Masks Playbooks

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Rather than building your character from scratch, in Masks you choose a playbook which you then heavily customize. The playbook is where you choose your powers, but that's secondary. The actual purpose of a playbook is deciding what you want your place to be on the team, emotionally and narratively. What story are you trying to tell? That's how you choose your playbook. You may keep this playbook for the entire game, but it's also entirely possible (likely, even) that at some point you will realize that your story has changed, and switch to a new one.

Any playbook with a * by it requires GM permission to take, for the reasons listed below it.

"Abilities" versus "Moves": In this system, "abilities" means superpowers, or the equivalent like special training, etc. "Moves" are the fundamental narrative actions of the game, what you actually roll dice to do. Abilities serve a descriptive (not mechanical) role in that they'll often determine what move(s) you can make and how you make them.

The Ascendant

Source: The Fan Favorite

You are a beneficiary of destiny and privilege - a polarizing character, who alternately inspires and alienates your teammates. Even the latter can be surprisingly helpful on a team; everyone needs someone to complain about. Discover whether you'll eventually learn to respect the value of others and recognize your own faults.

Examples: Sunspot (New Mutants), Empath (Hellions), Angel (X-Men, pre-Archangel)

Heads Up: This playbook is from a zine, which means its layout is a bit cramped and there's no player/GM advice for it.

The Beacon

Source: Masks

OMG being a superhero is awesome! You're definitely mortal and not nearly as "powered up" as the rest of your team, but you make up for it with training, tricks, and (most of all) enthusiasm. You'll always have a few Drives chosen, things that you want to accomplish to show that you really do fit into this life.

Examples: Kate Bishop (Hawkeye), Gert Yorkes (Runaways), Felicity Smoak (Arrow TV show), Stephanie Brown (Spoiler)

The Brain

Source: Secrets of AEGIS

Your mind is a one in 7,713,690,828 resource and you've always known it. But it took time for your maturity to catch up, and when you were younger, you invented something terrible. This is your Shame and it's something still making the world a bit worse and more dangerous. Now you try to walk the line between embracing your potential and reeling it in.

Examples: Amadeus Cho, Nadia Pym (Wasp), Braniac 5

The Bull

Source: Masks

It's easy to treat this as "the brick class," and yes, you're strong and tough, but that's not what the Bull is. You're honest and unsubtle; you wear your emotions on your sleeve (The Bull's Heart). There's always someone you care deeply for and want to protect, and someone you just can't deal with who drives you to frustration.

Examples: Superboy, America Chavez, Molly H. (Runaways), HazMat

The Delinquent

Source: Masks

You're the troublemaker. Let's be clear - you aren't a villain or even necessarily an anti-hero. You just like doing what you do without rules, without oversight, and without introspection because being alone with your thoughts can be unsettling so let's just move on. Be the Delinquent to balance heroism with causing problems.

Examples: Arsenal, Kid Loki (Young Avengers version), Quentin Quire, Striker (Avengers Academy)

The Doomed

Source: Masks

You are doomed. Maybe your powers are killing you, or maybe you're hunted by Hell's forces, or maybe it's just a matter of time until you become the thing that destroys the world. But you can fight against it . . . at least, in character. Out of character, learn to embrace your Doomsigns to gradually approach the brink, and then see if you can be saved.

Example: Raven (as if I needed to tell you that), Rachel Summers, Monster Girl (Invincible)

The Enduring

Source: The Fan Favorite

You were a potent young hero, but something happened that cost you your powers. Now you continue fighting without them, using other means to compensate - tech, special training, etc. You do this in part because you don't know who you are without this, and in part because secretly you'd rather die as a superhero than live as a "normal."

Examples: Prodigy (Young Avengers version), Tag (and most other Xavier Academy students after House of M)

Heads Up: This playbook is from a zine, which means its layout is a bit cramped and there's no player/GM advice for it.

The Harbinger

Source: Unbound

You're from a dark future, but you made it back here to stop it from ever happening. Now you just have to figure out what went wrong, Connecting the Dots to form a list of who matters and what their role in the apocalypse will be. Meanwhile, you carefully dole out bits of future knowledge, using your judgment to know when the time is right.

Examples: Iron Lad, Impulse, Booster Gold (if he were younger), Rachel Summers

* The Innocent

Source: H.C.H. Collection

This has nothing to do with being a doe-eyed innocent; see the Newborn for that. No, you're a (probably time-traveled) younger version of an existing super who happens to be far more villain than hero. You're innocent of their crimes, but people have a hard time not associating you two. You can't imagine how "you" ever turned into this; you'll track the path of Your Future Self and grow as a person while the game plays out.

Examples: Cyclops (All-New X-Men), Genesis (Wolverine and the X-Men), Jaime Reyes (Young Justice)

Requires GM Permission: This playbook requires some specific events and NPCs, which I need to make sure will be compatible with the playset we're using. Also, this overlaps heavily with the Scion so I typically allow one or the other.

The Janus

Source: Masks

Balancing your "normal" life - school or work, family, romance, etc. - with your superheroic life isn't easy. Any playbook might have a secret identity, but for the Janus the pull between the two lives is front-and-center. Your Secret Identity comes with a list of obligations (that you choose) but also ties you to the real world in a way that no other super has.

Examples: Jaime Reyes, Kamala Khan, Miles Morales, Batgirl

* The Joined

Source: H.C.H. Collection

You are inextricably and fundamentally linked to another hero on the team (a PC who has their own playbook, not this one). You look similar, have similar abilities, and it's hard to tell where one of you ends and the other begins. Because of that, this playbook varies significantly based on who you're joined to, and as the game goes on we will explore what makes you each different and unique.

Examples: The Wonder Twins, the Stepford Cuckoos, Cloak & Dagger (sort of)

Requires GM Permission: Whether this is available depends on several things. We need to have at least five players, the player you want to be linked to has to be enthusiastically behind the idea, and (because this is the most complicated playbook in the system) neither linked player should be completely new to the game.

The Legacy

Source: Masks

You're not just part of this team, you're part of a something bigger. Maybe you're the latest in a long line of heroes in your family. Maybe you just joined a corps or organization that's too broad to be a team of its own. Membership awards you a bit of respect from the public, and occasional help from other Legacy members, but also means everyone is waiting to see if you can live up to those ideals.

Examples: Kid Nova, Tim Drake (Robin), Kid Flash (Young Justice), Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern)

* The Newborn

Source: H.C.H. Collection

You were born yesterday, or close to it. A unique creation - robotic, biological, or something else - you haven't learned the life lessons we all take for granted, and will fill these in on your A Blank Slate list. More so than any other teen hero, you must be open to changing who you are, physically, mentally, and even morally.

Examples: Viv Vision, Victor Mancha (Runaways), X-23

Requires GM Permission: Ironically, this is less appropriate for newbies than experienced players. Talk to me first so we can discuss some of the roleplaying challenges here.

* The Nomad

Source: Unbound

You've spent most of your young life traveling through space/time/dimensions/something else, and while you've come home to the here-and-now, you aren't sure if you want to stay. You have one foot out the door, represented by how you uniquely handle Influence and your Putting Down Roots track. You're probably a bit of a thieving scamp but only because that's how you survived so long.

Examples: Blink (Exiles), Noh-Varr (Marvel Boy), America Chavez, Cammi Benally (from Drax the Destroyer)

Requires GM Permission: I need to make sure a character who might blow town at any moment will fit the playset we're using.

The Nova

Source: Masks

You are already powerful and you haven't even scratched your full potential, but this much might is hard to channel safely. One wrong move and people get hurt - it's happened before, and deep inside you know it's going to happen again. Use Burn to charge up your powers, at the cost of wearing yourself out and stretching yourself thin.

Examples: Wiccan, Miss Martian (Young Justice), Jean Grey, Nico Minoru (Runaways)

The Outsider

Source: Masks

You might be an alien, from a parallel world, from the future, from a digital realm, or something else, but somehow you made it here and absolutely fell in love with this world. Even if you wanted to fit in, you couldn't - and that's okay. You consider yourself a citizen of both worlds, keeping a connection to home while learning our ways here.

Examples: Starfire, Xavin (Runaways), Warlock (New Mutants), Miss Martian

The Protégé

Source: Masks

You've been doing this superhero thing a while, under the tutelage of your Mentor. Now that you're striking out on your own, that mentor has given you and the team some resources . . . and is watching you closely. You care deeply about your relationship with them, but also need to be your own person, and that can be a hard tightrope to walk.

Examples: Nightwing, Cyclops, Terry McGinnis, Aqualad (Young Justice)

* The Reformed

Source: H.C.H. Collection

You're proof that a young supervillain can see the light and become a force for good, but that doesn't mean the world will accept your (honest) change of heart. Normal folks worry that it's just an act, and while you have a few Friends In Low Places, most of your villainous former peers either think they can drag you back into the life or take your decision personally. Redemption ain't easy.

Examples: Quentin Quire, Kid Loki (Young Avengers), Ravager (Teen Titans), Clint Barton (if he were younger)

Requires GM Permission: If you were a legacy villain under your parent(s), consider if the Scion would fit better; the two overlap enough that I typically allow one or the other.

* The Scion

Source: Unbound

You're the child of a supervillain (or two), and that's just not something the world can let go. You'll do anything to prove that you're nothing like them, and work twice as hard to make up for the evil that they've done. You have a list of people whose Respect you seek out; once they can accept who you really are, maybe everyone else will, too.

Examples: Stephanie Brown (Spoiler), Ravager (Teen Titans), Victor Mancha (Runaways), Quake (Secret Warriors)

Requires GM Permission: Due to significant overlap in themes, I don't usually want the Scion in the same game as the Innocent and/or the Reformed unless the differences between the PCs are drastic.

* The Soldier

Source: Secrets of AEGIS

You're part of a powerful but mundane organization; by default this is AEGIS, the federal department tasked with dealing with superheroics and supervillainy. You truly believe in this organization, and in turn they support you, reflected by your special Soldier label. That often means making compromises, and acting to ensure that AEGIS remains a force for good.

Examples: Quake, Bombshell, Hellboy, Captain America (if he were younger)

Requires GM Permission: I need to ensure that the playset we'll be using will work with an AEGIS agent on the team.

* The Star

Source: H.C.H. Collection

Doing good is its own reward for some, but you do it for the fame. You have an Audience who follows you, supports you, and makes demands of you. You might be an actual reality TV star with a camera crew following you around, an independent hero with a remote cam-bot and social media feed, or anything in between. It's not egotistical if it's for ratings!

Examples: Striker (Avengers Academy), Enchantress (Young Avengers), the entire X-Statix team

Requires GM Permission: I must make sure your level and form of "stardom" is compatible with our playset.

The Transformed

Source: Masks

You weren't always a monster. These powers have let you do a lot of good, and you suppose you wouldn't change that - maybe - but it hurts when you look at yourself in the mirror and see someone not recognizably human. Even if the world "accepts" you, they do so at a slight distance, just enough that you're aware of it. Don't they know you have feelings too?

Examples: Mettle (Avengers Academy), Beast (X-Men), Cyborg (Teen Titans), Rockslide (Wolverine and the X-Men)


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