Renaissance is designed to support three types of adventures:

  • Intrigue, where characters will solve mysteries and foil plans;
  • Exploration, where characters will travel to strange places beyond the known world; and
  • Horror, where players will fight strange and supernatural forces.

And, as a counter-point, there are a few common types of adventure that Renaissance doesn't focus on:

  • Dungeon Crawls, where players methodically clear a maze; and
  • Challenge Sequences, where players participate in an orchestrated series of fights.


In Intrigue games, players will be presented with problems more subtle than an enemy to slay or magical item to retrieve; they'll be pointed at subtle mysteries, or thrust into political plots.

The Kingdoms of Men are designed to be a fertile setting for an intrigue game, as is the Kingdom of Foam and Cloud.

The future of the Emerald Plane depends at least in part on the balance of power in the Kingdoms of Men; if the Western Kings can consolidate their power, the Kingdoms may become an ally of the Commonwealth — if that alliance could be expanded to include the Raptor Empire, it would be powerful enough to solidly defeat the Shaded Sea and Goblin Empire. However, if the Eastern Kings come to power, they might ally with the Goblin Empire or Shaded Sea, creating a powerful and dangerous force that could threaten the Commonwealth and the Protectorate. And the Kingdoms are an unstable, complex nation, rife with plots, intrigues and competing factions, creating plenty of murdered princelings and stolen artifacts for the party to investigate — and plenty of opportunities for the party to shift the balance of power with careful blackmail or a discrete assassination.

The Kingdom of Foam and Cloud can also be an excellent setting for an intrigue game, though one with lower stakes. The Kingdom of Foam and Cloud has a traditionalist faction that is not above violence and blackmail.


In an Exploration game, players will explore mysteries at the edges of the known world and beyond.

Though most of the Emerald Plane has been explored, much of the world beyond remains unknown to residents of the Commonwealth. The Ruby Plane extends well south of the Raptor Protectorate, and it's distant extents remain unexplored even by the Raptors. There are also opponents here: conquerors from the Goblin Empire explore along the eastern coast, and raiders from the Shaded Sea land along the west.

But the Ruby and Emerald Planes represent only a portion of the northern hemisphere of the world; who can say what strange and wonderful lands wait for to the east, west or south? And, of course, there are mysteries hidden beneath the surface of the world; who knows what mysteries the Leapers and Deep-Explorers have discovered, or what still remains unknown in the other deep places of the world?


In horror games, players are confronted with strange and overwhelming forces entirely beyond their understanding — when we say "horror," we mean less the blood-drenched type, and more tales of the weird.

Sometimes, horror games begin with the players being presented with a subtle clue or minor mystery that pulls them into a larger plot: the players might be recruited to investigate a murder, for example, only to discover that it was the work of a hidden cult and that the murder was part of a plot to release an ancient evil. Other times, they begin with the characters being directly confronted by an out-of-context problem; a nearby town might be consumed by trees that sprout to full growth in moments, bursting through streets and erupting from buildings, or a mysterious blizzard might descend from the mountains and smother a town.

Horror games often feature a fair amount of investigation in their early moments; players often start out with little idea what is happening or how to stop it. During this phase, infiltrators, socialites, and provisioners need to gather clues, which analysts will then use to decipher the mystery that the party has been presented with. Solutions can also vary: the party's combat-character might be required to fight a frozen horror or supernaturally-fortified cult leader; or a socialite character might be required to outwit a spirit and use it's bind to force it to relent; or an infiltrator might have to use their athletic skills to run a supernatural gauntlet to replace an ancient token at an altar.

Dungeon Crawls

Dungeon crawls are an old tradition in pen-and-paper RPGs. In the archetypical dungeon crawl, the players are told of some valuable treasure or building threat that waits deep within some ancient, forgotten structure — a king's treasure buried under a collapsed castle, a magical relic hiding deep within an abandoned temple, or an evil mage raising an army of the dead from a crumbling mage's tower.

As the name implies, dungeon crawls usually take place in a single location. These "dungeons" are often maze-like, which makes exploring them a time-consuming process. Twists, turns, dead-ends, and hallways full of doors give the players plenty of small choices to make, followed by measured consequences — often in the form of traps, puzzles, or monsters. Encounters with monsters are frequent; combat takes up a large portion of most dungeon crawls.

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with Dungeon Crawls — they can be perfectly fun and engaging, and can feature a good balance of clever puzzles and combat encounters. And you certainly can run one using these rules — but you're going to find it an awkward fit.

One major problem is that dungeon crawls only engage a few of the five roles; Socialites, Analysts and Provisioners have almost nothing to do during a dungeon crawl, and even Infiltrators may be left with little to do beyond pick the occasional lock—if the purchased ranks in Disable Device. River, for example, would have nothing whatsoever to do during a dungeon crawl; his array of social skills, his legal and historical expertise, and his wealth will contribute almost nothing to a quest to defeat a zombie horde in an ancient dungeon. In fact, he'd be lucky just to survive: he doesn't wear armor, his Fray is only 50, and his DUR is only 25.

The wound, stress and healing systems are also poorly suited to dungeon-crawling. They're designed to dramatic impact and long-lasting mechanical consequences to the handful of combat encounters in a larger adventure; if you use the wounding and healing systems as presented in a dungeon crawl, which will be full of combat encounters, you'll find that your players are rapidly rendered too crippled to continue, with little ability to heal themselves.

Challenge Sequences

Challenge sequences are similar to dungeon crawls; they just aren't confined to a dungeon. In a combat sequence, players are given an over-arching long-term objective — say, to stop an evil witch from plunging the world into eternal winter — coupled with a starting-point. Players then have to overcome a series of challenges to reach their objective.

While a challenge sequence could in principle feature any kind of challenge, in practice, they often focus around a series of large, cinematic fight scene, broken up with short social scenes and travel sequences.

Much as the diversity of roles and characters can be a problem for dungeon crawls, they can also bedevil challenge sequences. A challenge sequence that centers around a series of combat encounters will also leave many characters threatened, frustrated and disengaged; non-combat characters will spend most of the game watching combat-specialists win fights, and they will be at risk of death if they should try to join in. Even the combat characters will eventually loose out; if the fights aren't carefully-paced, the combat specialists will quickly find themselves too wounded to be effective.

A challenge sequence that features a more diverse array of challenges, designed to engage more of the different roles present in Renaissance, will run into the opposite problem; any given party might be missing a role, and so might get stuck on any given challenge. (One reason that challenge sequences consisting of combat encounters work so well in other games is because those games are balanced around combat effectiveness, and every character is a combat character.)