We kicked off our first full session of Masks: Refugees with our characters in their personal lives. Sparks has offered up her home/spaceship to Monster, who is actually homeless. Sparks, whose entire race has been inspired by pop culture from the 1980s, as her ship taking the form of a suburban home complete with a white picket fence and a tree house in the backyard. However, her ship is parked in the middle of a gentrified urban
block, so it sticks out like a sore thumb, saves the hypno-inducer that causes people to just glance over it most of the time. Her onboard A.I. is named D.A.D. and appears as Greg Evigan from My Two Dads. His personality is modeled after cool sitcom dads from the 1980s though he shifts into a stoic mode when emergencies occur. Her race is known as the Duranians. We also established that Sparks’ native language would destroy human brains, so human minds have evolved to mishear the words and replace them with common nouns. Her mother’s name is heard as Queen Diamond when spoken, for example.
Since the first game session, I’ve built out the Duranians a bit more. Their homeworld is Rio Prime, and Sparks’ dad holds the title of The Grand LeBon. A cultural revolution was occurring at the same time transmissions of Earth culture from the 1980s were intercepted. As a result, their society now looks like America circa 1985.
Across town, Akil Batin aka Shatterstorm is helping his father, Professor Batin at Halcyon University with a shipment that has arrived from their home country of Obrijan. Despite the ongoing civil war there, the Professor was able to obtain a block of a pure element with a strong effect on gravitons. The Professor believes this element may be tied to his family’s abilities to manipulate gravity. Mishaps occur when he attempts to break a chunk off, and Akil begins to hear a voice emanating from the massive monolith, beckoning him to come closer and embrace his power. Akil holds back and gets a great excuse to leave when an alien vessel arrives at Sparks’ place demanding her return to Rio Prime.
Ajax is in the middle of class when the alien invasion lockdown drill occurs. He skips school despite protestations from Vice Principal Quesada and meets up with the Refugees. The alien ship, an obvious junker, unloads some refurbished strike drones who blast open the door of Sparks’ house. Monster plows into them creating an opportunity for Sparks to reconfigure an old block cell phone into a one use teleporter that pops the team onto the ship. Shatterstorm and Ajax use their powers to crush and destroy mecha-tentacles that emerge from the walls to bind them while Sparks and Monster find the engine room and disconnect the fusion core. The Refugees storm the control deck and find bounty hunter Risk Imsit there, having taken up the reward offered by The Grand LeBon to bring his daughter back. Sparks uses her pheromone powers to enamor Imsit and convince him to leave Earth.
However, The Order arrives this time with The Badge (shield bearer), Shooting Star (speedster), and Mr. Fantasmo (occultist) in their line up. They immediately screw up the headway the Refugees made with Imsit and demand that he must be turned over to AEGIS. Sparks tries to use a holographic communication with her mother citing intergalactic treaties about extradition, but The Badge counters with a more masterful knowledge of the law. Sparks is obviously pissed and Imsit, still in his charmed stupor is taken off.
Monster and Ajax head off to their regular volunteering at a clinic/shelter run by Dr. Green. Dr. Green is an Iraq war vet who had her skin turned green from toxic chemical agents. No powers, just green skin. She is incredibly empathic and focuses on helping vets, runaway kids, and battered women at her shelter. She counsels Ajax about defying authority at school and how he needs to think about doing what will lead him to a better future, not returning to who he used to be. The calm is interrupted by a special announcement about anti-mutant legislation proposed by Halcyon’s own Senator Victor Hu. Senator Hu speaks from the floor of the Senate explaining that self-made metahumans are real heroes, while mutants born from accidents or mistakes of nature need to be curtailed and more aggressively vetted. The legislation gives BanCon Industries a contract to construct Mutant Evaluation Centers to temporarily displace America’s mutant populations til they can be registered and partnered with a metahuman mentor. Monster is so angry she destroys the television.
Sparks is fuming from The Badge when DAD suddenly announces that a Duranian artifact has been detected within the city. His triangulation leads her to Professor Batin’s office and the block of what is now being called Ifritium. Shatterstorm has a rough interaction with his sister Amira who is reaching a boiling point about being boxed out of the family’s heritage. He and Ajax debate with Sparks about how to deal with the element. They settle on contacting The Order for help, despite Sparks’ protestations. Arriving from their floating base, The Panopticon, The Order (this time Shooting Star, Mr. Fantasmo, and American Steel) want to crack the Ifritium open. Ajax tussles with American Steel and, despite no one ever have before, wrests Steel’s Atomic Sledgehammer from his hands. The Order is visibly pissed and announced they will be taking the Ifritium with them. Shatterstorm thinks it’s for the best despite the fact that how angry his father will be and Ajax is in supreme cocky mode.