MASKS: A New Generation - Comprehensive Review by DropTheDie
Masks is another Powered by the Apocolypse powerhouse. A simple 2d6 system that uses storycrafting, drama, and continuous "moves" to keep the action and roleplay moving at a brisk pace. This "hack" of the PbtA system is all-inclusive, everything you need to run the game is included in this purchase, excluding the dice.
Masks' general principle, unlike other Superhero TTRPG games I've been part in, is that all teenage supers are dyanmic and capable people struggling to make the world see their merit and learn who they are and what they can do. Each player has access to a wide variety of playbooks that help focus narrative decisions in-game.
A humble Beacon might be more concerened about "living it up" than being a crime busting superhero, or they might be trying to prove exactly how capable an average person can really be in this superhero world. The Bull might be a hulking brute that smashes her way through any and everything, or they might be a teen torn between their intimate relationship with their significant other and their team. No playbook mandates the roleplay; they are designed to help you represent what it is you want your character to be and do - not to dictate it.
The book's layout is very good. Many aspects of the game that are confusing or too vague (as the entire Rules System is meant to be more vague than other traditional RPGs) are delved into to bluntly explain how the moves and abilities were intended to work. Each playbook has themes and examples of where the ideas, the "bones," of these characters came from.
MASKS has one big speedbump, however. No matter how well the system represents the city of Halcyon, or how well the book discusses how the Master of Ceremonies (who runs the game) should engage their players, it is extremely dependant on their skill to tell an interesting story. This game is absolutely not meant to just be fight after fight after fight. The mechanics of the game are such that a player must CHOOSE to "Pass out, flee, ect" only after a certain threshold is reached, which 90% of the time, no one does. This means that if your fights are not intense and dangerous in scope to the world-at-large, they will just be arbitrary roll-till-you-win matches.
*A good example*: "You make your way to the plaza mall and meet up with Becky and Jona. The both of them wave at you from a low seat in the food court - a hot pizza sitting on the table between them. You hear next to you, a very familiar electronic voice that whispers: 'One move, Axle... one move, and I'll bring the building down.' Mirage - the shape changing supervillain looks out at you from under the brim of her wide hat. What do you do?"
*A bad example*: "You're eating a cinnamon bun with the rest of your team, hanging out in the caffiteria at school, and the Metal Wombat crashes through the window and screams 'LET'S FIGHT!'"
Luckily there are a ton of resources online to help guide you in your venture to run the perfect game of Masks. Only one person in your group need purchase the book to try it out - as players have very little information in the book that the MC cannot explain to you at the table, making this a perfect introductory buy. We've been playing for months now and each of us has a copy at this point!
This game gets my seal of approval - check it out!
[5 of 5 Stars!]