This is Part 2 of a series showing game play examples for Sigil & Shadow. You can read Part 1 here.
Today we’re having a look at a sample Shadowed character. These are the monstrous characters of our game, having embraced a darker side of them in exchange for paranormal power. Instead of defining how every vampire, werewolf, zombie or other thing that goes bump in the night works, we’ve established four broad courts of shadow – the Ravenous, the Devoted, the Afflicted and the Hosts. Building a Shadowed character is just like assembling an Illuminated one, but with the added steps of choosing Manifestations (their powers) and Burdens (their paranormal weaknesses). These are taken in lieu of the normal “Boons” that the Illuminated receive.
Meet the ghoulish Julia Grave
No, it’s not her real last name, but it fits her as well as the black jeans and t-shirts that fill her closet. She’s always been one to run with the “spooky girl next door” aesthetic. Nobody was surprised when she decided to pursue a study in mortuary services. Her family and close relatives always joked and called her “Vampiress” or “Queen of the Dead”. They’re not far off.
Julia grew up an only child and fiercely independent. Her parents gave her the same degree of freedom and responsibilities as their latchkey upbringing. They didn’t worry about her meeting strangers on the internet, because she hated people and preferred to have her nose in books instead of staring at a screen. What they didn’t know was how much of an influence Aunt Rita was to her — particularly since she’s been dead since a decade before Julia’s birth.
Aunt Rita was one of several practicing witches on Julia’s family tree, and for whatever reason Julia grew up always being able to see her, talk to her, and more annoyingly: be lectured by her. Not even her psychic friend Samantha can sense her, even though she communes with other spirits just fine. But Julia’s Aunt is very real to her, and has introduced her to strange and powerful arts. She has learned occult magic, in particular dabbling in Umbra (the arcana of Shadow, Decay, Deception and the Nether). What Rita was not anticipating, however, was how far her student was willing to fast track her power. When most of her senior class was at prom, Julia was in the woods performing a rite seeking to embrace her shadow, staining her soul and marking her as a Sorcerer.
Building the Character
Julia is a Ravenous — a shade that must consume in order to replenish its power. This is a paranormal hunger typically for the likes of blood, flesh, emotions, drugs, memories or what have you. Julia’s player wants to really amp the weird. Being influenced by old folk tales of witches and other weird hauntings, she decides Julia hungers for keratin, and specifically eats the teeth, nail and hair trimmings of others.
So to kick off her character creation, we gave her the following:
Concept: We rolled on the Backgrounds table and got an 82 — Student. We decide she’s working towards her degree in medicine and mortuary sciences while interning at the morgue, a great way to access dead bodies to harvest clippings from.
Oddity: Julia’s player wanted her long dead aunt to be a strong element of her character before we even had her background picked out. Instead of rolling, she spends a Bone to choose the Ancestral Conduit oddity for herself.
Side Note: There was an editing SNAFU, and “Ancestral Conduit” appears on the Oddity Table as “Spirit Sibling”. I would like to remind everyone that even the best witches have warts.
Ability Scores: STR 50, DEX 40, LOG 55, WIL 65.
Skills: Arcana (Umbra 1/+10%), Medicine (1/+10%), and Education (which she chose free training in from her Background).
Descriptors: We’ve established that Julia is Power Hungry (and a tad selfish), but as a positive descriptor her player thinks she’s Pretty loyal to her friends.
Manifestations & Burdens
Shadowed characters begin with two Manifestations and one Burden, but may acquire additional Manifestations in exchange for either taking another burden, or permanently spending a Bone. In true form to the character, Julia’s player is spending a Bone and taking an additional burden for a total of four manifestations.
Channel Umbra (1): Channeling, or “sorcery”, is the ability to instantly perform magic without need of a prolonged invocation or ritual. Julia straight up acts as a catalyst for shadow magic, and can potentially manipulate darkness or spirits by her free will alone. Of course, channeling is a dangerous practice — we’ll discuss that later.
Ethereal Form (1): Julia is capable of momentarily phasing out of our existence and into the Echo, the shadowy realm of ephemera that reflects us in the nether.
Life-Steal Attack (1): Julia’s hands have the ability to emit an aura of shadow and cold that, upon contact, drains health from the target (and heals her).
Hex STR (1): Julia really wants an “evil eye” ability to weaken or nauseate others. Using the optional rule of adopting individual gifts from the Mysticism skill line, the Guide agrees to let her take the Hex STR ability.
It should be noted Manifestations have levels like skills (rated 1-5), with each one starting at Level 1.
- Dreadful Feature: Whenever Julia spends a Bone on her Manifestations, her appearance becomes withered and ghoulish — her hair becomes sticky and gray, her nails prolong with a yellow hew, and her complexion takes a sickly tone.
- Misfortune: An additional price for her ambition, Julia is prone to just the worst luck. Once per session, the Guide has a Bone that they must spend against Julia (whether that’s powering cryptids, forcing re-rolls or other such things.
|Casting: Shadowed (Ravenous)||Background: Student (Mortuary Sciences)|
|Fiercely Loyal to Her Friends||Power Hungry (and a tad Selfish)|
|Oddity: Ancestral Conduit|
- Arcana (Umbra 1/+10%)
- Medicine (1/+10%)
Perk: Skill Training (Education)
- Channel Umbra (1)
- Ethereal Form (1)
- Life-Steal Attack (1)
- Hex STR (1)
- Dreadful Feature: Ghoulish, sickly Appearance
Gear: Occultist Pack, Scalpel, Flashlight, Broken Mirror, Rope