August 7, 2011

Hari Ragat: Domain Creation

I’ve just realized something: there’s a way to help new players, particulary non-Filipino players, get more easily into the setting of Hari Ragat.  Let the player group create their own domain.

Instead of character creation first, the players must first sketch out, in pretty broad strokes, what their characters’ home and community are like.  This lets the players explore the tropes and adventuring possibilities of the setting, and create compelling reasons for their characters to matter in the setting. 

I could probably have two options for domain creation, method one being negotation and consensus with the GM, and method two can be using dice for random results.  The following details should result:

  • Homebase – where the characters live

  • Territory – what the characters’ community holds in terms of land and sea access

  • Key Figures – the Datu or Raja ruling the domain, community members of interest, which can then be taken as family, mentors, or even rivals of the PCs during character creation

  • Perks – what the people of this domain are known for.  Maybe they’re good with bows. Maybe they’re great navigators.  The players should feel their characters are cooler for being part of this domain

  • Issues – at least one, preferably more, issues that this domain must deal with.  Wild animal infestations, a marauding raksasa giant, blood feud with a neighbor – all is grist for the story mill.


  1. In my campaign setting design articles ( I define an 'entity' template of sorts that captures some information quite a bit like this. It can be seen at (and yes, I've been meaning to tie it to the Challenge-Response-Secret article I wrote years ago based in part on your Challenges and Responses article).

    Key elements of the entity include 'theme' (what is it?), threat (what does it threaten or what threatens it), reward (why someone would seek it out), relationships (I try to identify at least one positive -- ally or friend -- and at least one negative -- rival or enemy -- for each), description (what it looks like), signature (how you might know it's around or involved, even if you can't see it directly -- the sword of ebon flame is pretty easy to figure out when you see it, but the bodies over there with charred cuts are a sign it was used), and location (where you might expect to find it).

    There is then a section for mechanics (how it works under the rules) that only comes into the mix at the end of the entity definition. When I'm doing setting or scenario design I don't want to get into mechanics at all until they become relevant.

  2. Thanks for the input Keith! Yes, this part of the design, and hopefully the gameplay that it will generate, will be very much Challenge-and-Response based. Secrets too will be good, maybe even have a mechanic for players to tag each others' inputs with some Secret.

    For example if one player mentions the Datu's daughter as an important character, another player could secretly note to the GM that said maiden has a secret love - and he's a Diwata!


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