A Roleplaying Game of Pulp-Style Superheroes
in an Alternate Renaissance
Four Colors al Fresco is a roleplaying
game of pulp-style adventure, set in an alternate
Renaissance. The setting is Renaissance Italy
-- as it might have been. Had there been fantastic,
pre-industrial advanced technologies in the hands
of a few. Had the Black Death never come. Had
the remnants of highly-advanced civilizations
been scattered around the world. Had reality been
governed by mystical Forces instead of scientific
laws. Had there been maniacal geniuses constantly
plotting to take over the world. And, most importantly,
had there been superheroes to thwart them.
But these are not the superheroes of our times,
or even our parents' times -- these are the superheroes
of our grandparents' times, the action heroes
of the pulps. Before the term "superhero" was
coined. Before spandex costumes. When a man with
a maniacal laugh, a pair of six-shooters, and
the sole power to "cloud men's minds" had the
power to send villains scurrying for their holes.
Pulp heroes are only slightly better than the
rest of us, not the breed apart of the modern
superhero. They may laugh in the face of an armed
man, but it is not because they are unthreatened.
They may operate outside the law, but only because
the authorities have chosen to allow it. And they
rarely have the luxury of existing outside the
norms of society for more than an evening at a
time. In short, while they have exceptional powers,
pulp heroes are not so powerful that they may
ignore the rest of society.
The style of this game is one of action and adventure
in a morally-clear world. The villains are Evil,
and the heroes are Good, and rarely is there any
doubt as to which is which. Doing good doesn't
result in unintended bad consequences, and the
bad guys are not just misunderstood or misguided.
Your characters are the heroes of this world,
people gifted with extraordinary gifts and driven
by moral principles.
The world, as well as all those within it, is
governed by five mystical Forces, the interactions
of which determine everything that happens and
exists. Much as our own world is governed by the
forces of electricity, magnetism, gravity, and
the nuclear forces, which together can explain
why everything is the way it is, and why everything
happens the way it does, the world of Four Colors
al Fresco is governed by five Forces. Dynamic,
Static, Lost, Known, and Passion are the Forces
that govern the existences and interactions of
this world. Every action, every happening, every
thing in the world is caused by the interactions
of these 5 forces, but, generally, one or two
of the forces so strongly govern a particular
activity that the rest are overshadowed. When
the Dynamic Force holds sway, the rock falls.
When the Static Force holds sway, it stays put.
Throughout most of the world, they provide a sort
of balance -- some things and situations are governed
more by one Force or another, but on a broad scale
everything balances out. But a few exceptional
individuals are not in harmony with the world.
The Forces do not pay equal attention to them.
Some of the Forces pay them more heed, while others
seem to give them short shrift, and still others
apparently just overlook them on occaision. These
are the Omegas, individuals who have been forgotten
by one of the Forces, and thus defy the normal
laws of nature in some small way. It is these
Omegas that are the villains and heroes of this
All of the material in the following links is released under the Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike License [b]and[/b] the WotC Open Game
License. We've put together a short page explaining these
licenses, and how to use them, here.
- The game rules, as a downloadable
PDF of the complete game. Includes the rules;
a sketch of the setting, Italia, including several
of the more notable Omegas; glossary of terms;
character sheets, dice guides, and other handouts;
- The game rules, in an editable
format. It needs a few tweaks, and it's
not very pretty if your browser doesn't do CSS2,
but it's all there. [n.b.: at the moment, it's
not very pretty even if your browser does
do CSS2--i haven't had a chance to put together
the style sheets for the website, yet.]
- Quick-start rules.
Include a summary of character creation, a brief intro to the mechanics,
an abbreviated glossary of terms, and a character creation worksheet.
Grab this and a character sheet, and you've got all you need to get
started. n.b.: these rules do not completely agree with those in the
beta version of the game, linked above; resolve any contradictions in
favor of the quickstart, which is newer.
- Character Sheet
- Title Sheet
- Villain Character
- Mastermind Character
- Glossary of terms,
extracted from the main gamebook.
- Omegas, some of which
are detailed in the main gamebook, some of which
are summarized, and some of which are new. And
we've carefully left some of the ones listed
in the gamebook undetailed.
- Map of the larger world of Four Colors al
Fresco, as both a PNG
and a PDF
- Storypath cards,
and other sundry design notes, extracted from
the main gamebook.
- It appears that an editing mistake was made
in the assembly of the Four Colors al
Fresco 1.0beta, and a sidebar was
left out. So, here
it is. It should have finished out the 6th
chapter, "Panels, Pages, Issues, Miniseries,
and Titles", and has already been edited back
into the HTML version online.
- Example filled-out
character sheet. Here's what a ready-to-play
beginning character sheet might look like, if
you had terribly neat handwriting. You'll note
that the degree of detail for the Descriptors
varies considerably -- some may want a detailed
description for every Descriptor, others may
prefer to rely on the name of the Descriptor
as much as possible. We tend to take the middle
route, adding additional description where necessary