A column about roleplaying
by Robin D. Laws
Pelgrane co-publisher Simon Rogers has been thinking about Mutant City Blues lately, and maybe someday he’ll tell you about that.
In the meantime, he asked me how you might play the game for a duo of enhanced police detectives, in true buddy cop fashion.
Here’s a quick rundown:
One player takes on the role of the maverick cop who gets justice done, dammit, even if he has to bend the rulebook to get it.
The other becomes the by-the-books cop, the voice of reason who warns the maverick that regulations are there for a reason and slow and steady police work wins the day.
The two characters divide up the investigative abilities like so:
Each player picks 4 investigative abilities to assign 1 point to. The others all get 2 points.
Each player spends the usual number of general build points, usually 60 for standard abilities and 40 for mutant powers.
The maverick cop might consider starting the power acquisition journey through the Quade Diagram with any of the following enhancements: armor, wall crawling, lightning, concussion beam, strength, natural weaponry, or fire projection.
The by-the-books cop might start with: plant control, psionic blast, read minds, lightning decisions, cognition, thermal vision, sonar, teleportation, illusion, impersonate, or observe dreams, or suppress memory.
Once per session, the maverick cop can refresh 4 points of any general standard ability or 2 points of any general mutant ability, by describing any one of the following actions:
- earning a verbal dressing down from the lieutenant
- making fun of the by-the-book cop’s staid clothing or attitudes
- blowing off steam at the gun range
- waking up hung over
- obsessively stalking a suspect you’ve been warned away from
- telling off an influential politician or businessman
- driving on a sidewalk or median
- knocking down garbage cans, newspaper boxes or other roadside obstacles during a car chase
- clambering up a chain link fence while pursuing a perp on foot
- cleaning your gun as a way of clearing your head
- sloppily eating junk food in the car or at your desk
- accepting a token gift from a grateful citizen, so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings; then, once out of sight, pass it along to someone who wants or needs
- shrugging and concluding that one drink on the job won’t hurt anyone
- exposing the hidden dangers of vegetable consumption
- working out at a boxing gym
- cranking up a CD with your favorite chase music, either a classic rock tune or the latest hottest hip hop track
- grousing about judges letting humps go on technicalities
- threatening a member of the Internal Affairs Division
- losing it, so your partner and other cops have to pull you off a guy you’re whaling on
- frighten or bully a suspect in the interrogation room
Once per session, the by-the-book cop can refresh 4 points of any general standard ability or 2 points of any general mutant ability, by doing any one of the following:
- turning in a detailed report to the lieutenant
- warning the maverick cop that the lieutenant’s not gonna take any more shenanigans
- describing a new, eccentrically boring hobby
- going home to the spouse and kids
- consider purchasing a safe, reliable family vehicle
- invite the maverick cop for dinner with the family
- breaking from the case to attend to a school emergency
- studying for the sergeant’s exam
- placating a civilian angered by the maverick’s behavior
- catch a fleeing suspect not by running after him, but heading to where he will soon wind up
- rearrange photos on a corkboard laying out the details of the case
- turn down a coffee or other small gift offered by a grateful shopkeeper
- fastidiously eating a salad
- extolling the virtues of kale
- working out at a spin class
- refusing a drink while on duty
- stopping at one beer
- explaining the necessity of checks and balances in the criminal justice system
- listening to classical music or jazz
- assuring Internal Affairs of your full intention to cooperate
- stopping your partner, who has lost it, from whaling on someone
- promising a suspect in the interrogation room that you can protect him from your unhinged partner, “but you gotta give me something to work with here”
Clip and save your character’s to jog your memory when you need it!
GMs likewise reward other actions in a similar archetypal spirit.
By-the-book cops should be advised that discussing retirement plans, especially those concerning a houseboat to noodle around the Florida Keys in, drops their Hit Thresholds by 1 for the duration of the session.
Mutant City Blues is an investigative science fiction roleplaying game by Robin D. Laws where members of the elite Heightened Crime Investigation Unit solve crimes involving the city’s mutant community. Purchase Mutant City Blues in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.