This weekend I kicked off a new game of Masks, the Powered by the Apocalypse tabletop roleplaying game by Brendan Conway. Like most first sessions of PBtA games, it is mostly world building and learning the fundamental dynamics and relationships of the characters. The line up for our team of teen heroes is made up of:
Shatterstorm the Nova
Akil Batin, 18, is the latest in his family lineage of gravity manipulators. Centuries ago this inherited talented was seen as a form of magic by those outside the family. However, it is a highly advanced form of science and telekinetic abilities that are honed and trained. The knowledge has always passed through the first born male, but Akil’s sister Amira has been incredibly jealous that she is not allowed to share the power. She has put aside her resentment to be her brother’s counsel and help him when he comes up against tough choices. The Batin family fled their homeland a few years ago due to civil war and resettled in Halcyon City. Akil is not aware that one of the gravity manipulators from many decades back used their powers for evil and these wrongs have still not be atoned for.
Sparks the Outsider
Sparks is the daughter of an alien industrial magnate and a galactic queen (her mother remarried). She fled her home planet after indulging on Earth broadcasts from the 1980s. Imagine her surprise when she arrived 30 odd years too late. This hasn’t deterred her, and she’s the team leader/cheerleader. Her sudden departure from her homeworld has left her father annoyed, and he periodically sends bounty hunters and mercenaries to attempt to retrieve her, and they always seem to inevitably fail. She physically resembles and ethereal teenage Punky Brewster.
Monster the Transformed
Brittany Baxter was a high school cheerleader, typical popular girl, and all around average kid. Everything changed when a truck transporting chemical waste from BanCon, your typical evil corporation. Brittney was doused in the terrible chemicals and hospitalized. After a few days, she was released, and no long term harm seemed to occur. She very quickly discovered she was wrong when she transformed into a red-furred, devil-like monster. Her father, a virulent hater of mutants, disowned her and Brittany fled. She now sleeps on friend’s couches and migrates around the city. Eventually, she was able to use her increased strength and invulnerability to fight evil. Monster has been mentored by Dr. Green, a military vet also mutated by chemicals during his stint in the Middle East. Green now runs a shelter and espouses helping out the needy.
Ajax the Reformed
Jace Taylor is the son of an environmental engineer and a biochemist who specialized in clean up work after chemical spills. They found a common nemesis with BanCon. In his early adolescence, Jace was diagnosed with leukemia, and it was believed it was due to his exposure to the waste from the clean ups. After years of treatments, Jace was still suffering, so his parents took him for an experimental treatment. Everything went wrong and the lab burnt to the ground, Jace the only survivor now with the ability to manipulate rocks and minerals. Due to his family’s crippling medical debt, Jace took up robbery to pay and ended up being mentored by Croydon Samford, an infamous environmental terrorist. After meeting Monster, Jace began to reconsider his life of crime. He officially turned over a new leaf when he used his powers to collapse an entire BanCon facility and was arrested. Now, Jace hopes to use his powers to help others.
The team first came together when Giganticus attacked a BanCon owned power plant. Giganticus is actually a geologist whose work was shut down by BanCon’s interests. He discovered a strange artifact that allowed him to reshape rock around himself as a massive rock beast. Shatterstorm’s powers went haywire and destroyed the power plant shutting down electricity in the Heights district of Halcyon for a week. In the aftermath, they drew the ire of Senator Hu, a lawmaker in the pockets of BanCon. Also, the superhero team The Order arrived to chastise this new team, and they united in refusing to answer The Order’s questions and protect each other’s backs.
The brief bit of play we did this session was almost like a segment in one of those Marvel anthologies they release to preview a line of new titles. Croy Samford was being escorted to the Halcyon City Courthouse by AEGIS for his trial. He’s been charged with crimes against humanity. As he ascends the steps, large plant roots crack open the earth and create a wall around Samford and his escorts. The Refugees jump into action. Civilians are saved, and the roots are frozen and shattered. A tunnel has been bored through the ground, and it’s apparent Samford has escaped through this route. The Order steps in (The Badge, American Steel, and Timekeeper) and tells The Refugees that the adults are taking over. After some back and forth, The Refugees plunge into the tunnel and find Samford being aided by Gaia, a fellow eco-terrorist villain. Shatterstorm uses his gravity to weigh down Samford while Sparks snatches Gaia’s staff of power away from her. Both villains are caught, but Samford warns his former protege, Ajax, that soon they will need his help.