July 25, 2017

Hometown Creation Questions for Hari Ragat


I’m wondering if it’ll be easier for players and GMs to create the PCs’ hometown using a questionnaire?

To play a full campaign of Hari Ragat, all players sit down with the GM and spend time creating the hometown together, and only after that do the players make characters. This gives the benefit of chargen in a setting that the players already feel invested in, with some ready plot hooks to latch onto.

The GM should try to get as many of the questions answered as possible, but it’s ok to leave some blank until later in the campaign. Knowing players though, once their creativity’s been sparked it just keeps going.

Which island is the hometown on, and where there?
Is it a major or minor island?
What are its best-known landmarks?
What are its three most important resources?

What craft or trait are the people best known for?
What is the hometown's identifying color or pattern in clothing?
What is the hometown's signature shield shape or motif?
What is the hometown's signature sword type or hilt motif?
Who is the Diwata most worshipped by the people, and where is her/his sacred site?
What is the Diwata's price for allowing the people to live in this land?
Who is the hometown's most popular hero and what is his or her most famous exploit?
Is there a famous arts master in town, and what is their specialty? (Note that this can be martial arts, dance, chanting, tattooing, smithing, boatmaking, navigation, etc. etc) 

Who rules the town, and how do the people like their rule?
Who is most likely to succeed as the next ruler?
Does the ruler belong to any of the  royal lineages, and if so which one?
Who is the chief Baylan of the town?
Who is the greatest warrior in the town?
Who is the wealthiest person in town and how did they get rich?
Who is the the town belle and which family does she belong to?
Who is the most disliked person in the town?
Who is the town fool?

Who is the ruler's worst enemy?
Is there anyone in the town who threatens the ruler, and why?
What are the people most frightened of?
What do the people most look forward  to in the near future?
What might threaten this expected happy event?

Naval Combat Roles for Hari Ragat


To make running naval combat easier, I’m thinking of writing in these roles as tips for player and GM. I liked the way the new Star Trek RPG tries to give every player something to do in ship to ship battles. Hari Ragat of course has very different technological paradigms, but the principle that every player’s character must have something important to do still stands.

The captain is responsible for calling the tactics to the pilot and crew, and is stationed on the highest deck, sometimes near the pilot at the stern, sometimes near the prow.  The captain can roll contests against the enemy captains to out-think them and figure out which maneuver will work better in the given situation; victory gives Advantage to the pilot's next contest roll. Often the captain and pilot are the same character.

The pilot is responsible for maneuvering and positioning your ship, and is stationed at the steering oar at the stern. Contests of speed and maneuvering are rolled by the pilot; victories can be used to optimize the range to the enemy, or to gain Advantage for the combatants.

Most PCs will be in this role, stationed on the decks. Combatants attack enemy crewmen and combatants with ranged weapons, and make boarding attacks or repel boarders when boarding combat has begun. PCs may also attempt Heroic Displays to gain Ancestral Favor.

If there is a Baylan on board, she can perform Prayers for Ancestral Favor -- always a good tactic because it can aid any of the other PCs -- or work other forms of magic, or defend against the magic of enemy shamans. It's entirely appropriate for the Baylan to spend a whole battle chanting and dancing in Prayer for Ancestral Favor, despite the attempts of the enemy to interupt her.

If there is a chanter on board, she can perform inspiring epic songs that gain Ancestral Favor, which in turn can be spent to inspire the warriors. Only one shaman or chanter can perform at a time -- you cannot have both at once. As with the Baylan, it's appropriate for a chanter to spend the whole battle singing for Ancestral Favor, again despite the enemy's efforts to interrupt her.

If lantakas are available in your campaign, the gunner is in command of the gun crews, and makes the rolls to attack with the guns. A ship usually has only one or two cannon, if at all. Hm - this could be the avenue for a Panday class.

Sailors are usually NPCs, whose job is to work the rigging, bail and make emergency repairs, and drag the wounded to safety. Since most available men are assigned either to paddling or to fighting during battle, there are usually only a few free sailors on hand during a fight.

Paddlers are usually sailor NPCs, whose paddling propels and helps steer the ship. Theirs is a difficult task in battle, for while they paddle they are exposed and defenseless; only the efforts of the combatants on deck can keep the enemy busy enough not to target them. If a PC joins the paddlers, they gain Advantage to resist efforts to dislodge them from their stations.

Some nobles and wealthy men take NPC manservants with them to battle. Those not assigned to paddling may aid in battle by holding shields for their masters and bearing spare weapons and ammunition. A combatant with a shieldbearer gains Advantage to avoid missile attacks.

Noncombatants without any vital supporting roles like chanter or shaman stay out of the way as much as they can, below the fighting deck if on a karakoa where they’re safer from missile attack.

June 14, 2017

Island Generator for Hari Ragat

Since voyaging is a major part of Hari Ragat, and the setting is a huge archipelago, we can definitely use a random island generator. The Janggalan Isles can be divided into two kinds of islands: Major islands are large and nearly always inhabited, and they are named and known. Minor islands are smaller, ranging in size from tiny specks on the sea with a few trees at most, to landmasses that can take several days to sail around or trek across. Moreover, many Minor islands are uninhabited and largely, or even completely, unexplored. This gives us a near-infinite range of settings for adventure! This made me think of having a random Minor island generator on hand; this is the first draft.

To randomly create an island, we'll roll a d6 on several tables. Some are open, meaning the players are allowed to see the results of the roll and what they mean; and some are secret, for the players to find out. Feel free to invent alternatives for any roll result that doesn't seem to fit or feels repetitive after the last island.

1    Tiny islet -- don't roll for settlements; roll 1 landmark
2    Very small island, big enough to hold a village at most; roll 1 landmark and 1 settlement
3    Small island, big enough for a few villages; roll 1 landmark and 1-2 settlements
4    Small island, big enough for a few villages; roll 1 landmark and 1-3 settlements
5    Medium-sized island; roll 2 landmarks and 2-5 settlements
6    Surprisingly large island; roll 3 landmarks and 3-6 settlements

1    Sea cave; what lurks within?
2    Crater lake; what's at the bottom?
3    A shipwreck or abandoned/ruined settlement
4    Secluded cove, inlet or lagoon; what's in it?
5    A wondrous waterfall or spring; what virtue might the waters have, and who is its master?
6    A magnificent mountain peak, surely the home of some great Diwata -- or terrible monster

1    No settlement
2    No settlement, or an abandoned one
3    A tiny and impoverished hamlet, possibly fugitives from somewhere
4    A small village
5    A small town and a couple of dependent villages
6    A surprisingly large town, with its dependent villages

1    A Raksasa giant, man-eating, sorcerous and able to shapeshift, or a dragon
2    A lesser giant, or an Elder creature, huge, ancient, wise and with a taste for human flesh
3    Evil spirits or some other minor supernatural threat
4    Trickster spirits of the wild
5    A band of pirates has made their hideout here
6    A Diwata, powerful to help if pleased, but terrible in anger

May 28, 2017

Daily Weather Tables for Hari Ragat


Because weather can matter a lot in travel, hunting and combat, the Hari Ragat GM will often need to know exactly what the weather is like, rather than just relying on a rough season guide. Roll 1d6 as appropriate:

Dry Season

1 Thunderstorm
2 Hot and humid, thunderstorm expected
3 Warm and sunny
4 Warm and sunny
5 Warm and sunny
6 Sunny with cool winds

Wet Season

1 Typhoon
2 Day-long heavy rains (nonstop)
3 Periods of heavy rain
4 It just rained
5 Hot and muggy
6 Warm and sunny

Typhoon Season

1 Supertyphoon
2 Typhoon
3 Heavy rains
4 It just rained
5 Hot and muggy
6 Warm and sunny

As there are no roads in the Janggalan Isles, overland travel is simply impossible during heavy rains and typhoons, and most vessels at sea will seek shelter when the weather turns violent.

For combat, heavy rain (including typhoons) severely obstructs vision and renders bows useless until they dry. This is one big reason why the islanders prefer spears. Rain can cause rivers to swell and flood, and renders the ground very treacherous to footing. Characters who do not know the Secret of the Egret’s Dance will likely slip and fall on rolling a complication; this is even more likely if the character is wearing armor.

May 25, 2017

Tricks of the Jungle Spirits


It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, thanks to RL distractions. Times have been kinda rough to us, what with all the terrorist incidents on our island playing havoc with our tour business. But I do owe you all something on Hari Ragat, so here are ideas for some trickster-spirit themed microadventures.

The wilds of the Janggalan Isles are rife with minor trickster spirits like the Kibaan. Rarely seen, they usually make their presence felt through their pranks. Most of the time these pranks are harmless, but these light-hearted, child-like beings never consider the consequences of their actions so they can accidentally trigger nasty surprises.

Trickster spirit encounters are not meant to be combat challenges – the tricksters will simply disappear and play even wilder pranks if attacked – but rather as roleplaying-cum-negotiation encounters or tests of the party shaman’s abilities. Sometimes the tricks are meant as means to get the party’s attention because the little folk need something from them. Or the GM can use these simply as reminders that the jungle is home to the supernatural.

  • The party is led astray. The appearance of the jungle and surrounding landmarks are masked by illusions, and everyone’s sense of direction becomes muddled. This can lead to unexpected encounters.

  • The party is pelted with fruit out of nowhere, followed by sweet, clear child-like laughter.

    Sometimes the tricksters do it while monkeys are present, tempting the party to try something against the monkeys; these will then reply with a great ruckus and pelting the party with even more fruit, including heavy or spiky ones capable of causing injury, and with their own feces. Only after the monkeys have done their worst do the real culprits break into laughter.

  • While at a river or spring, the party is startled by  almighty splashes and great gouts of water, as if big rocks are falling into it. Only after they have scampered to safety do they see that nothing has fallen into the water but some fruit, and then the tricksters’ signature laughter.

  • Food is stolen from the party, often done in such a way as to make it seem as though another member took it. The tricksters however, being spirits, will not touch any food that has ginger or much salt in it.

  • While hunting, the party’s hounds suddenly go crazy. They may go haring off after phantom prey, flee as if in terror, begin howling, or begin fighting amongst each other. 

  • The party hears the festive music of drums and gongs in the middle of the jungle. When they go to investigate there is nothing there. Or there may be something else there – like the lair of a big and very irritable wild boar. This works even better when the party is indeed headed for some jungle village for a festival.

  • Wild fruit that are unripe, bad-tasting or even harmful are made to look like perfectly ripe and delicious edible fruit, tempting the characters to pick and eat them, or worse yet take them home as presents. Only when bitten into is the deception revealed. 

  • Children playing outdoors disappear, only to be found somewhere else hours or even days later. The children have only hazy, but happy, memories of what happened to them.

    Sometimes children get picked as regular playmates of the elfin folk, but this constant mixing with the supernatural has ill effects: listlessness, loss of appetite, even catatonia or a wasting sickness.

  • Invisible presences tag along with a band of hunters, scaring off game with thrown fruit and noises whenever the hunters get within range.

  • An interesting or valuable object is spotted lying on the jungle floor, as though lost there long ago. On picking it up, the object turns out to be a dead branch, rotten fruit, a thorny plant, animal dung, or even a snake.

  • Domestic animals go missing. Sometimes they come back, and sometimes they don’t, but are replaced with something else.

  • One character in the party keeps hearing strange noises, but no one else does.

  • While the party is near a river the water foams and parts as though furrowed by the prow of a large vessel; this may be accompanied by the music of gongs and singing, as though a wedding fluvial is passing by. However, there is no boat to be seen.

These hooks are derived from various Philippine folk-tales, including some that I heard during my assignments to the Lumad and Muslim tribes around Davao.

January 22, 2017

Like Dropping Coins Into an Arcade Machine

Eureka! I’ve been wrestling with the way I’ve written my contest mechanics for Hari Ragat for some time now. I think I have it.

The most basic structure of a contest is to declare actions, roll, compare to find the winner, and narrate the results.

But there are also many contests where you don't want to just give up if you lose the roll. Specially if it means your character got killed. So to continue the contest, you have to pay a cost.

Basically it's like feeding coins into an arcade machine. Game over? Not yet, not as long as you have coins and are willing to spend them. As long as you can pay the cost to continue, you can continue the contest, or try to negotiate, or try to turn the contest into another kind of contest where you're more likely to win.

Different resources can be used to pay the continue cost for different types of contests. Say you lose an exchange in lethal combat. Rather than let your character die, you pay points from your shield or armor, trading the usable life of those items for another chance to be the victor. Say you lose an attempt to resist a diwata's seduction. Rather than let your character do as the diwata wishes, you pay points from your willpower.

The GM's characters also have similar resources. The more important the character, the greater these resources, so contests against them will be harder to win.

January 21, 2017

Tattoos of Mystery

You woke up one morning with fresh tattoos on your body that had never been applied by human hands. You never felt anything during the night.

No one is familiar with the style of the tattooing, nor can anyone make out what the strange symbols mean.

Perhaps somewhere there is a Baylan who can tell you what they mean, what powers they confer, and what price, eventually, you will have to pay for them.

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