Influences and Inspiration Sources

Leaves of Chiaroscuro, like other RPGs, draws upon a variety of influences.  Today I’ve decided to go through and list those.  This is, however, not an exhaustive list!  I’m sure that there are influences that have crept in without anyone even noticing it yet and there may be some not coming to mind at the moment which I’ll end up adding later.  I can only speak on my own influences, of course, were the co-author of the first adventure & quickstart (Jason Lada) writing this list, I’m sure they’d have different ones.

  • Real world history – a wide variety of real world history and lore is the primary influence for Leaves of Chiaroscuro.  Most obviously the Italian Renaissance is the primary basis for the setting.
  • Religion and lore -the game draws from a variety of real-world lore, including the Greco-Roman traditions, the various Abrahamic traditions (naturally Catholicism but also Kabbalah)  and even others here and there such as Egyptian.
  • Planescape – The D&D multiverse is an absolute favorite of mine; full of strange creatures (and especially for the standards of its time strange races to play), faction politics, and many strange wonderful (or terrifying, or simply strange) worlds to explore.  It was an incredibly rich and gonzo sort of setting.

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The Dragon’s Dream (fiction blurb)

The following is a fiction blurb  for the Leave of Chiaroscuro RPG setting.  This originated from the LoCo system playtest document. I plan to include a series of these.

Jocobo had been having the dreams since he was just a very small boy. Dreams of flying, dreams of mountains upon mountains of gold, all his.  Doesn’t everyone dream of things like flying and being rich though? The closest a farm boy like he could ever hope to get to being rich was in his dreams. Continue reading

Freeform/improvisational Magic for Fate

Thaumaturgic magic for the Fate RPG: Leaves of Chiaroscuro, a Renaissance setting (Google Doc)

My vision for magic in the world of Renaissance Asiyah is that it would be free of a set spell-list; players could make up spells on the fly, as suited the given situation.

However, magic needed some constraints.  A given mage shouldn’t be able to just cast any sort of spell.  Thus, the concept of paths and subpaths came into play.  A mage’s paths would act as essentially the “school of magic” the mage has access to, and thus place some limits on their magic.  Thus, one mage might be able to cast spells dealing with beasts while another manipulates the force of life itself.

The concept of improvisational magic is nothing new, but it is my hope that this system turns out exceptionally fun for the Fate RPG.

However, I didn’t just want this magic system to be improvisational within some constraints.  I wanted mages to be something people would fear, and for a reason; thus, magic also had to have a cost, a cost which would make it and those who wield it potentially dangerous. That cost has been worked in, and thus if you use this system unmodified, it works best in a darker-edged fantasy setting.

Fate Google Doc for Leaves of Chiaroscuro

It’s been decided; we’ll release the work in progress player’s section for the Leaves of Chiaroscuro: Dragon in Bologna Renaissance adventure for the Fate RPG.

This includes details on the Renaissance world of Asiyah, the various player species, the city of Bologna and rules for improvisational magic in the Fate RPG.

It doesn’t include the adventure which will be included when the entire book is released, but hopefully should be enough to start playing Fate in the world of Asiyah.

So, here it is as a Google Doc, which can be viewed and commented on

A Dragon in Bologna: Player’s Section for Fate RPG

Humankind in Leaves of Chiaroscuro (Fate)

Today’s post will introduce how the humans of the world of Asiyah will be handled in Leaves of Chiaroscuro for Fate.

Humans are the most prevalent of intelligent species on earth, and are an older one than the various celati. Indeed, the other species owe their existence to humankind, as they can trace their origins back to humanity.

Humans in Leaves of Chiaroscuro for Fate will be broken down into three subtypes, each of which will be given their own abilities to distinguish them.

    • Children of Albion are born of lineages of mages and thus magic is in their very blood. As a consequence it is most often such lineages which become potent mages, but their innate ties to magic can make them more vulnerable to supernatural forces.
    • True Mundanes are untouched by supernatural and magical forces. They will struggle to grasp the use of magic (if not simply fail) but have a stronger resistance to such forces.
    • Preturnatural Humans, sometimes just called preturnaturals can trace their lineages back to something else, whether one of the celati, or some other sort of supernatural being.  Their unusual heritage is strong enough to mark them in some way (granting them some ability, such as perhaps the ability to see in complete darkness), but is not strong enough for them to them to truly be celati or something else truly apart from humankind (whatever some purists might say). They are despite their strange heritage ultimately human beings, albeit unusual ones.  All humans of this sort have some sign of their unusual heritage.  The sign is often, but not always subtle.


Playtest update, Fate, PF and more

The public playtest for the LoCo ruleset is now available Leaves of Chiaroscuro Public Playtest

I’m shifting direction a bit now, as I have decided I don’t want the ruleset to be my first release.  That means that though I would say it is close to complete as far as the rules go, I am not placing a date on its official release, as I’d rather have a chance to get my other projects out into the world.

Thus, I have a few other things in the work.
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Pondering Systems & Settings: Fate, and perhaps more

I’ve made huge progress on the LoCo system for Leaves of Chiaroscuro (the full extent of what I’ve accomplished with them so far reaches over 250 pages of material).  While I’ve had a blast playtesting it, and continue to work on doing so (we have to test as wide a variety of options at as many levels as possible to do this right after all) I am having some thoughts due to discussions with various people.  What is clear is that there’s much more interest in having a richly detailed setting and supporting existing systems (and an interest in having system-agnostic material available) than there is in having a whole new system.

What I have concluded due to this is it may be ideal to support an established system with the Renaissance Leaves of Chiaroscuro setting.  What would be nice about this is systems like Fate all ready have an established fan base, and some among them would be sure to enjoy a Renaissance era dark tinged fantasy meets history game.

This has somewhat changed my plans for the future.  I’m going to re-release the playtest document, but shift focus over to working on the game’s setting: it needs to be as rich as possible after all, full of interesting factions and people and places (to a much greater degree than I can portray in the current playtest document), and having a system all ready established to work with helps with that as well.

Fate is first and foremost in my mind because of its great adaptability.  OSR is somewhat on my mind too, though I cannot promise anything as far as that goes yet.

I have considered Pathfinder (which in the past I’ve actually used to run an early version of Leaves of Chiaroscuro) but for a few reasons (including simply the vast glut of material it all ready has) has made it not at the top of my list of systems to consider.

As far as the adventure I was hoping to put out before the end of the year?  Well, I am less certain about that since I’ve began pondering what exactly I want to do about Leaves of Chiaroscuro.