A Lazy Sequence

Mutant City Blues

Mutant City Blues (MCB) is an Super Powered Police Procedural RPG written by Robin D. Laws and based on his GUMSHOE1 system (which also powers Kenneth Hite’s excellent Trail of Cthulhu). Players take on the role of members of the Heightened Crime Investigation Unit, a police unit of super powered mutants who investigate super powered crimes. The obvious analogy is X-Men meets CSI. To make the investigation of super-crimes reasonable, the world of MCB has a broad range of consistent and well understood (in the setting) powers with clearly demarcated links.

Unlike previous GUMSHOE releases, MCB is not a horror game, and investigators have to work within the law. The book provides a strong range of setting material to help both Players and Game Moderators achieve this, including guidelines for department structure, notes on clearances, interrogation guidelines etc. Much of this information is present as artifacts from the setting (blog posts, department rulebooks etc).

There is a lot to like about this game, however, I have two concerns about actually playing it: This game, much more than previous GUMSHOE releases, requires a substantial buy-in from the players; it looks to me that the players really need to have at least a light read of the powers and Quade Diagram stuff, and the guidelines for play a cop. Secondly the combat system, very light weight in base GUMSHOE, has been extended to support superpowers and now suggests that minis and a battle grid should be used. This may not be a downer for some players, but I prefer mini-less play and in particular the GUMSHOE system has such a simple and abstract combat system I don’t know if the additional detail and bookkeeping will pay off.

29 October 2010