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Sigil & Shadow: Dark Fantasy Backgrounds

Another experimental draft!
Modern urban fantasy and occult horror is great, but I’ve also dreamt of using Sigil & Shadow to run gothic, grim fantasy settings. Think Ravenloft (Masque of the Red Death), Warhammer, Diablo, and similar settings.

What follows is an alternate table of Backgrounds (and Lifestyles) redone as an anachronism of western Early Modern periods (think late Middle Ages until right before the Industrial Revolution). I wanted these to be used for both supernatural stories that took place in historical times, or someplace else entirely. I’ve imagined something like the Vampire World” of the Necroscope series — a parallel universe of fantastic, horror-filled kingdoms that is linked to our modern world.

Backgrounds

00-04: Agitator

Anarchists, Rebels, Protestors, etc.

  • Lifestyle: Poor (1)

  • PerksEloquentStreet Smarts, or Skill Training in Social

05-09: Aristocrat

Knights, Lords, Diplomats, etc.

  • Lifestyle: Gentry (4)

  • Perks: Eloquent, Fame, or Skill Training in either Social or Education

10-14: Artist

Sculptors, Painters, Poets etc.

  • Lifestyle: Commoner (2)

  • Perks: Gifted Mind, Eye for Detail, or Steady Hands

15-19: Athlete

Boxers, Wrestlers, Acrobats, etc.

  • Lifestyle: Commoner (2)

  • Perks: Scrapper, Athletic, or Tough-as-Nails

20-24: Clergy

Priests, Nuns, Clerics, etc.

  • Lifestyle: Commoner (2)

  • Perks: Defender, Resolved, Eloquent, or Skill Training in Education

25-29: Criminal

Ruffians, Burglars, Grave Robbers, etc.

  • Lifestyle: Poor (1)

  • Perks: Criminal Record, Safe Haven, or Skill Training in Larceny

30-34: Doctor

Surgeon, Barber, Physician etc.

  • Lifestyle: Yeoman (3)

  • Perks: Gifted Mind, Field Medic, or Skill Training in Medicine

35-39: Drifter

Vagabonds, Tramps, Wanderers, etc.

  • Lifestyle: Struggling (0)

  • Skills: Survival, Larceny

  • Perks: Resolved, Scrapper, or Skill Training in Survival

40-44: Entertainer

Actors, Musicians, Jesters etc.

  • Lifestyle: Commoner (2)

  • Perks: Fame, Resolved, or Well-to-Do

45-49: Guard-at-Arms

Foot Soldiers, City Watch, Mercenaries etc.

  • Lifestyle: Commoner (2)

  • Perks: Alert, Defender, or Pursuit of Truth

50-54: Guild Artisan

Masons, Tailors, Smithies etc.

  • Lifestyle: Commoner (2)

  • Perks: Well-to-Do, Eye for Detail, or Skill Training in Technical

55-59: Investigator

Inquisitors, Journalists, Bounty Hunters, etc.

  • Lifestyle: Commoner (2)

  • Perks: Pursuit of Truth, Eye for Detail, or Skill Training in Investigation

60-64: Laborer

Boatman, Grave Digger, Rat Catcher, etc.

  • Lifestyle: Poor (1)

  • Perks: Know-How, Resolved, or Connection

65-69: Merchant

Shopkeepers, Traders, Peddlers etc.

  • Lifestyle: Yeoman (3)

  • Perks: Business Sense, Hard Bargain, or Well-to-Do

70-74: Scholar

Historians, Teachers, Monks etc.

  • Lifestyle: Commoner (2)

  • Perks: Encyclopedic Mind, Eye for Detail or Skill Training in Education

75-79: Scoundrel

Gamblers, Con Artists, Beggars, etc.

  • Lifestyle: Poor (1)

  • Perks: Devilish Charm, Street Smarts, or Connection

80-84: Strider

Scouts, Wardens, Hunters, etc.

  • Lifestyle: Commoner (2)

  • Perks: Alert, Fast on Your Feet, or Quick Reflexes

85-89: Student

Apprentices, Squires, Pupils etc. (Choose or Roll for another Background that you’re studying)

  • Lifestyle: Poor (1)

  • Perks: Choose any Perk from your Background of study, or Skill Training in Education

90-94: Thaumaturgist

Mediums, Witches, Soothsayers etc.

  • Lifestyle: Poor (1)

  • Perks: Only roll 1 die (and count it twice) for an Oddity, or Skill Training in either Mysticism or Arcana

95-99: Veteran

Military Officers, Royal Agents, Watch Captains etc.

  • Lifestyle: Yeoman (3)

  • Perks: Athletic, Born Leader, or Skill Training in Combat

+++

Lifestyles

RANK DESCRIPTION
0 - Struggling Serfdom, exiled, or begging on the streets. Never know your next meal or resting spot
1 - Poor A rundown home, some debts, but you manage to keep a roof overhead and your mouth fed.
2 - Commoner Able to make ends meet. You own a home, some belongings, and can keep a job.
3 - Yeoman You own some property and can make a living by your own means. You may even have a small nest egg for when times are tough.
4 - Gentry You own an entire estate or manor. Upper crust of society, either by service or birthright. Titles & Coats of arms
5 - Nobility The top tier ruling class. You have many resources, servants, and enemies (both known and unknown).

+++

NOTES

  • The Technical Skill: Technical in dark fantasy settings is more about craftsmanship and era-appropriate engineering. Feel free to change the fields of focus to trades such as Agriculture, Blacksmithing, Carpentry, Glassmaking, Law, Jewelers, and so forth.

  • Weapons: Pretty much most of the melee weapons (not the Taser) would be available. Bows, crossbows, slings and improvised thrown weapons should be fine as-is. Firearms I would limit to the Pistol and Hunting Rifle, and they would be limited to one shot (and a full turn to reload) as they would be of the flintlock style.

  • Armor: Pretty much anything up to Plate.

  • Equipment Packs: Use common sense to retheme for the setting and era — a Scientist pack isn’t going to come with a laptop or electronic scanners, but still may hold published journals of study and various bauble and doodads.

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