March 28, 2011

Hari Ragat: Flavors of Magic

There are basically two kinds of magic-workers in Hari Ragat.  There are those with magical gifts, which include most supernatural monsters and characters with supernatural gifts; and there are those who work magic through their ability to communicate with and coerce members of the spirit world.  These latter can be divided into several distinctive traditions.  First, practitioners of gift magic:

Gift Magic
Characters can be created with innate magical Traits or with Assets detailing their magical possessions.  Such magic is always narrowly thematic, but its use is merely an effort of will by the character.  No lengthy rituals or paraphernalia are involved, save for magic that is bound to a specific item.

Innate magic is usually the result of supernatural parentage and may take many forms.  For example, the child of the wind god may have the power to control the wind and fly, or possess an heirloom item that has wind-based powers.

Shamanic Magic of the Babaylans
The shamans of the Vijadesans, called babaylan or katalunan have a combination of native ability and esoteric learning passed down through family traditions and spirit-quests which they can use to communicate with and coerce, repel, or bind spirits. The main function of the shaman is to maintain good relations between their mortal community and the spirit world; however they are also very capable of using their powers to protect their people or for personal gain.

Vijadesans recognize four basic types of spirits: anito, the spirits of dead ancestors; diwata, the noble, man-like and powerful guardian spirits of Nature; taung-lupa, the 'Little People,' a diverse class of beings universally known for being small in stature, and mischievous or outrightly malicious demeanor; and finally the dreaded halimaw, monstrous unnatural beings who hate and prey on man.

Witchcraft: Barang
Sorcerers called mambabarang use magical insects to work their foul magic.  They can infect their victims with insect-borne diseases, implant insect colonies in living bodies as a horrible and often lethal curse, or even possess another's mind by implanting a magic insect in the victim's head*.

Witchcraft: Kulam
Sorcerers who use salves, potions and philters to work their magic are called mangkukulam, 'those who work kulam.'  The mangkukulam uses subterfuge to get his or her preparations onto or into the victim, which can then make the victim fall sick, writhe in crippling pain, go mad, etc. etc.

Witchcraft: Gaway
Practitioners of the gaway tradition use fire in a gruesome manner to inflict their victims with burning pain and even cause them to spontaneously combust.  The tools of the manggagaway's trade are candles, incense, wax and inflammable oils.

Witchcraft: Tuyol
One of the possible perversions of a shaman's powers is creating tuyol homunculi.  A shaman can bind the spirit of a dead child, usually a stillborn one, into the child's body to create an undead servant.  A tuyol can become invisible at will, climb like a spider, and share its sensory inputs with its master.  It can only act at night, sleeping by day inside its funerary urn which the master must hide.  The tuyol is bound to follow whoever possesses its urn, and destroying this urn also destroys the tuyol.

*That last one doesn't exist in the stories of mambabarang that I've seen, but it seemed a logical and interesting addition to their portfolio.


  1. This is good stuff. XD I especially like the four categories of withcraft. Is it okay if I borrow a thing or two from your work?


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