So there you are, hanging from the ceiling in your Spidey-pajamas, with your roommate looking slack-jawed up at you.

And there you are, tied to the chair yet again, your arch-nemesis reaching for your cowl.

Maybe it’s time to gain some trust from the super-team, obey a court order, invent a plot device to keep your cover, or just dispense with the trope entirely. But in all cases, if you’re going for the secret identity play, it pays to do a little pre-planning. How far will you go to preserve your secrets? How central will secret identities be to the game? And perhaps most importantly, are you on the same page as your GM? 

I already told you guys the story of my indiscretions as an amateur goblin werewolf narc. It was decidedly uncool of me to out the resident lycanthrope, but that’s exactly the sort of situation that comes up when secret identities are in play. Therefore, when it comes to mild-mannered PCs and heroic alter egos, I suggest a few additions to the Session Zero checklist:

  1. Does anyone know your secret identity?
  2. Do you want your secret identity to remain secret at all costs?
  3. Does the GM have permission to put your secret identity in jeopardy? Do other players?
  4. What do you think will happen to the plot if anyone learns your true identity? What do you not want to happen?

That list is probably overkill, but I think you get the idea. There’s a lot of drama to be found in “Bruce Wayne Held Hostage” type scenarios, but the risk of losing the central shtick of a vigilante, superhero, or monster can be a major turnoff for some players. As with so many parts of this hobby, my advice is to talk that mess out ahead of time. If you think twice before threatening a player’s defining gimmick, you can make the ultimate reveal more satisfying for everyone.

Question of the day then! Have you ever had your cover blown in an RPG? What was your disguise, how were you discovered, and what was the fallout like? Sound off with your tales of unmasked heroes and exposed villains down in the comments!


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