Thursday, July 18, 2019
Also, we see Kinks loading a vacuum cleaner into a firing tube. Oops -- I guess that's actually supposed to be a torpedo?
Chlorophyll is super-effective on binding weed and seaweed men; more of it makes the former grow super-fast and lack of it kills the latter almost instantly.
Heavyweights might qualify for a mobster entry, but I already have one for boxers in the Mobster Manual (it's coming -- someday!). Perhaps a note about heavyweights in their entry would suffice, rather than their own entry. Heavyweights might have +1 hit point and do +1 damage punching.
The term "palooka" predates the character Joe Palooka by at least a decade.
There's something interesting in here, about how the Killer gains the upper hand by "craftily clinching" with Terry. For the Hideouts & Hoodlums rules to reflect this, there would need to be a space rule, where weapons need a minimum amount of space to be effective, allowing opponents to close into that space. It does require more preciseness to combat than H&H normally requires (even facing is rarely considered, except for back attacks). If you close so tight that your opponent can't get in a cross, can you only jab (a punch with a shorter space, but does lower damage?).
If we did institute this rule, we'd have to consider how to counter it. Does your opponent have to use the rest of his turn taking a 5' step back?
Here he battles a sumo wrestler, who I may need to stat as a mobster type. It hurts to punch a sumo wrestler (1 point of damage to self?), but other forms of unarmed combat, like kicking, work fine. In fact, sumos might be extra vulnerable to kicking (+1 damage?).
(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)
Sunday, July 14, 2019
Yes, while other Heroes are gathering information and following leads to uncover spies, Saber just has to walk into a room and immediately senses them. I wonder if we need a Detect Spy power, and not just Detect Evil...
Saber doesn't even have to fill out paperwork to requisition an electro-heat ray gun. He just asks for it and he gets it!
Although called a ray gun, the "electro-heat" seems more like a protective feature of the submarine. Resistance to Cold?
Yes, it seems like a strategic victory, blowing up the munitions plants and air bases...but if the Antarcticans put those things within their city, and you blow up the city...war crimes? A far more satisfying story would have been Saber infiltrating the city and sabotaging the munitions plants and air bases from within.
I wonder what drug this is, that a little drop mixed in water can make a boxer this much. At the end of the story, when Kirby realizes what had happened and catches someone trying to drug his water again, he forces that man to drink it and that man drops on the spot. Powerful stuff!
Sargasso is a legitimate problem for sailing ships, but this seaweed seems intentionally grabbing the board. I can't decide, though, if I would stat Slimy Seaweed as a mobster, or treat it as an environmental hazard...
Hmm...whirlpools acting as underwater solar panels? Underwater chlorophyll factories? Ah, comic book science...
(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)
Thursday, July 11, 2019
There is no Lolaii Island, but from the spelling it seems clearly a stand-in for a Hawaiian island.
Manoa is not an island, but a valley on the island of Oahu, near Honolulu. Now, it would make more sense for this story to start near a major city like Honolulu, and move away from there to a more isolated island, but apparently these were lazy pirates.
Oahu does have coves, like the map does, which makes it even likelier to be the location.
Koa is the Hawaiian word for warrior.
(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum.)
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
The ranch has mortgage payments of $7,000 (monthly? Annually?) and someone makes an offer of $60,000 for the entire ranch, which is apparently low but not entirely unreasonable.
A neat trick Cosmo uses (though I'm not sure this would actually work) to fool some rustlers into thinking he's still hiding behind a boulder is to tie strips of his shirt around bullet cartridges and lit them like fuses. The bullets go off, convincing them that he's still shooting from behind there.
Do I need to stat rustlers? I think I'll just treat them as outlaws.
The disappearing cattle are being herded through a secret door made of stone (or made to look like stone).
Bruce Nelson is skiing in the White Mountains. I was sure this was a generic fictional name, but there really is a White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. Bruce is staying at a ski lodge with a bunch of "famous celebrities," but they don't seem to be based on real ones in either name or appearance.
Bruce shows expert-level tracking skills when he looks at all the tracks in the snow outside the lodge -- by moonlight! -- and manages to spot finger-tracks, where someone's hand was dragged through the snow. I'd say that would normally be a 1 in 10 chance of success at best.
Slam Bradley and Shorty are surprised when an intruder enters their bedroom and leaves a small box with $10,000 in it -- though I was more surprised to see Slam and Shorty sleep in the same bed. The money is a retainer from someone who wishes to hire them anonymous, which wouldn't have lasted long had they caught the intruder. To collect, they have to go to Shanghai, which takes them out of the country on a very long sea voyage (the only thing we know about the trip is that Shorty learns how Chop Suey is not a traditional Chinese dish).
The scenario is fairly interesting; Slam has been hired because of his reputation. He's supposed to procure something, but they refuse to tell him upfront. Instead, a female guide is to be sent with him who will reveal what it is at the "proper time." I think this would scream "trap" to my players and they would never touch this plot hook.
Slam was always a tough scrapper, but in this adventure he needs to be rescued from five yellow peril hoodlums, and then gets knocked out by a head blow later. Slam is tortured for information (that he doesn't have) on a strange rack that pulls sideways instead of up and down. Shorty is hung off the floor by his wrists (at least it wasn't his thumbs).
There's a curious plot hole in the story where Slam and Shorty's caravan through China is attacked, the men who tortured them save them (because they are following Slam to the Macguffin) by mowing down the new attackers (and I'm not sure who they are, other than a random encounter) with machine guns. Slam acts like he didn't even notice and is surprised later that they're being followed, even though there's no way he didn't witness the machine gun fire.
The Macguffin is an idol that will give whoever owns it the ability to command people (not a magical ability, I don't think). It is poorly guarded by a single sword-wielding guard and a pit, though the real protection, I suppose, is the trap on the idol -- mess with it and a dagger springs out of the base of it and stabs you (killing the main villain, Chong, incidentally. Poisoned, perhaps?).
Although Slam gets paid in the end, he didn't actually do much, except he scares off Chong's men with a machine gun he steals from them in the end.
(Read at readcomiconline.to)
Friday, July 5, 2019
After defeating Strange, the Batman does something that most players don't do in any RPG -- after defeating the main bad guy, he still methodically searches the hideout. In this way he finds a prisoner (that he claims to have always known about, though this is the readers' first time hearing about it), and learns how Strange was inducing fog around the robberies -- with a stolen lightning gun! Now, why he used the lightning gun to make fog and not turn it into a weapon...
No mention is made of what happens to the lightning gun (which looks like a planetarium projector, by the way). It doesn't seem to make it into the Batman's trophy room, and certainly doesn't become part of its arsenal. The Editor of that game session, perhaps just not feeling generous, made it a mad science trophy with very limited charges/uses.
Next up is Bart Regan, Spy. When Jerry Siegel was still drawing this it was my favorite feature, but now....Bart is up against more spies, now from the fictional nation of Tortania. I haven't a clue what country "Tortania" is meant to represent; it could just be a truly generic foreign power. Bart's big clue as to who the spy is, is overhearing him curse in Tortanian, which might be the first time cursing is demonstrated as a series of symbols in a DC comic.
The hunchbacked spy gets the drop on Bart, from behind, but Bart is somehow able to spin around and shoot first. H&H's simple initiative system allows for a lot of leeway like this, though circumstances almost cry out for a common sense adjudication and hand-waving the dice rolls. Perhaps the spy missed on his surprise roll so badly that the Editor said he hadn't even managed to get his shot off yet.
The hunchbacked spy turns out to be a pretty nifty threat; he's wearing a vest lined with dynamite under his coat, making him the first suicide bomber in comicbook history. It's a challenging threat, normally, but this adventure takes place on a boat, so Bart simply pushes the man into the water in time (though, if Bart had lost initiative...). The spy also has a poison pill on him that is confiscated.
Bart administers truth serum to the spy to learn where his hideout is. The hideout appears to be empty, but a secret door opens like a shutter sliding down.
Steve Malone, District Attorney, is hunting down a mobster on the lam, and figures out who the disguised mobster is by the clue of the hairs in his comb. In the ensuing fight, Steve uses a table for a club and the mobster's vamp girlfriend uses this really big candle holder, so vamps are sometimes armed with clubs. Steve doesn't start out the encounter with a gun, but he lifts one off a mobster. In a rare instance, both gunman run out of bullets in the same firefight.
I normally like Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator more than this installment. Speed is on the trail of a jewel thief who calls himself The Spider and leaves toy spiders behind as a calling card. There's even a nice spin where The Spider doesn't break into homes, he convinces rich people to rent from him, unaware of the secret doors he's built into his properties. But the story has some serious flaws. One, The Spider tries a drive-by shooting against Speed, but from his own car licensed in his own name. Two, Speed slaps the man's wife around while The Spider isn't home, and then she still obediently obeys him. Now, there's a nice twist on that, where the wife turns out to be The Spider, dressed as a man, the whole time, and there never was a husband...but I'm not sure Speed knew that when he slapped her...
(Batman story read in The Batman Archives vol. 1; the rest read at readcomiconline)
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Like many a Superman adventure of the time, this scenario starts with a wandering encounter -- a dying plot hook character escapes from a speeding car within sight of the Batman. Batman's player is smart and has him search the body for clues!
True to the tropes of the Mysteryman class, the police catch him standing over the body and assume the Batman is a murderer. They even try to shoot him down without even bothering to tell him to surrender first!
Later, as Bruce Wayne, the Batman solves a clue and figures out that Professor Hugo Strange is up to something. The description that Bruce gives to himself of Hugo Strange resembles Sherlock Holmes' Moriarty.
Now, some people feel that, since the Batman already knows of Hugo Strange, that means this story was published out of order with the next Hugo Strange tale in Batman #1, but another possibility is that readers were supposed to understand from this that Hugo's first true appearance, in the 1934 Doc Savage novel, The Monsters, was canon for Batman's world.
The Batman, aware from the G-Man's notebook where Strange's first robbery will be, takes a big risk by disguising himself as the night watchman. Had the plan been to kill the night watchman, we wouldn't have a Batman today. But it does work out perfectly for him, as the robbers relax their guard and leave only one armed while the rest move boxes -- a perfect time for the Batman to attack and get one free turn of action while the mobsters would drop their boxes and go for their weapons. Better, he gets a surprise turn, on which he decks the guard and drops him, and then wins initiative on the first regular turn and takes out two mobsters (with low hit points) with his punches (two attacks because they are unarmed). It appears he is taking out four at once, but this must be turn-compression and showing his attacks on subsequent turns as well.
After the battle ends, the Batman shoots a gun into the air to bring the police, but it is not clear if it is his gun, or if he just picked up a mobster's gun.
The next night, Hugo thinks nine-to-one odds will be enough to stop the Batman, and it almost isn't. It appears that a single lucky head blow takes him out, but it could have been a gradual reduction of hit points throughout the battle.
Bucking villain tradition, Hugo does not put the Batman in a deathtrap, but plans to torture him with a whip while chained up instead. I suppose, eventually, that could kill him, so maybe it's just not a particularly efficient deathtrap. The Batman escapes by wrecking the chains. The Batman is a perplexing man (4th level Mysteryman) by now, so for him to wreck the category of machines (for chains), he needs to only roll a 4 or higher on 2 dice. I would also rule that he only gets one chance before Strange figures out what he's trying and stops fooling around with him.
The Batman is shown keeping a vial of sleeping gas in his utility belt.
(Read in Batman Archives vol. 1.)
Saturday, June 29, 2019
Does the writing hold up to the art? Let's consider the stool. A stool is a perfectly good clubbing weapon. Valor could have just handed the stool to Ronnie. Instead he breaks one leg off. He doesn't even break three legs off and pass the weapons around; he tosses the rest of the stool aside. And then he leads with the stool leg, when he's actually holding a gun? He could have taken the first guard prisoner and used him as a hostage.
Finding grenades in the saddle bags is a huge lucky break. Too lucky? He blows up at least 15 pursuers with that last grenade (definitely possible, since I had lowered damage and extended blast radius on grenades in 2nd edition), slowing down Ho Tsin's army enough that our Heroes can ride out well ahead of their pursuers.
We don't see much of the chase scene, but losing line-of-sight is an example of an obstacle to overcome during a chase.
I suspect Valor is exaggerating about a million, though in a wilderness setting, numbers encountered could be in the hundreds.
Is it relevant that Dudley Bradshaw likes to go to the gym? It is, because it speaks to what Heroes do in their downtime. Should it have some game mechanic benefit if you go to the gym? Probably not...but if enough game time passed and a fighter or mysteryman had not been to the gym, I might be willing to assign a temporary penalty to attack rolls...
We also see him using his "wand" -- a boomerang amulet -- to cast spells. The boomerang aspect is a bit forced.
Thank goodness he doesn't say "I'll rub my boomerang amulet and find out who sent the snake!" from in bed.
Some of his spells -- but not all of them -- require command words. They look like they say something backwards, like Zatara's spellcasting, but they don't.
And then he casts Reduce Person...
Mass Polymorph is going to be a tough spell on this game; it seems fairly common, but it should be a high-level spell for what it can do. Normally I would say, okay, let's make a weaker version with just a very short duration, but these guys stay pigeons long enough to coat a statue. This would be an 8th level spell, meaning Zambini has a whopping 15 brevet ranks.
Or, he used his already cast Hypnotic Pattern to make them think they were pigeons, then used Charm Animal to make two real pigeons do what he made the two men think they were doing. Convoluted, yes, but more feasible in a balanced campaign world.
Incidentally, the countries here are "Ritania" and "Hundanian," clearly meant to be European countries. Hundanian must be a stand-in for Germany, though Ritania is less clear -- Germany had so many enemies by 1940!
Saving a king and getting knighted are high honors for a rookie Hero. I would personally have waited longer and built up to this.
(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus.)
Friday, June 21, 2019
Being normal size means Kalthar isn't buffed by any powers. In such a state, five guards are easily enough to take him down.
It's interesting that throwing spears at a Hero when he can move around is combat, but if he's tied up, it becomes a deathtrap, with the separate rules that apply to deathtraps (zero hit points means death instead of unconsciousness).
It seems like Kalthar is using some kind of power to summon apes, but if the apes are considered his SCMs, and he's just shouting for them, and they're near enough to hear it, isn't there a good chance they would just come anyway...?
Kalthar can clearly speak with animals as well. I do not want to give this ability all Heroes, and in fact brought up on this blog a long time ago that the Explorer class should get the speak with animals ability. Maybe Kalthar is multi-classed?
And last on this page is a rare example of an elephant being able to wreck through a stone wall. Elephants sure are strong!
One of the nice things about this strip is that it includes the name of each plane at the bottom. I don't have to compare the drawings to photos and guess anymore!
If I ever manage to write my own aerial combat rules, trying to gain control of the facing of your opponents will be a critical function in combat.
It seems almost too good to be coincidence that the twins like a Helen Carter, like Captain America would later like a Sharon Carter.
Again, we get the name of a plane to help with research, though that is awfully hard to read...
This is also a prime example of the amount of carnage that can go on in a war-themed campaign. The goal seems to be accruing the highest possible death toll -- which is perfect for racking up XP in a campaign where finding treasure and trophies is not the goal.
(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus.)
Friday, June 14, 2019
Mugsy is gag filler, and I don't always take the prices listed in gag filler seriously, but charging per pound for pet dogs sounds logical and a good rule of thumb for finding the price of animals in the future.
SA is one of many inventors of paralyzing rayguns, as well as the webcam chat, by 1940.
We don't know how many operatives SA has, but it's at least 12. That's more Supporting Cast Members than most Heroes can have, but this is why 2nd edition distinguished between SCM and hirelings/employees.
I believe this is the first, but certainly not the last, bulletproof cape in comics. I'm not sure which is more unrealistic, that weaving steel into a cloth cape will deflect bullets, or that a cape with steel woven into it would billow like that.
Regardless, we have our traditional options for how SA's gear works -- this is either a trophy item that can be taken off and shared or it's flavor text describing how SA's powers work (if he were statted as a superhero, though I'm hesitant to do so). It could even be flavor text just describing why the bullets didn't hit when the player made his save vs. missiles to dodge gunfire.
And, because golden age comic books were seldom consistent, the player doesn't even need to use the same explanation next time it happens!
SA has a webcam and an electric car! It's like he was born in 1980!
The hypnosis machine seems fanciful in design but, again, could just be flavor text describing how SA uses his hypnotism skill.
Man, SA is really brutal at murdering bad guys. He throws a car on top of them?
SA uses either the disguise skill or the Change Self power.
But then we go back to flavor text; game mechanically, I think SA is just searching for secret doors and saying he's using the magnetic ray to do it.
That's all the pages of Scarlet Avenger I'm sharing. It's weird; thematically, he seems so much like a mysteryman, but this story is practically begging me to stat him as a superhero (much like Centaur's Masked Marvel).
(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus.)