The invocation is complete — the key to my nightmares, made manifest and in my hands.
Sigil & Shadow has been years in the works. So many gaming sessions. Years of feedback. Lots of caffeine, bad food decisions, late night drives, music play lists, awkward hours spent trying not to wake up my child, two fucking presidential elections and surviving a pandemic have gone into making this. Finally, it’s a finished dream; a physical artifact that I can touch and pass off to you.
On the surface, it’s my love letter to all the paranormal RPGs I’ve ran and played since high school. If you glance at the book and feel like you’ve seen this kind of game before, you’re not wrong. I don’t see it as trying to reinvent the wheel, just fine-tuning a vehicle to my tastes.
It’s a toolbox first, meant to be my one-stop shop for getting my spooky on. Yes, there’s plenty of other big games that potentially cover everything under the moonlight, but they tend to be bloated and antithesis to the style they claim to be. Call of Cthulhu is one of my favorite “gateway” games for folks who didn’t like D&D; but it has 70+ skills! World of Darkness, while one of my all-time favorites, still tends to be heavy on the character book keeping (not to mention the lore homework!).
Sigil & Shadow is “Rules Necessary”. It’s not exactly “Lite”, but everything that’s here is what’s needed to play. Player characters can fit on a couple notecards (or a sheet of paper). The Guide can ad-lib NPCs (including monsters) on the spot. Combat tends to last a few rounds tops, and a full gaming session can happen in a few hours. I wrote this game with the intent of being able to see what you’re capable of at a glance, and for groups with busy schedules to maintain meaningful campaigns.
Sigil & Shadow is “anti-canon” (to steal a term from Luka Rejec). Contained within its 200 pages is literally all of the necessities to run countless campaigns, in different cities with entirely different themes and feels. I’ve provided several tools for tweaking and adjusting the nobs to your liking, including several Lenses (or setting prompts) to ask during Session 0, some guidance on generating paranormal hotspots in your city, and some quick methods of generating your own factions and rivalries.
What isn’t here is a massive backstory or metaplot; what conspiracies and hidden histories exist in this world are for you and your table to come up with. Shadowed players get to tailor their characters how they see fit — they can easily emulate the creepers of folk lore or create their own modern monsters. How prominent the supernatural and the occult is in the world will differ from table to table.
I’m having to take some time to deal with real life, but I assure you I’m just getting started.
One project I’m getting off the ground is a “Living Grimoire” of sorts. The game comes with nearly 30 sample spells, but the possibilities of the freeform magic system is almost limitless. What I’m imagining is a regularly update wiki, with my own contributions and others, that provides new spells, arcana, visages and more. The goal is for it to be freely available (and periodically archived) for everyone to use.
There’s also some other random ideas, sample characters and optional rules that may very well appear as blog posts that will later be collected into a publication.
It’s exciting to finally be at this point with the game. I’m looking forward to hearing what you and your players find lurking behind the curtain.