Personal Moves for Urban Shadows

My budding love affair with Powered by Apocalypse went to the next level with my completion of Urban Shadows. As I prepped for a new So You Wanna Make a Character video, I came up with an add-on to my future Urban Shadows experiences: Personal Moves.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Powered by Apocalypse’s mechanics are centered around Moves: actions that are triggered by what a character does in the fiction. Throw a punch? That’s unleashing an attack. Running from Dead-Eye Billie, the faerie hit-man? That’s escape a situation. You don’t declare your action as the player so much as act in-character to trigger a Move.

Moves in Urban Shadows follow the following structure:

  • a trigger: “When X happens…”
  • an outcome: “…then Y.” This could be a roll or a straight-up outcome.
  • stakes: if it has a roll, define 10+, 7-9, and 6-

The game rolls 2d6’s: 6 or less is a fail or a backfire or simply not getting what you want; 7-9 is your normal range of “success”; 10+ is exceptional success.


Personal Moves would be a custom Move unique to a character, given for free at character creation. The Master of Ceremonies will assist player characters in creating it using the tried and true method of asking lots of questions. The goal here is to create a Move that exemplifies their character and will separate them that much more from other, similar Archetypes.

Let’s create an example: I’m creating a Wizard and my MC is allowing Personal Moves. After a bit of back and forth, I decide I want my Personal Move to focus on my wizards ability to track people down. Let’s take a shot at making a Move:

  • a trigger: “When you’re hired to track somebody down…”
  • an outcome: “…roll with Mind.”
  • stakes: “On a 10+, ask 2. On a 7-9, ask 1.
    • “Where was this person last seen?”
    • “When were they last seen?”
    • “What was their last known description?”
    • “Who might shelter them?”

The final product might look like this:


Picking Up the Trail: When you’re hired to track somebody down, roll with Mind. On a 10+, ask 2. On a 7-9, ask 1.

  • Where was this person last seen?
  • When were they last seen?
  • What was their last known description?
  • Who might shelter them?

This Personal Move, combined with my Wizard’s tracking spell, should allow me to really shape the narrative when it comes to finding people I’m looking for!

Experienced with Urban Shadows or Powered by Apocalypse games? What do you think of using Personal Moves? What custom moves have you created for yourself or your games? Let me know in the comments below!

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Author: John Drury

Hi, my name is John and I REALLY like my blog...

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