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A tabletop role-playing game of swindlers and street fighters, love, hate and community – in the last days of imperial Brazil.


Rio de Janeiro at the end of the 19th century: a city of slums and palaces, street gangs and tycoons, magic charms and outlawed martial arts. Cunning, bohemian and streetwise, the malandro walks its streets without fear - because there's always a way out.

Malandros is based on the award-winning DramaSystem rules engine. It's a game of personal struggles and interpersonal dramas.

You play characters in a tight-knit community caught up in tumultuous times: gang leaders, captains of industry, fishermen, martial artists, swindlers and more. You all know each other - you're family, friends, rivals or enemies, all living in the same part of town. You all want something from each other. Maybe it's respect, maybe it's love. Maybe it's fear, or something else. 

Will you get what you want? That's what we're here to find out.


"Like most cariocas, I have a love-hate relationship with imperial Rio. On the one hand, it gave rise to various iconic elements of the city and cemented Rio cultural importance to the country. On the other hand, it was a period of extreme inequality, which served as the foundation for virtually every social tension in the city. It was with a mixture of excitement and fear that I supported the Kickstarter of Malandros, an RPG using DramaSystem, written by Tom McGrenery. As soon as I opened the book and found a quote from Bezerra da Silva, I relaxed a little. When I saw the pictures, I was genuinely excited. When I read the mechanics for axé, Malandros won me over completely due to the combination of good rules, good prose, excellent research, respect for the historical period and the charm that only imperial Rio has." - Thiago Rosa

"The most singular and romantic RPG in my collection." - Tun Kai Poh

"Malandros does for Hillfolk what Urban Shadows does for Apocalypse World (and what second-gen OSR games like the Black Hack do for BECMI D&D). It’s a second generation spin on a foundation text, clarifying and retooling [an] innovative system into something more accessible and functional, but also a conscious deviation. Malandros is something special, and if you’re a tablet reader the PDF is a bargain." - Ralph Lovegrove, Department V

"An exciting narrative game set in a city of colour and culture. Malandros is an excellent example of a roleplaying game dedicated to dramatic interactions. Everything in the book, text, layout, artwork and rules supports this goal. Worth buying just to look at." - Jaye Foster, 6d6 Blog

"It's a rare gem." - Josephe Vandel, Mapforge

"Malandros fuses PbtA and Dramasystem rules into a compelling drama, using each system to patch up weak points in the other while mixing in a rich and compelling setting. I was a big fan of how the book uses contemporary art, photography and poetry to depict the setting of 1800s Brazil, and as my Brazilian friend says: it’s a shame that the best game about Brazil was written by a gringo, but here we are!" - Jay Iles

"O período histórico e seus ricos personagens são explorados de maneira magistral." ("The historical period and its rich personalities are explored in a masterful manner.") - André Cruz, O Velhinho do RPG

"Q: If you had to point someone to an overlooked RPG product, what would that be? A: Thomas McGrenery's Malandros." - Robin D. Laws

"To my personal tastes this is the most singularly interesting game to occupy the intersection between RPG and storygame. I'm in love with the setting, and the way the mechanics bring out the setting. Malandros is a jewel in my collection." [Rating: 5 stars out of 5] - James K. via DTRPG


Actual Play video, recorded during Gauntlet Con 2017 


Buy Now$5.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $5 USD. You will get access to the following files:

Malandros.pdf 15 MB
Malandros character sheet.pdf 96 kB
Malandros Procedural Actions ref sheet.pdf 50 kB

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Community copy

If you need to play Malandros (you do) and you need a copy for free (you might), claim one of the community copies. 

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