The Unmasking Part 2

I’d written about the Monday Masks game ending earlier. Tonight, we saw the penultimate episode. And I’m pretty happy about how things are wrapping up. Why is that?

In the earlier post, I’d complained about two topics: spotlight management and plot resolution.

Spotlight

I’m not concerned about the balance of PC spotlight - the GM was always careful to make sure everyone got time, and made a point of asking people if they were doing okay. Rather, I was concerned that we’d usually frame scenes such that only one PC was active, and for long periods of time.

I posted on our forums about “the buddy system”: a proposal to bake a new principle into any future games we play, that scenes will be set up with multiple PCs as the rule, not the exception. And the general idea got plenty of support, including from the GM. We also got actual citations to the Masks rules, where the game already has principles like this. So, that’s good.

So I’m feeling optimistic.

Plot Resolution

We got outright asked if there were any lingering plot threads to resolve next week. I made a point of wrapping things up earlier, including plots for NPCs I’d written for. There was one dangling plot thread for this character that I got to nail shut. More on that in a moment.

The Moment of Truth

In Masks, PCs can unlock a “Moment of Truth”: a move that lets them defeat any foe in a way that illuminates the character’s central themes and issues. Here’s the rule text for the Janus, my PC’s playbook:

The mask is a lie, and some piece of you has always known that. Doesn’t matter if others can see it. You’re the one that can do the impossible. Mask off. Costume on. And you’re going to save the damn day. Of course, you better hope nobody nasty is watching…

So we got a reveal that the time-traveling robot Dr. Infinity was another version of Pneuma, Leo’s robot ex-girlfriend, who’d lost her Leo to time travel and turned vengeful. She set out to shut down all time travel, at any cost.

Summer used the Heart Gauge - a device I’d introduced over a year ago - to force Dr. Infinity into a transformation/combination process in a moment of distraction. But the Gauge doesn’t work if the people combining aren’t in mental sync with each other. The only way she could pull it off was to empathize with Infinity’s pain and loss. The net result was that the hyper-tech armor around Infinity gave way, as the ancient combination tech underneath started to activate, allowing Alycia Chin to get past her defenses and disable her.

What I did was to flip the text of the Moment of Truth - it’s the evil Pneuma’s mask that’s coming off. But in a larger sense, anyone paying attention to Dr. Infinity - anyone in the adult hero community - now saw Summer’s potential clearly, for good or ill. Her mask is off in that sense. And she was no doubt filmed - the fight went down at Disney World!

So I got to use the character’s history and technology, plus a heavy dose of empathy, to defeat a dangerous foe in a non-violent way. That’s exactly what I came to this game to do.