Sitting at the car dealership this morning, I thought to myself Self, what could be really fun and interesting is time-shifting Urban Shadows. So I’ve been thinking about that all day long.
There are a few things that are baked into Urban Shadows that are distinctly modern, but mostly I think it’d be a fairly easy hack/shift of the game into the past: 1840s Five Points-era NYC or 1890s San Francisco or gaslight era London or Boxer Rebellion Beijing…I mean good lord, we’ve had urban density for as long as we’ve had cities.
I guess I’d probably start in the US of A given how new urbanization is here and how inescapable the story of immigration is. A few shifts occur immediately:
* Keep the basic factions but perhaps contemplate moving around some of the playbooks. Example: vampires were very much scary outsiders/Jews before they got Anne Rice’d into moody rock stars. So maybe they should belong to Wild? Especially when they first arrive on American shores.
* On that note, I just cannot rationalize indigenous people as “outsiders” to their own land (a problem/thing I think about a lot in our own game tbh). So maybe a fifth faction? Something that’s not just “mortal” but tied into (perhaps) being indigenous to the land? Tricky. Dunno.
* Hell, maybe all new factions after all. Or repositioning the factions. Power (politics + money = robber barons and the Gilded Age), Night (crime, gangs, family (!), tradition), Wild (immigrants and outsiders)…and not Mortal, I think, because so very many of the characters would probably fit better into Wild or Night. Something else. Something tied into having already been here and now finding yourself under siege, on your back foot, fighting to keep what was yours.
* Focus on the insular, deeply ethnic neighborhoods of early urbanized areas. Sharp divisions and clear boundaries, or at least boundaries that seem clearer than maybe they really were. Further research necessary; I already know from my American frontier research for that game I’m working on that intersectionalism was very much alive and well ever since there were people, but the tone and type were different.
* Moves that are less about establishing constant reinforcement of the local power structures and more about referencing back across to the old countries. Debts to families “back home.”
* Maybe, possibly, ethnically oriented moves. Some ethnic groups have deeper history here than other, some are more insular than others, etc. Mine field, lord what a mine field. Just thinking out loud here, don’t start with the pitchforks.
* Whole new realms of Threat types. Obvious, unrepentant racism. Ethnic clashes with very old roots. Audacious class warfare. The march of technological progress. Colonialism. Religious persecution.
Just thinking out loud here, and there’s so much room for misunderstanding history. Where would you set a historical Urban Shadows game?