June 20, 2011 at 2:12 pm (Uncategorized)

Last night my group got together to finish off the “one shot” of Mutant City Blues that we started a few weeks ago. First let me say that I’ve really been enjoying the investigative elements of Gumshoe, the system behind MCB, the investigations flow pretty naturally. I did get the sense that I was playing a bit of wack-a-mole with the stats but that may have been more due to the fact that we only had two investigators. The problem I had was with the pacing.

As I said the game was intended to be a one shot and we had already dragged it out into a second night. The problem for me is that the system really gave me no levers to grab hold of and push the story to conclusion. For those unfamiliar with MCB, the game is basicly Law & Order with super heros. There is a lot in the game about proper police procidures and as an investigator you are always toeing the line between getting the bad guy and ensuring you have enough evidence to keep them.

We game from five to nine as a general rule and so as we got close to eight I started to try and bring the session to a close. The problem was that as a player I have no tools to do that without ruining the case. I got pretty frustrated at that point. My fellow player did a great job of plowing through my funk and the session ended with us gearing up for the final showdown.

We should be able to wrap up the game next time in an hour or so but it really bugged me that I lacked any tools to push the story forward. Transpose that against how I felt at the end of last session and it is a stark contrast. The last session ended with us having no solid idea of who the bad guy was and only a vague sense of what motive might be behind the crimes.

For me the problem was that once I knew who to go after I had no narritive power to do that. What I tried to do was entrap the villian by getting my partner in undercover. My fellow player played along brilliantly and the GM counter offered by trying to get my character to go undercover. That would have been ok but the timeline would have added four days to the investigation. Four days with no new leads, four days with a city in fear, four days of polititians breathing down me and my partner’s necks.

Maybe its just me but I miss my levers. MCB hits all of the right notes for me when it comes to handing out information but when the time for action arrived I felt hamstrung. That may be a feature in such a procidure oriented game but its not my bag.

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