Breaking Down the Prism of Overlight: A Review
  • Breaking Down the Prism of Overlight: A Review

    Tired of all the fantasy role-playing games with a grim and dark palette? Well, Renegade Studios delivers a rules light system with a many-layered setting for players seeking out something brighter. Join the ranks of the Skyborn, with Overlight.

    Overlight is teased as a kaleidoscope fantasy that takes place on a world of seven continents, each stacked over another as if they were the layers of a cake. Created by Paul Alexander Butler and George Holland and funded through Kickstarter, Overlight is a fantasy role-playing game of a world born of disaster, fractured into seven parts, and now exists with no sun or moon,lacking both day and night. The environment itself is the first notable difference in Overlight and a significant one at that. The very idea of sun and moon are no longer relevant to everyday life as are the concepts of days and weeks. Seasons are based on the complex movements of the continents, known as Shards. Players take on the roles of Skyborn, special born folk who are attuned to the Overlight and capable of extraordinary feats.


    Overlight is designed to keep everything rules light. This is a stated goal of the core rulebook and resolution itself does seem relatively simple. A character is broken into Virtues and Skills. There are seven virtues, each tied to one of the Shard / continents and there are seventeen skills to go with them. Virtues and skills are measured by a die type, from D6 to D12, When a character attempts a test, the player generally rolls 3 virtue dice and 3 skill dice, as well as a D4 Spirit die. The spirit die is only relevant if the player rolls a “4” and then there is a chart of effects depending on how many successes the player rolls. A success is any roll of a “6” or better. A player can use their character’s spirit points to alter the results as well.

    The system ties in nicely with the setting, integrating not just the Overlight but also the virtues and the shards. Each shard has a unique folk who live on it and these folk value a specific virtue. When creating a character the player chooses a core value for their character, but this cannot be the core value of their folk. The given reason for this being that a Skyborn is inherently different and somewhat separated from the values of their people. Specifically the rules speak about this as a thematic choice, reinforcing the central concepts of Overlight.


    You first notice the bright colors of Overlight as you pick up the book and turn through the pages. There was a commitment to a certain style that runs through the design and the artwork. The printing is large and easy to read, which works great for me. There is also a ribbon attached as a bookmark. The world itself is decidedly not your standard European fantasy, but seems to suggest subtle Asian influences. I love the look and feel of the work and the world is certainly unique. However, I am not sure the art and aesthetics inform play and character as strongly as they could. In many ways the art and design seem dispassionate, which seem at odds with such a passionately colored work. So do not expect to get an idea of what play is like just by looking at the book.


    Overlight is a breath of fresh air in an industry dominated by the grim and the dark. It looks fun to play and has a low barrier to entry, if you and your group just buy into the premise. Although it may appear light and breezy, there is depth here, especially in how the characters relate to their world. Definitely can recommend Overlight as a nice change of pace fantasy RPG.

    This article was contributed by Sean Hillman (SMHWorlds) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. TerraDave's Avatar
      TerraDave -
      Thanks for the review. One thing that wasn't clear: what would the characters typically do in an adventure or campaign?
    1. default_entry's Avatar
      default_entry -
      Ah yes. Rules light, which is why the book is the size of the pathfinder core book...

      Really, I don't think the book does well at selling people on the setting or the system.
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