Now, we all love a superhero fight. Seeing two monumental figures with fluttering capes dealing blow for blow in titanic might. Blasts of magic and ethereal energy shockwave from the fingertips of villainous casters. The climactic fights between good and evil. But a superhero story cannot survive on acts of superhuman power alone. They cannot go year after year for this decades-spanning industry if it was just Superman beating up Metallo every week. No, what keeps us coming back is Superman’s humanity. The moments where he talks with those of non-high flying identity. How his relationship with Lois Lane develops. We read the comics for the ‘man’ in Superman.
A friend once told me that my greatest strength as a writer was finding the mundane in the fantastical. Well, it is less a strength and more where my passion lies. I adore the scenes in comics of costume-glad crusaders sitting down for some pizza. I don’t care as much for the end to Dr. Destruction’s world-ending threat, as much as how the hero putting themself in such a stressful situation will lead to them developing as a person. It’s about the people who put on the mask for me. Not the mask itself. Today, I have brought a game on to discuss that exemplifies such a thing. A game that makes itself known as character first, superheroes second.
With that said, let’s dive into Marvelous. Continue reading Marvelous Review
Spiderman in the Marvel Comics has had a lot of memorable foes. From the more comical such as Shocker and Rhino. To the deathly serious in Green Goblin and Kingpin. Peter Parker and his many fellow Spider-Folks have no shortage of villains who left a mark on the minds of fans. But for me, it was always one villain that was memorized in this ol’ skull the most. Or rather, as I soon came to discover, a group. More like a plague when you think about it.
The Symbiotes. These alien menaces would bind to the most heroic of crusaders, granting them a boon of immense power. At the cost of what made them so heroic. They would prey upon the impulses that, in moderation, make us human. Anger. Hate. Jealousy. Pain. Only, they weren’t content with those impulses remaining moderate. They would take the knob and wind it all the way up to the max. These symbiotes would turn heroes into villains.
And as a kid, that both fascinated and scared the ever living hell out of me. These beings were like the zombie virus storylines on adrenaline. They don’t just turn you into a monster. They do it slowly. They whittle away at who you are, amplifying the parts you’d rather forget and minimizing the aspects you hold dear, bit by bit. They turn your love to obsession. They turn your courage to fanaticism. They turn you into…..well, NOT-you.
And when I think of the idea of horror stories in Marvel, I can’t get closer than the idea of a well done symbiote story. Barring Immortal Hulk, cos that’s friggin’ amazing.
So, let’s discuss how to do a symbiote story in Masks. Let’s discuss horror in Masks: A New Generation.
Continue reading We Are Venom: Using Symbiotes (And Horror) in Masks
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
Superhero stories are at their most interesting when talking about conflicts that aren’t easily knocked down with super-strength or a utility belt of gadgets. The most memorable superheroes across every continuity are those who are both relatable and who must struggle to earn their victories. As our readers have seen with Seamus’s High Impact Heroics Adventure Log, there are newer supers games like Masks which do a great job of emphasizing the human aspects of the superheroic. Cut from a similar cloth is Heroes All, a new game by Brandon Sichling. Heroes All is built around the core conflicts that make or break a superheroic character. By pairing the creation of an antagonist with the player’s protagonist, Heroes All creates an immediate conflict for every player right out of the gate.
Continue reading The Independents: Heroes All
With both the cultural monolith that is Avengers: Endgame finally upon us, and D&D having sunk it’s claws into my soul after a long absence (I’m trapped in two campaigns at the moment), I felt the urge to play some tabletop super-powered RPGs. Or at the very least, flip through my old books and reminisce about old characters and stories. The RPG I go back to for this fix every time, without fail, is Aberrant, a game that’s out of print and lost in the shuffle. I’ve been wanting to write about it for awhile now because it’s an under appreciated gem in White Wolf’s crown, and I don’t want it to be forgotten.
The gameplay was fun, flexible, and the lore was way ahead of the curve in its depth of world building. I actually think it’s more relevant today in 2019, than when it was released back in 1999. At least a few other people do too, as Onyx Path Publishing is working on a second edition. But I’m getting ahead of myself. What I really want to talk about is the setting.
Continue reading Aberrant: A Forgotten Superhero RPG Worth Remembering
A Rolls-Royce Phantom peels around a corner, stray dollar bills from the sacks in the back fluttering out the open windows, as a pair of police cars howl in pursuit. A man in the rear seat leans out and chatters a string of bullets from his tommy gun at the coppers, but his shots go wide and the gun jams. Cursing, he leans back in to try and fix his weapon, yelling at the woman riding shotgun to handle it. She leans out her own window, raises a hand . . .and a beam of cold energy shoots out of it, creating an ice slick right in front of one of the police cars. The vehicle swerves, skids, and slams into a street lamp, but the second pursuit vehicle gets around it and draws closer. Suddenly, there’s a flash of energy from behind the windshield of the crashed car as one of its occupants steps through a dimensional gate and appears perched on the hood of the Phantom, shotgun in hand, demanding the gangsters pull over in the name of the law. It’s the 1920s. Alcohol is Prohibited, crime pays very well, the law does what it can. And, of course, there are superpowers. This is the BAMFsie-award-winning roleplaying game CAPERS from NerdBurger Games!
Continue reading The Independents: CAPERS
Marvel has S.H.I.E.L.D., DC has A.R.G.U.S., and Masks: A New Generation has A.E.G.I.S., the Advanced Expert Group for Intervention and Security. In Halcyon City and beyond, while superheroes are wearing flashy colors and punching their enemies through buildings it’s the agents of A.E.G.I.S. who fill in the gaps, clean up the messes, nip nascent threats in the bud, and keep an eye on everything in the name of protecting everyone. A.E.G.I.S. has always been a factor for the New Generation to consider, but we can now learn the Secrets of A.E.G.I.S. in the second Masks supplement from Magpie Games!
Continue reading Masks: Secrets of A.E.G.I.S. Review
I’m on the lookout for games you can play with kids. Yes, my own is still measuring his age in weeks, and the nature of this sort of thing means that he’ll probably end up a football player or something and hew to the associated stereotype of not wanting anything to do with geeky things, but still. The instinct is there. Got to plan ahead. I thus found it very good fortune to find a game meant just for that landing in my To Be Reviewed inbox. Today The Independents are taking a look at a game built specifically with parents and their children in mind, a superhero world not quite our own, with Power Outage by Bebarce El-Tayib!
Continue reading The Independents: Power Outage
There’s a mad scientist robbing a bank with a swarm of psychically controlled bees. Turns out that your best friend wants to be something more, but thinks your teammate is competition. The Red Dragon’s dad is calling and complaining about him not ‘upholding our legacy’, while Spitfire can’t go outside out of costume without being hunted by nefarious forces or endangering her family. The Lawman just called you in to A.E.G.I.S. HQ to lecture you about the property damage the team caused last night. Did we mention that there’s a AP Calculus test on Monday? Life as a superhero is always a messy affair, but doubly so when you’re a teenager and everyone has ideas about what you should be doing. This is Masks: A New Generation!
Continue reading The Independents: Masks