CW: Many serious themes and extreme circumstances. Each adventure comes with their own content warnings that I have included.
Unbreakable: Revolution is an incredible anthology of adventures and scenarios for all manner of TTRPG systems absolutely crammed with remarkable and exciting stories of rebellion and revolution. The writing and artwork are powerfully beautiful, filled with a vital hope and will, burning bright against oppressive darkness – the sparks of revolution. Taking inspiration from the breadth of history, culture, experience, and imagination of the incredible, diverse Asian creators of the Unbreakable team, they have created something truly spectacular. Building on the triumph of the Unbreakable Anthology Volume One, Unbreakable: Revolution is one of the most vital and affecting TTRPG works I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time. I can’t wait to run and play each one of these adventures and scenarios, from escaping an oppressive rat regime, rebel pirate heroics, tackling a demon prince-possessed leader, 1970s detectives in the middle of a gang war, a dark, burning mystery at the heart of a seemingly joyous celebration, an ordeal to uncover truth that raises many questions, and the opportunity to take on the role of sentient weapons or those who wield them as they defy their oppressors, lighting the spark of rebellion by holding a culturally significant festival outlawed by invaders. There’s just so much awesomeness exploding from this book!
The themes and stories told in this anthology, inspired by the myriad countries and people that make up Asia, a great breadth of history and experience, are incredibly resonant with the way the world today - still very much feeling the effects of imperialism, oppression, othering, and exoticism, and much more grappled within these pages. There are incredible amounts of fun to be had with these adventures and scenarios, without a doubt, but there is also a deeper meaning and important concepts for the GMs and players to reckon with as they play, which is incredibly powerful and inspiring (I feel like I'm really not doing this justice with my explanation). This is a special anthology with a lot of important things to say, as well as being well-crafted, engrossing, and exciting scenarios.
The cover art by Joshua Mendenhall aka HTTPaladin is remarkable, grabbing the viewer by the lapels and bringing them into the revolution!
“When the Unbreakable Anthology was released in April 2020, the world was faced with a brilliant new reality: not only are we proud to be Asians, but we also want our voices to be heard. One of the best compliments we received was that “[Volume 1] is unapologetically Asian.” In the spirit of that statement, a boldness was necessary—no, demanded. The Volume 1 anthology was the first of a larger dream and ambition to bring more voices and creators to share their cultures, stories, and identities.
Unbreakable: Revolution is something new for us. Be bold, just as we have, and be free. This is a revolution. A revolution is a sudden, radical change, but it can also be a renouncement of the status quo to drive change. We denounce the view that Asians don’t have a place in creative spaces. We are here, and we have something to say. We’re not going anywhere.
I had the absolute pleasure of reviewing Unbreakable Volume One (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product_reviews_info.php?&reviews_id=421217&products_id=306865). It’s absolutely wonderful to see the team go from strength to strength, moving into more systems and thematic releases like this one:
“...Inside this book, you will find stories about resisting tyranny, rebelling against oppression, and overthrowing colonizers. Like our previous publication, these stories reflect the diverse Asian heritages and cultures of our contributors.”
I can’t wait to see what comes next!
How to use this book
This section discusses and links to the various systems used, as well as the included pronunciation guides “placed there in the spirit of good faith; it’s reasonable and understandable if the playgroup mispronounces these names, but mispronouncing is often preferable to substituting another name,” and the sidebars used throughout.
It’s important to use safety tools at any table, but even more necessary when dealing with the themes and subjects within Unbreakable: Revolution. I echo the Unbreakable team in their recommendation of the TTRPG Safety Toolkit linked below.
“Each adventure in this book features content warnings with potentially sensitive subjects. While these warnings are at the front of each adventure, they are not the only tools available to you. We recommend implementing the following tools in your game sessions. This is not an exhaustive list, and not every safety tool may apply to your group. Additional safety tools curated by Kienna Shaw and Lauren Bryant-Monk can be found at bit.ly/ttrpgsafetytoolkit.”
The anthology provides some details on Lines & Veils, Pallete, Support Check-In, Script Change (recently updated: https://briebeau.itch.io/script-change), and the X-Card.
Big Rat, Don’t Eat my Millet by KC Shi
Edited by Remy Cortez
CW: rats, claustrophobia, slavery, starvation
This scenario recommends the following rulesets: d20 systems, 13th Age, The Black Hack, B/X Essentials, One Shot World, Quest RPG, Year Zero Engine.
“Features a world ruled by anthropomorphic rats. Players seek to escape their predicament and reach the surface, discovering the awful reality around them. Do they stay and work to make their homes better or do they venture into the unknown world above?”
Art of the Rat King's domain possesses a sinister beauty and wonderful detail. The rats in the shadows with glowing eyes the colour of the background are incredibly striking.
“This adventure was inspired by a 7th century BCE Chinese folk song from the Shijing, or Classic of Poetry, appropriately titled “Big Rat.” The Confucian scholars who recorded these songs perhaps overanalyzed them for allegorical meaning—and certainly modified them to fi t the royal court’s stylistic standards—which is one reason why this adventure interprets “Big Rat” as literally as possible. (The other reason is because it amuses me.)”
“Some elements of the adventure are inspired by the Western Zhou Dynasty—a time both foundational and far removed from modern China, predating Confucianism, Buddhism, or Taoism—but others are pure fantasy. To paraphrase Mark Oshiro in The Unintended Education of Literature, POC authors need not teach readers about “our cultures” whenever we write secondary worlds. Our works deserve space to be playful and imaginative as well!”
Rich in detail and peril, this adventure poses many thoughtful questions to ground the player characters in the setting and situation, as well as a grim, evocative table for the various effects hunger may have had on them on their journey.
During the planning of the escape "the party members can only talk to each other safely through coded songs, hushed whispers, or other secret means", which is a great detail and advice is provided around whether implementing this at the table is appropriate for tour group. Various information to share among characters is provided each to know, so they can pool their knowledge and come up with a plan together.
A moral choice with significant ramifications is presented at one stage, though somewhat unfortunately the adventure handles a character taking this upon themselves by "That character’s return journey happens off-screen, and they effectively exit the story", which is a bit of a shame. I appreciate that everything can’t be within the scope of the adventure and understand they are effectively making a sacrifice to do what’s right. The player can simply roll up another character, but it would be nice to play this thread out and give it some closure or lend more weight to this decision, which is of course within the scope of the GM to do if they wish.
The adventure concludes with revelations and a variety of options and seeds for the group to potentially play out and explore. Will they live out their days in the Happy Land on the backs of their exploited peers, will they return him and begin a revolution and battle the Rat King, or with they explore more of the world?
A beautifully written and thoughtful adventure that explores the slavery and squalor the poor face, presided over by petty tyrants and overseers, so far removed from the hedonistic, vapid lives of the ruling class who have everything they could ever need and so much more from this exploitation, while pretending it doesn't exist. It confronts the difficult choices we face as part of these systems and how we treat each other to get what we want and/or do the right thing. It also explicitly demonstrates that, while circumstances might bring those not innately part of the ruling class to the "Happy Land", they will always be seen as other, treated with "bafflement, disgust, amusement, and pity".
Days of Powder, Plunder, and Plot by Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen
Edited by Omi Chun
CW: colonialism, imperialism, open water, threatening ocean life (sharks), piracy, theft, hostages, suicide attempt(s), description of imprisonment, drowning
This scenario is optimized for Black Hack v1.2 by David Black for 3-4 characters of 3rd-4th level and similar OSR & rules-light systems.
“Vietnamese pirates, ship battles, and a prized warship to turn the tides of revolutionary efforts.”
“Days of Powder, Plunder, & Plot assumes a Southeast Asian–analogue setting (Sông), specifically Vietnamese, that has been colonized by many including a French-analogue nation (Empire d’Soleil). The setting assumes a marginal incorporation of black powder technology, but this can be easily changed from arquebus to crossbows and cannons to ballistae to your taste.”
“This adventure is inspired by dramatized real history of Vietnam, and works of high seas adventure such as the Pirates of the Caribbean films, the Black Sails television series, Treasure Island, and more.”
The adventure is clearly laid out in four stages:
“THE LEAD. Taking of Le Tigre illustrates the primary phases of play for the adventure:
• Boarding Action.
• Delving in the Ship, 2-3 setpiece rooms.
THE HEADING. A necessary adjournment on the Hươu Nước and at dock:
• Socializing with the ship’s crew to get to know them better, get a feel for their motivations, and prepare for the coming mission.
• Investigating the manifest found on the Tigre with some NPCs with the opportunity to barter and get a feel of the public opinion regarding the revolution outside the crew.
THE PRIZE. Taking the L’Ouragan, the full showcase of the custom mechanics and a more robust delve as the main setpiece of the adventure.
• Boarding Action.
• Delve into the Ship, 4-6 setpiece rooms.
THE SLIP. Escaping with the treasure, the Empire leaves nothing to chance. A Man o’ War arrives just in time to chase the Hươu Nước from the scene of the L’Ourgan’s reaping. This turns the tables and puts the crew on the defense, fighting off an incoming boarding party.
• Defending from a Boarding Action • Escape or die.”
This is an absolutely rip-roaring rebel pirate adventure on the seas and friendly bay with all manner of action and adventure. This truly provides all the danger, daring and excitement you could possibly want in a pirate adventure for a noble cause. I haven't been this excited to both run and/ or play an adventure in a while. I need to bring this to a table right, stat now!
Additional rules/ materials
A variety of black powder weapons are included with rules and profiles that can easily be ported onto your chosen system.
A simple set of rules for boarding actions are included for when the player characters lead the vanguard onto the enemy ships.
"Ships themselves, once boarded, function essentially as a typical dungeon delve with the treasure being at the “heart” of the ship."
Rules for fighting in gunsmoke and dark cabins.
Eight enemies are included with OSR profiles, which can be easily ported into your system of choice.
Labelled maps of three ships with all decks are included.
Contains brilliant advice and notes throughout the adventure, including recommendations for diverse gender, build and personality of NPCs and considerations for disabled characters. You love to see it!
This is a remarkably well put together adventure and I love to see the rich true rebellious and anti-imperialist nature of pirates, rather than the one-note stereotype so often seen.
Make of Thee an Instrument of Peace by Pam Punzalan
Edited by Lexi Antoku
CW: colonial violence, profaning of Christian beliefs & imagery, body horror
A scenario for Forged in the Dark.
“Set in 19th-century Spanish Colonial Philippines. A powerful demon has possessed the governor-general and players are supernatural hunters tasked to stop the demon’s reign for good.”
“It is 1896, year one of the Philippine Revolution. The fires of rebellion rage across the archipelago where the Governor-General and his constituents still have control, challenging the power of the Crown. These are dark days in the wake of Jose Rizal’s execution, but the fighters of the Katipunan are relentless in their pursuit of a nation free from Spain.
The battles you wage, however, are of a different sort.”
Incredibly striking, bold title artwork and gorgeous playbook portraits.
Fantastic advice for the setting and character creation for the heist, including a variety of backgrounds, seven new playbooks and a new crew, Hunters from the Order of Iscariot, "elite exorcists, monster hunters, and supernatural investigators from an international network of Christian warriors who stand against the darkness."
The playbooks and crew are incredible, absolutely dripping with supernaturally flavour, style, and substance. I want to play them all!
Simply, an incredibly cool concept and wonderfully detailed, approaches, NPCs, possible outcomes and potential further adventures, as the crew of hunters from the Order Iscariot are tasked with taking down the demon prince-possessed Governor-General Diego de los Rios with minimal casualties.
A truly fascinating appendix is included, The Katipunan, Christianity, and Religious Syncretism, discussing the Philippine relationship with, and the incorporation of Christianity and its symbolism into the culture, and how this could manifest in the game.
Altogether, an astoundingly remarkable prospect with the personification of colonialism, its insidious ideology and power as demonic possession, which itself must be exorcised executed brilliantly. As the adventure hook states: “The Order is sure that even if the Revolution overthrows Spain, Beelzebub will seek out another vessel to continue his infernal work on Earth.” Bloody marvelous!
Bad Luck Fortune by Doryen Chin
Edited by Alda Yuan
CW: general horror, gang violence, dead parents & family members, supernatural aging, loss of bodily autonomy, kidnapping & imprisonment, drowning, orphanages, cemeteries, funerals, alcohol, gambling, fi rearms, knives, hatchets & axes
This scenario is compatible with 5e & d20 systems.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.
“Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1970s with the central cast of players being members of a family detective agency. A warring feud between two Chinatown gangs stands between the players and the sinister dark forces at work.”
Terrifyingly beautiful and oppressive title art. I don’t think I’ve ever been as affected by a boat or any TTRPG-related art. I am so very morbidly fascinated by this piece. I just get absolutely lost in it!
“A silent hulk cuts a hole in the shadow of the night, a missing tooth among the brightly lit dockside ships. When you see its grotesque form against the inky sky, you feel its name rolling around in your skull. Shuǐmǔ. Your destination.”
In addition to the pronunciation guide a sidebar explaining Cantonese pronunciation and tones:
“Many of the words, names, and places featured in this adventure utilize Jyutping romanization devised by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong. Each phonetic pronunciation is accompanied with a superscript denoting one of six tonal contours found in Cantonese. Like Mandarin, tonal pitches are important to denote specific characters and words...You can learn more about Jyutping at http://www.jyutping.org.”
Character creation is a little different for this adventure, making the events all the more personal to the characters .“This adventure is designed to be played without the use of Classes or Races.” Instead, the characters "should be related and between 21 and 30 years old”. A Table of Family, Masculine/ Male, Feminine/ Female, and Gender Neutral common 1950s Chinese-American names are provided, along with details on stat generation, skills (using loose, simplified advantage/ disadvantage training for the relevant skills in the system you run this adventure in), and combat (characters start with no weapons, though they are acquired in the adventure, “the use of improvised weapons is strongly encouraged. Except when specified, fights between living characters and NPCs end when the first character or an NPC falls unconscious.”) The combat elements particularly make sense in a relatively modern real-world analogue where murder is far more of a consideration than it seems to be in many fantasy settings.
Opening an adventure with an interview is a wonderful way to get to know and flesh out the characters, as is playing a family detective agency for an investigative adventure. Having hidden objects and clues to reveal “as the characters poke around the apartment; no skill checks are required” is a great touch and avoids the stalling failure of certain d20 systems.
Wonderful advice is provided throughout, including “Socratic Game Mastering,” asking “specific questions so [the players] fully process what they encounter”/ the evidence they uncover.
NPCs are presented in detailed snapshot sidebars with a bio, goals, family facts/ knowledge and secrets providing a wealth of easy to reference information.
The adventure is a captivating mystery and investigation as the family of detectives uncover secrets in pursuit of discovering the truth around the disappearance of their youngest sibling. On the way they will attempt to mediate a gang rivalry and ultimately lead to a showdown with “an ancient and immortal geung-si [goeng si] 殭屍, a vampire that feeds on youth and beauty” in a graveyard and mausoleum with a family reunion and funeral rites.
The Crimson Uprising by Rajib Kalita
Edited by Steve Huynh
CW: oppression, inequity, gaslighting, immolation, torture, child abduction, violence against children and elders
“This adventure aims to reflect the harsh realities of caste based oppression that exist to this day. It is not possible to “solve” a deep-rooted systemic problem such as this in six hours. As such, even the best outcome of this adventure is not a happy ending. It is a matter of choosing the least harmful option. Check in with your players prior to running this adventure.”
This scenario is optimized for d20 systems, including modern d20 systems.
“This adventure is rooted in the caste-based oppression and violence that is commonplace in many regions of India to this day. It examines what is to many the true context of a popular festival.”
“Players confront the hidden truth behind a seemingly joyous celebration and warring factions ready for all-out war after decades of strife and tragedy.”
Incredibly confronting, powerful, and arresting artwork depicting immolation.
This is an incredibly dark and challenging adventure not for the faint of heart, yet incredibly important and unflinching in taking the subject matter by the horns, presenting the party of outsiders with “the opportunity to side with either the native tribe in the surrounding area or uphold the colonist government in the village with complex moral and societal decisions.”
A variety of adventure hooks bring the party in with different opening introductions on the unfolding events, providing opportunities for them to be confronted with atrocities and those committing them, and those suffering them from different angles. This works particularly well with the party being faced with the choice to assist or oppose the colonizers.
The juxtaposition of joy and pain, festivities and atrocity is stark, opening with a riot of colour, good food and drink, and merriment, all while a woman, encased papier-mâché, is being prepared to be burned alive. In the middle of the revelry, moments before the ‘effigy’ is to be burned rebels, including the victim’s daughter arrive to stop the proceedings and save her.
From here a wealth of information and options are provided, informed by the party’s actions. Will they aid the ruling family or the rebels, or even sit out the violence? Will the revelation and possible Immolation of an innocent change their actions? Will they hunt down or join the rebels? Can they find evidence of a shared history and forge some kind of accord or will everything end in blood and Fire?
This adventure provides everything you need for this to playout any of these possibilities with detailed maps of the rebel base and the ruling family’s compound. How will the party and the opposing groups live with the ramifications of their actions? Details on each possible ending and ideas for further adventures are included.
One criticism I do have of this adventure is the use of torture, which, while being adequately discussed that it needs to be something the players consent to being included, and even then advising fade to black, does pose a potential scenario in which the party are captured and subjected to torture, again fine as long as the group are all okay with this, with the suggestion for handling this bring, “a matter of passing a check to withstand the suffering and not give away information.” I appreciate that this is an abstraction to the mechanics of the game, but it does feel very wrong to me to include rules that effectively show that torture can yield the intended information the torturer is looking for, when it is largely recognized that torture is not an effective way of gaining information, with victims of torture likely to say anything to make the ordeal stop. I don’t believe the creator is trying to convey a political message with this inclusion, rather it is an unfortunate side effect of media and the history of mechanics in TTRPG, particularly D20 games, but it is a topic I am passionate about and feel compelled to counter whenever it comes up.
The maps are included in the appendix as well as a pronunciation guide, with details on vowels, consonants and syllables for the Hindi or a Hindi-adjacent language used in the adventure.
The Mountain’s Shroud by Ari Santiago
Edited by Brent Jans
CW: violence, character bodily harm (via weapons, animals, and fi re), racial and religious prejudice, social stratification, and prejudice reflective of Spanish colonial society in the Philippines circa 19th century.
This scenario is optimized for the Ironsworn RPG, a GM-less system for solo or group play.
“Features a journey to discover the origin of a supposedly blessed shroud while dealing with pursuers, orthodoxical dogma, and challenges to everything they know.”
“Inspired by Philippine syncretism, so-called kulorum societies (from 'in saecula saeculorum') and early revolutionary movements.”
Gorgeous artwork! The title art has the feel of a vibrant piece of wall art and the shroud itself is spectacular!
[Will be updated with adventure review]
The First Diya of Navratri by Charu Patel has
Edited by Doug Riechel
CW: racism, colonizers, cultural & religious oppression, foreign invaders, prison & imprisonment, snakes, mentions of murder
This adventure is optimized for Gun&Slinger and the Sword&Bearer supplement for 1 Maestro and 2 or 4 players.
“This adventure is dedicated to my late grandmother, Pali Patel, and my mother, Usha Patel. My mom has always shared stories about her life and my grandmother’s life in India. Her lifetime of storytelling informed and inspired me to write this adventure.”
“Players assume the roles of either sentient weapons or their wielders in this adventure about rebelling against cultural and religious oppression.”
Astoundingly vibrant art throughout!
[Will be updated with adventure review]
(Apologies, for not posting the last two reviews yet, I’ve been trying to put the time into these reviews they deserve and will be sure to update the last two awesome adventures, but I wanted to get the initial review up as soon as possible.)
Unbreakable: Revolution is a truly remarkable anthology absolutely filled with awesomeness, an aesthetic marvel and a powerful collection of adventures and scenarios that takes so many of the problematic aspects of many TTRPGs, particularly the older and legacy ones, thoughtlessly include, but with care and purpose.
I’m absolutely blown away.
I could not recommend this more strongly!
CREATIVE LEAD & PROJECT MANAGER Jacky Leung
NARRATIVE DESIGNERS Doryen Chin, Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen, Rajib Kalita, Charu Patel, Pam Punzalan, Ari Santiago, KC Shi MANAGING
EDITOR Jazz Eisinger
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Brent Jans
NARRATIVE EDITORS Lexi Antoku, Omi Chun, Remy Cortez, Steve Huynh, Brent Jans, Doug Riechel, Alda Yuan SENSITIVITY EDITORS & CULTURAL CONSULTANTS Lexi Antoku, Daniel Kwan, Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen, Pam Punzalan, Vis Subramanian, TOR WAR
INTERIOR LAYOUT & DESIGN Caroline Amaba
COVER ARTIST Joshua Mendenhall
INTERIOR ARTISTS Caroline Amaba, Alika Gupta, Cammiella Gwisdalla, Sonya Henar, Rajib Kalita, H. “Ink” Kugler, Herman Lau, Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen, Mia Mercury, Tiona Miché, Brian Phongluangtham, Angeli Rafer, TOR WAR, Nichole Wilkinson, Kathryne Wilson, Nala J. Wu
MANAGING DIRECTOR Jacky Leung
ART DIRECTOR Caroline Amaba
EDITOR IN CHIEF Jazz Eisinger