Home Games DnD’s International Reach – Inside Tabletop Gaming Culture around the World

DnD’s International Reach – Inside Tabletop Gaming Culture around the World


Although DnD may have been the first roleplaying game ever created, gaming groups all across the world have adopted the pastime, turning it into their very own by adapting it in different ways.

Starting with its modest origins as an unconventional game created by wargaming enthusiasts from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Dungeons and Dragons ended up revolutionizing the tabletop as well as the video game industries.

It inspired game designers all over the globe to create RPGs where players may personalize characters, level them up by passing challenges, and create amusing new storylines and character interactions.

With that being said, DnD is still one of the most well-known and well-liked tabletop RPGs out there.

However, tabletop gamers have added their own unique touch to the RPG experience in areas over the world such as Brazil, China, Southeast Asia, and Japan.

DnD was first published by TSR, but soon after that, hundreds of other game developers created their very own unique RPG systems.

With more creative, approachable rules, several early systems, such as Tunnels and Trolls or Chivalry and Sorcery, attempted to directly imitate the dungeon crawling fantasy style of DnD.

Other RPGs attempted to pioneer new mechanics and storylines, such as RuneQuest, which supplanted avatar customization classes percentile skills and captivated gamers with a rich and unusual Bronze Age fantasy world, or Traveller, with its space opera scenario and life-path system.

Players in different cultures developed new ideas for creating and playing RPGs when tabletop RPGs like these were distributed abroad and translated into several languages.

Just a couple of years following DnD’s rise to popularity in the United States, tabletop RPGs were brought to Japan.

The popularity of traditional Western tabletop fantasy RPGs like DnD among Japanese gamers expanded significantly in the ’80s because of genre-defining JRPGs like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy.

These games also encouraged game developers there to build their own tabletop RPG systems like Sword World or Tokyo Nova.

Due to a number of well-liked Actual Play live streams and the concise narrative that Call of Cthulhu’s deadly cosmic horror gameplay facilitates, Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu is now the most well-known western TTRPG in Japan.

Many contemporary Japanese tabletop roleplaying games, such as Ryuutama fantasy RPG or the contemporary ninja war tabletop RPG Shinobigami, differ from their Western equivalents in two specific ways.

First off, the primary mechanics of these Japanese TTRPG systems are based on 6-sided dice, cards, and other widely available gaming accessories, and they’re meant to support one shot games and/or short campaigns.

A lot of these Japanese TTRPG items also come with “replay” recordings of the player conversation and GM descriptions from RPG sessions and are published as thin “light novel” paperback volumes.

RPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest introduced the genre to a large number of players in China and Taiwan.

This sparked the creation of computer RPGs like Genshin Impact and the Wuxia-inspired Xuan Yuan Sword series by Chinese video game firms.

One of the more well-known tabletop game brands, known as Snguósh, is based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Western TTRPG systems have a niche following within China and Taiwan, focused on conventions such as Khan Kon and cafés with board game shelves available.

There are currently very few original tabletop RPGs in Chinese, but a particular type of LARP, known as   Jùbn sh, has swept across Chinese culture.

This particular kind of Chinese roleplay combines murder mystery events with social deduction games such as Werewolf, mystery board games such as Clue, and a sprinkling of escape room hijinks.

In the majority of Jùbn sh roleplaying activities, participants assume the role of witnesses to murder who work to unravel the mystery and identify perpetrators among their number.

High-end Jùbn sh performances held in cafes or shops may include extravagant costumes and special effects-driven fantasy or horror scenes.

Western TTRPGs like DnD often only gain worldwide acclaim if someone makes an effort to translate them.

However, a sizable portion of Southeast Asian nations like Singapore, Malaysia, and Philippines speaks English.

Tabletop gamers now have the opportunity to play more obscure independent TTRPG games, interact with each other online about TTRPG concepts, and create RPG adventures and systems that reflect their own personal experiences.

Makapatag, a game developer from the Philippines, for instance, has created and released TTRPGs that combine action-packed gameplay with fantastical settings inspired by “Pinoy” culture.


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