Originally posted to Google+ in February 2017:
I ran my Masks game this past Sunday. There was one particular moment that is just heartbreakingly great, but its at the very tail end and it requires me laying down some track to get the train there.
The team was really going at it with this crew of Transhumans — envoys from a city of cyberized post-humans — who were in Halcyon to retrieve the macguffin containing the mind of their worst war criminal, so they could destroy it. Classic comic book set up: there was a misunderstanding, everybody got into a fight.
One of our PCs is Ai. Ai is a teenage girl whose body is baaaaasically all nanomachines now. Maybe more like 80%. She had a disease that was eating her body alive, and her father saved her life by using experimental nanite technology… based on the aforementioned macguffin. He died in the incident, and his body was never found.
After the fight and the making up and taking the Transhumans to the macguffin, its discovered that Ai’s father is seemingly not dead. It appears the war criminal used the instance of Ai’s origin story to break the body of Ai’s father down into its constituent bits and drag it into his prison, where he is now — and has been for weeks — holding his mind hostage. The teens nearly get into another fuckin fight with the Transhumans, because no way are they giving this thing to them now even if they do understand why they want it.
Some shouting, some posturing, some fuming later and the envoys put the macguffin in a cage but leave it at the lab, saying they will return in 3 days. If the teens have a halfway not terrible plan for how to get Ai’s father out, maybe they’ll try it. But that’s it.
Our Protege’s mentor shows up. Her name is Lady Azrael. She is Elektra dressed up as Daredevil with Punisher’s bloody vendetta. She also has psychic visions that let her witness other possible timelines, which she uses to influence and guide all of her decisions. Lady Azrael drags over her Protege, Devil Child, and they have a chat.
She’s seen a vision that the Exemplars are going to come talk to her, to tell her she needs to force the teens to comply with them. They’re going to tell her she needs to make the teens hand over the macguffin to avoid the international incident that’s going to go down from a Transhuman war criminal being detained in Halcyon.
Its adults arguing with one another about big gross messy adult politics when all the kids want is their friend’s fucking dad back.
Lady Azrael wraps up her spiel basically saying, look, if you’re going to be the big dick cool guy who is going to tell the Exemplars to shove off, you need to back it up. You can’t take a stand on something like this and expect it to go away. You’re going to stand up to them, and when they push back… what? Say whoops nevermind, Ai, sorry about your dad? She says I’ve been making you into a weapon for years, and its time you start acting like one. This is your warning.
Devil Child’s Danger climbs to 2 and his Mundane goes down to 0, and this is a character who has been this charming heart of the team, smoothing egos and making people feel good up until now.
Devil Child is best friends with Disaster. When Disaster had a fit last game session about being called a menace, Devil Child went and calmed her down and had a heart to heart and fought a fire with her. They’ve gone underage clubbing together and ran from the cops. Before doing the team thing, the two of them fought a red pill anarcho-terrorist called The Libertine. They’re bros.
>> Fast Forward
Devil Child and Disaster fist bump over how they’re going to tell the Exemplars screw you, how they’re going to stand up for saving Ai’s dad, and how as long as they have each others’ back, everything will be fine.
>> Fast Forward
The entire team is being taken to task by Exemplar member Speedbump, who is calling them out on being fuckin children who have no idea what they’re getting into. They’re on top of the world right now, but what are they going to do when the Transhumans come back and they haven’t gotten what they wanted? The Transhumans aren’t going to give them more time. Are the teens really going to wash their hands of the thing, say oh well, or are they going to pick a fight? If they pick a fight, how is that going to play out, when the Transhumans already wrecked the lab they crashed in just a short fight? How many people are going to get hurt when the Exemplars have to try and break up that fight?
He’s an adult, he has Influence over everyone, so he’s calling these kids dangerous and stupid. Danger Up, Superior Down on everybody. The Outsider, Seren, doesn’t resist — she idolizes the Exemplars and no one told her they were going to give her heroes the finger and tell them to fuck off; she is so lost in all of this. Ai and Devil Child try to resist, and fail — she marks Insecure and Devil Child marks Afraid and their stats change, and they’re left like “oh fuck, oh god, what the hell are we doing.” Devil Child’s Danger climbs up to 3.
Disaster, the Delinquent, is the only one to make her roll to resist being told she’s screwing everything up. She’s in the front of the group, and she gets in Speedbump’s face like “You think we don’t understand the responsibilities? You think we don’t know what we’re doing?”
And turns around to see the crestfallen, browbeaten, submissive looks on every. single. team member’s. face.
Early this exact same day, Devil Child talked Disaster out of arresting a particular supervillain nemesis that has trounced her more than once. There’s complicated reasons for why, but in the end Disaster was emotionally outmaneuvered and did what Devil Child wanted, despite herself.
>> Fast Forward
Disaster is left holding the idiot bag when at the last second her teammates and best friend flake on her. And that’s where our session ends: Disaster trying to rep her friends, trying to build them up, trying to tell the adults that the team can handle this… and the team letting her down right there in front of The Exemplars, firefighters, the city, everyone, for the second time in 12 hours.
Post Script: During end of session questions, Disaster picked “Grow away from the team,” the first time its ever been picked in the campaign, and took away Devil Child’s influence over her.
Get wrecked, you fake friend.