In time to celebrate the incredible success at ENNIES, here we are with the review of Brancalonia, setting for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition created by Mauro Longo, Davide Mana and Samuel Marolla and made by Acheron Books, Heroic Ignorance and Epic Party Games.
It is a setting that unites the Spaghetti Fantasy of the anthological series of short stories Zappa and Sword to the Fantasy by Menare from Heroic Ignorance, in a goliardic union set in a fantastic Italy “on the contrary”.
Here is our review of Brancalonia
Brancalonia is a setting low fantasy, ironic and cialtronesca based on traditions, the folklore, history, landscapes, literature And Italian pop culture. Players take on the role of Rogues, mercenaries and villains who are part of a Clique, a handful of swindlers (ie, the party) that makes raids e Chores up and down the Kingdom of Taglia.
Yes, Brancalonia is set in the Kingdom, a fairy-tale and picaresque world that represents an “upside down” version of Italy (not surprisingly, looking at the map of the Kingdom you will notice a well-known “Boot” on the contrary) which collects the influences of the fantastic Italian (Calvino, Buzzati), costume film of the cinema (The Brancaleone Army, Attila Scourge of God), medieval cantars and epic poems, folklore and fairy tales (Pinocchio, Cunto de li Cunti).
In short, if you are looking for a setting in which to play the role of brave paladins and sorcerers traveling for an epic adventure made of legendary deeds, then this is not the place for you. Brancalonia gathers the adventurers with dented armor drunk on the sides of the road: you will be the Rogues, the scraps of the adventure world, the scoundrels and the cute scoundrels protagonists of the world of the Kingdom of Taglia.
The novelties of the Brancalonia manual
Brancalonia contains all the information necessary to adapt the setting of the Kingdom of Size to the game system of Dungeons and Dragons 5E, introducing mechanics and describing new rules. These additions and changes, rather than being optional, are highly recommended if you want to play Brancalonia because they are extremely environmentally friendly game elements. By any chance you want to deprive yourself of a nice Brawl in the tavern? I really do not think so!
In particular, in the first part of the manual we will find six Stingray and new specific subclasses for all major ones Classes Game of D&D:
- Races: Human, Gifted, Morgante, Wild, Puppet, Malebranche
- Classes: Barbaro (Pagano); Bard (Harlequin); Cleric (Miraculous); Druid (Benandante); Warrior (Swordsman); Thief (Brigante); Magician (Guiscardo); Monk (Friar); Paladin (Knight Errant); Ranger (Showman); Sorcerer (Scaramante); Warlock (Menagram)
Surely some name will have piqued your curiosity: from Gifted, with a special dowry, seventh child of a seventh child or exchanged by goblins in the cradle; to the Morgante, “Half giant” with an appetite commensurate with his enormous size; until to Puppets that, yes, they are exactly what you are imagining, artificial creatures made with “blue wood”. Among the subclasses, how not to mention the Miraculous with its privilege Pull Down Saints; and the Friar belonging to one of the Maneschi Orders that at 6th level acquires the Technique of the Hand of Iron and Feather. In short, there are some very interesting PCs!
Technical descriptions go up to 6th level because Brancalonia is not a setting for great heroes without blemish: the Rogues are low-league rogues, without great powers, villains kicked out of prison to carry out desperate missions that no one else wants to do.
The manual continues by presenting new ones Background (like Azzeccagarbugli and Duro) e Talents (Son of the Stars and Stables, Scudanza, etc.).
Getting to the heart of the Setting Rules, Brancalonia presents some really interesting news, first and foremost Sbraco and the Rest of the Rogue. The Rogues have a different concept of rest and for this reason in Brancalonia the short rest is 8 hours, instead the long rest is 7 days, not of continuous sleep but of rest in a tavern or in their own Covo between a Chore (a mission ) and the other. Precisely in this phase of “pause” the players can give themselves to the Bagordi, ambush or rest peacefully in the Lair, their protected place. Rogues can also upgrade their Lair, which allows them to have several advantages at the start of the next Chore.
Another new regulation is represented by Brawl, a non-lethal encounter that the PCs will have to face often and willingly. What do the Rogues do with killing and bloodshed? But if someone drops their plate of beans on the ground, then maybe they deserve a stool on their teeth! Damage dealt during the Brawl Batoste which, once you get to 6, make the opponent unconscious. Any character during the Brawl, even those who don’t usually fight, can do one Saccagnata as an action; and things become even more lively when you interact with the space around you, as you can use bottles, dishes, torches, chests, trunks, chandeliers and, of course, even characters as weapons.
Finally I would like to mention thePoor equipment. A bit like the Lower Levels of D&D 3.5, in Brancalonia the PCs have at their disposal a bit of a patchy, let’s say below average equipment, with an unreliable appearance or an ambiguous smell (be careful when you do 1!) . In short, the Equipment of the Rogues does not inspire much confidence, but having paid for it so little you can not complain!
After the game mechanics, the manual contains several tips for creating a Brancalonia campaign and then moving on to hasty history of the Kingdom of Taglia, divided into a dozen independent regions, which in turn are further fragmented. And even here some places will remind you of something, such as the Pagan Plain, the Impestata Maremma in the Torrigiana or the Vatican City in the Alazia.
A series of Chores (one-shot / mini adventures) and a collection of Monsters And Opponents.
In addition to the Botte there is more
Brancalonia is a light-hearted setting made up of the same daring and ironic adventures that we have learned to appreciate from Italian literature and cinema. A relaxed setting that immediately captures for the laughter at the game table and for the use of numerous citations to popular culture that can be found not only in the names of places and people in the manual, but also in the fantastic illustrative compartment of the volume. (to underline that Brancalonia is also beautiful “to look at”!).
One of the elements that I appreciated the most, however, is that the setting combines this picaresque (and ignorant!) Tone with all the different shades of folklore and fantastic Italian, taking inspiration from Cunto de li Cunti (which is also very macabre!), The Famous Invasion of the Bears in Sicily by Buzzati (one of the authors who most managed to insert the fantastic in the Italian newspaper by talking about universal and timeless themes), Baudolino of Eco up to Ladyhawke, I will fantasize And The craft of weapons. In short, to define Brancalonia, in a stereotypical way, only as a manual to beat people up and laugh at the accents at the game table would be wrong because the setting is much deeper and more stimulating than it may seem at first glance.
Another feature I would like to dwell on is the fact that Brancalonia is not only its setting, but also a system of rules which adapts perfectly to the game setting and atmospheres. It is not easy to create a system that adheres well to the setting used starting from D&D, but the creators of Brancalonia have succeeded perfectly in the intent thanks to the dynamics of the Brawl, the Sizes, the Sbraco and the Bagordi that make the game fun, smooth and in line with adventures designed for low-level PCs.
Brancalonia is a well made product, attention to detail and that combines the brilliant idea of a light-hearted and ironic setting in a fantastic Italy with a well-crafted set of additional rules for Dungeons and Dragons 5E.
The setting allows to realize tragicomic campaigns that combine fun and irony with fairy tales, creatures and stories of the Italian folk tradition, creating daring adventures certainly not epic, but light-hearted, irreverent and full of antics. In short, anoriginal setting which gives a lot of game ideas!
The mechanics introduced in the manual give way to approach D&D in a different way than usual, with low-level characters (and without great powers), poor in resources, in a setting in which, at the slightest conflict of position, weapons are not pulled out to kill the opponent.
In Brancalonia’s originality there is also one of its (hypothetical) flaws, namely the risk of making everything fall into banality and ridicule, with sessions full of stereotypes. But this is not a problem with the manual itself, which in fact spends many words to describe the atmosphere of the setting, providing tips and tricks to make the game enjoyable and fun for everyone.
Last, but not least, I cannot fail to mention the quality of the manual, full of details, citations, clear (there is also a very useful analytical index) and with illustrations of excellent quality.
Brancalonia is a setting for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition created by Mauro Longo, Davide Mana and Samuel Marolla and created by Acheron Books, Heroic Ignorance and Epic Party Games. It is a Spaghetti Fantasy setting set in a fantastic Italy “on the contrary”: low fantasy, ironic, charismatic and based on traditions, folklore, history, landscapes, literature and Italian pop culture. The manual is an excellent product that manages to combine an original and fun (but never banal!) Setting with new mechanics perfect for playing the Rogues, nice low-level villains who travel far and wide in the Kingdom of Size.
Setting that combines irony with an original representation of the fantastic Italian, taking inspiration from artistic history and folklore
Interesting game mechanics that are well suited to the setting (Brawl, Bettola Games, Bounties, Poor Equipment, etc.)
High quality illustrations and editing
It is easy to fall into banality and stereotype. Just follow the advice in the manual and explain the setting well to the players