The Kids Are Alright
I had never run Masks before, and I was a little concerned. I wasn’t so much worried about the tropes. I’ve spent years and years preparing myself for running various aspects of supers games just by virtue of owning an insane number of comics in my life. I did, however, read over the sections of the game that detailed the differences between Masks and other Powered by the Apocalypse games, and solicited some advice on the Google+ community for the game. By the way, that advice was great. All of it was solid, and it kind of echoed in my brain as I was running the game.
I still made mistakes, but hey, I’m not a metahuman.
The scenario was that the kids were going to run into one of Halcyon City’s greatest paragons, and its best known vigilante, and they were going to be at odds. Additionally, one of the city’s golden age villain got a distinctly Iron Age makeover, and a mysterious younger version of the paragon shows up and convinces them to cross over to another world where a movie producer has the inadvertent super power to alter other realities about which he is making movies, causing that reality to get darker and grimmer.
I have no idea where I come up with this stuff.
The opening questions gave us a great backstory for the group, dealing with a prom gone wrong, family members of the party speedster getting trapped in stasis while trapping supervillains, dates sacrificing themselves to trap a horde of drug induced zombies, and a Mayor MJ Green, who is a member of the Society of Evil Mayors, a group testing illegal drugs in their respective cities, to promote mind control.
The city’s vigilante showed up to stop the group from taking on the Lion Tamer, a golden age villain that used to use cats to commit crimes, and was now using cybernetically enhanced hunting cats to murder criminals. The team went in anyway, and one member of the team swapped bodies with the Lion Tamer. This led to a really interesting discussion of how their powers worked, as they stole other people’s bodies.
The alternate universe teen hero showed up to recruit them to “talk to” the director from his world, and revealed that he knows what happens in the team’s world because of his world’s comic books. At this point, they go to his adult counterpart’s fortress to find a device to allow them to travel to the young hero’s world, and the session rapidly became about trying not to die while the fortress’ defenses and even its normal computers tried to kill them. There were a lot of 6- rolls. It was great.
In the end, the team found out the super teen wanted to kill the director to stop him from ruining his comics, they turned on the super teen, and the Beacon, who managed to gain influence on him earlier in the session, traded it in to inflict the final Guilty complication on him, allowing them to turn him over to the Celestial Accountant to serve as his intern until he could learn responsibility.
There was a lot of talk about how much of their futures were predetermined if people from other worlds could influence how reality worked, and they also looked at various comics to learn their futures, and some of them were kind of devastated by what they found it.
Conditions were flying the whole session, and it worked a lot more intuitively than I thought it would. I think I may have forgotten a few villain moves when they took conditions, but I really liked that I could lop off one of the final villain’s conditions to keep the game running on time in the slot without changing the feel of the game too much.
I did have the same awkward player that I had in the previous session in this session, and we had a little bit of the spotlight sharing issue again, but not enough to ruin the session. I also got some feedback from one of the players that they didn’t fully understand the point of having influence on other players, as opposed to NPCs, so I made a mental note that I need to do a better job explaining inter-party dynamics and how influence could work there. The Team Pool worked great, however. Overall, it went really well for never having run the game before.
Into the Dungeon
In the afternoon, I had the only player session I signed up for, a Dungeon World game. I played the Barbarian, and we also had an Immolator, a Thief, a Pirate, a Witch, and a Paladin. Of special note is the witch, being a collection of cats that were once familiars, wearing head to toe robes and acting like a human.
We built the setting on the fly, and we ended up with a crumbling city on the edge of collapse, built on the ruins of previous cities. The mayor forced everyone to pay homage to the Rat God once per week, and he obsessed over gods and switched often. The Rat God gained popularity in the city because our thief and the pirate had started a con that created a Reformed Ratist movement in the city.
We may have run into Cat God Cultists in the undercity and sent them to kill the mayor. Our main mission, however, was to find out what was going on in a sealed clock tower that was mysteriously counting down to midnight, not due to the actual hour, but slowly, over the course of days, after not having worked for decades.
We eventually found out that a Chronomancer was trapped in this time, trying to get back to his own time, and that the time machine would send him home to die, but would destroy the city. We agreed to help him view his time once more, but not actually travel back there, if he would have his other past selves shut off the machine. Then my barbarian was to kill him peacefully. My barbarian ended up ruining the moment, and I crushed him in my arms, with his dying words being “you’re ruining it!”
It was a lot of fun. Lots of kudos to the other players and our GM for making it as much fun as it was.
A Gratifying Lunch
I went to lunch with the friend I caught up with the first day, and we talked about how his AL games were going. It was a nice lunch, and on the way back into the convention center, I got to hear some gamers discussing my games, and in glowing terms. They had no idea I was walking in behind them, so it was a pleasant surprise.
I have a weakness for Monster of the Week, so the Saturday night session was another MOTW session. This time the group was going to be investigating a children’s restaurant with animatronic performers that had been the site of cult murders several years before. Karl Kraken’s Khildren’s Korner. The main performer was a humanoid, tentacle creature the popped up out of the water while little boats floated into his legs.
Texas, Agent Johnson, and our Monstrous, a were horse that used to be a rodeo clown, were recurring characters, with three new characters. Our Expert stayed at her place researching the place and calling the team Felicity style for the first few scenes, then had to contend with murder deer when she tried to drive to the place.
The Monstrous posed as a fire inspector, and the Professional was posing as a health inspector, so the group could enter the premises, and Texas and his mysterious older woman, the Initiate, entered the place as customers. The Spooky rode there on her bicycle, and eventually used her psychic abilities to talk to the animatronic of Karl Kraken.
Eventually the team found out that an evil software company had sold a program to run animatronics, and somehow this tied into a cult that was sending bees to another planet, causing them to become crystalline entities that could interface with machines. Also, for some reason, when the group first found the crystals, the Initiate and Texas both decided to taste them, which let me use a custom move that let them decide if they wanted to die at the end of the session, break off the affected limb (in this case their tongue), or pay me three hold to have their character do something that the crystalline entity wanted done.
The initiate ended up clubbing the store owner over the head, while the Expert made various sonic cannons that could affect the crystal entities. The group blew up a bunch of crystal bees, including their giant queen, and then used the sonic resonance to close the portal to the other world.
The initiate ended up with a crystal embedded in her forehead, and she had used all three Luck I gave them for the session. The Expert wanted to use the sonic cannon to remove the crystal by “fine tuning” her shot. Unfortunately, wiser heads prevailed and they just pulled the crystal out with tweezers.
The Initiate, by the way, had insane dice rolls after she ran out of Luck. I even had her defy danger to avoid burning her tongue on hot pizza and she got a 10+
This was my first session in the breakfast nook. It was cramped, but thankfully the other two games that were scheduled only had about four people each, so we had enough tables and chairs for our six players. It was also late enough at night that we didn’t have too many regular guests looking at us strangely as we were playing.