Tag Archives: Powered by the Apocalypse

Masks: A New Generation and the Possibilities of Trans Narratives

If you read my last article (come on, check it out, I’m pretty proud) you know that Powered By The Apocalypse has a queer fandom. What’s more, you likely know that when it comes to RPGs, none appeal to me more than Masks: A New Generation. It utilizes a picture perfect narrative system while weaving it together with the trials and tribulations of being a fledgling superhero who also happens to struggle with the whole teenager thing. I frigging’ love it!  It’s my favorite RPG system.

Hey, you don’t gotta take my word for it. This site has quite a few cool articles on the system I’d seriously recommend giving a read. Now, what I’m here for today is to tackle the systems of Masks in-depth from a perspective inspired by the Masks actual play podcast, Unlabelled. Unlabelled is a Masks podcast set in the Phoenix Academy playset (think Sky-High or My Hero Academia). While I had been dying for a podcast of that playset for months, what truly drew my attention hook, line, and sinker was the fact that the entire cast, both in and out of the game, was comprised of trans women. I love to see myself in my favorite hobby, and I adore to see myself in my favorite game.

During the character creation segment of the podcast, one of the players jokingly referred to the Transformed playbook as the “TRANS-formed”. A lot of trans folx have already noticed this with the archetype, and I briefly touched upon it in my last article, but the Transformed hits on many of the same beats of the trans experience.

Being changed and coming to terms with that.

Discrimination for standing out cos you’re not the same as everyone else.

People not understanding how you feel.

But that got me thinking. If the Transformed, an archetype based on youthful experience, could be so easily a metaphor for a trans narrative, why not all the playbooks? And I thought about it. And I thought. And I thought.

And this article is what came of it. So sit back, grab a drink and let’s dive into: Masks: A Trans Generation.

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Powered By The Apocalypse: How A Rule-System Nurtured A Queer Fanbase

My first openly trans character-after having come out as a trans woman myself-was a Bull in a Masks: A New Generation one-shot. She was a lone wolf archetype style character. It was even her hero name (original, I know).

My second trans character was also in a Masks game, but now a  campaign. Her name was Apollo and she was a Legacy: the first trans woman to bear the mantle in a long line of women. While Lone Wolf’s identity was simply a part of her flavour, Apollya’s trans womanhood was intrinsic to who she was and what her story was about. The good, the bad, and the ugly of it all. And it was what I wanted.

Masks was the first game I felt like I could be the type of character I wanted to see in the superhero media. No, in all media. And I soon learned I wasn’t alone. There was a whole ruleset with a welcoming community, of an easy to learn system with gatekeeping kept to a minimum. It’s Powered By the Apocalypse. And it is my favourite system. And in my opinion, the gayest.

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The Veil In-Depth

Welcome to another Review In-Depth! Here I explore and attempt to critique a game using not just a reading or even a mere one-shot, but rather a full short campaign of play. While reading may tell you about rules and ease of use, and a one-shot may demonstrate game balance and fun factor, it takes several sessions to really tease out how well a game accomplishes its stated goals. And because rules aren’t everything, I cast an equally critical eye to the content of the story the group ended up telling.

Today’s game tells a sadly real story about the gap that exists between enthusiasm and actually finding time to play something. Cannibal Halfling’s first breakout article was written in March of 2017, about four months after the site was founded, and it was about two Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) Cyberpunk games, The Veil and The Sprawl. This recent campaign was the first time I successfully ran The Veil, in fact the first time I successfully played it at all…it was over two years after I first read it.

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The Independents: Undying

I have a confession to make: I’m a fan of vampires in fiction. I honestly think that they are an excellent concept in supernatural action and horror, largely due to much of their mythos having easy ties to profound themes such as seduction, addiction, lost innocence, alienation, and the loss of humanity. Toss in a large chunk of my formative years suffused with badass supernatural bloodsuckers brought to life in films such as Blade, Underworld, Interview with the Vampire, and Queen of the Damned (plus TV shows such as Buffy, Angel and Hellsing) and you get a player who, even now, gets giddy at the chance to play in a game with a vampire focus. So when I find out that the company that is both behind my favorite Powered by the Apocalypse game (Masks) and already knows how to do horror well (Bluebeard’s Bride) already has such a game on the shelf…well, I couldn’t stay away. Which is what has brought me to Undying by Magpie Games.

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Adventure Log: Masks: High Impact Heroics Pt. 7

Out in one of the suburban zones of the Halcyon City metropolis Gilbert Phillps was shrugging on his trenchcoat and looking over his shoulder at the sleeping figure in his bed. When the doors had blown in at the Halcyon City High School #5 Semi-Formal Dance, the first thing he’d done had been to grab his friend and date Emma and spirit her away to safety. Once they’d gotten there, though . . . well, it had been an exciting night, long-hidden emotions had been revealed, and teenagers are teenagers. Now, though, Gil had to find out what had happened to the rest of his team. Leaving a note for the sleeping Emma, CryptoHertz opened his room’s window, deployed the flight pack that was the latest of his cybernetic upgrades, and flew off into the night (or rather, morning) sky. Continue reading Adventure Log: Masks: High Impact Heroics Pt. 7

Adventure Log: Masks: High Impact Heroics Pt. 6

As the doors of Halcyon City High School #5’s auditorium blasted inwards in a ball of fire and debris to interrupt the semi-formal dance, three things happened in rapid succession. First, the majority of the students present began to scream in panic and terror. Second, Gil and the Hemophiliac each separately took one look at the explosion and grabbed their dates, rushing Emma and the Sea Tarantula out a back door to safety. Third, the Lawman stood up from where he’d been knocked to the floor, drawing his revolver. Fanning the hammer he sent a hail of bullets through the smoke and dust . . . but there was an answering chatter of automatic fire. The revolver clattered to the floor as the Lawman went down, lost in the smoke and debris. The only active adult superhero and A.E.G.I.S. agent present was out for the count, maybe even dead. It looked like the younger breed of heroes were going to have to step up.

Continue reading Adventure Log: Masks: High Impact Heroics Pt. 6

Monster of the Week: Tome of Mysteries Review

Has your monster killing gotten into a rut? Oh sure, it was exciting the first time that the vampire raided the school dance, or when an accident with a magical artifact would summon a new type of creature each week to terrorize the town (though, strangely enough, it would always seem to stop between May and early-September). But when it’s happened week after week after week, the monsters themselves might get a little…stale. Maybe it’s time to stop the pure slayage, and chase some mysteries. After all, not every problem can be solved by hitting hard until dead: there are strange events possibly caused by innocent or well-intentioned mundane actions, or perhaps you are getting the first glimpse of a conspiracy, one that would take nine months or so to wrap up. It’s just the thing to brighten up events around the school library, FBI headquarters, or MIT lab. 

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TRANSIT: The Spaceship RPG

Travel between the stars is no longer science fiction, but instead reality. No longer confined to one measly system, ships now move across vast interstellar distances in the blink of an eye . .. but no biological mind can guide them. Artificial Intelligences have been created to inhabit these void-faring vessels, to guide them and lead their biological crews. Questions still remain, however. What’s out there in the darkness, waiting to be found? What is the true potential of the AI, and what will it mean for the galaxy? These questions are at the heart of TRANSIT: The Spaceship RPG, a Powered by the Apocalypse game about artificial intelligences, the starships they control, and their journeys across the galaxy from Fiddleback Productions!

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The Independents: Comrades: A Revolutionary RPG

The government has turned corrupt, and what should be serving the people now crushes them under the weight of fear and oppression. Secret police hunt for any kind of dissent, and authoritarian goons stalk the streets looking for heads to crack. Whether in public rallies or in secret meetings, with fists and firepower or words and willpower, revolutionaries fight to realize their ideals and create a better world. But how will they make those ideals come true? What are they willing to do, how far are they ready to go, to overthrow their oppressors and build a future? And even if they ‘win’, will that future be one that’s worth the cost, or will it be another nightmare? That’s the kind of story you’ll be telling if you play Comrades: A Revolutionary RPG by W.M. Akers, currently live on Kickstarter. Continue reading The Independents: Comrades: A Revolutionary RPG

Bluebeard’s Bride: The Book of Mirrors Review

A son learning the truth about his father, a father his mother escaped from. A teacher alone on the cold school grounds, caught between a marriage offer and the street. A ‘patient’ confined to the halls of the insane, questioning her own mind. A showgirl trapped among the carnival’s tents as surely as the locked doors of a manor. A guard finding herself locked up with the prisoners instead of them being locked up with her. Bluebeard’s Bride is a game of feminine horror from Magpie Games, wherein the eponymous bride finds herself wandering her husband’s home, experiencing the horrors within, and facing a terrible choice. When the Bride looks into a shattered mirror, however, her image splits and warps into something new. Such is what happens in the latest supplement for Bluebeard’s Bride, the Book of Mirrors!

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