Teaching Lighthearted

A few weeks ago I ran a one shot of Lighthearted at Orccon 2020. I tried out a new way to introduce the game's rules and setting and I'd like to share it with all of you. If you want to see how it went you can watch the video above.

How I Teach Lighthearted

Below are the bullet points I use to keep me on track. I'll add notes in red where things are intentionally simplistic as this is just a reference for myself. Something these bullets don't cover are the tone and safety conversation that I tend to work into this discussion. Every table is different and every game is different so those elements tend to be a lot more fluid depending on the session, players and venue.

My Bullets

  • I forgot to do intros and have the players introduce themselves. Probably should add that as the first bullet.
  • Welcome to the 80s, but like the over the top 80’s from music videos and cartoons.
  • You are all students at El Camino Community College of Magic and Technology.
    In this game, we were going to focus more heavily on the college and their rivalry with BU so I spent a little more time here.
  • This is a modern fantasy setting where magic is part of everyday life. Think Jem and the Holograms neon light show but instead of technology it’s magic.
    I usually mention a little more about what that looks like and throw in visuals as part of setting the tone. In the video I say something about shooting rainbow neon lasers out of your hands.
  • Religion is only as important as your characters make it. 
  • The setting has 4 Gods referred to as “The Four”
    • Magus, Celestia, War, and The Traveler. A long time ago they did some stuff. Now it’s just what you say when someone sneezes.
      Here is another spot where I will give some extra info if I think it will be relevant to the session. In this game the characters were going to start out Chosen so I wanted them to have a bit of background when making that choice.
  • Everyone has the ability to do magic, but Mages do it better.
  • All magic is fueled by Radiant energy and different types of magic are tied to different colors of the rainbow.
    Sometimes I'll bring up that magic is difficult and if your character didn't pay attention in biology they probably aren't very good at it, but that's more to give players an excuse to not use magic to solve every problem.
  • Lighthearted has 3 story elements we can focus on: Growing up, Romance, Magic Weirdness
    • Growing Up: we’ll focus on your malfunctions and cliques
    • Romance: will be mostly player driven, but we might look at some love triangles. 
    • Magic Weirdness: gives a more traditional director driven game as we explore magic, lightborn and darkspawn.
      I tried a new method of getting the players to rank these pillars and it was a little confusing. I think next time I'll just put them out on the table and have them put a dot on their first choice.
  • Character Creation
    • Clique
    • Malfunctions, pick 2
    • Strengths, pick 1
    • Stats
    • Name, look
    • Bond
    • Ties from high school
      In the look section there is a list of glamours that characters can have. This question comes up a lot and I always make sure to mention that if they characters aren't "Crazy Rich" their glamours would be shabby.
      In one-shots I tend to use a single bond that all the players have a connection to and we go around the table and let each player establish a detail about them and say what their relationship is like.
  • How are you feeling? Choose one as your emotional state.
    • Red: What’s got you fired up and what are you going to do about it?
    • Orange: What’s got you on edge, who did you piss off?
    • Yellow: What is it you’re looking forward to?
    • Green: What did you come to accept and who is still upset about it?
    • Blue: What's got you so nervous how are you going to deal with it? 
    • Indigo: Why are you feeling sad and who’s been helping you work through it?
    • Violet: what are you trying to protect yourself from and who won’t you let in?
      This was the first time I introduced the Emotional Spectrum in this way. Something I meant to do but didn't was set the first scene then ask how the character was feeling. That would have given some context to the choice.
  • How to play:
    • Say what you want
    • Set stakes
    • Pick trait & emotion
    • Roll both, keep the higher die
    • Dice explode
      The system is pretty simple so I wait to explain it until its relevant. Most of these I'll go through the first time someone needs to roll the dice.


  • Tempted: tempted are mages that dabble in dark magic. Everyone knows the PSAs about not getting tempted.
  • BU: Beaumont University is your rival. They are the only other school in the state that teaches magic and they have an elitist Ivy League vibe.
    These were some setting notes that I wanted to remind myself to describe when they came up. Not every game will need you to explain everything about the setting so add points here based on what is relevant to you session.

And that's how I teach lighthearted for a one-shot. I try to leave out anything that won't be relevant and wait to introduce setting or rules until they are relevant. There are a few things that are true at the top of a session but most things are fair game and open to interpretation. When a player adds something you aren't sure about, ask clarifying questions to see how it works and use that as the truth for that session. In this session a player introduced a "superhero"/military team that was part of the world. There wasn't a reason that couldn't exist so we wen't with it.

Get Lighthearted

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