It will be old news to most in the tabletop space that creators from the Global South - Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia - play against a stacked deck. The near-ubiquitous Kickstarter still doesn’t offer services in many countries, popular conception of the hobby is largely stuck on Western European and American countries and the majority of buyers come from English-speaking markets.
But these are not immutable facts. The last few years has seen a surge of effort from designers from around the world attempting to change the face of tabletop gaming with their own hands. LATAM Breakout, now on Kickstarter, is currently crowdfunding titles from five authors with the explicit goal of spotlighting the artistry thriving below the Equator.
Hosted by British small press outfit SoulMuppet Publishing, LATAM Breakout present five games from five creators hailing from Latin America whose games embody what the description pages calls “some of the unique mechanics, new perspectives and unheard voices of the region”.
The RPGs on offer span a host of systems and genres, mechanical approaches and the kinds of stories they want players to tell. Brave Zenith posits a post-fantasy world inspired by Brazilian culture (Capybara chimera, anyone?) with art reminiscent of the sharp polygonal models on the original Playstation. Players choose a vocation and use an interpretive ruleset to explore a world as full of wonder as it is ruins.
Ultra y Eterna throws players into a post-apocalypse of a different kind, as the setting of Capital City survived a government coup just in time to be thrust into a portal to hell. Character classes cleave closer to the job system of older Final Fantasy or Bravely Default video games, while the narrative balances life inside the interdimensional rift and the weirdly normal one on the other end.
The rules-lite RPG here, there, be monsters! sends up the recent trend of monster hunting media - Hellboy, SCP Foundation and the World of Darkness-inspired games - by allowing characters to create their own ostensibly monstrous persona and protect the society of outsiders from those who relentlessly hunt them down or exploit them. This is a game about finding a place to belong, or fighting tooth and claw to carve it out of a world that hates you.
Mayflies takes the rules-lite approaches of Ultraviolet Grasslands and World of Dungeons, applying them to a world of wondrous sites and post-apocalyptic scarcity where communities send adventurers island-hopping in search of supplies. Cantrip is a Belonging Outside Belonging game (think Wanderhome or the works of Avery Alder) that takes place in a magic academy and positions the fraught lives of young witches against the secretive society in which they find themselves.
Many folks have put their names on the works contained in LATAM Breakout, including designers Luna Petra G, Giuliano Roverato, wendi yu, Rachi and Misha Panarin. Because Kickstarter does not allow Latin American citizens to run campaigns, Soulmuppet Publishing - handler of this year’s Orbital Blues RPG - stepped in to facilitate a print and digital run of all five projects. Any money raised beyond the cost to produce the titles will be split evenly among the teams and publisher, and the creators will retain ownership of everything in their respective books.
Backers can choose among the five RPGs when pledging or opt in for the full collection, which is offered both as PDFs and physical softcovers. Single titles cost £10/£15 ($13/$20) as digital or printed editions, respectively, and the collection costs £30/£50 ($40/$67). The LATAM Breakout Kickstarter campaign runs through December 7th. Soumuppet is currently planning to start shipping in March 2022.