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a DramaSystem role-playing game

by Thomas McGrenery


Rio de Janeiro in the last days of imperial Brazil. A city of slums and palaces, street gangs and tycoons, magic charms and outlawed martial arts.

Cunning, bohemian, streetwise, the malandro walks through it all without fear—because there’s always a way out.


“Malandro é o cara que sabe das coisas

Malandro é aquele que sabe o que quer

Malandro é o cara que ta com dinheiro

E não se compara com um Zé Mané

Malandro de fato é um cara maneiro

E não se amarra em uma só mulher.”


Malandro is the guy who knows things

Malandro is the one who knows what he wants

Malandro is the guy who has money

And he does not compare himself with any Joe Schmoe

Malandro, in fact, is a cool guy

And does not tie himself to one girl.


Bezerra da Silva, “Malandro É Malandro e Mané É Mané”



Last year, Princess Isabel signed the Golden Law, abolishing slavery in Brazil. So now we’re all free: black, white and native alike. More or less.


Round here the coffee barons run the show. They might have fought against abolition harder if they hadn’t fig red out that it’s cheaper to pay workers peanuts than put a roof over their heads.


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 proverb has it, O malandro demais se atrapalha: the guy who tries to be too smart only trips up himself.


What this is

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 particular time and place in history as its starting point (1889 in Rio de Janeiro), it is not a historical simulation – you, the participants, will work together to create the story of what happens to your characters and their city.


In any given session of the game, most of your group will be the ‘players’. That is, you each portray a single player character (PC), one of the protagonists of your shared story. One of you will be the GM (short for a Gente e o Mundo), portraying the world at large and all the people in it that the player characters meet. If you are the GM, your player character becomes part of the supporting cast.


You may choose to have one person be the GM all the time or take turns at the job with each new episode, as you prefer.


How to play Malandros

Rio de Janeiro: Cidade Maravilhosa 

The People You Meet 

Creating Characters 

Signature Moves 

Episodes & Scenes 

Procedural Actions

Stress & Harm 

Wealth & Money 

Playing the Game 


Supporting Cast 

Patuás, the Corpo Fechado & other uncanny matters 


Example of Play






Legal stuff

This work is based on the DramaSystem SRD (found at http://www.pelgranepress.com/?p=12485), a product of Robin D. Laws and Pelgrane Press, developed, written, and edited by Robin D. Laws, and licensed for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence 




Malandros is made available under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Unported Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en_US).
To use the content of Malandros in your work, please use the following attribution language. This text must be placed in the same place you put your own copyright notice, and must be the same size as the rest of your copyright notice.
"This work is based on Malandros, written by Thomas McGrenery, and the DramaSystem SRD (found at http://www.pelgranepress.com/?p=12485), a product of Robin D. Laws and Pelgrane Press, developed, written, and edited by Robin D. Laws, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)."



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