Ladies and gentlemen, allow us to present The Italian Chamber Orchestra, the one and only ensemble without instruments and scores. The only way to play is pretending, and improvisation is our specialty.
We are proud to present our first record: Crescendo Giocoso, a collection of twelve live action role-playing games, written by Italian authors and meant for everyone out there.
A crescendo of scenarios, each for a different number of players, from 2 to 12, and up to 30 with the final game. No matter how many of you there are, or whether you have an hour of free time or four, our role-playlist has a track made just for you. No need for game masters or facilitators: just players.
The red thread that ties our games together is not a theme or a setting, but our design approach. We put the suggestive power of the written word at the heart of it all, to give instructions, set the mood, define the characters and, above all, inspire emotion.
This is the background of our Orchestra, whose roots sink deep into the small but lively Italian scene of so-called ‘chamber’ larp.
Italians do it, for better or for worse.
And Laiv.it is a self-managed space we’ve been using for years to organise chamber larp conventions open to all Italian players. An open stage for ever-new jam sessions.
Oscar Biffi is one of the founders, and has always made his games freely available, so that anyone can download and play them even beyond organised events. These scenarios will always be available this way, in Italian, but now they’re ready to take on a new, original form, to make up half of the collection we’re asking you to support.
Our objective is the same as always: contributing to the diffusion of gaming culture. Beyond national borders, thanks to the English translation by Chiara Locatelli and Jason Morningstar. And beyond the limits of what we take for granted in our approach to larp.
The book will feature completely revised and rewritten instructions, born from years of playtesting and designed to be accessible to new players as well as those with years of experience in realities different from our own.
Different from the Southern Way - New Italian Larp
Our friends at the Chaos League collective launched this manifesto, and we agree wholeheartedly with its contents. This is the spirit we play by.
Authors are bound to their games, and not just sentimentally. Our habit has always been to explain them ourselves to each group of players, possibly in person.
Well, we wanted to break this habit, first of all inside our heads, and put our scenarios in question to rewrite them under a common framework. We’ve made the players the centre of it all, bearing in mind the picture of someone reading the instructions aloud to their peers.
To improvise a game on the fly, or to organize everything down to the last detail, from location to costumes, if that’s what you’d rather do.
‘We’ takes the place of ‘you’. Unwritten rules are put on paper, black-on-white.
Eclecticism, adaptability and scores of advice from those who’ve already played these games over and over. These are our code words.
But why explain when we can show you?
This is Letters not about love, a larp scenario for 2 players written by Oscar Biffi and Alessandro Giovannucci.
It’s an example of the way we’ve set up the tracks of our role-playlist. A gift in exchange of the time you’ve given us by reading about this project. A game written specially for you, still in its playtest phase: want to try it and tell us how you liked it?
Dialogue and exchange, that’s how we do things over at Laiv.it.
- The last sunset by Francesco Rugerfred Sedda for 2 players
In a room like countless others, a couple is called to face a buried past and its far-reaching shadow, following them to the last, crucial sunset. A man, a woman, a pointed gun and distant memories fill the last rays of light as the day comes to its end.
Regret, success, failure, desire: it’s all about choice. Those made by the players will define the present situation, as well as the relationship developed by the characters over the years: envelope after envelope, choice after choice, they will decide which of the eight letters will dictate the couple’s fate. What could its contents reveal?
- First they came by Andrea & Alessandro Giovannucci for 3 players
Berlin, 1939. As suspicion and whistle-blowing become chillingly common and the Third Reich reaches the height of its power in a delirium of blood and steel, the SS comb the streets of working-class neighbourhoods, looking for the last remnants of those deemed undesirable by the regime, those who managed to survive wave after wave of deportations and summary executions. During the coldest winter in human history, three people cower at the barking of bloodhounds and the shrill sound of whistles spurring them on, as they huddle together in a building in the squalid outskirts of the city. They know they must hide lest this be their end. Will they manage to survive? Will they redeem their sins? At what cost?
In First they came, the players will step into the shoes of three opponents of the Third Reich to discover the pain and paranoia carved in the hearts of the German people by the persecutions of the regime. By reliving the characters’ trials, they will have a chance to understand how they came to their predicament. What mistakes and atrocities did they condone to save their own lives? Were they part of the problem, as well?
- Tell-Tale Hearts by Oscar Biffi for 4 players
This night feels endless, paced as it is by the hammering beat of restless hearts. The old patient of a psychiatric clinic has been killed and the head physician privately turns to a detective to find out whether the murderer is to be found within its walls. But the investigation is in danger of opening an unexpected window to darker depths – what lies there may well be more painful than the blood trail itself.
In Tell-Tale Hearts, the mystery of the Old Man’s death is nothing but a means to explore the twisted inner world of the characters. What will happen when others strike at us with harrowing revelations about ourselves? Will we end up believing ourselves murderers, or will we still point our finger to someone else? The game mechanics aim to trigger a spiral of crushing paranoia, as an homage to Edgar Allan Poe.
- Castaways by Oscar Biffi for 5 players
And so it was that War came to the Island they called home. It made them castaways, threw them to the mercy of the winds and the biplanes from the Mainland, as the soaring terrors tear through every spell known to the Archipelago. Before them lies the infinite expanse of the Sea, with neither goals nor hopes in sight. But the waves carry messages in bottles, precious fragments of a past that may yet return meaning to the future.
With five bottles to build an imaginary boat, the players of Castaways are called to weave the prompts given by their character sheets with their own free interpretation into improvised scenes to gift each other. Each participant will see their role grow, change, even turn on its head thanks to the creativity of the group: this absolute narrative freedom will bring to light the true wishes of the characters, and the destination they will ultimately set sail for.
- Under the Mountain by Oscar Biffi for 6 players
The King is dead and five knights pay homage to His pyre. Around them whisper the voices of the People under the Mountain – an ancient enemy, shrouded in darkness, the hand behind the downfall of the Kingdom. Yet the King’s body bears no marks made by fang or claw: it was a blade that struck him down. Did one of the knights truly commit the ultimate betrayal? Or will their loyalty shine bright, a beacon of hope in the darkness under the Mountain?
Under the Mountain strives to recreate an epic, chivalric feeling without the use of spells, monsters or great battles. A chamber heroic fantasy, where grief twists the tales of a glorious past to give form to the King’s memory: even though no single player will portray Him alone, His character is far from absent. The whispers of the People under the Mountain, eager to set the Knights against each other, present an entirely different threat to their devotion to the code of chivalry.
- Winds of change by Oscar Biffi for 7 players
It’s common knowledge that there have been as many wars as there are fairytales, and it’s easy to think there is nothing left to learn about them. Wars between peoples, between friends, between brothers – tales that have been told time and time again. But if one bears a bookmark in the great tome of human folly, it should be the one between Polabians and Vendevians. A nation split apart, like black and white, from one day to the next. Its witnesses are seven youths, seven friends, seven partners in misfortune. What does it mean to grow up together, when the winds of change blow everything apart?
Winds of change is not set in a real country, nor does it focus on the horrors of historical wars. What it does is try and tell the tale of seven lives, made surreal by a world that seems to have lost its mind. The characters are outlined by letters and journal pages, mute testimonies, fragments of existence waiting to be put back together. Four scenes, each set seven years apart from its neighbours, will beat out the merciless flow of time.
- Wanderers above the Sea of Fog by Oscar Biffi for 7/8 players
Three con artists. A fake painting. An almost perfect plan. The Three Signatures are more than a criminal gang – they’re a true family. But what should have been their last great masterpiece is about to become their swansong. What will they choose when they find themselves cornered? Money and the chance to finally start a new life, or a friendship that might quickly turn into a prison?
In Wanderers above the Sea of Fog, each character is portrayed by two people who will alternate during the scene. One player for their real identity, one for their part in the fraud; one for their bonds and feelings, one for their need of money; one for their Brains and one for their Brawn. Even the Gull has a hidden side, however, and ripping him off will prove to be a difficult task.
- The Age of Men by Lorenzo Martinelli for 9 players
Since time immemorial, the people of the Valley have fought a desperate battle against Dragons. A cruel, bloody conflict that would have already been lost for centuries, were it not for the Regents. Thanks to their extraordinary gifts, in the last few months a spark of hope has finally ignited in the hearts of men: the shadows of Dragons no longer darken the skies. But there was no time for celebration, for not long after the victory, the Regent of Zamar and the Oracle of the Monastery were found dead, perhaps assassinated. Amidst the turmoil, a summons comes…
The Age of Men puts forward a mystery to unravel, not to come to the ‘right’ conclusion, but to guide the characters through hard decision after hard decision. The protagonists will first of all need to uncover the truth about themselves, by looking at their own reflection in the eyes of others. Will they be able to trust each other? What will they sacrifice in the name of the greater good? Will they be the heroes humanity desperately needs? The answer is in their choices, set to a pressing, epic rhythm, like in the best fantasy novels.
- Something about us by Barbara Fini & Rafu for 10 players
Florence, 2016. The apartment building in Via dell’Olmo 27 is, like any respectable apartment building, a land of relationships, of quarrels and disputes. Behind every door lies a world the other tenants know nothing about, and even within each set of walls several prisoners coexist, victims of their own incommunicability: couples that grow ever more distant, men and women that may never find solace. From the outside, a young administrator observes the ups and downs of this particular corner of humanity, and wonders: is there any way to come to understand each other, or are we all inevitably doomed to solitude?
The players will step into the shoes of the tenants of Via dell’Olmo 27 and attend two meetings of the residents’ council, bearing the weight of secrets, frustrations, and things they never got to say – maybe to someone important. Between the two meetings, through either luck or cleverness, they may manage to set aside some time to talk eye to eye, though only for a brief moment. There’s no telling what may come to the surface and what will remain unsaid.
- Sturm und Drang by Andrea Rinaldi for 9 or 11 players
«Christ, what the hell is going on? Have you ever seen this kind of shit? Rain, thunder, ice, flames… Fuck, all that’s missing is frogs! All at once, it’s like the sky is falling. Being outside is suicide, what with this damn wall of water that crumples you up and pushes you around. It’s even worse in a car: the hail is just gonna wreck everything and leave you caged in to starve to death. I need a place to save my hide. 66 Stop Groceries? Okay, the third 6 some lunatic sprayed on the sign doesn’t help, but I have no choice. This damn night came straight out of the Devil’s asshole».
In Sturm und Drang the players are called to flesh out and weave together the murky stories of characters at a crossroads in their lives. In the heart of the storm of the century, they’ll bring to light pieces of their past that may push them towards a new beginning, a turning point, or simply to their end, in a postmodern tragedy meant for those looking for thrills and ready to get their hands dirty.
- The Theatre of Major Arcana by Yuka Sato & Valerio Amadei for 9 to 12 players
On a stage that seems to have shut the world out, under the guidance of an absent yet obnoxious Director, a motley acting troupe is ready to audition. Mask over mask, scene after scene, by playing someone different they may come to know themselves, maybe even find a purpose.
In The Theatre of Major Arcana acting is a means to experience emotion, and emotion is a vessel for self-discovery. The players will wear one mask on top of the other, letting the timeless symbology of a tarot deck guide them as they impersonate an actor, only free to be themselves in the scraps of time between a role and the next. When the character is on stage, what is left of the actor?
- Till the end of the line by Oscar Biffi for 2 to 30 players
Lu and Dom see each other every single morning. On the first ride of the day, at the first stop of the line, in the first car of the train. After a five-minute journey, Dom gets off the subway. See you tomorrow. You could set your clock to their meetings, or bet your head on them. The world could end before they changed their routine. It is more than habit, more than tradition. It’s a constant of every possible reality, a pillar of the universe as we know it. What in the world would happen if they ever lost sight of each other?
Till the end of the line is a scenario specifically tailored to accommodate a variable number of players. Let’s say, 2 to 30? The challenge is to all play with a single idea and only two characters, as we multiply the number of parallel dimensions in which the action unfolds. It’s the simplest, most practical solution, and it’s also eerily similar to the gaming equivalent of a speed date.
Oscar lives for books and his dreams usually become ink on paper. But the purpose of a manual is to breathe life into its games, so we believe it should be as interactive as possible. And we’re talking about more than its PDF version, available separately or included with the purchase of a physical copy.
The Italian Chamber Orchestra page on the Laiv.it website is a beginning: each of the twelve scenarios of Crescendo Giocoso has its space there, with a presentation, some basic information and a list of the available handouts. A list that’s ready to turn into a series of download links if our hopes come true and the campaign reaches its goal.
Maria is more than a professional visual artist: she’s a tireless player and over the years she has tried each and every one of these scenarios, from first to last. Her photographic project for the games’ illustrations isn’t just a commission, but an expression of the creative dynamic we see ourselves in – from action comes reaction.
For this reason we are happy to showcase her work, entirely carried out through a vintage twin-lens reflex camera (Rolleiflex 3.5F), with some dedicated rewards: a series of 13 x 13 cm cards depicting the 12 scenario covers, printed on Fuji Supreme photographic paper; or a single 20 x 20 cm baryta paper print of your choice between the covers of The last sunset, Castaways and Something about us.
Not to mention the chance to commission her an edit of an existing photograph, or even an original creation based on your personal project, be it a scenario, a short story, or something else entirely.
Our Orchestra is rich and tight-knit, almost like a big band, but with your help we want to go even further. To bring together more authors, more professionals, more game enthusiasts from all over the world.Basically, while we’re here talking to you about Crescendo Giocoso, we’re already plotting a Volume II, with a full-blown International Chamber Orchestra. But one thing at a time.
From the mysterious College of Wizardry, right in the middle of Poland, our friend Mikołaj did more than write us a preface: just for us, he specially prepared...
La Belle Confusione by Mikołaj Wicher for 6 players
Larp is the next big thing! And we are the ones that do the best larps! We are young and hungry. No-one has ever been where we are now and it seems that the sky is the limit. What is out next game about? Well, it's a secret right now, so just wait for the official announcement. Or don't wait, just sign up!
La Belle Confusione is a game about an (in)famous larp group preparing their next big thing. Six players will struggle with their problems of inspiration and frustration, friendship and rivalry, success and failure. The story is told in six scenes. Each character leads one of the scenes. The game can be played in a single room, or in two rooms depending on the game mode.
A quiet place in hell by Evan Torner for 3 to 9 players
«The bad news? You have all recently died and are now sentenced to eternal damnation. The good news? You have been permitted to enter hell’s real estate market and purchase yourself suitable housing for at least a little reprieve from all the torment. The problem? Not all quiet places are created equal.»
A quiet place in hell is an American freeform in which players play recently deceased characters who now are looking for a place to call home in the afterlife. Players collaborate in drawing their own questionably idyllic homes together, and then tour them with one of Hell’s laconic realtors. One might imagine what goes wrong from there. A dark comedy about the horrors of the real estate market and human pettiness.
Allowing you to play anywhere and with anyone is our main goal, but we’ve always been bound by the habit of printing character sheets and various handouts.
If we reach this stretch goal, our man Lapo, bit-addicted since 1983, will build a freely downloadable App designed to work side-by-side with the manual. You’ll just need to have it on your smartphone, along with the Crescendo Giocoso PDF, to select the best scenario for your group, distribute handouts, and get some advice on how to handle a game with no printers available.So you can truly play on the fly, even in the weirdest of places.
From the seas of Sicily, we’ve fished up a… Mammut RPG. That’s the name of the project by Antonio Amato, another Italian author whose work caught our attention as soon as we first laid eye on it.
∞ minutes by Antonio Amato for 9 players
Something has reduced the ability of sun rays to penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere; the planet is thus slowly dying. The international project Tardigrada III has developed spaceships capable of light-speed travel, to reach the Sun in less than 8 minutes and gather enough light to last for decades. But the trip back won’t be as quick as the departure: it will take fourteen years to get back to Earth. How will the crew of the Infinite behave during the brief interruptions in their cryogenic sleep, each lasting a few hours before the next slingshot?
In ∞ minutes two themes tangle together: one’s responsibility towards humankind, and one’s love of their family. The objective of the game is to search the souls of the crew members and test their breaking point. What are they willing to lose for the success of the mission? How will their feelings influence them? The alarm mechanic puts even more pressure on the players’ shoulders, to push them towards snap decisions.
When we looked across the ocean, we saw a yoke of flying oxen. Yes, the pioneers of Brazilian LARP are the Boi Voador, and we’d like to welcome Luiz Prado with open arms.
Listen at the Maximum Volume by Luiz Prado for 3 to 7 players
Listen at the Maximum Volume was one of the greatest bands of all time. They sold millions of albums, filled up stadiums all around the world, had their picture on the cover of thousands of magazines and became millionaires. But all of this is gone. Fifteen years ago something happened, the band split up, and their life has never been the same again. Now after a long time, they have finally agreed to talk about what happened and see if the time has come for a second chance.
In Listen at the Maximum Volume the players will step into the shoes of the members of a band that is meeting again fifteen years after its breakup, in a reunion that will bring out repressed anger and past joys, and give rise to expectations, grudges and the opportunity to forgive and start anew. Music will be the thread running through the players’ improvisation, thanks to random cards that will define each character’s role in the band and its dissolution. Is a new beginning truly possible?
To make Maria's brilliant graphics even more shiny, there's no better solution than a nice layer of UV varnish. Once we reach this stretch goal, the photos that make up the cover of the hardback edition will become as glossy as if they had been printed on photographic paper. A last touch to make the Crescendo Giocoso book even more special.
Nordic style or the American way? Why choose? Jason and Ole’s scenario has long haunted our minds, and we’d be thrilled to share it with you.
Old friends by Ole Peder Giæver and Jason Morningstar for 4 to 5 players
«Back in the ‘90’s we were a team. We hunted ghosts together and put a lot of souls to rest. Like any team we were a mess of individual flaws, contradictions and rivalry, but it worked. It worked until Sara died. It happened at a haunted school. And that was it. We were done. Disbanded after the criminal investigation. The authorities led the death away as “natural causes”. We all knew better, but kept our mouths shut. What choice did we have? And now here we are: the same school, the same classroom. Renovated, painted, bright. The past has brought us back together. Together for that one last job.»
During Old Friends, play will be punctuated with a series of ghostly possessions. The game begins with a ritual and ends with another, after all the characters have been possessed at least once. The characters will be defined by a handful of cards chosen randomly from a series of categories.
We come full circle with the last scenario, written by Oscar himself. It’s about games of chance, and it would be wonderful to get to this point with the gamble we’ve made on this project.
Martingale by Oscar Biffi for 3 players
The oldest game in the world, beasts race in the field and more beasts bet on them. When you lose you double down: hold on enough and you’ll break even and turn your luck around. It’s a foolproof system, almost mathematical. Almost is a great word, though: you can’t almost be a winner. Nor can you almost be alive, for that matter. At what point does chance stop being a game?
In a Martingale everything is decided by combinations: not just the course of events, but the character sheets as well. No role stays the same from one game to the next. Fate can be a cruel, cheating mistress, like the flip of a coin that may or may not have been rigged.
This new volume will feature words from two pillars of Italian roleplay: Lorenzo Trenti, who has introduced his fair share of players to our community through his essays, his collections and a Flying Circus, and Federico Misirocchi, one of the most persistent builders of bridges between worlds we’ve ever seen.
As you can see from the prototype, the Italian version of Crescendo Giocoso is already a reality. We wanted to be sure that everything was in order before pitching it to you. All it needs is a last general revision and some test prints. As for the English version, we’ve already done some team-building with Chiara, our translator, by working on some of Oscar’s scenarios. We are also happy to be able to count on an editor such as Jason: more than just a guarantee in the field of roleplaying games, his contribution will gift us with the irreplaceable eye for error of a native speaker. So we’re not starting from scratch in this area, either.
Because of this, we’re confident we can meet the delivery deadline: the Italian version will see the light of day in mid-October, in time for our freeform convention and for Lucca Comics Games, while our English debut will come in mid-March 2018, ready for Knutpunkt.
At the core of this project are the passion and will that every player knows all too well. All authors have made their games available for free, and so did Oscar and Maria, mind and soul of the NessunDove publishing label.
We need your support to cover for translation work, printing and shipping expenses: not just to guarantee that every backer gets their book, but to have as many copies as possible for those who may be interested in the future, as well. Furthermore, success in the campaign will allow us to divert some more time and sleep from our day jobs to work on Volume II.
Risks and challenges
As NessunDove (which is Italian for Neverwhere), we’ve already had a positive experience on Kickstarter with Guazzabuglio, Oscar’s novel.
Being a librarian, Oscar is deeply concerned both with meeting the deadline and with offering you a product that looks as good on a shelf as it possibly can.
As for Maria, she trained in stagecraft at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where she learnt always to put quality first. As far as printing and attention to detail go, we’re confident we can do things right.
However, this is our first international project: managing and delivering a double edition is no trivial task. For this reason we’ve sought out the help of Flavio ‘Grumpy Bear’ Mortarino, who matured his experience as an Indie game publisher as the founder of Janus Design and formed several fruitful relationships with foreign authors and companies.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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