In MMORPGs, and probably similar single-player games, the PC party can fight bosses that have multiple phases, or stages. I think this concept maps well to Masks villain conditions, and I want to talk about how we might use it.
An MMO example: the Garuda fight in FFXIV, a battle against a wind-controlling Primal. We start in an arena surrounded by cutting winds, which keep us from running away. The party fights Garuda for a bit. After she takes enough damage, she summons some extra minions, who spread out and must be killed. Her next phase is jumping into the air and coming down with a hurricane-like gust. The group must hide behind some rocky pillars on the battlefield, or take heavy damage. The minions from earlier will attack these pillars, making it important to kill them. After this, we go back to fighting her until the third and final phase, where there’s areas on the ground that will do damage and must be avoided.
The “mechanics” - the things you must do to avoid damage, and be able to damage the boss in return - can change every phase. So imagine that every time a villain marks a condition, the villain move they get to make immediately changes the mechanics of our fight in a similar fashion.
For example, say that the party is fighting Cold Iron, a woman wearing a magical suit of power armor made by the Fair Folk, which traps a powerful demon inside of her. She can take four conditions: Afraid, Guilty, Hopeless, and Insecure. This gives her four phases. Her moves are as follows: “Use my Fair Folk battlesuit’s numerous magitek weapons”; “Change the battlefield with my unreliable self-taught sorcery”; and “Become invisible or cast illusions to deceive or misdirect”. Not my finest hour, but you get the idea.
Starting out, the party engages Cold Iron in a museum theft, where she wants to retrieve a valuable artifact. She takes one condition, and makes her first move: “become invisible or cast illusions”. She vanishes, so now the party must use its powers to try and detect her, and/or retain possession of the artifact. We find her, and inflict another condition. This is another phase change, so she uses her sorcerous powers to animate the museum displays as a mini-army! Suddenly we’re fighting a bunch of other guys, and must still protect the artifact. The cops show up, so she takes off, unleashing a torrent of firepower at the police and any bystanders outside. We must protect them, rescue people, etc. etc. the whole time. We’ve gone from “fight” mechanics to “detect”, to another variant of “fight”, to “protect”, as distinct phases. Finally, either we knock her out, or she gets the artifact and escapes.
A hopefully simple way to approach these phase changes is to switch the basic move that the PCs would most likely make. For example, “directly engage a threat” becomes “assess the situation” or “unleash your powers” (to find the foe or retain the macguffin). After that, “directly engage” or “unleash your powers” to deal with the horde of mooks. Finally, “defend”, with some optional “unleash your powers”, to protect the cops and civilians.
author: Bill G.