“While America needs you, my son, you shall not die!”

— Bruce Carter I, to the Fighting Yank (Bruce Carter III), in Startling Comics #35 (Sep 1945)

A typically robust Alex Schomburg cover for the Fighting Yank

The Shield was the first, and Captain America was the greatest, but lots and lots of heroes donned the red-white-and-blue and punched Nazis in the 1940s. Many of them, having bravely seen off mad scientists, and robots, and gangsters, and the Axis powers, then vanished forever. Or somewhat vanished somewhat forever. Without the holy rites of copyright spoken over them, they rise again and again in reprint volumes and reboot attempts, some better than others. One of the best of the public-domain patriotic superheroes was also one of the longest-lived: the Fighting Yank bowed in Startling Comics #10 (Sep 1941), and headlined Startling, America’s Best Comics (sharing top billing with the Black Terror), and his own title, which ran from September 1942 until August 1949. Writer Richard E. Hughes (one of many pseudonyms of Leo Rosenblum) and artist Jon L. Blummer created the Fighting Yank for Ned Pines, publisher of Standard Comics, also known as Better Publications and eventually as Nedor Publications.

The Fighting Yank was actually a young socialite named Bruce Carter III, descended from a Revolutionary War courier named Bruce Carter (the first). Ambushed and killed by British spies while carrying dispatches for George Washington, his unfinished duty drove Bruce Carter I to rise as a ghost. That spirit showed Bruce III where to find his old cloak and tricorn hat, which had somehow become imbued with magic. When the young Carter donned the colonial garb, he gained super-strength. The cloak deflected bullets and other attacks, although like most Golden Age superheroes, the Fighting Yank could (and very often would) be knocked out by a bonk on the head. On his missions and adventures, Bruce’s ghostly ancestor spoke to him, giving him vital information about his foes’ whereabouts, and on occasion materializing to help the Yank out of a jam. Carter’s girlfriend Joan Farwell guessed his secret identity within minutes of meeting the Fighting Yank, and often helped out with investigations and by hitting Nazi agents with her car.

So in honor of the Fourth, and of things old becoming new again, here are two takes on America’s Bravest Defender and on the undying legacy of his undying legacy!

“His own face was in shadow, and he wore a wide-brimmed hat which somehow blended perfectly with the out-of-date cloak he affected; but I was subtly disquieted even before he addressed me.”

— H.P. Lovecraft, “He”

Indolent scion of wealth Bruce Carter III became obsessed with his ancestor’s portrait, studying it until he believed it spoke to him revealing the location of a magical artifact hidden away since colonial times. Sound familiar? I have previously addressed the overlap between Lovecraftian horror and the Golden Age of Comics in my Adventures Into Darkness, and feel free to peruse that tome for further leads. Or you could certainly treat the Fighting Yank as yet another pulp hero (Ned Pines happily overlapped his pulp magazine heroes with his comic heroes) of the sort I have played with previously in these pages.

But here’s an old-school Yankee who talks to ghosts, and probably ghouls, and maybe rat-things. He’s rich, and bored, and obsessed with his ancestor Edmund Carter, “who was nearly hung during the witch-trials.” Like his cousin Randolph, he comes from money and studies the occult, and sounds a lot like a certain antiquarian of Providence who likewise sometimes acted like he lived in the 18th century. In a Trail of Cthulhu campaign he might begin as a helpful (if creepy) figure, granting passage to certain locked churchyards at night, or offering the loan of his library. He just needs the Investigators to do a little favor for him once in a while, dig in a certain spot or read a certain poem under the new moon, or track down and kill a lich-hound that’s guarding a tomb where just possibly his ancestor Edmund Carter buried a certain “cloke or clout” used by the Arkham witch circle …

Bruce Carter III, Randolph’s Disreputable Cousin

Athletics 3 Firearms 4 Fleeing 6 Health 5 Scuffling 3 Weapons 3

Magic: 3; it costs him 1 point to Contact Ghost and speak with his ancestor, and 2 points to learn something unseen by him from his ancestor. In addition to any other spells he might have, Carter’s cloak transmits an unholy vitality to him from his dead ancestor, along with that sorcerer’s memories and skills. Carter can use the cloak’s pool of 36 points on any of his General abilities, including Health and Magic; the cloak recharges 4 points per hour of exposure to pitch darkness (such as the inside of a chest).

Alertness Modifier: -1 (dreamy and distracted) without the cloak; +3 with the cloak

Stealth Modifier: +0 without the cloak; +3 with the cloak

Hit Threshold: 3 (5 with the cloak)

Attacks: -2 (fist; +1 with the cloak), +1 (sword; +4 with the cloak), +1 (Colt 1902 Sporting .38 ACP semiautomatic target pistol)

Armor: The cloak protects Carter from all injuries except those aimed at his head (+2 to Hit Threshold)

 

“I told you, I’m finebetter than fine, in fact. It’s funny … I’d forgotten how much more confident a mask can make you feel.”

— Carol Carter, the new Fighting Yank, in Terra Obscura v1 #5 (Dec 2003) by Alan Moore and Peter Hogan

Bryce’s father, Bruce Carter IV, moved to Ohio from Granger, Massachusetts, in 1980 and never really talked about his family at all. This didn’t really bother his youngest daughter Bryce, who pursued a career as an architectural photographer (with a sideline in crime novel writing) until she got the ghost flu and started having dreams about an ancestor in Revolutionary War times. She went to Granger and looked around her grandfather’s old house, and found a cloak and hat — ideal for cosplay! — and thought she’d exorcised the ghost … until she got the ghost flu a second time (very unusual! One in a million, they said!) and developed powers. The therapists claimed she had “multiple personality disorder” (which even she knew was pseudoscientific claptrap) brought on by the ghost flu, and the geneticist from the University claimed she had some long-dormant recessive gene that triggered two sets of powers depending on her endocrine levels.

Bryce isn’t sure what to believe, because it sure seems like her ancestor Bruce Carter tells her things (or is it her subconscious putting together her prodigious research) and saves her life when she needs it. And since she’s moved to your Mutant City Blues campaign city, she needs it more and more. Cops can’t do it all for you, and she’s not sure she trusts them to use their powers fairly for everyone. And as her ancestor points out, it’s every American’s duty to fight injustice and help out their neighbor. (This writeup leaves Bryce’s politics aside from police reform vague, but in your campaign they should be whatever version most tends to annoy your PCs.) To the police, she’s a vigilante, and to corrupt cops, she’s frighteningly good at finding where the bodies are buried.

Bryce Carter, the Fighting Yank

Architecture, Bullshit Detector, Charm, Criminology, History, Intimidation, Photography, Popular Culture, Research

Athletics 8 Composure 6 Driving 5 Firearms 6 Health 8 Infiltration 6 Scuffling 12 Sense Trouble 10 Surveillance 5

*Flight 4 *Illusion 2 Kinetic Energy Dispersal 6 Strength 10 *Telekinesis 18

Powers marked with an asterisk (*) are associated with Bryce’s alternate personality, “Bruce Carter the First” and only emerge under great stress: to save her life or that of someone she knows. She only uses her Illusion power to (unconsciously?) project an image of Bruce Carter’s “ghost.”


Mutant City Blues 2nd Edition is an investigative science fiction roleplaying game originally written by Robin D. Laws, and developed and extended by Gareth-Ryder Hanrahan, 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.

In the latest episode of their smoothly escalating podcast, Ken and Robin talk scenario preludes, the Frankokratia, third acts, and the Philadelphia Experiment.

During the Paris sequence of The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, the art student characters may while a decadent evening at Montmartre’s Cabaret du Néant—or as they may know it, the Cabaret of Nothingness. Seated at the coffin-like tables of its Salle de Intoxication, they order from servers dressed as monks and morticians. Overhead dangle skeletal chandeliers. The drinks come in skull-shaped cups and are named after diseases: Consumption Germ, Leg of Lively Cancer, Cholera From the Last Corpse. The first is crème de menthe.

We can’t bear to name this delicious drink after an illness so instead will pay tribute by calling after the establishment itself. Don’t forget to tip your undertaker!

Cabaret du Néant

1 ½ shot dark spiced rum

½ shot red vermouth

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ can coke

Stir, serve on the rocks.


The Yellow King Roleplaying Game takes you on a brain-bending spiral through multiple selves and timelines, pitting characters against the reality-altering horror of The King in Yellow. When read, this suppressed play invites madness, and remolds our world into a colony of the alien planet Carcosa. Four core books, served up together in a beautiful slipcase, confront layers with an epic journey into horror in four alternate-reality settings: Belle Epoque Paris, The Wars, Aftermath, and This Is Normal Now. Purchase The Yellow King Roleplaying Game in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

District Knowledges, used in the Station Duty campaign frame in The Esoterrorists and in Cthulhu City, are a special set of investigative abilities designed for use in games where a particular city is of paramount importance – and the city’s right there in the title in Mutant City Blues!

The districts in your Mutant City will vary, but you’re going to end up with something similar to the list below. Allocate the suggested elements from Building Mutant City (p. 138) to different districts.

  • The University: Including the Quade Institute
  • Financial District: Including Birch Towers
  • City Centre: City Hall, the Precinct
  • Historic Downtown, including the Bulwark of God Church
  • The Strip, lots of clubs and bars.
  • Helixtown, the mutant district, including Capecon Enterprises, the Heightened Information Alliance, New Heliopolis and the other mutant-related groups.
  • Industrial Zone
  • The Docks/Airport
  • Wealthy Enclave
  • Suburbia
  • Poverty-Stricken District

Don’t stick with the dull technical names – use the actual names of districts and areas in your city. If you’re basing your Mutant City off an existing city, then use areas from that city (“I’m taking Soho, you take Clapham”). If you’re making your Mutant City up, then take the opportunity to create a real sense of place; proper names really help ground a campaign.

Using District Knowledges

With a District Knowledge, you can obtain clues through:

  • Your knowledge of the streets, buildings and other features of the area
  • Your expertise in local history and current events
  • Your relationships with local leaders, influencers, experts and figures in the community.
  • Picking up rumours and efficiently gathering information about that district

You can

  • Tell when crowds or passersby are acting strangely
  • Tell whether a passerby or bystander is native to a particular neighbourhood
  • Navigate unfamiliar street layouts and locate buildings without marking yourself out as a stranger

A District Knowledge push can:

  • Create a useful contact or ally living in that district
  • Call in a favour related to that district
  • Allow you to declare some fact about that district

District Knowledges and other investigative abilities often overlap with one another. A character with a District Knowledge could certainly substitute it for Architecture or Community Relations. However, such substitutions are only permissible when the investigator is in the district they are familiar with.

Gaining District Knowledges

Each character starts with one free District Knowledge. A player taking any template that includes Streetwise can swap that ability for a more focused District Knowledge. More District Knowledges can be purchased with build points or experience as desired.


Mutant City Blues 2nd Edition is an investigative science fiction roleplaying game originally written by Robin D. Laws, and developed and extended by Gareth-Ryder Hanrahan, 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.

Ken and Robin mark 9 years of podcasting with a 450th episode LIGHTNING ROUND!!!

This cocktail isn’t as brilliant an invention as the GUMSHOE mechanic of the same name, but it’s mighty tasty all the same. If you’re drinking it, you have by definition planned in advance to have the ingredients on hand.

Preparedness Test

1 ½ shot Kraken spiced rum

½ shot red vermouth

½ can aranciata rossa

3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Stir. Serve on the rocks.


GUMSHOE is the groundbreaking investigative roleplaying system by Robin D. Laws that shifts the focus of play away from finding clues (or worse, not finding them), and toward interpreting clues, solving mysteries and moving the action forward. GUMSHOE powers many Pelgrane Press games, including The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, Trail of Cthulhu, Night’s Black Agents, Esoterrorists, Ashen Stars, and Mutant City Blues. Learn more about how to run GUMSHOE games, and download the GUMSHOE System Reference Document to make your own GUMSHOE products under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Unported License.

In the latest installment of their clearly enunciated podcast, Ken and Robin talk geocaching scenarios, the CIA’s Rex Harrison mask, directional taboos, and sinister Argentine occultist José López Rega.

To discard most Shock cards, characters in The Yellow King Roleplaying Game pay a price or take a risk. There’s an easier way to make this Shock Card disappear.

Shock Card

2 shots bourbon

½ shot cherry brandy

1 shot red vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

½ can limonata

Stir, serve on the rocks.


The Yellow King Roleplaying Game takes you on a brain-bending spiral through multiple selves and timelines, pitting characters against the reality-altering horror of The King in Yellow. When read, this suppressed play invites madness, and remolds our world into a colony of the alien planet Carcosa. Four core books, served up together in a beautiful slipcase, confront layers with an epic journey into horror in four alternate-reality settings: Belle Epoque Paris, The Wars, Aftermath, and This Is Normal Now. Purchase The Yellow King Roleplaying Game in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

The advent of some mutant abilities has created whole new categories of criminality, while other powers are covered by existing laws. It’s still aggravated assault with a deadly weapon if you threaten someone with a sharp blade, even if you grew that blade yourself using your Natural Weapons ability. Some of the more obscure legal interactions that might crop up in your Mutant City Blues campaign…

The use of the Cognition power is treated as card-counting in Mutant City casinos; it’s not technically illegal, but those known to possess the power are banned by the casino owners and forcibly ejected if found to be gambling.

Of all the Command powers, Command Insects is the most likely to cause serious property damage or degrade the ecology of the local area. A common use of the power is the so-called ‘Pied Piper’ effect – instead of spraying a structure for termites or other insects, a mutant can just compel the insects to leave. Practising this form of extermination commercially requires a licence, and proof that the mutant has somewhere to safely dispose of the insects.

Using Earth Control’s earthquake ability is a legal nightmare, exposing the user to endless suits for damage to property. Earthquake-hit structures must be thoroughly examined by a qualified engineer to ensure they are still sound.

Illusion is a tricky power when it comes to the law. Many uses of illusion fall under existing laws covering fraud, deception, intimidation and so forth – there’s no difference, legally, between conjuring an illusion of a monster, and putting on a monster costume to scare someone. However, as illusions leave no traces or physical evidence, it makes proving a crime considerably harder. Attempts to have non-consensual, non-declared illusions deemed illegal have foundered in the courts, and there’s a growing number of professional illusionists who use their abilities for quasi-legal activities like providing alibis (‘six witnesses saw my client drinking in the bar when the prosecution claims he was robbing the house’).

Plants under Plant Control count as tools or weapons, so using a plant to entangle someone counts as assault even if you never lay a finger on them. That said, it can difficult to conclusively prove that a particular plant controller was commanding a particular plant, leading to the trope of the ‘Mad Gardener’, a hypothetical plant controller who wanders around Mutant City controlling plants at random, and who just happened to be passing when the defendant was alleged to have used the same power.

Reduce Temperature can result in reckless endangerment charges if the mutant uses the ability in an enclosed space with others present.

Speed limits do not apply to runners or cyclists, so the Speed power is not restricted. However, using Speed in highly trafficked areas may result in charges for jaywalking.

Webbing counts as littering.


Mutant City Blues 2nd Edition is an investigative science fiction roleplaying game originally written by Robin D. Laws, and developed and extended by Gareth-Ryder Hanrahan, 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.

In the latest episode of their chill, sweet podcast, Ken and Robin talk scenarios with multi-year time scales, a colonial dream archive, 19th century cocktails, and the OTRAG project.

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