Monday, March 30, 2015

Famous Funnies #28

Scorchy Smith at last!  Here we have a new detail about the poison gas afflicting the locals; if victims miss their saves vs. poison, they are incapacitated for exactly 11 days.

Also worth mentioning is the sabotage sub-plot -- something that is going to affect Aviator Heroes more than perhaps any other Heroes.

Here we revisit the issue of hit points and healing. Swords & Wizardry: White Box Edition, the retro-clone H&H was originally built on, actually included a rule for bandaging wounds to recover 1d4 hit points, which I left out of H&H because it wasn't something that existed in That Other Game we all emulate. But bandaging wounds is definitely found in the comics, like here.  Should I bring the bandaging rule back in...?

Something else to reconsider is the "creasing the scalp" cliche with gunshots.  Currently, the save vs. missiles mechanic allows Heroes to take all or no damage from bullets, but that leaves out the scalp crease that only temporarily knocks a Hero unconscious. Perhaps "save for no damage" should be saved for higher level Heroes, or a save would crease your brow while saving at 5 higher than what you need dodges altogether?

On the subject of recovering from wounds, Dickie Dare is revived by "stimulants".  I'm not sure what that means in this context, whether he's been given drugs, smelling salts, or a nip of whiskey. None of this fits into the H&H game mechanics, where it takes 4 hours to wake up after being reduced to zero hit points, no matter how many nips of whiskey you've had. So what does this mean?  I'm not advocating that whiskey consumption should restore hp faster, but -- perhaps -- if someone else is trying to revive you for a specific purpose (like imparting information), you could make a save vs. plot to revive just to say a few important things.

Whale ho!  I was very hesitant to put whales in H&H because what purpose would they serve?  You can't really fight a whale; they're just too big. As a force of nature, whales are better served as a sort of natural trap: if you move through this section of ocean, you run into the risk of a whale knocking your boat over -- but it isn't there to really fight.

I keep thinking I'm not going to ever think of anything to say about Seaweed Sam ever again, we get a sort of hidden land where the Fountain of Youth is, and the actually intriguing idea that the fountain turns people into babies, but one's who retain adult intelligence and coordination -- so that you've got babies shooting bows and arrows.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Comics #10

I don't have a lot of content access to this issue, but what I do have is a doozy -- the four-page installment of Federal Men.  This continues from the last issue, so I've already discussed giant robots.  This installment calls it a metal colossus and I wonder if that would not be a good name for a distinctly different construct-type mobster. Perhaps 20 HD, with destructive wrecking beams it can shoot from its eyes at 1-2 targets per turn?  With permanent Imperviousness (like the 3rd level power)? 

Note to self: if I ever become a mad scientist, leave all access hatches to my giant robots locked!

Metal colossi can be found in groups of 1-3! 

I would treat wrecking an entire underground hideout of this size as "dams" on the wrecking things table, though, really, even a smaller hole punched in the side of it would cause some serious flooding.

(Scans courtesy of Four-Color Shadows blog))

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Funnies #2 - pt. 2

That rascal, Tad of the Tanbark, encouraging kids to cut up their comic books with scissors!  And all for a picture of a hyena. Hyenas were first discussed for H&H here

That Tad is at it again already!  This time it's a leopard. Leopards have not been statted for H&H, but should be the equivalent of the cougar, statted in Supplement III: Better Quality.

And now hippos!  Have you no shame, Tad?  Hippos are tricky because their mass should give them a ridiculous amount of Hit Dice, far in excess to their danger in combat (though hippos can be very dangerous, but maybe not in T Rex company...?).  A solution might be to, like the eunotosaurus, give them 5 20-sided HD.

What's going on in Don Dixon and the Hidden Empire might not be so clear from the artwork, so let me recap the previous two pages: Don is a prisoner of the green men (they might as well be statted as ordinary humans, since they seem to differ only in pigmentation). The green men control the priesthood in the Hidden Empire, while the king and his separate-but-equal faction are pink-skinned.  The princess has given a ring to Don to protect him from the Light of Rav -- which appears to be a heat ray the green men use to kill prisoners in a faux religious ceremony. The ring is protecting Don -- which I guess makes it a Ring of Fire Resistance!

Compared to a eunotosaurus, a giant tortoise is nothing -- nothing but 1 12-sided Hit Die, maybe.

Mutt & Jeff here illustrate that it really is all in your head, as there is no game mechanic for weather causing cold damage in H&H!  Should there be?  Perhaps for the harshest of environments, like at the poles, or during a blizzard, but not on an ordinary winter's day.

Bronc Peeler and Coyote Pete demonstrate the Cowboy Stunts of Quick Draw, Lasso Expertise, and Trick Shooting, as well as firearms inducing morale saves, and the return of goats to our blog, last seen here!  Should I maybe bump them up to a solid 1 HD?

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Funnies #2 - pt. 1

Today's instructor will be Captain Easy, and the class is Combat Tactics 101.  Here, we see Easy in a rare instance of running from a fight.  Why?  Because he wants better odds when he turns around to face them in melee than allowing them three attacks per turn for every one of his.

Now, in Hideouts & Hoodlums, everyone runs at a constant Movement rate, so Easy actually gets lucky here that two of his pursuers slow down, perhaps looking for another route they can use to cut him off.

Blizzards, diamonds, pirates, whirlpools, and Nikky Eskota's thugs?  It reads like a wandering encounter table!  Pirates and thugs are both statted in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies.

The Canada Lynx would warrant a 1/2 Hit Die. There is nothing quite like it statted for H&H yet, but I am putting together an adventure module which may feature bobcats, using stats that would be identical for a lynx.

The Alley Oop animal of the day is the diatryma, also known as the gastornis.  I wouldn't want to run into this flightless bird in a dark alley, or cave, as I'd assign it 2 HD, given its size and weight.  Another animal of the day is eunotosaurus, a giant prehistoric tortoise.  Actually, I'd choose to hide behind the diatryma if I saw this coming, as the eunotosaurus was massive enough it would have 8 20-sided Hit Dice!

Tailspin Tommy, or actually his enemies, are in a particularly dangerous hideout. "Everything here operates by switches an' buttons" -- but one random button will trigger a huge stockpile of TNT to be exploded on the spot! 

This page of The Adventures of 'Spargus and Chubby introduces us, not only to a man-sized (2 HD) robot, but a dog-sized robot (1+1 HD?), and a horse-sized robot (5 HD?) big enough for two people to ride in. Would it have any benefits, though, other than moving inside partial cover?

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Funny Pages #6

This is the Sapphire Eye of Sehkmet. You can tell the silver-tongued characters by the size of their word balloons.  Should "silver-tongued" be a stunt?  Cash it in and you get an auto success on a encounter reaction roll or SCM recruitment roll?  It bears consideration.

Every Editor/Dungeon Master/Game Referee runs into this problem sooner or later.  You want a dying messenger to deliver a cryptic, suspenseful clue to the Heroes, but what to do the players do?  Instead of saying "You're wounded!  Speak to me!" they say "Don't speak, just rest.  Here, I've got a first aid kit..." or they just cast a cure spell and fix the problem even sooner!  Now there's no shortage of information they can get out of your dying messenger.

Hideouts & Hoodlums, at least, gives the Editor the out of the save vs. plot mechanic.  You want to violate the tropes of adventure fiction and save a guy clearly meant to die to service the plot?  Roll for it!

Reading the craziness that is The Stone Age usually hurts my brain, but at least this time we get a possible gaming tip out of it.  I've previously discussed what to do with skunks in the game, but here we see skunks being used to trigger morale saves.

Loony Louie the Fire Chief buys a magic trophy, a -- what should we call that?  A Flute of Rope Tricks?  Playing it allows him to control the movement of rope or something shaped like a rope, like a fire hose, within 5' of him.  H&H players should not normally expect to be able to buy magic trophies on the street, though.

Now, you and I both know that there is no reason Jimmy and Jean could not have simply sat in their car and waited for the storm to pass.  It is simply a trope of fiction that, when it is stormy outside, you must seek shelter in a strange building, no matter how creepy and suspicious it is.  So, Heroes should have to save vs. plot to resist seeking shelter when storms come.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Popular Comics #10

First up, the Dragon Lady shows us how useful sleeping poison is. Rules for poison are pretty much piecemeal in Hideouts & Hoodlums. Should they be more structured?

Moon Mullins teaches us that jockeys made as much as $25,000 a year in the 1930s -- a princely sum for that time.

Smilin' Jack teaches us about sideslip landing, good for landing a plane when there is not enough room for a proper landing strip. Maybe this should be a new stunt?

 Lovey Dovey asks the question: when to assign falling damage? Does face-first out a window into a rain barrel = 1d6 damage? I'd be inclined to say so, but in a campaign with a more light-hearted tone, maybe not.

Keeping up the falling theme, A Strain on the Family Tie asks, does falling down stairs = 1d6 damage?  Again, it's possible; people die from falling downstairs all the time. And yet, it's often just played for laughs in comic books, and is certainly never used in a deathtrap.  A compromise position might be to allow a save vs. science to avoid the falling damage, in cases where the fall is not directly vertical, or even in cases where objects might slow the Hero's fall (like conveniently-placed awnings).

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Friday, March 20, 2015

More Fun Comics #15 (& 14)

I skipped More Fun Comics #14 when I went through the October 1936 titles, as I had no access to any of the pages. However, I trust this source, which tells me that I missed quite a lot.  Apparently, this issue finally continues the aborted story of Dr. Mystic from Centaur's Comics Magazine #1. According to Mike,

"Dr. Occult and Zator visit the realm of the Seven. On the journey, they are attacked by the ether entities of Koth. After a mental duel, Dr. Occult prevails and reaches the Seven. He is then given a magic sword and sent on a quest to obtain a magic belt that can defeat Koth. Occult and Zator then travel to an Egyptian tomb where the belt is hidden."

I have speculated previously as to the nature of those "ether entities". The magic sword apparently grants Dr. Occult the abilities of a 1st-level Superhero, because he dawns a costume and exhibits superhuman strength while wielding it (and foreshadowing the coming of Superman from the same creative team nearly two years later). Mike also says that the sword is a Sword of Dancing, able to attack on its own while leaving Occult's hands free for other things.

An Egyptian tomb makes a swell hideout for a fantasy-/mythology-themed scenario. And a quest for a magic belt makes as good a plot hook as any. Still don't know what the magic belt is supposed to do, though!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Funny Picture Stories #1

Debuting here is the bridge character between the mysterymen of the Pulp genre and the superheroes of the Golden Age of Comics -- the Clock!

The Clock is a Fighter, by the basic rules, but a Mysteryman if that class is used. Here he demonstrates the Mysteryman stunt of hiding in shadows.

The Clock is a bit of a jerk, willing to use torture to get what he wants. Torture doesn't have any special power to get results in Hideouts & Hoodlums, though.  The Clock gets a random encounter reaction roll from his prisoner, so he'd be as lucky serving tea and biscuits as using an iron maiden.

A trick cane with a spring-loaded top is a trophy item; not really that useful as a weapon, but too unusual to be starting equipment. I would say it has a range of 15' and does maybe 1-4 damage, no doubt better as a distraction.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Famous Funnies #27

I am not, generally, a big fan of Fighters having special abilities; I find that Fighters are what most people choose to play when they don't want to deal with special abilities.  Still, if I had to look for Fighter-specific skills, I would not have to look farther than the first two pages of War on Crime, reprinted here. Toonopedia claims that this strip was written using research from actual FBI files and the attention to detail here would seem to prove it. 

For future consideration, then, the Fighter skills shown here are: legal training (higher percent chance of a conviction), disarming, ballistics (identify firearms), and forensics (knowledge of how to work X-Ray machines and microscopes, and how to make plaster casts of shoe prints).

Sleight of hand is accomplished by Mysterymen using their pick pockets skill.

Ah, Joe Palooka. I love the big guy, but I can hardly use him here for examples, since he doesn't go on adventures ever. Orangutans are small apes, only 1+1 HD, so Joe here gets beat up by one probably only because he's too nice a guy to fight back against it.

"Moth lure" could be a useful trophy item, since it seems to be able to attract a huge swarm of moths in a short amount of time.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Monday, March 16, 2015

New Comics #9

Steve Carson of Federal Men enters the hideout of the Invisible Empire this time -- an artificial island that can rise and sink beneath the surface. And is super-roomy!

Hideouts & Hoodlums has giant robots (giant gold and silver robots are in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies), but none as large as this monster (gargantuan?) robot, which has to be at least 50' tall. I've talked before about things sometimes being too unfeasibly big in the comics for Heroes to realistically deal with in a roleplaying game, and this would seem to be another example. Still...maybe the giant robots could have been a little taller in my game...

And now there's Steve Conrad on Dolorosa Isle to consider, but...what are those?  Mermen?  Aquatic ghouls? I may need to see more to puzzle this one out.

(Scans courtesy of Babblings about DC Comics and Days of Adventure blogs.)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Funnies #1 - pt. 2

Freckles and His Friends reminds us that a hidden land can be placed anywhere so long as the entrance is inaccessible; here, you have to swim 10' deep and under a ledge to reach this mini-hidden land where cougars nuzzle with lambs (cougars being statted in Supplement III: Better Quality).

This also illustrates the importance of everyone in the party carrying a flashlight, like if you fall into deep, murky water and the others need to see how far down you sank.

Yeah, okay, Ben Webster.  It is left up to the Editor's discretion if Indians should ride around topless on horseback in the 20th century (and be statted as Natives, from Book II: Mobsters & Trophies). 

If nothing else, this page illustrates the importance of carrying binoculars -- it might give you a head start when someone is chasing you!

Don Dixon and company encounter a constrictor snake -- with a twist!  Considered sacred by the local natives, killing the snake brings their wrath.

Tad of the Tanbark illustrates the usefulness of having an elephant Supporting Cast Member.

This half page of This Curious World shows the water buffalo, an animal that was on every continent but North America and Antarctica by 1940. Water buffalo fighting (like bull fighting) is practiced in some Asian countries. I would stat them as 4+1 Hit Dice, using d12 dice.

Mutt and Jeff put the value of a fur coat at $60 or less (oops, I had made them far more valuable on the starting equipment list!).

Most every comic book for 45 years had a page like this in it. Pocket telescopes, microscopes, high-powered air pistols, luminous paint, whoopee cushions -- smart players should find ways to use all this stuff!

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Funnies #1 - pt. 1

A new title from Dell Comics joins our revue this time, and it was full of good stuff!

First up is Tailspin Tommy, which illustrates several useful points for us Hideouts & Hoodlums players.  One, Betty grabs hold of the passing plane with a "simple" roll to hit. I put simple in quotation marks because determining an Armor Class for a moving plane is not so simple. A good rule of thumb can be found, though, in the vehicular combat section of Book III: Underworld and Metropolis Adventures, which recommends penalties to hit based on the speed of your target.

But once Betty has grabbed on, what is the chance of her slipping? An Editor, looking to squeeze a little more drama out of the scene, could ask of her a saving throw vs. science to resist the wind resistance pulling her loose.

And lastly, this is the origin of the Wing Walking stunt for the Aviator class!

Myra North, Special Nurse gets her comic book debut here, with the dramatic introduction of being shot down by an anti-aircraft gun!  I would use the autocannon, statted in Supplement I: National for anti-aircraft guns. A ruthless Editor might use the wrecking things table to determine the effect on the plane, but a gentler alternative is to roll on the plane mishap table found in The Trophy Case v. 2 no. 8.

Captain Easy goes to war!  Given H&H's recommended time frame of 1935-1941, it's likely that Heroes in the game will eventually find themselves involved in a war somewhere.  Panel 4 here serves as a great reminder that the front lines are very dangerous for low-level Heroes!

Though it makes for a dramatic page to have Easy abscond a bomber plane so easily, I would be hesitant to allow this in a H&H game. More realistically, a captain -- in other words, a 5th level Fighter -- would have to go up the chain of command level by level, aiming for friendly encounter reactions until such a roll from a general (9+ level Fighter) grants him permission to take the plane.

The number of followers a Hero can have is currently tied to that Hero's Charisma score and not the fame coming from the Hero's exploits. As written, then, there is no accounting for how Easy here becomes the idol of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. It's something that needs work...

A vamp and a drunken hoodlum?  You decide!

The Alley Oop dinosaurs of the day are Gorgosaurus and Polacanthus. Gorgosaurus would have been a giant 15 Hit Dice monster, using d12 for its Hit Dice. Polacanthus, a smaller armored herbivore, would have been only 5+1 HD, but also with d12 dice.

Ah, the old chestnut of the thorn in the paw. This makes me want to run a scenario with an evil bear who lures kids in close by pretending to have a thorn in its paw.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)