November 11, 2014

On Ancestral Favor

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The Ancestral Favor mechanic is one of the defining features of Hari Ragat. It’s a very important resource, and the handling and acquisition of it will strongly shape play.

First, it’s a group resource. Experienced players will likely need it less, and newbies can use it more. It’s thus a way for experienced players to help the new ones. It’s also a great way to contribute to solving a problem, specially in combat, for players whose characters aren’t that good at the current activity. You can work on earning Ancestral Favor on the spot, for the purpose of passing it on to the other players whose characters are manning the front lines.

Second, Ancestral Favor has the potential to shape the way you play the game and add a strong, traditional Asian flavor into play. Ancestor worship is a common practice throughout Asia, and it was the major religion in the Philippine islands before Islam and Christianity were introduced. Even now a lot of our beliefs and folk superstitions are based on ancestral beliefs, though most of us have forgotten these roots. (For example, it’s bad luck for a family holding a wake not to keep a watch over the body round the clock.)

The need to court and keep Ancestral Favor should give you ideas for what you can have your character do during downtime, or in preparation for adventuring. Rather than shopping for gear, adventurers in Hari Ragat can make the most of time to prepare for action by trying to raise Ancestral Favor. Your character can do this through sacrifices, making heroic Vows, and through other gestures that please and honor the ancestors.

I’ve created some on-the-spot methods of raising Favor that highlight the heroic flavor of the game and can be done without a shaman. For example, Heroic Divestment lets you win Ancestral Favor if you lay aside your shield, armor, or even your weapons just before combat, provided doing so left you at a serious disadvantage. The easiest way to raise Favor, however, is through sacrifices with a shaman character officiating. A shaman has the best chance at winning the contest vs. the ancestor spirits, and you can spend Wealth resources to increase the Favor won.

The need to spend Wealth in sacrificing for Ancestral Favor should also drive the players to being proactive in trading and raiding adventures.  You need Favor to succeed in those epic adventures that win you great fame, but to get that Favor you need resources that lead you to other adventures and side quests.

Ancestral Favor is also a tool for the GM for encouraging immersion and role-playing to the standards of the genre. The GM can offer Ancestral Favor for actions that would please the ancestors, and levy points off the players’ existing Favor for actions that would insult or displease the ancestors. The GM can also create dilemmas involving Favor: will you make peace with the descendant of an old family enemy, in order to achieve greater things together but at the price of ancestral displeasure, or will you follow the ancestors’ directive for vengeance?

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