Masks: A New Generation of Heroes

Game Master Cwethan

Character Bible

A game about young heroes discovering who they are, and who they want to be.

Using the Masks system, based on the Rules of the Apocalypse system.

Labels :

In MASKS, you have five main stats called Labels. Each Label tells you how your character understands their self-image. These Labels shift and change over the course of play as your character’s own self-image changes, and those changes are often in direct reaction to how others see you. When you’re a young hero, how you see yourself is determined just as much by others as it is by your own choices, for better or worse.

The five Labels are:
Danger: seeing yourself as threatening, strong, bloody-knuckled, and risky. Other people see you as a danger when they think they should steer clear of you because you might bring them harm. You see yourself as a danger when you believe you can take down other dangerous threats, and when you think you yourself are a threat to other people.

Freak: seeing yourself as strange, unusual, unique, and powerful. Other people see you as a freak when they think you’re odd, unlike them, something unnatural or outside of their understanding. You see yourself as a freak when you accept and own the things you can do that no one else can, and when you think you don’t belong with the people and the world around you.

Savior: seeing yourself as defending, guarding, protecting, and stalwart. Other people see you as a savior when they think of you as noble or self- sacrificing, or a bit overbearing and moralizing. You see yourself as a savior when you think of yourself as a martyr, someone who gladly sacrifices to protect and defend others.

Superior: seeing yourself as smart, capable, crafty, and quick. Other people see you as superior when they think you’re the smartest person in the room, an arrogant and egotistical jerk. You see yourself as superior when you think you’re cleverer than everyone else, and when you know exactly what to say to make the people around you do what you want.

Mundane: seeing yourself as normal, human, empathetic, and understanding. Other people see you as mundane when they think of you as all too normal and uninteresting, but also comprehending and sympathetic. You see yourself as mundane when you think you’re regular, just a person, not special, and focused on normal human things like feelings and emotions.

The vast majority of the time, when one Label shifts up, another shifts down, and vice versa. There might be a few cases when this isn’t true, but if rules reference shifting Labels without further explanation, this is what they mean: one goes up, and another goes down.

If a Label would shift up past +3, or down past -2, then no shift at all occurs—neither of the two Labels that would change goes up or down. Instead, you mark a condition—a negative emotional state that starts affecting your actions. If you see yourself as too much of an extreme, hence it starts messing you up.


Some moves describe your character getting hold as a result of the move, such as “hold 1” or “hold 3.” These are temporary points you can spend according to the move, often with the phrase “spend hold one-for-one,” meaning “spend one point of hold for one effect as the move describes.”

Usually hold has to be spent during a given conversation or scene, but moves tell you how long you have before the hold expires. If there’s ambiguity, ask the GM for clarification.
Other moves describe your character “taking +1 forward” or “taking +1 ongoing.” +1 forward means your character gets +1 to the next applicable roll; +1 ongoing means your character gets +1 to all applicable rolls moving forward, as the move describes. The move always indicates how long these bonuses last.

Team Pool
Consider this your group's pool of +1 modifiers that you can use to give a teammate or yourself.


If you use a Team point from the Team pool on an ally, you must be "nearby" the ally or in range to assist them in some way.

If you use a Team point on yourself, you must do so in a way that insults or ignores your teammates and also shift a label up or down by one.

Moment of Truth
This is a powerful move, so powerful that it can only be invoked a couple times max per character even if you switch playbooks.

When you unlock moment of truth through advancement, you essentially steal my DM powers and dictate the scene in whatever way you wish as long as it follows your Moment of truth script on your playbook. You can't control other player characters (because that's a jerk move) but you can decide what happens.

This is supposed to be a defining moment if not THE defining moment of your hero's life. So defining that it locks one of your Labels, never to change again.

Basic Moves: Better Explained:

Directly Engage a Threat
Directly engaging a threat is the move for straightforwardly duking it out with something—a monster, a villain, whatever. If you’re playing a bit of the rope- a-dope, hoping to tire an enemy out, you’re not directly engaging, so the move isn’t triggered. If you’re up against someone or something that isn’t actually all that dangerous to you, then they’re not a threat, and the move isn’t triggered.

Trading blows means both you and the threat get in some good hits on each other. at can lead to changes in the fiction—getting punched by a giant monster probably leaves you nice and bruised, unless you’re utterly invulnerable. Beyond the fiction, though, this most often means inflicting conditions, or triggering the move take a powerful blow.

When you trade blows with an NPC threat, the GM marks one of the NPC’s conditions, and tells you whether to straight up mark a condition on your PC or to roll to take a powerful blow, depending on the fiction. e GM gets to choose what condition the NPC marks. If the GM tells you to take a powerful blow, then you follow that move’s rules to determine what happens next; if the GM tells you to mark a condition, then they tell you which condition to mark. When you trade blows with a PC threat, you both roll to take a powerful blow.

Resisting or avoiding their blows means you aren’t affected by the trading of blows—you either get out of the way of the threat’s strikes or you can just shrug them off, depending on what makes sense for your character and the threat. is ensures that you come through unscathed, but it doesn’t get you anything else—it means all you’ve done is struck the threat and most likely inflicted a condition on them.

Taking something from them means you can take something physical or conceptual from the threat. You could, for instance, take the Doomray they’re holding in their hands, knocking it out of their grip with one of your punches; or, you could take their footing, knocking them to the ground and giving you a chance to run; or, you could take their position in front of the controls for the Tachyon Cannon. is is your chance to use your attack to change your position and theirs.

Creating an opportunity for your allies means you’re giving your teammates (or other allies) an opening to act or to gain some kind of advantage. Maybe you hold the villain off to the side, so your teammate has a shot at reaching the Neutrino Bomb. Maybe you smash the villain straight through the air towards your teammate, giving them a chance to land a follow-up strike. Either way, this option sets up team maneuvers. Sometimes, you choose this to change the actual situation so your teammate has a chance to do something they couldn’t otherwise do. Other times, you’re just giving your teammate a boost. If it’s the former, then choosing this option gives your teammate that chance. If it’s the latter, though, then you should add a Team to the pool. (For more on Team and the Team Pool, see page 48.) e GM tells you which it is.

Unleash Your Powers
Unleashing your powers is the move for doing something complicated, dangerous, and difficult with your powers. It is definitely not the “use your powers” move—you’re probably using your abilities on nearly all of the basic moves. is move is for those situations when you do something intense with your powers, and we’re not sure how it’ll go, or if you can even pull it off.

This distinction is crucial—just using your abilities isn’t unleashing them. Unleashing them means pushing them or using them in dangerous or difficult situations. Over the course of the game you’ll establish a baseline for each character that tells you when it feels like they’re unleashing and when they aren’t. And keep in mind, these characters are all young superheroes, getting the hang of their powers and what they can do—chances are, they unleash their powers and push the boundaries of what they can do more o en than not.

If you aren’t trying to overcome an obstacle, reshape your environment, or extend your senses, then you’re probably not unleashing your powers. at said, these categories are pretty open-ended. Overcoming an obstacle covers both flying faster than the villainous Speed Demon to get to the artifact first and smashing through the sorcerous energy field Gehenna cast to keep you away from her sanctum. Reshaping your environment covers both bringing down one wall of the building so you can escape and using your magnetic powers to trap the villain inside a cage of steel. Extending your senses covers both extending your telepathy into someone’s mind and using your super- vision to see halfway across the city.
Unleash your powers is a bit of an overarching move. When you’re trying to punch out a titanic rock monster, it feels like you’re unleashing your powers, namely your tremendous strength...except, that’s a move to directly engage a threat. When you’re trying to create a massive ice wall to save your friends from an explosion, it feels like you’re unleashing your powers...except, that’s a move to defend someone from an immediate threat. Always see if another move fits better and more specifically than unleash your powers before using this move—it’s really here for situations where the other moves don’t fit.

If the characters are just using their regular abilities to solve a problem— running from a threat with no special powers, for example, or trying to drive a car into an enemy—then it’s not unleashing your powers. The GM just says what happens based on the fiction. If you want to try to take control over what happens, use your powers to solve problems!

On a hit, you do it means that as long as you roll 7 or higher, you do the thing you set out to do, no matter what. But on a 7-9, you have to choose to either mark a condition (of your choice, not the GM’s), or let the GM tell you how your effect is unstable or temporary.
Temporary is pretty self-explanatory—it puts a time pressure on the effect, and it could be anything from, “You’ve wrapped the villain in a metal cage, but he’s gonna break out soon, you’ve only bought yourself a bit of time,” to “You’ve managed to li up the debris of the collapsed building with your gravity powers, but you can only hold it up for a bit longer.”

Unstable is about unintended additional consequences, o en dangerous to you or others. Unstable effects never take away from the core success of the roll—you still did whatever you intended to do. But they add an additional element that complicates the situation: collateral damage, unintended consequence, or worse. e GM might even make you roll to take a powerful blow as a result of an unstable effect.

Defend Someone
Defending someone is the move you use to stop something bad from happening. It’s not about preemptively preparing a defense, or setting up a shield—it’s about preventing the worst in the moment. e threat must be immediate for this move to trigger.
NPC threats include threats from the environment—anything the GM describes or controls. Defending someone from a PC threat is for when a fellow PC tries to do something bad and you try to stop them. e key isn’t that you’re defending another PC—it’s that you’re defending against another PC.

When you trigger this move, be sure that both you and the GM are clear on what the immediate threat is.You can defend someone from physical dangers and threats, but you can also defend someone from cruel words or insults—if an older hero berates your teammate, you can defend them just as much as if a fireball was hurtling towards their face. In this case, the immediate threat is the harm and effects of the words.

You don’t trigger defend someone when you’re trying to keep yourself safe from an NPC or environmental threat—that’s much more likely to be another move, like unleashing your powers, or rejecting their Influence. You can defend yourself from a PC threat when another PC tries to hurt you.

Keeping them safe means that you prevent the danger you acted against. If you’re putting up an energy shield to stop someone from getting roasted, then on a hit, you do that—they’re protected from the flame blast.

On a 7-9, you must expose yourself to danger or escalate the situation— your choice. Exposing yourself to danger leaves the danger up to the GM. It could mean anything from you taking the hit instead of whomever you’re defending, to your actions leaving you in a more vulnerable position. Escalating the situation means you make things more tense, more dangerous, more complicated in general. is is you breaking out your powers to defend someone when a moment before it was just a verbal fight.

When you defend against a PC threat, it should always be when the PC is making a move and they’re really being an overt threat towards you. On a hit,you give them -2 to their roll, which might shi them down to a 7-9 result or even a miss. If their move becomes a miss, they still mark potential and the GM makes a hard move, as usual. ey can also still get boosts by other teammates spending Team out of the pool (page 48).
Getting a 10+ when defending against a PC threat means you just give them -2 to their roll at no cost. Getting a 7-9 means you expose yourself to cost, retribution, or judgment—GM’s choice, based on the situation. Cost means you pay a price, usually marking a condition yourself, to defend against the other PC. Retribution means the other PC gets a chance to act against you without your interference. Judgment means other people watching might judge you for your actions, leading them to shi your Labels (page 44) or otherwise act against you.

On a hit when defending against an NPC threat, you always get to choose one option from the list. Adding a Team to the pool means your actions now are building up a sense of team cohesion and focus that you can call on later. Taking Influence over someone you protect means they care about how you’ve helped them, and they’re more inclined to listen to you moving forward. If you already had Influence over an NPC, there’s little reason to take Influence over them again—you’ll get +1 forward on your next move aimed at them, but that’s it. However, taking Influence over a PC you already hold it over allows you to immediately shi their Labels. When you protect a whole bunch of people, you can either: name the specific person in the crowd that you want Influence over; let the GM tell you someone important in the crowd over whom you now have Influence; or take Influence over a whole group.

Clearing a condition means you can immediately clear a condition you have marked, before you suffer any consequences for defending someone.

Assess the Situation
Assess the situation is the move for when you want to get specific and useful information about your situation and surroundings. In the fiction, this is you taking a moment to survey what’s going on around you, looking for important details. You can always ask the GM clarifying questions about your environment and what your character would know—assessing the situation is for highly specific and pointed information.

As long as you’re using the information you learned from your assessment to guide your actions, take +1 to your moves and rolls. But if the situation changes too much, you might not get that bonus anymore. If you can take a course of action that uses multiple answers, the bonuses stack, but remember you can never roll with more than +4 total, including your Label.

“What here can I use to _____?” lets you fill in the blank when you ask the question. is is a great question for finding useful tools and pieces of your surroundings that will help you accomplish some purpose. Want to trap Vanquish? Ask “What here can I use to trap Vanquish?” and the GM will tell you. e answer might be “nothing.”

“What here is the biggest threat?” helps you to prioritize dangers and threats in the area. You can clarify to the GM how you prioritize things yourself—so the GM knows whether you’d think that the biggest threat is an enemy or something that endangers civilians, for instance. It’s also useful even when you’re not in an immediately dangerous situation to find out who’s the most menacing in the room.

“What here is in the greatest danger?” is the inverse of the prior question. is tells you what needs protection the most, and potentially alerts you to the target or focus of a villain’s attention—if they’re a er someone or something, chances are it’ll be in the greatest danger.

“Who here is most vulnerable to me?” is about your own abilities and whom they can best affect. e obvious answers focus on who’s most vulnerable to your particular skills and abilities, but it can also take into account who’s most vulnerable to your words, if someone‘s susceptible to the things you could say.

“How could we best end this quickly?” outlines a course of action to stop a dangerous or bad situation as quickly as possible. is could be how best to take down an enemy quickly, but it might tell you that the best way to end things quickly is to flee. It might also tell you that all you have to do is apologize to bring a bad situation to a close.

Provoke Someone
Provoking someone is one of the main ways to make other characters do what you want. is isn’t just straight up manipulation, though—provoking someone isn’t about trying to convince them to do it, or offering them something they want. It’s about pushing the right buttons to get them to do what you want. Your words don’t have to match your intent, so long as you’re pressing the right buttons.

You can only provoke someone susceptible to your words. If you have Influence over someone, they are, by default, susceptible to your words, but otherwise it’s down to what makes sense. Sometimes you’re able to say the right thing to get to someone, especially if you’ve already pierced their mask (page 73). But other times, they can shrug off your words—for example, Rampage, a dangerous and powerful monster, might not be susceptible to your threats of violence. But if you prod and taunt her about her transformed, inhuman form, she might be susceptible to those words.

When you provoke someone, tell the GM what you’re trying to get them to do. is is crucial! What you say in character to provoke them is about pushing their buttons—but what you actually want them to do might be totally different from what you say out loud. You might provoke an adult hero, pushing them, getting in their face, as if you were provoking them to a violent confrontation. Except you really want them to back down and leave, and you’re counting on them being an adult and a hero to get them to do what you actually want. Every time you provoke someone, you must say exactly what you want them to do out of character, no matter what you’re saying in character.

When an NPC “rises to the bait and does what you want,” it means they do whatever you said you wanted them to do out of character. If you wanted them to back down, they do. If you wanted them to come a er you and ignore your teammates, they do. On a 7-9 result for NPCs, they can still choose to rise to the bait and do what you want, or they can instead choose one of the options from the list.

If the NPC stumbles, it means they were tripped up, caught on something, knocked off balance by your words. ey’re ill-prepared to deal with your next move; hence, you get +1 forward against them. Stumbling is essentially non- action, allowing you to follow-up with a more straightforward move against them, at an advantage.

If the NPC errs, it means they take action without planning or thinking and it leaves them vulnerable or creates an opportunity that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. ey might take a swing at you, leaving them open for you to simply knock them out with one punch. ey might accidentally let information slip in an attempt to tell you off.

If the NPC overreacts, it means you take Influence over them, and they take an exaggerated or extreme reaction in response to what you say, something that shows you’ve really gotten to them. is isn’t the same as erring—their overreaction might not give you any kind of opportunity or even a chance to react. Instead, it shows how much your words actually affected them. ey might start firing their eyebeams at you in response to your taunting. ey might lose their composure and start insulting you directly.

If you’re trying to provoke a PC, on a 7-9, you pick that either they must mark a condition if they don’t do what you said you wanted them to do out of character, or you can add a Team to the pool if they do what you want. On a 10+, both are true. If they must mark a condition, they get to choose which condition they mark.

Comfort of Support Someone
Comforting or supporting someone is the move for helping others get over their conditions and take control of their own destinies. It might appear to be a nonessential move at first glance—which is more important, comforting or supporting someone, or being able to punch superhuman monsters in the face? But comforting or supporting is just as crucial as any other move in the game.

Comforting or supporting needs to break a certain threshold for the move to be triggered. is isn’t for pats on the back or simple “Good job!” compliments. is is for genuine, open-hearted, even extended emotional support of another person. is is for heart-to-hearts, for meaningful gestures and actions.

at said, you shouldn’t feel that there are more limits on situations when you can trigger comforting or supporting. You absolutely can trigger it in the middle of a terrible fight, just as much as you can trigger it when you’re hanging out at your base. As long as you’re genuinely trying to comfort or support someone in a meaningful fashion, you can trigger the move.

You can also comfort or support PCs and NPCs. If you comfort or support an NPC, their reactions largely depend on whether they have conditions marked. If they do, they act to clear those conditions. If they don’t, then it’s up to the GM whether the NPC chooses to open up in that moment. PCs always get to make their own decisions about open
up to you.
On a hit, the person you are comforting or supporting has to decide if they want to open up to you. What that means varies heavily depending on the specific situation—it could cover anything from confessing a secret to returning a kiss. The key is that it supports a meaningful emotional, dramatic exchange. If you don’t feel like you’ve received any kind of open-hearted response, then it’s not enough—the character you supported or comforted hasn’t opened up.

If they do open up, they get to choose to either mark potential, clear a condition immediately, or shi one of their Labels up and one of their Labels down (both their choice). Making the emotional connection helps them strengthen their self.

On a 10+, you also get to choose to either add a Team to the pool or clear a condition immediately yourself. You only get to do this if they open up to you—if they don’t open up, then no one gets anything.

Sometimes, opening up in response to comfort or support triggers another move, a Team move—sharing a vulnerability or weakness. If that’s the case, it’s fine! Finish resolving the comfort or support, then resolve the vulnerability or weakness.

Pierce the Mask
Pierce the mask is for seeing who someone really is, beneath whatever facade they present. It’s not just about literally seeing beneath someone’s mask; it’s about understanding another person. It requires you to watch someone, observe them, pick up on their body language and their emotions, to get a read on who they really are. You don’t have to be talking with them to trigger this move, but it’s easy to say you’re trying to pierce someone’s mask when you’re talking to them.

When you pierce someone’s mask, you get to ask questions of them, and their player must answer honestly. For NPCs, that means the GM answers honestly. You should ask all your questions at once, but if you must, you can hold questions for as long as you’re watching them.

“What are you really planning?” is about long term plans. It’s about overarching goals and intent, not immediate intent. e answer could be

“Nothing,” but most characters have some kind of overarching goal and plan that they can use to answer the question.

“What do you want me to do?” puts a focus on the other person’s vision and ideas for you and how they want you to act. You can usually offer to act how they want in exchange for getting something from them.

“What do you intend to do?” is about immediate plans, right here in the moment. It’s a very action-focused question, giving you information on what you can expect to happen very soon.

“How could I get your character to ___?” is one of your best ways to get other characters to do what you want in the game. You fill in the blank with whatever action you want them to take. ey have to answer honestly, so whatever action or events they describe will genuinely get them to take the actions they’ve promised. e answer might be “You can’t,” because the question and what it’s asking of them is so not in character, they just wouldn’t do what you want them to.

“How could I gain Influence over you?” is one of the most straightforward ways of getting Influence on someone. If you already have Influence over them, the question won’t tell you anything; if you don’t, this tells you what you need to do to ensure that your words and opinions matter to them. If you do whatever they tell you to do, they should grant you Influence immediately a er.

Take a powerful Blow
Taking a powerful blow is a move for when you get hit—hard. You’ll never trigger this one intentionally. e GM always tells you when you need to roll it. Most likely, you’ll get smacked during a fight—o en as a result of a directly engage—and the GM will tell you to take a powerful blow to see what happens. You can take a powerful blow on an emotional level, too—getting punched with a deep and terrible truth, maybe, or hearing someone you care about utterly rip your heart to shreds.

Rolling + conditions marked means that you count up however many conditions you have marked, and add that number to your roll. Remember, you can’t roll with higher than +4. If you have zero conditions marked, then you roll +0.

You must remove yourself from the situation means you’re out. You’re knocked from the scene somehow. You get ultimate say in how exactly you’re removed, but you should follow the fiction. If you just got punched in the face, you probably got knocked out. You’ll come back next scene, but all your conditions will still be marked.

You lose control of yourself or your powers in a terrible way means the GM gets to tell you how your powers go haywire, cause collateral damage, make the world around you unstable, and all kinds of other bad stuff. Losing control of yourself means that you might say or do something awful. e GM chooses which you do, and what exactly that looks like.

Lashing out verbally means you’re thrown off your game, and you release the tension by snapping at someone you care about, usually another teammate. You have to immediately provoke them to take a foolhardy action, or you have to take advantage of your Influence over them to inflict a condition—any condition. ose are the only actions that satisfy “lashing out verbally.”

Giving ground means you retreat, or hold back, or otherwise leave an opening for your opposition. The GM decides what it is, but usually it means your opposition can make some move they otherwise would’ve been blocked from, without you being able to stop them.
Struggling past the pain means you mark two conditions of your choice. You hurt, but you keep going.

When you stand strong, you mark potential (just like on any miss), and you get to say exactly how you manage to weather or avoid the blow.

When Our Team First Came Together...:

Protege/Wingblade - We stuck together after all was said and done. Why? How'd we keep in contact?
Although WE know we saved the day, the rest of the city is not so sure about us. Since there's not much chance of the rest of the superhero community accepting us the way things currently stand, we're all we've got. I let everyone keep one of the communicators that I lent them, and who knows? Maybe one or more has asked to crash in my clock tower for a bit.

Beacon/Ghost Dragon - We found signs that this incident was just the start of something bigger. What were the signs?
The signs were a financial paper trail indicating a source of outside funding for the lab and for the geokinetic soldiers that clearly showed these beings were just the tip of a possible conspiracy, as well as several status reports sent to an email address by Barney and Jill Tatum. The email address is now defunct.

Nova/Eldritch - When our team got together, we destroyed our surroundings. Where was it? What was destroyed?
When our team got together, we were fighting outside, within, and underneath a medical research center within the heart of the corporate sector of Halcyon City. The real question to ask was what wasn't destroyed? Research projects, some minor and some major, were wrecked by our fight against the clone soldiers and Tectonic's parents. Cures and research has been pushed back by years because of our destruction but a possible threat was also eliminated.

Doomed/North Star - When our team first came together... We paid a high cost for victory. What was it?
I like the idea of their secret base for creating soldiers being under a normal research center, especially for something dealing with one of the major diseases. It would be especially fitting if someone from said institute/lab said that they were close to a cure for the disease that they studied (for some reason I like it being a parkinson's disease lab, especially since they could probably draw their test subjects from desperate people). When we starting fighting inside the lab, it caused several key support structures to collapse down and more or less sink the facility.

Bull/Tectonic - We defeated a dangerous enemy. Who or what was it?
Tectonic's parents, Barney and Jill Tatum, and their army of geokinetic soldiers.

Delinquent/Hashtag - We totally broke some major rules to win the fight. What rules did we break? Whose rules were they?
Look... the 'authorities' say our actions were without 'probable cause'. Other words they used were stuff like 'excessive property damage', 'wanton destruction', and 'public menace'. Look, that's all a load of s*!! and you know it. We did what we had to; if we hadn't, you'd be praising your new overlords by now.

Transformed/Deputy Atoms - We drew attention and ire from plenty during the fight. One important person in particular now hates and fears us. Who is it?
General O'Toole, who sees us as a bunch of dangerous misfits that need to be dealt with. But whether he's part of the conspiracy or just a concerned citizen? No one knows for sure.

Tips for playing your characters:

Capable, impressive, burdened, famous. The Legacy comes from a long line of superheroes, meaning they have a superheroic family, either biologically related or connected through their shared legacy. Their story is about the support of that family, and the pressure of carrying on the family name. They have many benefits and advantages that the other PCs might not have—the name of their legacy itself probably carries weight with the city— but at the same time, the expectations and responsibilities placed on them are even higher.

The Legacy has a constant source of support and connection in the other members of their legacy— returning to those characters on a regular basis is an important part of the Legacy’s cycle. If you don’t spend time with them, you can expect them to purposefully force their way into your life. The Legacy often inherently pushes into a position of authority on the team—they’re probably from one of the most established traditions of heroism in the city. Run with it! Putting still more responsibility on the Legacy only further highlights your issues—and gives you even more chances to triumph.

Your biggest asset in playing your Bull is your core move, the Bull’s Heart. It’s your way of signaling to yourself and the whole table that you’re interested in scenes with particular characters. Pay attention to it, and try to get those bonuses as much as possible.

You can change the subjects of e Bull’s Heart pretty easily, which lets you make sure it’s always pointed at characters you’re interested in engaging. Other PCs are usually more interesting sources of drama and conflict than NPCs, but focus on the character relationships you find most interesting. If you aren’t spending time pursuing either your rivalry or your love, then you’re missing out.

Also, keep in mind that your love doesn’t have to be a romantic love, and your rival doesn’t have to be hated. They absolutely can be if that’s what you want! But they don’t have to be so extreme. Your rival could be your closest friend whom you’re determined to surpass. Your love might be someone who’s like your younger sibling, and you keep them safe at all costs. Interpret those terms liberally—that’s why the Bull’s Heart roles, like Friend, still make sense. You would comfort or support your rival if they’re not just an enemy.

Focused, well-trained, driven, unsure. The Protégé is defined by two things: their training and their mentor. A Protégé has a level of skill and preparation beyond nearly any of the other PCs—even the Legacy wasn’t necessarily as well-trained as the Protégé. The Protégé might have innate powers, sure, but they were also guided in how to use those abilities and more by their mentor. That also means they’re devoted to being a superhero in a way that none of the other PCs may be—a Protégé made at the start of play has been training for quite some time to get into this life.

That said, the question before a Protégé is always whether this is really what they want—and, more specifically, if they want to wind up being their mentor. For better or worse, the relationship between you and your mentor is always one wherein your mentor wants you to turn out similarly to them—maybe not exactly the same, but close. And you have to decide if that’s really what you want. Regardless of everything they’ve given you, you might not want their life once you understand what it really means. Pay close attention to your choices for which Labels your mentor denies and embodies. In addition to telling you the kind of person your mentor likely is, they tell you the kind of person your mentor wants you to be.

Make sure you spend time with your mentor. Return to them. Ask them for help and input. You might butt heads with them, you might resist what they choose for you, but they matter to you, as well. They gave you what you needed to become the person you are today, and your relationship with them is the source of your dramatic arc. They might seek you out, but you should do the same.

Hopeful, excited, understanding, human. The Beacon is the most directly mortal and least strange of all the playbooks. They haven’t been shaped by anything else—they could choose to leave this life behind, if they wanted. Which is exactly the point? They’re here because they want to be here. They want to do this. And that gives them a purity compared to the other characters.
You can expect NPCs to tell you that you don’t really belong here. After all, you don’t have those extras that most people associate with superheroes. A central conflict for the Beacon is proving yourself and making the case for why you actually belong.

Ultimately, your character is all about their drives. Those give you objectives, things to aim towards and try to do, so make sure you pick drives that really interest you. Trying to accomplish your drives might lead you into trouble just as much as it might lead you to triumph, but they’ll always push you toward that key conflict—do you actually deserve to be here? And that’s exactly what you want.

Rebellious, joking, attention-seeking, manipulative. The Delinquent is the class clown, or the punk with the stash of weed, or the rebel without a cause. They’re the spoiler, most often just because they can be more than out of any particular desire. They trick other people, they mess with people, they cause problems. That said, the Delinquent isn’t an excuse to just be an annoying jerk. They cause trouble because it’s how they get attention, and it’s how they deal with problems—but that doesn’t mean they’re without deeper feelings or goals that make them more human.

The Delinquent bounces back and forth over that line, over and over, so play in that space and have fun with it. Remember always that, ultimately, you’re part of this team for a reason— you wanted to be here—so simply ditching them all is never an option. (Not least because it means your character would probably retire!)

The Delinquent works best by sticking close to teammates, one way or another, as much as possible. Whether you’re giving them grief, getting to know them better, or even revealing your true self, your story is ultimately about how you relate to your closest compatriots. You’re the companion, the helper, the provocateur, and you make other characters’ lives interesting with your presence. Own it!

Powerful, unrestrained, vulnerable, destructive. The Nova is power incarnate, capable of affecting the world and changing reality on a level their teammates can’t possibly match—but that power comes with enormous risk, both to the Nova and to the world around them.

The Nova’s abilities are intentionally some of the most open- ended of any playbook. They can do nearly anything, though not without difficulty or cost. Chances are, if the Nova wants to do something with their superhuman abilities, there’s a way they can twist their abilities to do that thing—after they unleash their powers, of course. And if they miss when unleashing their powers, the consequences will be much more severe than when the Beacon misses while ring a net arrow.

The Nova is particularly focused on each moment, each individual problem immediately at hand. They’re so powerful, chances are good that they can at least try to overcome any obstacle with their powers, right then and there. As a result, this isn’t a playbook for long-term planning or preparation. You’re explosive, a battering ram of power. Don’t be too afraid of conditions, because they feed right into your flares, giving you still more power to just make things happen, instantly. But that’s your story—balancing the impossible, trying to keep a rein on your power and guide it in the right direction.

Troubled, titanic, grotesque, lamentable. The Transformed used to be human, without any powers or superhuman elements, until something happened and they were changed, obviously and permanently. They might be a cyborg, or a strange monster, or made of electricity—just so long as they’re strange and inhuman, with no way of hiding it. The Transformed’s story is about what you do with your new life and form, and how you react to the way other people treat you now.

As the Transformed, lots of people will attempt to shift your Labels, just by how they react to your appearance. You’re the quintessential book, and your cover is pretty striking—other people will judge you by it all the time, whether you like it or not. Your story is about how your actions either change or confirm those opinions. You can prove those people wrong—or you can prove them right. It’s your choice.

It’s theoretically possible for you to change yourself back over the course of play—after all, everything and anything is possible within Halcyon City. But keep in mind that doing so will be very difficult—you have no tools to point out such a path for yourself—and it requires you to change playbooks, or retire your character at the very least.Your character’s arc and struggles aren’t really about trying to return to what you were—they’re about trying to deal with what you are now

Strange, curious, naïve, arrogant. The Outsider isn’t from here, but that won’t stop them from creating a life for themself right here on this planet. At least, for now. But can they find a place here? Will they even want to, once they get to know this world more? Or will they answer that siren call, and go home?

When you make an Outsider, feel free to go nuts with your homeland. You might be an alien, absolutely, but you might also be from a parallel world, or from the future, or from a digital realm— whatever. The key is, wherever you’re from, it has to be substantially different from Earth and Halcyon City, to the point that you don’t fit in even when you try.

A crucial thing to remember while playing the Outsider is that you aren’t incompetent—you understand more than enough to get by in your new home. What you don’t understand are the more complicated elements of the world around you.

Pick a few key areas of different philosophy and psychology as you play your Outsider. You can add all the weird pieces you want—”My people never let their feet touch the ground, and we can’t see the color green, and we hear emotions!”—but focus on important and difficult questions, like your people actively dismissing the idea of incarcerating criminals instead of reforming them or believing that those with great power are required to follow the will of the people.

Tragic, melodramatic, powerful, driven. The Doomed is a character best served by long-term play, even though their story is about time pressure and not knowing how long they have left . They’re the only character who starts with a clear-cut enemy—their nemesis—and a dangerous timer on their character’s lifespan. They’re also the only character that explicitly faces death by the end of their story. As a result, adding a Doomed to your campaign inherently adds a level of drama, gloom, and danger to your game—death, while not a constant element, is now on the table.

If you’re playing the Doomed, you may feel a desire to avoid using your doomsigns or to stay away from the triggers that advance your doom track. Don’t! Embrace those pieces of your character. Filling your doom track gives you doomsigns; doomsigns give you more power; and that power demands a purpose. By default, you can rely on your nemesis to provide you with a purpose, something to strive against, but you can aim for other things, too. Be ready to pay a lot of costs along the way to accomplishing your goals, whether through your sanctuary or other means.

And just so this is perfectly clear. If you activate that last doomsign that says "Your doom has come, face it and perish" you will auto-fail that confrontation. No way to fight back. You lose. So you may want to work on that from time to time.