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The Universe Of A Thousand Thousand Islands

A Thousand Thousand Islands is on a mission to make roleplaying fantasy games mainstream in Malaysia and eventually, Southeast Asia. Creators, Mun Kao and Zedeck Siew, who work as illustrator and writer from Centaur Games respectively, outdid themselves to create unique zines featuring mystical creatures and supernatural folktales that would serve for users to create their own fantasy storylines. Below, we speak to them on their journey to creating an RPG community in Malaysia, the work behind their zines and more.

What is your brand's creative direction and artistic approach? Why have you decided to go down this route?

Imagination cored in a Southeast Asian grounding, is what we would describe it. We think we're basically creating a world we want to see.

Please share what has been the brand's most admirable achievement thus far!

We do a really niche thing, which is Tabletop Roleplaying Fantasy in Malaysia. It's such a small thing that we think just being able to do it for so many years and survive (with the support of our partners, friends and the RPG community) is one of our biggest achievements.

The series of zines, designed for use in fantasy adventure tabletop RPGs draws from the overlapping material cultures, lived stories, and mythistories of that region of the world variously called Indochina, Suvarnabhumi, and the Nusantara — Southeast Asia.

What hardships have your brand gone through?

Making money off games is tough. Shipping physical games to people all around the world is tough. Had to dip our toes into shipping and logistics.

Our approach to games is unique. We don’t come from a game design background so a large part of our process has been exploratory.

How are your products sourced and made?

All of our zines are created and printed in Malaysia.

How did your brand come about?

It came out of two things, a desire to see fantasy centered in Southeast Asia, and even more importantly, creating Southeast Asian fantasy that is not tied to ethno-nationalist imaginations.

What was your inspiration for your brand?

History, live experiences, and ghost stories.

What are your brand creative values?

Being diametrically opposite to ethno-nationalism and the ability to play and create.

Why did you choose the name "A Thousand Thousand Islands"?

One of my favourite reasons is that it both represents mandalas (political and cultural) and the multitudes of it.

What advice can you share with other local business owners out there?

We're both horrible with money and we're still learning as a business so it'd be incredibly irresponsible to give any advice [laughs].

Though for tabletop RPGs, we wish we had arrived at the conclusion, that A Thousand Thousand Islands could be a sustainable project earlier, but the lesson that things take time is equally important, so it cancels out.

What are your goals and vision for your brand in the years to come?

We hope to come out with many more books!

Lastly, what makes your brand and product unique?

Our approach to games is unique. We don’t come from a game design background so a large part of our process has been exploratory. We've wanted to make something new and hopefully enjoyable to play.


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