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Overlight RPG Core Book Review

And it is by its colored rays that you will know your power, oh Skyborn child.

Quick Look:

Designer: Paul Alexander Butler and George Holland
Artist: Kwanchai Moriya
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 2-6
Ages: 14+
Availability: Now via Retail and Direct

Find more info on RPGGeek.com

From the Publisher: Overlight is a fantasy roleplaying game of kaleidoscopic journeys: a visceral, dangerous, and brightly-colored setting. Characters will search for personal meaning among a fantastic, sometimes violent, and overwhelming world. This 333-page full-color hardcover book will show you everything you need to start your own adventure in this beautiful world.


Basics (World, Characters, Class):
Overlight is a new system brought to us by the team at Renegade Game Studios, and this book introduces us to their new world. The setting of Overlight is made of up 7 different shards (continents), each one floating above the other. Under them all is a never-ending ocean, while above them is a moon and sun-less sky. Each shard represents a continent, each unique and incredibly different than the one above and below. The continents vary in both races, technology, and climates, from the top-most Nova shard and its desert-like terrain, to the jungles of Quill and the Teryxians who live there, or the Pyre at the bottom, full of volcanoes and the warriors of Pyroi.

Travel between the shards is done via massive air ships, which allow for movement and trade to happen. Additionally, some of the races have trained creatures that allow them to fly between the shards. Throughout the lands are mysteries that cannot be explained, and allow for many stories to be told and revolve around them. 

Each player will be playing a Skyborn character. In the world of Overlight, a Skyborn is someone who, when born, is marked by having their irises shine with an iridescent light. Those born like this are sensitive to the Overlight and Chroma, allowing them to harness that power and help grow the world around them. What is Overlight and Chroma? Overlight is a special light in the world that helps give a sense of feeling and slight power to everything. The Skyborn are special in that they are able to channel the Overlight and use it to power their Chroma abilities to cast magical wonders around them. For example, if you are playing a Zenith Order Monk, you can cast the Cutting Wind Form which channels the Overlight into streams of wind, which you can use as needed.

But there’s more to Overlight than just being able to use it based on a type of class you are playing. Overlight consists of 7 different virtues, each one associated with one of the colors in the light spectrum. Each character will have a key Virtue, which is typically different than what their race typically is associated with (more on race and classes a little later). These virtues each allow you to focus on Spirit, Wisdom, Logic, Compassion, Will, Vigor, and Might. In addition to the Virtues, you will also have a Skill associated with the characters, which ties directly in with the Virtues and helps strengthen and define the characters.

Character creation is pretty straight forward and uses a point-based system. The game focuses you on a list of 7 starting races (folk) and provides multiple backgrounds for each folk that you can use to customize your character. Pick your Virtue, and work on building up your character’s skills using a 45-point pool. This pool will also count toward points in a spirit pool, which is then used to determine your starting pool and health. Get a name and finish any background tweaks and you’re ready to go!

Character class (or backgrounds) vary widely when you pick your starting folk-type. While each area is broken down to specific backgrounds that work with the backstory of each of the folk type, you’ll find 7 different ones available, each varied enough to fit the style you want.

Mechanics (Combat, Magic):
Let me start by saying that Overlight is not your typical hack-and-slash role playing game, where you start in a tavern, get hired to clear out some Orcs in an underground cave, and keep their treasure. Overlight is much closer to a storytelling game, preferring to be about the journey. While there is some combat in the game, it is not a key component of the game. For example, where in other systems the type of weapon you have and any skill/training you have in it against a type of armor is used determine what type of dice you roll and any possible modifications to the number, in Overlight you will be rolling a die that matches a skill (Brawl for blunt weapons, Blades for thrown weapons, Windlore for ranged weapons). Roll the die, and if it's a success, then deal a single point of damage. You can replace an attack using Spirit or Fury points to perform a combat maneuver, which can do extra damage but costing you the points.

Channeling Chroma is based on the virtues that your character has and uses the dice to determine success or failure. When rolling dice, you typically roll 7 dice total, and count the successes to determine how powerful the effect is. You will be using a standard complement of dice, and should have a d4, and up to 6 each of a d6, d8, d10, and d12. Depending on the number of successes you roll, your power can be Luminous, Radiant, or Brilliant, where each one is greater than the one before. An example of this is the Cloud of Unknowing Chroma. If you roll your success and have enough for a Luminous, then this impacts all characters within 10 feet and reduce their Mental Die by 1. A Radiant success, makes them reduce it by 2 dice, and a Brilliant by 3.

But there is a flip side. You can fail a roll, which can cause a completely opposite outcome. Where in other systems a failed roll causes it not to happen and you can try again, in Overlight each failure can and will cause something to happen to you, the character. This is called a Shatter, meaning you have tried to channel too much Overlight when casting the Chroma, causing it to backfire on you. Let’s use the same spell we talked about above, the Cloud of Unknowing. When Shatter 1 happens, you’ll find that a mist will start clinging around your feet when you are in any cold, dark, or humid environment. Shatter 2 will lower the number of successes you roll for any Science, Craft, or Machinery roll going forward, where Shatter 3 causes you to Burnout, which impacts your memory and gain less experience points going forward. And these are cumulative. A keyword on all spells is Burnout, which happens on Shatter 3 and is where you have lost something that makes your character who they are and permanently impacts you. These can range from physical changes, mental changes, or death. Additionally, burnout means you can never be able to use that Chroma. Ever.

Now, this does not mean (other than one that might cause death to occur) that your character is no longer worth playing or a viable team member, but instead should be used to enhance the character in a truly unique manner, adding to the narrative of the story. A perfect example is a Chroma called Traveler’s Knack where, if Burnout occurs, you’ll find that you’re incredibly distracted, love to move at high speeds all the time, and become an adrenaline junkie, always trying to ‘liven’ up any and every situation (think of what a 5-year-old boy after using a Pixie Stick at a family dinner would act like at the table).

Overlight has theme, there is zero doubt on that. When Renegade Game Studios announced this back in mid-2017, they made sure to call out that this was more about fantasy, and they have held true to that. As you read through the book, almost half of it is filling in colorful detail around the shards, folk, Chroma, and everything you need for the world to come alive.

Publisher Support:
Since the initial release in September 2018 by Renegade Game Studios, we’ve seen a new sourcebook, GM screen, specialty dice, and new characters sheets, all in 3 months. Renegade has been pushing and supporting this new adventure in their Role-Playing library and are looking to keep doing so in the future. There is no third party support for this at this time, but who knows what may come in the future. Additionally, there is a very active public group on Facebook where players and the publisher interact.

The Good:
Paul, George, and Renegade Game Studios have given us an incredible new world full of new races, new magic, mysteries, and an entire new system to be used to explore it all. With just a guideline of how the game should play, they are leaving it open to the Gamemaster to flesh out the vibrant world around the players.

The book also comes with a great intro adventure, and pre-generated characters to allow for a quick introduction into the game setting. Broken up into three different parts, the players will all be introduced into multiple parts of the world they live in, and the folk in it. Remember, the only race that will be familiar to all players are the humans; everything else is new.

I also want to call out the stunning artwork that is included in the book, all done by Kwanchai Moriya. It’s not often that you stop reading a core book to look at the artwork in it, but Kwanchai has done such vibrant artwork in it, you can’t help but stop and look at the world through his eyes. From the cover, you know you’re looking at something very different than what is out there now. Please, if there’s not an art book of his available, make one available.

The Bad:
I received the hardcover core book for the game and was a bit disappointed in the binding used. After reading through it a few times, you can already see the binding coming apart.

The rules, while very light and being flexible for the Gamemaster, can be too light in many parts, leading a GM or player to have to improvise and make a ruling on the fly. While normally a GM can do this on occasion, with such a light framework set in the book, you can find yourself doing this repeatedly in many situations. A perfect example is in dealing with anything pertaining to time. As there is no Sun or Moon, then the passage of time is completely up to the player/GM to determine. Traveling across one of the Shards can take hours, weeks, months, years–all determined by the GM in their story.

Magic going awry. Oh, the pain of someone who is rolling dice poorly. I had one player who rolled failures and had burnout, and after getting so involved in the backstory and life of the character (Teryxian), just felt that it wasn’t worth continuing with that character.  There is no recovery when this happens, no healing or magic potion to bring it back.

Final Thoughts:
We were told not to use the Black Key. But we’re human, we know what’s best for us. Now, 3000 years have passed since we broke the world. All that was known is gone. Humanity is just one of the many new races, all trying to survive in the world as it is. But you’re different. You want, no, know that there’s something more out there, something better than just living day by day. For you are Skyborn!

This world is incredible, and in one book encompasses 7 different environments, races, types of magic and everything in between. With an incredibly rich description given to each group and shard they live in, and description of their interactions with each other and others, you have something special in your hands. This book gives you, the Gamemaster, the power to open a brand-new world to your players, and allow them to play characters like they’ve never encountered before. 

Check out Overlight RPG on:

https://rpggeek.com/rpgitem/245124/overlight-rulebook   https://www.renegadegamestudios.com/overlight-landing-page   https://www.facebook.com/PlayRGS/   https://twitter.com/PlayRenegade   https://www.instagram.com/renegade_game_studios/   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKwDYsOyitZAQFS76KBj1vQ   http://a.co/d/7hmeIph 

Delton Perez - Reviewer

Delton Perez is a FLGS owner with 2 locations in Puerto Rico. Originally from Boston, he currently lives in the wilds of Ohio, where he currently resides with his family. By day, he is a Retail Consultant working in New York in the Fashion Industry, but by night, meeples, dice, and cardboard take over. Delton also runs a gaming organization based in Northeast Ohio that focuses on running game nights at Libraries, Schools, and Churches on a scheduled, monthly basis. At times, Delton has even been able to sleep, though proof has yet to be found.

See Delton's reviews HERE.
Overlight RPG Core Book Review Overlight RPG Core Book Review Reviewed by NeedsOfTheOne on January 09, 2019 Rating: 5

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