Wednesday, September 30, 2015

More Fun Comics #30 - pt. 2

This debut page of Buzz Brown is particularly hard to read, but it's worth it to be told that a windjammer (a one-man crew sailboat) could be had for just $100, used.

This page from Pirate Gold is unclear on how the door is "sealed" that Captain Dennis bursts open simply by throwing his powerful shoulder into it. It could have been locked, or perhaps bolted from the other side. Perhaps it was literally sealed, with wax poured into the cracks. Regardless, even a non-Superhero has a mechanic for wrecking doors. Once found in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies, at the back, this rule has gravitated to Book III: Underworld & Metropolis Adventures in 1.5 edition and will surely return in some form in 2nd edition.

There are some things done in comic books, for the expediency of the story, that should probably not happen in a RPG scenario -- like this move, to wrap up a fight scene faster.  Normally, it should not be possible to tip over a giant vase, roll it towards a cluster of five hoodlums, and knock them down like bowling pins. It's not really fair to the other players who are playing by the rules and getting their 1-2 attacks per turn.

That said, a Fighter using combat machine might be able to get five attacks per turn, as could a Superhero using the Flurry of Blows power. Describing all those attacks as one attack is within the Editor's purview for describing the scene in flavor text.

Also, in a campaign with a really light mood, the Editor would have more latitude for allowing attacks with comic effect that are a bit outside the rules.

According to this page from Radio Squad, radio broadcasting apparatus was portable enough to fit in the trunk of your car back in 1938. Good for parties, or fooling the police with false broadcasts!

At a cursory glance, it might look like Bob Merritt here has turned completely bonkers. Charging in broad daylight a transport plane surrounded by hoodlums with guns, enjoying cover? Well, depending on his distance to the plane, it maybe wasn't such a bad plan. If Bob could have sprinted to the plane in the first phase of movement, he could have kept the plane between him and maybe half the hoodlums and cut the number he had to fight in half. Because he didn't make it in the first phase -- perhaps having misjudged the distance -- his opponents were able to get off their missile fire before the next movement phase.

Of course, the Editor could still have ruled that, even if Bob could technically have made it in the first movement phase, that his opponents were set up and ready for him and that at least some of them could get off their shots early while he was still moving.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

More Fun Comics #30 - pt. 1

Just when I was convinced that "hide in shadows" should be a class-based instead of a race-based special ability, a page like this comes along, where Sandra of the Service is shown to be hiding in shadows.  So what's going on here? Can all humans hide in shadows after all? Should this be a special ability for the Spy class, or is Sandra a Mysterman? Is hiding in shadows going to become a stunt accessible to many classes?

The only thing I can say with any certainty is that the Spy class (an unofficial class from The Trophy Case) will not make the cut into 2nd edition Hideouts & Hoodlums.  It may be too specific an archetype, while Hero classes should be broad enough to be used for more than one. Also I've just received no feedback from players interested in playing one.

Good call, Sandra. If your player had been careless enough to have you shoot into a dark room, crowded with combatants, I would have rolled randomly to hit any target, friend or foe, regardless of how well you rolled on your attack roll.

I'm still unsure if Doctor Occult is public domain or not, so I'm going to continue to err on the side of not sharing these next pages -- which is a shame, because we see a lot of H&H-relevant material in them.

An old soothsayer performs a seance, not unlike the seance ability of the Trickster class (from The Trophy Case v. 1 no. 4). The trickster is more likely to end up as a mobster-type in 2nd edition than a Hero class.

The seance goes wrong and summons an elemental. Elementals, in Dr. Occult's world, are supernatural and composed of ectoplasm instead of an alchemical element.  Elementals can possess people.

We also observe Dr. Occult and the elemental-possessed soothsayer in a contest of wills -- an optional rule for Magic-Users that debuted in The Trophy Case. A slightly altered version just appeared in Supplement V: Big Bang.

Meanwhile, Jack Woods reminds me that I should have made a Cowboy Stunt called Make Shoot at Hat. For 1 turn, all opponents must save vs. plot or shoot at the exposed hat instead of the concealed Hero.

Comic books seldom specify what type of gun is being used, and I now see it as an error that I specified so many types of historical guns on the starting equipment list. That said, this page clearly refers to Jack's weapons as being .44's, and are probably Winchester .44 revolvers.

Some amounts of climbing, like up a steep, rugged slope, or maybe even the side of a building, should be accessible to all Heroes. This, though...climbing a sheer wall, straight out of water? This has to be a special skill -- either performed by a Mysteryman (which Brad Hardy doesn't seem to be) or a stunt usable by Fighters (as Brad Hardy definitely seems to be).

It really seems like Wing Brady's player rolled a fumble in this combat. Criticals and fumbles are house rules in some games, and official rules in others. I have decided to avoid both for H&H -- I would rather the Editor control the flavor text of what happens in combat, bearing in mind the mood of the campaign he is aiming for.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Famous Funnies #44

For historical detail, remember that telephone numbers used to be a combination of a word and numbers.

I like how Eddie Gentz is called the "king of the bank robbers" here. I wonder if I should have a "king of--" mobster type -- a hoodlum who has 9 HD?

None of my research shows that microscopes could have been "priceless" in the 1930s; perhaps our villain simply puts great sentimental value to it (sentimental value does not translate into earned XP). The villain's name is Doctor Sting, continuing a string of great villain names in Dickie Dare.

This is also just a great page of storytelling, so I wanted to show it off.

I'm not a big fan of Oaky Doaks, but here he reminds us that wandering encounter tables are the reason why even Heroes should not all go to sleep at the same time outdoors without scheduling watch duty.

It's been awhile since we've checked in on Seaweed Sam. Here, he encounters a magic item called the Vanishing Vase, which could serve as a portal to a hidden land.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Funnies #18

The importance of communicating by telegram cannot be overstated. Telephones were not reliably private and depended on the operator, or a series of operators, being able to make the right connections. Important messages were still sent by telegram, which cost about 75 cents on average, according to this page of Dan Dunn.

Ten cents for a beer. Bear in mind that you could get a hot dog for only five cents.

A good playing tip from G-Men: dressing in a mail carrier's uniform is a good way to get close to a hideout, and also an excuse to check their mail. Also note the tropes of secret writing, and the secret marijuana trade.

The text here in Don Dixon doesn't specify what "Ogi" is, but given the name and his height, it seems a fair guess that Ogi is an ogre, possibly the first one in comic books.

Tad of the Tanbark is suddenly my source for new spells!  Smoke Image is like the spell Projected Image, except that it can only be projected through pre-existing smoke closest to where you want to project to. This has to be a 3rd or 4th level spell.

There are some good tips here from Captain Easy about always checking up on new people you meet, and what to look for in identifying a fake twin, but the real find here is what Spain was, allegedly, paying foreigners to come and man their air force during the Spanish Civil War. Any Heroes down on their luck might want to consider fighting in a war, even in a pre-WWII campaign.

Tailspin Tommy reminds us that pirates, even modern-day ones, can't resist acting out the tropes of their genre, and would have to save vs. plot to resist doing things like making their prisoners walk the plank.

The Four Aces remind us why some villains use deathtraps -- it's to hide the evidence of the murder from police. Of course, why they don't shoot them first and then burn the building down, isn't explained...

According to Scribbly (yay! I get to post Scribbly!), a newspaper's weekly payroll was only about $7,000.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Feature Funnies #6

Quality's Feature Funnies didn't tend to have much in the way of adventure-themed strips, so I don't always have things to share from this title.  Likewise, I often don't have a reason to share Joe Palooka, even though I'm a big fan.  At least I had the excuse of reminding players that hot dogs only used to cost 5 cents this time.

While, on the far side of prices, Lala Palooza tells us that a sable fur coat could be worth as much as $20,000. That's a LOT of XP to the Hero who finds that stolen coat -- better institute xp caps -- never part of the official 1st ed. rules, but suggested in TTC -- to prevent multi-leveling.

The last gag falls flat, but the rest of this page could be the best gag filler I've read so far in this project!

Note that the Clock's records archives goes back at least nine years. What's in those archives? Probably copies of every record he had access to while a practicing district attorney, or maybe even a newspaper clipping archive of noteworthy stories, or both. Should Heroes in Hideouts & Hoodlums be allowed to start with a research archive?

I would be inclined to say no. This could be a findable item, perhaps, or something the Heroes could build in their downtime. Or, they could just go to the public library, or their city clerk's office, as these give them more opportunities to interact with potential Supporting Cast Members.

Speaking of findable items, a trick cane like this one should be a trophy item. It got mentioned in the Clock entry for Supplement IV: Captains, Magicians, and Incredible Men, but probably needs more description, like a range (20'?). It's clearly a one-shot item, with a chance to reload.

Dixie Dugan tells us that you can buy a dress for as cheap as $4.95 in 1937, but if you spend less than $20, you're going to have problems with the fabric...

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Popular Comics #26

This issue starts with a sort of new trophy item from Dick Tracy -- magnifying ear phones. Game mechanic-wise, they would work like wearing a hearing aid (which is in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies).

According to Gasoline Alley, at least, a horse-drawn sleigh can travel at 9 MPH. In the streamlined Movement system I plan to move to in Hideouts & Hoodlums 2nd edition, this would have a score of 9. In the current system, the equivalent score is a more confusing 45.

As common as dog catchers are portrayed as villainous in comic strips, like Winnie Winkle, I wonder if I should create a dog catcher mobster type.  Maybe they would have different stats vs. dogs -- like 1-1 HD normally, but 3 HD if going up against dogs...

(scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Adventure Comics #24

We're going to start off today staring into the face of 1930s racism again. Here, in this page from The Golden Dragon, we see that "yellow peril" can cover multiple ethnicities.

Hideouts & Hoodlums has always danced on that dangerous edge of recognizing, but not embracing, the racism of the early comic books. Hence, Book II: Mobsters and Trophies having an entry for savages. Now, if I really wanted to dance perilously over that edge, I could include giving savages an "unholy shriek" that prompts morale saves, as seen here in Captain Quick.

Although it may look like I'm sharing this page to talk about racial stereotyping again, I'm off that subject -- and much more interested in the ladder in the shaft, concealed inside a fake vase, that leads into hidden catacombs. A great hideout entrance!

How do you know when a leopard should only miss by an inch, like in this page of Sandor and the Lost Civilization?  It's not a H&H rule, but what I've long done is treat the number I missed by "to hit" on my d20, -1, to be the number of inches the attack missed by. So, if I rolled I needed a 10 to hit, but rolled a 7 or 8, my leopard only missed by 1 inch. If I'd rolled a 9, then the leopard did connect, but did no damage (maybe it tore his pants?).

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Archives)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Detective Comics #12

Speed Saunders is in a cross-genre tale here in the Mythic West. But aside from the pretty scenery and racism, the real lesson here is how long a fight can last in a comic book story -- 60 one-minute combat turns.

I thought Hideouts & Hoodlums needed fatigue rules for realism, and to keep combats from going on too long, but I didn't want to overdue it so there's only some minor penalties after too many consecutive turns. Past that, I did nothing with exhaustion, or setting a maximum number of turns you can fight. It looks like I made a good call.

Larry Steele finds out the danger of hanging out with people who have 100' deep pits ending in pools of lime behind their closet doors.  It's the fall that kills, doing 10d6 damage. Lime is dangerous, but not that dangerous; immersion would do maybe 1 point of damage per hour. The lime is clearly there just to remove evidence.

Here, Larry loses control of his car and crashes. Though Book III: Underworld & Metropolis Adventures has some guidelines for vehicular combat, I never wrote anything for car chases, or a mechanic for losing control of a car. My article on plane mishaps (The Trophy Case no. 8) comes closest and some of it might be applicable here, with some creative fudging.

The Slam Bradley story has an interesting twist -- there's a waterfall and no one falls down it!  The trope, of course, is that waterfalls never hurt anyone in stories, but it should.  There's also an interesting chase scene, with running across floating logs. I should think that's a lot tougher to do than it looks in the scene, maybe requiring a save vs. science at a -2 penalty?

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Archives)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

More Fun Comics #29

This issue starts with a really short Doctor Occult story, vs. a "spectral killer". The spectral killer looks a lot like the undead mobster-type known as a shadow, but instead of draining strength with a touch, it strangles and kills.

This is the Pirate Gold serial, and we see firecrackers being used as a diversion for the first time (it also happened not that long ago in my Sunday Nights at Home Campaign). It looks like they are being used against yellow peril hoodlums too.

Ah, the Bradley Boys use the old "high and low" trick for tripping someone. I could see, if two people work together and don't want separate attack rolls, that the attacker should get some sort of situational modifier. Perhaps, in this case, the victim would have a -1 penalty to save vs. science or fall prone. If three people were working together on tripping someone, one person would attack and the victim would save at -2.

I'm thinking of statting slavers, like this one Wing Brady is dealing with. Slavers should be tough, maybe as much as 3 Hit Dice, but they only fight with whips for 1-3 damage.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Famous Funnies #43

We'll pick up right where we left off with Hairbreadth Harry, being chased by a titan on an alien planet. Luckily, Harry finds some fruit -- ala Wonderland -- that makes him grow to titan size. Editors are strongly discouraged, though, to allow magical enlargement to make Heroes this big or this powerful. Something more gradual, like 20% per level, would be more reasonable. So, if Harry was a 3rd-level Fighter, maybe the fruit would just grow him 3', and increase his damage from 1-6 to 2-8.

Dickie Dare is on a new adventure, with a rich trophy as prize -- an "ultra-modern diesel yacht" -- and "diesel" being hi-tech and exotic at this time. There is no game mechanic bonus for something being diesel-powered, but as flavor text, it might hold extra meaning for the players.

The cobra on the abandoned dining room table seems completely random -- smacks of being a random wandering encounter to me!  Ordinary cobras as mobsters was last discussed here.

I'm not a big fan of the soap opera that is Olly of the Movies, but I do really like this statue of a dragon's mouth that opens onto a slide that leads, what appears to be, two levels deep.  Now that's good hideout dressing!

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Funnies #17

So, what does Dell Comics have for us today? Well, this issue starts with Alley Oop still fighting crocodiles...

I include this page because it's the most detailed instructions for safe-cracking I've ever seen, and it might help for describing it in a H&H scenario.

Tad of the Tanbark has never had supernatural elements before, so there's probably a rational explanation for this...but it appears that the witch doctor has cast a new spell, like Summon Snakes. It can apparently summon at least 12 black mambas. Unless this is a Mobster Summoning spell which just happened to summon snakes...?

This page of Captain Easy is about easy deathtraps -- tie someone to a chair with a bomb in his lap, toss someone out a window with a rope around his neck, or, worst of all, threaten to marry him!

Hubba hubba!  I mean...where was I?

Oh yeah, hideouts!  I was about to type, some mobsters you might not expect to find in a hideout are railroad presidents and bankers. There is already a "corrupt politician" mobster in H&H (Book II: Mobsters & Trophies), but maybe there need to be stats for corrupt businessmen. They would be easy to defeat, but worth more XP because of the monetary value they represent?

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)