Urban Shadows

Fun second session! A few notes and highlights:

* Added a third character, and it wasn’t as disruptive as I had feared. Now we have a Wizard, an Aware and a brand new Tainted. Adding him has expanded the setting even more and it’s right on the edge of Too Much. I think it’ll be time to start pulling the threads together a little tighter.

* I prepped four Threats in advance, and it was a useful exercise. I had sketched out five because I thought it’d be interesting to have one of every Threat flavor, but one of them just didn’t grab me. It was Passion, but it related to a single NPC and I came up empty on a countdown clock. I know I don’t need to clock every Threat, but nothing else really jumped out at me about it so I put that away. For now.

Thinking about custom Threat moves for the next session. I think they’d be fun to sketch out, at the very least. 

* The interaction between the Start of Session move and Threat prep was actually really fruitful this time. Rather than spinning wildly out of control, the rumors fed right back into the events and the relationship map. So that was interesting. I’m curious to see what episode 3 looks like.

* Man is it a relief to run an easy game. And really, Urban Shadows is as easy to run as any other PbtA game. There are only a couple things that make it hard, and that has to do with suddenly adding new NPCs and dreaming up debts on the spot.

* We spent a good bit of time within the Court of the Moon, one of the four fae courts that kind of run/own Dark Phoenix. Totally bonkers within the court, very stream-of-consciousness and weird. Animal-headed people, Alice in Wonderland style insanity.

* Probably the one place that PbtA games can sometimes leave me feeling exhausted is in how moves snowball. I already tend, as a GM when I run more traditional games, to run from crisis to crisis and leave literally no downtime at all. And man is that easy to do with the snowballing. I’ve got a couple character carrying harm and they’re gonna need to work to get some downtime. Which I suppose is by design.

* Lots of advancing tonight! I think everyone got one regular Advance, and the Wizard got her first Corruption advance as well. She took uh…I’m trying to remember…oh right, the true name direct damage thing. Not quite straight murder but it can dispense of individual NPCs with ease. I’m mixed on that move, to be honest, although it is fun to watch the Corruption ratchet up so fast. Probably by the fourth session she’ll get more circumspect about Corruption.

Otherwise, yeah, game ran fine. I’m not feeling inspired to do a blow-by-blow of events for this one. No standout scenes but it’s great, in retrospect, how eager and willing everyone is to throw out great ideas for MC moves. Hell, they practically run it themselves. 

I think I’m going to see more interesting developments come out of the third turn’s Start of Session moves, and how they fit with my Threat prep.

0 thoughts on “Urban Shadows

  1. More crunch in some ways, less in others. Manically busy relationship map, which makes for great instant complexity but also I find takes some focus off the gritty street level feel. Intimacy moves feel safer and more accessible than sex moves. You still have the “so what exactly does take control of even mean?” conversations.

    Playbooks so far provide some nice variety. I’m iffy on Factions; they’re under-explained while also being completely central to play.

    I can’t tell what effect Corruption is having on play. One player is chasing it hard, one is letting it happen, one is avoiding it hard. But having two advancement tracks puts an interesting emphasis on the level-up vibe.

    Lots of things work together to create a good “busy living city” vibe so kudos for that. Debts, faction moves, faction-based advancement, etc. That’s a lot different than other PbtA games, feels like it could get unwieldy fast.

    Sorry for the unstructured thoughts! I’m still mulling it over.

  2. “Not quite straight murder but it can dispense of individual NPCs with ease. I’m mixed on that move, to be honest, although it is fun to watch the Corruption ratchet up so fast.”

    In regards of disposing of NPCs being easy? That definitely seems in-line with PbtA games, at least.

  3. So, having now played session 2 myself my feedback on the MC sheet is that I’d like to have all the Threat moves on the MC sheet rather than the Threat impulses, if I had to prioritise. Maybe the impulses should go on the session start sheet so you can easily assign Threat types/sub-types.
    PS Everyone enjoyed the session!

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