Designer’s Notes: Mask of Humanity


“The Mask of Humanity” began as “Parting the Veil.” It spent almost 4 years on my harddrive (longer than any other “finished and submitted” but unpublished articles I currently have) collecting dust. I’ve hinted at its existence on the forums dozens of times since then. It contains lots of little gems people asked for many times (Obscure (Memory) I’m looking at you) and canonizes Eric B. Smith’s alternate rules for Resistant (which I just love).

Overall, the Facade is one half of a complete “wainscot mechanics” rules that the Threshold system from Safe as Houses completes. With these two rulesets you could completely run a “the supernatural is secret” campaign. Unlike Safe as Houses, I have very little extra material for this one – mostly owing to the fact that this is the extra material from Safe as Houses. Still, most of the material from that supplement and its Designer’s Notes applies here as well.

All in all it took me about 80 hours to write, 90 hours to edit, 30 hours worth of research, and 110 hours of revision. There must have been another 5 hours or so of looking over the semi-final PDF as well. An interesting note – and I think this is just a result of having something waiting in the wings so long is that I kept going back and rewriting and editing things (thus the higher than normal counts).

Overall, I loved how this one came together and finally seeing it come out made me happy.
Posted in Designer's Notes and tagged , , , .


  1. I'm way behind the times, commenting on this post, but I just read this article for the first time (thanks to the 40% off PDFs sale).

    Wow, it's a great article. (It's hard to get this across in print, but that "wow" is meant to be enunciated with great feeling. WOW.)

    If I'm ever doing a Wainscot fantasy campaign, I would happily (eagerly) drop this whole thing into the game, without any additional work, tweaks, or changes. GURPS is such a toolkit (and I'm such a tinkerer) that I don't say that very often. The article takes one of the most flavorful elements of many urban fantasy settings, and then systematizes and makes it gameable – with real, objective target numbers, well-defined abilities, etc – without doing anything to destroy the taste of mystery, which lies at the heart of the flavor. As it were.

    Anyway, bravo! Bravo!

    I'm also really happy to see this issue addressed directly. I very much like the Monster Hunters series, but it always puzzled me as to why P.K. (bless him) decided to skim over the central fact of such settings – the "Secret", what it is, how it works, and (particularly) why it has to be maintained at all.

    The "Facade" gives an atmospheric, dramatically interesting, and richly gameable answer to the first two of those questions, and also provides some interesting hints toward possible answers to the third. So that hypothetical Monster Hunters game I've been sort of planning, in a desultory way, for a long time, just got a whole lot better, too…

  2. Thanks! I really appreciate the kind words and honest review. This sort of stuff keeps me going. 🙂

    I also wrote an article called "Safe as Houses" that dovetails nicely with "Mask of Humanity" I've been thinking for a while of doing something on Patreon to integrate both systems fully into the MH setting. I might just do it soon. Hmmmm.

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