Join us for a look at the game Roxy and I created when we research RPGs for our show Tome Travelers!
We as gamers and geeks can be a fickle bunch--as months role by our passions change and jump from product to product. These new products distract us from what is lacking in the big RPGs out there--stories outside the realm of fantasy. So, there are always tons of new releases, several new startup companies that come and go bringing with them wonderful indie RPGs, but can they stand the test of time for our table?
Hence, we return to Masks: A New Generation.
If you had to quiz me as to what genre of gaming I feel most comfortable in--strangely I would have to say Modern Superheroes. Some people would call it a "wheelhouse" as if it were a special skill--but for me it certainly isn't something I've toiled over. I attribute it to two things, instead. First, that one of the first systems I ever played was Palladium's Ninja's and Superspies and we moved into using their Heroes Unlimited system to round out the characters more. Then there's the years I dedicated to collecting tons of comic books--superheroes shaped my childhood and developed my further fictional enjoyments... and judging by the current movie climate, I'm not alone.
A highlight of my time as a Superhero DM is when one of my games was made into a comic for the Complex Actions webseries and later a t-shirt design (ROBOZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!):
What is Masks: A New Generation?
Masks as it is known is most RPG circles is a Superhero-style game ran using the Powered By The Apocalypse system--a "less-math-more-dynamic" form of a system that utilizes Playbooks rather than classic character sheets. These playbooks run a huge gambit of typecast superheroes from Delinquent to Legacy. What the game seems to lack in customization it makes up for in a dynamic storytelling style and universe.
The basic locale of Masks is a city, known as Halcyon, where the players are the newest generation of heroes on the scene. As far as overall story goes it is very reminiscent of Teen Titans, Generation X, Young Justice, Young Avengers, the Runaways, and other coming-of-age superhero tales. However, this game takes it a step further introducing multiple generations of superheroes that have come and gone. When you introduce this dynamic you begin to enter the universe of Powers or even The Watchmen--after all, the DC Universe and Marvel Universe has yet to see a permanent retirement of a Golden Age superhero such as Superman, Ironman, Aquaman, Captain America, or Batman. So without a doubt there is a maturity to this universe that was very inviting....
I was blown away by just how fun the Kickstarter was for Masks: A New Generation. The first thing that caught my eye was the artwork--it was fun and fresh and captured the spirit of the genre in a new and inviting way. There were social media goals and victories that opened up the game further that didn't require money...and this was the first time I really felt that the RPG community truly hopped onboard of a game. While this game didn't meet the $1 Million success that 7th Seas had when it launched it's 2nd edition; it reached $100k with 2,000+ backers exceeding it's initial goal of $4,000 exponentially!
We here at Passionerdly.com proudly backed at a high level and now have this beautiful plaque hanging in our game room! The products are top-notch quality from the hardbound book, to the expansions for the game, and even the side products of decks for the game and matching dice!
What Makes a Good Superhero Game?
I have two rules for a superhero game to feel, well, super!
- The characters have to feel special.
- There needs to be a certain greater scope to challenges and rewards.
Does Masks manage to do this? Absolutely!
Each booklet takes the player into a mindset of a character who fits within the world of Masks--but these characters stand apart. At your table you will rarely find overlap of powers with your fellow characters--everyone is going to feel unique. Every character will have their own social and power dynamic that really allows everyone their turn in the spotlight!
This isn't a game where the mundane is a threat: there are no hit points. Your characters will grow and wane based on their actions, battling fear and failure more than a hail of bullets and your story will take shape around you. You may fear the social repercussions posed by teachers and bullies, but they aren't a serious threat to you. Instead, you'll face odds that seem insurmountable and villains whose powers cause you to falter, and yet these super teens can and will survive.
As your character gains experience new parts of your character's playbook becomes available. Sometimes you'll fail and fail miserably, but each step is a learning point towards remaking and developing which is so refreshing and fun in its difference from other roleplaying games.
...and here we are two years after the Kickstarter and we are still playing it! This is a wonderfully successful game and we wish Brendan Conway and the team at Magpie Games the absolute best!