Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Slow Evening... other words, relaxing.

As I commented elsewhere, folks all over the internet are going through an angsty, self-analyzing period.  I ain't immune to it myself, though I'm doing my best to sit tight and "fogeddaboutit."

Tonight is TV night (what night isn't really?)...nothing like a little Top Chef, a couple beers, a (slightly large) lap dog or two.

However, PRIOR to the same-old same-old the wife and I were watching a Spanish telvision show (well, technically "HBO Ole," whatever the F that is) called Epitafios ("Epitaphs"). Quite interesting...a cop drama, with a connecting mystery/antagonist through several episodes. I'd never seen in before, but I was able to watch a couple/three episodes.

Here's the thing...I found it entertaining, which is NOT a word I associate with cop shows. Actually, I don't watch "police drama" of any type: no Law & Order, no The Shield, no Dark Blue, no CSI.  Hell, I never watched Miami Vice, T.J. Hooker, or Hill Street Blues either (though the last one was a little old for me at the time it was parents sure dug it). 

I don't know why people love law enforcement dramas...but this Epitafios show is pretty compelling. Perhaps because it's not episodic in nature (you know, one "situational scenario" every week). Come to think of it, I was a big fan of Twin Peaks which certainly had some law enforcement themes (I realize that one's actually kind of a stretch)...mmm, the first season or two of 24 was good, too.

I guess, similar to role-playing, people enjoy the vicarious escapism that comes from these get to put yourself in the shoes of a police officer (for most people, the closest thing to a hero in most folks' minds) and see the world through his/her eyes.

'Course I like the Epitafios show because the main characters aren't very my stereotyped mind, they look and act much more like what I might expect. They're dumpy and frumpy, but competent. They never shoot, strong arm, or beat up folks and mainly they're simply tracking down leads and investigating scenes.

Anyway, it REALLY makes me want to play a little RPG I picked up a few months back (see? I fully intended to tie this to an actual game): Mutant City Blues

Now I know that I just lost two-thirds+ of my readers, but I'll tell you this: I would never have got into the Old School gaming thing (i.e. I would still be hiding my own light) if wasn't for Pelgrane Press's GUMSHOE game system. I was researching Ken Hite on the 'Net when I ran into an interview between him and James Maliszewski, which led me to Grognardia, which led me to everything else (of course).

Mutant City Blues is the best "police drama" RPG I've ever seen. Hell, it's the only one I've ever found that I wanted to play (as I said...not much into cop drama). But for an investigative role-playing system it has a lot to recommend it (in my opinion).

- the rules are such that investigations never stagnate because of a failed die roll; all clues are provided, they simply need to be interpreted.

- the ability scores/skills set during character generation do more than simply determine in-game character effectiveness; they set-up to specifically share "spotlight" time between PCs (giving every player's character a chance to shine)

- it's actually makes police paperwork interesting (just what I RPG where I'm pushing MORE paper!)

- it has what I think is a very cool premise: cops (and criminals) with (minor) super powers. In the game world something like 1% or .1% of the population spontaneously developed super powers a few years before the start of the game. People got freaked out a little...and then everyone went back to their daily lives.  Most people don't talk about their mutant powers if they have 'em...there's a little discrimination against people with powers but not like Marvel's war on mutants (more like certain types of modern day bigotry; it varies by region). Some of the powered folks are, of course, malcontents/criminals...and your "special unit" of the police force is as much a PR move for the mutant public as is the minority police commissioner. 

- there's no specific setting...well, there is (kind of): your home town! Whatever the town wher you and your gaming group reside is supposed to be used as the default setting (the place everyone calls "Mutant City" because of its higher than normal prevalence of powered individuals). This is cool on a lot of levels, but for me, it makes me find out more about my the location of police stations, local city politicians, etc. You're encouraged to draw scenarios from local news items or set them around actual businesses and civic interests. Quite cool, in my opinion.

Anyway, I'd strongly recommend anyone check it out. I know I know...we all have tough schedules and it's tough enough to find a night to play B/X Dungeons and Dragons. But it IS's been sitting on my shelf long enough; it's time to take it for a test drive; perhaps with an Epitafios knock-off campaign?

Now if only my home-town was in Argentina....
: )



  1. "folks all over the internet are going through an angsty, self-analyzing period."

    Fuck angsty self-analysis.

    I'm taking this time to make fun of deadEarth - the post-apocalyptic RPG that should never have been.

  2. Even if you're not self-analyzing, you're still in the heavy critique mode...especially with this game, deadEarth. Why do you hang onto it at all? Ah, occasionally "boggle the mind." For godsake, sir, let the dog lie, and get back to real gaming!
    ; )