Monday, July 16, 2018

Masks: Spectres and Swords

Well, we didn't play Alas for the Awful Sea yesterday, but we did play a Masks one-shot on Saturday, so HA, I have a game write-up to do today.

I hadn't run or played Masks before, but it went really smoothly. I like the game a whole lot. Meet the heroes!

  • The Janus is Copycat/Carlos Caballero. Carlos can mimic a substance's properties by touching them, so he wears an outfit with lots of pouches with various materials (we asked if his costume was designed by Rob Liefeld). Carlos works as a barista near La Plaza mall, and only his Judo teacher, Mr. Balfour, knows his real identity. 
  • The Outsider is Positron/Laran Naiar. Positron is from a colony ship simply called Home, and was sent as a long-range scout looking for a new planet for their displaced species. Positron is agender (their species doesn't really have "gender" as a concept). They find humanity inspiring, but also frustrating - humanity lacks tech that Positron takes for granted. They can control their personal density as well as manipulate sunlight. 
  • The Delinquent is El Cucuy/Dante Soto. Dante was given his powers by his mentor, but whereas his mentor used these powers of teleportation and illusions to be forthright and positive and a shining heroic ideal, Dante would ran be dark and scary. He ran away to Halcyon City to avoid those responsibilities, but he takes his team as intentional family. 
  • The Nova is Thunderbird/Jess Tenkiller. Jess' powers manifested in the middle of a tornado, and the spirit of Thunderbird visited her. Her powers injured her best friend Carrie, and she works now to control the vast power within. 
  • The Bull is Marta Hernandez/Wrecking Ball. In spite of her name, Wrecking Ball is actually a highly controlled individual - she knows that if she loses control, the results could be devastating. She is idealistic and positive, and a big proponent of teamwork. She also has some experience with the darker side of the system - after her parents died in a house fire, the government tried to adopt her, but her abuelita fought the system to get custody. 
This young team had their baptism of fire, as it were, during an alien invasion. The insect-like Cicadeans invaded and burrowed into the infrastructure, but their queen actually landed on the outskirts of Halcyon City. City protocol is not to fight with aliens (this happens a lot), but the team saw that bad shit was afoot and took the fight to them...which wound up destroying La Plaza Mall, but saving the life of Luz, El Cucuy's mentor. 

So on this particular day, Carlos is working at the coffee shop near the mall. It's wrecked and under construction, so the coffee shop is busy with construction workers getting their morning Joe. And then an armored car pulls up - normal - but then a beam of light cuts it in half. 

Everyone stares, but Carlos sends a quick text to Marta. He tries to make an excuse to Esteban, his boss, so he can get out there, but Esteban reminds him he's on the clock and to put his phone away, and Carlos relents, hoping his team can handle it. 

El Cucuy is up in the construction site tagging fresh walls, and sees the snafu with the truck. He teleports down and spies a figure with what looks for all the world like a light-saber stealing money from the truck. He summons up illusions of police officers, telling the figure to drop the money and come up. The illusion works, but the figure just slices open a portal in reality and steps through. The rest of the team arrives seconds later, but the figure - a woman with long black hair and a white and green outfit - is gone. The heroes look around the site a bit, but there's no sign of her, and then a helicopter comes in.

The copter is carrying government agents from AEGIS. Marta knows these folks; they tried to adopt her once upon a time, but she figures they're here to help. The agent in charge barely acknowledges the heroes, tells them to stay out of the way and let the adults handle it, and starts directly his people to load up the two halves of the truck onto a flatbed. Positron starts ranting at the agents, aghast that they don't have dimensional rift detectors, and the agents start to finger their weapons (Positron is hovering and glowing a bit), but Cucuy uses his powers to tone down Positron's rant a little...with the effect that the agent in charge takes note of him a bit more. The teens, a little disheartened, decide to retire to Positron's ship (disguised as an under-construction store at the mall) to talk this over. Carlos joins them, finally allowed to take his break. 

Positron alters a camcorder to detect and reopen dimensional rifts, and the heroes decide to wait until evening to try it. That evening, they reopen the gate, and all charge through...into a storage unit made of corrugated steel. There's a bedroll, a huge bag of money...not what they'd expected. Jess searches the bedroll and finds a photo - the woman, along with her parents and siblings. Maybe this "villain" is supporting a family? Dante teleports out of the unit and discovers that they're on a cargo ship in the middle of the damn ocean - this is going to be problematic. 

And just then, the woman appears through a dimensional rift, sword drawn. Wrecking Ball takes a swing and manages to separate her from her sword. She raises her hands in surrender and says she's just trying to help her family out, but when Jess gets closer, she closes her first and energy-blasts her against a wall. Positron jumps for her, raising their density, but the woman grabs her sword back from Marta and expertly dances around Positron, sending them crashing into Marta. Copycat, behind the swordswoman, calls out at her to stop. She fires an energy blast, but Copycat turns to steel and bounces it off the his hand, blowing open the container. This display of force sets everyone back a bit, and the heroes manage to get her talking. She says that a woman named "Dr. Spectre" has her family, and she's meant to deliver money - what she stole and then some - to her tonight. The heroes pledge to stop Spectre, and the swordswoman agrees, but she's keeping the money until then. She opens a gate and lets the money bag fall through, takes the picture of her family, and opens a gate for the heroes back to the city. Dr. Spectre, she says, is in the basement of Santa Maria Hospital (that's in the heroes' neighborhood!). 

Now with a mission, Copycat and Dante scout out the hospital and find a way in. The heroes take the elevator down (building up their Team as they do), and arrive at the bottom. The morgue still has many steel tables, but thankfully no corpses - only cryotubes at the end of the room. Jess looks over the tubes and finds that two on the end are labeled as "MUNDANE" - but the others have weird symbols and numbers that the heroes can't decipher.

Positron steps up to turns them off and free the people, and then a ghostly figure flows out of the one of them! Positron panics and unleashes their sun powers, making everything bright and steaming up the tubes, but Spectre tells them to get out, that they have nothings he needs. Marta dives in to punch her, but she laughs - she is intangible and immune to such base attacks. 

Jess, though, summons the power of Thunderbird and throws a giant bird made of lighting at Spectre. That seems to work, and Spectre flings every table in the place around in a telekinetic storm. Marta finally loses it, smashing tables and punching walls, trying to punch the storm into submission, while Dante teleports to the back of the room to avoid getting hurt. Copycat leaps from table to table and then tries something really risky - he uses his mimicry power to make himself intangible like Spectre. He goes ghost-form and grabs her, and Positron uses their density control to solidify them both. Copycat lands, back to normal, and Marta punches Spectre as hard as she can.

Spectre shatters. The heroes are horrified (they aren't killers, after all), but they quickly gather her up and put her in a tube, and Positron manages to get the tube working - Spectre is alive. They free the others from the tubes, and find that the folks on the end were hospital staff, but the other folks were heroes that Spectre was keeping prisoner. In a separate room, they find more tubes, empty, with one word etched into the glass - GRACIAS. 

AEGIS arrives and takes control of the situation (they found them by tracking Dante's powers, which they started doing after the little tiff in near the mall). Marta asks where they've been, and the agent says they got sidetracked tracking the power all the way out to the middle of the ocean...but they'll handle it from here. The heroes leave (Carlos needs to get to Judo practice!), and AEGIS loads up the tube containing Spectre...which is even now reconstituting her.