Malandros - a DramaSystem game of street life in old Rio

edited June 2014 in Game Design Help
Hey, who's interested in kicking around an in-progress PbtA/DramaSystem mashup kind of thing?
Of course you are. Here's the Google Doc:

Here's the blurb:
The Empire of Brazil is entering its last days. At street level in the city, life continues to be vibrant, often violent, and full of people just trying to get by, to find a jeitinho.
“Finding a way” - that's the streetwise thing to do; it's what malandros do. But as the capoeira proverb has it, O malandro demais se atrapalha: the guy who tries to be too smart only confuses himself.

Malandros is a roleplaying game based on the DramaSystem rules engine. Players take on the roles of characters in a tight-knit community caught up in tumultuous times.
Although Malandros takes a certain time and place in history as its starting point (1889 in Rio de Janeiro), it is not a historical simulation - you, the players, will work together to create the story of what happens to your characters and their city.
And here's the filmography, to give you an idea of what to expect:

Besouro (film, 2009)
Black Orpheus (film, 1959)
City of God (film, 2002)
Gangs of New York (film, 2002)
Peaky Blinders (TV, 2013)
Romeo + Juliet (film, 1996)
Treme (TV, 2010)
The Warriors (film, 1979)
West Side Story (film, 1961)
The Wire (TV, 2002)


  • I was wondering when we'd see the first DramaSystem adaptation! Are you considering the Creative Commons Attribution licence for Malandros (for others: Tom is using the DramaSystem rules under the Creative Commons Attribution licence -
  • Lovely illustrations!
  • This game is really cool! And my capoeira instructor is in the photo on page 40! Everyone should check this out!
  • Are you considering the Creative Commons Attribution licence for Malandros
    Yeah, I'm thinking about that. It has a (c) on it while I ponder options.

  • So I should probably ask some actual questions:

    1) What are your initial impressions from a read-through?

    2) Would you be willing to play Malandros (let's say somewhere between 1 and 6 sessions) and let me know how it goes?
  • Thank you very much - this is really helpful!

    I had heard of Jorge Amado (of course!) but never knew where to start. So now I can begin with Captains of the Sands.

    You also highlight one of the areas that is still absent from Malandros the game - resources to help players describe and explore not only who they are now, but how they became those people.

    I expect most players will prefer to be a Robin Hood kind of malandro. Although 50% of my playtest group were more or less bad guys, so maybe not.
    Even if they are not PCs, the bicheiros are a good model for the rival hustlers they will meet. And the numbers game would be a good racket for the vigarista. (In fact, I just went and added it to the text, instead of the generic 'gambling'.)

    And since I looked up the game's history, now I need to add the Zoological Gardens to my "Things you find in Rio" chapter.

  • edited May 2014
    So, since I accidentally bumped the thread by messing up a whisper, I may as well add something here.

    Reaction from Brazilian gamers has been largely positive, with some measure of disbelief - i.e. "Why would someone not from Brazil want to write a game set in our history?"
    It's not the first time I've heard Brazilians suggest that their country's history is "boring", which is probably a side-effect of having to learn about it in school. Because it really isn't.
  • Our current NBA game is set in Sao Paulo, what with mummified nuns and gangsters with names like Weird and Big Jelly and mumified nuns, five minutes on Google turned up plenty.
  • I would definitely produce a Portuguese edition if people were interested. Of course, I would need a lot of help - and the English version still has a lot of work required.
  • So hey, this is still happening. I am looking at a properly laid-out and illustrated release later on this year.

    I made a Google+ community for the game, where you can get the latest playtest files, ask questions, give feedback, etc:

  • Malandros is getting perilously close to release.

    This is a preview of "The People You Meet", part of the introductory setting chapter that later forms part of character creation. You choose a type to be your PC; those not picked by anyone become part of the supporting cast.
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