It’s not just The Esoterrorists that urges you to reconfigure real-life mysteries by ripping tales from the headlines. With Mutant City Blues undergoing a resurgence of interest lately, I figured I’d start swapping in case ideas for the Heightened Crimes Investigative Unit as well.

Japan’s strict limitations on organ donation have created a thriving black market in which the yakuza are often involved, either as recipients or brokers.

In your mutant city, a down-and-outer with quills, blade immunity and webbing mutations disappears, to the anxiety of his family and the indifference of everyone else. If the detectives search where no one else will, they discover that the victim’s disappearance coincided with a yakuza boss’ incognito visit to town. It turns out that the mobster had him killed to harvest a kidney for his own use. The boss also shares the blade immunity enhancement (along with others adjacent to it on the Quade Diagram) and superstitiously feared believed that he might lose this power, from which he derives much underworld prestige, if he settled for just any kidney.

Brief Cases


Brief Cases features three session-length adventures for your Heightened Crime Investigators.

Blastback: A murder at a mutant-only gym brings the characters into the shadowy world of mutant fighting and a clash with organised crime. To solve this crime, the characters need to unravel the history of the Danger Room and its staff and stop a young man from throwing his life away. This scenario focuses on investigation for the most part, but the final scene calls for powerful combat-ready mutants or a lot of police backup.

The Kids Aren’t Alright begins when a lawyer falls out of the sky. The investigation leads to a local high school – one of the kids must be an unidentified mutant. Tracing the connection between the initial victim and the perpetrator requires interviewing the students; good interpersonal skills and a detailed knowledge of the Quade Diagram are needed to crack this case.

Shoulder to Shoulder revolves around anti-mutant prejudice and tests the loyalties of the characters. A chance discovery of a bomb-making workshop reveals a threat to an anti-mutant rally. Pursuing the case diligently means helping those who despise mutants. This case calls for excellent forensic skills, and is especially suited to a mix of heightened and normal characters.

Stock #: PELGM03D Author: Gareth Hanrahan
Artist:Pascal Quidault Pages: 34 pg PDF


New art from Pascal Quidault for the forthcoming Brief Cases, a set of three short adventures for Mutant City Blues.


The lure of GUMSHOE has snared another forum and its members. Over the last few days four very positive reviews have appeared on RPGGeek from reviewer Lowell Francis.

Shadows Over Filmland review –

As before with Trail of Cthulhu, Huguenin has created a book of sinister beauty… This is a good solid book of adventures. If you’re a fan of monster and horror films or the 1930’s and 1940’s (Browning, Lang, Lewton, etc) then I highly recommend it

Full review can be found here.

Trail of Cthulhu review –

This book is gorgeous; my copy is a lovely 248 page hardcover. Jérome Huguenin does a masterful job with art and layout… It is the starting point for some interesting supplements: The Armitage Files offers a great campaign frame; Shadows Over Filmland, a unique horror approach; Arkham Detective Tales, police procedurals; and so on. Plus there’s a number of forthcoming supplements by Hite, Hindmarch, Tidball, Walmsley and others– all of which make my mouth water. All of which I want.

Full review can be found here.

Mutant City Blues review –

This is a great game. If you run a mystery/investigation centered supers campaign, you’ll find useful ideas here. If you’re looking for a new campaign style to begin, then MCB could easily slot in as something different. If you like Gumshoe and its focus on mysteries, I’d also recommend it– this book provides a whole set of new tools constructing new Gumshoe campaign frames.

Full review can be found here.

Hard Helix review –

The book looks great in art and layout... Good stories, all very different from one another. A solid must-buy for GMs wanting to run MCB.

Full review can be found here.

Pitching Skulduggery

Over on my main blog I’ve talked a lot about the importance of having a clear 25-word-or-less pitch statement to explain a new game you’re selling at a booth. Obviously, it helps you to get a few more copies into people’s hands. However, designers, in particular, should have that pitch in mind as they create the game.If you have a tough time briefly encapsulating it, chances are that you haven’t yet nailed down your game’s central idea. Without that core premise, you don’t have a strong game.

For actual booth-manning purposes, though, it doesn’t pay to have a completely prepared spiel that you rattle off when anyone comes within ten feet of your table. It’s better to be a little ragged and conversational than to seem too slick or polished. You want to talk to the person, not at him. You’re assisting as he makes a discovery, rather than pushing a product. (Or worse, pimping it—a term that drives me nuts. But that’s a story for another day.)

To put my example where my mouth is, here’s the pitch I used to explain Skulduggery to folks who wandered over to the Pelgrane booth and started to flip through it.

First, get a sense of whether the browser wants to flip through the book undisturbed, or is open to chat.

Then, the quick pitch:

That’s Skulduggery, the fast and furious game of betrayal, backstabbing and verbal oneupsmanship, in which the player characters face their most dangerous foes: each other.

If the browser seems to want to hear more, go beyond the quick pitch. Cut it short if interest seems to flag. Be ready to jump into question-answering mode if engaged. (This didn’t happen as much for Skulduggery as it does for the various GUMSHOE games, where obvious questions present themselves: How is Trail of Cthulhu different from Call? How do super powers work in Mutant City Blues?)

It’s a multi-genre game. It shows you how to create your own setting/scenario packs, and provides four ready-to-go examples: US politics, pirates, space traders, and—the one that was always the nastiest in playtest—staging a high school musical.

After another pause to gauge interest:

For character generation, you distribute sets of cards. [Flipping to book to show card set #1 from “If Space Permits.”] Players then rationalize how all the components of their character, from the various sets of cards, fit together. That immediately engages their creativity and makes them feel like the character is theirs, and not just a straight-up pre-gen.

And another:

The rules mechanics are a new, streamlined version of the <i>Dying Earth</i> rules. If you don’t like your die roll, or your opponent’s, you pay points to get or require a reroll. So you get a “Yes I do! No you don’t!” back-and-forth dynamic that sets the tone of the game.


During the show I switched the order of these three pitch units. Although it didn’t make a big difference which came first, in retrospect I’d say this is probably the ideal sequence.

After developing this pitch, I was able to adapt it to easily describe the game in interviews, too.

Retail-wise, pitches don’t really work outside a convention exhibit hall. A game store clerk who lays a pitch on you is going to sound weird and artificial. But maybe the above will help those of you who belong to the brick-and-mortar brigade to explain the appeal of the game, although in a much more conversational way.

Here we have two 5-Star reviews of Mutant City Blues from RPGNow.

“I loved the way that this linked in with the esoterrorist system. The quade diagram and the ability to create great drama with the system WITHOUT depending on the players getting the clues…..just asking the right questions. When I set it in Detroit with all the google earth maps the setting seemed to really materialize for my players and what they were doing. Great system!”

Steve Kyer, 5/5 Stars.

“This game was my first exposure to the GUMSHOE system and it made me fall in love with it! This game is extremely fun. I really love how all the mutant powers are related to each other on a diagram, giving more plausibility to super-powers and how they would develop. The world is rich and full of color and interesting ideas. I highly recommend this game.”

Devon Kelley, Featured Reviewer 5/5 Stars.

A review of Mutant City Blues by Matthew Pook.

I’ve looked over my business-related posts on my livejournal, and scoured them for predictions, to see where I have been optimistic and pessimistic.

Continue reading…

A positive and detailed review of Hard Helix on Flames Rising.

Hard Helix is a great supplement. In pure written content, it’s a 5/5.

Review of Mutant City Blues on GameCryer a “top notch game from Pelgrane Press”

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