Bay Area man creates adventure game based on St. Francis of Assisi’s death mask

Larry Brucia has never shied away from a fun adventure. As a hobby, the resident of San Anselmo has written and created adventure games connected to history of treasures that drove him and his friends to travel in search of buried and lost ancient cities.

Now he’s letting others get in on the action. Brucia, 71, is launching the Mask Trilogy adventure game, centered around finding the location of the death mask of Saint Francis of Assisi by using clues and other things found in his historical fiction novel, “Secrets of the Carsarians,” poetry book, “ The Anthology and Poetic Musings,” and reimagined photographic scenes out of the life of Francesco Bernardone — all done under his artistic name, Lorenzo. The photographs a part of the trilogy will be shown in future shows in Italy. Go to

Q Did you grow up with artistic passions?

A I have loved photography my whole life. My first camera was a little box camera my mom gave me when I was 8 years old. In college, I was studying to be a doctor, and in the library I found an old book of paintings by Rembrandt. They almost look like photographs but he took a religious subject and brought in human beings and painted them. It inspired me at that moment that’s what I wanted to do in photography and started working on that. Along the way I fell in love, got married, had two children and felt like being an artist was going to be a real challenge and didn’t know if I would make it. So I went into business.

Q what changed?

A My children grew up and I sold off a number of my businesses. When I was 64, I wanted to do some photography. I happened to be in Europe. My sister took me to La Verna, Italy, a Franciscan monastery. I walk into this building and there’s this fresco of a man, Francesco Bernardone, a young man from Assisi, Italy. He was a typical young man, and he and his friends went off to war. He saw the horrors of war, got captured and when he was coming back, he heard the bells of a leper. Instead of him moving away, he hugged the man and it was an epiphany for him — helping other people was more important than anything else. He did that for 22 years until he died and two years after his death, he was cannoned St. Francis of Assisi. I was curious about this man: How did he go from what he was in his younger years to who he ended up becoming? He kept true to it, and that’s the remarkable part of it.

Q How did it become the game?

A While reading about him, my mind — I have an active imagination — started creating scenes out of this man’s life. The whole idea is with the world so pressed upon us, it’s wonderful to have something fun to do. You can stay at home and play the game and see where it’s located, or you can physically go to try to find the mask.

Q How does it feel to release this?

A I held off on artistic pursuits because I had responsibilities that I felt were more important than my own personal artistic expressions. But now that I have the ability to express them, it really has opened a much larger scope of imagination and ideas than I ever thought I had. Getting older didn’t necessarily dampen my passion on these things; it seemed like it made it greater because I had more life experiences to write about, which I felt like enriched what I had done.

Q Does your Italian heritage play a part in this?

A My father is Sicilian and my mother is Swiss Italian and my father became an Italian citizen about two years before he died and when he became one, my two sisters and I became one, and our children. I think subliminally I wanted to probably create something based on Italian history or Italian stories. I went to Assisi while I was writing the book and I would stop and ask people why are you here? Most of them said they wanted to be where this man lived, because they respected the fact that he didn’t put much value on material things and gave them away to others who needed it more than him. We all understand the value of that.