Tag Archives: role-playing games

Sigil & Shadow: Seasoned to Flavor

A lot of folks ask what the mechanic differences between Sigil & Shadow and other d00Lite games are. The bulk of the mechanics are derived primarily from Covert Ops, with some of the fantastic from BareBones Fantasy sprinkled in. But I didn’t intend for S&S to be a mash-up of the two games with a new skin. I wanted things to have a certain ebb and flow to them, allowing the game’s pace to be optimal to my style of gaming.

moralityFor those who’ve never had the pleasure of indulging in DwD’s previous titles, here’s the hallmarks of the core system:

  • Percentile Based System — The core mechanic is about rolling under a percentile score, either against one of four ability scores (STR, DEX, LOG, WIL) or against a Skill (which the base half of the score is derived from half of an ability.) 00-05 always succeed, 95-99 always fail. Rolling doubles are critical success/failure.
  • Professions as Skills: The skills tend to use names that sound like classes in other RPG’s.
  • Multiple Action Economy: Performing multiple actions in a round is a big part of the game, but it’s handled rather elegantly: On your first action, you roll against your score as normal. Each additional action results in a cumulative -20 per action to the score (even if it’s against a different score.) Also, defensive actions (like dodging) also count as actions. So, all because you have a score of 100 or over and can make multiple attacks, you’re also stacking penalties for when you need to defend against others beating up on you!
  • Bones: being that the system is also known as the “BareBones” system. bones are the action point/luck/bennie economy of the game. The interesting factor is that you start off with a pool of these at character creation, and can permanently spend them to make certain key decisions which are usually determined by random rolls at chargen time.
  • Morality System: I think the d00Lite Moral Code system is my favorite alignment system. It’s a matrix where you select key moral aspects, and then rate it as somewhat, very or totally.

Here’s the big list of what separates S&S from the rest of the d00Lite family:

  • Design Goal: Players only need 2d10 to experience the whole game.
  • Character Creation: Lots more options for Bone expenditure to tweak the character. Ability scores are now 50+2D. Starting characters may take two skills at Level 1, receiving a third from either a Background or spending a Bone.
  • Castings: Characters fall under one of two alignments (Illuminated or Shaded), further divided into four castings. These archetypal roles determine what drives or burdens allow the characters to replenish their Bones during play.
  • Backgrounds: The core backgrounds are similar to Covert Ops, with mild tweaks. Backgrounds now also have a Monthly Allowance tied to them to determine funds the character has. There’s also Special Backgrounds, which are really weird and give strange little benefits to the character.
  • Skills: Skills have been flavored more as archetypes than professions. A lot of them have been condensed/streamlined compared to the original system. A “Socialite” skill has been introduced, replacing “Leader” which I felt was too crunchy and genre specific for this broader, more open ended title.
  • Equipment: Characters have a Monthly Allowance based on their background, and can pay a Lifestyle cost to cover their holdings such as home, vehicle, business and what kind of random belongings they may own. Characters still pick around 5 specific pieces of equipment (like weapons or equipment packs) to establish what they generally have on them at any time.
  • Weapon Damage: All weapons roll 2D, and are rated as Lowest, Average, Highest, or Total. Lowest and Highest means, well, lowest or highest die rolled. Likewise, Average is the average of the two, and Total is the sum of both. Unarmed is still 1D/2.
  • Body Points: All characters have a base BP of 20 points. The STR bonus for damage now also serves as bonus BP for the character.
  • Advantage/Disadvantage: Characters who have advantage roll their two dice, and uses the lowest in the tens place. Disadvantage, therefore, means the highest die is used in their tens place. This replaces a lot of circumstantial rolls that originally cut scores in half. For instance — being shot at without partial cover leaves defensive actions at a disadvantage, where originally in CO the character’s DEX score was cut in half.
  • Driving: Operating civilian vehicles are just a given, and any actions taken with a vehicle are based on the DEX ability instead of a skill. Those who want to pilot/drive more complicated vehicles can do so by taking a specified focus under the Technician skill. DEX is still used for piloting, but they’re considered to have operational and diagnostic training.
  • Manifestations: The Medium skill allows the character to acquire special powers. These powers are actually based on or inspired by the spells found in BareBones Fantasy. They are relatively scaled back in power, however, and the amount the character adopts is greatly reduced (two at first level, one again levels 3 and 6.)

Here’s what has been added:

  • Terror System: An optional system for fear and terror. Players encountering terror make WIL checks to resist being frightened, going temporarily insane, or traumatized to the point their Moral Codes shift! The table of effects rolled on uses the sum of 2D, putting the most extreme results on the lower end of a curve.
  • Gifts: A system of general powers and abilities that players can pick and choose from to flavor their own supernatural characters.
  • Occultist Magic: Comes in two forms — Rituals and Thaumaturgy. Both use the Academic skill (with Occultist focus). Rituals are slow, time consuming spells that either Illuminated or Shadowed characters may pick up and learn. Thaumaturgy, on the other hand, is spontaneous magic that uses a free-form system. Both spell systems are centered around the six Arcanum: The four elements (Fire, Water, Air, Earth) and the two fates (Life and Death). The elements include not only the literal forces, but the common tarot interpretations as well. For example: Fire is an element of emotions and passions, air is an element of the mind, and water is the element of illusions.Sound interesting? Then go download the play test and let me know what you think!

Sigil & Shadow: Public Play Test is LIVE!

Sigilandshadowtest

It’s finally here! Click the above image to go the download page!

 

The play test is the game in its entirety right now — nothing purposefully left out. It’s no frills, but I did attempt to format it as best to my ability. Once we’re confident with the feedback, we will be pushing forward with a professional layout, original artwork, and filling the final product with more goodies. Stuff like a bestiary, a pre-made setting, and a starter adventure scenario are in mind. But until then — there is more than enough here to run many nights of adventure, mystery and horror.

Help Make this Game Awesome! 

I need more eyes reading it, and most importantly: I need more people playing it! Over the last year and a half I’ve had many fun sessions at my table with this title. But I want to know how others are using it!

 

 

Sigil & Shadow: The Road Ahead

So first off, I’d like to announce a change of plans:

Sigil & Shadow is going to be the first “big-time” release under the ChaosGrenade Press logo. I originally embarked on this at the request of DwD Studios; but after some long talks and contemplation, my gut instinct is to finish this product up under my own roof. Please, please know that there is no bad blood or falling out with Bill & Larry at DwD. Those guys have been nothing but supportive of this endeavor, and it was a really rough call for me to decide to finish this another way. Their developer DNA is still a huge part of this project, and I’m thankful to them for allowing me to carry on with this. They have a lot of cool stuff coming out — including White Liesa spy-thriller using White Box S&W rules, due out this weekend. Better believe I’ll be throwing more greenbacks at them.

folding-map-360382_1280So What Happens Now?

The first big priority is that, for all the folks who’ve been waiting to see this game, to get something in your hands. I’ve had a loyal cadre of play testers who’ve been amazing with their feedback and support, but I know there’s still plenty who keep asking “Okay, where is it?”

The first stage in my road map is to brush up a public play test copy, hopefully in time for the holidays. It’s going to be a no-frills, minimal art version similar to what I’ve been putting out for the closed playtest groups. It won’t be fancy, but it’ll be the core of the game. I feel pretty confident this far down the road that the system is pretty complete, and just needs to be checked for fiddly bits and oddball numbers. I’m hoping a public playtest of this will give it the scrutiny it needs in that department.

Following that, I will begin putting things in motion for the final release version of this game. I’m blessed to have a local circle of talented artists, layout, and editing buffs who are wanting to be a part of this endeavor. These are folks who share similar interests in games and media with me, and I believe working together will bring a cohesive and thematic experience to the presentation. The downside is we will be taking a while to get it right — but on the upside, we will be transparent with the process and keeping more up-to-date as it develops.

The end goal is to have a free, core edition of the game available for free online. Again, this will be a no-frills version, but it will be all of the Creative Commons content in an openly distributed document. The premium digital version and the POD copies will include extra setting, GM tools and content not available in the free copy.

Keep your eyes peeled here
(or follow me on social media — @TheChaosGrenade on Twitter, ChaosGrenade on Google+)
for news on the upcoming public playtest. And, more than ever, thanks to everyone who’s been involved with this journey so far — both online and face to face.

State of the Grenade: Summer 2015

Just a bit of an update for projects we’re working on over here.

 

Sigil & Shadow

SigilThe game is getting closer and closer to being ready. There’s been some hefty revisions to how certain parts of the game have been approached. I’m pretty certain, though, that I’m finally at a point where I’m happy how the magic system and the supernatural powers work. Right now my main focus is in the flavor of things — the default cosmology and setting details. The goal is to provide a game world mythology that can be taken out easily and replaced with whatever mythos the GM intends to run, but still delivers plenty of flavor and intrigue so others would actually want to run the default setting.

Up until now, my goals with the game have been merely mechanical — I wanted to create a game that fills everything I want and love in the genre of modern horror and fantasy without all the stuff that I felt bloated things down for both players and Game Masters. Now that I have that, I want it to be something more than just a rules alternative. A friend of mine asked me the other night “What makes your game stand out from, say, the Buffy RPG?” All I could answer was in terms of mechanics. My goal in the next couple weeks is to provide a better answer with content to back it.

Main Sequence

Main SequenceSomething I’ve been keeping a lid on for a bit: Matt Bryant is currently doing some revisions and brainstorming for a big update of Main Sequence. He’s let me in on some juicy intel, some of which includes a provided setting that spans three eras of play. We plan on giving this version the works — a new layout and design, some better attentions to detail, that kind of stuff.

Another big announcement related to MS — WYRED is officially getting retired. I no longer really support or endorse it, as REWIRED was the direction I chose to take with that game.  Fans of the WyRM system shouldn’t fret, though! MS was originally a derivative of WYRED — pretty much the same game, just one had augmentations and the other had spaceships. So why not both? WYRED will now be merged with MAIN SEQUENCE, making the upcoming revision our one big go-to for WyRM powered science fiction!

+++

I can’t give a proper ETA on either project. S&S is the top of my priorities, and I’m shooting to be complete by late August or September. MS is dependent more on Matt’s schedule, which is centered around his own full-time (and over) work schedule. We can assure you, though, that we’re putting in lots of work and love to make these releases spectacular. We will be keeping updates here as best as we can.

 

WHITE STAR: Expert Skills (Hack)

Hacking White Star with a “Lamentations” style skill system is easy to implement and play.
I can appreciate the simplicity of White Star. Having spent quite a bit of time enjoying Redbox/Rules Cyclopedia D&D, I actually tend to prefer the older “basic” games than later era editions. And while I adore Stars Without Number, I feel any time you can make characters quickly with minimal reading or look up it crucial. Especially with my sporadic game nights. Even though SWN is far from complicated, the backgrounds, skills and psychic abilities do tend to drag character creation out a bit.

Still, I’m also a fickled asshole that likes some further characteristics or options. A handful of skills never hurt anyone. So tonight, while listening to the storms roll across our little abode out here in Texas, I actually had a moment on how to expand White Star without getting bogged in minutiae.

Everyone’s an Expert

Initially, I was longing for some kind of Agent class to tack on to White Star. Bill Logan has a pretty good home brewed one that I may still opt for instead. But, one idea that hit me was to borrow the skill system from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. In short: every skill is rated 1-6, and when you perform said skill you roll a d6. Match or roll under, you succeed. Roll over, you fail.

Now, Lamentations had an Expert * Specialist class (instead of a Thief or Rogue)  that was pretty much the only class that gained skill points. But looking at the list, outside of Sneak Attack, there wasn’t really anything combat related. Taking the skills into consideration with the White Star classes, none of them stepped on the toes of any class roles. So, instead of adding a new class, I’m simply going to give all characters skills starting at 1 out of 6. Then, at first level, they have 3 more points to distribute among them, and then each level afterwards they gain another point.  Having an Intelligence bonus at Level 1 grants a bonus point at startup; having a penalty negates a point.

I did a cut/paste job in Publisher with the White Star character sheet, adding a column for skills (including blanks for anything the players come up with and I approve.) Feel free to grab it and abuse it in your games.

 

* — it was late and I was storm weary. LoTFP has a “Specialist” class, SWN had the “Expert” class.