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.
OPTIONS FOR DIRECTLY ENGAGING A THREAT
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!
OPTIONS FOR UNLEASH YOUR POWERS
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.
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.
OPTIONS FOR DEFEND SOMEONE
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.
OPTIONS FOR ASSESS THE SITUATION
“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.
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.
OPTIONS FOR PROVOKE SOMEONE
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.
OPTIONS FOR COMFORT OR SUPPORT SOMEONE
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.
OPTIONS FOR PIERCE THE MASK
“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.
OPTIONS FOR TAKE A POWERFUL BLOW
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.