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.

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