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Smoke and Mirrors

This week, I am happy to present an Actual Play of Masks: A New Generation, an upcoming superhero RPG ‘Powered by the Apocalypse’ from Magpie Games. As a result, this game was played using version 2 of the playtest rules. This is the first roleplaying actual play on this roleplaying blog, so I hope it is the first of many and that you enjoy it.

The Principal Cast

NightEagle – The Protégé – A highly-trained martial artist.

Event Horizon – The Nova – A janitor turned master of gravity.

Slab – The Transformed – A walking rock man of great power.

Arcana – The Janus – A student of the human mind with great powers of empathy.

 The Tale

 With an out of control commuter train hurtling towards the central station of Halcyon City’s industrial district, it was up to our brave heroes to save the day. Lead by the highly-trained NightEagle, they raced to the elevated tracks and, through an unconventional use of Event Horizon’s gravity manipulation, managed to pull up (in mid-air) next to the last carriage of the train.

Jumping from the van to the train proved the easiest task they would undertake. Arcana was immediately assaulted by the waves of fear pulsing from the trapped civilians and began to harvest it, absorbing the terror. The heroes’ progress through the train was halted as it quickly became apparent that each carriage held, in addition to the terrified people, a handful of disguised combat-droids.

Whilst our heroes had come up against worse, the droids proved more than a mere hindrance. Capable of grappling their targets from a distance, they used every advantage they could get to slow the heroes. These advantages became less and less as Arcana began releasing the absorbed energy stored in her body and disrupting the camouflage tech surrounding the droids in her immediate vicinity. Using this knowledge, and his skill, NightEagle began pushing through the train, towards the driver’s cabin.

Meanwhile, Event Horizon tried to alter the gravity around the rear carriage in an effort to slow it down and managed to do so briefly, throwing everyone in the train off balance. Seeing this, Slab decided to do things the old-fashioned way and dropped out of the back door, physically pulling the train to a gradual halt.

At the front of the train, Arcana and NightEagle discovered the driver was unconscious and some sort of metallic orb was plugged into his console. Interpreting its sudden glowing as an attack, the heroes (joined by Event Horizon) reacted accordingly as the train ground to a slow halt at the station. However, the orb was merely a holographic projector and the masked man in the lab coat that it projected loudly proclaimed that they had fallen for “Decoy’s trap!”

After a quick check of the people on the platform (and terrifying a poor newspaper-kiosk owner), our heroes retired to their base of operations, a secret room belonging to NightEagle’s mentor. Using the resources in the Nest, along with the fragments of robot and the drone they collected from the train, they began researching the nefarious mastermind calling himself Decoy. The metal was of a compound belonging to Phoenix Laboratories, a seemingly innocuous company based in Halcyon City.

It was only after NightEagle’s mentor returned from his mission and granted them more access to his files that they were able to uncover the full truth. Phoenix Laboratories handled top secret contracts and, among other things, produced a line of very familiar combat droids. The man in charge of the A.I. controlling these had recently been fired. A bit more digging turned up a name, Michael Sanderson, and the fact that his wife was an imprisoned supercriminal in the research facility known only as the Reef. There was some understandable concern when they found out that Phoenix supplied droids to the Reef as security and all haste was made to the sea.

Borrowing one of the planes they had access to, the heroes screamed across the sky and then dove under water, heading for the docking bays. As they approached, the heroes realised something was wrong, guessing that Decoy had infiltrated the Reef and was posing as the Warden, and altered their course, heading back to the surface. Moments later, their worst fears were realised as a cluster of lifepods surfaced. Arcana worked out that most of them were probably the security guards, ejected from the facility when the prisoners took over. They managed to organise the pods into groups and sent a message to any available heroes about which ones to recover first and which to treat as suspicious.

As they finished doing this, something else surfaced from the Reef. Rather than a lifepod, this was a submersible seaplane, likely belonging to the Warden. Sensing only a few blurs of emotion within, through Arcana’s talents, the heroes made their way towards it as it began speeding up for take-off.

Slab, with the help of Event Horizon, quickly made this an untenable idea as he jumped from their jet onto the roof of the seaplane, punching a hole through it. Unasked for assistance from the gravity manipulator forced the unnaturally dense man through the floor of the plane and into the cargo hold where he found a large number of deactivated combat droids. He immediately began tearing them apart.

Meanwhile, the others were dropping onto the roof of the seaplane. Arcana used her talents to pinpoint the location of everyone on board whilst NightEagle ran to roof of the cockpit and identified the pilot as one of the escaped supervillains. Making his way back, the two of them dropped down into the plane and made their way through the large cabin, heading for the closed door. It opened to reveal the supervillainess known as Feint!

As Feint hit Arcana with her telepathic manipulation, and NightEagle incapacitated the currently unarmed and unarmoured Decoy, Event Horizon dropped down into the cargo hold and found Slab in combat with an equally large man engulfed in fire. Taking advantage of a hole in the floor of the cargo bay, he tried to push the supervillain (renowned mob enforced Agni) into the sea rushing below them. Having pushed himself further than his normal limits, he accidentally threw both of the combatants into the water, dousing Agni painfully and momentarily submerging Slab. Thinking quickly, he pulled Slab back in and began interrogating Agni. After a brief period of screaming, he built a cage from the wreckage around them and threw him in.

Whilst this was happening, Slab clambered back into the cabin where the pilot, leaving the cockpit at last, made him forget his transformation. Convinced he remained his old, unaltered self, he sat down as the fight raged behind him.

The fight itself didn’t last much longer. As NightEagle sped across the cabin and knocked the pilot (the supervillain Rasa) unconscious, Event Horizon emerged from the cargo hold and brutally swept Feint away with a wave of debris from the cabin, pinning her to the back wall and almost killing her.

The villains defeated, for now, the heroes came to terms with what they had had to do to succeed and returned home, ready for whatever might come their way.