A few months ago I was talking to one of my gaming regulars about never having played a Powered by the Apocalypse game. He happened to be playing in an online game of “Worlds in Peril” in a few days that had an open slot and so he invited me to join. I, of course, said “Hell Yeah.” This particular game was being run in the Marvel Universe but in the GM’s own continuity. I jumped in as Spider-Man. I figured it would be easier to play a known character rather than create my own for a One-Off thing. The game was a blast. It ended up being the end of a season (arc) for the other players. However, when they started the second season they invited me along. I created a brand new hero named Daedalus and had a blast playing Worlds in Peril. So as season 2 was winding down (a 5 issue(session) arc) the GM said he was going to take a break and run or play something else. I then talked the group into letting me run them through a season of Masks: A New Generation in the interim. The idea being they would play as young X-Men in the same continuity as the Worlds in Peril game.
I had only played 6 sessions of a Powered by Apocalypse Game and had never run a session so the idea of running the game is a bit daunting. But I watched and rewatched Adam Koebel (@Skinnyghost) run a One Shot that was such a blast it became a two-shot over at Roll Play as I tried my best to learn the rules and prepare. I find watching/listening to actual plays is a great way to get a better grasp of the rules I’ve read before I run a game.
I’ve always been a plot and characters over rules kind of GM so the narrative style I didn’t think was going to be too hard. However, one thing I’ve seen in PBtA games is that a lot can happen in a few hours. While some systems you expect the players to get through one maybe two encounters and maybe talk to a few NPC per session. Masks, I quickly learned required a whole different kind of prep. Basically, I thought up who the villains are, what their plans were. I will have them just doing their thing until the heroes get involved. Because in Masks, the Heroes have their own drama to deal with, and the story is really about them.
So now I had to figure out who the characters were and what kind of character arcs I would take them on. So I started with Session 0: Character Creation. We ended up with a Delinquent, a Nova, a Transformed, and a Doomed. With a pretty interesting mix of ages and personalities.
We discussed the kind of game they wanted to play. As young mutants, did they want to strike out on their own? Or was school life going to be a factor? My players decided they were all-in on playing up the Teen Angst elements of Masks so being students at the school should be a big element of the game.
Team dysfunction also seemed to be a big element for them; they made some interesting character choices to back that up. For instance looking at the list, Delinquent, Nova, Transformed and Doom, who would you say would be the leader?
Well, the Transformed isn’t sure he wants to be a hero, he just wants to fit in. This team is his last chance.
The Delinquent is well a delinquent he is much better at making fun of his teammates and causing trouble rather than leading.
So it’s down to the Doomed or the Nova. The Doomed has set himself up as more a follower type. One that is more comfortable as the right-hand man.
So that leaves the Nova, and the Nova wants to lead. It’s a natural choice. Because of that, the player decided that his Nova is 13-years-old. The youngest in the group by a few years. What 15 or 16-year-old is going to let a 13-years-old be in charge?
Not many. But the Nova might actually be good at it. He does, however, come from a privileged background whose father even had a brief tenure on the X-men. He even goes by the name Star Child, how’s that for arrogance. So right now no one else on the team really wants to call him the leader. Playing with the team dynamic is going to be fun. I can really see Star Child proving to the team he would make a good leader be a great opening story arc for that character.
If the school was going to be a big importance to them I asked them to tell me about another classmate that has affected them. A romantic interest/rival/bully whatever, just someone that has had meaningful interaction with their character.
The Doomed character, named Mobius thinks he is just a speedster that can project out version of himself as well. But in fact, he is a time traveling interdimensional being. His time manipulation is why he is so fast but he is unaware of that fact. And the beings he projects, are versions of him in other dimensions he is pulling into this dimension for very short periods of time. He also doesn’t know that he is doomed. (more on that in a later post probably)
So the Doomed player created a female named Slip-Stream. A speedster that is faster than him. Someone that is a bit a friendly rival and someone he is quite taken with.
The Transformed (Named Obsidian.. Who is now solid Obsidian) says there is a girl whose been assigned his lab partner a speedster named Emily Austin. She’s nice to Obsidian but he expects to be treated badly so even though he likes her, he’s kind of a real jerk towards her.
So I asked, “Wait how many female speedsters does this school have?” So in perfect teen angst fashion, Slip-Stream and Emily Austin quickly turned out to be the same person.
Cythor the Delinquent illusionist creates Marc Hopper a 13-year-old whose also an Illusionist and a little shit, but sees Cythor as an older brother and looks up to him. Marc is going to get Cythor in all kinds of trouble.
Star Child the 13-year-old Nova went another route with someone he has a connection with. He decided Star Child is hot for teacher and has a child crush on Kitty Pryde. The Headmistress of the school. Obviously, I am going to make this as embarrassing for him as possible. However, he’s a headstrong cocky 13-year-old who probably can’t get embarrassed. So instead it will be no end of embarrassment for the rest of the team.
We discussed the mutants background and ran a quick session dealing with them cleaning up Central Park after The Improbables (the Worlds in Peril team) trashed the carousel. (in season 2 issue 3) They also rescued a poor mutant from some other mutant thugs. Some foreshadowing for later. It mainly served to get a feel for the rules and play with the difference in mechanics that Masks has from Worlds in Peril. Everyone had a good time. I forgot to do the End of Session stuff so we might have to get to that next session. But of course Issue 1 of… The X-perimentals (tentative title) is going to start in Medias Res. I’ll talk more about my session prep for that after we play.
(thank you Marvel Wiki)