A downloadable TTRPG

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“Violence for violence’s sake is not the rule of beasts but the nature of divinity. Hand on your blade, do you know what you must do? Cut, or be cut. Violence until Glory!”

Gubat Banwa is a game of rapid kinetic martial arts, violent sorcery, heartrending convictions and bouts of will. Warriors that channel gods face sorcerers that master black arts, martial artists who have unlocked a new form of cultivation clash swords with those that perfect the night alchemies.

When Violence erupts, lightning from a stormcloud, utter the violence mantra: SEIZE HEAVEN’S THUNDERCLAPS, VIOLENCE UNTIL GLORY!

SWORD AND ENLIGHTENMENT. LOVE AND GLORY. VIOLENCE AND LIBERATION. 

GUBAT BANWA is a Martial Arts Tactics and War Drama Tabletop RPG where you play as martial artists poised to change the world: Kadungganan: the cavalry, the wandering swordsmen, the tide turners, the knights-errant, the ones to call in darkest night in a world inspired and centering Southeast Asian folklore.

Witness, grand warriors, honorable gallants that trudge and toil under kings and haloes. Witness, KADUNGGANAN, that refulgent name. That blasted name: WITNESS NOW. The end of days is upon us: and the new world MUST BE BORN. Bear your blades, incant your magicks. Cut open your tomorrow from the womb of violence. Inscribe your name upon the very akasha of this world. 

A unique Southeast Asian-inspired Fantasy setting. 

With an emphasis on martial arts as a background for war drama and violence, from a Philippine-centric view. Garudas fight against unglu. Martial artist warriors master the Principle of Cutting by meditating upon the teachings of the Violent Bodhisattva. Rituals and superstitions must be performed or else risk the wrath of the ancestors. Vast kingdoms arise with God-Kings at their helm, claiming to be Shiva-Buddha incarnate. You and your warband stand at the center of the mandala of this violence!

The Thundering Tactics Battle System 

TTB is combat system that fuses modern narrative sensibilities with D&D4e style tactical combat.

The Turn Order is known as the Rhythm, and you don't activate a unit; a fighter riffs. The game heavily relies on terrain abilities and emphasizes movement, especially with it's 3-Beat System, which lets you do 3 Actions per turn (some actions might cost more than 1 Beat!). Finally, the techniques you have are made to setup other allies, creating synergistic actions and situations!

Engage in Martial Arts Tactics by Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, Fire Emblem, and Dungeons and Dragons 4e, placing great emphasis on team rolesability synergypositioning, the joy of movement, and emergent strategy. It also boasts a huge amount of build variety for all those that wish to create interesting mechanical interactions!

The Discipline System

A Class system inspired by Martial Arts, Final Fantasy Tactics Jobs, Digital Devil Saga's Mantras, and Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne's Magatama. 

Mix and match your Techniques! Change Disciplines with a single Downtime Action! Be a Death Dancer that heals with alchemies, or a Tigpana (Spiritual Archer) that rides upon a crocodile! Create exceedingly weird builds by mixing and matching your Enlightenments(Passives) and Liberations (Ultimate Attacks) alongside 3 Anting (Magic Items that function like Powerful Feats!)

A Narrative System that generates drama and violence.

A  narrative system made to help play out war drama in this setting, along the veins of Final Fantasy Tactics, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Malazan, Tigana, Game of Thrones, and Tactics Ogre! Manipulate others with Debt, persuade others with your Honor, or generate the power to defy fate by holding fast to your Passions, letting it entangle you even further, and deny death its reward by wielding your Conviction. The baked Honor system interplays with Debt, which is how you get others to do things for you. NPCs can accrue this same debt, forcing you to follow them. If your Honor ever falls below 0, you must play a new Kadungganan!

Describing or doing dangerous and cool things is encouraged, as that is how you get Thunderbolts, which let you dictate your fate. Thunderbolts are there to encourage Kadungganan to be as dramatic and over-the-top as possible.

It is war drama because it is is not about delving into dungeons, getting loot and money and getting stronger. It’s about being forced to kill your closest loved one in the middle of a blood-stained sea in the midst of a storm because they serve a datu that blasphemed your sultan. As a war-drama roleplaying game, expect an emphasis on relationships with other warriors, with your loved one, and intense interpolity politics with the other polities. Gubat Banwa expects you to play into these melodramas: sons having to kill their fathers for defecting to an enemy polity, daughters having to flee to the mountains to escape misogynistic responsibilities, loved ones killing each other slowly due to orders and/or emotions, best friends dueling at the top of a mountain in the midst of a storm as their ideologies bring them to a head. 

This game is made for war stories, the likes one would see in Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre.  It’s about being forced to kill your closest loved one in the middle of a blood-stained sea in the midst of a storm because they serve a Datu that blasphemed your Sultan. War Drama narrative mechanics make sure that violence happens inevitably, in one way or another, all threads intertwining and coming to a head with tactical combat. 


Gambits

An enemy system that allows for Solo and GM-less play! 

Roll an Enemy's Gambit Dice to find out what actions they do when they Riff. Adapt and act accordingly, make for dynamic fights! You can play an entire game of Gubat Banwa on your own, and planned modules are being written with solo play in mind.

Event tables and generators for every possible thing you might encounter while journeying in the Sword Isles, to fully immerse and play in its cultures! As well as Lore to fulfill any questions you might have.

Violence Blossoms Like A Lotus

Finally, baked in is the starter adventure: The Sword Devil. So you can jumpstart your games! The Sword Devil is the first in a long line of planned modules in a series known as Violence Blossoms Like A Lotus.

Supplementary Fiction

If you wish to dive deeper into the lore and setting of Gubat Banwa, consider checking out Stars Without Brightnessa a Fantasy novel set in Gubat Banwa, following a skilled spirit medium, a hotheaded warrior, a rebellious prince, a princess turned flesh-eater, a revived swordsman, and a passionate monster in their quest to fulfill orders and duty, facing the truth of war and violence.

Princess Murders The Hero

If you want a free and beginner friendly entry into the lore, consider the free web serial: PRINCESS MURDERS THE HEROPRINCESS MURDERS THE HERO is a free web serial inspired by Philippine Folk Epics and wuxia, featuring larger than life mortals that must prove their conviction, slick fight scenes, complicated relationships, and a violent world inspired by Precolonial Philippine culture and religion. If you liked Raya and the Last Dragon, The Raid, Warrior, RF Kuang’s The Poppy War or Kill Six Billion Demons, you’ll probably enjoy this.

Finally, check out dragonkid11's introduction video! 

Thank you Kadungganan! Until Glory!

Want more? Find our Discord server: https://discord.gg/s6gSsPm5BN

Want even more content early? Check out our Patreon for new Disciplines, translations of popular characters into the Sword Isles, and more! https://www.patreon.com/Gubat_Banwa

Purchase

Buy Now$20.00 USD or more

In order to download this TTRPG you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $20 USD. You will get access to the following files:

Gubat Banwa 1e Patch 1 Errata 1 (12.12.2024).pdf 51 MB
Gubat Banwa 1e Online Cycle Sheet
External
A Collection of Writings on SIlk and Lotus.pdf 2 MB
SWORD_DEVIL.pdf 2 MB

Free Copies!

Support this TTRPG at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Community Copies

If you don't or can't buy the game right now, you can still grab a free copy below and download everything to run on your own! Feel free to join the Discord as well!

Development log

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Comments

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Any chance for more community copies?

Is Sword Devil still a good starting module or is it too out of date with the mechanics overhauls that have come after?

Sword Devil is still valid and usable! The things within it are mostly relative to the core so any changes in the core immediately changes on the Sword Devil module.

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the consistent hard work into perfecting the combat system of this game is incredibly impressive, it's rare to see a developer who continues to put this much thought and work into a game's combat system. this coupled with the creativity, research and obvious love put into describing the game's setting makes this one of my favourite ever ttrpg corebooks

these really mean a lot to me as the designer of the game, a lot of work goes into it while i'm trying to squeeze it into other working projects, and i really don't want it to be a subpar game so i iterate and iterate until i'm happy, not necessarily when its perfect. thank you so so much for these words!

I'm playing this on Foundry and don't have access to the 1.4 version. What would I need to do to get access to those?

I'm very interested in the combat system, but I'm currently struggling money-wise. Is there any chance you've considered adding community copies anywhere in the future?

I am considering buying this but I'm wondering as the game receives updates will I receive notifications on it and will my purchases also be updated with the up-to-date content? or will I be limited to the current version I buy and updates do not affect my copy?

You'll get a notification in your itch feed about updates, and the updates will be free to download if you already bought the game.

Reading the itch page has put this at the top of my to-buy list for TTRPGs, this looks incredibly lovingly designed

For the bladeweavers sword mage trait, are they supposed to enhance bravery when they attack with faith and when they attack with bravery?

Hey, do alignments still apply the same effects when picked as your facets? I really liked the fact that personality played into your strengths and weaknesses. If I missed the passage explaining it I do apologize for wasting your time.


Regardless, a 10/10 game. Love the style and flair. 

Could "at any point" actions be used in response to other character's actions? Can you interrupt and act first, like moving out of range after they declare an attack on you? 

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Is there a chance that you will bring back the Disciplines Passive Abilities in next revisions, makapatag team?

I think the Passive Abilities are really cool and add some depth and excitement to the combat. It's sad that it was forgone in the current version.

Cool game by the way. Clearly a labor of love.

Do you want to join  the summer bundle:

https://itch.io/jam/itchio-summer-bundle-ending-it-alll

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I've played a oneshot with some friends and we're left wanting for more! It's really fun, especially as an ASEAN, it's very close to our culture and we literally grew up with them. 

Incredibly cool game that I'm hoping to start a campaign of with my regular group very soon! The setting is rich and engaging, in part because of the quality of the writing but also due to the inspiration taken from traditionally underrepresented peoples and histories. My only feedback would be that I would love a lexicon of common setting terms somewhere towards the beginning of the book, as there were a lot of words that I had to Ctrl+F to get a sense for what they mean. Exalted 3E has a lexicon at the beginning that displays roughly what I mean.

Where can I find the info for mambabarang?

The game looks really neat though there's something I'm wondering. Do you have any particular suggestions for how to mark the many effects that can apply to a single tile at a time? With elevation, difficult terrain, burning terrain, a character standing in it, etc. I'm wondering what's a good way to maintain visual clarity.

stupid question, but why "1st edition"? are you already planning a 2nd?

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The game was out to be playtested in its development, essentially a 0th edition. Now that it's fully complete, it has come out as Gubat Banwa 1st edition.

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Great game overrall, me and my friends are trying this and are hella satisfied. There is only one thing that bugs us.. Most violences have Side effects(Like marks, slide, fray and so on) , do they get applied even when scoring 0 hits? And when the wording specifies "an ally" (Like the bladeweaver's shield and sword weaving), can you target Yourself?

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I'm confused by the Skewering modifier and Unbalance status effect, what's so significant about the FIRST Hit/Defend? Wouldn't that be equivalent to just discarding a Hit/Defend?

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just want to thank the developers and community for making community copies accessible. very interested to explore this unique game. much love x

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i like that, as of now, your race in gubat banwa holds little to no significance in the combat capability of the characters you play 

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Hello! Any plans for a print version at this time?

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Hello! There are plans for a print version but we're not yet sure on the exact time frame/release date for that. Keep an ear open though!

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hey
Hello again
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Huge fan of this game, and especially the collision system. However, the forced vertical movement rules confuse me. Does pushing a character upwards diagonally (essentially 1 square away and 1 elevation up) require Push 1 or Push 2? A diagram would be very helpful.

It should require Push 2 as with normal movement rules, I'll be sure to clarify that, thank you!

I'm having a blast with this, but something has left me confused. Conviction is listed as an important part, the first part, of War Drama, on page 42, but Page 43 launches right into "Casting the Crocodile's Teeth", then conviction is listed over and over again later as something important but I can't find the specific rules about it?

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Conviction is part of Kadungganan Creation, it's more fluff now (but you can use it to add to any Cast). Older editions had extra mechanics on it but it was just bloat. Thank you so much for reading!

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It might be best in future versions to add a little note saying something along the lines of "More information about Convictions Found at X" since I understand why you want to leave them in that section given how important convictions are to narrative focus! It might help avoid confusion like mine in the future. Obviously low priority though!

Is there a place I can report other potential errors I've found? (Example: the prerequisit for The Warspeaker Technique Beyond Royalty Implicature, is Beyond Royalty Implicature, which is probably unintentional, and how Dullness, which is mentioned 16 times in the book, never once defines what it -does- mechanically, not even the violence glossolia. I've found other small errors, and such but if there's a good place to report it other than here please let me know!)

edit: (Also fascinated by how well Death Dancer and Sword Saint, given how diametrically opposed they are, dovetail one another's abilities, or rather sword saint techniques seems to play into death dancer's abilities, the circle and the line as it were)

edit2: finally found the discord link!

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Congratulations for this wonderful game!

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Congrats on the 1E release milestone!

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Now that 1st edition has been released, is there any plans to do a Print Run? I would love to own a physical copy.

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It's maybe a few update off from the current version, but did you know there's a review video on this RPG? Go check it out!

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The arts are gorgeous!

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Will this have a book or zine in the future? Does the fee here cover that if so?

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Hello! As much as we want to publish this physically it seems unlikely due to current circumstance, so the fee here is for the PDF only. We might have a book in the future but we don't know when currently. Thank you so much!

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Ok thank you! looks amazing!

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Have you considered a print on demand service like Lightning Source and Lulu? That way you don't have to worry about shipping logistics.

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Can you play this game if you're not Filipino? I love the concept and would love to run it, but I'm indian and fear that I wouldn't know enough about the setting and history to run it right.


Also: is it setting agnostic?

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Hello! Yes I would love for Non-Filipinos to play this and I encourage it. You don't really have to worry about the Setting and History since this is a Fantasy setting first and foremost! As long as you're having fun with the combat and potentially engaging in melodrama, and thriving in the Southeast Asian aesthetic, you're running it right.

Unfortunately it isn't setting agnostic but it is very easy to refluff, and making your own settlements and places is encouraged. Thank you so much!

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This game is wonderful, genuinely one of the most creative and compelling ttrpg's I've ever seen. I'm so excited about it, and deeply appreciate how interwoven crafts are with the rest of the gameplay. I'm doing research so I can run a one-shot for friends, and I can't recommend picking this up enough - I found it in the Bundle For Palestine, but I'm going to be buying at least one extra copy when I have spare income, both to provide it to a friend and also just to support this incredible undertaking.

It's ludicrously cheap, and should not be missed out on. Some of the most inventive and exciting combat mechanics I've seen in ages, that are so vivid and striking in how they are portrayed and in what they do that I am easily able to picture the flow of combat as though it were a fighting game, or any of the action scenes in the more cinematic listed inspirations. 

Genuinely think that even in a beta state, this game is worth another $15 on the listed price. A 295 page book with gorgeous illustrations, crisp and readable layouts, and also diagrams - I very much appreciate those on a cognitive accessibility level!

The only feedback I have on that, is that it can be quite difficult to read pure white text on max black boxes, and that the description of Blast is a little confusing for me as written. 

I also have to applaud the way this game depicts violence. It's poetic and tragic and beautiful and recognizes the power that violence can have to be liberatory even as it is often devastating.



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Wow, thank you so so much for your kind words! I appreciate your insights! I've done something about the black boxes and tried to clarify the wording on Blast as well. Thank you again and I hope you enjoy the game!

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The changes have helped a TON, thank you so much!!

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In your file "Songs for...", at page 42, I suggest you to change the name of the special ability into something like: Powerless / Paralyzed or Disabled Doll Skewering. I'd avoid paralytic.

Keep the good work!

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Ooh that makes sense, thank you!