Here is a strange question, and I don’t think I have the gotten quite the right wording yet.

Here is a strange question, and I don’t think I have the gotten quite the right wording yet.

Here is a strange question, and I don’t think I have the gotten quite the right wording yet.

Let’s say I wanted to run a Paragon game using most of the Masks rules. IMHO, the influence rules are the big thing that no longer really “fits,” since Paragons are much more sure of who they are (for better or worse) than young heroes.

My question is what would you replace the influence rules with, and why?

16 thoughts on “Here is a strange question, and I don’t think I have the gotten quite the right wording yet.”

  1. So, first off, I’m not sure what you mean by a Paragon game. Could you explain a bit more on that?

    Second, replacing the Influence rules isn’t going to be a simple thing – it’s one of the core concepts laced all through the rest of Masks. That questioning of identity that comes with adolescence is baked in pretty deep.

    This is not to say that you shouldn’t try and write a superhero game building off of the excellent work here, just consider that it’s going to be different enough to be it’s own game.

  2. Yeah, honestly, I don’t think using masks for this is a good idea. Not only influence, but shifting labels are out of place in a more “solidified” hero game, and without those, what’s the point?

  3. I guess my question would be, What aspects of Masks makes you want to use the system in the first place? Because I’d have to agree with the above comments that Influence and shifting Labels is literally what the game is about.

  4. The only way this would work is if the world would not permit the characters to be who they were. I think you could make it work with the X-Men, where you shifted their labels to reflect what the political and religious authorities were saying they were. Even then it would be rough because there certainly were X-Men (Emma Frost) where this didn’t hit that hard.

  5. Yeah… I really need to wait until I have a coherent point before I write a post.

    Ok, let’s see if I can explain myself.

    I think many of us would agree there’s some really nice ways about how Masks handles supers. The playbooks, the forms of advancement, the ways powers work through both the moves and the playbooks, the focus on relationships, etc.

    I prefer the approach to mechanics in Masks more than Worlds in Peril, which is the only other PbtA supers game I’m aware of. Please note I’m not throwing WiP under the bus; it simply has a very different approach to rules than Masks.

    Now, at the same time, Masks is very much focused on young heroes, be it Young Justice, Batman Beyond, etc. It seems to me that the biggest way this is embodies in the rules of Masks is the influence mechanics: adults and peers have a lot of power to change how a PC sees themselves. Also, the idea that a PC can advance their way out of the game and “grow up” helps reinforce this feel, also.

    So, this makes me wonder: what would a Supers-RPG with a family resemblance to Masks look like? Since “adult” supers in Masks are called paragons, the question becomes what would a paragon RPG that mostly looks like Masks mechanically, look like? Given that I think the mechanics that most reinforce the idea of “young” heroes are influence and (to a lesser degree) character development, those would be the rules that would be the most necessary to change.

    But yes, I’m aware of the fact that I’m basically wondering out loud about what would happen if you ripped out, like, half the rules in Masks and replaced them with rules that are to-be-determined.

    Anyhow, that’s my explanation of myself. I have no idea if that makes sense outside of my head, but I hope it does.

  6. Masks is good for Young Justice — but it’s also spot on perfect for Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl. They’re all in their 20s at the start of “play,” and by now Oliver is in his 30s and the most veteran hero of the DCTV universe. CW superhero shows are built on legitimate superheroes who are susceptible to what their peers, friends, loved ones, and community think about them.

    Honestly, you can straight up run a game about established superheroes with Masks, as long as you go into it knowing it’s going to be a melodrama where adults question themselves, doubt themselves, bicker and quarrel about what’s right, and have messy relationships. I mean, that sounds like a lot of established adults I know. Established supers are more sure of themselves, yeah, but that doesn’t mean they’re right which sounds exactly like teen heroes.

    I say just cut out the playbooks that don’t make sense — like the Protege, for example — and play Masks. Rather than “all adults” getting Influence, maybe make it “all authority figures” or “all loved ones” or “all nemeses” or whatever. Rewrite some principles for your game to better emphasize adults whose support networks all want a say in how and why they do heroics.

  7. I would keep the Influence rules, but…

    Instead of the usual influence give-outs during CC, I’d rule that all the PCs do not start with influence over anyone other PC (i.e. don’t give out influence). And of, course, there would be no one who automatically has Influence over you (i.e. no ‘adults’). You do this for a living, and you’ve fought some of the greatest threats the galaxy has to offer. Who cares what a politician or some random guy on the street thinks? They don’t know what it’s like. And even if the random guy is another super from a different team, why should you trust or listen to them? YOU know what’s best, YOU trust only your own judgement.

    See, unlike normal Masks where a teen looks up to all the adults and such for acceptance, while also seeing them as occasionally being short sighted… Being a Paragon would be totally opposite, with the PCs looking down on everyone else, and likewise seeing everyone other than themselves as being short sighted (i.e. YOU are the authority, no one else). The DCAU Justice League Unlimited cartoon is full of examples of this~~

    Citizens: Ah, yes. Hello? Justice League? We’d really like it you didn’t have a giant death laser pointing down at us from space.

    Justice League: Well, too bad, it’s there to protect you.

    Phone: rings

    Justice League: answers Yes?

    Phone: This is the US Government. Please remove your space laser.

    Justice League: We don’t answer to you, sorry. click

    You could also add some restrictions on getting/giving out influence (as per the rules, you can give influence away at any time, and there are several moves that grant/give it), so it’s hard for the Paragons to even trust their teammates. Perhaps even to the point of potentially rewarding not being influenced by anyone.

    Now there are some problems with playing as a Paragon that aren’t related to Influence. For example, in Masks, you slowly reach ‘adulthood’ (retire/paragon) over time, becoming more powerful and so on no matter what you do; you could even call this the ‘goal’ of the game. How would this change in ‘Paragons’? What would the characters be moving towards and why would it be attractive?

  8. Springboarding off Alfred Rudzki’s excellent point:

    * Each playbook could have a set of characters or types of people who always start with influence over the PC. For the Transformed, it could be “attractive people” – people who represent the human beauty ideal that the Transformed is forever barred from. For the Delinquent, it could be “uniformed authority” – even if they’re rebelling against authority, they’re defining themselves in opposition to it.

    (It doesn’t have to be one category per playbook if you find that too limiting. Maybe give each playbook a list of influencers and have the player pick one)

    * When the PCs meet a new named NPC, have them roll a die. 1-3, the NPC has influence over them; 4-6, they don’t. Leave it to the players to figure it out.

    “Why would Tusk have influence over the Blue Bomber? … uh, maybe he put my father, the last Blue Bomber, in traction in a fight ten years ago? Yeah. And I’ve heard stories about him, and I’ve been afraid of running into him.”

  9. Thanks for the replies!

    I haven’t gotten around to reading City of Mists, and its been a longtime since I only skimmed monsterhearts, so maybe I should change that.

    And to be clear, I wasn’t suggesting labels were completely stripped away, just that the current Masks rules for influence encourage a certain kind of melodramatic and “young” play. And to be clear, that’s a good thing, since the game is achieving the goals it sets out for itself.

    I don’t really have answers, either. I was just wondering out loud what other types of supers games could be powered using Masks, and what if any rules adjustments would be warranted.

  10. I’m working through a hack for our group to combine Masks with City of Mists roll+tag approach and some Fate-esque stunts & hero points that will either work as an auto success of work like advantage dice (haven’t decided yet which).

    I like how City of Mists uses Statuses as modifiers but I am less keen on using those in place of health/harm. I haven’t found a way to do harm that i am completely satisfied with.

    I plan to use the labels and conditions from Masks as statuses to give positive / negative modifiers when they come up. It’s great flavor and everyone has buy in from our Masks play that these emotional aspects are just as debilitating as a bleeding wound or concussion.

Comments are closed.