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Roleplaying games as a tool for education and social change

The Hidden Lands is a roleplaying game designed by The Goblins Chest, and was created specifically for use in underprivileged, and resource poor communities in South Africa. The goal was to create an experience for children and young people that they could use as a way to practice social and communicative skills, as well as a supplement to a struggling education system.

From a therapeutic standpoint, many of the interventions available to the more privileged are absent in the day to day lives of these children. However the traumas they suffer are equal to, and in many instances surpass those experienced by many people, and serious issues like abuse, exploitation, xenophobia and violence, have been normalised.

Working in conjunction with individuals trained in therapeutic intervention, we will help to train them in the workings of the system so that they can deliver workshops to children and young people who have been the victims of abuse and crime.


Isibulaba, The Land Eater, is a enormous subteranean creature that can be found east of the Horondu Wastes, and just one of the many creatures created for the Hidden Lands Roleplaying Game.

Roleplaying without

a Budget

Another important issue to consider was the lack of resources and access to equipment and the paraphernalia usually related to roleplaying games in general.

With this in mind, we came up with a game system that could make use of available resources, often recycled items,, but still have the players feel a sense of ownership and individuality that these types of items engender in players in wealthier environments.


Many tropes found in roleplaying games also had to be reimagined or excluded, due to cultural and societal sensibilities, keeping in mind the significant difference in opinion and approach to seemingly ordinary issues. 

Cultural stressors, attitudes towards crime, and xenophobia were just some of the challenges we had to take into account when creating this world, and a dynamic system of play that approached these subjects with sensitivity, was of paramount importance.


Origin Story

The Hidden Lands is based on the Graphic novel series "Sbonelo and the Golden Assegai", created, written and illustrated by Rupert Greyling, and takes place in an alternate version of Africa where Strange creatures roam the land and magic is real. Originally published in South Africa under Mthobothi Studios, the story revolved around the adventures of Sbonelo as he explored the Hidden Lands in search of his little brother Sbongile, who had been kidnapped by the minions of the Crocodile king.

The main focus of the book was to bring AIDS and HIV awareness to younger children, by introducing them to a main character who himself had HIV, and who's brother had AIDS, and in so doing educate them on the realities of these conditions, dispelling any stigmas they may have been subjected too.

The cultural groups and races in The Hidden Lands were created to have no direct link to real existing tribes or groups, though there would be similarities due to the desire to create an Afrocentric feel.

Local Partners

The Goblins Chest has Partnered with "Prettyify your Township", a South African NPO focused on "volunteer mobilisation, skills-based volunteering, community development, mentoring and transformation". Their links to local communities and an existing network of willing volunteers, made them ideal partners to bring this socially minded project to our target audience.

To find out more about them, look them up on Facebook HERE!

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