• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

Planning to start a game of Masks - what pitfalls to watch out for?

DariusSolluman

Active member
Validated User
My group's current game just fell off owing to GM burnout, and I've offered to run Masks for a bit. The group's knowledge of supers ranges from 'Enjoys the Marvel movies' to 'Seriously dedicated comics nerds', with about half being used to crunchy system and the other half used to lighter stuff.

What pitfalls and potential errors should a new Masks GM be on the lookout for?
 

DannyK

One Shot Man
Validated User
Don't use enemies that don't talk -- even if they're robots, they need to interact with the characters, if only through speakers carrying the taunts of their owner. If the enemies aren't able to adjust Labels and trigger Moves, then about half of the encounter system doesn't work and combat becomes a slog.

Also, and I didn't figure this out for a while, copy over the suggested GM moves for each playbook that's active into a reference list for you as GM. Then when you're trying to brainstorm something cool, you can look at the list, see that the Bull, say, hasn't gotten much spotlight time lately, and pick one of the Bull GM moves.
 

Skywalker

Back Off the Buddha!
Validated User
Masks kind of runs itself IME. It rewards those those who lean on the system hard.

Be careful in introducing too many of the new playbooks as they tend to shape the narrative in significant ways.
 

Tarion

Registered User
Validated User
Masks kind of runs itself IME. It rewards those those who lean on the system hard.

Be careful in introducing too many of the new playbooks as they tend to shape the narrative in significant ways.
Agreed with both.

My Masks games have been the best games I've ever ran. They just work. That said, every non-Core playbook we've used has shaped the game significantly. Unlike the other playbooks where it's really down to the player, the entire group needs to be invested in most of the others (If the group is looking for a notSHIELD game, the Soldier is a terrible fit, for example).
 

Aviatrix

Registered User
Validated User
The primary conflicts are should come from the PCs themselves--Masks hums along when you remember it's really about fractious teenagers trying to define themselves, discover who they are, and lash out a lot. You can definitely have the villains out there doing stuff but what will make things interesting is the pressure they bear on the team and the heroes in the team.

Watch like a hawk for Influence moves. Especially when an adult is talking, you can call out a stats change almost all the time. The sliding stats is one of Masks' smartest concepts but you need to actually push on it to really get its benefits.

Maybe assure folks that all the playbooks can be roughly equally competent. In my group I play the Janus and I'm the hard hitter despite having a power set that is basically "improved senses"--which I include "sense of balance" and "impossible movement" which I described as basically super-parkour. But I'm good at pumping my Danger up whenever I need to.
 

Civil Savage

Proud Lifetime Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
In my online game the biggest problem I've had is forgetting to track Team. In F2F, you can just use some physical representation, but it's important.

Remember that every adult has Influence over the PCs by default, so shift those labels. That doesn't need to be malicious or aggressive--there are all kinds of ways adults can tell a young person who they are or should be.

But yeah, it's so elegantly designed, it's not a lot of work, especially once the players get how their moves interact.
 

Sangrolu

Social Justice Ninja
Validated User
My current Masks game is probably the best game I've run in a while. It is a very accommodating system. For the most part I run it as is.

A few notes and things i do:

Don't stress too much about arcs. It's an okay technique to start brainstorming, but once you have your vision of what the heroes will face, don't worry about filling in the blanks.

Never throw anything away. Recycle NPCs and other plot points to give players a history.

I make sure that I have NPCs each session filling 6 roles:
1) new
2) recurring
3) backstory
4) city figure
5) organization (school, team, etc.)
6) usable as hooks
Most NPCs will fill multiple roles, but I try to plan all roles to be filled.

The moves are flexible but don't cover everything. Try your hand at custom moves as soon as you realize you need them.
 

Nate_MI

Hail Tzeentch!
Validated User
Because the Beacon doesn't have "obvious" superpowers, it can be easy for them to feel underpowered when compared to the rest of the crew. Make sure to emphasis that nothing in the Moves list requires you to have powers (the Beacon is exactly as good at hurting someone as the Bull or the Nova, if their labels are in the same position) and that they have a whole list of story beats to lean into. A Beacon who is leaning into their checklist can level up every session.
 

@robowieland

Follow me on Twitter!
Validated User
We had the same mix of players in our Theatre of the Mind Players run.

My takeaways:

The game sings the most when you've got players coming at each other while there's some external pressure on everyone. When looking for moves to pull, look for ones that will flare up conflicts between characters.

It's okay to clear conditions off-screen. Just make sure you deal with the consequences of it on-screen.

Don't be afraid to end fights early. Just because a villain can take three conditions doesn't mean they have to.

Make sure to alternate big superhero stuff with teen drama stuff.
 

MonoRed

Registered User
Validated User
Because the Beacon doesn't have "obvious" superpowers, it can be easy for them to feel underpowered when compared to the rest of the crew. Make sure to emphasis that nothing in the Moves list requires you to have powers (the Beacon is exactly as good at hurting someone as the Bull or the Nova, if their labels are in the same position) and that they have a whole list of story beats to lean into. A Beacon who is leaning into their checklist can level up every session.
To expand on this: the actual superpowers really don't matter, like, at all. They're pretty much purely fluff, they can do whatever they need to do and work however they need to work to support the moves. It can be tricky to get your head around that as a player (it was for me), the idea that the nature of your superpowers is totally unimportant in a superhero game, but once you internalize it, it works like a dream, giving you infinite freedom to weave all kinds of awesome superhuman stunts into your fiction while the moves do the work that's really important, figuring out how all the action affects the characters as teenagers finding themselves.
 
Top Bottom