The Complete Beginner’s Guide to OVERLIGHT RPG – GM Tips

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. Over the last few weeks, we’ve explored the universe of Overlight, talked about dice and tests, and how to make a character. (You’ll want to check those articles out if you’re not familiar with those aspects of the game, especially if you’re looking to GM.)

Getting behind the screen for an Overlight game isn’t that much different from any other tabletop RPG. GMs set up a story they want to tell and then react to the directions the players wish to go. We salute the brave souls who decide they want to run a game and want to help them out as much as possible. These tips will help make your Overlight stories unique and take some pressure off of you as a GM (especially if you’re new).

Don’t Sweat Bad Guy Design


GM characters are comprised in a handful of statistics. Physical and Mental Dice represent the challenge the character represents in direct competition, such as Open rollsHealth is how much damage a bad guy can take. Zeal allows the GM to nudge things in the villain’s favor by spending points to add dice to their pools, causing Surges or by letting named adversaries counteract Chroma. A rules light game like Overlight isn’t going to have a complex Challenge Rating system, but the dice assigned to bad guys can tell players a lot about them.

Think about the highest dice the players have in areas like fighting. Giving the bad guy the same die type presents a good individual challenge for that character, while a higher die type is someone that the whole group of heroes needs to face. Health can also be used as a timer to see how many rounds that a villain will last in a fight. If a character has Zeal, take the time to name the character and give it something notable for the players to identify.

For goon squads, give each goon one Health per member and grab a total of dice equal to the number of goons facing the players. As the squad loses health, let the players describe how they take out each of the bad guys with one of their successes.

Know Your Spirit Options

Game masters should never be afraid to modify their games to fit their table. Overlight embraces this idea through a few optional rules scattered through the book and GM materials. Page 260 has a few excellent suggestions for optional uses of Spirit Points. Keep in mind that the more uses for Spirit Points, the more they should flow in the game. Players want to spend these points to do cool stuff. The more options available, the more often players should be rewarded. Use Spirit Points to reward players for dramatic turns, getting everyone to crank up or coming up with a great solution to a problem.

Beasts, Not Monsters


Fantasy games often get a lot of mileage out of monsters borrowed from other fantasy fiction. Overlight calls their creatures beasts because they get their inspiration from the natural world. All it takes to make up a new monster is to mix up a few traits from some real-world animals and a terrifying monster is born.  It’s how a lot of mythology was born in the first place, so why not go back to the source material? Game Masters who need some inspiration for new beasts just need to surf their streaming services of choice for a nature documentary or two to mash up and throw at their players.

Keep It Weird

The world of Overlight is full of color and oddities. Use that to inject theme, foreshadowing and other elements the players might not expect.  It’s okay to use classic fantasy tropes, but take a moment to make something about them stand out. Perhaps the color of a pirate captain’s flag matches the Virtue they prize the most. Perhaps the tavern the players meet in has a strange artifact in the center of the table as a conversation piece. This is a world of floating shards over an infinite sea. Realism isn’t the point; being memorable is.

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.