Samantha Cane exits her ride, tips the driver, and proceeds to walk down the wet street towards the Wythe estate. Myrtle and Benjamin Wythe, as the local stories tell, were a couple found mutilated and murdered in their upper-end mansion back in the 1980s. They were pillars of the community — he was a business owner and once city council member; she was active in the PTA and their church. Both were found in their living room, tongues cut out and their hearts removed. Their demise sent shock throughout the community, but their case was never resolved. Their home has been left overgrown and vacant for decades. Being new to the city, and only having only recently heard the local legends, Samantha decided she wanted to scope the place out. Maybe this could be a new feature on her “Hunts, Horrors, and Haunted Homes” channel?
This is an example of gameplay for Sigil & Shadow. These breaks between the narrative will be used to demonstrate different rules and methods of gameplay. The player will be taking on the role of Samantha Cane, host of a semi-popular ghost hunting channel and an actual psychic. You can check out her stats (and how we made her) on this post.
Samantha scouts the outside of the estate, hoping to find easy access. The front gates are locked and bolted, and the flora has reached well over the fence tops. Samantha does manage to find a larger tree on street side, with a branch reaching just past the overgrowth. She looks around, checks that the coast is clear, and then proceeds to climb.
The Guide informs Samantha’s player that climbing this tree will be just a straight STR (or Strength) ability check. Samantha’s STR score is 45%, so on a percentile roll her player needs to match or roll under that value. They roll a 41% — a tight roll, but successful.
Samantha manages to shimmy her way up the tree and over the branch, letting go and dropping onto the estate grounds. The yard is a mess, but oddly open. Samantha immediately notices the way the windows are in-tact and well preserved. Normally, run down joints like this have obvious signs of weather damage or vandalism. This doesn’t seem to be the case here. She reaches for her flashlight, and proceeds to make her way inside the home.
As she forces her way through the front door, she clicks on her light and moves her way from the foyer and inward to the small mansion. Most of the place is bare — a lack of furniture, no rugs. Creaky wooden floors and lots of dust. She finds her way to the kitchen, in which the tile appears spotless and kept but otherwise no signs of habitation. The wind blows by and rattles some outside boards, causing her to jump for a moment. She regains her composure, takes in a deep breath, and closes her eyes…
Samantha’s player announces she wishes to use her Sixth Sense gift of the Mysticism skill. Mysticism is based on the WIL (or Willpower) ability. She is trained, but has no levels, so she just rolls against her base ability score of 60%. Her player rolls a 33% - a crucial success! Rolling doubles always dramatically affects the results. The Guide contemplates how to describe the scene that Samantha takes in…
Opening her mystical third eye, Samantha is overwhelmed by the ephemeral energies that resonate in the Echo of this place. The kitchen feels warm, welcoming, with faint smells of holiday meals and tastes of summertime beverages. Then she hears yelling – some of it sounds like a couple fighting, other times it echoes like men in a business dispute. She steps back into the foyer, and follows the noise to a door that has a strange glow eminating from it in the Echo.
“Okay,” Samantha whispers as her senses snap back to her physical place. She shines her light on the door – On it, a strange dial with esoteric symbols. As she gets closer and examines, she realizes it’s just a fancy combination lock, like you’d find on a safe. She can’t recognize the symbols, so she reaches into her bag and pulls out a stethoscope to listen as she begins to delicately turn the dial…
The Guide informs that cracking the lock on the door will be an Extended Task using the Larceny skill. Extended tasks means that it takes time to perform the action — as Samantha’s player rolls, the total of her successful rolls will be added toward a score tracked by the GM (using a pair of dice called the Task Dice). Upon reaching 100%, the task will be complete. However, any failures will work against her — for someone trained at her level, she can only fail up to three times before the whole task is considered a total failure.
Larceny is based off Dexterity (DEX), which Samantha has at 50%. She has 1 Level of training, which grants +10%, for a total of 60%. Her first roll is 27% — a success, and the Guide makes note of her progress. Her next roll is 57%, bringing her completion of the task so far to 84%. She rolls a third time, and scores 88 — a crucial failure! In extended tasks a crucial failure counts as two failures. If she fails again, she won’t be able to crack the lock.
As the moments pass, Samantha is distracted again by the wind gusts and the scuttling of some rodent running by her. She doesn’t scream, but she does frantically shine her light all over the place, dreading that someone (or something) has found her. Her heart continues to race, but she at last regains confidence that she is still alone in here. She kneels back down and slowly continues trying to manipulate the lock.
Not wanting to risk complete failure, Samantha’s player announces that she will be taking her time. When a character takes their time on an extended action, they automatically succeed at half the success value, but do so by taking a segment of time longer in the story than the task normally operates at. The Guide informs her this has been taking moments with each roll, so if she slows down and takes minutes she will succeed (87% completed, + 30% from half her skill = 117%). There is a risk in being interupted should something be there, but her player decides to chance it.
After a few minutes of careful listening and steady turns, she manages to hear all the right “clicks” as the door unlocks.
Inside, she’s shocked to find what appears to be an old study still filled with books, a desk and an assortments of antiques and oddities. “Jackpot…” she says with a smirk, quickly taking a scan at all the book spines and knick-knacks throughout the room.
The Guide asks the player for an Investigation check — he mentions that no matter what is rolled, Samantha will find something, but the check will be used to determine how good the clues will be. Samantha’s success value for Investigation is 70% — 60% from her LOG, +10% from her skill. Her player rolls the dice, and scores a 74%.
“No way,” Samantha’s player says, and she spends one of her Bones to re-roll. She gets a 67%, and the Guide nods.
Samantha rummages through all the books and papers lying about. Most deal with old affairs of the estate, along with some mildly interesting correspondences. When she’s about to give up, she looks up at an old clock on the wall and sees that it had stopped at 5:35 — the hour and minute hands pointing to 5 and 7, respectively. She then gazes down and notices an emblem appearing on the letterhead of the old, faded stationary — an upside down “V”, drawn in a way like a pyramid without the base. A short side, a longer side. She then glances over and sees what she originally thought was a paperweight; a medallion bearing the symbol.
She closes her eyes as she feels the medallion, hoping to sense any power coming from it. What she senses instead is something dropping onto her forehead, the creepily skittering away. Then another thing. She opens her eyes, hastily flicking away bugs that appeared like oversized earwigs. Her eyes, gazing upward, suddenly become huge with terror as the color leaves her face. Something, part man, part insect, leans in towards her from the ceiling. Its eyes dead and vacant, the wet fetid smell of decay, and the horrible shriek it gives out as it screams at her with a severed, bloody tongue…
“Oh fuck” shouts Samantha’s player, laughing (but also shivering from the description). The Guide chuckles, and asks for a WIL check. The player rolls a 96% — any roll of 95 or higher is a failure regardless of their success value for the task. The Guide informs the player that Samantha is now Frightened; the player continues to control her actions, but nothing can done to directly engage the source of the horror. Instead, she must take actions of self preservation, defense, and distancing herself from the source of the fear.
As the bug-man crashes down onto the desk, Samantha screams out and throws a chair out the window of the study. She braves broken glass as she leaps out and attempts to sprint off into the darkness, coughing and brushing the other insects off her. As she staggers forth and tries to come to grip with her surroundings, she looks back to see the harrowing shape of the humanoid-insect hybrid claw its way out the window. She screams, and proceeds to run off into the grounds of the estate, hoping to find a way out before whatever it is catches her.
To be continued…