I Cavalieri del Tempio
Summary courtesy of Andrea Angiolino, used with permission.
In a period when foreign role-playing games were quite successful, the release of the luxury manual of "I Cavalieri del Tempio" in 1990 meant an unusual effort of production and design: a large team of authors (Andrea Angiolino, Giuliano Boschi, Agostino Carocci, Massimo Casa and Luca Giuliano) and a company with a large distribution (E.Elle).
The game is based on alternate history. The setting is strictly historical and the kind of magic available reflects the credible supernatural power that could be believed at that age in the real world. Basic manual start with Middle Ages, but the system allows to feature adventures in any historical period or even in the future.
"I Cavalieri del Tempio" is dedicated to the legend of the Templar Knights. The Templars kningts got esoteric knowledge in the East that allow them to separate their "astral body" from the physical one. Characters are members of a secret and esoteric organization born from the ashes of that order when it has been destroyed by the King of France and the Pope. They start the outermost part of the organization, knowing very little of the real purposes of their missions, and they are sent travel in time and space to direct the course of history follwing a secret "Celestial Plan" of the organization.
Concerning the Templar organization and its plan, "I Cavalieri del Tempio" was quite influenced by Umberto Eco's novel "Il pendolo di Foucault", that has been published for the first time in Italy in October 1988. The medieval setting of the game is also under the influence of Eco's first novel "Il nome della rosa" - one of the official adventures, included in the supplement "E.Elle Avventura" n.1, is even set in the ruins of Eco's abbey some years after the burning that destroyed it. Another influential writer has been Franco Cuomo with his "Gunther d'Amalfi cavaliere templare": the authors of the game had fruitful contacts with him while he was writing the nmvel and he also wrote the preface for the second edition of the manual.
The rulebook, in an Old English typeset and with a layout resembling a medieval handwritten code, contains firstly an introduction about role-playing game: a hobby that has never been popular in Italy at mass level, while the book was distributed in regular bookshops all over the country. There is then a detailed introduction to the Templar Knights: the secret and esoteric organization that was born from the ashes of the Templar Order after its trial and destruction.
How to create playing characters is detailed in the "Initiate book". Each player is provided two different character sheet: he has to develope an "astral body" that is aethernal and will travel from a time to the other, between adventures. The other sheet is for the "physical body" in which the astral one will enter at the beginning of each new adventure, if time and place are different from the previous one.
The astral body has personality traits that can influence the actual mehaviour of the character: this is not totally under the control of the player. A character may speak less or more than his players would like, or panic, or do something really dangerous to save a friend... All according checks n the character traits choosen by the player while defining his character.
The physical body is defined by a collection of skills, used to resolve normal actions and checks. Some esoteric powers, compatible with the historical setting and the secrecy of the organization, belong to the astral body. Checks are made under the value of the attribute or skill, using a growing number of 6-sided dice depending on the difficulty: 3 dice are used for easy checks, up to 6 dice for extreme checks. Trying a check on a skill that the character does not have means adding one more die. If in the dice there are three 6s (the "number of the beast") means total failure, while three 1s are the perfect roll.
A glossary going from "Abbey" to "Travels" gives all the informatin that the master and the players may need about everyday life in the Middle Ages. Several standard Non Player Characters (NPCs) typical of that age are supplied, and they can also be used as a basis to choose skills when creating PCs. There are also a few historical famous NPCs, that will also have a role in the introductory adventures: "I Trentasei Invisibili", a mission from the Suth of France to Genoa in Italy, and "Le porte del paradiso", a sequel that will bring characters up to Verona. Several other adventures set in different European nations were published on magazines.