December 18, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Expansion

The_Hobbit_An_Unexpected_Journey_HQ_wallpapers-6

So. I finally got to see the first part of Peter Jackson’s new trilogy set in Middle Earth – and found it definitely worth the price of the ticket. Wifey and I saw it in regular 2D, so I can’t comment about the 3D or HFR experience.  What we did see, however, was more of Middle Earth than we’d expected from  an adaptation of a very short book. Plus or minus?

For a Tolkien and Middle Earth history geek, personally I found this a big plus.  I’m not sure that studios will fork over for a production of The Silmarillion or the many possible historical epics that can be mined from just Silmarillion and the appendices included with The Return of the King (then again I may be wrong, the franchise does seem to have proven profitable), so I like it that Jackson expanded the scope of the movie to include a lot of what was ‘off-camera’ in the book.

I believe a big factor in Jackson’s decision to do this (aside from Jackson really being just a big hobbit at heart) is the difference in experience between the books and the movies.  The Hobbit was written as a children’s tale, which grew in the telling so that its intended sequel became The Lord of the Rings, far grander, graver and darker in tone.  The thing is, as a reader, it’s pretty likely you’d have experienced The War of the Ring, from its opening moves to its finish, the way Tolkien presented it – as an innocent children’s adventure first, then a grand epic based on the previous material. 

Moviegoers, specially those who’d never read either The Hobbit or LOTR, have the experience backwards, since the chronologically later trilogy was produced and shown first. Thus The Hobbit adaptation was produced with people who’d already seen LOTR in mind, and Jackson uses the opportunity to show the story in the wider context of the coming War of the Ring.  Some of the treats from this expanded scope include:

(Spoilers will follow for those who’ve not seen the movie yet, so continue at your own risk … )

December 7, 2012

A twist of FATE in the Janggalans

Evil Hat has posted a new version of the FATE system called "Fate Core".

After backing the kickstarter campaign and reading the new rules, I think it is the most awesome thing that ever happened to the FATE implementation of Hari Ragat.

The original plan was to use the Legends of Anglerre system, (which I had a little hand in developing) but the problem was that to implement Hari Ragat properly in Anglerre, I would have had to develop lots and lots and lots of constructs, items of power, organizations, etc etc. The approach was because I felt that to do the setting justice using the Legends of Anglerre system, I had to model the world and stat as much of it as I could.

With FATE core it is now possible to streamline this, such that it would be possible to just get the essential Hari Ragat experience, since it was clarified by the designers that what really matters in FATE is the "narrative physics" of a story. I don't need to create constructs... the constructs can just be treated as "extras". This would simplify things a lot, and it is closer to how Dariel has expressed Hari Ragat in Vivid.

Now that I have freed myself of the constraints that I felt Legends of Anglerre imposed on me, I am now thinking, "what is the narrative gameplay experience that the FATE version of Hari Ragat should give to my audience?" I do not want it to be exactly the same as Dariel's Vivid version. I am of the opinion that if you want the "pure" Hari Ragat game experience you must play the Vivid system version. If you play the FATE version, you will be playing a slightly different game... a game that I'm putting my own twist on.

The game's settings will be identical. However the differences will be in the narrative priorities of the versions. At this time, I'm still forming how the FATE version, powered by the new Fate Core system, will be different from the Vivid version.

And that is my current challenge. Stay tuned for future updates!

December 6, 2012

Hari Ragat: Swords

[Edit: I mistakenly used an image not for public use in this post, so I've just replaced it with one of my own.]

The Vijadesans have many unique forms of swords, each with its own method of use. These are divided between the real fighting blades that an Orang Dakila should own, and the working blades that commoners normally wear to their fields and bring to war because they don’t have any other swords.

Fighting Blades

There are three classic blade designs for use in fighting: the kris, the kampilan, and the barong. Each has its own method of use, leading the martial arts masters, guro, to devise distinctive Secrets for each.
Kris
The kris is a short sword with a blade about 20” long and a curving hilt; it is adapted mainly for thrusting, but can also cut. It exists in two varieties, the kalis siko which has the famous wavy blade, and the kalis tulid, which has a wider, straight blade, somewhat resembling a Roman gladius. The kalis siko is thought to be specially significant to spirits, and so is the weapon most often found to be enchanted. Both variants of kris are usually very highly decorated, as they are the prefered weapon of the rich and noble-born..
Kampilan
The kampilan is a broadsword, sometimes made for both one- and two-handed use, and has the longest blade of any Vijadesan weapon, from 30” up to 40” long. The kampilan is considered the weapon of the serious fighter, and is often found among dedicated battle champions and the bodyguards of rajahs and datus.
Barong
The barong has a very short leaf-shaped blade, sometimes no more than 14” long; it is a very powerful slashing weapon that can be used at closer quarters than any other blade. Because of its compactness it is often favored by corsairs, who have developed an up-close-and-personal fighting style that turns the barong’s short reach into an asset instead of a liability.
 

Working Blades

Long, heavy knives are commonly carried by all Orang Malaya and trusted slaves for use in the fields and jungle. All are sturdier in design than the fighting blades, but usually forged of softer steel that doesn’t hold an edge as long.
Bolo
The word bolo in the game is a generic term for any kind of long working knife such as a farmer or forester might carry every day. There are many varieties and forms – the tabak or gulok, short with wide, leaf-shaped or falchion-like blades wider toward the tip; the itak, which has a thick rectangular tip and no point; the cutlass-like sansibar; the talibon and ginunting, slightly incurved and slim; or the dahon-palay, with an elongated, pointed leaf shape like a blade of rice.
Panabas
This two-handed weapon has a short, heavy, forward-curving blade on a long handle. It is used like an axe, plain types being used to cut wood and jungle vines. It is also used as an executioner’s beheading weapon.

 

Imported Blades

Some Vijadesans have acquired swords made elsewhere, as gifts, souvenirs from trading expeditions, or as war trophies. Possessing one of these is a status symbol, but no guro so far has developed Secrets usable with them.
Katana
This curved, single-edged sword is made and used by the warrior clans of the Lu Tzu kingdom, and numbers of them have found their way into the hands of warriors in the northern Janggalan states. It can be used one- or two-handed.
Dao
This curved, broad-bladed Tien Xia sword is widest about a third of the way from the point. It is a common soldier’s sword, and so usually found as a war trophy from battles with wako pirates.
Jian
This long, straight, double-edged sword is the weapon of the Tien Xia gentleman. Quite a few fine jian have been given as gifts to the rajahs and nobles of Penjan by Tien Xia merchants, and a massive two-handed jian with a gold-encrusted ivory hilt and ebony sheath inlaid with pearls is part of the Pahala Sina rajahs’ royal regalia. Jian come in one-handed and two-handed forms.
Tulwar
This long, heavy curved Mahanagaran sword has a disk-like guard and pommel. They are often souvenirs brought home by traders and corsairs who have ranged all the way to Mahanagara. They are made for one-handed use only.
Khanda
This long, straight, double-edged sword from Mahanagara is widest at the tip, and hilted like a tulwar, but with a tusk-like extension of the pommel so it can be used two-handed when desired. Normally used by officers and nobles, it is very rare for a Vijadesan to acquire one.













December 4, 2012

Hari Ragat: Heirloom Weapon Properties

Heirloom weapons are doubly precious because of their age and history; the longer a weapon has been around, the more time there has been for its spirit to have awakened. It is this spirit that gives the heirloom weapon its properties, for better or for worse. The spirits of such weapons must be ‘fed’ in a manner appropriate to their nature at least once every month. Some possible properties of heirloom weapons include:

Bloodline Guardian
This weapon has been passed down from father to son of an illustrious bloodline, and its spirit remembers this. The weapon grants Advantage whenever it is wielded by a member of that bloodline in righteous cause, or to protect a member of that bloodline. Its spirit is fed by ritually presenting it to the ancestor spirits, along with minor offerings, once a month.

Bloodthirsty
This weapon’s spirit was awakened by murder or the need to take vengeance. The weapon hungers for blood, and so it always scores one more Victory Point than normal if you win an exchange with it and you meant to wound or kill. However, you may not unsheathe this weapon then return it without letting it taste blood first, even if it has to be your own. Its spirit is fed by human blood – if you can’t make a kill once a month, you have to give it some of your own!

Giant-killer
This weapon’s spirit was awakened in the slaying of a giant. It now gives Advantage to attacking giants. Its spirit is fed by singing to it the Song of Indarapatra and Lawana, or a similar epic involving battle with some giant, once a month.

Justice-bringer
This kalis tulid or panabas has been used for executions, but the upright nature of its user has given the spirit within a discernment of justice. The blade’s magic only works on those guilty of some serious crime. You gain Advantage when wielding the weapon against confirmed evildoers. Its spirit is fed by ritually washing then oiling the blade in perfumed water and then in aromatic oil, once a month.

Retaliator
This weapon’s spirit is strongly attached to you and seeks to avenge any hurts or wrongs against you. You gain Advantage when wielding the weapon against anyone who has previously struck you or insulted you. Its spirit is fed by making offerings and prayers to it once a month.

Venom-tempered
This weapon was tempered in the venom of a very ancient, magical snake when it was forged, permanently imbuing the steel with poison. Whenever you win an exchange in which you struck with the weapon, you gain an extra Victory Point. This does not work however on anything that is immune to snake venom. Its spirit is fed by an offering to the snake spirits once a month.

Witch-finder
The first owner of this weapon was slain by foul witchcraft. The spirit of the weapon remembers this, and so grants Advantage to resisting spells and to attacking witches and sorcerers. Moreover, so long as you have the weapon in hand you can identify witches and sorcerers even when they’re in disguise. Its spirit is fed by making offerings and prayers to it once a month.

December 3, 2012

Hari Ragat: Ancestors Preview

From the Character Creation chapter, here’s a preview of some of the Ancestors you may take for your character:


once again I turn to Amaya for my visuals ...

Legendary royal ancestors include the Ten Sires and some of their descendants who became kings. Aside from the benefits listed below, only Vijadesans who can claim this ancestry may take the title of Rajah.

Rajah Marawid
Any living descendant of Rajah Marawid Magat Sikanda Bayahari inherits a truly epic opportunity – and a whole lot of trouble! This ancestor makes you a claimant to the title of Rajah Hari Ragat, but it also makes all other descendants of Rajah Marawid your rivals, and their supporters likely your enemies.

If you win enough Renown (GM’s call), the goddess Lalahon will reveal to you the location of the true Diwang Lahi stone, which will allow you to prove your claim and begin the quest to reunite the Vijadesan race. This ancestor brings no other benefits. (Check with the GM if he will allow this ancestor in the game.)

Rajah Sikanda Bayahari
Favored descendants of Rajah Sikanda are blessed with his eloquence and leadership. You gain Advantage to social contests where persuasive eloquence will help, and in situations where leadership is tested. These benefits however cannot be claimed to deceive anyone, even in a good cause.

Rajah Laksamana Bayahari
Favored descendants of Rajah Laksamana benefit from his consummate warrior skills, so long as they maintain a standard of honor similar to Rajah Laksamana’s own. This ancestor gives you Advantage whenever you fight in a formal duel vs. anyone other than a descendant of Rajah Laksamana or Rajah Sikanda his elder brother. This powerful spiritual advantage is very tightly focused, but it cannot be negated.

Rajah Mangawarna
Favored descendants of Rajah Mangawarna enjoy Advantage to resist any form of sorcery or witchcraft. However you must never kill or eat a monkey, as these are considered sacred to Mangawarna’s descendants.

Rajah Indarapatra Mangawarna
Favored descendants of Rajah Indarapatra inherit his righteous anger against the Raksasa giants, giving them Advantage whenever fighting a Raksasa. However you must never kill or eat a monkey, as these are considered sacred to Rajah Mangawarna’s descendants, Rajah Indarapatra being of that line.

Rajah Tulum
Favored descendants of Rajah Tulum the Bull-Slayer gain a strength Advantage whenever fighting bare-handed.

Rajah Baginda
Favored descendants of Rajah Baginda excel as corsairs, but also tend to be touched with some of that pirate king’s evil. This ancestor gives you Advantage whenever performing seaborne raids, as long as you always put your own benefit and purposes first.

Rajah Bangkawil
Favored descendants of Rajah Bangkawil inherit his righteous wrath. This ancestor makes you hot-headed, specially involving matters of honor, but you gain Advantage whenever you fight in defense of honor – whether your own or someone else’s.

Rajah Sumuron
Favored descendants of Rajah Sumuron inherit his prowess at hunting. You will never fail to locate your prey – no rolls needed. (You may still have to get into contests to actually reach your prey and and make the kill). To retain Sumuron’s favor, however, you must never hunt with anything but close-range weapons, such as spears.

Rajah Paduka Matanda
Favored descendants of Rajah Paduka Matanda inherit his wisdom and good judgment of men – but also his total inability to read women! You gain Advantage in any social contests vs. men, but this is reversed when dealing with women.

Rajah Sina
Favored descendants of Rajah Sina tend to have gold stick to their fingers. You gain Advantage in trading and bargaining, and in appraising goods, so that your profit is always greater. Moreover you also inherit Rajah Sina’s level-headedness – you may claim this as Advantage in any social contest where you are resisting someone’s attempt to make you angry or get you to fight when you don’t want to.

Rajah Dulay
Rajah Dulay Magat Sikanda Bayahari was king of both Kaliraya and the Taglawa state of Kaboloan in his lifetime, and had great renown as the most honorable of allies. He died in battle defending his queen’s claim to the throne of Kaboloan. Because of this connection you are entitled to claim three favors from the Rajah of Kaboloan during your lifetime.

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