Workshop My Masks: Overwatch Idea!

So one of the ideas that I want to get run before the year’s out is using the Masks RPG to run something in Blizzard’s Overwatch universe. But there’s a few things I’m less certain about. So I figured I’d see what feedback folks had.

For those who aren’t at all familiar with Overwatch, it’s a first-person shooter set in a vibrant superhero-inspired universe with colorful characters. Check out the original debut trailer for a good taste of what the setting is like:


Guns and Violence
Obviously, with Overwatch being a shooter, this doesn’t quite jive with the default setup of Masks, where killing is not the default way of dealing with problems. There’s also some weirdness when it comes to building a team of teenagers, but I think that’s also sorta baked into Masks by default. My initial thought is to just have this be a junior team associated with Overwatch, which means they do stuff without access to the weapons that proper Overwatch agents have access to.

(I don’t plan on using the grittiness rules from Masks Unbound, because that runs against the fun, colorful atmosphere I want to cultivate, at least in part. I want there to be some intense stuff, but not overly much. Having that larger-than-life feel is important to me.)

Team Structure
I’m planning on running with the “Agents of AEGIS” playset from Secrets of AEGIS, using Overwatch as the organization instead of AEGIS. Having characters from the game acting as handlers seems like a great way to make the game feel connected to the universe. Casting the heroes as a “junior Overwatch” seems like a pretty good hook as well; am I overthinking it when I wonder about how to justify teenagers being involved in a paramilitary organization? Is that just something you let go with superhero logic?

The Overwatch team in the game is comprised of members from countries around the world; this suggests that player characters would also be able to come from these countries. I think this could more or less work, except that it feels like it might limit the scenes players have “off duty”. Do I just run one-off scenes with characters in between missions where we see them “at home”? It particularly feels like it clashes with the Janus setup, so I might just axe that playbook overall.

This one’s surprisingly easy to justify. The Overwatch universe has “sufficiently advanced technology” of multiple stripes: hard light, biotics, sound-based tech, advanced robotics, cryonic tech, gravity manipulation, and a little bit of time-space manipulation. Oh, and uplifted animals. So most superpowers seem like they’d still fit within the parameters of the setting, with a little stretching.

So I think that’s most of what I wanted to cover. Does anything seem like it’s missing, especially from folks who know the lore? (Also, I am 100% planning on having “omnic” be a Looks choice instead of having any mechanical effect.)


I can’t think of anything obvious you’re missing!

I do think some of the issues you’re concerned with might not be a big deal, or at least clash with what’s already present in Overwatch and this kind of fiction in general. Like, shooting people with guns isn’t the sort of fun, colorful action you expect from Masks, but it’s also something you’re already having to compartmentalize a lot on to fit into the also fun, colorful world of Overwatch, where people do do that kind of thing without ever questioning the implications of it very much. Making the decision to not have that in your game is totally admirable, but I think you could also just as easily choose to include it and live with the cognitive dissonance.

Similarly, I think the idea of having a Junior Overwatch would totally work, but also given the cartoonish superhero setting, it’s not that crazy to just be like “eh I dunno we have a bunch of teens in our paramilitary group too, y’know, like ya do.”

For people not being together when they’re off-duty, you could establish that everyone has been stationed at a certain city or base?

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Yeah, that’ll probably work, although I think that still presents Janus issues, unless the player gets really creative with their home life.

Yeah, I think you’re on the money using the Agents of AEGIS playset. And if someone wants to play the Soldier, that playbook’s tension can tie into to superhero/gunslinger disconnect you’ve noticed.

I second the idea of a home base city. Perhaps a real or fictional “international city” full of embassies and slices of home for every PC?

If someone is excited about the Janus, talk to them about how to make the dual identities and civilian obligations work. Maybe their home life is tied up in embassy business (the child of an ambassador, say) and they really shouldn’t be on Jr. Overwatch but put on a mask to do it anyway. Or maybe their guardians know about their super identity (a valid choice with the playbook, surprisingly) but they have other public-facing roles (like as a teen activist) they don’t want associated with their super missions.


I wouldn’t say you’re missing these things, but maybe you can emphasize them further. :slight_smile:

Overwatch’s big distinctive elements as a setting are based around the following:

  1. A world worth fighting for. Always emphasize in the adventures that the heroes are protecting a good world full of good people. It’s easy to focus on the bad guys and the untrustworthy folks, because they create the conflict, but make sure you give screentime to good-hearted kids they can inspire and good-but-scared-or-overwhelmed adults they can be the cavalry for. Have the civilians play a major part in the adventures, usually as a supporting role. Have otherwise powerless people offer them a place to stay when they’re being chased and risk themselves to hide the heroes. Show that the world is full of good, appreciative people even if they aren’t the ones in power, and players will want to protect it.

  2. A global setting. Overwatch embraces culture and settings from the world over. Heroes are different nationalities and missions take the heroes all over the world, experiencing different cultures and locations. Just look at the map rotation in the game. Try and set things up so you emphasize the rich cultural diversity of the setting’s values and don’t stay in any one city too long. Maybe use music to help set the scene in each new country they set foot in.

  3. Heroes can change the world. Overwatch calls on you to see the world for what it could be and work to make it happen. You can throw big obstacles and complications in the way of the players, but make sure their actions leave a big and (unless they’re being too irresponsible) positive impact on the setting. This works well with 1, as you can have people remember them, thank them, admire them, and help them.

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