It was around 20 years ago when I discovered roleplaying games (RPGs). My friends and I built a high fantasy world, explored it and saved its populace more times than we count. A short while later I bought my second setting boxed set. The title read Planescape and little did I know how much this one game would change my perception on RPGs.
While the game still used the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) system, it introduced the concept that there is more to a game than just what was defined on your character sheet. Character’s beliefs shaped their world and sometimes you needed to rely on your wits and charm a little more than your sword arm. Entire sessions were spent discussing and debating the beliefs between the characters and how their actions would impact the multiverse. All without a die ever being rolled.
Through the years I have seen attempts to use many different systems to capture the spirit of Planescape, but they all fell short.
They just never felt right.
Until I came across Sig: The City Between (Sig).
Sig is a city in the shape of a mobius strip that exists between the planes and it is tethered to three planes at a time. Each plane influences the city when tethered to it, for example: when Sig is tethered to the Plane of Life, plants and animals grow exponentially and it is easier for the inhabitants of that plane to reach Sig.
The plane themselves are divided into three types: elemental, ideological and conceptual. Each plane is described with a few key locations, one of the Factions that hold power within in Sig, a race of people native to the plane and a Power —a being of immense power worshipped by mortals—.
The city of Sig and the planes are shaped by the people living there and those living on the primal worlds —basically your favourite fantasy world—. The conflict that drives the stories in Sig arise from the interplay between the different Factions —each espousing a belief and performing an associated role in the city— in the city as well as that of the various Powers and their goals.
Character generation is simple:
- Pick a name.
- Choose the Heritage of your character based on the planes of origins of their parents.
- Decide on your Profession and determine your starting talents.
- Pledge loyalty to one of the Factions and make their beliefs your own.
- Find the Power your character serves.
- Finalize your Attributes.
- Describe your connection to the other players and key non player characters (NPCs)
The Spark system that powers Sig, revolves around challenging the beliefs of other characters and role playing the resolution of the tension. I must admit when I first came across Spark a few months ago, I was not impressed. Other systems such as Robin Law’s DramaSystem, worked better for me to run similar games. Not so with Sig, the system works well and in interwoven well into the game and adds to the overall experience.
Jason Pitre acknowledges that Planescape was his main inspiration for the game and it shows. He captured the feel of the original game without copying it exactly, like so many have tried before. The focus is on what made the original unique, diverse peoples in an alien world with conflicting beliefs, each coming to terms with their place in it.
Sig: The City Between is currently up on Kickstarter and I encourage you to have a look.