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Battle meme demons and possessed smartphones in modern horror RPG Sigil & Shadow

Cursed technology.

Tabletop RPG Sigil & Shadow sounds like a combination of World of Darkness’ modern-day horror and the old-school dice-rolling of games such as Call of Cthulhu in a beginner-friendly ruleset - and it’s out today.

Designer R.E Davis’ setting is described as mixing “urban fantasy and occult horror”, with players’ characters facing supernatural threats in a modern environment. The game’s description mentions “demons reborn as viral memes”, haunted smartphones and pop-culture gods worshipped by cults as examples of the types of horror in the digital age that players might encounter, with publisher Osprey Games comparing the hybrid world to books Dresden Files and American Gods.

Powering the contemporary setting is a ruleset based on the d00Lite system used in RPGs BareBones Fantasy and Covert Ops, with Davis originally creating Sigil & Shadow as a hack of those games. A simplified evolution of the d100 system used in classic RPGs such as RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu - in which players roll two ten-sided dice, one for tens and one for single digits, to calculate a percentile result out of 100 - d00Lite requires players to roll under a given success value to pass tests set by the GM. Various skills and traits can modify rolls, with players spending the game’s inspiration-style resource of ‘bones’ to earn rerolls.

Character creation is also designed to be simple, with just four key stats - strength, dexterity, logic and will - plus a couple of skills and a perk forming a character outline. Characters can either be Illuminated - everyday people draw into the otherworldly goings-on - or Shadowed individuals affected by supernatural powers.

Sigil & Shadow’s world allows for magic using a freeform system requiring rituals and artefacts, with some characters also able to call forth otherworldly entities to help them in situations.

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The rules-light system is said to allow for a variety of gameplay experiences and stories, from more combat-heavy confrontations of the horrors head-on to investigation-based mysteries that shy away from direct encounters to focus on storytelling. The flexible rules also mean the game can be adjusted to a number of different horror genres and mythos, according to its creators, whether players are hunting down Lovecraftian cults and cosmic horrors, World of Darkness-style modern vampires and werewolves, or simply busting ghosts.

Sigil & Shadow is out as of today, July 22nd, with the physical book costing £25 on Osprey's site. A digital edition is available for £17.50.

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Matt Jarvis avatar

Matt Jarvis


After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.