Since the beginning of time, a race of serpentine, celestial beings have been the caretakers and observers of the cosmos. At some point in Earth’s past, probably around 1,000 B.C.E., a small contingent of these celestials argued that humanity was ready to learn the secrets behind the making of the world. That the Homo sapiens species had achieved such a level of cultural growth and spiritual awareness that they deserved to be shown all the wonders of the universe, to be given the literal Keys of Creation.
This small group of celestials was overruled by the will of the majority. Humankind was not yet ready. Defying this judgment, one individual fled to Earth with the Keys, and gifted them to humanity with one warning, “Do not use the Black Key”. Humanity did not listen.
All of reality was turned inside out. The burning heart of the world was now the bright white, unending sky, and the unknowable depths of space now a vast star-filled sea beneath. Entire continents float in the space between, without a moon or sun to guide them.
Welcome to Overlight, a roleplaying game of kaleidoscopic fantasy among the shards of a broken world. It’s a world in which seven great continents hang in the sky, stacked almost vertically far above an unending sparkling sea. And shining down upon it all is a limitless light, emanating not from a great sun or moon, but from the sky itself: the hallowed Overlight.
The heroes of this world are called the Skyborn. These individuals are born to disparate folk and cultures the world over, and who on some deep genetic or spiritual level are driven to make the world a better place, knowing in their hearts that things are not as they should be. The Skyborn are able to consciously manipulate the Overlight, fracturing it into seven distinct colors and using it to power remarkable abilities called Chroma.
While this game system is an RPG, this is just the beginning. This backbone can be used in future games and allow players to dive into this world through different entry points. While this book will cover the game mechanics to run this as an RPG, it can also be viewed as a source book for games to come.
The setting for Overlight is an unusual one. There are seven continents, called Shards, which float in the sky above an infinite sparkling sea. These seven Shards maintain their vertical positions, relative to one another, while they slowly float about in patterns that have been largely indecipherable to the people of the world.
Far above them all is an unending sky, bright and radiant. There is no sun, and no moon, only the perpetual shining of the Overlight. So while some Shards may pass through periods of darkness when drifting beneath other Shards, there is no true day or night.
The level of technology is roughly equivalent to late Middle Ages or early Renaissance at best. So no steam power and no gunpowder, although the use of Chroma and the manipulation of the Overlight can sometimes result in some surprising technologies.
Each of the seven Shards have distinct climates and cultures. All contain playable folk except Nova. While it is difficult to travel between shards, it is certainly not impossible and parties of diverse groups may form.
Meet the folk of Overlight:
Novapendra: Rocky towers and crumbling mesas dot a horizon of sandblasted expanses, shimmering and brilliant white in the never ending light. Huge sentient centipedes called Novapendra contemplate their existence through mediation and quiet reflection while shepherding their herds of giant dust crickets.
Zenith Order Monks and Hamanu: Now we will turn our eyes to the violet peaks of Zenith. Second of the Shards, its towering mountain ranges are home to the snow-covered temples of the Monks of the Zenith Orders. The Monks are humans, having long ago immigrated from Haark to find meaning among the ice and wind. The men and women of the Orders live alongside the Hamanu, a massive-bodied ape-like people capable of scaling sheer mountain cliffs with their grasping hands and feet. The Hamanu and the Monks have developed a peculiar spirit bond with each other, and once paired, individuals are rarely separated.
The Hamanu and the Zenith Monks value the Virtue of Wisdom above all others.
Teryxian: Third in line, resplendent in the blue light of Logic, we find the Shard called Quill. The jungles and torrential rivers of the floating islands of Quill are home to the Teryxians, a small, feathered reptilian Folk. Once they were emperors of their domain, with sprawling cities of spires populated by academics and philosophers, and many are still employed as tutors across the Seven. But much of that was lost when Quill was broken, and now the Teryxians cling to the remnants of a ruined civilization while trying to avoid becoming prey to the appetites of the jungle.
Banyari: The shard is the Folk, is the color, is the Virtue.
At our next stop, even the youngest child can see the connection between the emerald light of Compassion and the endless trees and grasses of the Shard called Banyan.
Here, the mysterious Banyari tribes are almost as distinct from one another as they are from the other Folk. Each tribe upon this forested shard is inextricably linked to their unique Hearthwood Tree, a spiritual relationship that is poorly understood. These monumental wooden behemoths serve both as spiritual centers and, somehow, as physical progenitors of the appearance and biology of the symbiotic Banyari, some of which seem to be part plant, while others take different forms. As a whole, the Banyari are generally quiet and kind, and keep to themselves.
Here's a preview of the Banyan chapter in the book!
Haarkeen: Of all the Virtues, humanity can claim Will as its own.
It is said that like an arrow of intent, Will is the force of the self. The willpower to establish your being, formulate your needs and claim them from the world. Will is also a shield. Its own defense, a bulwark against the assault of others. Its light is Yellow, reflected off the face of a gold coin, a theoretical idea turned into tangible reality.
And nowhere is the Virtue of Will more evident than upon the shard called Haark. A single magnificent city, covering almost the entirety of the largest of Shards.
It is home to humankind, called the Haarkeen. It is also the center of commerce and trade. Being the most centrally located of the shards, Haark is also the most cosmopolitan, and it is not uncommon to interact with people from many Folk, especially in the Great Market, a bazaar filled with many wonders.
Arumel: We turn our eyes to Veile, the sixth Shard, home of the Aurumel, whose every waking moment is an embodiment of the Virtue of Vigor.
Here, the idyllic hills and estates overlook placid lagoons and inland seas. With pleasant weather and easy growing seasons, one would think the tall and almost eerily thin Aurumel would live a languid lifestyle. Yet behind the masks that they wear every day, the Aurumel also hide a passion and fervor for life that is most often represented by the great works that they aspire to build. Great bronze monuments, shining gold and silver armor, and fabulous airships, these testaments to toil and honest labor can sometimes take many lifetimes to complete, and those families with the greatest achievements can often grow into dynasties with immense political and social power. Only the machinations of the Penumbral Court can begin to test their generational reach.
Pyroi: Far at the bottom of the world, beneath all the other Shards, is where we find Pyre.
Often bathed in darkness, the tundras and steppes of Pyre are lit by the glow of the Shard’s volcanic mountain ranges, which can frequently result in rivers of magma coursing through the landscape. It is not a hospitable place. The Pyroi themselves are a sight to behold: eight feet tall, ruddy skinned and broad shouldered, they make fearsome warriors and charismatic negotiators and ambassadors. Much of Pyroi culture is centered around temple structures built at the base of the volcanos, while other communities live a nomadic lifestyle hunting enormous beasts out on the open savannah.
And it is here, among these brutal and unforgiving extremes, that the folk revere the Virtue of Might above all.
• Overlight RPG Core Book
• A pile of various polyhedral dice
• A writing utensil
The Overlight RPG Core book is 300 pg., hardcover, full-color tome. Everything you need to guide you through character creation, help you envision this kaleidoscopic setting, and lead you through your first adventure.
Overlight is a story-driven RPG. A rulebook, character sheet, pencil, and your favorite dice are all you need! Using these simple tools, and a bucket full of imagination, your party will embark on an epic shared adventure. Using your characters’ skills and Chroma powers, you will be tested during your journeys. Here’s how it works:
Virtues For six of the seven Virtues, each character will have a Rating. This is expressed as one of a variety of polyhedral die. So one might have a Compassion Rating of D10. A very good rating! Each character will also select one of their Virtues to be their Core Virtue. This is mostly for storytelling and roleplaying purposes as it helps you to define what it is that motivates your character. While it will not have much bearing on the rules, it will influence which Chroma are available to that character. The Virtue of Spirit is an exception and is instead represented by a pool of points that can be spent for a variety of things, including Combat Maneuvers and channeling Chroma.
Your characters also have 17 different Skills, which have Ratings just like Virtues. One key difference is that while all Virtues have at least a D6 Rating, not all Skills will. You may be untrained in a specific Skill which is another way of saying that it has no current Rating. As a reminder when expressing the Rating for a Skill or Virtue, we’ll be using a capital “D”. We’ll be using a lower case “d” when talking about the literal dice in your hand or being rolled.
Most of the gameplay is centered on something called a Test. There are a variety of different kinds of Tests, but the most basic of them is a Skill Test. A Test is performed by rolling a handful of seven dice. In most cases, three of them will come from one of your Virtue ratings, and three dice will come from one of your Skill ratings. You’ll be looking for any die with a result of 6 or higher. This is called a success. So you’ll be achieving between zero and six successes on most rolls. But you’ll also be adding a single d4 called the “Spirit Die” to the Test. The result of this die will be evaluated differently depending on the sort of Test you are performing.
Chroma are the mysterious abilities and powers that the Skyborn are able to manipulate to amazing effect. They are not an exact science, and as a result, sometimes a Skyborn might channel too much Overlight through themselves while using the Chroma. When this happens the Skyborn or the Chroma is said to have Shattered. Each Shattering will have a lasting effect on the physical or spiritual being of the Skyborn, and after too many Shatterings the Chroma will burn itself out, searing away that particular arrangement of virtuous pathways in the character’s Spirit, leaving the character without the ability to channel that specific Chroma again.