Suggestions on creating more challenging encounters in “Masks: a New Generation”

Making Fights Harder

Agendas and Principles

The Agendas and Principles of the game are actual rules. Here are some important ones:

  • “Make Halcyon City feel like a comic book”.
    • In the comics, the underdog heroes often have to struggle against the villains.
  • “Make threats real”.
    • Is an adult villain supposed to be bad news? Then play them like real threats, but at the level they’re supposed to be.
  • “Give up to fight another day”.
    • If a villain is being beaten, but you want them to come back, they run away.
    • Or they teleport out. Or there’s a big explosion. Or a puff of smoke. Or whatever.
    • Comic villains have so many ways to escape a fight. Be creative!

Rules from the GM Sheet

Here’s what the rules themselves say:

  • When a villain gets hit hard, by trading blows or in other situations, they mark a condition as appropriate.
  • When a villain marks a condition, they make a move from the condition moves list immediately, before the PCs act again.
  • When you need to say what the villain does next, look to your GM moves, their villain moves, and the condition moves.
  • When a villain needs to mark a condition but can’t, they are definitively defeated.
  • Villains can flee or give up long before all their conditions are filled - don’t think they have to fight to the bitter end.

This means that when someone successfully Directly Engages and marks a condition, the villain makes a condition move. No exceptions! Don’t say “okay, Dallas hit him, now it’s Lewis’s turn”. If someone hits the villain, make a move.

Condition and villain moves should make new problems for the PCs to stay busy solving.

Make a GM move on a 6 or less, even on a “passive” move like Assess the Situation. If someone is Assessing, and they roll a 6 or less, make things worse.


The PCs are fighting a new Sycamour villain, called Stone Mask.

  • You don’t have to let the PCs charge in immediately. Maybe Stone Mask has a force field or wall that the PCs must use their powers to get through. Maybe they have hostages which must be rescued safely. Make the PCs do those things first.
  • When a PC successfully Directly Engages, make a condition move! For example, Dallas hits Stone Mask and the villain marks Angry.
    • Angry moves include “vent through unthinking violence”, “lash out at any vulnerability”, or “escalate the situation dangerously”
    • Maybe someone gets mind-controlled and we have to deal with it
    • Maybe a bunch of henchmen show up and threaten the hostages
    • Whatever makes sense for the villain, immediately make that move!
  • GM, Villain, and Condition moves can change the entire battlefield. For example:
    • Maybe the whole building comes down, or catches fire
    • Maybe the villain flees into the sewers, or onto the rooftop, and we have to catch up
    • Villain superpowers or gadgets can put up barriers, transform everything into glass or swords, or whatever makes sense
  • Your villains should have 2-4 villain moves. They get to make those moves any time it feels right!
    • Example villain moves are “summon robotic minions”, “threaten innocents”, or “steal away something valuable”
    • Maybe Stone Mask powers up whenever he tastes blood, so if he injures a PC (or a hostage), he gets stronger

Specific Encounters

What was the problem with the Caesar situation?

  1. It wasn’t a fight we could have won, it was a fight we were going to lose. That means there’s still no challenge to it.
  2. Anyone who knows us should have known we’d try to grab Caesar and fight Cockroach King.
  3. If we can’t do those things, but you want us to communicate with Caesar, don’t give us intel revealing Caesar’s location - instead, maybe he makes anonymous calls and/or sends texts to us, like he did with Alex.
  4. The “symbol of authority” move that Lewis made wasn’t respected. Marcus didn’t freeze, in the sense that the move talks about. He just ignored the move and kept doing his thing.
  5. The method that Bathsheba used to keep them under control - psychic dust - should have been vulnerable to the powers we brought to the encounter, wind manipulation and strong psychic gifts. We should have reasonably been able to do something about them, but every use of our powers was just ignored.

How could it have been done differently? That depends on what we were supposed to accomplish.