I ran a small mini-campaign of Urban Shadows, one of my favorite gaming systems in the world. It’s not an easy system to run, but it creates a very rich world. We had one setting creation session, and three game sessions. Our setting creation ended with this beautiful index card spread. I think I asked everyone to name someone they trusted, a group that they had conflict with, and something they need.
We ended up with:
- Mama Wong, a Dragon who ran a wonton shop. Occasionally her wontons would give you a dream of your true destiny
- Garcia, a veteran who got out of the game when vampires killed his father
- Tim the Tainted, who had sold his soul to become an advertising genius
- Derek / Liza, a 1940s Spectre who died under mysterious circumstances
One of the tough things about Urban Shadows is figuring out how to push people together. It’s a low trust setting where PC’s are used to moving on their own. Fortunately, Urban Shadows is all about other people getting up in your business. Every character comes with tons of strings to pull and when you do it right you can tie them up on in one big party.
For some players this was their first experience with Apocalypse World type games and they were happily surprised to see the story was all about their background and drama. My players had set up plenty of confrontations for upcoming games and together we made sure they all came into play.
I’m not sure why this game left me a bit unsatisfied. I’ve ran games where players came out being only mildly amused and I was overjoyed. Here the players had a great time but I wasn’t really grabbed by it. Maybe the Urban Shadows glimmer has gone off for me?