Culture Feature: RPGs & Authors Beyond the Western Standard


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.

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.


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.


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.


Coyote and Crow restricts player choices in Character Gen by the ethnicity of the player.

This is what the book says on the matter:

A Message To Native American Players

If you have Indigenous heritage from the Americas, we invite you to add your personal knowledge and cultural traditions to your Character and to this game in any way you and your fellow Players see fit. Feel free to include an alternate history of your tribe or nation into this world and make it a part of your game in any way that is enjoyable. Or don't. There's nothing that says your Character has to be from your tribe. That's entirely up to you.

Feel free to change the rules too. While we try to call out situations where you might want to include your traditions and heritage in the mechanics, we certainly won't catch them all. Have a better name for something from your language? Call it that! Have a more fun definition for a Skill that fits with your tribe's history than what we have here? Speak with the Story Guide and change it up. With that said, keep in mind that the intention of this game is not to simply take the reality of our lived world and transpose it onto a future fictional world. This is a work of alternate history fiction. In the world of Coyote & Crow, the last 700 years of our real world history never happened.We encourage you not to overlay your tribe's recent past onto this different future, but instead think in terms of what could be, of what might have been. We'll supply plenty of ideas and suggestions, but it will be totally up to you how much or how little of your tribe or nation you want to bring into the game with you.

Additionally, you may be in situations where you are playing with non-Native players.We'll have specific instructions for them on how to be respectful and to keep the game fun for all. For the most part, you can just direct them to play off the page. That is, if it's in this book, they can do it. If it's not and those players want to do something that may be drifting into a sensitive or inappropriate territory, you'll have to decide whether that's something you'll want to stop play over to discuss. To avoid this potential disruption, we suggest discussing these possibilities prior to your first Session.

If you're Native and a Story Guide, you'll be able to more easily navigate these situations as you'll be leading the game and helping set the tone and scenarios. Nevertheless, it's best to make sure everyone is aware of boundaries before play begins. This is especially true if you're going to play the game at a convention with strangers. Do not ever feel like you have to educate non-Native players at the table. It's their responsibility to play respectfully within the rules or to learn more outside of their time spent at the game table.

A Message To non-Native American Players

If you do not have heritage Indigenous to the Americas, we ask you not to incorporate any of your knowledge or ideas of real world
Native Americans into the game. Not only may this be culturally insensitive, but many of the assumptions you might make would not fit into this timeline. Instead, delve into the details of the world you are given without trying to rewrite history or impose your perspective.

Please avoid the following:
• Assigning your Character the heritage of a real world tribe or First Nation.
• Assigning your Character a Two-Spirit identity.
• Using any words taken from Indigenous languages that aren’t used as proper nouns in the game materials or listed as being part of Chahi (see below)
• Speaking or acting in any fashion that mimics what are almost certainly negative stereotypes of Native Americans.

In the real world, the terms “Indians”, “First Nations Peoples”, “Indigenous”, and others are often used semi-interchangeably. Please
keep in mind though, in this alternate world, none of these words exist or would ever be used. The aforementioned labels all are products of colonialism and in this game, colonization never happened. Instead, people refer to themselves by their given or chosen names, their tribes, the cities they live in, and to some degree, the nations of which they are citizens.

If you are playing with other Players who are Native, do not be afraid to ask respectful questions about their own tribal identities in relation to things that are happening in the game. We suggest you ask those questions away from the game table. Some people are happy to share their stories or their culture, but for many it can be emotional work or deeply personal when often, they're just there to play a game and have fun.

Please remember that “Native American” is a very loose term and that Indigenous peoples are an incredibly diverse group. You wouldn't expect someone from Belgium to know about Irish history. Much the same applies here. Just because you have a Native player in your playgroup does not make them your go-to expert or the person to get permission from. However, don't be afraid to play this game. The world in this book is rich and diverse, full of science and spirituality. The people of this world do all of the same things you do. They love, work, aspire, struggle, hurt, heal, fail and triumph. Play your characters as people, not “Natives,” and you'll be fine.

To give some perspective on this as a US citizen but who is not Indigenous, there's been an ongoing problem of non-Native people incorporating aspects of culture and spiritual traditions without consultation from the original practitioners to do so in a respectful way. In the 70s there was an entire industry of "plastic shamans" of people pretending to be Native American and charging people money to learn about "mystic Indian secrets." There's also the fact that when it comes to pop culture in general, most people telling stories about Native Americans aren't Native themselves, using consultants from that group, or are proper anthropologists/historians/etc in the societies they're talking about.

A good example to pull from this are the Quileute Tribe in Twilight, but when it comes to cultural penetration most people think of them as werewolves in popular culture. Meanwhile, their actual stories and history aren't given much thought.

As the total amount of Indigenous American tribes number in the hundreds, and many tribes now number only a few hundred or thousand, they often don't have enough cultural penetration that the average person can easily research them; there's also the fact that many traditions are intentionally kept secret from outsiders due to fears of incorrect information spreading.

Contrast this with Japanese anime and manga. It's not that hard to research actual Japanese history and culture, or speak with Japanese people on their own culture. But when it comes to a small isolated tribe who only passes down history within their own circle it's all too easy for even a mid-level or big-time writer/media personality to end up giving an incorrect view of what some Indigenous cultural aspect is really like. And have their voice end up as the dominant voice for their people, like what happened with the Quileute.

Naturally this isn't a one size fits all aspect; like mentioned, there's a lot of different tribes who have their own standards on what they're comfortable in sharing, but it is a recurring problem that there are many tribes who don't want outsiders to engage with certain cultural details given all too often it's been used the wrong way. I will say that the "no using non proper nouns from Indigenous languages that aren't in this book" may be a bit hard to do as the English language has so many loanwords.
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