“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.

The following article originally appeared on an earlier iteration of See Page XX in February 2008. 

Ten years after the Sudden Mutation Event, 1% of the population will possess Class A mutant powers. Dr Lucius Quade of the Quade Institute in Your City will have created his seminal diagram which maps out the connections and defects which relate these new powers…

by Douglas W. Edgar

I’d heard he was like Morgan Freeman — that he had that look that spoke implicitly of wisdom and understanding. I expected knowing eyes, looking deep inside people with an insight borne of experience. But smiling wide, shaking hands on his way down from the podium, and laughing with audience members in search of autographs, he looked more like Will Smith, ripened by age, and with more hair.

This is Dr. Lucius Quade, the famous creator of the namesake Quade Diagram that has revolutionized the way we see and study mutants today — and changed what we expect of them. Not since Einstein has a scientist been more widely recognized both by name and by picture. The college kids who used to have posters on their walls of Einstein with his tongue sticking out now have posters of Quade’s Keeper’s magazine cover photo, the one with him in Armani, flanked by beautiful women in lab coats, in front of the giant martini glass. Science has gone from the purview of the eccentric genius to the brilliant and stylish sci-mogul.

If he’s not the most famous researcher today, he is certainly the most exposed. From talk shows to book tours to television biographies and his own Science Channel miniseries, it seems Dr. Quade is always on television somewhere. It’s like he has a super-power of his own: amazing visibility.

His attitude, his confidence, radiates. It gets on you. It’s infectious, and like anything infectious, it can make some people sick.

Dr. Quade stands at the edge of confidence, leaning over into arrogance when the subject of his work comes up. Can we blame him? Imagine if the Periodic Table was a celebrity scientist, rich and famous, and then you questioned its veracity to its face. It’d be pretty sure of itself, too.

When I got my chance to sit down with Dr. Quade on behalf of Mutant City Tribune Culture magazine, we had just a few minutes to talk between stops on his busy schedule. We settled into leather chairs in a foyer of the MCU lecture hall where Dr. Quade had just given a rare in-person lecture to a paying audience (proceeds to the Quade Institute). In less than an hour, he’d be back in a limo on his way to the airport, and then to a summit in Vienna.

The subject of that summit? Anamorphology: the science Dr. Quade created.

Tribune Culture Magazine: So, it’s been a while—

Dr. Lucius Quade: I’m sorry, I didn’t think we’d met before.

TCM: No, no. We haven’t. I was going to say, it’s been a while since you did the lecture circuit.

LQ: This really isn’t the circuit. This is just one sort of little event. A lecture like this — getting me to talk for a couple of hours, especially about anamorphology — this is nothing. I do that over dinner.

TCM: So you don’t miss the lecture circuit, then? You still get your fix?

LQ: That’s right. Well, no, you know what? I miss the faces I’d see along the lecture circuit. Seeing people’s minds change and expand in the audience is great, but meeting someone two or three times over the course of several lectures, and seeing them come around to anamorphology and seeing their perceptiveness change, that’s a thrill I sort of miss. I get some of it on the television programs, you know, but Oprah’s audience isn’t the same from show to show and most of the people behind the scenes on those shows are already pretty well informed, so.

TCM: Do you prefer doing television to doing lectures?

LQ: I prefer reaching a wider audience.

TCM: You reach a pretty wide audience already. There were a lot of cameras at your lecture today.

LQ: I’m very fortunate in that. I’m not blind to the issue here — the celebrity scientist who does more guest spots than he does papers, these days — but it has seemed to me, for the last few years, that reaching the multitudes is really more important than reaching more of the scientific field, at this point. It’s not credible scientists who are making threats again the heightened out in the streets, and there are plenty of other scientists following my work, continuing my work, these days.

TCM: Not all of them credible.

LQ: Well, that’s true, but that’s inevitable. That’s not something I can control. And, who knows? Even a scientist without any current credibility to reputation can make a discovery that changes the way we look at new and old disciplines alike. Anamorphology is a new discipline, and there’s still lots of room for new discoveries and insights to be had. I can’t say for sure that they’ll come only from those scientists who get grant money from MIT or Stanford, for example.

TCM: How does that philosophy affect the way you respond to scientific papers that challenge the structure and the definitions of the Quade Diagram?

LQ: That’s not unreasonable. Science is so often about testing boundaries, isn’t it? They’re entitled. You know, I’ll even concede that it’s a good idea for someone to be doing it, though I really think it’s best left to grad students, who can learn more from encountering truth or fact through experimentation. Scientists, particularly now, continue to test the bonds of chemical and physical understandings, even though they’re not going to change the way physics actually operates. So I wish these scientists well, with the utmost confidence that they might reshape the philosophies that surround the Diagram, but that they can’t make a dent in its accuracy and applicability.

TCM: It’s iron-clad?

LQ: All evidence to date says so.

TCM: In some major university circles, the philosophical and anamorphological intersection of your work gets challenged, even while the anamorphological methodology gets praised. What do you say to people who claim that personal or psychological categorizations based on the Quade Diagram are damaging?

LQ: You’re talking about the Foucault wannabes — the new post-structuralists.

TCM: They’re a vocal group.

LQ: They’re coffeehouse philosophers.

TCM: Dr. Eloise Maas at the University of Edinburgh has written extensive papers on the psychological ramifications of your—

LQ: She’s mistaking our psychosocial analyses with psychological assertions. She’s misusing some of our definitions. I’m not a psychologist and I’m particularly interested in the psychological issues that surround the Diagram. They’re really not psychological, as Dr. Maas presents them, anyway. They’re philosophical. And I think the best arena for philosophy is the arena of debate.

TCM: You don’t think psychological assessments of the Quade Diagram are relevant?

LQ: I think one that took into account serious consideration of the biological factors and the psychosocial — not merely psychological — ramifications would be more… impactful. But let’s remember that the primary function of the Diagram is in anamorphology, and in that regard it is a set of good, solidly researched findings. It’ll just take us a little bit longer to sort out how the Diagram gets assimilated by other disciplines.

TCM: So a book like The Soft Helix

LQ: I haven’t read it.

TCM: You’ve heard of it?

LQ: I’ve heard of it.

TCM: So you know that—

LQ: I don’t sign off on any of the claims made in it, as I haven’t read it. It’s written by persons whose scientific qualifications I don’t know and whose credibility is maybe unproven. I don’t know these people, and I don’t know if they’re…

TCM: You know Dr. Aaron Rosenblum.

LQ: He works with us at the Institute, yes. I haven’t read the paper of his that’s in the book, but I know his research, of course.

TCM: In it, he’s analyzing mental powers of the heightened with comparisons and theses about how they interact with brain chemistry.

LQ: Right. That’s his work with us at the Institute, but his essay was a personal project, and I haven’t read the book, though, so—

TCM: You have scientists and researchers at the Institute studying the biological and psychiatric angles of mutation, though?

LQ: Absolutely. Psychiatry is sort of the happy medium between psychology and anamorphology — or at least that’s the direction we’re going in now. We’ll see where it takes us. While I’m concerned about the social circumstances for the heightened, and how their manifesting mutations affect their lives, I can’t personally study the way they feel. I don’t claim that the heightened are so different from other people that they need another approach to psychology and therapy. Many of them should probably see therapists when their powers manifest, but I don’t think that’s any of my business as a scientist.

TCM: The other scientists whose writings appear in The Soft Helix

LQ: [sigh]

TCM: —these are not unknown figures. Some of these are well-known science writers—

LQ: Essayists. They write about science, but many of them do journalistic research, not scientific.

TCM: What is it about them that you don’t find credible?

LQ: Well, let’s be clear here, if we’re going to talk about this: I don’t necessarily think they are not credible, but I don’t know where their supposed credibility comes from. I don’t take credibility for granted based on someone else’s assessment. I don’t find someone’s science credible because a magazine or a TV show says I should. If I haven’t read them, if they’re not working with us at the Institute, I can’t yet form a meaningful opinion of their work.

TCM: That brings up an interesting question: If you don’t trust television to tell you what scientists are credible, how do you feel about appearing on television in the name of science and trusting television to reflect your credibility, and even admiration, in the scientific community? Do you think that comes across the average viewer?

LQ: Foremost, I think my credibility is widely known. An audience who sees me on television already knows I’m credible, thanks not only to the various specials and programs that have been done about me, but because TV and print news has carried the word-of-mouth out of the scientific community and into the popular culture. I’m very fortunate in that regard. It’s not often that scientific renown and respect — which I’m flattered to have, and treasure — translates into popular recognition.

Where it really stands out is at a lecture like today’s, where I don’t have to restate my core research. The Quade Diagram is a household term — people may not know the periodic table, but they know what it is, they know a few elements, they know that it’s recognized because it has been thoroughly vetted and proven. It’s the same with the Quade Diagram and myself.

Beyond that, and I think this is important, I hope that people do read my book or look up my articles online, do look at and really think about the Diagram, after they see me on television. I don’t expect people to trust me without proof, but I think the proof is easy enough to find that people can quickly see that I’m the real thing. Most people aren’t as strict as I am about testing and verifying credibility, of course, and I’m not naïve. I know most people at home will take my credibility for granted. Maybe that’s a shame, or maybe that’s a luxury they’ve been afforded by my success. I worked hard to win that kind of respect.

Anyway, testing the credibility of findings — whether they’re mine or someone else’s — is what makes me a natural fit for my work. I’m a scientist.

TCM: The Institute has grown considerably in the last few years. Do you still keep up with all of the work that goes on there?

LQ: As best I can. I trust the people under me — we work with the best — and that’s one of the reasons I feel confident, and also responsible, being skeptical of the researchers who don’t work with us. If they were the best, we’d know them at the Institute.

TCM: What’s next then, for you, as far as the research goes?

LQ: Our big project, now, is a series of forensic anamorphology labs designed to apply what we’ve learned of anamorphology to a practical, real-world problem.

TCM: Crime.

LQ: Right now, I like to think of it more broadly as helping people. One of our staffers put it this way the other day, and I thought this was brilliant: Not all Missing Persons cases actually involve a crime, but all of them can probably benefit from an intelligent use of forensic anamorphology. We want to help people, whether that means solving crimes or just solving problems. We think anamorphology can find answers where we couldn’t before, and that’s a great step forward for all of us.

TCM: What’s the relationship between these new forensic labs and local police departments then? Is this the sort of relationship where they’ll send you samples of DNA and you’ll run tests?

LQ: We’re looking at a more aggressive approach to our operational dynamics. We intend to work with police departments when we can, but we’re not going to let stale municipal systems slow us down either. We have an advantage, as a separate entity, of being able to move around without all the bureaucratic restrictions that unfortunately keep the police from developing or implementing forensic techniques like ours. We hope to take advantage of that freedom.

TCM: As a kind of privatized police force?

LQ: Well, let’s be clear: I wouldn’t strictly characterize what we’re doing as enforcement. We’re a little bit more like a well organized and funded private investigation firm with top-line forensics labs of our own. It’s an exciting project.

TCM: Are these labs up and running now?

LQ: They’re in various stages of readiness, depending on the labs. We have people in the field right now, though, and the future looks to be very exciting.

TCM: Outside of your work with mutants at the Quade Institute and the forensic anamorphology lab, do you have much contact with them?

LQ: With heightened persons?

TCM: Yes.

LQ: That’s an interesting question. When I’m asked this I always feel a responsibility to remind people of the way things are. The answer I give is, “How could I know?” How many mutants do I come into contact with and not know it? The Quade Diagram, even for me, isn’t something that you can use to cold-read people, really. It requires careful observation and an appreciation of data. I think it’s important to remember that their abilities shouldn’t define the way we interact with them.

Now, to answer your question, I work with heightened individuals every day at the Institute and on the circuit. I spend a great deal of my time with them, mostly related to the Institute and my work, because that’s so often why they come to me, but I know more than a few socially. My wife and I both.

The point is, I don’t know how many mutants I know in daily life, but I do know a great many of them, and some quite well. But how can I know? I mean, you could be a mutant, and I just haven’t picked up on it. [laughs]

TCM: I’m not, but it’s funny you should put it that way, as my brother-in-law is actually a minor—

LQ: We say “B-category.”

TCM: Sorry. He’s a B-category person, and I didn’t know until after I was married.

LQ: Yes, exactly. See? So he isn’t a visible case, with manifest mutations. How could you know?

TCM: Right, I didn’t until he told me. It’s his toes. He doesn’t have toes.

LQ: That’s not an uncommon B-category mutation, actually.

TCM: But you must have lots of contact with openly manifest mutants. Is it common for you to interact with their abilities, day to day? Or just within the course of your work?

LQ: You know, it’s actually less common now, especially when I’m touring like this. I get approached sometimes after summits or TV appearances, but I don’t have many heightened persons announce their presence in my audiences. I get some correspondence, though. Lots, actually.

TCM: What’s that like?

LQ: Not so remarkable, really. They’re ordinary people, with their own distinguishing characteristics — in their case, heightened abilities — just like you and I. Some are nice, some are rude, some are shy. It’s really an odd question to answer.

But I see what you’re after — you need an anecdote — so here’s one for you: I was once levitated right off the ground by a mutant after a live TV appearance I did in Chicago. It was simply this young woman who wanted to meet me and say thank you for helping her and her doctors identify and make sense of her minor autistic symptoms, and she thanked me by giving me this unique experience. Then she teleported away and I haven’t seen her since. But here’s a young woman whose found some balance between her powers and her pain, and that really stuck with me.

TCM: Did you like it? Levitating?

LQ: I appreciated the gesture, let’s say. [laughs] But it turns out I like to have one foot on the ground. I have been teleported, though, and that’s terrific. I really loved doing that.

TCM: What power would you want, then, if you were to manifest a mutation?

LQ: I get asked this all the time, and I honestly can’t say. I try not to think about it too much, because I don’t want to be biased in my work. Also, though, I have a tendency to change my mind based on what kind of day I’m having. When my wife and I were training our dogs, I’d have given anything to be able to influence them directly, you can imagine. I guess I’d want access to them all. Who wouldn’t?

TCM: You’ve answered this question before, but the rumors persist. I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring it up: your powers. You deny having any—

LQ: That’s correct.

TCM: Have you ever been examined by your own people? Wouldn’t there be a conflict of interests there, anyway?

LQ: I have been examined, but that was largely for publicity. The fact is that if I was somehow heightened, I would know it by now. That’s the nature of things. I’d love to have some special ability, like you said, but we don’t get to choose, do we?

TCM: So what would you say to Bryce Dyson, the author of Super-Scientist, Mutate Thyself, who claims you have powers of telepathy and hyper-cognition?

LQ: I knew you were going to say that! Seriously, if only that were true.

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. Pre-order Mutant City Blues in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Inspired by Ray Winninger’s seminal Underground RPG from Mayfair Games (which is sorely due a reboot), these parameters for Mutant City Blues let the players shape the future of their city, shepherding it into an era of prosperity or fighting against the tide as it’s engulfed in crime and corruption.

Each parameter’s measured from +3 to -3.

The 16 parameters are divided into four categories. Police HQ describes the internal state of Mutant City’s police force; Crime Rate measures four categories of high-profile crimes; Town Hall tracks the general state of the city, and Mutant Relations describes how the city’s mutant population relate to the police and the wider city.

Police HQ

  • Trust In Police
  • Police Corruption
  • Police Efficiency
  • Police Morale

Crime Rate

  • Major Crime
  • Antisocial Behaviour
  • Vice
  • Heightened Crime

Town Hall

  • Civic Pride
  • Local Economy
  • Mayor’s Popularity
  • Public Corruption

Mutant Relations

  • Criminal Influence
  • Social Cohesion
  • Mutant Rights
  • Mutant Pride

Setting Up Your City

Unless you want to emphasise a particular point (there’s a serial killer on the loose – Murder Rate starts at -3!), then start by randomly allocating values to parameters. Roll a d6 for each parameter:

  • 1: -2
  • 2: -1
  • 3-4: +0
  • 5-6: +1

Adjusting Parameters

A new case drops one or more parameters by a point or two each. So, if the case involves tension between mutants and non-mutants, reduce Social Integration by at least one point for the duration of the case. If the officers completely fail to solve the case, those parameters from by an extra point; if they succeed, reset the parameters to their previous levels.

Parameters might also drift due to larger events at the whim of the Gamemaster; often, an increase in one parameter (say, Local Economy) can affect others (more money in the city might also boost Vice and Corruption).

Between cases, players can spend suitable Investigative abilities to temporarily increase a parameter. It costs a number of points equal to the current value of the parameter to increase it by 1 (minimum 1). So, if you want to inspire trust in the police, but Trust in Police is currently at -2, you’d have to spend 2 points of Community Relationsto get it down to -1 for the next case only. Permanently increasing a parameter requires the players to make some sort of permanent change of circumstances – setting up a new group or institution, finding a non-player character who’ll champion a cause, or removing some malign influence that keeps pushing the parameter down.

Effects of Parameters

As a rule of thumb, the value of a parameter describes how often in a particular case that plot element comes into play. So, if Trust in Police is at +1, then once per case, the GM should engineer a scene where the police’s hard-won trust is rewarded with a particularly co-operative witness or unsolicited assistance from a citizen. If Trust in Police is at -3, then have three incidents where the breakdown in relations between police and public impedes the investigation. These incidents aren’t always related to the case at hand – coming back to find your patrol car has been tagged with graffiti, for example, or getting a free donut from a friendly street vendor. Players are encouraged to suggest possible benefits or penalties.

Police HQ

  • Trust In Police measures how average citizens think of the police. Low scores mean witnesses are less willing to come forward or co-operate; high scores garner increased co-operation.
  • A high Police Corruptionindicates how easy it is for criminals to bribe or subvert the police; especially high scores may mean that some cops are in the pay of criminal groups, and cannot be trusted.
  • Police Efficiency measures the effectiveness of the other cops and the rest of the justice system. A low score means no backup, slow processing of cases or forensics, and general malaise.
  • Police Morale determines how enthusiastic and cohesive the cops are. Low morale can bring down efficiency. Of course, an autocratic, hard-driving Commissioner might improve Efficiency at the cost of Morale.

Crime Rate

  • Major Crime: Murders, terrorist attacks and other high-profile incidents – all stuff the mayor wants off the front pages, quick! A high score indicates that not only is crime under control, but the officers have advance warning of possible threats.
  • Antisocial Behaviour:Broken windows, graffiti, minor burglaries.
  • Vice: Narcotics (including jolting), sex trafficking
  • Heightened Crime: Anything involving mutants; keeping this parameter under control is the primary goal of the Heightened Crimes division.

Town Hall

  • A low Civic Pride means public morale is low; a high score means people generally like and cherish their city.
  • Local Economy: High scores indicate prosperity and high employment; low means a downturn or recent job losses.
  • Mayor’s Popularity: Arguably, this one is the parameter the players need to keep the closest watch on; a high score means the Mayor’s likely to win re-election, low means he’s desperate to get his poll numbers up, which means City Hall’s looking for someone to blame…
  • Public Corruption measures the influence of criminal or dodgy corporate money in civic affairs.

Mutant Relations

  • Criminal Influence measures how much reach criminal gangs or groups have in the mutant community, and how likely it is that a given mutant will turn to a life of crime. A high score may indicate mutant vigilantism.
  • Social Cohesion tracks the degree to which mutants see themselves as part of a larger community; a low social cohesion means that extremist and separatist groups have greater sway.
  • Mutant Rights measures legal restrictions on mutants. A negative score indicates added limits or calls for mutant segregation; a positive score implies more acceptance and opportunities to use mutant powers in society.
  • Mutant Pride tracks the attitude of the public towards mutant powers. A negative score  implies added prejudice; a positive score shows that mutants are popular or trusted.

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. Pre-order Mutant City Blues in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Ever since the Sudden Mutation Event, people have been able to fly. Phase through walls. Read minds. Shoot bolts of energy from their fingertips. Walk into dreams.

As members of the elite Heightened Crime Investigation Unit, you and your fellow detectives solve crimes involving the city’s mutant community. When a mutant power is used to kill, you catch the case. When it’s a mutant victim in the chalk outline, you get the call. And when it comes time for a fight, you deploy your own extraordinary abilities to even the odds.

With new human capacity has come new science. Your squad brings forensic science to bear on the solution of mutant crimes. Need to know if a suspect is the victim of mind control or dream observation? Perform an EMAT protocol to detect the telltale signs of external influence. Was your victim killed by a light blast? Use Energy Residue Analysis to match the unique wound pattern to the murderer, as surely as ballistic science links a bullet to a gun.

Does your crime scene yield trace evidence of two separate powers? Use your trusty copy of the Quade Diagram, the infallible map of genetic relationships between mutant powers, to tell if one suspect could have used both – or if you have two perps on your hands.

If chases, interrogations and mutant battles weren’t enough to handle, you also serve as a bridge between the authorities and your mutant brethren. To successfully close cases, you must navigate the difficult new politics of post-mutation society, and deal with your own personal issues and mutation-caused defects.

Police work will never be the same.

Upgraded In 2nd Edition!

    • Push rules make GUMSHOE investigation even faster and more flexible
    • New modes of play help GMs tailor the game to their players
    • Personal crisis rules bring the stress of the job into play
    • Character templates to help players build their officers
    • Expanded chase rules for superpowered action
    • Rules for superpowered private investigators
    • A thrilling new scenario, Blue on Blue, delves into buried secrets of Mutant City and the early days of the Sudden Mutation Event


Stock #: PELGM201 Authors: Robin D. Laws, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Artists: Gene Ha, Tangmo Cecchini, Mary Corbalis, Douglas P. Lobo, Miguel Santos, Lily Serrentino, Phil Stone, Jessica Trevino, Karolina Węgrzyn Pages: 216 pages, case bound, B&W

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