Bringing the OSR to "developing nations", would that be possible?

Whenever I travel I try to find people to play with. What really struck me in Chili, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Turkey and to a lesser extent Spain is that local people not only did not play RPGs, often they had never even heard of them, or at most heard the name but had no idea what it was. And that included people who were into board games or fantasy. Hence I only ended up starting groups with locals in Spain and almost in Turkey.

It made me a little sad, because I felt if anyone could really enjoy and benefit from RPGs it would be some of these places. I realize that in some cases people are just working almost all their waking hours, but for many others a game that they could play indefinitely and that would only cost a few dollars for some dice and required nothing more than a few pencils and paper, would be great. Basic fantasy RPG is free and open source, but any other very affordable OSR game could be translated of course. PDF’s could be free or simple printouts could be very cheap locally.

I know that in me and my friend’s case RPGs promoted literacy to an extent, improved vocabulary and basic math, nurtured creativity, rewarded problem solving and allowed me to dream of other worlds and forget about a few (of my pretty minor) worries for at least some hours and have a great time with friends or family.

I do remember reading a long time ago that DnD was “illegally” translated to a Chinese version, which got altered a lot, owing to Western fantasy tropes not being well-known. I think that has changed a fair amount in last 10+ years, what with the internet, LOTR, GOT and people in every country playing all kinds/styles of RPG computer games.

SImply put, I think it would be amazing if OSR / Free or cheap RPGing caught on in other places. Having a few key OSR products translated into say Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish would already be a massive step, since so many people have those as their first language.

Anyone have ideas on how this could be done?
Anyone aware of popular RPGs specifically in those languages? I just know the ones in German and this Brazilian game:

PS. Forgive the term “developing nations”, I could not think of a better one, and I am aware it is a bit outdated and would not truly apply to Spain, China or Chili regardless.


I love this idea. I introduced Roleplaying games to my grandparents in India, and they loved it. However, a big caveat to the idea is that a long playtime is almost an inherent part of the rpg experience and people in these countries are usually less lenient with spending that initial 3 or 4 hours required to introduce them to this style of game. Running a punchy, 60-90 minute encounter works best imo to show off how fun an RPG can be.

My $.02 on the matter :slight_smile:

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Thanks very much for reply. My bad, I don’t know how I forgot India! For sure a local game should be able to find more than a few adherents in such a massive country with so many people. Awesome you played with grandparents. I honestly wish my father lived in same continent so we could play! It was his “The Hobbit/LOTR” books that made me obsessed with fantasy as a young teen. :slight_smile: Great tip as well, here too OSR seems to be a good fit, as character creation plus combat/games can be a lot shorter with more old school rulesets.

You bringing up grandparents also reminded me of something else, retirement homes/old people! You often hear they are lonely or bored. I used to joke once I am in retirement home I will just play RPGs 4 hours a day. In reality, it would be awesome if old people could still play DnD together in these homes, watching TV or playing Bingo etc etc. probably gets repetitive rather quickly. Maybe there should be some sort of program with GMs going to run games in retirement homes and teaching someone there to GM, that would be rad! I am sure it would be complicated, but would also be worth a try.


There’s a neat little Spanish OSR ruleset - ‘Vieja Escuela’ - which can be downloaded for free here and also in English. It came about from a fanzine (also freely available digitally, though I don’t believe it’s been translated).

Labyrinth Lord has been translated into Spanish too.


I think this is an issue in many countries where English is not spoken by a huge part of the population. I live in Italy and English is a second language for me and basically all of the people there. We have a strong language barrier in accessing content which is not translated, which is especially true for non-mainstream content: since it’s difficult to get a translation, you start studying English, become fluent and at some point stop feeling the need for a translation, which makes the translation not only less marketable for a company, but also less interesting for hobbyists.

This makes mainstream RPGs relatively easy to find, and most of the other content really hard (except for narrative games, since there is a company which only publishes those). On the other hand, there is a scene, so small that you wouldn’t be able to tell it’s there if you didn’t know where to look, that produces content firstly in Italian and then, sometimes, also in English (if you want to look at something from that weird scene, I think that the biggest project it has started working on is Brancalonia).

So, working on translations and doing RPG evangelism is really a good idea, because it will help create a scene and maybe bolster an already existing but very small scene, but I wouldn’t rule out that, somewhere, those countries already have some kind of RPG community which is working on its own games.

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Hey there, I’m from the Philippines, a Southeast Asian country, and OSR is known here! Not as popular as D&D 5E and Call of Cthulhu, but there are certain groups who cater to this playstyle or use game systems that promotes it.

Language is not a big barrier for us in terms of converting people to play OSR games, as most tabletop hobbies here are English-based due to it being our 2nd language, as well as the mostly used business and commercial language. We do have some rpgs that are in Filipino, but not exactly OSR.

I do get your point, and it is one of my goals for a pet project of mine, Tampalasan, which is a spear-and-sorcery tropics Knave that I’d like to release in both English and Filipino language.


I think that’s what I was saying: there are some RPG and OSR communities, but most of the time they are hard to find if you don’t know they are there. A good work of popularization of the hobby should definitely comprehend translating, but also getting in touch with said communities (and, if you can and they are willing, translate their products to English).

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I’m bringing back this topic, because with the Italian community we tried to set up our version of the OSR Planet. I think that having a unified blogroll would help discovering the community and to start a more comprehensive conversation.

If anybody wants to set up a blogroll for their own country, I can provide you with the software and some help.