Kicking off our Aw Shux coverage today we have an exclusive peek at Sigil & Shadow from Author R.E Davis. We'll be taking a special behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming horror roleplaying game as well as some of it's incredible art from Luis Sanz.
Take it away R.E...
It started seven years ago...
… as an attempt to build my ideal paranormal RPG. In that time, it has gone through – *checks notes* – at least twenty-five drafts. Each version was an experiment in different rules and different themes, trying to figure out which parts stuck and which ones slid to the floor. After many late nights, many game sessions, and much gazing into the long, dark abyss, I can finally say the chrysalis is complete.
Sigil & Shadow is my game of Urban Fantasy and Occult Horror. It is a love letter to the dark, rainy, and haunted streets that occupy the liminal space my friends and I often explore at the gaming table. While it draws inspiration from several books and movies (as well as a few classic 90s horror RPGs) its development was also shaped by the weirdness of the 21st century – the strange, viral myths and paranormal stories that emerged in the Internet Age. Additional inspiration stems from modern mysticism and the “occulture” that has awakened around the rise of social media, as well as the chaos and confusion caused in the wake of living in a “post-truth” society. Lastly, but not in the least, I drew inspiration from my own experiences – being lost in the fog of clove and sweat on the floors of strange clubs, exploring abandoned haunted buildings in the middle of nowhere, or driving unknown highways at night with only your friends and a darkwave mix to accompany you.
Players in Sigil & Shadow take on the role of everyday, modern characters who are forced to face the malevolent paranormal forces unraveling the world around them. What drives them, and how they choose to engage the occult, stems from their castings – either as one of the Illuminated who answered their calling investigate the supernatural; or as one of the Shadowed who have become a monstrous being themselves. Whether they choose to fight back against the dark, or learn to harness it for themselves, is a story that unfolds in play.
From the get-go, Sigil & Shadow was designed to be a toolbox; a sort of “one-stop shop” for a variety of characters, stories and play styles within the genre spectrum that is “urban fantasy” and “occult horror”. It avoids the use of a “canon” mythos or metaplot, instead adopting a broad-stroke cosmology, as well as providing a section of setting prompts and safety tools for gaming groups to tailor the style and themes of their campaign.
The game was written with a “rules necessary” approach – to provide enough for the players and the Guide (our term for a “game master”) to arbitrate and referee any situation that comes up without bogging down the pace of play. Lots of supernatural horror games over the years seem bloated with complex tables and crunchy mechanics. Sigil & Shadow is built using a modified version of the d00Lite rules (found in games such as Covert Ops and BareBones Fantasy), a system that caters to both old-school and new-school game design. Four stats, a handful of skills, a couple descriptors, and easy-to-parse abilities mean that a player can glance at their sheet and have a solid idea what they are capable of. The simple percentile mechanics allow the Guide to quickly arbitrate on the fly thanks to the use of ad hoc modifiers. Actions ranging from chase scenes, academic research, and spell invocations all share similar dice mechanics.
To Each, Their Own Monster
The flexible mythology doesn’t end at world building! Ask ten players how they envision a vampire (or zombie, or werewolf…) and you’re bound to get a dozen answers. Instead of locking players into set archetypes, Shadowed characters are built by choosing from an assortment of powers and burdens. This is on top of the possible Gifts (psychic abilities) and a free-form magic system that all characters may potentially access! Players are encouraged to “skin” every feature in the narrative, allowing every shade to be unique. Of course, we provide some sample templates to help spark ideas.
Pulling Back the Curtain
Sigil & Shadow hits shelves at the end of July! Until then, you will be treated to series of articles (both here on the Osprey blog and my own site, ChaosGrenade.com) that will reveal further details on the game with insight into mechanics, character creation, and even more previews of the amazing artwork by Luis F. Sanz!
Set in a mirror of our own world, Sigil & Shadow is a roleplaying game of urban fantasy and occult horror in which players take on the roles of illuminated heroes and shadowed monsters to face the rising tide of supernatural forces. Ancient nightmares lurk behind the closed doors of board rooms, entities from beyond time prowl the city streets, forgotten rituals are reborn as viral memes. Do you take a stand against the encroaching shadows? Or do you seek their power for yourself?
Powered by the highly accessible d00Lite system, Sigil & Shadow focuses squarely on the story rather than the mechanics - who the characters are and what they do, not how they do it. Easy to adopt to any mythos, campaigns can be built around a wide range of plots, with players taking the role of anything from paranormal investigators and monster hunters to members of occult cabals or secret societies. The setting offered sees a modern world buffeted by the tides of supernatural power, where beings of myth wake from their slumber while modern cults sacrifice to pop-culture gods and ancient cabals pursue their age-old schemes into the digital age.