Tabletop roleplaying game designer and writer Isaac Mandagie recently announced a call for writers on his Twitter channel to assist with a new D&D 5e DMs Guild project. The product is called Kara-Tur – The Island Kingdoms: Bawa, and will be a campaign sourcebook to bring back the Island Kingdoms region of Kara-Tur from the Oriental Adventures campaign sourcebook, with a focus specifically on the island of Bawa.
For any TTRPG writers interested in applying to work on the Bawa project, Mandagie has created the Kara-Tur – The Island Kingdoms: Bawa (Application Form) for you to fill out and send in. He also tweeted that you have until October 31 of this year to apply, with work on the project scheduled to begin in early November, and with a publish date currently scheduled for “around July or August 2021.”
Mandagie has also posted a handy Twitter thread describing the vision and goal of the Bawa project, along with influences and sources driving its creation. He begins by describing the logo (seen in the above feature image), and that the word “bawa” is derived “from Kawi script, which was used prominently in Maritime Southeast Asia from 8th to 16th century”, and that it is “descended from Pallava script of India.”
Mandagie further states that inspiration for the setting is coming from pre-colonial Indonesia, and the project team “will try to stick purely to that influence (instead of others).” Like Indonesia, the project will be expanding Bawa into an archipelago, which will call for a bit of retconning established lore (from Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realm boxed set) “to explain the changes that happen to the topography and geography.”
Religion will play a crucial role in Bawa, and Mandagie will focus on the local religious aspects of Hyang and Animism. He explains “Hyang will be the main supernatural power” the Bawanese people worship, but it’ll be Animism that’s the daily driving force influencing their lives.
If it sounds as if Mandagie has a solid grasp on Kara-Tur and the vision for this Bawa project, it would be difficult to argue against it. According to Mandagie’s Twitter profile, he hails from or currently lives in Jakarta, on the Indonesian island of Java, in southeast Asia. It’s also apparent he’s done their homework, as he points to the excellent Kara-Tur – Reimagining Dungeon and Dragon’s Indonesia (Island Kingdoms) video on Don’t Stop Thinking’s YouTube channel as being one of the first major influences which sparked the Bawa project.
The Oriental Adventures sourcebook has long been the subject of players ire, particularly this year, for its erroneous use of outdated Asian stereotypes. Fans have called for it to be removed from the online marketplace, which prompted Wizards of the Coast to apply a sensitivity disclaimer to it. Which makes Mandagie’s Bawa project a refreshing sight to see, in that at least a segment of Oriental Adventures is making a comeback, and that he is focused on making it a properly playable roleplaying adventure sourcebook.
To track the Kara-Tur – The Island Kingdoms: Bawa project, connect with Mandagie’s Twitter (@IsaacMandagie), and if you’re a TTRPG designer interested in helping the Bawa project, send your application form in quickly.
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