While on a very short trip to Portland, Oregon, I visited Powell’s Books downtown. Powell’s has a larger RPG section than all of the choices in my local area combined. Most of it I had seen in the past, some of it was surprising because I never thought I’d see them again, and one book in particular really threw me off.
I found an OGL (3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons compatible) book called “Nyambe: African Adventures”. I didn’t even know this book existed. I’d never seen a reference to it anywhere, I’d never heard anyone say anything about it, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a sourcebook based on a fictional Africa for D&D. Rokugan (what used to be called Oriental Adventures) has been around for decades, and I’ve played it several times, and it even has a place on the fictional world of Toril, of Forgotten Realms fame. I know that to the far west of Faerun lies the continent that represents the Americas, and even that there is a representation of mythical Arabia. But Africa? Where’d this come from?
It is fantastic. The author treats African mythology and history with respect, even as he twists it a bit to match a more fantasy-like setting. The spirits and monsters are real. Human ethnic groups are fleshed out and realistic. Demihuman races fit the setting and add to the game without just being re-skinned versions of the core rulebook races. Classes and prestige classes match the flavor of the setting. By the way, the setting is not world specific, so any DM can put the whole island into their world without shattering its core.
I wish I had known about Nyambe a long time ago. I can already envision groups of player characters exploring the rain forest, or trekking across the desert sands in search of adventure and fame.
If you like D&D, especially 3rd and 3.5, then you owe it to yourself to find and get a copy of Nyambe: African Adventures. Even if all you ever do is read it, it’s well worth every penny.
And I can’t wait to use the Wakyambe (arboreal Elves with prehensile tails) in my own world!