Here is the first batch of original playtest feedback for our first in-house MCB session. It may contain spoilers for a forthcoming adventure, if I ever get round to writing it up.
Comments which offer explanation are like this [comment]
The session went fine. The whole "your city" thing worked well. [MCB is set in the players' own city, in our case, London. You plug in locations, organisations and people from MCB, and this really reduces the amount you have to know to play the game. It also helps with immersion.] I won't comment too much on what isn't a problem, only stuff which arose from play or character creation.
In char gen, they all picked a lot of powers despite my gentle advice to the contrary. [Blast powers aren't that useful with low ratings, and choosing more powers eats into your character's build totals.] Still, good for playtesting.
I started them in a van outside a gambling den, about to make an arrest on a pre-existing warrant for a guy with Strength and Heat Blast. In the van, I gave them all a flashback scene where they described what happened when their powers first manifested, and a visit from the Quade Institute guys. Sexual Chemistry at the school disco was particularly juicy.
Two officers waited at the back, while another knocked on the door, the final one stayed in the van. A women with invisibility [an Article 18 power - one you have to register and report the use of] left through the back garden, but was spotted with Thermal Vision. She was arrested for an Article 18 violation - (I thought this might be a strict liability offence). At the front of the house the main perp, with Strength burst out and threw one of the officers through the air so he smacked into the side of the van. He was drunk. It took three officers to subdue him. They considered "offering advice in the back of the van" to repay their cuts and bruises but professionalism prevailed.
This was just supposed to be an introductory scene, but their were lots of post-arrest interrogations, surreptitious dream entering and impersonations. [Much of the time was spent roleplaying interrogations.] I had put a lose thread connecting the suspect with another person in the gambling den, and they went at that like hunting dogs. The Chief Inspector got annoyed with them because they'd laid so many charges, but they did well. Incidentally, they chose the self-hating incompetent mutant as their "lieutenant." [The players get to decide which lieutenant they want, and the GM can present other options. This has some effect on the feel of the game. Do they want a free hand, gentle guidance, or a firm approach?]
The main adventure I've laid out was a little less like "here's a bunch of suspects, get the right one" and more a trail through various low-lives to find the eventual perpetrator. It uses something I heard about houses devoted to growing weed, and "The Hydroponics Centre" - can you believe THC - a real store for buying all the necessary equipment. The real one was in Ontario, I think. Someone with massive Absorption and Fangs is going around destroying some mutants into the drugs trade. The first guy was using plant control to get the weed growing, the Absorber strangled him to death with his own plants, then torched the place.
Invisibility - what are the combat effects and effects on Sense Trouble, etc? Can people with night vision see you (I assume not)? [Invisibility has always been a little tricky to handle. It's all cleared up now]
Can you use night vision and thermal vision simultaneously?
Tasers - one player pointed out that tasers do basically disable people if they hit at all. I'm not sure how to handle this.[Robin has written a forthcoming Page XX article about this]
It's much easier to devise adventures once you've seen the characters. My advice - write up enough for the first session, mark down all the investigative powers they've chosen and add them into subsequent sessions. I did mark a character sheet with every investigative power chosen, and tried to give out clues for the more obscure ones which I'd originally planned for straightforward ones.
Powers which shouldn't be used. Many of the powers available to PCs are simply illegal (except I imagine under extreme circumstance such as self-defence), or require a warrant. But, they are going to use them anyway. One PC used Observe Dreams and Enter Dreams to gather evidence, and then find clever ways to get the evidence legally. But, if he gets discovered, it's five years in jail. This is true of almost all the powers. I assume they should really be running around getting warrants. But can a police officer ever Explode or Psionic Blast someone? I think a sidebar on the use of these powers in police work would be useful, and on the chart of powers at the beginning of the chapter, their legal status should be averred to. Other wise, I think it will be tricky to stop police officers going bad in this game.[In MCB you are playing basically good cops. An deviation from that is a major backstory.]
For British policing I decided that HCIU cops would not be routinely armed, only if there was a high probability of armed resistance (it needs signing of by the Chief Superintendent). I also considered Protocol 5 - an article in the police code which says that any mutant with an offensive power (list) would not be permitted to carry a firearm. [I want to keep the UK unarmed feel, calling in armed police or getting weapons only when required. Armed police are really a spur to the PCs to get them to arrest perps before anyone gets killed ]
I'll test blast powers more thoroughly next week. Most people are complaining that they aren't powerful enough. I'm going to hit them with a 37 point blaster next week to see if they change their mind. I'll try to engineer a conflict next week between an armed suspect and the character with the blast power and see who comes off best.
Blast power questions:
If you are dodging can you also fight?
How many blasts can you dodge? [You can dodge blast powers at any time as a reaction to a Blast]