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Learn real sign language as you ride magical birds in tabletop RPG Overisles

Skyward Word.

Inspirisles, last year’s innovative tabletop RPG that taught players real sign language as they ventured through a Celtic-inspired fantasy world, is getting a sequel that promises further opportunities to learn sign language as you play.

Overisles is built on the same Shaping system as Inspirisles, which requires players to perform gestures drawn from American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) in order to use their characters’ magical powers and solve various puzzles. The sign language element is combined with a conventional use of three six-sided dice to resolve tests.

The upcoming tabletop RPG heads to a new setting above the clouds, formed by an archipelago of floating islands known as Nests. The islands are home to magical birds called Nimbus, which players will be able to fly between the Nests.

The skyward setting sees the expansion of Shaping to include a new Feathering mechanic, which allows players’ characters to strengthen their relationship with Nimbus and communicate with them mid-flight by using sign language gestures.

As in Inspirisles, characters are teenage descendants of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere known as Pendragons, who are able to command magical powers as they fight back the spread of negative Disbelief by the corrupted Glow - which here threatens to bring the floating islands crashing to the ground.

Designer Richard Oxenham said that Overisles would include further contributions from members of the d/Deaf community and creators specialised in family-friendly tabletop roleplaying, including writers and artists. Oxenham was inspired to create Inspirisles by more than a decade of experience working with a UK Deaf charity and organising a Bristol-based Dungeons & Dragons group for Deaf teenagers, Hatchlings.

Like Inspirisles, Overisles will include video tutorials produced by Deaf consultants to aid players in learning ASL and BSL. The game will feature brand new sign language material for those who’ve already played the previous RPG.

Overisles will launch on Kickstarter later today, February 1st, with a release date yet to be announced. The 100-plus-page book will include the rules, background on the world’s history and more than 20 hex maps for use in gameplay.

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About the Author
Matt Jarvis avatar

Matt Jarvis


After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.

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