Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fantasy India Gaming Resources

Last week over on the Rather Gamey blog, Arkhein left a post about African Mythology as part of his "Dungeonspiration" series.  In the comments to his posts, Sir Larkins mentioned that his "own personal Holy Grail of untapped fantasy awesomeness is India."

I totally agree with this sentiment - India seems to be one of those areas that's ripe for interesting and fun RPG adventures, and yet it's been (largely) ignored by RPG publishers over the years.  Even in the scan information available for Asian settings in Dungeons & Dragons, India is pretty much just an afterthought, if it's mentioned at all.

In my comments on the post above, I mentioned that there's a list on Amazon for Fantasy RPG Resources.  Rather than making you click on another link, I'm going to post the list here, along with my comments as well as a few other resources I have.  Please feel free to comment on the list and add your own resources to the list. I'm especially interested in resources for other game systems, since everything below is for D&D. 

Note that this list isn't in any order - I'm just following the order used by Kevin Brannan, the guy at Amazon.com who originally posted the list. 



System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 3.5
The list author says:  "A complete fantasy setting very loosely based on India. Uses the psionics rules.”

Martin says: “I own this book, written by none author than one of the founding fathers of the OSR movement, James Maliszewski.  It does rely too heavily on psionics for my tastes, since I don’t use psionics in my games, but the background information of the different areas is pretty good.  The campaign setting also uses a lot of Yuan-Ti, and the re-imagining of the various standard fantasy races into the setting might not be to everyone’s tastes (there are societies of hafling monks, for example).  I’m okay with that kind of thing, but traditionalists probably won’t like it. This is actually one of my favorite Mythic Vista books by Green Ronin."


System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 3.5
 The list author says: "The monster book for the Mindshadows setting. Most of these creatures use the psionics rules."

Martin says: I don’t have this book, so I can’t comment. 


System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 3.0
 The list author says: "This book focuses mostly on Japan, but the free web enhancement includes a fantasy India setting."

Martin says: “I’ll be writing a whole blog post dedicated to Asian RPG resources in general, so most of my comments will go there.  But, like the list author notes, there is almost nothing of India in this book, but the free Mahasarpa web enhancement is somewhat based on India, and like the Mindshadows setting is crawling with Yuan-Ti.  I thought about giving Mahasarpa its own entry, but it's really just a re-skinning of the stuff in the OA book.”


System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 2nd Edition
 The list author says:  “This book contains the 2e versions of the Indian pantheon, monsters and heroes."

Martin says: “I don’t own the 2E version, so I’m not really sure how different this is from the 1E version, below.”

 

System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 1st Edition
 The list author says: “"This book contains the 1e versions of the Indian pantheon, monsters and heroes."

Martin says: “Um… yeah.  I was never a big fan of this book, for various reasons.  But, it did teach me a lot about the mythological stories of various non-Western cultures, so I guess that’s a good thing.  The section on the gods of India includes a few scant notes about the culture of India.”


System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 3.0
The list author says: “A 2e adventure against the Rakshasa."

Martin says: “I don’t own this, so I can’t comment.”


System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 2nd Edition
The list author says: “A 2e adventure set in mythic India."

Martin says: “Another one that I don’t own, although it sounds cool.”



System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: B/X
The list author says: “A basic D&D adventure set in a fantasy version of India."

Martin says: “Yet another product I never got.  I actually never got into the Hollow World, although when I heard it had a fantasy India-based country, I thought about getting it.”


System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 3.0
The list author says: “In addition to rules for playing rakshasa and half-rakshasa, this book contains an excellent Yogi class that later appeared in Monte Cook Presents: The Year's Best d20."

Martin says: “I don’t own this one, either.”


System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 3.0
The list author says: (there were no comments for this one)

Martin says: “This is by the fine folks over at Expeditious Retreat Press.  They’re actually working on another book in the series, A Magical Society: India. I’m really looking forward to this one.


System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 3.0
 The list author says:An adventure with *very minor* Indian flavor."

Martin says: “I don’t own this one, but I think that’s part of the problem with this list in general – that they have ‘very minor’ Indian flavor.”


System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 3.0
 The list author says: A classic dungeon crawl with *very minor* Indian flavor."

Martin says: “See above under #11.”


System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 3.5
The list author says: (there were no comments on this one)

Martin says: “I don’t have this one since I never really got into the Forgotten Realms beyond just mining the campaign setting for ideas, and I decided that I didn’t need yet another book that somehow equated India with Yun-Ti.”


System: Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 3.0
The list author says: (there were no comments on this one)

Martin says: “Another book I don’t have, and didn’t want.  See above comments on Yuan-Ti.”


System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 2nd Edition
 The list author says: “This magazine has 2e character classes from India.”

Martin says: “Now we’re talking.  This was one of my favorite issues of the magazine during the 2E era, and it was specifically because of these character classes (they’re actually kits, technically, not true classes) for India.  

16.  Dragon Magazine No. 189 (Dungeons & Dragons)  

System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons


Version: 2nd Edition
 The list author says: This magazine contains 2e stats for weapons from India."

Martin says: “This was another great one that rekindled my interest in India as a fantasy RPG environment.  This particular issue was dedicated to gaming in non-Western settings, so in addition to the article on Indian weapons and armor, there was also an article on adding an African-based setting to your campaign world, arms and armor for Africa, and re-creating the 1E Oriental Adventures classes as 2E kits.”


System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

Version: 2nd Edition

The list author says:This magazine contains 2e spells from India."

Martin says: “Basically what the other guy said.  But it’s cool in combination with the character kits from issue #225, above.”


System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

Version: 2nd Edition

The list author says: This magazine contains 2e magic items from India."

Martin says: “As above, regarding issue #226.”

The following two entries are from me – they weren’t on the original list.

19.  From Stone to Steel (d20 System)

System: Dungeons & Dragons

Version: 3.0

Martin says: “This was a fantastic historical resource book during the d20 era providing stats for weapons, by era and geographic region, from the Stone Age up through the early Renaissance.  I only have the 3.0 version, but I heard they later updated it for 3.5.  The stats really don’t matter so much, though.  What’s awesome is that this is really a short “history of world cultures” with the information written specifically for gamers who would be interested in things like how the warriors/armies were different from era to era and country to country, what the politics were like, etc.  It’s got sections on ancient China, feudal Japan, medieval India, Southeast Asia, the Mongols, and of course Europe and Africa.  It’s also got prestige classes and feats, if you’re into that kind of thing.  But again, even if you don’t use the stats, the text is full of great ideas.”


System: Dungeons & Dragons

Version: 3.5


Martin says: “This is a campaign setting for the d20 system by Dog Soul Publishing, said to be “inspired by the myths and legends of India.”  I actually bought this a long time ago, and I confess I didn’t spend a ton of time with it.  It’s got sections in life in Sahasra, different cities and places of interest, monsters, important NPCs, etc.  One of the things that I didn’t especially like was the treatment of the standard d20 classes.  The author groups them into one of the four main castes of India, then mentions that barbarians and druids are better left for NPCs.  That’s it.  There’s no mention on how to integrate the standard classes, like a Paladin, into Sahasra, nor did the author take the opportunity to do something unique like give each class an Indian twist by swapping out class abilities or so forth.  I also don’t recall any mention of non-human races in Sahasra, or how to incorporate the standard Western fantasy races of elves, dwarves, halflings, etc.  Basically, it’s mostly a geography guide with some interesting NPCs.”




System: Dungeons & Dragons

Version: B/X

Martin says: “This module for the D&D Basic System has a decidedly Indian flavor, as evidenced by the cover art.  The main adversary is an evil cleric known as ‘The Rahib’ who has a panther companion.” 
 


System: Dungeons & Dragons

Version: B/X

Martin says: “This is a module for the D&D Expert System, and is the first is a trilogy (the other two being Module X5 and Module X10).  It features a trek through an area known as Sind, which has similarities to India during the Mughal era.”


System: Dungeons & Dragons

Version: B/X

Martin says: “This is a continuation of the adventure begun in Module X4, above, and as mentioned features some action in a Mughal-like India area. There is very little information given, however.”

24.  Module X10: Red Arrow, Black Shield

System: Dungeons & Dragons

Version: B/X

Martin says: “This forms the third part of the Master of the Desert Nomads trilogy of modules, which began with X4 and X5.  I don’t actually own this particular module, but I understand that it uses the Battlesystem Rules for mass combat.  Again, much of the action takes place in and around the country known as Sind, which has some India-like features.”


System: Dungeons & Dragons

Version: B/X

Martin says: “This series of stories centers around the Prince Haldemar and his crew aboard the ship the Princess Ark, a magical flying vessel, as it sets forth from Alphatia to explore areas not covered by the Gazetteer series.  Some of the articles focus on the area known as Sind, mentioned briefly in Modules X4, X5, and X10, which has a little bit of Indian flavor.  The articles did not appear in every issue, so make sure to check the contents if you’re looking for a particular story. ”

6 comments:

  1. I would have thought that there might be some interesting Indian-type stuff from the British side of the hobby, given the long associations between the two countries, but I can't think of anything. I'm a little surprised by that, to be honest.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Although not a gaming source, Daily Life in Ancient India is an excellent mood setter and guide.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a great collection of links--thanks for putting it together!

    I wanted Mindshadows so badly when it came out (including the psionics bit--I'm intrigued by settings that use psionics in place of magic), but could never find it on the game store shelves when I had a bit of spare cash. Might have to track down a used copy. I didn't know about the James M. connection!

    Really looking forward to A Magical Society: India now thanks to this post. The Star of Kolhapur also looks intriguing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice list. There was to be a GURPS India as well but that never saw release, which is a shame.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Kelvin - Yeah, I think that the general lack of India-inspired RPG materials is pretty surprising in general, but like you said, if anyone would have done it, I would think someone in England would have.

    @ckutalik - Thanks so much for that mention. I'm totally going to check that out.

    @Sirlarkins - I've been looking forward to A Magical Society: India since I saw Joseph mentioned it on the ENWorld boards about, oh, I don't know... like 10 years ago?! :) JK. But it's really been a long time. He just mentioned it on his blog again recently, though, so I guess he didn't completely forget about it.

    @Trey - yes, I had heard that, and I was totally looking forward to it, too. I don't play GURPS (never have), but I think their historical guidebooks/campaign settings/whatever are full of a lot of great information that can be used in any RPG. GURPS Russia comes to mind.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Some very interesting stuff here that I had no idea existed.

    Here is a resource that sounds fun:

    Vikram and the Vampire; Classic Hindu Tales of Adventure, Magic, and Romance

    http://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Classic-Adventure-Romance-ebook/dp/B004TS0AL8/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1311876487&sr=8-4

    It's a bit old - but it's free at Amazon. :)

    - Ark

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...