Quick refresher: we’ve got Frank Patten, the Inhuman, a nano-augmented cyborg who is dealing with the trauma of the incident that killed his parents by trying his hand at superheroing; Bash, the Bull, a girl who got her super strength and toughness when her country was utterly destroyed, and who’s been living with the Gentleman and training ever since; Psycho Frog, the Delinquent, a fame-hungry younger kid who uses his illusion and teleportation powers for all manner of antics, and is often as much trouble as he is help; and Chance, the Prince, child of Sovereign and shapeshifter extraordinaire, not with us because he was probably doing some major press function.
Our Paragons are: Sovereign, the premiere hero if the city and former horrible supervillain (that no one knows about); The August, former premiere hero of the city and leader of the Exemplars until his mistake cost his teammates their lives; The Gentleman, former B-level hero who gave it all up due to the trauma of failing and watching a country getting blown up, and who now takes it upon himself to teach the next generation; and Captain Ivy Libra, leader of a privatized anti-metahuman task force called the MeDICs, and true believer in the necessity for government oversight of metahumans.
First, we introduced our new Mask — Fyrefly, the Unmarked. Fyrefly, real name Mai McGowan, is a girl who’d been receiving athletic training for most of her life, which she realized might’ve been preparation for entering into the family business…once she found out about the family business. Turns out her parents were heroes in the Exemplars, the premiere super team that was massacred when the August, its leader, put another hero in charge of a mission that he thought was going to be routine nonsense. Instead, it involved the release of a Doomsday style creature, and the team was killed, including Fyrefly’s mom. Her dad wasn’t there for the incident, but he hasn’t been himself since, and has taken up vigilante style activities, while Fyrefly herself has been covertly putting on the mask and costume to go out and try her hand at the very thing that claimed her mother’s life. Fyrefly is sensible and realistic, aware of her limits, and thinks before she leaps. Which would be great if anybody else did.
The team of young heroes convened at the Manor, the Gentleman’s school in the abandoned police precinct building. Two of them, Psycho Frog and Bash, were already there, as those two don’t go to school. Frog was cleaning the floors with a mop, courtesy of the Gentleman’s punishment system, and Bash was glaring at him. Just as Fyrefly and Frank were getting there, Frog was using his powers to dump his bucket of dirty, soapy water over Bash’s head, and then teleport back into place, innocently mopping the floor (with an empty bucket). Bash shrieked at the water, and then threw her chair at Frog, who went sprawling. The Gentleman came in and yelled at the teens for being, well, teens, and reprimanded Frog with a full week’s worth of floor duty.
The Gentleman took the group to an old office in the building, and using a blackboard, told them all about a gang he’d been monitoring in the area, personally. He said they showed some small metahuman abilities, but nothing too significant, so the team should be able to take them down. He’d tracked a few burglaries and robberies back to them, and he knew where the gang was to be located. Frank tapped into the Internet and tried to track down any information himself, and found very little in the news; when he brought this up to the Gentleman, the older hero told Frank that the Internet would never match up to good old hard work, being out on the streets with your own two feet. Frank’s skepticism was audible.
The Gentleman gave the team an emergency ring, to be pressed if they encountered more resistance than expected, really at the first instant things started going wrong. He said that their leader should wear it, and left them to decide among themselves who that would be. There was a fair amount of back and forth — “I will not follow Frog.” “Awww.” “Well, I don’t want to be the leader, and I totally won’t follow Frog either.” “Awwww.” — until Bash took the ring. As they continued to debate what to do, Frog left on his own, pretty much requiring the rest to go after him.
As the four worked their way toward tenement building that the Gentleman had pointed them to, they continued to wonder what their plan should be. They hadn’t actually seen the gang do anything wrong, and didn’t have any evidence of any break-ins, so they felt weird about just going in and beating the crap out of the gang members — “That’s what supervillains do.” So they decided to try to stake the place out and find some evidence, first. Fyrefly climbed a fire escape to get up to the roof of a nearby building, where she found Frog already waiting and watching, bored out of his skull. Bash and Frank were moving in closer to the building’s entrance, while Frank was looking through the crime reports for the area, trying to find some useful pattern that could give him some insight into their activities. So entranced was he by his work, he didn’t notice when he walked straight into somebody coming out of the tenement building, and they went down in a heap.
After getting yelled at a bunch by the fellow he bumped into, Frank identified the man as one of the people from the photos of the gang that the Gentleman had shown them. The guy had a noticeable rose tattoo on his shoulder. He began to threaten Frank, seeing the younger man as an easy mark, and demanding whatever money Frank had on him. Frank’s response was to grow a knife made of bone out of his palm, and then, when that didn’t quite get the rose-man to totally back off, growing an entire massive suit of bone armor over himself (supplemented by still more illusory armor from Frog).
The rose-man started to back off, when Frog teleported behind him and set up a classic “You push him and he’ll trip over me” maneuver, one of Frog’s favorites. Of course, that was when Bash came out from around the corner, yelling, “What the hell are you guys doing?” The plural “guys” alerted the rose-man, and he spun and noticed Frog there, at which point he started to back away from all of them, saying he wanted no trouble. Frog then teleported behind rose-man, now in full Frog gear (so that his illusions made him look like a freaky multi-colored man-sized frog) and put his arm around the rose-man, only to have the rose-man grow thorns out of his fist and send that fist right at Frog’s face. Frog teleported rose-man 10 or 12 feet above the ground then, hoping to drop him onto the street below, but the thorny fist connected with Frog before he could let go, and the disconcerted Frog’s next teleport sent both of them skidding across the asphalt, Frog with cuts and tears on his face from the thorns.
Before the rose-man could lay into Frog again, Bash threw herself in the way, taking the blow for Frog. The rose-man’s thorns couldn’t pierce Bash’s skin, so he stepped off and grew an enormous thorn from his foot, preparing to kick Bash right in her side. Before he could do that, Frank charged forward, wielding twin bone knives just like he’d seen in the videos, just like the Gentleman had shown him in practice exercises. Frank then discovered that practice and real-life are pretty different when the rose-man dodged each slash of the knives, until he spun out of the way and Frank accidentally stabbed Bash with enough force to pierce her skin.
The rose-man took the confusion as an opportunity to run back into the building, screaming for his fellows. Fyrefly, up on the roof top, shook her head in disbelief at her teammates’ actions and seeming incompetence. Bash growled at Frank, and for a moment he backed off, dropping his knives, but then he resolved to prove himself competent and capable of fighting. Without further thought, Frank dashed after the rose-man, into the building. After they picked themselves up, Bash and Frog went in after Frank, while Fyrefly flipped over to the roof of the building and came in from the top.
Frank found himself chasing rose-man into the tenement building’s basement, and there found the rest of the people from the photos, gathered around a bunch of crates. One of them stepped forward at Frank’s appearance, and after informing Frank that he had made a bad mistake, he began to rub his hands together. Pressure waves built up around Frank, and even as Frank tried to overload their phones, the pressure built up until he couldn’t concentrate and his bone armor shattered, followed by the electronics and nanotechnology that kept him together getting ripped apart.
His teammates assembled at the top of the stairs, they moved into action to save Frank. Fyrefly tossed flashbangs down into the basement, while Frog took advantage of the gang’s surprise and confusion to teleport among them and use illusions to make it look like there were tons of him, while smacking them all around a bit. He left them afraid and confused, thinking they were under attack by a hoard. Bash then dropped down the stairs and slammed the ground, producing a shockwave to knock all the gang members off their feet. It worked! Except it also knocked down Frog, and sent cracks running up the sides of the basement, in the foundations of the building, making it all start creaking ominously. Fyrefly scrambled to drag Frank out of the basement, but not before she triggered pyrotechnics in her mask and gloves and put on a show, terrifying the gang into leaving. Of course, the fireworks were a little too hot, and she had to tear off her mask before it burned her, letting the pressure-wave-guy catch a glimpse of her face before he left the basement.
Bash leaped to the weakest corner of the basement. She triggered the emergency ring to call the Gentleman, and then she positioned herself to hold the building up. Despite the enormous strain, she was able to do it, preventing any major collapse while she was there. Fyrefly got Frank out of the building while Frog teleported all the crates out of the basement. And then, Sovereign showed up outside in a massive beam of golden light. She extended golden energy tendrils, wrapping them around the building and holding it up with the force of her will. Bash got out of there once the weight was off her shoulders, and the four young Masks watched in rapt wonder as Sovereign held the building up for as long as it took to get everyone out, only letting it slump to the side once everyone was safe.
Before the media members who were already there could notice the four oddly dressed teens on the edges of the crowd, the Gentleman appeared behind them, and insisted they all head back to the Manor. Reluctantly, the team agreed, and went home to lick their wounds.
Thoughts: IT WAS GREAT! I had a really good time! I feel like I’m solidifying in my head, at least, that these Masks games should open up with a big action sequence of some kind, some kind of super-level altercation. I’m not 100% sold on it, but I think it’s good to introduce the Masks in action, and to see them interact on the job. And any job will give them plenty of fodder to angst over shortly afterward, which is why it’s a good start. So I was pretty happy with how this one worked out.
There are definitely some moves that need some work — I think I’m going to tweak the move that lets you Label someone to make it about whether or not your new Label hurts them or helps them (and that’s a totally subjective judgment, so if you call me a Danger, I could like that, and then it “helps” me, even though objectively you might’ve just made me a bit scarier).
I also need to take a good hard look at one corner of the game — Radical. Radical, as a Label, is supposed to cover acting for a cause, trying to fix the world instead of just protect it. At its highest levels, Radical is Magneto’s Label. Its move is designed to let you call people to your cause, get them to help you out — a bit like a targeted manipulate move. Except no one is using it, partially because I don’t think the trigger occurs as naturally. I need to take a good look at it to see if it even makes sense to keep.
All that said, though, it was a good fun session, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from these teens! Especially when Chance shows back up and says, “Wow, you guys did so bad my mom had to bail you out? Jeez.”