In a rare coinsurance I got a chance to play with peeps that I never play with (see above). I also got to play a game I’ve never played before: Mask. Pretty darn cool!
Crash, the delinquent. The son of Korean immigrants, Sam was relegated to working in his families supermarket, making deliveries, and secretly selling weed that his grandmother grew in the green house on the roof of their building. That was until his powers revealed themselves and he realized he had the ability to control emotions (or rather have others experience what he was feeling) and negate the powers of other supers!
Timber, previously knowing as Stumper, sometimes called Stumpy, was the child protege of Answer Man, the hero with all the Answers. Answer man’s nemesis The Question laid a trap with AM survived but a family was caught in. The parents died but the young boy was alive, if barely. Quickly AM took him to his home (read: lab) and restored him to health (read: experimented on him) by injecting tree DNA that not only restored his health but also granted him a superhuman physique and from Answer Man he learned amazing detective skills. Timothy Burrows became the Stumper! And then retired the sidekick name and became Timber!
Flip!, one of the few members of the Ströng family to not have superpowers, was nevertheless raised in the Ströng family circus. While she could not juggle cars or eat lava, she did learn amazing acrobatic skills and felt loved by her family. They always knew however, that she couldn’t be part of the act. Powers were required. So she was sent out west to Halcyon City to live with her aunt, whose husband (a Ströng) had died fighting off a terrible attack years ago. Jenni Ströng still proudly wears her families branding, so much so that she could be a nascar racer, but lives with her aunt in Little Korea, by the ocean-side.
La Diabla Furiosa is the first and only female Luchadora… except none of her family will accept that. Her father, The Grappler, expressly forbade her from fighting, but during her quinceanera, she put on the mask of her grandfather, El Diablo, and unlocked her amazing powers of athletic perfection, Holmsian deduction, and gadgetry. Now she must sneak out of the house, under the pretense of doing after school activities (like parkour club with Flip!), to patrol the streets of Little Korea and, with her friends, protect it from villains like the Lucky Dragon!
Our First Encounter
We were all nearby when the Lucky Dragon and his 100 Fangs gang made a move on Sam’s families grocery story. Sam’s parents had received several offers to buy the stores and after turning them all down… well the forces that be took a more direct approach at getting them out. Thankfully Clash was working behind the register, Flip! was there eating a sandwich, Timber was just catching a bus nearby, and La Diabla was shopping for groceries for the family.
Seeing that the Lucky Dragon had powers of incredible luck and fire control, each of them decided they had to do something, and together they fought off Lucky Dragon and his gang! After that the four, who already knew each other, but not one another’s secret identities formed team!
The Play is the Thing
After all character creation (and background) was done, we got to cleaing up the streets, mainly by stopping Feather, Johnny Go, Puppet, and Bee Girl from getting away with robbing a bank!
It took us several tries to stop them (the first one we all failed abysmally) but with teamwork, faith in each other, and a little not exactly approved help from Answer Man (in the form of his Answer Mobile) we recovered the money, captured Johnny Go and Feather, and got a pretty darn good lead on Puppet…one that was because he made off with the Answer Mobile! (a great cliffhanger for the next episode should we ever get a chance!)
There are some things about the system that I just adore. Masks took the idea of strings (which is called Influence) and did some just awesome things with it, specifically providing the ability to change our own character and others. Instead of having a fixed set of stats, each character starts with a value between -2 and +3 in Freak, Danger, Savior, Superior, and Mundane. Each of these attributes show how the hero thinks of themselves and how they are observed by others! So when Flip’s aunt wanted to convince her that superhero work was too dangerous, she lowered Flip’s danger and increased he mundane. Hah, weren’t having any of that!
The XP (Potential in Masks) triggers are great. You learn from your failures (rolls of 6-, just like in Dungeon World) but there are also a ton of other opportunities to gain potential but often with strings attached. And those strings are usually in the form of revealing something about yourself.
The team pool mechanics. So good. I want to steal these for every “team” game I play!
The conditions (angry, guilty, etc) really drove play. We got in so much trouble because Timber was insecure!
Just because of the roll of the dice (in the first scene they were just awful) our group did that thing where we get our asses royally handed to use, but then look at why we lost, work together, and come back stronger. Well, mostly. One of us (ahem, Timber) went ahead to prove themselves and made us all rush to catch up, but it worked out in the end!
Oh the puns. So many tree puns. If you can imagine them, we made them. The best (and only I’ll make you endure) was when we were all taking about our swimsuits. Of course Timber was wearing trunks!
There was a moment when we had this chance to run from the cops or tell them what we did. Each of us chose a different path and they were all interesting. I was afraid that telling the truth to the cops would be game over, but Carl was having none of that. He made every choice awesome.
It was really fun playing with these guys. Carl and I talk often but haven’t played together in ages. Ruggiero and I haven’t played together in 4Evar (2010), Hanrahan had once been a guest star as Johnny Marcone in Lockdown (also 2010), and this was a first for me playing with Fred. Yay, good times.
What could be improved
We spent about two hours during character creation. It was really rewarding and planted a lot of seeds for our character’s fraught relationships with our parents (adoptive or natural) but because the one shot format was “deal with one big problem” we didn’t get a chance to dig into a lot of those. We did see Flip! and her aunt which was cool, but I also wanted to see what Sam’s parents say when he comes home, or what The Grappler says when he see’s La Diabla Furiosa’s face in the newspaper!
I kept the character sheets…maybe if the stars align we’ll play again!