The ChaosGrenade

Quick & Dirty Tabletop Role-Playing

The Wythe Case, Part 3: Dead End Friends

Samantha couldn’t sleep the nights following her encounter at the Wythe Estate. Any time she closed her eyes, that wretched man-bug with the hollowed eyes was there… its severed and inhuman teeth. When she was awake, especially on the nights following, something else was there.

It hid in plain sight – even when she meditated and gazed across the curtain into the Echo, it was only there the edges of the periphery. Always out of stepping out of view, but there long enough for her to know she was being stalked. It wasn’t the “bug man”, but she couldn’t shake that the two were related.


This is a continuation of game play examples for Sigil & Shadow.


“PLEASE I need your help, Jules!” Samantha begged while flopping on the couch in her weird friend’s apartment. Julia was originally just a name in the comments section, but after some back and forth she convinced Samantha to move out this way. Promised her plenty of weird shit for her channel. Only when they met faced to face that Samantha realized Julia was more than just a creepy girl who worked the night shift at the morgue…

“FINE,” Julia moans, rolling her eyes and putting her over sized cup of coffee down. “I’m glad that on my one night off, I have to to have company. Eew."

Samantha jumps up to hug Julia, who is cringing and trying delicately push her friend off of her. Sam backs up, offended. “You’re the one that smells like BO and dead bodies!"

“Whatever. Just.. you can take my bed. Don’t worry, I hardly sleep in there so you shouldn’t be bothered by my musk."


Julia’s player decides to invoke a warding spell to protect Samantha from any “visitors” that night. She tells the Guide her intent is to cast out any spirits from entering the bedroom where Samantha is sleeping. “Okay,” the Guide tells her, “since it’s only covering the area small room, this counts as a Low Grade spell. How is Julia casting it?”

“I’m playing it safe and performing it as an invocation,” Julia’s player responds. “For the catalyst I’m going to burn incense out of a bird skull, then use the ashes in some embalming fluid to paint a sigil on the door to bind the spell for the night.”

“Gross;” Samantha’s player chuckles, “also aren’t you also a sorcerer? Can’t you just channel the spell and do it instantly?”

“I can,” Julia’s player replies, “but there’s always a risk of the Sorcerer’s Stain backfiring on me. What goes around comes around, and all that. Not to mention the dice are always an asshole to me.”

“Don’t forget,” the Guide chimes in, “you also have Misfortune as a burden. Although I’m gonna hold on to that for later.”

Being trained in Arcana (with a focus on Umbra magic), Julia has a base 75% Success Value. The Guide runs down the modifiers:

  • Low-Grade Magic is a Hard Difficulty (-10%)
  • Binding a Spell that will last hours is another -10%
  • A perk of Julia’s Channel Umbra Manifestation is that it’ll offset related invocations by 5% at her level.

This makes her total Success Value at 60%. Since she’s taking her time (meaning she takes longer segments – so “moments” become “minutes”), she’ll automatically succeed at 30% every round (so 4 rounds). The Guide simply declares the invocation will take approximately a half hour or so. “But while all that is going on…” He rolls dice, and chuckles to himself while writing some notes.

“What’s happening?” Samantha’s player asks the Guide

“Oh, you’ll know soon enough” he replies.

Samantha’s player rolls their eyes, “I don’t like it when that happens.”

+++

Behind the scenes, the entity had to succeed on a WIL based check, minus 10% for every level of Arcana the caster used to bind the spell. Julia has only 1 level, so in total the entity only had to roll 60% or lower! The Guide decided to roll this in advance… and got a 29.

After some in-character banter, the players announce their characters are crashing for the night. When it’s established that Samantha has passed out, and that Julia is settling down on the couch, the Guide springs it on them:

“I need Julia to make a LOG check,” he declares. “53…just barely!”


Samantha is in the deepest sleep she had in days. Julia…well she’s drifting off on her couch, watching old horror movies when she should be doing homework. The very thought of her studies saps most of the energy out of her on her nights off.

As she shuts her eyes, an invisible force moves across the apartment, pauses at the sight of the sigil on the door, then pushes violently against it.


“You wake up, startled by the noise of the bedroom being flung open…”

“I’m not fucking around,” Julia’s player declares while tossing a Bone chip at the Guide. “I’m going to Channel another Umbra spell – Project-Reveal – specifically to reveal whatever entered into the room!”

“Alright, since it’s aimed at a specific thing and only revealing itself to you, I’m calling that another low-grade spell.”

“I know, so spending a Bone allows me to automatically succeed at casting low magic spells that I channel,” Julia’s player chimes in. “Also, since I spent a Bone, my character is now ghoulish looking, so that’s cool.”

“Oh yeah!”


The sudden shock of the senses sends Julia leaping up, her hands swarming with gestures and movements as the color leaves her complexion, her nails grow and her hair streaks into a deathly yellowish-gray. The magic expels from her, and there in the doorway is a weird, shadowy figure.

*It wasn’t like other “Shadow People” that most who dabble in the paranormal are accustomed to. No – this was more like a swarm, a hive of shadowy insects crawling in a mass that took a form of a humanoid. What got to Julia its face – she thinks it’s a face, a vague grin that gave sinister impressions. It rushes to Samantha’s bedside, arm stretched out like it was reaching for her, and the shadowy bugs began to swarm over her…

Harvester

The Guide calls on Samantha’s player to roll a WIL check to resist; she facepalms. “89%.”

The Guide grimaces for a moment. “Yeah, this thing is acting like a sleep demon – you’re paralyzed for the moment. How’s Julia responding?”

Julia’s player thinks. “I got it! This thing is definitely a spirit-entity thing from the Nether, right?”

“It’s definitely not of this world…” the Guide sarcastically remarks. “But yeah, it’s not a physical creature. It is an entity of sort.”

“I’m Channeling Umbra and pointing at the mirror – Bind-Attract. I’m literally trying to have the mirror absorb and trap the spirit.”

The Guide whistles and tilts his head back a moment. “That’s definitely going to be pushing some Mid-Grade Magic, which is Very Hard (-20%). But also….you’re just pointing your finger?”

“Yes? Oh god damn it” Julia’s player curses for a moment. While being a Sorcerer allows her to act as the catalyst and perform it as a normal action, casting without a focus (or implementation, like a wand or her usual: a scalpel) means she rolls with Disadvantage. In Sigil & Shadow, this means you roll the dice and assign them in the worst order.

Again, Julia’s Success Value for casting is at 75%, -20% for Mid-Grade, so 55%. Julia rolls, and gets a 16. With Disadvantage, this becomes a 61. “WAIT!” Julia’s player howls. “She has a positive Descriptor – Fiercely Loyal to My Friends. Can that help in this situation?”

“I’ll allow it,” the Guide chimes. “That adds +10% to your Success Value.” “That’s 65% – I make it!” she exclaims!

The players cheer and high five, but the Guide has a sinister smile on his face. “What the hell is it now?!” Julia’s player yells. The Guide tosses a token into the spent Bones on the table. “It’s your Misfortune – re-roll.”

The players slump their heads down. Julia throws her ten-siders on the table, and proceeds to emit a scream of frustration from the sight of the double 6’s facing her.

To Be Continued…