RPG for Grown-Up Masks Characters?

So I’ve been having a great Masks campaign with a group that’s really invested in things, and one thing they floated recently was “what if, once we wrap up the ‘main plot’ of this game, we did a flash-forward where we played our characters as adults?”

Obviously, Masks itself doesn’t quite work for this, and we briefly discussed the possibility of changing to another game for it–but we also don’t want a game that’s just focused on superheroics and fighting villains and such. A huge part of what we’re enjoying, of course, is the character bonds and the interactions.

What games out there are good for exploring character growth and relationships, and maybe some degree of nostalgia? Are there any good superhero games that do this?


We switched over to Smallville (Cortex Plus or Prime) because we got to the point where it no longer made sense to play Masks. Smallville’s the only game I can think of that focuses on relationships for a Supers game.


There’s Power Beyond Doubt, which used to be called Project Lycra and, if I remember correctly, that scenario was part of its development…not sure, though, and it doesn’t help that Patreon is down right when I post this! :cold_sweat:


Neat, good to learn about these! @Mikel_Matthews, how did you handle character creation? Did you just set benchmarks for Values and attributes based on the existing characters? Or did you somehow adapt the relationship map character generation process?

We did a bit of pathways and then I set the levels for them. (They didn’t know the system.)

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For what it’s worth, you can play Masks about adult characters. You need something to replace the “all adults have influence” rule and some playbooks need tweaking, but it fundamentally works so long as the characters are trying to figure out who they are in the world and in relation to other people. Obviously, it’s easy to port to college and early 20s, or even mid 20s post college, but I think you could also have individual characters with their own issues. Whether it’s somebody a recent divorcee or widow, somebody whose career just crashed and burned, dealing with the loss of a parent. So long as position in the world is in transition and the characters need to figure out who they are, I think Masks can be made to work. I know @Joecrak has thoughts about this.


It’s true, Masks works pretty easily for adult characters.

It might work best as being “New Heroes”, but the principle is basically “You don’t have your shit together.” Which is pretty much the majority of superheroes in comics anyway.

I replaced “All adults have influence over you” to “Everyone has influence over you”

of the basic playbooks, I haven’t found as that doesn’t work, as even adults can be protege’s.

My recommendation, if you’ve been playing Masks for a while, and want to age up? Just continue playing masks, it’s a great system. I know I, as a player, love seeing the fictional, and mechanical growth of a character, so when changing systems, you may keep the ficitonal aspect, but suddenly, mechanically, you can feel like “Oh, huh, I used to be really good at saving lives, now I’m kind of bad at it?”

Anyway, yes, I have many thoughts on it. Masks is intended for playing “Young Adults” The age range for young adult keeps changing the older I get.

Masks is also written to be taking place in the "Modern Age, but I’ve played in games set in the “Golden Age”, and, again, it all works fine.


I’m going to pipe in and suggest Power Beyond Doubt for sure. Thanks for the link up thread, @darren!
Using Masks can work mechanically? But the idea of a grown-up who gets their labels shifted around by everyone seems pretty… juvenile to me. So, it wouldn’t be my flavor of “adult supers”, personally.


Yeah, that does look very interesting to me! I like how it feels like an iteration on Masks, and the Confidence/Trust tracks seem pretty neat. It looks like I’d have to guesstimate one or two things but otherwise it looks complete enough for my purposes. I’ll have to keep that in my back pocket for sure.

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I’ve never actually played this game, but I know it was well-loved at the time:

“With Great Power…” was a strong superhero morality story kind of engine, by Michael S. Miller. Anyone here have experience with it?

It might be a strong contender for this idea/mission.

With Great Power is pretty cool, but very narrative-based. It’s based pretty closely on Swords Without Master, so it leans hard into improv/one-shot play as opposed to the kind of ongoing trad-style games we’re mostly used to for superhero narratives. I like it a lot, but it might be a peculiar fit for an ongoing game.


Thanks, Jim! I didn’t know that. Glad you mentioned it, so readers can be informed: that could be a turnoff for some, and a selling point for others.

Great, now I want to use Masks to play middle-aged heroes having mid-life crises with their children and exes being the ones who have influence over them.


Could Masks as adults just exchange “All Adults” by only giving influence to NPCs who have fictional hold over a character, rather than just assuming everyone does?

Ideally I think you’d want to boost that with some playbook/establishing questions so characters start entangled, but in the short term I think you could just manage that on the fly.

Some of the existing establishing questions for the playbooks would handle some of this. The responsibilities of the Janus could easily be adapted for Adults for example, then you’d have ‘My Boss’, ‘My Family’, etc. Other playbooks work too, The Bull has ‘Weapon X’, the Doomed’s DOOM (I mean, could be Weapon X still), The Legacy (my retired mentor/my sidekick), etc.
Subsequent entanglements might be handled by Rejecting Someone’s Influence where appropriate.

The things I am less sure of how to manage are:

  • How many Adult moves players might start with. 1? And then how that impacts on ‘advanced improvements’ (I would lean towards letting more Adult moves in to play rather than less I think)

  • Changes to the Protege and the Legacy. I think these pose similar issues but have different dynamics. The Legacy is easier because ‘Wally West’ still runs in the shadow of ‘Barry Allen’ for basically forever, so you just reframe things as the current holder of the title (rather than the next in line).The Protege I’m less sure of, but perhaps simply reversing the wording to have the PC as the Mentor would work. E.g. “When you give someone advice that would inspire your protege, roll + the label your protege embodies”. The Labels would be less about what your protege themselves embodies, but those of the relationship (what lessons are you trying to teach etc). I suppose you could rename the Protege as the Mentor, mostly do a word swap on the playbook.

  • Mixing playbooks. It would be a risky power dynamic but I think many of the Masks playbooks would work alongside this too. The sidekicks, when they appear in the main title rather than their own. This would tread a lot on the Joined territory but it establishes that co-dependent relationship can work in play.

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Spinning off of this in a slightly different direction, it would be interesting with a game where you’re playing the adults who have to deal with all these crazy kids running around. Like, every player has a former sidekick, someone they’re mentoring, the next person in their legacy, or someone from the same dimension/underwater city/pantheon they feel responsible for and/or others will hold you responsible for.

That’s a different game than Masks, though.


I would play that… could do the Better Angels thing and have the player to your right/left embody your sidekick :smiley:

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