Urban Shadows: Session 2 Preparation

This week I figured I do something a little different and show my preparations between sessions.

So after the first session of Urban Shadows, I had a lot of potential antagonists (the Cthonian Eye, the ghosts, mortal criminals), a few plots holes to fill (why were the campaign posters messed with?), and a lot of moves to create.

City Moves

First I decided on some moves for Sacramento (based on two years living here)

  • Add Crowds from a Poorly Advertised Event
  • Introduce a Mysterious Artwork
  • Separate Potential Allies by Geography (I’ve found people don’t tend to move much between West Sac and Downtown and North Sac and so forth)
  • Turn a Grid into a Maze (so many suddenly one way streets)
  • Mix Affluence and Poverty (inspired by the many homeless amid an otherwise upscale community)

The Storm

I wanted to have a storm, a collection of threats, for this game. After much brainstorming this is what I came up with.

Obligation: Community (belonging, being a part of something bigger)

The Ghosts (formerly) of the Old Cemetery

Type: Passion (Revenge – against the mortals who neglected them and the mages who stole their resting place)

Faction: Night

Description: Forced from the Old Cemetery, these ghosts seek revenge. No longer able to feel comfortable in their old home (which has been drained of its occult power), they want restitution.

Cast: Ghosts [small gang, 2-harm (ghostly), 1-harm (telekinesis), possession]

Custom Moves:

  • When you try to escape the shadowlands in a low place, roll +Spirit. On a hit you pass over. On a 7-9 you bring something extra with you or leave something behind. On a miss you are stuck in between here and there with trouble on its way.
  • When the ghosts attempt to possess you, roll +Spirit. On a hit, you maintain control. On a 7-9, the experience disorients you take -1 forward. On a miss, you take an action on their behalf. Either way choose 1:
    • Learn a secret about the past.
    • Understand their pain. +1forward to Persuade them.
    • Ask a question from Figure Someone Out.

The Cthonian Eye [The Eye]

Type: Ritual (Link – use the occult power of the Old Cemetery and other supernatural locations to open a gateway to a long-lost place of power: the Verge)

Faction: Power

Description: A group of former apprentices and outcast mages have come together under the leadership of Felix the Plutomancer. They seek a unique power to gain recognition by the eight cabals of the city. Their plan is to realign the occult resonance of several sites (all graves or low places). Between the Old Cemetery (fixed once the ghosts were driven out) and their headquarters in the new developments of West Sacramento, they are halfway there.

Cast: Percy, former apprentice and prismatic mage [impulse: display power, wounded, prismatic spray 2-harm messy], Felix, plutomancer, ex-journeyman, and leader of the Cthonian Eye [impulse: make others bend to him, armor-1 (magic), wounded], Christine, former apprentice skilled in interconnections [impulse: reveal the hidden]


0:00: The Cthonian Eye mark up the Old Cemetery, riling the ghosts.

3:00: The Cthonian Eye shunt the occult power of the Old Cemetery to their base of operations in West Sac.

6:00: Felix steals a contact from Hell’s Bureaucracy.

9:00: Using the contract he conducts a secret ritual in Old Sac at the location of an ancient wizard’s unmarked grave, giving the cabal the final power boost they need.

10:00: A gateway to the Verge is formed, granting the Cthonian Eye glimpses of the future.

11:00: The Cthonian Eye uses their new foreknowledge to convince several other cabals to unite behind it.

12:00: The Cthonian Eye turn the Verge on Hell’s Bureaucracy, predicting its every move.

Custom Moves:

  • When you act in secret against the Eye, they know.
  • When the Verge is opened, declare your intent for the scene. The members of the Eye know.
  • While the Verge is open, ghosts can manifest at will.


Type: Territory [Expansion – route for beings from another dimension to enter ours]

Faction: Wild

Description: Something is snatching people. A man working on a power line. A child walking across the street. An old woman in a locked room. Where did they go? What is doing this? At least one has returned but he came back with a “companion.”

The realm of the Collector, the being stealing people, is strange even to the local supernaturals. At times hot and firey, it is also home to many works of art and music. and a strange alien timelessness. The Collector is creating its own “community” out of mortals plucked out of time and space.

Cast: Leon, single (divorced) retired, now possessed (Mortality) [impulse: seek comfort]; Sandra Anderson, Sam’s granddaughter a high school student (Mortality) [impulse; seek answers]; the Collector (Wild) [impulse collect beautiful things]; the Passenger, a voice in Leon’s head (Wild) [impulse: reveal maddening truths].

Questions: why does O’Malley need to protect Leon?

Custom Moves:

  • When the Collector grabs a mortal, roll +Blood. On a hit, you react fast enough. On a 10+ gain a +1forward to interfere with the Collector. On a miss they are gone…for now.
  • When the Passenger makes art, it reveals a window into the Collector’s realm. You may ask a question. If you ask a question, answer one in return.

A Wrench in the Infernal Machine

Type: Revolution [Idealist- craves sacrifice of others]

Faction: Wild

Description: Unhappy with the upstart wizards of Sacramento and the demons’ influence in the city, a cog in Hell’s Bureaucracy puts it on a collision course with the Cthonian Eye. They threaten O’Malley’s daughter, inform both sides enough to escalate the conflict, and seeks to topple the existing order.

Cast: Julia, 13-year old daughter of O’Malley (impulse: pursue the strange) (Mortal); Mephisto, head demon in Sacramento (impulse: gain leverage) (Wild); Akiva, the popular new guy/gal just below O’Malley (impulse; undermine others)


0:00: Akiva plants posters marked with mystic runes at Julia’s school

3:00: They feed the Cthonian Eye the details they need to break into Hell’s Bureaucracy.

6:00: Julia misses a day at school, chasing after Akiva.

9:00: Akiva and their allies cut O’Malley off from his demonic resources.

10:00: Akiva makes a deal with Julia for her soul.

11:00: Akiva demands O’Malley’s position for Julia’s contract.

12:00: Akiva begins to gather resources against Mephisto.

Custom Moves:

  • Everybody owes him: Mephisto can call in a debt on any NPC (or someone close enough to them)
  • Doing you a favor: When you persuade Akiva to do something meaningful, you always owe them a debt beyond what would normally be due.
  • Child’s Eyes: when figuring Julia out, she holds 1 more than normal.


  • The cabal has forced the Ghosts of the Old Cemetery out.
  • Christine is investigating the Disappearances and hopes to catch the Collector. she might enlist a PC to help.
  • The cabal is being fed intelligence by a demon (Akiva) on the location of a deceased (and damned) archmage.
  • Akiva intends to get signatures from the ghosts: to one up O’Malley and gain more “man” power.
  • Several of the ghosts lived in Anders neighborhood and recall a similar set of disappearances in 1963 and 1910.
  • Leon calls O’Malley about the young woman (Akiva) who keeps asking him questions.

Other Threats

Then I decided to do something interesting with the gang and turn them into monster hunters.

Asian Gang (The Jincan)

Type: Power Play [Fient – draw some foe into the open for them to draw their knives on them]

Faction: Mortality

Description: The Jincan are a group of monster hunters, drug dealers, and criminals who seek to destroy supernatural creatures by encroaching on their territory.

Cast: Vince [impulse: ?] (Mortality); the secretive leader of the gang (Mortality); their head monster hunter (Mortality); Conrad, an elder vampire in northern Sacramento (Night); Officer Harper, mostly good cop (Mortality)

Countdown Clock:

0:00: Strange drugs spread through the area.

3:00: Conrad’s enforcers get roughed up in a fight with some “Asian punks”.

6:00: The police are paid off with drug money to look the other way as the Jincan continue to encroach on Conrad’s business.

9:00: Conrad directly attacks the Jincan and is dosed with spirit poison.

10:00: The Jincan kill Conrad.

11:00: The Jincan claim the neighborhoods of northern Sacramento.

12:00: The Jincan hunt the local werewolves.

Custom Moves:

  • When exposed to spirit poison, pick a supernatural power and roll +Spirit. On a hit, you don’t lose that power. On a 10+ take -1forward to supernatural abilities. On a 7-9 take -1ongoing to supernatural abilities.
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