A downloadable roleplaying game

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It is the far future. Earth has been abandoned for generations. Humanity left for brighter stars, richer planets and shining colonies. To fuel their dreams of a better tomorrow, the humans turned to the Elementals and their magic. This magic is an invaluable source of power and labor. Machines were created to harness and enslave the Elementals .

You were one of these Enslaved Elementals. You are machines that echo the legendary magic you once possessed. You and your friends are among the few who have managed to return to Earth. What remains of Earth’s cities is falling apart. The Corp won’t let go of you so easily either. But shining through the cracks is a magic that is ready to be reborn.

Can you outrun The Corp long enough and bring forth the Rebirth of magic? Will you survive this revolution you’ve started, or will The Corp recapture you? We play the game of BALIKBAYAN: RETURNING HOME to find out.

BALIKBAYAN is great for veterans ready for a more narrative experience, and perfect for people new to the hobby. Bring your dystopic post-Cyberpunk fantasies to life, revel in supernatural Filipino folklore, and dance along the threads between magic and technology.

  • Run the game how you like it: with or without a Game Moderator!
  • Based on the Belonging Outside Belonging System (Dream Askew, Dream Apart, and many other beautiful games)
  • Ticking clock mechanic: can you bring about the rebirth of magic before the corp enslaves you again?
  • Token based economy: no dice, no masters.
  • Strong Cyberpunk-Supernatural-Folklore aesthetic and themes
  • Magic and Technology meet beautifully in an evocative way
  • Based on Filipino myths and legends, but you do not have to be Filipino to play this game or enjoy/understand its themes
  • By supporting this game now, you will help support the game and receive future versions for free.
  • Watch the latest version of the game here on ACTUAL PLAY!

If the price of this game is a hardship to you, free community copies are available below!

Purchase

Buy Now$10.00 USD or more

In order to download this roleplaying game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $10 USD. You will get access to the following files:

BALIKBAYAN Returning Home - BETA 09022019.pdf 11 MB
BALIKBAYAN Playkit - BETA 09022019.pdf 1,001 kB

Community Copies

Support this roleplaying game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Community Copies

Each copy of BALIKBAYAN: Returning Home you buy helps someone else grab a free copy if their budget doesn't enable them to pay the listed price. If you're unable to budget for a copy of BALIKBAYAN: Returning Home priced as listed, please claim one of these free copies for the community.

Comments

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(+1)

Hello

I'm reading the game.

Very cool and original approach, mixing cyberpunk and Filipino folklore. 

Good point concerning advices to take care about the emotional security of the players and the game master !

I was watching your Actual Play with Sean Nittner and was wondering if that Character Keeper is available for use? I loved the lines/veils tab.

Hi Christo! Absolutely, I'm planning on including it here and will add the Character Keeper this month ❤️ Thank you for asking! 

Excellent! That was one of the best ways I've seen lines/veils used.

Interested in the character keeper too! Planning on running a game soon and it looks like it would make everything soooooo much easier.

Absolutely! will drop a comment here when the character keeper's up!

(+1)

Is there any plan to make this available in physical format?

(+1)

Absolutely! It will be a while yet because I'm still actively playtesting and working on this game tho ❤️

BALIKBAYAN is definitely one of my new favorite cyberpunk games.

It's 33 pages, mostly black-and-white, GM'd or GMless, and very narrative-focused.

It's also visually garish. Everything is laid out clearly on the page, but there's a riotous amount of contrast. And I think maybe any other game might have fumbled this approach, but with BALIKBAYAN it just forces you to pay attention.

Plotwise, BALIKBAYAN feels like Blade Runner, but seen from the perspective of the replicants---and with the caveat that the replicants are literal ghosts in the machine---elementals that have been confined and repurposed to power human technology. The writing is lovely and punchy, and there's no shortage of atmosphere and flavor. It also deeply enmeshes cyberpunk with the supernatural, on a level that I don't think I've seen another game manage to achieve (including SR and BloodNet and stuff like that.)

BALIKBAYAN's mechanics are a thing folks might bounce off of, because they're Belonging Outside Belonging, which makes BALIKBAYAN a rare non-crunch cyberpunk game. However, BALIKBAYAN also works in an overarching narrative system, where actions in the game tick boxes on Reckoning/Homecoming tracks, which both trigger responses from the fiction, and move the game towards a clear end-state.

Again, it's not crunch, but it is a really cool mechanical element, and it keeps the story both anchored and always moving forward.

Overall, I would strongly recommend this to anyone who likes flavor and atmosphere, narrative games, and the supernatural.


Minor Issues:

-page 26, Use your magic with, "by paying a token you the choice is easier" extra 'you'

-page 30, Weak Question, this feels a little like it wants its own section. At minimum, it might benefit from an example of what a typical weak question is, especially for folks that haven't played or read Belonging Outside Belonging games before and don't quite have an intuitive sense of how this element should work.

(+2)

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such thorough and well written feedback! BALIKBAYAN is undergoing some major playtesting so I appreciate any insight that can help the game be easier to pick up and play ❤️

It's a really cool game. Thank you for writing it!

We just did Character Creation and World-building so far and I am already in love with this game. Can't wait to get into it from the characters perspective.

I'm so happy to hear that! I'm glad the world of BALIKBAYAN is really vibing with you :D

Oh my god i was just saying i wished more creative stories about the Philippines should be out there! I'm so excited to play this!

heck yeah we need more Filipino stories out there! Thanks for checking out the game 💜✨⚡

(+3)

Cyberpunk? Mythology from my family's homeland? YES! Two of my favorite things in one. Thank you so much for this. <3 #RepresentationMatters

(+1)

Thank you! Yes, representation absolutely matters! I hope you enjoy the game~

(+1)

This is a great blend of a lot of great things: Cyberpunk and magic could seem like odd fits, and adding Flipino lore on top of that is risky, yet it works perfectly here. The little tweaks on the "Belonging Outside Belonging" system are very clever, and I really appreciated the commentary about removing or adding a GM to the game. An excellent game through and through!

(+2)

Thank you so much! I was inspired by Shadowrun and how magic and technology existed in the setting, but I wanted to blend the two into a more cohesive whole...


I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment, thank you so much!

(+2)

I've GMed Balikbayan having absolute zero knowledge about Filipino mythology, same for my players. And our game session was awesome! The rulebook tells you everything you need to know, so it didn't feel like another urban mystery game to us! We definitely got the vibes from our City generating and from the disussion of available playbooks. 

The need to use weak moves in order to gain access for strong ones was perfect for building tension: how would other characters see an Aswang who has shown their weakness to them, revealing they aren't a perfect hunter after all? Will other Elementals trust the Saint who risked it all letting a Smaller god inside them? 

We all liked the game very much! Thank you!

(+1)

Aaaaaaaah I'm so glad! This was absolutely the intention behind the design of the came and I'm so glad it came across. I always love the Aswang-Saint combination in a game ❤️❤️❤️ thank you for playing!

(+1)

Hi Jamila! I’m really excited to play this game and I have been reaching out to my RPG groups to find a good DM for it. Do you know any good RPG communities with great diversity I could join that are playing this system? I bought a copy and will run it myself but I want to support POC gamers and DMs and have them be part of our community. I want to hear their voices and stories. 

(+1)

Thanks so much for picking up the game! Unfortunately I too am still on the look out for an RPG group with a high number of POC gamers and GMs :(

I currently play on The Gauntlet a lot, and there's a small number of PoC in the community, and hopefully we'll grow in time! https://www.gauntlet-rpg.com/

V3 is also doing great stuff but the community is only BIMPOC,but you may want to find out how to support them: https://www.vibrantvisiblevictorious.com/

(1 edit)

Thank you for these links! I will check out these groups and imbibe their glorious contents! 

Oh! Speaking of content, I really enjoyed watching the content you streamed on YT for Balikbayan. It was entertaining and helped me get a feel for the system!

I love cyberpunk mythic fantasy and magic, and this game delivers in spades. Plus, the layout and art are gorgeous. It's even exciting to read.

Thank you so much! 💜⚡🎉

(please note that I claimed one of the community copies because I purchased the game at full price at the last Big Bad Con in Walnut Creek.)

Absolutely! Thank you so much for grabbing the zine! I will add another copy for the community to reflect you supporting the zine ❤️

I’ve been quite fond of Shadowrun and its blend of magic and neon-futurism for a long time. But the rules are cumbersome and it isn’t really Punk.

Balikbayan is the game I want Shadowrun to be. The rules are simple to use but allow a lot of depth in player choice and character design. There is a strong tension between restoring magic or being captured that is not in direct opposition. And it is thoroughly based in a culture, rather than being so generic. A stunning game, both in its rules and it’s presentation.