Picture this: you’re settled down to begin a tabletop roleplaying game session, but instead of a long drawn out campaign involving elves, dragons, and goblins, you’ll be encountering tikbalangs, diwatas, elementals, in settings familiar to you as a Filipino.
This is something that’s slowly sinking into the mainstream thanks to the burgeoning DIY Tabletop Roleplaying Game (TTRPG) scene in Southeast Asia. Under the banner of RPGSEA, the community is composed of independent creators who’ve taken it upon themselves to bring the richness of their respective cultures to the (game) table.
“Many active creators are Filipinos, and each of us brings our unique perspectives and insights,” says Jammi Nedjadi of Sword Queen Games on the RPGSEA scene. We previously asked D&D players to tackle Nedjadi’s one-shot dystopian offering The Dying World. “Asian cultures haven’t been well represented in TTRPGs, but that’s changing and really exciting!”
We asked the Sword Queen themselves for five recommendations that work for TTRPG beginners and veterans alike. So what are you waiting for? Gather a group, download a playbook, and start a campaign!
Nedjadi suggested her own game, a dystopian post-Cyberpunk game that incorporates supernatural Filipino folklore, with mentions of Elementals enslaved using technology. What we like about this is that it supports the ‘playing to find out’ framework, where a set narrative is provided to start, with the rest left open to interpretation. The game runs for 2-6 sessions, and you can run it with or without a game moderator.
No. of players: Not mentioned
Items needed: Balikbayan: Returning Home playkit, tokens
Imaginarium is a cooperative storymaking game where you build a narrative through the revelations of the major arcana. Players pair up to save the world as either a dreamer, who shapes the world by taking initiative through their actions, or a phantom, who affects the dreamer’s actions through tarot. This is a one-shot that takes around four hours, give or take.
No. of players: 2-9
Items needed: Tarot cards (Deck of major arcana)
Image via tadhana.itch.io/karanduun
Karanduun is an Epic RPG inspired by modern Filipino folklore and culture. Following the structure of an epic, players are young, lowly heroes who must make their legends known by dismantling God (which represents oppressive systems and tyrants). The setting is heavily inspired by Filipino provinces and cities. Also, how cool is it that the Game Master in this is called the Alamat Chanter?
No. of players: 4-6
Items needed: Core rulebook, reference sheet, and six-sided dice
Price: P963 but there are still limited community copies available for free!
Honestly, the creator description blew us away so we’re placing it below, as is. Please do us a favor and play the game.
“This game is system-light, modular world and story building game that is all about playing the Drivers of transformable public transportation vehicles in a talyerpunk – more junkpunk, definitely Pinoy-version of the Philippines in the wake of invading alien forces who wish to subjugate mankind with “love”. We decided to go halo-halo with our systems, mixing bits of Tunnel Goons, Macchiato Monsters, the Black Hack First Edition, PtbA, and Lancer!”
No. of players: Not mentioned
Items needed: Public Utility Mechs playkit
Price: P241, but free community copies are still available
Image via bukojuice.itch.io/alamat-ng-astig
Written entirely in Filipino, Alamat ng Astig is exactly what its title leads you to expect. Live your ‘90s Filipino action star dreams in the fictional world of Lumambayan by fighting with tikbalangs, diwatas, and other creatures from Filipino mythology.
Editor’s note: A reverse spelling of the word tigas (literally translation: hard), astig was used a lot to describe action stars like FPJ (today we learned).
No. of players: 3-5 players (2-4 players and 1 Game Master)
Items needed: Alamat ng Astig playkit
Header by Thea Torres
Gaby is the full-time Editor of Underdog and part-time (ok, also full-time) stan. Her brother says that she is only cool on paper and much of her time is spent trying to get her dog to notice her. More of her work can be found in Young STAR, CNN Philippines Life, Rookie, and Twitter publication @tybutdisagree. Tweet her @gabyabbyy.
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