Advancement

ADVANCEMENT 

When you make a Faction move, trigger an intimacy move, cash in a Debt, or honor a Debt, mark the Faction involved. When you’ve marked all four Factions, erase the marks and advance. 

Advancement allows you to improve your character’s stats, gain new moves, and unlock additional improvements outside of corruption. When you make a Faction move, it doesn’t matter if it’s a hit or miss; rolling for a Faction move allows you to mark the Faction. Cashing in a Debt on someone who successfully refuses the Debt allows you to mark Faction, although the character that refuses the Debt doesn’t get to mark Faction, since they didn’t honor the Debt. 

Note that you can only mark a Faction one time until you advance and clear all your marks. Marking Mortality twice in a row isn’t helpful; you’ve got to mark the other three Factions and advance before marking Mortality is useful to you. 
 

MARKING FACTION 

In order to advance, you’ve got to mark all four Factions. There isn’t any particular order in which you need to mark the Factions, but you can’t mark a Faction again until you’ve marked all of them once; if you hit the streets with Mortality when you’ve already got Mortality marked, you can’t mark it. 

Here are all the ways that you can mark Faction: 

make a Faction move 

trigger an intimacy move 

cash in a Debt 

honor a Debt 

make a move that tells you to mark Faction 

 

Successfully refusing to honor a Debt means that you don’t mark Faction for that Debt. You have to actually be true to your word to mark Faction for honoring your Debts. On the other hand, the person cashing in the Debt gets to mark Faction even if their debtor refuses to honor the Debt

Once you’ve marked all the Factions once, erase all your Faction marks and take your advancement: choose one of the options under “Standard Advances” in your Archetype playbook. You can only take each of these advancements once, but you’re free to mark Factions again as soon as you erase the last set of marks and advance. 

It’s possible to gain multiple advancements in a single session, especially if you’re making a lot of Faction moves and spending Debts. In other words, the pace of your character’s advancement is entirely within your hands. 

STANDARD ADVANCES 

Most of the advances available are self-explanatory: add +1 to a stat raises a stat by one, taking a move from your Archetype gets you a new move, etc. Here are some notes and clarifications for stuff that might not be obvious. 
 

»Stat Boosts 

+1 [stat] (max +3) 

+1 to any stat (max +3) 

+1 any Faction (max +3) If you’ve got a stat at +3 already, you can’t take these improvements for that stat. Otherwise, choosing this advancement raises the stat in question by 1. Note that raising your Faction stat effectively raises the total of your Faction stats by 1, allowing you to maintain stronger ties to multiple communities.

 

»New Moves 

*A new [Archetype] move 

*A move from another Archetype 

 

Taking a move from another Archetype doesn’t entitle you to their extras; you can’t take Channeling to get The Wizard’s spells or The Devil Inside to get The Tainted’s demon form. Anything that relies on an extra can only be acquired via advancement by fully switching over to that Archetype; you’ve got to go all the way if you want access to the big stuff. Of course, your MC might give you an extra from another playbook if the fiction demands it. 
 

»Changing Factions 

If you find your alliances and relationships in other Factions more appealing, you can switch your Faction. Tell the MC what it looks like for you to reject your existing Faction and adopt a new community. Raise your score in that Faction by 1 and reduce your score in your old Faction by 1. 

From that point on, everyone in the city regards you as part of a different community, including when someone lends a hand to or gets in the way of your actions. Also, when others mark Faction with you, as the result of an intimacy move or cashing in a Debt, they mark your new Faction and you get to ask an additional question of members in your new Faction when you try to figure them out

Beyond the mechanical changes, though, changing your Faction is huge. You become the wizard that cares more about the street (Night) than the politics of the city or the demon that has chosen to protect mortals (Mortality) instead of honoring their contract. Even some folks in your new community might not trust you until you prove yourself… 
 

»Erasing Scars and Corruption 

*Erase a scar 

*Erase a corruption advance 

The struggles of the street leave marks on all of us, but you can walk away from the sins and wounds of the past. Taking either of these advancements means that your character is engaged in some healing; tell the MC what you do to make things right for yourself. Is it a religious conversion? A new project for the community? Or just letting go of your old ways?
 

»Location, Location, Location 

bbGet a workspace (The Hunter) 

bbGet a sanctum (The Oracle) 

 

A few playbooks have the option of adding a workspace or sanctum to their Archetype. If you choose one of these, go ahead and pull the move from The Veteran (workspace) or The Wizard (sanctum) whole cloth. 

»Special Features 

Add 2 more features to your workspace (The Veteran) 

Add 2 qualities to your transformation (The Wolf) 

Add 2 features to your sanctum (The Wizard) 

Take 3 more spells (The Wizard) 

Add a benefit to your focus (The Wizard) 

 

A few playbooks can select additional options for their existing extras. Tell the MC how you acquire these new features, either by some training or through some other magical means. These new features probably don’t arrive instantaneously, but it might make sense for them to show up between sessions. 

Resolve a trouble from your territory (The Wolf) 

Remove a downside from your sanctum (The Wizard) 

Erase a job from your contract (The Tainted) 

In contrast, a few advances allow you to resolve problems with your extras, such that a previous issue is put to rest. Sometimes these make natural sense in the story—your character may have already put in some effort to settling a trouble or removing a downside—but some action might occur between sessions as well. Work with your MC to make the resolution work, such that it makes sense that the trouble won’t ever return. 

 

»Ending Your Story 

Retire your character to safety 

Move on through to the other side 

Change to a new Archetype 

Sooner or later, everything ends. When you select these options, your character’s current story arc ends. In the case of retiring your character (or moving through to the other side), you get to describe what safety looks like—you might return to Arcadia, leave the city forever, or just give up the game completely. No matter what you decide, the MC can’t use your character as a Threat or put you into danger from this point out. Safety means safety, even on these dark streets.

Changing to a new Archetype, however, keeps you in the game. You shift from one Archetype to another, gaining everything that comes with that new Archetype and leaving behind your old life. Maybe your Hunter finally gets bitten by a vampire to become The Vamp or your Fae makes a deal with a devil to become The Tainted. Urban fantasy is filled with heroes and villains who used to be one kind of supernatural creature and are now something entirely different. 

When you change Archetypes, follow these steps: 

Keep everything associated with your old Archetype: Your moves, your main and Faction stats, your Debts, your gear—they are all still yours. 

Get rid of everything lost in the transformation: You’ve got to give up everything you lose in the fiction. If a werewolf gives up her territory to become The Veteran, no fair keeping your territory. 

Take everything belonging to your new Archetype: New moves, new gear, new extras—anything that you would normally get for starting a new character, you get. 

If there is some confusion, the MC will tell you what stuff you keep and what stuff you lose. 
 

GROUP ADVANCEMENTS 

Several playbooks list a group that the character can join or lead as an advancement. By the time most characters get around to these advancements, they’ve usually got a reputation in the city that would draw other characters to them, but you and the MC might need to work out a bit of backstory to square the circle. 

 

»The Aware: Watcher’s Society 

A watcher’s society is a group of mortals who have banded together to fight against the influence of the supernatural in the city. The oldest and most traditional of these organizations are secret societies with ties to Ivy League schools and wealthy scions, but recent years have seen an explosion in street-level watcher groups that concern themselves with a block of the projects or a particular corner. Regardless, they know about the supernatural, and they’re eager to share common cause with people who fight for humanity. 

bbJoin or lead a watcher’s society 

 

When you select this advancement, determine with the MC what kind of society you’re joining or leading. The society won’t fight for you unless there are some extraordinary circumstances, but you gain access to the move Thick as Thieves so long as you remain in good standing with the organization. 

bbThick as Thieves: When you go to your watcher’s society for intel, roll with Mortality. On a hit, someone in the society knows something significant and is willing to share what they know. On a 7-9, what they tell you raises more questions than it answers or places you in serious danger, your choice. On a miss, your inquiries reveal that the society is already involved in the situation you’re asking about, working for the wrong side. 

Thick as Thieves bears some resemblance to hit the streets, but you should note that the watcher’s society gives out information for free, even on a 7-9. 

 

»The Fae: Faerie Court 

A faerie court is a collection of fae who swear fealty directly to you, instead of answering to a fae higher up in the hierarchy, like your monarch. Most fae who gain such a following take on an honorific—Duke or Duchess, maybe— but some fae are more modest, preferring to keep their budding royalty quiet for the time. 

*Gain a faerie court 

 

When you select this advancement, work with the MC to name a few of the NPC fae who make up your court and determine why they’ve sworn fealty to you and the conditions of your oaths. These can be broad—fealty for a year and a day in exchange for protection—or specific—killing a mortal a month for a drop of your blood—but each court member must have a defined oath to you that compels you to act. 
 

Your court won’t fight for you as a group, but their fealty gives you leverage to persuade them without seduction, promises, threats, or Debts unless a task is truly dire or dangerous. So long as you maintain your oaths to the court, you gain access to Debutante

*Debutante: When you present a mortal to your court, roll with Wild. On a hit, you bestow a faerie power upon them, provided the mortal publicly swears an oath and holds it true. On a 7-9, the power permanently marks the mortal in accordance with your court, even if they give up the oath at a later time. On a miss, a member of your court reveals that a powerful faerie from another court already holds power over this mortal, precluding your claim. 

Presenting a mortal usually requires a formal ritual; work one out with your MC. You can draw the faerie power from the list of faerie magic or create something new with your MC’s permission. 
 

»The Spectre: Body of Ghosts 

Not all ghosts are fully trapped on this side of reality; some exist in a half-life state, their corpus displaced between the two worlds, bridges from this life to the next. A body of ghosts is a colony of such unfortunate souls, bound to a location or object that anchors their corpus halfway between realities. 

*Join or lead a body of ghosts 

When you select this advancement, work with the MC to describe the body of ghosts. Where do they reside? How did you meet them? Why are they drawn to you? What object or location anchors their existence? Treat whatever object or location you determine as a Link, even if you don’t have the move; you also gain access to Thin Walls, provided that the object or location is safe. 

  1. Thin Walls: When you bring a supernatural object to your body of ghosts, roll with Night. On a hit, ask the congregation questions and they will answer honestly. On a 10+, ask 2. On a 7-9, ask 1. Who created or birthed this object? 
  2. Who could be reached on the other side through this object? 
  3. How could a ghost make special use of this object? 
  4. What do those on the other side whisper about this object? 
  5. When will this object end its journey? 

Treat a miss as though you let it out to touch the other side and missed on the roll. 

You might be able to determine some of this information with let it out, but Thin Walls doesn’t risk corruption and gets you more specific answers.

 

»The Tainted: Fiendish Underlings 

Demons that work their contracts eventually get promoted, perhaps even to… middle management. Fiendish underlings are a gang of demons sent from hell to do your bidding, so long as the “senior partners” deem you worthy of their assistance. 

*Gain fiendish underlings 

By default, your minions are a small gang of 5-10 demons (2-harm small group 2-armor vulnerabilities: unruly demonic) who work for you because they also serve your dark patron. When you choose this advancement, you get Middle Manager and choose 1: 

bbYour underlings consist of 10-20 demons. Medium instead of small 

bbYou have a hold over your underlings, supernatural or otherwise. Remove +unruly 

bbYou recruited your underlings from hell yourself. They get +loyal 

bbYour underlings are imbued with demon forms of their own. +1 harm 

 

And choose 2: 

*Your underlings revel in some vice unavailable in hell. Vulnerability: addicted 

*Your underlings disdain—and alter—an aspect of their human forms. Vulnerability: unnerving 

*Your underlings attract the attention of mortal hunters. Vulnerability: hunted 

*Your underlings are working some secret plan for your dark patron. Vulnerability: nefarious 

*Your underlings are vicious and aggressive monsters. Vulnerability: savage 
 

*Middle Manager: When you order your fiendish underlings to solve a problem for you, roll with Wild. On a 10+, they follow your instructions precisely and no one can trace them back to you. On a 7-9, either things get messy or you’re clearly to blame, your choice. On a miss, they do exactly as they are told and it leads to disaster. 

Note that rolling a 10+ here doesn’t avoid consequences that result from a bad plan; it’s just assured that they will follow the plan and no one can trace it back to you. On a miss, even a good plan leads to some terrible outcome. 
 

»The Vamp: Vampire Clan 

A vampire clan is a family network, a group of vampires bound by blood and kinship spread throughout the city. New vampires don’t get immediate access to these resources, but eventually the sire of a clan will deem a new vampire worthy of full membership. Like any worthy criminal enterprise, a vampire clan brings in new business and makes a few demands on your immortal time. 

*Join or lead a vampire clan 

By default, your clan is a distributed network of vampires who keep in contact on a regular basis. When you select this advancement, take Eyes Everywhere and choose 2 areas of expertise for your clan: 

*bars and clubs 

*gambling (legal and illegal) 

*high fashion 

*illegal drugs 

*music/performance 

*prostitution 

*smuggling 
 

*Eyes Everywhere: When you tell your clanmates to keep an eye out for someone in the city, roll with Night. On a hit, someone spots your target without alerting them to the hunt. On a 10+, word comes quick: if you move right now, your prey is in your grasp, vulnerable and exposed. On a miss, your clan’s lusts get the best of them before you have a chance to intervene and someone gets hurt. 

Your clan’s area of expertise determines what kind of word you get back, but your clan is distributed enough throughout the city to spot nearly anyone. On a 10+, you’re guaranteed to catch up to your target, provided you head to the location straight away without too many distractions. If you miss, the person who gets hurt isn’t necessarily your target, but you don’t put a whole vampire clan onto someone without breaking a few eggs. 

If you’re leading the clan, your clan mates will expect you to take care of their problems, especially any disputes that arise between vampires; if you’re not leading, then you can expect the head of the clan to come to you when your services are needed… 
 

»The Wolf: Wolf Pack 

Holding territory as a lone wolf is tough; most werewolves seek out a full pack to keep their territory secure. A wolf pack is a group of werewolves large enough to be considered a full pack—at least five werewolves—that has chosen to defend a particular territory. 

bbJoin or lead a wolf pack 

 

By default, your pack is collection of 5-10 ferocious werewolves (3-harm small group 1-armor savage urge: to hunt) who live in your existing territory. So long as you’re alpha of the pack, you get Pack Alpha. When you select this advancement, choose 1: 

*Your pack is trained in efficient and effective pack tactics. Remove savage 

*Your pack constructs makeshift armor for their wolf forms. +1 armor 

*Your pack has a number of seers or mystics. It gets +traditional 

*Your pack is fiercely territorial and coordinated. Urge: to protect 

 

And choose 2: 

*Your pack is young and inexperienced, and a bit clumsy in a fight. -1 harm 

*Your pack eats what it kills, even when it hunts humans. Urge: to consume 

*Your pack is loose-knit, members coming and going as they please. Urge: to wander 

*Your pack serves a spirit or guardian of your territory. Urge: to serve 

*Your pack owns you more than you own them. Add +zealous 

  1. Pack Alpha: When you try to impose your will on your wolf pack, roll with Night. On a 10+, get all 3. On a 7–9, choose 1: They do what you want 
  2. They don’t fight back about it 
  3. You don’t have to make an example of one of them 

On a miss, someone in your pack makes a dedicated bid to replace you for alpha. 

You don’t need to make this move every time you ask your pack to follow your lead; you’re the pack alpha, so they should take orders from you no fucking problem. But if you want them to do something against their instincts or exceptionally dangerous, you might need to flex some muscle. Note the combinations here on a 7-9: 

They do what you want, but they fight with you about it and you have to make an example of one of them.
 

 

They don’t do what you want, but you avoid a fight by making an example of one of them. 

They don’t do what you want, but you avoid making an example out of one by getting in a fight. 

If you get in a fight, it means that some portion of your pack actually gets in a scrap with you that causes harm; making an example of someone means putting them all the way to the ground, dominance and all. On a miss, someone’s going to challenge your position as alpha, but it might take them some time to build up the courage to make a move. It’s not like they’re going to be stupid about it, though; they won’t endanger the pack to get what they want. 

If you’re not alpha, then the pack alpha runs things. We hope you two get along. 

Advancement

Urban Shadows kristycutsforth