It could have been so different. Who knows, if Niccolo Machiavelli, military commissioner of the Republic of Florence, had not truly understood the scale of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius, he might simply have wasted his time painting portraits of women and doodling. Instead, Florence’s screwcopters, gun-turtles and organ-guns make it secure against the armies of the Pope, Milan and the French, and a haven for radical thinkers, artists and other inventors inspired by his example. Of course, though, success breeds jealousy amongst the city states of Renaissance Italy and beyond. The city’s winding alleys and cobbled squares swarm with sinister Venetian spies, sour-faced priests bearing secret Papal instructions, Milanese mercenaries hoping to earn the king’s ransom the Sforzas have promised for da Vinci’s secrets and even emissaries from France, England and the Ottoman Empire… Exciting times, but dangerous ones, too.

What if all da Vinci’s inventions worked as he had hoped? What if they had been enthusiastically adopted and that their successes had sparked a different kind of industrial revolution? Think of Gibson and Sterling’s ‘The Difference Engine,’ but amidst the sunlit artistic ferment of the Italian Renaissance instead of the smogs and fogs of Victorian England; think of primitive computers running on water clocks and embellished with cupids; think of swashbuckling swordplay as an army of robot knights marches past on their way to the Vatican; think of crossing wits with Machiavelli, avoiding the dangerous charms of Lucretia Borgia, hearing Christopher Columbus tell you about the new world he has discovered…

I am toying with a setting for the Wordplay roleplaying game system, one set in a version of the Italian Renaissance being transformed by weird and wonderful clockpunk technologies sparked by Leonardo da Vinci’s genius. This blog is essentially a design journal, in which I’ll note down random thoughts, plothooks, links to interesting images and websites, notes on play sessions and anything else which comes to mind…


6 Responses to About

  1. Ben says:

    This looks like a magnificent setting! I think the renaissance is terribly under-utilized in role-playing. Any idea when this might be released?

    • Mark Galeotti says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! I can’t promise anything, this being an in-between-life-and-the-day-job kind of project, but I hope to have it out this summer. More news when I can be pretty confident that I’m not going to prove myself wrong!

  2. Ben says:

    I don’t know if this magazine will be of any help…as it’s largely a devoted to renaissance faires. But there is interesting articles on renaissance history in each issue. As well as reading recommendations and so on. http://www.renaissancemagazine.com/

  3. Ben says:

    I’m still really looking forward to this game. I’m even playing through Assassin’s Creed II to get a sense of some of the source material. Is this game still slated for this summer?

    • Mark Galeotti says:

      Sadly, no. Real work got far too much in the way, and I don’t want to rush something out without proper playtesting, proofreading and art. It’s mainly written in draft, though, and coming along. In the fall, I’ll be looking for playtesters, though, so keep your eyes open and you may get to see it this year after all!

  4. Ben says:

    I wish I had a reliable gaming group. If I playtested it, it would be with the Mythic GM Emulator. Oh well.

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