May 15, 2013

Hari Ragat: Adventuring & the Gift Economy


Adventuring for  gain is a trope that Hari Ragat will have in common with a lot of other RPGs, and one of the things I like about the way it’s going is that the milieu itself exerts constant pressure to keep adventuring, through the custom of gifting.

Every significant occasion – courtship, birth, marriage, funerals, accessions, etc. – requires giving gifts, which in turn takes from your character’s Wealth. In the most important occasions, the gifts can’t be just any good, they have to be a Bahandi, or heirloom, item: jewelry, luxurious textiles, fine weapons, intricately worked brassware, ceramics from Tien Xia, etc. etc., which are worth more than normal Wealth. Generosity and extravagance are considered virtuous in this society, while acting the opposite way is very damaging to one’s prestige.

Thus PCs in Hari Ragat will continually be driven to go on raiding or trading voyages, lest they suffer a reputation for being niggardly!

The photo above illustrates one of the possible Bahandi types: these are inaul textiles woven by the Maguindanaos of Cotabato.  I was astounded to find out that each of these exquisite patterns has its own name, and often an associated story. One lightning pattern, for example, comes from a mother who once cursed her daughter, only to see her die from a lightning strike a few years later.  The sorrowful mother created the lightning pattern as a sort of homage to her dead daughter.

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