Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Gumshoe System: Mutant City Blues and Ashen Stars

Gumshoe is an RPG system developed by Robin Laws and used in several games. Robin is an award-winning designer, I first came to know about his work with his Shadowfist CCG and Feng Shui RPG from 20 years ago.

Gumshoe strongly diverges from other games in that it assumes competence: anyone can drive, but if you have one point in Driving, you can pull off trick manouvers. Obviously it’s a lot more complicated than that, but it serves as a decent base example.

Mutant City Blues is sort of a superhero world. A virus struck and a certain amount of the population later gained superpowers. But you’re not a superhero, you’re a cop. Specifically, you’re on a special squad because of your mutant abilities. It’s CSI X-Men. I can’t claim to be an expert because I’ve only been reading the rules for a couple of days, but it’s quite intriguing. A professional skill costs only one point, and as someone who was always massively skill-heavy when it came to designing Champions characters, I like that. And while I’m mostly not a fan of police procedural television, this game really intrigues me. One thing that I particularly like is the Quade Diagram: a map of superpowers and how they relate. They have an excellent example of finding at a crime scene both prehensile hair and lightning blast evidence. You now know that you’re dealing with at least two suspects because those two abilities are too far apart to be from the same person.

Also, You can’t be horribly unbalanced as your second-most powerful ability has to be at least half the value as your most powerful, I like that design balance mechanism.

I’d suggest taking a look at the Wikipedia entry for the Gumshoe system, it does a very good job of illustrating it.

Anyway, this is a Bundle of Holding offering with two levels and three games, the three being Mutant City Blues (superhero CSI, Ashen Stars (Gumshoe in space), and Night’s Black Agents (spies vs vampires). The funding has another three days to run and part of the proceeds go to Womenkind Worldwide.

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/GUMSHOE2015

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