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The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Playing OVERLIGHT RPG – Dice & Tests

The world of Overlight is chock full of bright colors, weird creatures, and kaleidoscopic fantasy. We’ve been having a blast exploring the world in our Overlight: Fractured Paradox series and hope that gamers have been playing the game and creating their own adventure across the different shards of the universe. Here’s a primer to the fundamentals of the game, specifically dice and tests which drive interactions in the RPG. (If you haven’t read this article where we explore the universe of Overlight, you’ll want to start there first.)

Dice Types

Characters are defined by dice types, with a six-sided die representing basic ability in an area up to a twelve-sided die representing mastery. Overlight uses dice pools to determine where the story goes when the outcome is in question. Depending on where and when the roll comes, reading the dice changes, and the Spirit Die adds a level of uncertainty to reflect the strange magic in the setting. The Spirit Die is connected to the character’s Spirit Pool, which reflect just how much Overlight the character can draw upon in the adventure.


Skill Test

The most common roll is the skill test. This roll gets made when a player does something risky and exciting, like swing from the mast of an airship onto an enemy deck or swim past a terrifying water beast. The player rolls seven dice in their pool; three of the type that matches the virtue of the action, three of the type that matches the skill and a Spirit Die. (If they don’t have the skill, they get one six-sided die as their skill die.)

Most actions already have virtues and skill pools connected but if the player is trying something unusual, the GM can call for a different paring of virtue and skill. For example, trying to draw attention of a guard by complimenting them on their choice of weapons could be a Compassion + Blades roll. In a skill test, the players are looking for distinct successes, which are any individual dice that turn up as 6 or higher. There are three levels of success in a skill test: Luminous (2 successes rolled), Radiant (4 successes rolled) or Brilliant (6 successes rolled).  A Luminous success means the character did the thing, a Radiant success means they did the thing and got a little extra and a Brilliant success means they succeeded in the best possible way.

When an odd success number is rolled it can be bumped up to the next level by spending a point out of the Spirit Pool as a Spirit Flare. The Spirit Die’s roll in a skill test matters when comes up on a 4. When it does it can either offer a free Spirit Flare when successes are odd or add a point to the Spirit Pool when the successes are even.

Wealth Tests


Rather than keeping track of accumulated treasure, Overlight uses a specialized skill test called a wealth test when players need to see if they can pick up an item from a merchant. The player rolls their wealth die type as a skill and the Spirit die determines the cost of the item in wealth points. If the players don’t have the points to spend, they’ll have to get creative if they really want to get the item.

Combat & Open Tests

Combat tests are similar to open tests, except successes are counted as damage to an opponent. Characters have health tracks made up of wounds. Most wounds aren’t dramatic and go away at the end of a fight. Dramatic wounds, however, last till the end of the story or until the players take time to go get healed which can open up some more drama as the players seek out a healer.

The combat Spirit Die generates Fury Points that reflect the adrenaline and focus of a tense combat situation. These Fury Points can be spent with the Spirit Pool to activate combat maneuvers that go beyond the usual attack action in a battle. This is how the Pyroi frightens an entire squad of guards with a mighty battle cry or a Harkeen rallies her battered but unbroken comrades in the fight.

Open Tests are used whenever there’s a direct conflict between two individuals like a race or a wrestling contest. Instead of successes, the highest rolled number determines who comes out on top. The Spirit Die can bump up the number by one if it comes up as a 4. The good news is that in a tie, the player character wins if they are facing off against an NPC.

Chroma Tests


When the Skyborn wish to use their powers, they roll the last kind of test in the game; the Chroma test. Each Chroma says which two virtues a player must roll to see how well the power works. But in this case, the Spirit Die acts as something of a foe. The number rolled on the four-sided die is how many Spirit points the magic effect costs. Players without the right amount of points experience a Shatter which will change their character in profound ways. The Chroma still works or doesn’t work based on the roll made, but the Shatter is usually a weird side effect that affects the player for the story and possibly the rest of the game if it happens again with the same powers.

More gaming goodness!


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Images Credits: Kwanchai Moriya, Renegade Game Studios

Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. He can be hired as a professional Dungeon Master for in-person or remote games. His Twitter is here. You can watch him livestream RPGs with the Theatre of the Mind Players here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

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