Sigil & Shadow Progress Report: Feb 2015

“Shadow” by Wolfgangfoto CC-BY-ND

Passing the 1-year mark since this project has started, I’m pretty damn impressed with how much it’s grown and changed. So many rules have been gutted, others drastically altered and streamlined. I have a folder filled player characters, several printed copies of draft rule books, and scattered notes among my hard drive. The latest January Draft I’ve posted has been my favorite by far, and even that is about to get a scalpel to it (thanks to a ton of feedback provided by play testers.)

The biggest item I have to report is a revision on the approach to characters in S&S:
There’s been significant feedback concerning the lack of motivation or incentive for a player to want to play an Illuminated character (the game’s term for everyday men and women who are exposed to the world of the occult.) In the previous play test versions, Illuminated characters wracked up more Bones (the “luck points” of the system) and had a steady refresh of them, where monster characters needed to indulge their Shades (one of four dark sources of power) to replenish their Bones (which they generally had less of.)

The new approach that we’re playing with right now is Castings. Now, all characters must select whether they’re Illuminated or Shadowed, and each casting is further divided into four archetypes. These archetypes determine how a character replenishes their Bones throughout a gaming session:

For the Illuminated:

  • Seekers: Characters who strive to seek out new thrills, new knowledge, and explore the unknown.
  • Hunters: Characters devoted to hunting down, undermining, and removing paranormal threats.
  • Protectors: Characters who are willing to risk their own safety standing up against the tides of horror.
  • Keepers: Characters who are sworn to keep others from discovering forbidden truths.

And of course, our Shadowed characters:

  • The Ravenous: Paranormal beings that fuel their powers from a source of desire, addiction, or hunger.
  • The Devoted: Faithful followers who are gifted power from gods, demons, angels, spirits, alien minds or even zealous oaths.
  • The Hosts: Individuals possessed by other beings, and must learn to live with this alien mind.
  • The Afflicted: Those forced to live with the curse of their existence.

Note: The Shaded were previously referred to as “Creepers”, but this terminology has been changed for several aesthetic reasons.

Distribution of Power

The use of Bones in Sigil & Shadow has also been shifted a bit. Previously, anyone could spend a Bone in the same ways you could in Covert Ops: re-roll a failure, make another player or the GM re-roll dice, or even prevent character death (at least a little bit longer.) In the current versions, any character may spend a bone to re-roll, but all other cool tricks are strictly a perk to being Illuminated. Shadowed characters, instead, use their Bone points to push their supernatural powers to their full potential.

The tricky part in this change will be conveying that while characters replenish Bones from indulging in what drives their Casting, that the GM’s will need to be the ones to make the call if their actions were worth it or not. There’s already been some response like “Oh, so Hunters are just going to slay monsters and recharge” or “Seekers are just going to pick up a book and escape death later.” In my vision, it’d be more like the Hunter who stalks a vampire at a night club and manages to discretely undermine their attempt to feed earns a Bone back. Likewise, the Seeker who overhears a rumor about a haunting at a local cemetery and decides to stake out the location and document the necessary conditions for a sighting would recharge (while the person who stays in the New Age section of a book store for an hour gets funny looks and maybe a phone number.)

Other Fun Bits

I’m really trying to adapt the d00Lite system for this game to only require two, different-colored ten sided dice. Aside from the changes mentioned in the October Update, I’m changing the traditional character creation system to die rolls of 50+2D for each ability. I’m also taking a cue from various members of the BareBones community, and implementing a system of “Advantage/Disadvantage” where certain situations will allow a player to swap which die is rolled in the 10’s place of a percentile roll.

Feel free to ask any questions about Sigil & Shadow in the comments below! You can also apply for the playtest on this page!

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