Advancing Cities

PC actions can affect two main types of changes: changes to theme and threat aspects (based on what the characters have done) and changes to locations and faces (based on where the characters have decided to go).

Having a fully fleshed out and evolving city makes the city itself feel alive, and gives more concrete guidelines for milestones, especially in a game with a heavy focus on a city where protecting/cleaning up the city and making it better or handling threats

Minor Milestone:

  • Lessening a Location Theme
  • Removing a Location Threat

Significant Milestone

  • Lessening a City Theme
  • Inverting a Location Theme
  • Removing a City Threat

Major Milestone

  • Inverting a City Theme

The city should not change every time a the characters does something or reaches a milestone. Like all changes these should reflect the actions taken by the character in the game, especially the actions taken by the PCs. The GM’s should use discretion and intuition as to when city elements are able to changed because of reaching a milestone, or what milestones are awarded for reaching them. If it takes several sessions to remove a location’s threat, then it was a bigger menace than it seemed at first and should probably be bumped up a category or two. Likewise, taking a single session to invert a city theme hardly warrants a full major milestone..

Advancing Themes

Theme aspects can change if the players have made a city-based or location-based theme aspect irrelevant in the story. This sort of change is the biggest change in scale, because themes are so ingrained in how people see the city or location— usually because whatever’s inspiring that theme has been around for years and people have grown used to it.

It takes more time and effort to change theme aspect than threats or NPC/Location aspects due to their multifaceted in ingrained nature. Themes are never completely removed, they’re changed by lessening, inverting, and/or worsening.

You don’t always need to lessen a theme before inverting it. Some themes will end up being more like light switches—they’re either on or off, all the way. Use your judgment to decide when lessening before inverting makes sense.

Lessening a Theme
When PCs strike a huge blow against forces supporting the theme, but don’t eradicate it/them altogether, the GM re-words a theme aspect to sound less imposing.

Inverting a Theme
When PCs severely or entirely undercut the power base of what makes the theme possible, the GM removes the old aspect and replaces it with a totally contrasting one.

Worsening/Intensifying a Theme
If the PCs manage to let a situation escalate (or purposefully escalate it), the GM is within their rights to reword the theme to be more imposing.


More straightforward and easier to deal with than themes. When dealt with their aspects are simply removed.

Resolving a Threat
Depending on the scale of the threat, could take anywhere between one and several sessions to resolve and remove. A small-time location threat might only take one, whereas a major city-based threat would take many. (This is the GM’s decision.)

Once a city-based threat is removed, the GM should come up with a new threat within the next couple of sessions— Location-based threat should only be replaced if the location is particularly interesting to the players and there’s still ongoing story around that area of town. Even then, waiting a few sessions before filling it in allows the PCs to look into other problems.

Promoting a Threat
Failing to defeat (or outright ignoring) a threat could mean it gets a real foothold. Some threats are happy with getting what they want and then leaving (usually with a trail of bodies behind them), others may incorporate itself into the city, becoming a new theme aspect.

Advancing Cities

Dresden Files: New York SilverSeraph SilverSeraph