05 - Encore_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Encore, Rob Wieland (Shadowrun, Star Wars Saga Edition) shows you his jazz hands, following the dreamers, has-beens and never-will-be’s who make up the cast of a touring jukebox musical.

Encore is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD08D Author: Rob Wieland
Artist: Jonathan Wyke Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

06 - Iron Tsar_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Iron Tsar, ASH LAW (The Reliquary, Shards of the Broken Sky) cranks up a magical 1920s Russia, in which engineers battle zombies in the Imperial court.

Iron Tsar is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD09D Author: ASH LAW
Artist: Rachel A. Kahn Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

07 - Sheeps Clothing_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Sheep’s Clothing, Jérôme Larré (Qin, Tenga) takes you inside a tranquil bedroom community for cops—as a massive Internal Affairs bust threatens dozens of its key citizens.

Sheep’s Clothing is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD10D Author: Jérôme Larré
Artist: Jonathan Wyke Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

08 - Art and Murder_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Art and Murder, Robin D. Laws draws you into a post-scarcity economy, where only two routes to status remain: Art and Murder. As guardians of the Great Museum, you struggle to protect the world’s cultural patrimony from outside marauders—and your own ambitions.

Art and Murder is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD11D Author: Robin D. Laws
Artist: Rachel A. Kahn Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

09 - Niflgap_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Niflgap, Raven Daegmorgan (Orx) invites you to sail the black tides of the cosmos. As the universe dies, you, the fractious Norse gods, set forth in starships from lonesome Midgaard, hoping to find salvation in the void where armies of the hungry dead writhe endless beneath black suns

Niflgap is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD12D Author: Raven Daegmorgan
Artist: Jan Pospíšil Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

10 - Promised Land_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Promised Land, Caias Ward (Strike Force 7, Noumenon) takes you a far-future religion based on enlightenment through genetic engineering and organic technology, where a squad of young cadets struggles with their commanders, their fellow cadets, the outside universe and crises of faith.

Promised Land is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD13D Author: Caias Ward
Artist: Rachel A. Kahn Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

11 - Terminal X_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Terminal X, Hal Mangold (Atomic Overmind, Green Ronin) loses your luggage as a fractious circle of modern sorcerers wage a subtle turf war within one of the world’s busiest airports, while fending off occult forces threatening to erode the very source of their power.

Terminal X is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD14D Author: Hal Mangold
Artist: Rachel A. Kahn Pages: 7pg PDF

Buy

12 - Campus Desk cover_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Campus Desk, John Kovalic (Dork Tower, Munchkin) returns to ink-spattered halcyon days:  students behind the Daily Forward, newspaper of Wisconsin State University, figure out life, love, and burying the lede.

Campus Desk is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD15D Author: John Kovalic
Artist: Jonathan Wyke Pages: 9pg PDF

Buy

02 - Narcocorrido_350The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres.

In Narcocorrido, Jesse Scoble (Wizard101, Game of Thrones d20) sings for you on The Devil’s Highway: narco traficantes and border patrol circle each other in the canyons and deserts between North and South.

Narcorrido is available as a stand-alone product from the store, or as part of the Series Pitch of the Month Collection.

Stock #: PELD05D Author: Jesse Scoble
Artist: Jonathan Wyke Pages: 10pg PDF

Buy

Malandros cover Nov2015 small

[Editor’s note: the Malandros Kickstarter ended on 20th November 2015]

Malandros is a tabletop roleplaying game based on the award-winning DramaSystem rules engine created by Robin Laws. Like its predecessor Hillfolk, it’s a game of personal struggles and interpersonal drama. Making a new DramaSystem game like this is possible thanks to the generous backers of the Hillfolk Kickstarter campaign. One of the stretch goals they reached released DramaSystem under an open licence for people to use for their own designs. The text of Malandros will be released under a similar licence.

Characters & Setting

In Malandros, you play characters in a tight-knit community in the final year of the Empire of Brazil: gang leaders, captains of industry, fishermen, martial artists, swindlers and more. You all know each other – you’re family, friends, rivals or enemies, all living in the same part of town. You all want something from each other. Maybe it’s respect, maybe it’s love. Maybe it’s fear, or something else.

Rio de Janeiro at the end of the 19th century is a city of slums and palaces, street gangs and tycoons, the most modern technologies of the era and ancient traditions. As a setting, it’s got everything. A bustling city, people from all over the world, ethnic and class tension, street fights, sharp suits, magic, martial arts, freed slaves, carnival parades, corrupt elections… you name it, pretty much.

The malandros of the title are a classic carioca archetype. The well-dressed, work-shirking wise guy who sidesteps society’s rules to live as he pleases. Or tries to, at any rate. It’s not a term that’s always applied to someone approvingly, and many of your Player Characters might not see themselves as malandros even if other people do.

Malandros caricaturesYou can download a PDF sample from the character creation chapter, containing the dozen archetypes you choose from when creating your game’s main cast:

System

Malandros uses an entirely new system for procedural scenes, which ties into the scene economy in a different way to that of Hillfolk. Robin Laws explicitly designed Hillfolk’s procedural system so that one character acting alone is unlikely to succeed – you need to get other PCs on board with your plan to have a decent shot at success.

The reason for this difference is the outcomes each game is designed to produce. Hillfolk emulates ensemble TV dramas, such as Deadwood, Peaky Blinders or Battlestar Galactica (the more recent one, not the one with the robot dog).

Malandros draws on the legends of historical malandros and capoeiristas, 19th-century novels and modern telenovelas. These stories more often involve characters who are connected but go off in different directions to follow their individual agendas. So the Malandros procedural system lets you go off by yourself to do stuff, probably succeed if it’s something you’re good at, and get into trouble by yourself too. When it comes to dealing with the repercussions, that’s when you may want some help.

The core of the procedural system is simple: roll a d6. If you choose to spend a relevant ability, add its rating to the result. If you get a 6 or more, you succeed optimally. On a 3-5, it’s success at a cost, and on 2 or lower you fail.

So a bonus of 2 or higher from an ability or other source will guarantee at least a partial success – but once you’ve spent it, you can’t use it again until you refresh the ability in a later scene. Forward thinkers will try to approach high-stakes scenes with several abilities they can bring to bear on the situation.

If you don’t have a usable ability, you might get by through the blessings of Axé, which is what Afro-Brazilian religions call the divine energy of the world – the power to make things happen. In game terms, rather more prosaically, Axé lets you re-roll a result you don’t like.

The other half of the system in play, resolving dramatic scenes, is largely unchanged from Hillfolk. This made playtesting a lot easier, since that’s a set of robust, already tried and tested rules.

One new thing that’s important to the rhythm of the game is that procedural actions are hooked more directly into the scene economy. You refresh a spent ability by calling an appropriately unstressful dramatic scene, which helps maintain a pleasing balance between laid-back chats, everyday life and scenes of high drama or furious action.

You can download an extract of the procedural rules.

The Kickstarter

Malandros is currently raising funds on Kickstarter to cover its art budget. The game is already written, with a few more playtests scheduled before release in early 2016.

Malandros character creation spreads

The reason for running a Kickstarter instead of just releasing the game in its current form is that it needs more art to effectively communicate its themes and setting. Some things are better shown than explained with words. But while there’s a wealth of fantastic art available from the period, many of the people and activities that feature in the game don’t show up in contemporary art. Rich white people – no problem. Everyone else – not always as easy. So the funds raised will go towards custom artwork and photography licences to cover those gaps.

The stretch goals for the Kickstarter project include a number of alternative settings that apply the Malandros model to different eras and genres with a similar dynamic, focusing on ordinary and marginalised people:

The Sydney Razor Gang Wars – alternate setting in 1920s Australia
Aluminium Wars, a 1990s Russia setting by Mark Galeotti
Victorian London setting by Paula Dempsey
Other Borders, modern-day sorcery setting by Tod Foley
Gangs of Titan, an SF setting by Stras Acimovic
Kingsport Shore, Lovecraft/Twin Peaks style weirdness by Steve Dempsey

[Editor’s note – the Kickstarter is over, but you can still pick up the game here.]
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