Caesar's Masks: A New Generation Game - A Superheroic Chronicle

Caesar Slaad

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So, I had repeated interest in Masks as a game here, in addition to being really happy with the way it is shaping up, I am inspired to share my campaign notes.

The game is set in Halcyon City, the fictional Metropolis style city rife with superheroics, and the default setting for the game.

A few notes:
1) My game notes are mostly bullet points kept by me to capture the highlights and key plot points. I won't be restructuring this into a novella or anything like that.
2) This game is a reboot of a faltered game. I had some people flake out after the fist try. The remaining players made new characters and we played it again with some new players the next month. Though it was essentially a new game, I did collect a lot of ideas generated in the first go-round and decided to keep most of the material, including many NPCs I made for that game. As time went on, I eventually decided that this was an alternate reality from the original games. (Indeed, one of the new PCs is actually an alternate reality version of an old PC, though he doesn't know it.)
3) Though most of this material is original, I use some villains from the Masks game products (like Rosa Rook and Nano), and I use some material for Green Ronin's Freedom Universe and Jacob Blackmon's Super Powered Legends book.
 

Caesar Slaad

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Dramatis Personae and Background

The teen heroes (starting)

Yayael - The Transformed. A mysterious native American teen with a shifting reptile-like body and a connection to the "spirit plane"
Flashing Will/Emma Will - The Janus. A young woman with great strength and agility, and the ability to detect and absorb energy.
Ex113 "Excel" - The Bull. An orphaned boy with a mysterious past. Very strong, very good at fighting. Lived at Himura's boarding school for talented youth, before it was destroyed.
Evan Horizon - The Nova. A young man with gravity control powers who accidentally made his mother disappear.

Later we meet:
Night Gaunt
- The Beacon
Hex - The Delinquent

When the team first came together

The team's first mission (when they came together) was to defeat a cadre of assassin robots sent to take out Satoshi Himura, rich industrialist and chief benefactor of the school that Ex113 attended. Himura was saved, but unfortunately, the fight got a little out of hand and the school was effectively destroyed. A politician and industrialist named Alexander Murray used this incident to stoke fear over young supers.

Next: The first adventure!
 

Caesar Slaad

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Session 1 Summary (1/20/18):

PlayerCharacterPlaybook
DennisYayaelTransformed
DavidEx113Bull
ChrisEvan HorizonNova
StefanieFlashing WillJanus

  • There is an ad campaign raising fear at the presence of supers; small annotations point to Alexander Murray.
  • The heroes all get invitations to an “informational session” at Rook Academy, a new exclusive school pitched with the intent of teaching “young powered supers” responsibility over their power.
  • Satoshi Himura, Ex113’s benefactor, sneers at the notion of Rook Industries being trusted with such an important responsibility.
  • Emma Will gets an invitation, despite her powers not being public. She finds out that this is due to her friend, Elizabeth Star, putting down Emma’s name on a “do you know anyone else who would be interested?” blank on an application form for Rook Academy.
  • The heroes arrive on a bus taking them to the event. Tables are catered, kids take advantage of this.
  • The site of the academy is next to the exclusion zone. The heroes can see the Rook Guardian[TM] robots lining the fence surrounding the exclusion zone.
  • The heroes go on a tour of the academy. They hear screams coming from the tent area.
  • On investigating, the heroes discover the Rook Guardians are advancing on the students. They defend them, but Flashing Will gets nabbed and pulled into an underground tunnel. Yayael chases down the robot in the tunnel, while Ex113 and Evan Horizon deal with the remaining robots grabbing students.
  • The robot emerges in a small outbuilding in the exclusion zone, to see a team of scientists led by Professor Proteus waiting to put captured students in tubes. A girl with a control collar seems to be factor controlling the Rook robots.
  • Ex113 and Evan arrive. Ex113, Yayael, and Flashing take down the scientists and free the girl.
  • Evan uses his portal ability to catch up with Professor Proteus fleeing on a hover-bike, only to have Proteus use a fusillade of dart-missiles to knock Evan out (setting us up for next time).
 

silva

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Nice writeups. Are all heroes in the team PCs, or do you insert some NPCs too?

Also, did you use formal Arcs as advised in the book? (I understand the very Rook Academy constitutes an Arc, and probably the Ad Campaign against metahumans too? If so, would you mind disclosing their countdown clocks ?)

Also, how often do you challenge the characters identities and stuff? Did you use the idea of Hooks from the book? Loved this idea myself, forming PC-NPCs triangles that push their labels in opposibg directions.

How often those Influence moves trigger? Do they feel natural when they do, or do they feel clunky?

Any Moment of Truth triggered yet?

(Sorry for the bombardment of questions, I'm pretty excited as you can see hehe)
 

Caesar Slaad

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The four you see listed at the top are PCs. Later they do team up with some NPCs. One thing that's nice about Masks is that the PCs easily build relationships.

I find arcs a little hard to use as written, but lean on them lightly. Sometimes my ideas don't neatly fit into the categories they give you, but the Rook Academy thing is the beginning of a Corruption arc.

I use hooks every session. I've sort of subsumed the hook idea into my "6 point NPC" technique, which I may talk about later.

By "influence moves" i assume you mean shifting labels? It happens all the time, perhaps an average of 1-2 times per PC per session. It's pretty natural.

13 sessions in, Night Gaunt and Emma Will have both used a Moment of Truth. Both were big impacts to the setting, and I'm loving the mechanic.
 
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silva

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That's cool. Thanks for the info.

find arcs a little hard to use as written, but lean on them lightly. Sometimes my ideas don't neatly fit into the categories they give you, but the Rook Academy thing is the beginning of a Corruption arc.
The Arcs seem adapted from the countdown clocks in AW where you track threats plans or other developments running in the backgrounds and if the players don't interact with them, shit happens. In that vein, the different sub-types presented probably serve more to inspire than to be a rigid classification.

use hooks every session. I've sort of subsumed the hook idea into my "6 point NPC" technique, which I may talk about later.
Please do if you can.

By "influence moves" i assume you mean shifting labels? It happens all the time, perhaps an average of 1-2 times per PC per session. It's pretty natural
Yep that's it.

Another question:

Are situational modifiers a thing? I dont remember seeing it in the book. PbtA vary wildly in this, some hacks suggesting using them sparingly, others not using them at all, etc. Usually the ones that do not use them do as you said before in your "5 power levels" ruling (which I loved BTW) - if the players are not in condition to affect something in the fiction, the GM simply vetoes the roll and ask them to try something else until they do.
 

Skywalker

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There are no situational modifiers. It uses narrative positioning as do most PbtA RPGs.
 

Caesar Slaad

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Please do if you can.


Another question:

Are situational modifiers a thing? I dont remember seeing it in the book. PbtA vary wildly in this, some hacks suggesting using them sparingly, others not using them at all, etc. Usually the ones that do not use them do as you said before in your "5 power levels" ruling (which I loved BTW) - if the players are not in condition to affect something in the fiction, the GM simply vetoes the roll and ask them to try something else until they do.
6 point NPCs: Masks is very much a "play to find out what happens" system, but I do like having all my decks loaded, so to speak. When I prep for a session, I type a 1-3 page list of possible events and NPCs to encounter.

To help make sure that the session fits the larger narrative, when I am deciding which NPCs might feature in a session, I use a "6 point list". Basically, I start with the NPCs I already know might feature in the game, and make a matrix describing which of the 6 following roles they can fill:
1 - New
2 - Recurring
3 - Rook Academy student/former student
4 - City figure
5 - Backstory figure (from PC backstory)
6 - Hook (can serve as a hook per Masks rules)

Then if I see any are missing (including recurring that aren't rook students or backstory figures, who are pretty much always recurring), I circle back and consider what NPCs I can introduce that might fill the missing roles. That way I at least have a crib sheet ready for me to run the session with.

Masks being what it is, I don't always use all the planned NPCs. I usually just save any stragglers for the next session.

Of course if my campaign is different, this list would look different. An Agents of AEGIS campaign might replace Rook Academy students with AEGIS agents. An X-men style campaign might put in mutants or Xavier's students.

Situational modifiers: Not in the D&D sense. You don't usually say things like "it's windy, so the beacon gets -1 to engage or unleash with the bow". There are conditions, of course. And you can do stuff like have the Elemental Control prodigy use his powers to boost the Beacon's attack by spending a team pool. But that's more narrative than sim.

If something seems narratively important to you, you can make it important in play. The main way the system proscribes to do this is the Custom Moves. Many custom moves give +1 or -1 forward or ongoing depending on the outcome of the move.
 

silva

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6 point NPCs: Masks is very much a "play to find out what happens" system, but I do like having all my decks loaded, so to speak. When I prep for a session, I type a 1-3 page list of possible events and NPCs to encounter.

To help make sure that the session fits the larger narrative, when I am deciding which NPCs might feature in a session, I use a "6 point list". Basically, I start with the NPCs I already know might feature in the game, and make a matrix describing which of the 6 following roles they can fill:
1 - New
2 - Recurring
3 - Rook Academy student/former student
4 - City figure
5 - Backstory figure (from PC backstory)
6 - Hook (can serve as a hook per Masks rules)

Then if I see any are missing (including recurring that aren't rook students or backstory figures, who are pretty much always recurring), I circle back and consider what NPCs I can introduce that might fill the missing roles. That way I at least have a crib sheet ready for me to run the session with.

Masks being what it is, I don't always use all the planned NPCs. I usually just save any stragglers for the next session.

Of course if my campaign is different, this list would look different. An Agents of AEGIS campaign might replace Rook Academy students with AEGIS agents. An X-men style campaign might put in mutants or Xavier's students.
Thanks for describing this method. I'm noting it down. I'm usually fine just by following through players responses 'n stuff in the "first session" and then developing threats from there (and improvising the rest), but your method seems good for when the group is on a dry. And I don't think it violates the "play to find out" agenda at all, as you're not writing plots in advance, just coming up with potential stuff to show up that makes sense to be there anyway.

I can't wait to start playing it, man.
 

Caesar Slaad

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BTW, I plan on uploading a new session description every Monday.
 

Caesar Slaad

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Session 2 Summary (4/14/18):

PlayerCharacterPlaybook
DennisYayaelTransformed
DavidEx113Bull
ChrisEvan HorizonNova
StefanieFlashing WillJanus
BlakeNight Gaunt (new)Beacon
  • Night Gaunt is a new team member. He saw their heroics in the face of the robot attack, and approaches them when gathering afterwords. (Unbeknownst to the team, Night Gaunt faked his way into the school, forging his invitation.)
  • Alexander Murray comes on the news blasting the young heroes for breaking the law and causing mayhem; Rook Academy offers to take them in and teach them responsibility.
  • Meanwhile, Evan Horizon finds himself in a lab, drugged. (See the love letter below). A girl tried to help Evan, but got stopped. He finds himself on a bench across from a pub, where he sees Alexander Murray’s news conference. He also finds the girl’s access badge. The badge indicates she was a volunteer helper (“candy striper”) at a nursing home attached to an old hospital. The badge says her name is Cynthia Gerry (this is a fake name…)
  • Evan takes a bus to the Rook Academy and tells the rest of the team what happened, and shows them the badge. Night Gaunt steals a suburban belonging to Shadowblade, a stealth-based instructor at Rook Academy.
  • At the Nursing home, they bluff their way in. They present the badge and the receptionist calls over the loudspeaker. She gets a call back to a room that is in a construction zone. They make their way past, and find a construction zone and a stairway down.
  • They find a secret lab in the basement and face a pair of inhuman looking men-in-black wielding bulbous onion-like guns. They dispatch the creatures. Night Gaunt takes one of the guns. As the creatures are dispatched, they make screeching noises. They heroes hear echoes in the distance. With her super-senses, Flashing Will determines that the sounds aren’t really echoes of the screeches, but complicated and distinct responses in an alien language.
  • They find a route into an ancient hospital. Yayael spots the girl (Jenna, alias Cynthia Gerry) in distended form, who warns him they are walking into a trap before slithering away.
  • They proceed, a brutish alien-looking man slams the door behind them and grows to distended proportions. More of the screeching creatures are in the distance, and the lights go off.
  • Ex113 and Yayael take the brute down, but not before Yayael loses control to his snake-spirit and attacks Ex113. The thrashing around dangerously damages to the support beams.
  • Night Gaunt notices Professor Proteus slipping off, guarded by some Gila-men. He dispatches the guards and causes Proteus’ vehicle to crash.
  • Evan convinces Night Gaunt to turn Professor Proteus over to the police, but he is sprung hours later by some men-in-black type government agents.
  • (Asked to monitor Rook Academy by Himura)
  • (Invited to a Rook new student party by Pixel)
    • Flashing Will met Chimera (F), a shapeshifter who combines different animals. Emma also broke a Rook Academy sports trophy (to clear her anger).
    • Yayael hung out with Joey Talltree (tribal member with plant control powers), who shared some peyote with him. Talltree gained influence over Yayael.
    • Evan Horizon met the very hot Samantha Sears AKA Corona’s Light, and relaxed a bit (cleared a condition)
    • Ex113 met Tiffany Belz, a new student with Psychic Powers who was on a bus he smashed. She initially pissed him off, but she regretted it later (he gained influence).
    • Night Gaunt hung out with Pixel (M techempath) in the DJ booth (gained influence) and didn’t get in trouble with the faculty.
    • The students heard the clamor about the Superior Six Standoff, which is looking at recruiting members to a “junior team” sponsored by Rook.
  • The heroes participate in the Superior Six Standoff:
    • Night Gaunt failed because he was relying on stealth and his opponent had superhuman senses and his martial arts weren’t up to the task.
    • Yayael did not make the team, and learned with his pit viper senses that at least some of the competitors were not human. (Learn disturbing secret about Rook Academy.)
    • Flashing Will made the team! She faced off against Edmund Flare (blast powers, took influence) and heard rumors that Flare’s mentor (who is on the Superior Six) was involved in the assault on the lab in the exclusion zone (not public knowledge).
    • Evan Horizon faced off against Samantha Sears, and took influence over her when he saved an observing relative of hers from a stray solar energy bolt.
    • Ex113 actually bested his opponent in the competition, but pissed off a judge, who marked him down (possibility: there was some secret, sinister reason the judge did this.)
 

Caesar Slaad

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Custom Moves used, session 2:


From Masks G+ group:
When You Attend a Rowdy Student Party...
...tell me who you met and what stood out about them. Then roll with +Superior. On 10+ pick two, on 7-9 pick one:

* you gain Influence over the person you met
* you clear a Condition
* you didn't get in trouble with the faculty

On a miss, the person you met shifts your Labels (GM's choice) and gains Influence over you.


When you compete in the Superior Six Standoff:
Roll + Your weakest Label (choose on a tie).
On a hit, the ordeals of the competition taught you something. Shift the used label up and one other label down (your choice).
On a 10+, you are on the team, and choose both.
On a 7-9, choose one:
  • Learn a disturbing truth about Rook Academy or about the Superior Six (player choice).
  • Describe one of the competitors you faced during the competition who you came to an accord with. Take influence over them.

On a miss, describe how your weak label cost you the competition, and what you learned from it. The GM shifts the used label up and one other label down.
Disturbing Truths:

Inputs from Dave Hill on the Masks G+ community:

  • One or more of the Rook Academy competitors were {robots|clones|aliens} ... at least they were at this competition.
  • One or more of the Rook Academy competitors were taking some sort of meta-performance enhancing drug.
  • The Superior Six were involved in [controversial international event], though this has been not only hushed up, but an alibi established.
  • A previously well-known member of [either team] is no longer around, and nobody seems to know (or want to say) what became of them. [It's best if you you have an idea of what happened to them, but that can be kicked down the road if need be.]
  • The origin story of one or more members of [either team] is fake (the name isn't in the records, the ID is phony, that hospital never existed, etc.).
The question of who else actually knows this disturbing truth (is Rook involved in the cover-up? Do other authorities know about it?) can be an investigation for another day.

The Superior Six final bracket (top two get in):

1​
Night Gaunt
2​
Arctic WolfArctic Wolf
3​
Yayael
4​
FirestarYayaelArctic Wolf
5​
Flashing Will
6​
HaloFlashing Will
7​
Edmund Flare
8​
Tiffany BelzEdmund FlareFlashing WillFlashing Will
9​
Evan Horizon
10​
Corona's LightEvan Horizon
11​
Fusillad
12​
Blue BoltFusilladFusilladFusillad
13​
Ex113
14​
GhostwalkerEx113
15​
Chimera
16​
TalltreeChimeraEx113
Bots/Ringers – Arctic Wolf (super senses, strength, agility, cold), Blue bolt (superspeed)


Love letter for Evan Horizon

Dear Evan Horizon
(No, this is not Halcyon City’s hit new musical.)
(I suspect either you don't get that joke, or I've stumbled upon the inspiration for your character's name.)

Last time we met, you were ambushed by the dastardly Professor Proteus, who knocked you out with a Fusillade of missile darts.

Now you are in a secret lab, at best at the edge of consciousness. Occasionally, a big man and a tall, wiry man — Professor Proteus? — enter the room, and you hear conversation with the phrases like "can't risk it" and "not our primary objective".

Sometime later, someone new — a young girl, perhaps no older than you — enters the room, only to be loudly interrogated and chased out by the big dude.

But then you begin to come to consciousness. You look up to see that a bobby pin has been clipped to your IV line, restricting the flow of the drug, giving you a chance for escape.

Let's see what happens. Roll + superior:

On a miss, the guard notices you moving more than you should, removes the bobby pin, and you slip back into unconsciousness. You awaken on a bench at a bus station, an unclean looking man shaking your shoulder saying “you okay, son?” The only sign that you were anywhere unusual is a welt or scar on your arm. That’s where a dart hit, right? That must be it. Mark insecure.

On a 7-9, you were sharp enough to stay unnoticed until you were alert enough to collect some information about your surroundings. Choose one:
  • You get a clue to the girl’s identity or whereabouts.
  • You remember a clue to the location of the lab.
After that, however, the ruse is discovered and they put you back to sleep and you wake up on the bench as above (but you don’t have a scar and don’t mark insecure.)

On a 10+, the ruse goes unnoticed, at least temporarily. You are able to get a clue to your team members where you are, and can use your powers, though you are still a bit groggy (-1 ongoing for the rest of the ensuing fight.)

Best of luck,
Your GM
(He rolled 7-9 and woke with the badge of Jenna’s assumed identity.)
 

Caesar Slaad

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Session 3 Summary (5/12/18):

PlayerCharacterPlaybook
DennisYayaelTransformed
DavidEx113 (“Excel”)Bull
ChrisEvan HorizonNova
StefanieFlashing WillJanus

Character note: the Superior Six:


The Superior Six are Rook Industries' marquee super-team, distrusted by the older super teams in the city. In addition to Flashing Will (PC) and Fussilad (NPC Rook academy student), the superior six are Opal, Hardware, Cryptic, and Mentallica. See Emma's custom move (next post) for details on these characters.

Fulcrum is a villain that wears odd bulbous power armor and claims he is the "source of all powers" and has the ability to control powers of other superhuman beings.

Events:
  • Flashing Will Patrols with the Superior Six (see custom move/love letter). She learns the Opal is taking cues from Hardware (Hardware secretly controls Opal through his armor.) Opal lost influence over Flashing Will (not that it matters).
  • The rest of the team Attends Class at the Rook Academy (see custom move/love broadcast).
  • Yayael shared struggles in Bastion’s class with Pixel. He gained influence over Pixel, and he learned that despite his friendly old professor demeanor, Bastion is really loyal to the Rook cause.
  • Bastion lost influence on Yayael.
  • Yayael gained influence on Pixel.
  • Evan Horizon attended Shadowblade’s class.
  • He learned that behind Shadowblade’s prickly exterior, he is secretly investigating Rook Academy.
  • He ingratiated himself to Shadowblade and gained influence over him.
  • Ex113 attended Bastion’s class. He also learned that Bastion is secretly a Rook loyalist and Bastion lost influence over Ex113.
  • The Rook Academy students go to a combat simulation facility with a retired bank, mannequins, and robot drones. The heroes (minus Emma) and Talltree are beating the simulation and are being critiqued by Shadowblade when his feed drops.
  • They look outside to see that Fulcrum has arrived and knocked out Shadowblade, and is using Tiffany’s Belz’s powers to throw up a psychic barrier around the bank.
  • While the team is completing a simulation, Fulcrum shows up, bragging that he is the source of all supers powers and he can control all powers (a bluff – he can control powers, but this was through stolen Rook tech.) He takes control of Tiffany Belz and uses her to erect a force field around the bank.
  • Superior Six arrives on the scene, and Opal slams Fulcrum into the ground. But Fulcrum takes control of Opal, and uses his invisible power containment pod to “capture” Pixel (Emma sees him disappear). Using Pixel’s power, he nullifies Hardware’s armor capabilities and takes control of Opal.
  • Fulcrum arrogantly claims he is the “source of all superhuman powers.”
  • Ex113 attacks Opal, Opal weathers his blows easily (only Evan’s attacks can hurt Opal.)
  • The group manages to fend off Opal and discover Fulcrum’s controls.
  • They destroy Fulcrum’s control. Instead of merely freeing Opal, Opal goes berserk and starts laying waste to the city.
  • The group saves the citizens in a section of the skyscraper Opal tore off.
  • Talking with the hobbled Hardware, he says his system “programmed” Opal, but somehow Fulcrum could do the same thing with his controls.
  • Evan flashes back to a Rook Academy course talking about alien intelligences and determines that he can speak to it by modulating energy. He finds out that the alien entity that is really Opal isn’t lashing out per se, it just doesn’t understand.
  • The team destroys Hardware’s control module, but this causes Opal to go berserk.
  • Evan learns that Opal in a cosmic intelligence that the super being Opal is a façade. He decides to help him return to the cosmos, risking flak from destroying Halycon City’s mightiest hero (though secretly under Rook’s thumb).
  • However, after AEGIS arrives and takes control over the situation, Rook soon asserts that Fulcrum’s armor is their stolen tech. They reclaim the tech, which is more than likely to show up and cause problems for the heroes in the future.
  • Aside, Emma befriended Mentallica and helped her get some distance from the image that has been crafted for her (went shopping, got some nice clothes.)
 

Caesar Slaad

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Custom Moves Used, Session 3:

Move for Emma Will, Patrolling with the Superior Six (Love Letter format)

Emma,

While your companions are schooling at the Rook academy, you get to do some patrols with the Superior Six. It turns out that the team actually has more than Six members, but while some of the permanent members are on hiatus, you get to hobnob with four key members of the established team, plus yourself and the other winner of the Superior Six Standoff. The other members of the team are:
  • The Living Opal (or just “Opal”) – A huge super who looks like a statue made of translucent white gemstone with a glow coming from within. He is an extremely powerful being, but very soft spoken and affable.
  • Hardware – a slender man with unkempt hair and atrophied limbs. He appears to be disabled, but he uses a powered armor-like apparatus to go beyond just a normal level of capability. He is a super-competent technologist and hacker.
  • Cryptic – A man dressed like a ninja with a strange metallic visor and a bandolier of exotic looking devices. He almost never speaks in non-tactical situations and relies on his stealth abilities and gadgets.
  • Mentallica – A young hero with a rocker-girl motif. She has telekinetic and psychic powers, though is most proficient at using them offensively. She spends most of her time with headphones in, listening to music that is always loud enough for bystanders to hear.
  • Fussilad – The other winner of the Superior Six Standoff. He’s a jock-type with cybernetic arms and exoskeleton, with many ports from which he can discharge his various weapons. He’s a member of the Rook Academy and seems disdainful of Flashing Will.

So what happens on these training patrols? Roll + Superior.
On a 7-9, choose one. On a 10+, choose both:
  • Learn a secret about Hardware, Opal, or Cryptic (choose). They lose influence over you.
  • During a tense conflict, you learn more about Mentallica or Fussilad (choose). You gain influence over them.

On a miss, you goof up while on a mission and earn the scorn of your teammates (describe how). Mark Insecure (or any other condition if it is already marked) and shift Danger up and Superior down. In addition, your mundane life obligations rear their ugly head, as described in your playbook.


Move for Schooling at the Rook Academy

At the Rook Academy, you are publicly trying to learn, but secretly keeping an eye on the practices of Rook Academy. How does this go?

There are many instructors at Rook Academy, but a few stand out. When attending class at Rook Academy, choose one instructor that was particularly influential to you:
  • Shadowblade – An African-American man who appears to only have a black wardrobe, with the ability to conjure weapons out of shadow. Always very serious and dour. Sort of scary.
  • Bastion – He looks like a stereotypical eccentric science professor with frizzy gray hair except for the chrome boxes protruding from his balding scalp. Has a genius level intellect and psychic powers.

If you chose Shadowblade, roll + Superior.
If you chose Bastion, roll + Freak.

On a hit, hold one flashback.
On a 7-9 choose one. On a 10+, choose two:
  • Gain insight or learn a secret about your instructor. They lose influence over you.
  • You ingratiate yourself to your instructor. You gain influence over them.
  • You and another Rook student (choose one or create a new one) form an accord to get by in the class; describe how. You gain influence over them. If you already have influence over them, describe how your experience affected you; shift the chosen label up and any other label down.

Spend one flashback to learn an important fact you learned during class that can help you during the current situation. The GM may reveal a fact pertinent to the fiction, or treat as if the hero rolled a hit while assessing the situation.

On a miss, you cross your new instructor in a bad way; describe how. Mark a condition, and the GM will shift your labels.
 

Caesar Slaad

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So, does anyone read these? Here's another one in the can.

Session 4 Summary (6/9/18):

PlayerCharacterPlaybook
DennisYayaelTransformed
ChrisEvan HorizonNova
StefanieFlashing WillJanus
BlakeNight GauntBeacon


  • Night Gaunt did the previous Schooling at the Rook Academy move.
  • The students at the rook academy take Shadowblade’s killer test. Most of the class fails (and the students are complaining loudly}. Evan Horizon notices that the grading of the tests is strange, as if the weighting and the grading were done so that only the heroes pass.
  • Night Gaunt notices the light from his laptop is on, the lid open, in the empty classroom. He goes in and sees a video file on the laptop ready to play. He clicks it, and the video is a capture of the group stealing Shadowblade’s SUV. Shadowblade appears behind him and asks Night Gaunt if Shadowblade can rely on him in an upcoming event on the Rook Technology campus.
  • Emma Will learns that the Superior Six are needed for on-site presence at an upcoming Southeast Asian security technology conference being hosted at Rook. Southeast Asia (except Japan) lack super powered heroes compared to Halcyon City, so need the sort of technical solutions that Rook (and other guest vendors) are providing.
  • Emma and the Rook students learn that a special intern group will be sent in to supplement the Superior Six in holding the fort at the conference. But since Shadowblade’s grading put most of the class on academic probation, the heroes are the eligible students.
  • Emma has a track event at the same time as the conference. She tries to train up a replacement, but it doesn’t work. She is going to try to game taking care of both the track meet and the conference.
  • Introduced two new NPCs: Mrs. Rollings (track coach), Anna Jefferson (student captain)
  • At Rook Academy, Yayael notices Talltree being bullied by Halo and friends. Yayael temporarily deposits Halo on spirit realm.
  • The conference is at a rook conference center. Participants include:
  • China
  • Enaza islands (W of Taiwan, S of Japan, expy of Gamorra Island from The Authority).
  • Cambodia (Has super powered queen a la Bialya in Young Justice)
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
  • Myanmar (has super-agents on site)
  • North Korea (has Red Star, a nuclear-powered superman, on-site in a containment vessel).
  • South Korea
  • Japan (has less need than other nations. Three of their supers are on-site, Hyper Kawaii-3; see the RGG Super Powered Legends sourcebook).
  • Night Gaunt notices the Myanmar delegation has a van monitoring the Rook LRA (low-risk analysis) building, and notices a group entering the building disguised to resemble a group that just entered.
  • Night Gaunt pursues the agents into the LRA building. One notices him. He engages the one while the rest proceed into the building.
  • The alarm being raised, Yayael and Evan Horizon join Night Gaunt in the LRA building. Emma Will was delayed at her track meet, but peels away at the last minute of the race, doing her best to avoid suspicion.
  • The agents panic and attach rune covered tech devices to a skeleton in the vault of the LRA building. Evan Horizon made wormholes to pull the devices away from the bones, but they are still tethered to purple filaments of light. He uses the last wormhole to move out of the building, but this summons the boar-headed cyber-demon.
  • The Cyber-Demon starts pulling tech devices to its body. Flashing Will arrives on the scene and attacks, trying to weaken the demon with her energy absorption power. He sees her coming and slams her into the approaching Hyper-Red and Blue. They go flying into the collapsing LRA building. In doing so, she sapped the Hyper-ladies’ powers.
  • Evan puts up a barrier to contain the cyber-demon while Yayael and Flashing Will extricate Hyper Red and Hyper Blue from the building.
  • Flashing Will tries to return Hyper-Blue’s power and fails. They try again with both Red and Blue present, and that also fails. It appears that they need all three girls to reverse the process.
  • Night Gaunt interrogates the remaining super-agent to try to find a weakness for the cyber demon. They say some metal is the key to defeating the cyber-demon, but he’s not sure which. They need an expert. Night Gaunt searches using the agents cyber-gauntlet and finds there is a hidden agent in the Japanese delegation, Brock, an arcanotech tinkerer.
  • They find Brock and he says that something transuranic is needed to defeat the cyber-demon. The North Korean superman Red Star is the key to defeating the cyber-demon.
  • They open Red Star’s chamber. Yayael tries to use his earth control power to extract and shape the radioactive metal (Americium), but its unnatural nature repels his effort. Evan comes to take care of this task while Mentallica engages the cyber-demon.
  • Evan shapes the metal into a spear. Night Gaunt throws the spear, which hits the demon. All the weapons and devices it grafted to itself start sloughing off. Flashing Will manages to return the Hyper Kawaii-3’s powers to them, and they are able to engage with and take down the Cyber-Demon.
 

Caesar Slaad

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Session 5 Summary (8/4/18):

PlayerCharacterPlaybook
DennisYayaelTransformed
ChrisEvan HorizonNova
BlakeNight GauntBeacon
  • Arthur Murray puts in his bid to run for mayor of Halcyon City, kicking off with an ad campaign that stokes supers’ fears. Rosa Rook rebuts this publicly, saying that Rook Academy and its new Enhanced Training Center will give young supers the training they need to use their abilities responsibly. Pixel is visibly agitated by Murray’s ad campaign.
  • Rook Academy announces that to make up for the loss of Opal in the Superior Six, Student Action Teams will be put in place to help defend Halcyon City. Student Action Teams are led by a professor and labeled by the label the professor embodies (F: Bastion/Freak, D: Blackbird/Danger, U: Shadowblade/Superior).
  • The heroes, part of Action Team U begin a training simulation (in media res, not being advertised in the comic as a sim). Hex was supposed to be on their team, but he is missing (like he does). Also, their instructor is missing (forecasting the absence of Shadowblade). Flying transforming robot-planes drop cylindrical transforming robots. They fight the robots but draw attention from the plane, which fires missiles at them. They deflect the missiles by endanger a nearby ammo depot. Bastion interrupts the simulation and counsels them on how to proceed.
  • Then the group rolled on the advanced neural training task (see below). All three ended up with a technique. Night Gaunt got a technique and a programming.
  • Shadowblade disappears; Night Gaunt investigates
  • Pixel also goes missing.
  • Evan Horizon drinks in Ex113’s dorm room and discovers mysterious note from Tiffany Belz about "having the information he needed".
  • The Team investigates the neural training facility, fight Halo. Yayael teleports them away.
  • Research leads them to an unmarked building in downtown Halcyon. Action team F, led by Mentallica, with Ghostlight and Edmund Flare, confront them. Mentallica sympathizes and helps them get past guard robots.
  • The enter inner vault which has pods and Fulcrum/Taskmaster hardware.
  • They confront Bastion, who is using the equipment to manipulate an imprisoned Shadowblade’s power to open a gate to an entropic dimension. They free Pixel.
  • Yayael attacks Bastion and breaks his arm, charging through a gate. They both end up on an asteroid, with armored women approaching. Night Gaunt goes to grab Yayael.
  • Yayael flees and Evan starts to close the gate. But two of the armored women use their powered pole-arms to force the gate back open. But he notices the third woman is his mother, who intervenes, and the gate closes.
  • AEGIS arrives, laying bare the fact that Rook has captured and were reusing the Taskmaster tech. Rook deflects blame to Bastion, but the Rook Academy is at least temporarily shut down.
  • Though Rook Academy and Rook’s Taskmaster tech is shutdown, the news gives Arthur Murray a big boost in the polls.
Lingering Questions and Issues:
(Normally I trim this stuff off, but it's fun if you view it as a "narrator's questions/teases" sort of thing.)
  • Rook Academy at least temporarily closed down as AEGIS investigates. What will become of that investigation? Is Rook Academy gone for good? What will happen in the meantime? Will the players return to Rook Academy if/when it re-opens?
  • Is this the moment that Himura’s school re-opens? What is it called?
  • Where was Ex113 going to? How were Tiffany Belz and Hex involved?
  • What becomes of Blackbird? Is she destined to become an assassin in black for Rook? Will Kestrel come looking for her? Is she the one who installs the seeds of doubt about Himura.
  • How is Emma’s relationship with Rook changed? Does she have an opportunity to stand up against them? Will the Superior Six be reformed?
  • What’s up with Evan’s mother? How does the fact that she is alive impact him?
  • What will become of Bastion now that he is in the clutches of the Terminus?
  • What does AEGIS investigation of the Rook affair look like? Will they tip AEGIS’s hand? Will they be successful in deflecting blame to Bastion (since he is conveniently not available for questioning)?
  • Is this whole thing about Arthur Murray’s criticism just for show? Is he secretly in league with Rook? After the election, will he say something like he “got Rook to make reparations” and is willing to give them an important contract? (Or, is the contract winner really a secret branch of rook)?

When you Undergo Rook Academy’s Advanced Neural Training:

Roll + Superior and hold one Programming

On a 7-9 choose 2. On a 10+, choose 3.
  • You hold back and don’t let the neural programming take hold. Remove the Programming hold.
  • You learn valuable power techniques. Hold one technique. You may select this option twice.
  • You gain insight to how the neural programming works and can help others program it. When performing a comfort or support move, you gain this additional option:
    • Remove one Programming hold the target has.

The GM may expend one character’s Programming hold to temporarily take control of that character.

A player may expend one Technique hold to do either of the following:
  • When using the Unleash your Powers move, treat it as if the base roll is 9 (add Freak normally)
  • Use one adult move other than Persuade with Best Interests.
 

Caesar Slaad

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Session 6 Summary (10/13/18)

In this issue, the team starts to regret getting close to getting an answer to the question of what happened to Evan's mother.

PlayerCharacterPlaybook
StefanieEmma WillJanus
ChrisEvan HorizonNova
BlakeNight GauntBeacon


  • Emma and Evan meet up (with Firestar in tow asking a bunch of super-heroing questions) while Night Gaunt secretly pursues an answer to the question of Evan’s mother.
  • Night Gaunt consulted with Pixel, who said that a company called NextGen Computronix received a contract from AEGIS to analyze the Taskmaster technology reclaimed from Bastion.
  • Night Gaunt asks for assistance from Marcus in acquiring some intrusion gear to break in to NextGen. This draw’s his parents’ attention. He dodges his mother (Anastasia) only to run into his dad who sends him a picture of the scope sight on Emma and Evan at the coffee shop he was headed to.
  • Night Gaunt surrenders himself and gets in his father’s limo, but Emma and Evan see him and follow. Night Gaunt escapes using a jury-rigged flash bomb.
  • The group joins up and Night Gaunt lets Emma and Evan know of his investigation into NextGen. They forge IDs as interns and enter together, but they walk into a trap. Dr. Rex Gordon talks about their exciting developments in reproducing the gate technology (NOT their remit), and show the team into a chamber. There, there is a bright flash of light and they wake up strapped in hospital beds (in the alien fortress known as the Helpful Hospice; see Freedom City/the Annihilists).
  • A Nightmare Nurse (robotic nurse with scary needle appendages) enters as the group awakens. They escape and defeat the robot, but call more.
  • Fleeing leads the group to the operating chamber, where Physician Friendly and some of his Vivisection Bots are about to install armor and loyalty implants on a pair of humanoid aliens (one near-human female, and one more bluish alien).
  • During the throw-down with Physician Friendly, Emma unleashes energy she had absorbed and blows a hole in the roof, attracting the attention of flying armored alien warriors (Shadivan’s forces).
  • The group pushes Physician Friendly and his nurse-bots off as they flee. They get to a harpoon weapon and use it to escape the facility.
  • But now they are lost on Nihilor, the throne-world of the Terminus.
Lingering Questions and Issues:
  • How does the team escape? How might they be joined by their other teammates?
  • Where is Evan’s mother? What is her status? Can she be saved?
  • Who is Dr. Rex Gordon an agent of? How can the PCs stave off an invasion by the Terminus?
 

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Session 7 Summary (11/3/18)

In this session, we reflect on "that day we were going down to the waterfront"
(Evan's player was absent, and the planned session centered around Evan’s backstory, so I had a “flashback session”. I ran the “Let Sleeping Gods lie” adventure from the Mutants & Masterminds Supernatural Handbook.)

PlayerCharacterPlaybook
StefanieEmma WillJanus
BlakeNight GauntBeacon
DennisYayaelTransformed
JasmineSyringeTransformed


  • The heroes meet Syringe, a Rook Academy student whose porcupine-like needles bear powerful toxins.
  • The four are on their way down to the waterfront on a casual Saturday to relax and have fun.
  • They notice Darren Abernathy, a shop owner, begging the “protection” that has been dressing him down. When they find he only has a few missing books, they scoff and blow him off.
  • The heroes step in and help to investigate. Abernathy mentions the books in question were queried about earlier by a young man named Hawthorne, which he remembered, because he knew an elderly antique shop owner by that name.
  • They investigate Hawthorne’s shop, but find it closed.
  • They find out Hawthorne was recently committed for dementia issues. They interview him and find out the man who claimed to be “Hawthorne” was really a con artist known to Night Gaunt as Dale King.
  • Checking rumors with local pawn brokers, King is currently dressing down a rich mark named Regina Danvers.
  • They find King leaving an apartment building owned by Danvers, and find out that Danvers seems to be the real person who took the books.
  • Night Gaunt sneaks into the building and finds it is wired for sound, and has no real inhabitants. The building smells damp.
  • Aquatic humanoids start streaming up from the basement as eerie music starts playing from the speakers.
  • They locate the source of the transmission at the top of the building and face off with a sorcerous Regina Danvers, who has a computer system rigged up to scan and play the music from the books and awaken “the Great Worm”.
 

Caesar Slaad

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I missed a few weeks, but time to get back to it!

In this session, we return to the main chronology, where part of the team is trapped on Nihilor, a world rules by a powerful alien overlord.

Note here I used the name "Fury" to refer to the female armored warrior that serve the Terminus. It's a bit too much of a dead-on homage to the DC universe, and I need to come up with a better name for them. But for now...

Session 8 Summary (12/29/18)

PlayerCharacterPlaybook
StefanieEmma WillJanus
BlakeNight GauntBeacon
DennisYayaelTransformed
ChrisEvan HorizonNova


Supporting cast (AKA NPCs):
  • Razz – bluish/green alien rescued previous session from Physician Friendly’s. Telekinesis powers.
  • Felis – female humanoid rescued previous session from Physician Friendly’s. Unknown powers.
  • Kiram – “Fury” (armored warrior woman) freed by the group.
  • Mariah – Evan’s mother, a Fury
  • Madame Eviscera – Fury interrogator (villain)
  • Shadowstar (not seen) – Servant or Omega. Evan’s father.
Events
  • Shadowblade enlists Yayael to act as a homing device to find his “friends” wherever they may be.
  • Shadowblade manages to open a portal to the mountainous hideout on Nihilor where the other members of the team and other refugees are staying.
  • The portal attracts attention of the cyber-gargoyles and Furies.
  • Night Gaunt tethers a rope to enter the portal.
  • When the furies attack, Yayael enters the portal to intervene.
  • As the group tussles with the Furies, Yayael uses his earth control powers to erect a wall to protect the group, which opens the ground to a subterranean chamber, along with one of the Furies.
  • The group disarms the Fury and learns that she has a “loyalty implant” that can inflict pain on or kill her. Night Gaunt disables the implant.
  • The group enlists the aid of the Fury Kiram. She leads them to an underground rail system.
  • She warns them that knowledge of the gate that Bastion opened could lead Omega back to their Earth, and tells them that the forces of Omega are raised from the people of conquered realities. Bastion and Mariah (the turned Fury that is, in truth, Evan’s mother) are being interrogated at the Fury’s citadel.
  • Kiram also tells of Shadowstar, a powerful mutant with Evan’s powers.
  • Kiram agrees to lead the group to the Fury’s citadel, on the condition that they first take her to the memory pool, a place where the memories of victims are stored for analysis. There she can recover memories of her home world.
  • They see refugees from the earlier battle being escorted into the citadel on a floating barge. They get Kiram to take charge of the barge (bluffing the other Furies) and orchestrate a breakout on the receiving dock.
  • As planned, they take Kiram to the so-called memory pool. They face two gargoyle-librarians with shifting “puzzle box” memories that assault their minds. They defeat them, take the puzzle boxes, and recover Kiram’s memories of her lost homeworld. She leaves in a reverie.
  • The group travels to the interrogation chamber, where they see a disturbingly disassembled Bastion.
  • They proceed to the chamber where Mariah is being tortured by Madame Eviscara.
  • The group faces off with Madame Eviscera.
  • Once freed, Mariah hacks the computer banks to edit what has gone on here.
  • She explains that she is a technopath, a bioengineered super-soldier on a world under attack by the Terminus. She hid her presence and defeated the loyalty circuit with her powers. Evan’s father is Shadowstar, the alternate version of Shadowblade from her world, who had been altered to have tremendous gravity and wormhole powers, and now serves Omega.
  • The group takes Bastion’s “pieces” and escapes. Mariah says she need to stay so Omega cannot find her world, but uses the puzzle box to give Evan the ability to open a wormhole back to Earth.
  • Once on Earth, Evan tries to spend some time with Shadowblade, without explaining why.

Lingering questions/possibilities:
  • How long can Mariah keep up her ruse?
  • How long until the Terminus shifts its glare to the Earth?
  • Will the group see Kiram, Razz, or Felis again?
  • What happens with Bastion? Is he truly a villain? Can he be put back together again?
  • Does Shadowblade move into some sort of supervisory role?
 

Caesar Slaad

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In this session, the team is back on Earth, but are steal dealing with the fallout of Bastion's technology. Night Gaunt acquires some dangerous technology, setting up his imminent shift to the Brain playbook.

Session 9 Summary (2/9/19)

PlayerCharacterPlaybook
StefanieEmma WillJanus
BlakeNight GauntBeacon
DennisYayaelTransformed
ChrisEvan HorizonNova


NPCs:

  • Pixel (Kennon Jones) – Former Rook Academy student. Techempathy powers and superlative hacker.
  • Mrs. Jones – Pixel’s elderly mother.
  • Dr. Simone Harmony – Researcher, friend of Evan. Slender African-American, late 30s. (Simone Missick? Jasica Nicole?)
  • Alexander Murray – Politician running for mayoral office on a “supers regulation” platform.
  • Bastion – Former Rook Academy teacher with mind-enhancing implants.
  • Atti – A native American telepath from Yayael’s tribe
  • Maximillian – Emma’s dog
Events:
  • Himura’s boarding school re-opens, invites the characters back.
    • Night Gaunt and Emma wave off the decision
    • Yayael and Evan join.
  • The city is experiencing traffic jams, hack-attacks.
  • Emma returns home after her trip to space to find her dog Maximilian, a Hungarian Komondor is missing.
  • Evan is questioned by Dr. Harmony at Xerion Labs. She mentions there are problems with Bastion’s treatment and recovery.
  • The group seeks help from Pixel (now living with his mother again) and get a curious response. He is locked away in his basement and quickly gives them info to find the dognappers to get them out of his house.
    • Yayael destroys Mrs. Jones’ car while trying to delay its arrival with his earth powers.
  • The group meets up at the Coffee joint, and splits their efforts
    • Yayael and Emma track down the dognappers and recover her dog.
    • Night Gaunt and Evan go to the lab and learn more about the devices Bastion was using. Something destructively copied to devices in only the way that a techempath like Pixel or Mariah can do.
  • They return to Pixel’s house. They force their way into his basement lair. The lair is a fully equipped hacker command center, but he is nowhere to be found. While there, they find video showing that he has recreated the Bastion implants.
  • They take this information to Dr. Harmony, who helps them create a tracer program.
  • They use their devices to trace Pixel to the airport.
  • At the airport, Arthur Murray is awaiting contacts of his to arrive in the small business jet wing.
  • However, the jet starts to accelerate towards the terminal. Yayael uses his powers to arrest the plane and stop disaster.
  • Arthur Murray is rushed to a car to protect him. However, Night Gaunt sneaks into the car and replaces the driver (and ditches his security).
  • As they flee, the limo is attacked by an animated backhoe, then an array of self-driving cars. Yayael teleports Murray to safety (along with Night Gaunt and Evan).
    • They visit a remote site on the Reservation and leave Murray in the care of Atti, a native American telepath.
  • Emma enters the airport and finds one of the Bastion’s cybernetic nodes in a locker. She touches is and is temporarily dominated.
    • The nodes are Terminus tech (like the Puzzle box)
    • Unlike Bastion, Pixel can communicate with, and be dominated by, the Bastion implants without actually implanting them.
  • Evan arrives on the scene and helps Emma escape the influence of the node. They seek out Pixel and find him in a luggage room retrieving one of the nodes. Emma gets knocked out as Pixel summons a motorized airport transport cart through the wall into her, as Yayael and Night Gaunt arrive in the airport.
  • Evan destroys the Node that was in the luggage; Pixel flees on the transport cart.
  • Yayael and Night Gaunt get the skinny that the trackers are actually tracking the distributed nodes, and find there is one hidden in the parking garage in a vehicle. They face an array of animated vehicles to get at it.
  • Night Gaunt grabs the node (risking being dominated) and reaches out to Pixel. He finds that he is, in effect, trapped in this own mind by the Terminus Nodes. Night Gaunt gets Pixel to lash out at the node he is holding, destroying it and defeating the Pixel-powered Bastion machine entity.
  • Night Gaunt considers keeping the last node for his own uses, but decides to turn it over to Dr. Harmony. Night Gaunt secretly kept/copied the last Bastion node.
 
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