A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Heroes Wear Masks

Heroes Wear Masks is a role playing game supplement published by the Avalon Game Company for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. As such, it is covered by the Open Game License and some of it is considered to be Open Game Content as a result. This is a rewrite of the Pathfinder game into a superhero game, and a version is available for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition as well.

The supplement is available from RPGNow as a PDF for $14.99, as a softcover print on demand book for $25 or both PDF and book for $25. The PDF is the version reviewed although it was purchased at the reduced price of $1. There are three files with the first having 220 pages of which one page is the colour front cover, one page is the front matter, one page the Contents, one page is the Open Game License and ten pages are adverts. The second file is a shorter printer-friendly PDF in black and white with no ads or the Open Game License at the back. The third is an 8 page PDF. One page is a blank character sheet, two pages have flat colour paper models of villains, one page is bases for the models and four pages make up a colour map for the adventure.

Heroes Wear MasksThe single page Introduction explains that there isn’t much difference between the world of fantasy adventurers and that of superheroes, and that Heroes Wear Masks aims to bridge the distance.

Chapter 1: Character Creation considers character creation, naturally. There are four main Origins, the systems “races,” Human, Enhanced Human, Mutant and Strange Visitor, all pretty familiar concepts to those familiar with the superhero genre. The process is pretty similar to creating a regular Pathfinder character.

Chapter 2: Core Classes is the classes, of which there are six; Acrobat, who jump and dive around, Brick, the brute muscle, Combat Experts, the masters of weapons, the Detective, who finds and uses knowledge, Energy Manipulator, those who control energy, and Super Human, who typically have several powers.

Chapter 3: Skills and Feats introduces some new Skills and Feats, including some of the latter from the Infinite Futures system.

Chapter 4: Powers are the different powers that superheroes may have. Many of these come in a broad category which then have more specific power types within them. There are also power templates as well, which can be added to a power.

Chapter 5: Resource Points has what resource points can be used for, from hand weapons up to lair equipment. Flavors and Flaws add benefits and problems to characters.

Chapter 6: Expanded Game Rules covers combat and has three advanced classes, Master Mind, Super Hero and Super Villain, and four NPC classes, Assault Trooper, Henchmen, Police Officer and Thug.

Chapter 7: Super Heroes and RPGs is quite an extensive chapter that covers various different aspects of the game, from the qualities of heroes and villains, to the location of combat and innocent bystanders to running the game. Creating memorable opponents, adventures and campaigns are discussed, as well as the different comic book ages and various alternate settings, such as alternative history and space. Running a supervillain campaign is also considered.

Chapter 8: Heroes Inc. has many example villains, heroes and teams of both, complete with stats.

Chapter 9: Brown Out is a short sample adventure.

Heroes Wear Masks in Review

The PDF is bookmarked, but not to any great level. The chapters are covered and, in some cases, a few major sections, but the bookmarking could have been a lot more in depth. The Contents is more thorough, but still not as in-depth as it could be. Given the size of the supplement, navigation is below average as a result.

The text is mostly in a two column format, but sometimes switches to single column, not always for any really apparent reason. There are some errors but overall the standard is higher than in many of the publisher’s supplements.

There are many full colour images, up to a full page in size at the beginning of the chapters, with the main things depicted being superheroes and villains. Some of the illustrations look substantially better than the others.

There are examples of different types of characters, and some of the examples will be clearly recognisable as to who they are, even if they are not referred to by name (probably due to IP). As well as the more specific information for running a Pathfinder based superhero game, Chapter 7 in particular has a lot of material in it that would be useful for superhero games in general, not just this version in particular. This chapter is probably the largest in the book and contains a lot of interesting material that could be adapted elsewhere.

Heroes Wear Masks is one of the best supported of this publisher’s lines, and there is a lot of supplementary material available for it, including a solo system, Comic Book Adventures, with the publisher regularly releasing more. Perhaps not quite weekly but usually every month, although some of that is now for the D&D 5E version.

This looks to be a decent conversion of the Pathfinder system to a superhero game. The quality of presentation is perhaps not quite what would be expected from the price tag, but it is quite a large supplement. Heroes Wear Masks will make for a different, and pretty well supported, variant of the Pathfinder game, and can be found by clicking here.

 

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