roleplaying games

After-Action report: Urban Shadows, June 22nd

As you can see from the title, this post is long overdue. I have not been writing much because my life got weird…and I decided to commit to bicycling to work every day, other commitments be damned. That ended with me biking home at 10:45 PM after a board game went quite long. Still! I’m back now.

The session logistically went well. I introduced a McGuffin, Eli, who unwittingly signed his soul over to a demon, and then even more unwittingly passed through one of the largest and most potent magical wards in the setting. Things looked like they could get messy.

Two of the characters, the Tainted (signed her soul over to a demon) and the Hunter (kills demons) were about to come to blows over who got to grab the poor guy. So what’s a GM to do? Well, in the chaos, Eli, who we’ve already established can ignore magical barriers, up and leaves. And now no one knows where he’s gone.

In out-of-character discussion, my players expressed surprise at character in-fighting this early in the game. My answer was (and is) the same to anyone who told me that: it surprised me too! Urban Shadows, like any Apocalypse World spinoff, is about telling a story and advancing characters through interesting conflicts. I neither wrote anything more than the character and his problems, nor did I plan any sort of conflict.

When we return to the game we’re going to discuss how we go forward, and I’m going to make it more clear how much power my players have. Don’t want infighting? There won’t be any. We just need to work together to tell the story we want.

Ultimately, it’s this sort of thing which reinforces both why these style games are difficult to run for people raised on more traditional games (like me), but also why I enjoy them so much and want to spend more time running them.

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