Non Western Pen & Paper RPGs?
February 5, 2009 4:36 PM   Subscribe

What are some of the best Non-Western Pencil & Paper RPGs? I'm interested in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese games, but I'm especially interested in games that originated in India, Africa or the Middle East, if there are any, and ones that have unique settings (ie, not warmed-over D&D/Tolkien).
posted by empath to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am very fond of Legend of the Five Rings, which is a fantasy take on several Asian cultures blended together, inspired by the real life book "The Book of Five Rings."

The game was originally incarnated as a Collectible card Game (CCG), but later spawned the RPG and later a miniatures war game, which then folded. The publisher was Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG), which had an on / off relationship with Wizards of the Coast over who owned it.

Eventually, L5R and Rogukan (the land in the game setting) became a setting for D&D / D20, but I think it can still be found in it's "pure" form.

The basic premise of the game centers around 7 clans of Samurai, each with different strengths, weaknesses, styles, cultures, etc. Where the Lion clan are soldiers, the Crane are artists; the Phoenix are magic-users, and the Dragons are spiritual, etc. The Shadowlands is the home of the Oni and other metaphysical evil nasties, to serve as a constant threat to unite the conflicting clans.
posted by GJSchaller at 4:53 PM on February 5, 2009

Response by poster: Oh, I should probably add that I'm not looking for like Oriental Adventures or other games written by Westerners about Non-Western settings. I'm more interested in games, for example, written and published in India, for Indian players. I have no idea if these even exist, to be honest, or if there is even an RPG scene to speak of.
posted by empath at 5:16 PM on February 5, 2009

Wikipedia has a page on Japanese RPGs
posted by fings at 5:35 PM on February 5, 2009

The folks over at the story games forums may be able to help you out. If I had this question, that's where I would go.
posted by itesser at 6:48 PM on February 5, 2009

With India you won't have any luck. There are maybe two or three mini-settings that are somewhat South Asian, but that's about it and they're written by Westerners. The now almost mythical GURPS India sourcebook was completed, but Steve Jackson Games decided the manuscript did not meet their expectations for a sourcebook.

Japan has a small tabletop scene. had a long thread about this.

A Chinese-American wrote Jadeclaw, which has a Chinese setting, but with furries. No interest in furries, so I haven't looked at it. is where I learned all this stuff, so searching the forum section of their site with Google will get you the goods.
posted by Gnatcho at 6:52 PM on February 5, 2009

This is what you want.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:42 PM on February 5, 2009

As for Korean RPGs, there's a good wiki here (in Korean) as well as a slightly active 'cafe' here (also in Korean). Apparently one of the first published Korean RPGs was La-Condo-Ria, which came out around 1998.

A lot of the RPGs seem to revolve around translations of US or Japanese rulebooks, such as D&D, GURPS, or World of Darkness. Sword World RPG seems to be a pretty popular Japanese one that was translated into Korean and had popularity in Korea.

There are a whole bunch of other Korean RPGs that seem to have been relatively short-lived, but I'm too lazy right now. I'm guessing RPGs were in their heyday along with the large-scale BBSes (Chollian and Hitel -- anyone remember those?) that were still locations for online communities and file-exchange -- but as the widespread change from copper wires to fiber optics started around the late 90s (in Korea) and internet started getting really fast, these BBSes started to die out, and RPGs never found a strong base amidst early online MMORPGs like 'The Kingdom of the Wind' (1994) acorns! or Diablo, etc.

If you're interested I could go into more depth, though.
posted by suedehead at 12:11 PM on February 6, 2009

This is what you want.

Why does every one of those games sound completely awesome? Stupid WASP D&D.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:40 PM on February 6, 2009

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