Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Detective Comics #36 - pt. 3

It's a little hard to believe that, three years into Detective Comics, Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise still has a berth here. This month, Cosmo, who undoubtedly got that nickname because he's so cosmopolitan, has to visit a cowboy ranch. Interestingly, Cosmo admits that acting like a cowboy is outside his wheelhouse and has to visit under other pretense. This is more realistic, but actually contradicts the Hideouts & Hoodlums skill system, where everyone has the same chance of performing any skill, based just on class and level (and possibly modified by race).

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)

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