About this project
Hey there! We've unlocked so much awesome stuff over the course of this Kickstarter! Here's a quick guide to point you at the biggest reward tiers. Looking to get all the awesome books, dice, and card decks unlocked in this Kickstarter? Then you want the High-Level A.E.G.I.S. Access reward tier for all the softcover books, and the Ultimate A.E.G.I.S. Access reward tier for all the hardcover books!
Masks is a tabletop roleplaying game in which you play young superheroes who are growing up in a city several generations into its superheroic age. Halcyon City has had more than its fair share of superheroes, superteams, supervillains, and everything in between. Over the course of three different generations of super-people, Halcyon City has seen it all.
You play members of the fourth generation, young adults trying to figure out who they are and what kind of heroes they want to be. The rest of the world is telling them what to do, but they'll find their own path amidst the noise. And kick some butt along the way. After all, what's the point of being a hero if you can't fight for the things you believe in?
Masks is based on the award-winning Powered by the Apocalypse system developed by Vincent Baker and used in Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, Urban Shadows, and more. It's a rules-light system that fuels some of the best innovations in gaming in the last ten years, and Masks has been built from the ground up to incorporate everything I've learned about Powered by the Apocalypse games.
Masks produces stories like those found in Young Justice, Teen Titans, Young Avengers, X-Men, and more, using the Powered by the Apocalypse rules to provide an easy but useful skeleton for awesome storytelling!
Halcyon City is a metropolis of gleaming spires and countless cultures, one of the greatest cities in the world. It also has far and away the greatest concentration of super-powered individuals in the entire world. The people of Halcyon City see more superheroics in a day than most people see in a lifetime.
Halcyon City has adapted to the superheroes and their struggles in ways both obvious and subtle, from rapid-action construction crews designed to deal with destruction and mayhem to supervillain penitentiaries (like The Spike) near or even in city limits. It’s a place of wonders and dangers...and it’s awesome to live here. There's no place like it on Earth.
Supers have been around publicly for over half a century, starting with the first folks to put on the mask in the late '30's. Supers may have been around for much longer than that, but it's only since they came forward and became a dominant force in the city that meta-historians, sociologists, and suprologists have tried to classify them by generation.
The Gold Generation was the first, filled with costumed adventurers and men and women with powers greater than mere mortals. They were noble and honorable, and they fought for their country, for justice, for freedom and liberty. At the time, they could do no wrong. Nowadays, the historians of Halcyon City acknowledge the many flaws, blind spots, and failings of the Gold Generation, but no one can deny the good they did. Though the vast majority of them are dead or retired at this point, the new generation of heroes can still feel their influence.
The Silver Generation came next: the first true supers. This new generation could fly, tear holes in the fabric of reality, or summon up the primal forces of nature. The Silver Generation was the first generation to devote themselves to fighting supervillains, monsters, and dangerous phenomena instead of criminals or political wrongdoers. To this day, they're in charge of the largest superhero teams, the heads of giant corporations, and the most powerful politicos in the city. But they're aging, passing into obsolescence, and they're looking for new heroes to carry their torch.
The Bronze Generation, the children and proteges of the Silver Generation, came up in a world already filled to the brim with superpowers. Their elders were still on top for most of their lives, and even those who tried to follow in the Silver Generation's footsteps found themselves pushed out by their parents' and mentors' dominance. Many found new paths, in new or abandoned places, becoming explorers, vigilantes, or even government agents. They were the first cynical supers, the first introspective generation, examining the legacy left them by their elders and finding it wanting and incomplete.
And then...there’s you. An unnamed generation, not yet clear in temperament or destiny. No one knows yet how you're going to reshape the world. That's all down to you, your team, and your choices.
When you create your character in Masks, you use a playbook designed to provide a template for your character. Each playbook is geared toward a different kind of young superhero, offering you options and choices alike to customize your character as a hero of Halcyon City.
There are ten playbooks in the base game of Masks, but we might be able to add more through stretch goals. The basic set includes:
The Bull - You're tough, gruff, and powerful on the outside, and caring on the inside—oh, and you were made by an evil organization that'd love to get you back: can you learn to rely on the team enough to save you from yourself?
The Nova - You're amazingly, egregiously, horrifyingly powerful, and keeping control is a struggle: can you come to terms with your power before it destroys you? Or someone you care about?
The Outsider - You're not from here, and you don't quite understand this place, but you find it fascinating: can you find a way to belong? Or will you always be different?
The Legacy - You're carrying on a long tradition of heroism and nobility: how can you balance that legacy with your own identity?
The Protege - You're tied to a mentor who trained you: do you want to be them? Or someone else entirely?
The Janus - You put on the mask, become someone different, escape your mundane life, but you know your responsibilities are always waiting for you: who are you really? The mask or the mundane?
The Delinquent - You're a rabble-rouser, a rules-breaker, and an incorrigible prankster, someone who pushes people away while secretly wishing they would stay close: can you stop being a little shit for long enough to let them know you actually care?
The Doomed - Your powers are killing you; they come with some awful, nightmarish fate. But until that end comes, you're going to work to change the world: how much are you willing to give up for your cause before your doom comes?
The Transformed - You don't look human anymore and the world won't let you forget it: can you learn to accept yourself? Can you deal with their looks, stares, and fear without becoming the monster they see?
The Beacon - You're here because this is awesome, and you may not quite fit in, but screw it, you're going to do this anyway: can you prove that you actually deserve to be here? Or are you just a wannabe?
Characters in Masks each have five mechanical attributes called “Labels.” Labels represent how your character views their identity. Are you a Danger or a Savior? A Freak or Superior? Or are you just Mundane?
Each Label ranges from -2 to +3; the higher the rating is, the more the character sees their self by that light. If you have Danger +3, you see yourself as a threatening, violent figure. If you have Mundane -2, you see yourself as anything but a normal person.
The Labels include:
Freak, which is all about being strange, unusual, unknown, different, unique, powerful, weird, and special.
Danger, which is all about being strong, threatening, violent, destructive, badass, frightening, reckless, and mighty.
Savior, which is all about being defensive, protective, overbearing, moralistic, guarding, patronizing, and classically heroic.
Superior, which is all about being clever, faster, better, arrogant, dismissive, commanding, egotistical, and smart
Mundane, which is all about being normal, empathetic, understanding, kind, boring, simple, uninteresting, and human.
The Labels shift and change over the course of the game as your self-image changes, most often due to the influence of others. As these Labels shift, so does your position in the story: a hero who sees their self as a Danger is better at directly engaging villains and threats, but their low Mundane means they might struggle to connect with ordinary people after a fight.
Influence is a mechanic used to keep track of whose words matter to you. When you have Influence over someone else, it means they care about what you say. When someone else has Influence over you, it means that you’re affected by their words.
Much of Masks involves giving, taking, and losing Influence over others. After all, you can’t convince your teammate to stop being a Danger if you don’t have Influence over them. When you do have Influence over them, and you tell them how they endangered civilians, your words might lead their Labels to shift. They might be chagrined at your words, and shift their Danger up, and their Savior down—they see themselves as more of a Danger, because of what you said. Or, they might resist, argue with you, and wind up shifting their Savior up and their Danger down—they don’t care what you say because they define who they are, and they choose to be a Savior.
Influence allows for a quick and easy way to understand whose words can cause your Labels to shift. You care about what they say, so your self-image is tied up in how they view you, what they say about you, and what you accept about their perspective on the world.
What others have said:
“Masks manages to capture the energy, nervousness, angst, and joy of teenage superheroes so well. The true stroke of genius is the label system: teenage rebellion against what people try to define you as works as a wonderful engine to the game.” - James Stuart, Story-Games.com
“Masks takes the teenage angst of superhero comics like Young Avengers and New Mutants, processes it through a cleverly-engineered game engine Powered by the Apocalypse, and delivers the concentrated essence of young people learning who they are by punching impossible things direct to your gaming table.” - Michael Miller, With Great Power
“I love these stories we’re creating. Occasionally we get to save the world. Sometimes, we run away. Sometimes, we make everything so much worse…but we’re trying to be heroes, and that’s what matters. Masks is the best thing. BEST THING.” - Andrea Gaulke, Play All the Games; Roll All the Dice
Watch the Game
Indie+ played a two-part exhibition game of Masks, and you can watch part 2 below!
The Halcyon City Herald is the premiere newspaper of Halcyon City (or so it says on every front page). They cover all the weird goings-on, the superpowered battles, the unexplained mysteries, and the cosmic crises that crop up all over Halcyon City. And we want to collect their best articles into a book for you!
The Halcyon City Herald Collection will have articles from throughout the Herald's existence, everything from in-depth character profiles to clippings on unsolved superheroic cases (each with a custom move!).
Here are the first few articles:
Brendan Conway's "Fall of the Titan Academy," an exposé on the failed attempt at putting together a school for young supers—The Titan Academy for Young Metahumans.
Marissa Kelly's "Do We Need Them?," a profile of an aging hero, questioning whether or not the older generation of heroes is still needed in the Halcyon City of today.
Mark Diaz Truman's "Power to the People," a look at La Cabecilla, the notorious Bronze Generation villain who brought the whole of Halcyon City to a screeching halt by organizing a massive transit strike...and almost killed Captain Halcyon himself.
We'll release a PDF of the Collection to everybody who pledges at least $10 to the campaign. And if we raise enough money, we'll also release a physical copy of the Collection at a 6" x 9" size. We'll keep you posted!
The Hero Deck is designed to aid your play at the table. It will have roughly 50 cards, thirty influence cards with colors matched to one of the sets of Masks dice and fifteen Condition cards. When someone has Influence over you, you can just hand them one of your cards; when you mark a Condition, you take a card and place it in front of you. A quick glance is all it will take to figure out who has Influence over you and how you're feeling. We'll also include useful rules summaries on the cards, to help minimize clutter at your table.
The Hero Deck comes with several reward tiers, but if you'd like to pick it up separately (or get an additional copy) add $15 to your pledge!
The Deck of Villainy
Halcyon City has had far more than its fair share of villains, monsters, destroyers, thieves, and scoundrels, and we’re bringing them to you in our Deck of Villainy. The Deck will start as 20 standard playing cards (NOW UP TO 54!), each one profiling a villain, including color artwork, their generation, their powers, their drive, and a bit about them. As you play Masks, if you ever need a new antagonist, just pull a card from the deck to get a fantastic addition from Halcyon City's very own rogues gallery.
A Deck of Villainy comes with several reward tiers, but if you'd like to pick it up separately (or get an additional copy) add $15 to your pledge!
We’ve got some awesome stretch goals lined up, with fantastic contributors ready to add pieces to the Halcyon City Herald Collection, along with some new playbooks, and maybe even some other cool pieces down the line!
UNLOCKED! Tara Zuber's "Change of Heart?"!
UNLOCKED! André La Roche's "Those You May Not Know"!
UNLOCKED! Ariana Ramos and Seth Harris's "Dupes and Reboots"!
UNLOCKED! Brendan Conway's The Innocent!
UNLOCKED! Michael Miller's "Doctor Foresight and the Avaricean"!
UNLOCKED! Liz C.'s "Cat and Mouse"!
UNLOCKED! John Wick's "Manic Pixie Dream Girl"!
UNLOCKED! June Shores'sThe Reformed!
UNLOCKED! Justin Rogers's“Hiro’s Hot Takes”!
UNLOCKED! Brianna Sheldon's “Healers of Halcyon City”!
UNLOCKED! Kyle Simons's “Monarch Industries and the Chrysalis”!
UNLOCKED! Rob Wieland's Phoenix Academy!
UNLOCKED! Misha Bushyager's Iron Red Soldiers!
UNLOCKED! Mark Diaz Truman's The Soldier!
UNLOCKED! Brendan Conway'sThe Star!
UNLOCKED! Jenn Martin's The Joined!
UNLOCKED! Fred Hicks's The Harbinger!
UNLOCKED! Magpie Games will release portions of the Masks text under a Creative Commons license! What's more, we'll also release the book in .mobi and ePub fomats!
UNLOCKED! Darren Watts's The Apocalypse Sonata!
UNLOCKED! Mark Diaz Truman's Spiderweb!
UNLOCKED! Cam Banks's The Brain!
UNLOCKED! Alberto Muti and Tim Franzke's The Newborn!
UNLOCKED! Shoshana Kessock's Old Dogs and New Tricks!
UNLOCKED! Julia Ellingboe's The Halcyon Plaza Disaster!
UNLOCKED! Eric Mersmann's [Expletives Deleted]!
UNLOCKED! Travis Scott's The Dragon!
UNLOCKED! Brendan Conway's Agents of A.E.G.I.S.!
UNLOCKED! We'll add the A.E.G.I.S. Most Wanted files to the book, Secrets of A.E.G.I.S.!
UNLOCKED! Whitney "Strix" Beltrán's The Lotus Eaters!
UNLOCKED! We will release the first issue of Halcyon City Stories, a comic book set in Halcyon City!
If we can reach $110,000, we will release a second issue of Halcyon City Stories!
A bunch of villains have broken out of prison, and it's up to you to catch them! As you accomplish missions, more cards will be added to the Deck of Villainy for free! Anybody whose pledge includes the Deck of Villainy or who is getting it as an add-on will get these additional villains!
20 MISSIONS ACCOMPLISHED! 54 CARDS IN THE DECK OF VILLAINY!
We’ve got a bunch of great rewards for you: everything from books to cards to special articles in the Halcyon City Herald. Domestic shipping is included, and we’re proud to say that international shipping is free!
Yup. You heard us right. There's no additional cost for international shipping. We're working with a new program called FedEx International Mail Service that greatly reduces our costs internationally, and we're excited to share those savings with you!
We added a bunch of new reward tiers, too, for you to easily get the Halcyon City Herald Collection and Masks: Unbound as part of your pledge! Check them out in this update for the full details!
You get a PDF copy of Masks (and the Halcyon City Herald Collection, the Hero Deck, and the Deck of Villainy), as well as any other PDF stretch goals we unlock throughout the campaign
You get all the PDFs, including stretch goals. You also get a 6" x 9", SOFTCOVER, full-color copy of Masks (approx. 200 pages).
You get all the PDFs, including stretch goals. You also get a 6" x 9", HARDCOVER, full-color copy of Masks (approx. 200 pages).
This tier is for retailers to get extra copies of the book. You get everything at the NEW MASK level, plus three additional copies of the book to sell at your store. If you'd like additional copies beyond three, you'll be able to add them through Backerkit.
You get all the PDFs, including stretch goals. You also get a SOFTCOVER copy of Masks, along with a pair of Masks dice, the Hero Deck, and the Deck of Villainy.
You get all the PDFs, including stretch goals. You also get a HARDCOVER copy of Masks, along with a pair of Masks dice, the Hero Deck, and the Deck of Villainy.
You get everything at the HONORED HERO level, but instead of one pair of Masks dice, you get a full set of 6 differently-colored pairs of Masks dice.
Get your whole group equipped! You get 5 copies of the softcover full-color 6" x 9" Masks book, all the PDFs, a full set of six differently-colored pairs of Masks dice, the Hero Deck, the Deck of Villainy, and a write-up of a custom villain for you and your group.
You get everything at the PARAGON level, and we'll also write up a clipping based on your ideas for inclusion in the Halcyon City Herald Collection. And you'll get a Key to Halcyon City in appreciation for your support!
You get everything at the PARAGON level, but we'll write up a whole article based on your ideas for inclusion in the Halcyon City Herald Collection. And you'll get a Key to Halcyon City in appreciation for your support!
Add-ons are for adding some extra goodies to your order. To add one of the following to your order, increase your pledge by the appropriate amount. After the Kickstarter is over, you'll select exactly what add-ons you want using Backerkit.
Additional Dice Set - $5 each
Backers at the New Mask level or higher can add additional dice to your pledge for $5. You’ll get to choose the colors of each set you add. You can get the full set of 12 Masks dice for $25! No additional shipping.
Extra Softcover Copies of the Book - $30 each
Backers who have pledged at least $30 can get extra softcover copies of the Masks book for $30 each. No additional shipping.
Extra Hardcover Copies of the Book - $50 each
Backers who have pledged at least $50 can get extra hardcover copies of the Masks book for $50 each. No additional shipping.
The Hero Deck - $15 each
Backers who have pledged at least $30 can get extra copies of the Hero Deck, with Influence cards and Condition cards for $15 each. No additional shipping.
The Deck of Villainy - $15 each
Backers who have pledged at least $30 can get extra copies of the Deck of Villainy, with iconic villains from Halcyon City for $15 each. No additional shipping.
The Halcyon City Herald Collection, Masks: Unbound, or Secrets of A.E.G.I.S. SOFTCOVER - $20 each
Backers who have pledged at least $30 can add a printed SOFTCOVER copy of the Halcyon City Herald Collection, Masks: Unbound, or Secrets of A.E.G.I.S. to their pledge for $20 each. These books will be 6" x 9" color companion books to the core Masks book. No additional shipping.
The Halcyon City Herald Collection, Masks: Unbound, or Secrets of A.E.G.I.S. HARDCOVER - $35 each
Backers who have pledged at least $30 can add a printed HARDCOVER copy of the Halcyon City Herald Collection, Masks: Unbound, or Secrets of A.E.G.I.S. to their pledge for $35 each. These books will be 6" x 9" color companion books to the core Masks book. No additional shipping.
Physical issue of Halcyon City Stories - $5 each
Backers who have pledged at least $30 can add a 22-page full color issue of Halcyon City Stories to their order for $5. No additional shipping.
Masks was heavily inspired by works like Young Justice, Young Avengers, Teen Titans, Runaways, and X-Men: Season One. It draws heavily from many games, including Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, Urban Shadows, and Dungeon World.
Masks wouldn't be Kickstarting without the help of the core Magpie Team: Mark Diaz Truman and Marissa Kelly pushed me to hone and improve the game at every turn (even through loud arguments). Michael Lee Lunsford's art perfectly captures the young superhero feel of the game. And we're looking forward to Daniel Solis's work on layout, Amanda Valentine's expert copy editing eye, and the contributions of our incredible stretch goal authors!
And a huge thank you to all of the other contributing artists that we have unlocked along the way and to all of the backers and supporters. This game wouldn’t be possible without your help!
The Core Team
Stretch Goal Authors
Kickstarter Video Produced By:
Eric Vitner (www.IdeaMachineFilms.com)
Rich Flynn (Farmhand Productions)
Video Music Used:
Risks and challenges
This is the seventh Kickstarter that we've run at Magpie Games, and we've got a long history of fulfilling projects, including Our Last Best Hope, Urban Shadows, and many more for other folks (Wicked Fantasy, World of Dew, etc). We've got a pretty good grasp on how to get stuff designed, shipped, and fulfilled.
The largest problem we've encountered is delays. All the creative work that goes into a book like Masks is tough to keep on schedule, but we’re learning more with every project we do, and we promise to keep you updated and informed. Our commitment is always to the quality of our work, but nothing makes us happier than shipping books. Brendan has been hard at work since 2013 on Masks, and we’re excited to get to editing, layout, and printing on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (26 days)