Culture Feature: RPGs & Authors Beyond the Western Standard

Libertad

Hero
Although the history of tabletop roleplaying has been more diverse than a lot of people give credit for, many attempts at inclusion have often come from an outsider’s perspective. Implementations of non-Western European groups in particular have had a very mixed implementation. These range from well-intentioned creators who can still fall prey to inaccuracies and stereotypes, to those with less noble goals inserting regressive politics into their works.

There’s been a popular resurgence in the discourse of bringing in a greater range of voices and talent in professional publishing, and I figured that a topic compiling works outside the white, Amero-Western centric worldview would be a good resource for people.

The selection of books (and books to be in the case of KickStarters) have two major criteria: they must detail or showcase a setting or scenario taking place in or inspired by cultures outside the socially dominant perspectives of the hobby, namely non-Christian, non-Western European ones. It must also be authored or have major contributions from people of backgrounds in such cultures, or in an outsider’s case be someone sufficiently immersed in said culture(s) that they have enough insider knowledge to come at it from a more informed perspective. Others are free to contribute with their own product suggestions, provided they meet the criteria listed.

While I intended to have artwork showcasing each title, I am unable to resize images on Imgur for some reason, so instead of filling this post with blown-up artwork I’m just including the title, description, and URLs for now.

I should note that I originally published this thread on RPGnet, and received quite a bit of help from other posters in compiling a more up-to-date collection.

Adventurer’s Guide to Zakhara (5e)
Product Link
About: A 5th Edition conversion of the classic al-Qadim setting that employed Arab writers, editors, and sensitivity readers.

Atlantis: the Second Age
Product Link.
About: A sword and sorcery inspired game drawing from a variety of real-world influences. Its publisher, Khepera Publishing, is a diverse team of people of color.

Bastion
Product Link (Mythic D6)
About: Afro-Centric fantasy horror game. Its publisher, Khepera Publishing, is a diverse team of people of color.

Boricubos: the Lost Isles (5e, Pathfinder)
Product Link (also has Pathfinder 1e & 2e products)
About: A fantasy setting based off of the myths and legends of the pre-Columbian Caribbean, particularly Puerto Rico, it takes place in a once-idyllic archipelago plunged into war due to the kin-slaying of one of the gods, and whose mortal followers find themselves pushed to take a side in the ensuing conflict. The main writer is Puerto Rican, and has contributions from other Hispanic authors.

Coyote & Crow (Unique System)
Product Link
About: An sci-fi alternate future world set in the Americas where colonization never happened. Created and managed by Indigenous authors of various backgrounds.

Descendants of the Three Sisters: Native American Clans of the Northeast (VtM)
Product Link
About: A Storyteller's Vault supplement for the 20th Anniversary edition of Vampire: The Masquerade. Written by Lisa J. Ellwood (Lenape Indian Tribe & Nanticoke Indian Tribe, Delaware). Material also appears in an expanded form in a greater "Dark New England" work written in part by the same author.

DesiQuest (5e)
KickStarter Link.
About: a KickStarter campaign to fund an actual-play podcast with an all South Asian team. One of their backer tiers includes the release of a world guide detailing the homebrewed setting in which they're playing.

Doikayt: A Jewish TTRPG Anthology
Product Link
About: an anthology of short tabletop roleplaying games about Judaism or Jewish themes, written and illustrated by Jews.

Double Cross
Product Link
About: A setting in modern-day Japan where a virus can impart superpowers on the infected, at risk of eroding one’s sanity. Published in Japan.

Dream Askew / Dream Apart (PbtA)
Product Link
About: A Powered by the Apocalypse RPG detailing two settings, a post-apocalyptic queer community and a 19th century Jewish shtetl. Written by queer Jewish authors.

Ehdrigohr (FATE)
Product Link
About: A fantasy/horror setting for FAT inspired by the folklore and myth of the Lakota people as well as other Indigenous and tribal groups. Its author, Allen Turner, has Lakota heritage.

Godsend Agenda
Product Link
About: Superhero RPG of post-modern mythology. Its publisher, Khepera Publishing, is a diverse team of people of color.

Golden Sky Stories
Product Link
About: An RPG where players take on the role of henge, animals with magical powers they use to solve problems around a small town. One of the authors is Japanese.

Gubat Banwa: The Warring States of Kitatak
Product Link
About: A tactical martials fantasy RPG inspired by the pre-colonial Philippines, where the PCs are are part of a nation's warrior caste. Written by a Filipino author.

Harlem Unbound (Call of Cthulhu)
Product Link
About: A Call of Cthulhu setting set in 1920s Harlem. Written by African-American authors.

Haunted West (Unique System)
Product Link
About: A Weird West setting focusing on the perspectives of the groups who have been overlooked during this era along with well-researched information. Written by a diverse set of writers from various cultures.

Heroes of Wakesong (5e)
Product Link
About: A collection of D&D subclasses inspired by various non-European cultures, the first book of a larger diverse setting. Hired consultants and artists from various backgrounds for respectful inclusions.

Historica Arcanum: the City of Crescent (5e)
Product Link
About: An historical fantasy setting that takes place in 19th Century Istanbul with a secret yet thriving underground community of the supernatural. Written by Turkish authors.

Islands of Sina Una (5e)
Product Link
About: A fantasy setting based off of pre-Colonial Phillippines, written by Filipinos.

Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall
Product Link.
About: A 1920s setting centering on a Chinese family fighting jiangshi and racism threatening their community. Written and produced by a team of mostly Asian Us-Americans and Canadians.

Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel (5e)
Product Link
About: An anthology of 13 adventures centering on non-European cultures written by authors hailing from said cultures.

Karanduun: Make God Bleed (Unique System, PbtA/Exalted Inspired)
Product Link
About: A world where the PCs are heroes rising up to fight God or whoever is ruling the heavens. Written by a Filipino author.

Koboa (5e)
Website Link.
About: a setting in progress inspired by precolonial South America. The creator working on it is Latino along with a team of South American artists.

Koryo Hall of Adventures (5e, Pathfinder, OSR)
Product Link
About: A fantasy setting based off of medieval Korea focusing around an adventurer’s guild built to protect the common folk from evil creatures that once ruled the land. The author has lived in Korea for 10 years.

Lorn Song of the Bachelor (OSR)
Product Link
About: An OSR adventure module inspired by crocodile stories of Southeast Asia, particularly Sarawak. Its author is Malaysian.

The Lost Lights Campaign Setting (5e/PF2e)
Publisher Link
About: A setting detailing 2 different continents: one recovering from a war between celestial overlords, the other ruled over by a techno-theocracy coping with the loss of their gods. The setting is influenced by Latin American and Middle Eastern mythologies, written by people coming from those cultures.

Nejavina (5e)
KickStarter Link
About: An upcoming D&D setting rotted in Slavic mythology. Has a design team of people from Central and Eastern European Slav backgrounds.

Paxque Lexque: Kingdoms of Africa (Dungeon Crawl Classics)
Product Link
About: An expansion of the Paxque Lexque historical fantasy setting, covering African civilizations during the age of Rome. One of the authors is Nigerian.

Pindorama (StoryPath/Scion)
Product Link
About: A 2nd party supplement for Scion detailing a Brazil where the gods and their servants walk the Earth. Written by a Brazilian author.

Ramayana Tales: Search for the Sanjivni (5e)
Product Link
About: An adventure inspired by a story from the Ramayana. Rajib Kailta is the author and lives in Mumbai, India.

Shadows of Korea (5e: Genefunk 2090 setting)
Product Link
About: An expansion for the cyberpunk setting GeneFunk 2090, detailing the city of Busan and its various corporate and underworld factions. Has a Korean cultural consultant.

Shinobigami - Modern Ninja Battle RPG
Product Link
About: A one-shot RPG focused around ninja groups fight each other in a cold war. Written and published in Japan.

Summon Skate
Product Link
About: An RPG set in modern Japan about magicians who fight against monstrous invaders by summoning mystic allies to fight them. Published in Japan.

The Sunken Isles (5e)
Product Link
About: An upcoming fantasy world set in the tropical Isles of Manaki. Hired cultural consultants from Honua Consulting and Purple Mai’a, two groups who focus on issues relevant to Indigenous Hawaiians.

Tadhana: A Filipino Tabletop RPG (Unique System)
Product Link
About: Set in a universe inspired by Filipino folklore, urban legends, and mythology, making use of a diceless card-based system. Written and designed by gamers in the Philippines.

Tenra Bansho Zero
Product Link
About: A “Hyper Asian” Japanese world of magic and technology, of samurai and Taoist sorcery, of powerful mecha and culture geisha. Created by a Japanese artist and game designer.

Thousand Thousand Islands (OSR)
Product Link
About: A series of zines inspired by Southeast Asian culture and folklore. Its authors are Malaysian.

Unbreakable Series (5e & Various Systems)
Product Link
About: A collection of adventures drawing heavily from Asian myth and folklore by writers from those various countries.

Undying Corruption (5e)
KickStarter Link
About: a setting and adventure path where the PCs are exorcists in Danguk, a country based on Korean folklore and history. Team is made up of Korean and Asian diaspora staff.

The Wagadu Chronicles (5e/video game)
KickStarter Link
About: A two-part 5e Afrofantasy setting and MMORPG, detailing a world where people from the nebulous Upper Realms “fall” and are reincarnated into the land of Wagadu. Author is of Italian-Ghanaian heritage.

Weapons of the Gods (Action!)
Product Link
About: An RPG modeled after the Chinese Wuxia genre. Written by Western authors with guidance from a Chinese cultural consultant.
 
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There's some overlap here with my thread on Southeast Asian RPGs...

(Disclosure: I am a Southeast Asian RPG creator)


This thread is somewhat out of date...for instance, one of the creators has changed their name to Rae Nedjadi and has also successfully funded the Apocalypse Keys RPG (to be published by Evil Hat)!
 
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W.H. Arthur is a designer from Hong Kong probably best known for the crowdfunded The Sol Survivor, a GM-less RPG where several players collectively tell the story of a sun that was shot down from the sky (as told in Chinese mythology) and is trying to make its way back to the heavens. It's available on itch and also can be ordered in print on DrivethruRPG.

Another notable game by Arthur is The Steadfast and the Rebellious, about citizens of a city who must decide how to respond to its tyrannical ruler - a very timely topic when it was written in 2019.

W.H. Arthur also designs superhero RPGs, including Molotov College, a Belonging Outside Belonging game illustrated by Xrystina Marcos, an RPG artist from the Philippines who has worked on several RPGSEA games including Karanduun.
 





Libertad

Hero
Sanctum Media is working with Ashraf Braden, a Ugandan game designer, in making Dungeon Crawl Classics content based off of the folklore of his country.

The first two entries, are monsters, the Kakondo and the Lukwata.
 

Jahydin

Hero
While I intended to have artwork showcasing each title, I am unable to resize images on Imgur for some reason, so instead of filling this post with blown-up artwork I’m just including the title, description, and URLs for now.
Not sure if this helps, but when I post pictures here, I just resize them after pasting by clicking and dragging the corner.
 

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