Urban Shadows: Schemes and Claws

Finally we reach the conclusion of my Urban Shadows campaign. With a baby due in two weeks, I needed to wrap this story up fast. Complicating matters my players’ schedules failed to align and I only had two of them for the final session.

Schemes and Claws

We started with the love letters from last time beginning with Sam.

Psychic energy washes unseen across the city, closing portals and shoring up weak spots.

Sam opens his eyes. Around him mediums, wizards, and the attuned open their eyes and unlock hands. Their gaze focuses slowly in the dim light and gradually their ring breaks up into knots. Several rub their heads from the sudden drain in occult power.

A few of the men and women stumble out of the back room and into the bar. Others head home for the night.

Vasquez lies on the leather couch. “I need a place to crash until I regain my mojo.”

Sam sighs. “Fine you can use the couch.”

And he begins to pay off his debt to the wizard.

As the old man exits the room himself, he immediately spots trouble. Outside five spectral figures materialize in the evening air. Sam recognizes some “former” monster hunters including Skylar, a particularly nasty individual who perished facing down a fae. Sam was supposed to help watch his back.

Sam rolls +Mind, fails, and marks Night.

The ghosts heft translucent bats and knives as they move through the doorway and nearby walls.

The patrons begin to flee through the available exits as Sam backs into the back room. Piper pulls out a crude baton of wrought iron from behind the bar.

Vasquez pulls himself up as the door opens. “They are here for me!”

Sam ignores him and quickly makes some marks along the wall.

He let’s it out and succeeds with a 10+. He takes no corruption and chooses to frighten the ghosts away.

Runes glow where he touches creating a barrier impenetrable to the spirits. Two try to pass through anyway. As their corpus burns and sizzles, they and their companions flee.

A minute later, Sam ventures out into the mostly deserted bar.

“It looks like they are gone,” Piper says.

“We’d better close up, Piper. Could you get some of these people back home.” Sam looks around. “Sandra, you too, get home. I’ll stay here and watch the wizard.”

As she leaves, Piper shouts back to Sam. “Be careful. I see a group of ghosts camping on the corner.”


Anders rolls a soft hit with +Blood for his love letter’s custom move.

Ander lounges in his apartment after dark. Beneath him the couch groans under 500 pounds of muscle and fur.

His ears swivel as something taps on the window glass. He sees a cat marking the surface with its paw. A familiar symbol takes shape. The werewolf glances at the earthen jug.

Unseen something chitinous and black crawls along the ceiling.

Anders slides the window open. The cat crouches nearby looking out at the street. Anders smells the stench of the Passenger on it.

He lashes out with his claws, eviscerating the animal.

Anders gets a soft hit to Unleash. Something bad happens a little earlier than expected.

As the blood splatters the alleyway, a food truck pulls to a halt out front. A dozen oriental men pour out, armed and looking for trouble.

Then something bites him on the neck.

Anders fails his +Mind roll to avoid the bite but succeeds on a +Spirit roll to resist the poison. He gets a -1 ongoing to use his supernatural powers.

The beast crushes the strange hybrid scorpion centipede in his massive hand even as he feels the poison rushing through his body.

Anders slams the window shut. Outside he hears people rushing up the stairs to his apartment.

He looks back at the window and down at the alley. Two thugs crouch below.

Then a third flies through the shattered window at him.

Without thinking the werewolf grabs the man, slamming him the ground and sending his short swords spinning across the room. An instant later his entrails decorate Anders’s dining room.

This time he gets a hard hit on Unleash.

The front door crashes down as the men burst into his apartment. Anders leaps out the window disappearing into the night.

He gets another hard hit on his Escape roll. He chooses as his option to leave something important, his laptop, behind.

After putting some distance between himself and the thugs, Anders seeks out a local black market doctor. Mrs. Florence isn’t dirty but she isn’t above patching someone up without reporting it to the authorities.

He hits the streets with +Mortality and succeeds.

The gray-haired woman answers the door, unsurprised to see him. Anders explains he was poisoned. He gives her the remains of the bug and she takes some of his blood.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to help with this,” she says examining the creature. “You might need an expert.”

“I’ll ask one tomorrow,” he growls. “Just see what you can learn.”


After a night of prowling and sleeping rough, Anders returns to his apartment.

He finds his door repaired. A post it note on the door says. “Hope this helps. Call me if need more assistance. -Akiva.” A phone number at the bottom completes the message.

He pockets the note and enters the apartment. Everything has been cleaned up and repaired. No blood, no body. But also no laptop.

Anders heads out and gets himself a new computer so he can work. Then he visits “Doctor” Florence.

The old veterinarian explains the results of the tests were inconclusive. She directs him to a shop known as the Chimera.

Anders hurries over but finds it a burned out husk. He hears movement within however and creeps inside. Past the wrecked front space, he finds a partially intact storeroom and an African-American woman sweeping soot and charred stock out of the way.

“What do you want?” she snaps.

“I’m Anders. I need to know about this bug and its poison.” He hands her a vial containing its remains.

She shakes it. “I’ve seen something like this before. I’m Olga. Yes, it looks like a Jincan.”

“Jincan?”

“It is a ritually created poison. A jug of spiders, scorpions and other venomous insects is buried in the earth. They are forced to devour each other until only one remains, a preternaturally poisonous creature. They say its venom can counter supernatural abilities, leaving the victim mortal.”

Anders rubs the wound on his neck. His hand comes away wet with puss. “Is there a cure?”

“Yes, but,” she gestures around her, ”we are out of stock.”

“I see. What happened?”

“Some thugs on motorcycles tossed some Molotov cocktails in here. It must be Mary’s Hellions.”

“I’ll look into it. Order some more of the cure.”


As morning dawns at Sam’s, the sleepy old man is roused from his watch over Vasquez by a knock at the front door.

Sam spots Officer Harper standing at the door with his head held at an odd angle.

“What is it Jack?” Sam asks opening the door.

“I. Need. Assistance,” the man stammers.

Sam leads Harper in, donning his glasses as he closes the door. He spots the multihued blur of the Passenger over Harper’s shoulder.

“What happened to the cat?” Sam asks.

Jack reaches for some paper and Sam slides a pencil over. Rapidly he sketches a bloody scene in an alley. A hulking werewolf lurks over the carnage. In a window the possessed man draws a symbol.

The Jincan, Sam realizes. A hunter organization that uses oriental mysticism, criminal cartels and old-fashioned poison to destroy creatures of the night.

Sam gets a good hit on his Face to a Name roll.

“Look possessing people is not right,” he tells the Passenger. “Why don’t you head to the pound and get another cat.”

“I need help,” the spirit repeats. “Cat has no…hands.”

Sam sighs. “Alright go to the pound, get a dog. I’ll look around for someone willing. Give me a week and day before you go grabbing another mortal.”

“Yes.”

As Harper and his Passenger leave, Sam starts thinking of his other problem. The Jincan have poisons that can neutralize supernatural powers. He decides to stock up on the antitoxin.

Just then Vasquez emerges from the backroom. “Thanks for the protection.”

“That’s fine,” Sam says. “Now we are even.”


Ander tracks Mary’s Hellions to a nearby biker bar. As he hangs around outside he begins noting the license plates on the motorcycles.

A burly pair of bikers exits as he writes the numbers down.

“Hey! What do you think you are doing?” one shouts.

“I don’t mean anything,” he says as the men walk right up to him.

“You better not,” the larger of the pair says giving the werewolf a good shove.

Anders gets a soft hit on his Persuade roll so they don’t outright start a fight.

Anders refuses to take the bait and simply walks away.

Instead he calls Akiva on his cell.

“Oh hello, I was looking forward to talking to you,” the demon says.

“I saw that you cleaned up my place.”

“Yes, just a small favor. Perhaps you would be willing to help me out?”

“What do you need?”

“I have a contract with some ghosts that got evicted from their home. Perhaps you know something about that. Anyway, they need revenge on a mischievous wizard named Christine Day. They want her eliminated.”

“I’ll look into it.”

He hangs up and walks away from the bar. Then Percy turns the corner just ahead of him, his eyes glues to his phone. He turns in Anders direction and looks up. The wizard rushes over.

“Hey! Can you help me?” Percy gasps, his eyes darting around the street.

“What’s the problem?”

Percy glances at his phone as it chimes. “I ran into Akiva. He just appeared out of nowhere with a hungry look on his face. I bolted.” He steps closer scanning the crowds for the demon. “Vasquez and Neema both vanished. I know they made some sort of pact with the demons in town. I think they called them in. Now Akiva is after me. I need protection.”

Anders considers it. “Stick by me.”

Percy’s phone chimes again. He looks at the message and tells Anders, “hey I know something that could help you.”

“What is that?”

“Where those people who attacked you are. Or rather where they will be.”

“Okay, where?”

Percy looks at his phone again. “This way,” he says heading up the street.


Elsewhere, Sam visits the Chimera for supplies. Warily he creeps into the ruined shop.

An elderly proprietor greets him. “As you can see we are closed.”

“Sorry to hear that. What happened?”

The old man tells him how they heard the rumble of motorcycles just before incendiaries were thrown through the window.

As he finishes the tale, Olga exits the back with a box and a list of stock that survived the flames. Sam eyes the strange bug she has in a jar and put in a request for some herbs.

“A lot of demand for those,” she comments.


Percy leads Anders to a corner in a bad neighborhood as the sun sets.

He looks at his phone again. “Okay, they will be here in 10 minutes. Just stand there for a bit. Then we need to move.” He looks at the roof tops and the phone. He points. “There.”

Anders looks up and checks his watch. “A minute until nightfall. You sure?”

“Yes. They’ll be here quick.”

A few minutes later, Percy crouches next to the now hulking werewolf atop the building. A car pulls up the corner below them.

The phone chimes. “That’s them,” Percy says.

Despite gaining +1 forward Anders still fails to Unleash.

The werewolf leaps down. As he claws the men in the back to shreds, the others open fire on him. The bullets barely harm him but it buys the survivors enough time to peel away before he can finish them.

The gang takes 3-harm (killing several of them) and he takes 1 after his armor.

Breathing heavily Anders watches them go. Bullets fall to the ground, pushed out of his rapidly closing wounds.

Anders gets a hard hit on his Let It Out roll, heals 1-harm with his regeneration and takes no corruption.


Sam wanders the bar as evening turns to night. The crowd seems focused on the rumors of ghosts and how they seem to be popping up everywhere in the city.

The old mystic considers if perhaps last night’s ritual had some unintended consequences when an old enemy wheels himself into the bar.

Sam coolly watches Lukas push his wheelchair across the room. The crippled man’s grimace grows deeper as he gets closer.

Sam fails his Old Friends, Old Favors move. So they hate each other.

Sam recalls their previous struggles. Deals thwarted, souls stolen. What could bring Lukas here?

Lukas stops in front of him. His mouth opens as if he’s tasted something bitter. “I need your help.”

Sam sits down and waits.

“Look I had a deal with O’Malley. Some internal politics thing. But that bastard ran out on me. Now the guy we were trying to sabotage is after me.”

“So?”

“So. I need protection.”

“I don’t care. Find someplace else.”

“Hey! I know what is going on in the city. The ghosts. Akiva’s plans. The whole works.”

“I’m not letting you stay here.”

“You are going to want to hear this. I know you care about this town.”

“So you need protection from the demons?”

We consult the workshop rules. A brooch to make one invisible to demons seems possible. I tell Sam it will leave him drained. -1 ongoing until he rests.

Lukas nods.

“I’ll make you something to protect you. Then you leave.”

“Fine.”

Lukas quickly relays how Akiva has contracts requiring the removal of the Cthonian Eye. He’s nabbed half the survivors already. The others however managed to open a gateway through the Underworld to summon up the Verge, a device for seeing into the future. “That’s why all the ghosts are about. The Verge helps them manifest.”

“So where is it?”

“I’ll draw a map,” Lukas says pulling a napkin down off the bar.

“What if they move it?”

“It’s the size of a bus. It’s not going anywhere.”

Sam takes the map and goes downstairs. In his workshop, he forges a brooch to hide Lukas from the demons. The strain leaves him feeling ancient beyond even his advanced years. He emerges a half hour later and completes their deal.

As he watches Lukas vanish into the night, he considers his options. He owes Akiva and it is never good to owe a demon. He considers calling him.

But first he sleeps.

We use Old Friends, Old Favors again.


Percy looks at his cell phone. He makes a text and a message comes back instantly. He looks at Anders for a long minute.

“So you were looking for Mary’s Hellions?”

“Yes.” Anders says. “How do you know that?”

“I hear things. Anyway I know where they are headed. But we need to go to the Underworld.”

Anders nods.

“Follow me.”

Percy leads the werewolf to a ruined house and into the basement. He knocks on a closet door and then heads inside. On the other end they emerge into a forest of dead trees. The wizard takes him along a misty path to a rough road littered with bones.

The roar of engines approaches.

A few minutes later a dozen bikers accompanied by ghosts ride up the route.

The werewolf attacks. In moments the bikers lie dead or dying, their ghostly allies temporarily shredded.

This time he gets a hard hit on his Unleash roll. 4 harm to them at no cost to him.

As Anders cleans the gore from his claws, Percy speaks up. “We, er, I have a favor to ask you.”

“What is that?” he growls.

“I need you to eliminate Akiva. He’s still after me and he is going to keep coming.”

“Sure.”

Percy looks at his phone and grimaces. Slowly he punches a number into it. “Hey Akiva? I’d like to make a deal. Where? Sure, I’ll be there in an hour.”

He turns to Anders. “He says he will meet me behind a biker bar. The Strip.”

“I know that place.”


As they reach the alleyway, Percy quickly casts a spell over Anders. “This will bend light around you, making you invisible.”

Anders nods though he isn’t sure Percy still sees him.

Akiva then emerges from the back of the bar, accompanied by two lesser demons.

“So you’ve come around,” Akiva says.

“I just want to live,” Percy says.

“Too bad about that.” Akiva begins to raise his arm when his phone rings. The golden-haired demon sneers. “Don’t run off.”

Akiva checks the caller ID. “Sam, how nice to hear from you.”

“Yes, I think we should team up against a mutual threat,” the old mystic says.

“Which is?”

“The Cthonian Eye, the survivors at least, have obtained the Verge. It needs to be shut down. You want them dead too so let’s work together.”

“Oh I’d be happy to help, let me get-”

Akiva never finishes his sentence. Instead an increasingly bored and invisible werewolf rips him limb from limb. As blood splatter reveals the hulking beast, Akiva’s companions flee the alley.

As Anders munches on Akiva’s corpse, Percy quietly excuses himself.

The end. That’s where we ended it. Akiva’s plan dead along with him. The Cthonian Eye (the both of them) able to see the future but hunted. Ghosts on the loose and the Collector sealed away. And monster hunters moving in.