneuvers to evacuate people from the island. Sadly, the native Hawaiians are treated like primitives.

Bob takes precautions like pouring water on himself and wearing a wet handkerchief over his face before approaching a fire. I'm not sure that should have any affect on if he takes damage. It could translate into a saving throw bonus, but there's not a save vs. fire damage under normal circumstances, only against magical fire. Bob takes "a few days" to recover from smoke inhalation.

The Flying Fox tangles with two "rough hombres," but I hesitate to stat them as anything other than fighters. The hombres/ruffians work for air pirates, some of whom are armed with sub-machine guns.

Detective Sergeant Carey is needed on a murder investigation because Captain Dart, who looks pretty long in the tooth, might be getting a little senile. Dart has his suspects -- dancing girls at a nightclub -- reenact their dance to pinpoint the killer, without even considering that the killer could guess the purpose of this and switch places with another dancer. Carey seems a little loopy too, he seems to not be able to resist saying the word "voodoo" every other panel, just because it's the theme of the nightclub.

Luckily, Carey just happens to know the bartender. Maybe he really did meet the bartender and add him to his SCM list during downtime between scenarios, but something that recently came up in our message board game was the possibility of switching out a SCM you already have after a successful save vs. plot. This is not an official Hideouts & Hoodlums rule, but it does not run counter to the spirit of the rules.

(Read at fullcomic.pro)