Urban Fantasy RPGs Not Based On European Folklore

Tabletop RPGs with urban fantasy settings based on the monster myths and folklore of non-European countries like China, Mexico, and the Philippines.

Urban fantasy RPGs like Monster of the Week or Vampire the Masquerade are popular among tabletop gamers for their settings, which take realistic, modern neighborhoods and spice them up with hidden communities of monsters and magic. Most urban fantasy RPGs feature supernatural creatures and mysticism from European folklore: vampires, werewolves, witches, faeries, demons, and angels. Some RPGs, however, have expanded the urban fantasy genre with legends from non-European cultures, coupling Chinese, Mexican, and Filipino folklore with narratives reflecting the trials and tribulations of the people who live in those cultures.

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In classic RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, players and their characters are frequently thrown headfirst into pre-modern or futuristic settings with nations, cultures, social norms, biomes, and laws of physics wildly different from real life. This can make it hard for players to properly immerse themselves in these fantasy worlds at the start of a campaign. RPGs with urban fantasy settings sidestep this problem by taking the familiar, real world and spicing it up with contemporary versions of fairy tale creatures, gothic monsters, and magical conspiracies.

Related: Rip-Roaring Tabletop RPGs In The Pulp Adventure Genre

Urban fantasy RPGs like Jiangshi: Blood In The Banquet Hall and Yokai Hunters Society shake up the vampire-werewolf-witch paradigm of most urban fantasy stories by introducing creatures and myths from non-European cultures: Jiangshi from China, Yokai from Japan, Aswangs from the Philippines, and others. More importantly, they contain special rules, narrative details, and gameplay principles designed to tell stories someone raised in these cultures might resonate with.

Jiangshi: Blood In The Banquet Hall


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Jiangshi (僵尸, meaning “stiff corpse“) are undead monsters from Chinese folklore comparable to zombies or vampires – moldy, life-drinking corpses that hop around due to rigor mortis and can be bound by paper talismans applied to the forehead. Jiangshi: Blood In The Banquet Hall is a narrative RPG about a Chinese family in 1920s America sworn to hunt these foul creatures by night … while also running a bustling family restaurant and dealing with racism by day. The gameplay of Jiangshi: Blood In The Banquet Hall is a mix of tabletop RPG and board game rules, utilizing character sheets and dice; decks of cards filled with scenarios for business challenges, strange dreams, and monster hunts; and slips of laminated paper modeled after traditional Daoist paper charms.

Nahual: A Mexican Roleplaying Game


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Few RPGs have an anti-colonialist narrative as defiant as Nahual: A Mexican Roleplaying Game, an RPG about Mexican shapeshifters who hunt down parasitic angels and sell their dismembered body parts on the black market. This Powered By The Apocalypse RPG takes place in a version of modern-day Mexico where angels, brought to the New W