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Chiaroscuro • 2018 rpg

Briar Gray •

(To be played in a library, museum, or other many-roomed building.)

You are lost, Travelers, far from the dark world you once called home. Your compasses are broken. You're surrounded by alien light.

Share with each other your hidden names. Why did you leave? What do you miss?

Move from room to room: every threshold you cross is a portal to a new reality. When you arrive, count the light sources. The more there are, the farther you are from home.

Take note of local customs - things may appear the same, but they are not. People are strange here. What has changed? What are the dangers? Try to channel your fear into curiosity.

Take solace in your companions. Some may leave to search elsewhere: Mourn them. Hope to reunite later on; if you do, share stories of your travels. How have you changed? What have you survived?

When you find yourself in total darkness, you'll know you've returned home. Inhale. The infinite black of your world brushes soft against your wings. You are cloaked once more in familiarity: deep, solemn, safe. Nothing can harm you here in the dark.

Exhale. Let your own light out, now. Illuminate the space yourself.

Author Comments

Inspired by Avery Alder’s work, especially Brave Sparrow.

I wanted to play with foreignness and anxiety, the sense of unbelonging in what should be a familiar space. I also wanted to subvert the usual safe/unsafe dichotomy of light & darkness. Finally, I wanted to explore light (and light pollution) as a destructive force; if you play Chiaroscuro at night, you should be able to find “home” easily by going outside, right? But that’s often not the case. Because of human intervention, true darkness is very difficult to reach nowadays.

If you play Chiaroscuro, let me know on Twitter how it went!

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