The final part of our in-house Mutant City Blues playtest.
Super-powered action throughout in the last playtest gave the mutant power rules a good going over. I'm afraid we didn't use miniatures. No one has reported back on your optional rules, so I think we should take those out. I could recylce them into the lab, maybe. [The GM tracks player investigative expenditure and gives out clues on a rota. I've kept it in.] Rules-related issues are in bold.
I really like MCB. It's definitely a game that GMs are going to want to run because it's such fun. Last week they were all "it could be just we are a good group", but this week, they did ascribe some of it to the game. It does show that a pure police procedural without super powers would work using GUMSHOE rules - just Esoterrorists without the monsters would do the trick. If we were the sort of group that played long-term campaigns, I'd be happy to play this. I've requested that if we play it again (maybe with another GM) we stick with the same characters and background.
The person behind the killings was Andrea Lessing, the owner of Black Homes Ltd. She was an Albanian spy tracking down war criminals and gangsters, and had a contact in Johnny's gang, Drtian Frasheri. Frasheri was the one who put Johnny in contact with Andrea, and persuaded him to let properties from her. He has Emotion Control and Sexual Chemistry. She has Fangs, Absorption and Possession [If you bite someone with Fangs, Possession and Absorption are much more effective, plus they are close on the Quade Diagram. Using an Absorber/Possessor is a cheap trick, one that you can get away with only once, but it enabled me to have a wide range of powers used by one individual.], and borrows Sexual Chemistry from Frasheri when she needs it. She and Frasheri are responsible for the murders, and they want to send a message to other Albanian gangs.
At the beginning of the session the PCs went off-shift. However, the lead officer (DI Angelus - the one bitten by the insects) had to hand over surveillance on the two remaining Black Homes buildings to another department, and she chose SO19 - the armed response unit. This was good roleplaying-wise because they are a blunt instrument - they are trained to bring down armed suspects by killing them. So there was later a lot of "Do you want SO19 to kill them, or are you going to do something else?"
I'm pretty sure we have some surprise rules, but I can't find them. If you know where they are, please let me know.
One of the other PCs had Healing and wanted to know - did he have to touch the afflicted areas to cure the insect bites. She didn't want him touching her. I ruled that the PC could decide how his powers worked, as long as there was physical contact at the minimum.
This, I'm afraid, lead to speculation of a STD clinic where people are cured by the doctor's healing organ. There were two locations, the swank mansion where Johnny Shakalaka was holding another Albanian gangster and torturing him for information, and a Docklands warehouse where there was dogfighting (and wher Johnny currently was). Andrea called in giving an anonymous tipoff that the mansion was packed with drugs, and she sent a mobile phone picture she'd taken earlier in the mansion to prove it. She sent this to the drugs squad who immediately launched a raid. Angelus got down there and SO19, Angelus and the Drug Squad almost came to blows.
This lead to some issues about Invisibility. It needs some crunchy combat info. What is the increased Difficulty for hitting someone with invisibilty? Do they get any other general advantages (surprise, surveillance)? [Added]
Is Surveillance the skill to sneak up on someone? [It's Infiltration]
Also, Dodge. Does everyone know to dodge, or only trained people? Would a dog know to dodge a psionic blast?
Two gangsters at the front door gave Angelus mental instability (kleptomania) using Induce Mental Disorder and piled into a car, smashing through the gates. SO19 shot out their tyres before they got going. After a Driving contest, the gangsters were brought to halt. The invisible Angelus snuck up on a gangster and light blasted him. The other guy got out what looked like a gun, and I gave the other player the opportunity to make a Difficulty 4 Shooting roll to learn something of note. [This should have been a spend rather than a roll] He declined to spend points, and so the guy was shot. He had pulled out a lighter (so he would be killed) and got his wish.
Over at the other location, the warehouse, Andrea Lessing called another PC (with an absent player) to let him know she was being held hostage, in the hope the police would burst in and kill Johnny. She used her borrowed Sexual Chemistry to persuade Johnny to tie her up and stay in the room. The PCs learnt through Data Retrieval that Johnny was under MI5 protection but used Cop Talk to persuade an MI5 agent on the phone to allow them to rescue the hostage. The agent said to remove all traces of the call, and pretend it had never happened. [A faction within MI5 think an exploder on the loose is a really bad idea, and this is a good way to bring him down.] The PCs burst into the dogfighting dive, and one of the gangster with Mammal Control set all the dogs on the HCIU. Tear Gas dealt with most of them, and a Psionic Blast sorted out the rest. Meanwhile, another PC (Jésus) got an iceblast to the chest [from a gnag member. The blast educated them that blasts are dangerous.] and SO19 took the guy down [They arrived as backup]. At this point Andrea possessed Johnny. His eyes went glassy:
Can anyone tell that glassy eyes means possession, or only people with anamorphology? Possession, is very, very powerful, and I suggest that it should be an Article 18 power. It did bring up a number of issues addressed below
[This lead to the addition of some new mental powers to detect and suppress mental influence]
Andrea made Johnny use his self-detonation powers, hoping the PCs would take him down before he exploded, but instead officer Jésus used Strength to throw Johnny through the window one floor up where he exploded.
They mopped up, and Andrea used her residual sexual chemistry on Jésus. She wasn't a suspect, but she was the perpetrator and wanted to get out of custody. She tried to persuade him to take her home, and failed - but eventually got him to get into the back of the ambulance with her. She then used Possession on him, bit him to absorb his Flight powers, then flew out of the back of the ambulance over the police escort. Frasheri, her accomplice, was taken into custody.
At the other house they had a fight with someone with natural weaponry using Reflex rules as follows:
2 points to automatically Dodge a blast.
Spend X points and add it to a roll to Dodge any succesful Scuffle or Shooting attempt, with the Difficulty being the total roll to hit. This does make Dodging very powerful but fun.
They found the tortured guy. MI5 picked up Johnny Shakalaka when he reformed. [They never figured out the Boom-Boom reference.]
Other comments on the text:
They want a diagram of someone picking out their choices on the Quade diagram.[Done]
Is it possible to resist EMAT protocol is you know it is being tried? Can you just remain silent? [Yes, but it's like refusing a DNA test]. Do traces of mental influence remain post-mortem?
"Relinquishing" can this happen at a distance? Does it happen when the absorber dies? [Absorption was rewritten.]
Sorry - I didn't read this properly - it is a blast power when used on people.
Legal implications? [Added]
How can you be slain by Psionic damage?
Refer to Absorption
Impervious to light blast? Lightning? Disentegration?
Blasts - it would be nice if every blast had its own shtick.
This is an incredibly powerful ability, but I don't want to nerf it. I'd rather work around it. Do the possessor's eyes indicate that they are attempting to possess?
I think a strong recommendation to take high stability should be in the text and a mental ability sidebar somewher. All officers should undergo influence detection at least monthly, plus anytime there is even a whiff of contact with someone who has those powers. Officers should also be encouraged to move in pairs to more easily deal with the possibilty of mental shennanigans.
I am also tempted by three other abilities to mirror the anti-blast power abilities on the Quade diagram - some kind of powers) which resists against mental powers - you could spend it as Stability wherever mutant mental powers are used against them, and another one which supresses or drain mental abilities while it's in use for example in the interrogation room). Finally, another ability which allows the officer to see if a mental power is currently being used. [Done]
Is the Hurt physical? [Yes, it's brain damage reperable with Empathy] How does it manifest? I ruled that if you blasted someone down to 0 Stabilty they were stunned for a few actions and could be arrested.
Can you do a smaller explosion? [No. It becomes too powerful.]
Do sexual chemistry points spent affect all potential targets? [Yes]
Do PCs basically get to decide if they obey requests? [Yes - they find the character hot, but aren't under their control unless the player decides]
I had one guy make Stability rolls. [This became the mechanic]