Sunday, July 7, 2013


Exposed as a clone of Marlene Dietrich, Bird Girl is despondent.
Meanwhile, an escaped Captain Cerulean parade balloon begins to deflate.

HAZARD IPSP/ISIS Official Map 7 has the distinction of being the only accessory released for Superhero 2044 (despite the implied existence of at least six other official maps).  Released by Judges Guild in 1980, this supplement is actually a 22” x 34” sheet folded into an 8½” x 11” package.  One side is a hex map of a large section of the Pacific Ocean.

The red outline is a rough approximation of the borders of the Hazard map.
The yellow area represents the portion of the sheet devoted to the product cover.

Inguria is shown between the southern tip of Japan and the northern tip of the Philippines.  In the south-east, there is a 'new continent,' the northern reaches of which are not presented on the map because of the cover.  The map legend displays the following phrase,“® 2044 IPSP/ISIS Printed in New Sidney.”  The other side of the sheet has a more practical 1980 Judges Guild copyright notice which, presumably, also applies to the map side.  'New Sidney' is the capital (or “capitol” as the map legend would have it) of 2044 Australia.  In 2044, New Sidney occupies the site that Port Augusta occupies in 2013.  Although consistently spelled 'New Sidney,' given the spelling errors that abound in the product, perhaps the author meant 'New Sydney.'  Inguria's Bloomberg is also misspelled as 'Bloomburg.'

The IPSP – detailed last week – is the Inguria Protection and Service Program, a government aid program for crime fighters.  ISIS is the 'International Survival Intelligence Service,' an organization – apparently associated to some extent with the IPSP – that seems primarily concerned with the collection and dissemination of geopolitical information.  Although IPSP is a government program, ISIS is apparently funded by subscription fees.  At least some of those fees go toward paying informants.  “Let us remind you,” Hazard states, “that we are still extensively dependent upon individual contributions of intelligence materials.”  The value of information supplied to ISIS is determined by a “panal [sic] of Intelligence Experts” that are “impartial.”

The side of the sheet opposite to the map displays text and some illustrations.  One-eighth of the sheet (equivalent to one page) is a Judges Guild product listing.  One would hope that game stats would be provided for the characters and creatures referenced in the text; however, this is not the case.

The text is loosely grouped into what could charitably be called 'articles.'  The largest such article gives a brief overview of various societies that inhabit regions depicted on the map.  For instance, “the Syndic” is an area on “the newly-risen sub-continent.”  The denizens there “wished to avoid the questions of politics” so, the societal “model they chose was a highly romanticized Mafia of the nineteen-thirties, with all the bad parts – Hit Men, Enforcers, Narcotics Traffic – removed.”  Because, you know, there aren't any politics in the Mafia.  I don't think 'politics' means what author Robert Bingham seems to think it means.  Oh, and the 'removed' bad parts?  “The Syndic produces and trains its own Enforcer Teams” and there is a “nationalized Smuggling System.”  Maybe not so removed after all.

We learn that Australia's “population was depleted by 85% during the six-day war” and Aborigines have “become totally extinct.”  Kangaroos have evolved to possess near-human intelligence and are often kept as household servants.  Other mutated Australian fauna include:  the Land Piranha (“a radically changed Wallaby with the habits and dental structure of a Shark”), the Geep (“a mutated Goat with hair that suspiciously resembles polyester”), the 'Wambat' (a wombat that is eight feet long, capable of gliding, and has claws with anesthetic poison), and “at least 37 separate species of Rabbit” ranging “from the tiny carnivorous Hellbiter to the giant (6 foot) Pink Pooka.”

RPGGeek lists Bob Bingham as the 'designer' of Hazard.  It so happens that Hazard is the only linked item on Bingham's RPGGeek page.  That page lists 'Robert Bingham' as an 'alternate name' even though Robert is the name on the product, not Bob.  There's a separate page for 'Robert K. Bingham' (no alternate name), which says “Unlikely the same as the artist Bob Bingham.”  However, Bob Bingham isn't listed as an artist.  Robert K's page has only three linked items; three issues of The Dungeoneer to which he contributed.  Interestingly, for two of the issues, Robert K is listed as an artist.  Sorry, but I have to bust out Occam's razor and conclude that the Robert Bingham associated with three 1979 issues of a Judges Guild periodical is the same Robert Bingham associated with a 1980 Judges Guild product.  I cannot conclude that Bingham consumed 'narcotics' during the creation of Hazard, but I think this is safe to assume.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent. Thanks very much. Must have mental blocked that description as a kid!