AAPI Month Games List: TTRPGs and More by Global Designers
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Celebrate AAPI Month With Games Created by Global Designers
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month comes to the gaming table with martial artists, volleyball matches, messy mechs, monsters, and more.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the U.S., and in honor of the incredible work done by Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander designers, I pulled together a list of games for you to check out. These games are created by designers who live across the globe and are not limited by location.
From Gubat Banwa’s martial arts warrior RPG to ARC’s Doomsday-clock timing system, there’s an incredible breadth to the design sensibilities, themes, and genres featured. Hopefully you’ll find your next favorite game.
Reach of the Roach God
“Reach of the Roach God is a tabletop RPG campaign set in the deep places of the earth. Explore villages and temples; follow trails through karst and cave; breathe in the darkness; parley with a god in chitin. The first full-length adventure book from A Thousand Thousand Islands, a Southeast Asian fantasy worldbuilding project. Beautifully illustrated, with a system-neutral design, for use with the fantasy tabletop RPG of your choice. Inspired by the vast caves of Southeast Asia: places of underground rivers, entombed jungles, ancient bones, holy spirits, and many, many roaches.”
“Mangayaw is an RPG for one facilitator (the Mangaawit) and at least one other player. Players act as Binmanwa, adventurers and survivors in an archipelago of bloodshed and goldlust. This game is inspired by Philippine legend, folklore, culture, and history.”
Into Blue Midnight
“Inspired by the voyage of the bathysphere and the world’s first deep sea dive, Into Blue Midnight is a GM-less two-player Wretched and Alone game that lets you play out the last hour of two scientists within the bathysphere when everything goes wrong. All it requires are two players, a single six-sided die, a standard deck of cards, a block tower, some tokens, pen and paper, and a container of water.”
“Pipedream is a #SWORDDREAM roleplaying game of detectives, problem-solving, and rural mysteries in a fantastic world; or a farcical drug comedy. You may play it as both.
“The game is played as a conversation between a Referee and 1-4 Wisefellows (halfling detectives). The Referee describes the scenes and supporting characters, and presents problems and threats that players are faced with. The other players portray the Wisefellows and decide on their actions as they experience surprising adventures in the world of Irisfields.”
Lair of the Frog God
“Horse Girlis a solo GM-less journaling game in which you will document your surgical and mental transformation into a horse by the love of your life.”
Something From Your Lover
“Something From Your Loveris a collaborative storytelling game around the tales of seven boys, your soulmates from a different life. Play a generative intimate game of being, becoming, falling in love and its different colors consequences and reveries.”
“It is the far future. Earth has been abandoned for generations. Humanity left for brighter stars, richer planets, and shining colonies. To fuel their dreams of a better tomorrow, the humans turned to the Elementals and their magic. This magic is an invaluable source of power and labor. Machines were created to harness and enslave the Elementals.
“You were one of these Enslaved Elementals. You are machines that echo the legendary magic you once possessed. You and your friends are among the few who have managed to return to Earth. What remains of Earth’s cities is falling apart. The Corp won’t let go of you so easily either. But shining through the cracks is a magic that is ready to be reborn.
“Can you outrun the Corp long enough and bring forth the Rebirth of magic? Will you survive this revolution you’ve started, or will the Corp recapture you? We play the game of Balikbayan: Returning Home to find out.”
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“Masak Ayamis a short TTRPG about being a Chicken empowered with various Powers and attempting to escape a scrumptious fate. Assemble the Chickens, prep the kitchen, and get set to engage in this ridiculous and dramatic tale of escape. Will they make it free? Will they be caught and cooked? Or will their powers overcome them? It is up to you to discover this fate!”
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“Exquisite Biome is a game about the symbiosis of the natural world. Create an ecosystem, populate it with strange and wondrous animals, and see how they interact with one another.”
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The 99¢ Chamber of Death
“The 99¢ Chamber of Death is a role playing game for two or more people. You’ll assume the role of Warriors bent on stopping the Big Boss from obtaining the Power to rule New Jungle Village. It’s a place where your dice are only as dangerous as your words. The 99¢ Chamber will ask you to fight and rhyme against evil.”
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“Cockamania! is a fantasy adventure setting that lies at the heart of Southeast Asian culture. Explore the native habitat of the red junglefowl, wade through the monsoon rains, bet on the biggest or meanest cock, and parley with the gods!
“This game is system-neutral, which means that no new rules are required to be learned in order to understand this RPG. If you already have a fantasy RPG of choice, feel free to use it to explore the town of Sabungan. Two statblocks are included in the Appendix for a couple of unique personalities, but all other creatures and people are expected to exist in most bestiaries and monster lists.”
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“Arcis a role-playing game where heroes defy the cruel Doomsday Clock to save their world from a looming apocalypse. Rules-light, tension-heavy, dripping with deliciously dark art yet lovingly written for all storymakers at heart.
“Stories you make and play in Arc run against a timer. While heroes navigate and transform the world around them, thereal-time Doomsday Clockticks to an irreversibly cataclysmic event. That doom is up to you. It could be an explosive battle, the literal end of the world—or something more intimate: the departure of beloved spirits, the farewell of an era.”
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Our Home is Trash
“For generations, the Trash People have lived and thrived in the Staten Island landfill that we call—the Trash Lands. Now, a group of rude and entitled humans wish to bulldoze your home and erect luxury condos where YOUR people live. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen, and you have formed a legendary coalition amongst the Trash People to ensure that you hold back the humans.
“Our Home is Trash is a table top role playing game, meant for 2-4 players (plus a GM) ages 10+. It’s a d6 (six sided dice) based game.”
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The Islands of Sina Una
“The Islands of Sina Una is a new Campaign Setting for 5th Edition that pulls from precolonial mythology and culture of the Philippines. In the time since Bakunawa’s last attack the mortal races that inhabit the island recover slowly as life goes on. While some do battle with the monsters that roam these lands, others work as intermediaries, communicating between spirits and deities to help protect and guide their people. And yet, there are still others who choose to align with the terrible Celestial Eaters, to destroy the moon and bring about the end of all things.”
17 / 38
Keris & The Dream
“Keris & The Dream is a GM-less TTRPG for one (5 - 15 minutes). Martial arts in the Malay community continue to be deeply rooted in mysticism, despite the Muslim-washing attempts by the government and religious heads. The keris, especially, has purportedly many magical uses outside of being a mere weapon and I intend to explore these stories with you.”
18 / 38
The Twilight Throne
“The Twilight Throne and the Houses of Ruin is a political intrigue TTRPG of surreal magic and tragic intimacy. It uses the Forged in the Dark system (of Blades in the Dark fame) and restructures the system dramatically. You are powerful Nobles, beings of pure magic in a broken land of fairytales, serving a Throne that will be the last in an age of curses and corruption. How high will you rise before you fall?”
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“Orichalcum is a tabletop roleplaying map game for 1-5 players. Players will lay out a map of the Empire that oppressed their ancestors and drowned in a deluge of its own making. By remembering what was left behind, they will draw a connection from the past to the present. Their people, the Exiles, have evolved past the Empire’s ways, and these differences will become features on each player’s map of their island home. Orichalcum is a game about drowning empires and imagining utopias.”
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“Villagesong is a fantastical RPG about communities, leadership, and change, inspired by tales from ancient Java. Your decisions will determine the future of your village and the island. What will you sacrifice, and what will you hold dear?
“You play a village leader, responsible for your home. As the game progresses, draw cards from the change deck to discover the events facing your village. You will make tough decisions, form and break bonds with other leaders, and discover how your island changes. Choice by choice, you will shape the song of your village, sung for many years to come.”
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Spectres of Brocken
“Spectres of Brocken is a role-playing game about making friends and then years later going to war against them in giant mechs. Make up some young, naive, messy trainee mech pilots. Find out who you are. Find out who you are to each other. Find out what you want in the world. Years later, find each other on the field of battle, each in your own fearsome custom mechs. Find out who you’ve become. Find out what you’ve all done to get here. Find out what costs you would pay to get what you want in the world.
“You can play Spectres of Brocken with 3-4 players, without needing any one player to take a game master role as everyone shares responsibilities as players for running the game. You could also designate an experienced player to facilitate the game and provide prompts and rules guidance. The game system is largely inspired by the No Dice, No Masters system used in Dream Askew and Dream Apart, by Avery Alder and Benjamin Rosenbaum.”
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Corps à Corps
“Corps à Corps is a GM-optional, stat-raising tabletop RPG about fencers in training. Each player portrays a fencer honing body and spirit in pursuit of future triumphs alongside—or against—each other.”
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“Karanduun is a modern Filipino Epic RPG about worthless heroes dismantling God, whatever cycle of oppression that must be. Inspired by modern Filipino folklore and culture. You play as young heroes who must make their legend known and become a legendary Karanduun by making God (whichever oppressive system and tyrant that is) bleed.
“This game requires 4-6 players, with one player as the Alamat Chanter, the term for Game Master. This game only uses six-sided dice for everything. You’re going to need around six in the beginning. By the end, you’ll need around 20.”
24 / 38
Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall
“Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall is a collaborative, storytelling RPG about a Chinese family making their living by running a restaurant in one of America’s Chinatowns, circa 1920. Despite societal backlash and anti-Chinese laws, they have turned a profit and their quality of life has recently improved. Night, however, brings a new terror.
“Players take on the roles of members of the Chinese family (mostly from Guangdong province), spanning three generations, who face threats of jiangshi (hopping vampires) at night and racism by day. It has players balancing the responsibility of maintaining their family business with protecting themselves and their community from the dreaded Jiangshi. This is primarily a game about storytelling. Combat is limited, but horror, drama and sometimes comedy are the primary vehicles for driving the game forward.”
25 / 38
“Ryuutama is an RPG developed in Japan by designer Atsuhiro Okada. It is set in a world where the NPCs of the village—the bakers, farmers, shopkeepers, and healers—set off on a wonderful adventure exploring a fantasy world together. Some people colloquially call it ‘Hayao Miyazaki’s Oregon Trail’ because of its heartwarming (in Japanese ‘honobono’) feel of family anime, and its focus on traveling and wonder over combat and treasure.”
26 / 38
“Capitalites is a coming-of-age, slice-of-life tabletop roleplaying game about a group of young adults living in the big city and figuring out who they are while trying to get their shit together. It uses a newbie-friendly, narrative-focused structure of play that focuses on collaboration and conversation—just like a TV Writers’ Room—to tell a story full of as much drama, romance, and tragedy as you please. If you’ve enjoyed games from the Belonging-Outside-Belonging and ‘Penned to Good Society’ design families, you’ll enjoy this one as well!”
27 / 38
Lorn Song of the Bachelor
“Lorn Song of the Bachelor is a 48-page riverine adventure and dungeon crawl module, inspired by the crocodile stories of Southeast Asia—particularly Sarawak.”
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“Ross Rifles is a tabletop role-playing game set in the Canadian trenches of the First World War. From 1914-1918, Canada played a major role in assisting the British Empire in winning one of the fiercest wars in history. But victory came at a cost. The First World War took the lives of over 60,000 Canadians. It was from this vast entanglement of international alliances, leaders, and agendas that Canada emerged as a modern fighting force on the brink of Nationhood. In Ross Rifles, you play as soldiers from the Canadian Expeditionary Force struggling to survive the horrors of trench warfare during the First World War. Sent overseas to fight for crown and country, your characters will make personal sacrifices in the name of Canada.”
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Dying of the Light
“Dying of the Light is a GM-less game for 1-4 players, played over the course of 2-3 hours. Players collectively assume the role of a single city on a single night, they will pull cards which provide question prompts describing the less than beautiful parts of the night.
“Throughout the night, Players will earn tokens that can be spent to facilitate a moment of beauty and intimacy in the middle of this dark and dangerous night. Will you be able to light up the night before morning comes?”
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“Unbreakableis a collection of Asian myth- and folklore-themed adventures written for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Each original adventure showcases vibrant and diverse Asian cultures featuring their stories, monsters, and so much more.”
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Shrine: The Siege of Yueyuan
“Shrine is a storytelling game adapted from Genesis of Legends’ Palanquin and based on Chinese xianxia fiction, mythology, religion, and history. An idealistic Daoist. Six restless ghosts. A burning city under siege... and the Shrine that sits at the heart of it all! (This game was originally released and only available as part of the ‘Our Shores: An RPGSEA Compilation’ Kickstarter Stretch Goals.)”
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“Bloodbeam Badlands is a game for at least two players, including a Game Master (GM). It’s a game about vampires stuck surviving a post-apocalyptic world where the sun never sets, what it means to keep moving when the deck is stacked against you, the immortal facing mortality with every step. It’s also a game about being really cool vampires with cool vampire powers and cool magic guns going on rad adventures in a rad world filled with rad things.”
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“Based primarily on Haikyu!! with influences from other sports anime, Volley Boys!! presents the opportunity for players to play through the character arcs of a sports anime.
“Mechanically drawing from the No Dice, No Masters system by Avery Alder, Volley Boys!! is a GM-less token based game that provides the tools and space to explore the character dynamics of adolescence in a team oriented environment.”
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“Navathem’s End is a tabletop roleplaying game that uses the Powered by the Apocalypse engine with some inspiration from Forged in the Dark. In Navathem’s End, you get to choose from seven different playbooks: Crafter, Command, Control, Medic, Scholar, Shield, and Weapon. Each playbook contains unique skills that can help you solve the mysteries of the world. Further, you can even multi-class into other playbooks and even become a Chaos Mage, bending reality to your will with five additional Chaos Source Playbooks.”
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Here, There, Be Monsters!
“here, there, be monsters! is a rules-lite response to monster-hunting media from the monsters’ point of view. It’s both a love letter and a middle finger to stuff like Hellboy (and the BPRD), the SCP Foundation, the Men in Black, the World of Darkness games, and the Urban Fantasy genre in general. It is an explicitly queer, antifascist, and anti-capitalist game about the monstrous and the weird, in any flavor you want, not as something to be feared, but to be cherished and protected.
“Play as a diverse crew of monstrous, anomalous or just generally odd beings, fighting against those who would use, abuse or even annihilate you. Create and populate your own supernatural underworld, abnormal gang and extra-dimensional haven. Hunt monster hunters! Punch nazi occultists! Eat the rich! Protect each other! Fight back! Here, there be monsters!”
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“Gubat Banwa is a Southeast Asian fantasy martial arts role-playing game, inspired by the refulgent cultures of Southeast Asia. Raise your spears, Kadungganan, you elite warrior-braves and asura-knights who travel the Sword Isles to prove their conviction and dictate the fate of the world. Revel in larger-than-life war drama like in Asian dramas, ballistic tactical martial arts grid gameplay in the vein of Lancer or Final Fantasy tactics, and find glory beyond heaven. Wield the Thunderbolt of Liberation! Rejoice! In the Glory of Combat!”
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Global designers, inspired designs
There are so many incredible games here, including lyric RPGs massive systems that can hold multi-arc campaigns. Most of these designers are actively writing and developing work, so if something looks great you should follow them and see what else they’re working on. You can also check out the TTRPG collective RPG Southeast Asia for more fantastic games and designers.
What game looks good to you?
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