September 25, 2014

Fated Bagani Warrior: FAE

Fated Bagani Warrior_Page_1

This is one of Marc’s pregen’d characters for the Fate Accelerated Edition playtest of Hari Ragat, which is coming in the next week or so. Marc modified the character slightly from the Vivid version, adding a Trouble that had me in stitches with glee over the sheer story potential for this character. Click to see a larger version (opens in new window/tab).

This Bagani has an interesting back story, he was born an Orang Malaya, a commoner, but has recently been elevated to nobility for his deeds. However, he’s also saddled with a Huge Extended Family, most of them quite poor, and they all think he’s wealthy now that he’s a noble! Glancing at his Wealth, though, it’s only rated Mediocre. This poor bastard will be dogged at almost every step by importuning relatives. On the plus side, however, a huge family could easily extend outside Hiyasan, so in the FATE game the player can just pay a Fate Point at any port and say ‘Hey, I’ve got a cousin here!’

Stay tuned for the actual play report!

September 22, 2014

Spiritwalking in Hari Ragat

Finally, inspiration again! Had a bad cold last night, but woke up much fresher this morning after an early sleep and with new ideas. For starters, I tackled the long-delayed section on Spiritwalking. Please have a look and let me know what you think!

Spiritwalking

All shamans also possess the Spiritwalking ability. This enables the shaman, while in trance, to detach their soul from their physical shell and wander about the world as an incorporeal, invisible spirit, able to move at the speed of thought.

During the spiritwalk the shaman can see and hear as though she were physically there; however, the senses of smell, taste and touch do not function. Moreoever being incorporeal she cannot hold, move or lift anything. The spiritwalker can only communicate with sleeping people by appearing in their dreams; to communicate normally with those awake, she must Manifest, see below.

During a spiritwalk the shaman's body lies an an inert state of suspended animation, and is incapable of moving or defending itself. Moreover, during the spiritwalk the spiritwalker is visible to all spirits, and can interact with them including being attacked.

Breaking Through Spirit Barriers

There are times when a spiritwalking shaman will want to do something extraordinary during the spiritwalk, which requires breaking through some kind of spirit barrier. These feats are rolled as Quick Contests as described below:

Manifesting

To communicate with a living, waking person the spiritwalker must Manifest, making herself temporarily visible and audible, though still incorporeal. Manifesting requires a Benchmark Roll vs. the barriers between spirit and matter, Target Number 4.

Entering Dreams

A spiritwalker can freely enter the dreams of any sleeping friend or relative she knows personally. To enter the dreams of anyone else, she must win a Quick Contest vs. that person's lowest Role rating, unless it's also a shaman, in which case the contest is vs. the target's Role rating as a shaman.

Penetrating Warded Areas

Sometimes a spiritwalker may want to enter an area that has been warded against other spirits, or specifically against her. This is resolved as a Quick Contest vs. the strength of the ward. For example, Liwanag wants to spiritwalk into a Raksasa's cave palace; the GM sets the strength of the ward here at 5 dice, so that's what Liwanag's player must roll against.

Travel to Sulad

Sulad is not warded, but is so far and so powerfully covered with an aura of holiness that spiritwalking into it is like climbing a high mountain. This is rolled as an Extended Contest to 3 Victory Points, Opposition 10 dice. While in Sulad, the spiritwalker may request audience with any of the gods or ancestor spirits, and cannot be refused.

Spirit Combat

A spiritwalker may engage any kind of spirit in Spirit Combat. Spirit Combat is resolved like ordinary person to person combat, using the Extended Contest mechanics. However, damage usually is taken straight to Bala or Anito Dice, as physical armor and shields don't work, nor do weapons without a quality that allows their use in the spirit realm.

A spiritwalker usually appears in spirit combat as herself, with her own clothes and weapons. However, certain Secrets or amulets may allow her to assume other spirit forms at will, which may give Advantage vs. certain kinds of spirits. For example, a manaul-feather agimat will allow her to take the spirit form of a manaul eagle, giving Advantage vs. serpentine spirits like a Naga.

September 21, 2014

Using Magic in Hari Ragat

call-back-the-soul

I was having a discussion with Marc over converting the Hari Ragat magic system in Vivid to Fate Accelerated Edition, and as we were at it I realized something; it may have been the first time for me to concretely articulate some core premises of magic in Hari Ragat, and how different it is from the baseline assumptions of D&D magic. (You’ll be in more familiar territory if you’re a Glorantha/HeroQuest player, though.) This got me to thinking of how to help players play magic-working characters in HR, be it the Vivid or FAE editions.

Uses of Magic
Magic usage is expected to fulfill certain functions in most FPRGs, the most common of these expected functions being:

Attack/Blast – deal direct harm to a foe, usually in combat;

Defend – mitigate or prevent harm, or an unwanted effect, usually in combat;

Trick – deceive or delude another character or creature, thus making them do/not do something you want;

Compel – make another creature or being do as you wish by force of will or by virtue of greater power;

Trap – control the terrain or environment so as to hamper or harm someone or something;

Buff/Heal – strengthen a character or creature in some way,  recover damage, or remove debilities;

Know – obtain knowledge not otherwise available to the magic-worker, such as the far past or future, or something in the present but removed in space.

How do these approaches map out to Hari Ragat’s magic system? Let’s take a look:

Attack/Blast
Dealing direct damage is not a primary function of the shaman in Hari Ragat, in contrast to D&D’s approach. You cannot treat your magic like a gun, specially since it’s not you doing the magic, but rather as a shaman you’ve the ability to convince or compel spirits to do things for you, and besides the price and risk of magic are quite high.

Yes, you can still do things to damage your foes, but through the agency of a spirit, usually in terms of a natural effect that ‘coincidentally’ happens: for example, instead of shooting lightning from your fingers, you could use the Invocation of Wrath directed to a sky spirit to get lightning from the heavens to strike your foe.

Defend
By calling on the appropriate spirits, you can avert harmful or unwanted effects on yourself or others. For example, you could invoke wind spirits to cause a volley of arrows aimed at you or an ally to miss. Again, the emphasis is on natural effects that coincidentally work to your benefit.

Trick
Illusion is a power of the diwata nature spirits, so if you want an illusion you have to ask the diwata of the place to do it for you. Different spirits are also capable of a wide range of tricks – mimicking voices, creating distractions, invisibly pulling pranks, and so on.

Compel
A lot of Hari Ragat magic revolves around compelling – you compel spirits to come to you and do as you ask. That’s why most Rites and Prayers require you to roll a Contest vs. the spirits addressed. The greater the effect you want, the more formidable the opposition will be as you have to compel a more powerful spirit for it.

The inherent danger of magic in Hari Ragat comes into play here, as there are consequences for losing Contests vs. spirits. Every time you suffer a setback while working a Rite or Prayer, you suffer fatigue and psychic ‘damage’ in the form of Bala loss (Bala being your spiritual power, and also your hit points). That’s right, working magic can damage your character. This encourages limiting your magic use and spending of magic resources so you can be more effective when you do decide to use your powers.

Trap
You’ve a lot of options for creating environmental ‘traps’ by contacting the right spirits. Want a Web? Get a hold of a spider spirit. Want a Wall of Thorns? Get a hold of a thorn tree spirit, or a thorny vine spirit. Earth to Mud? Yup, get the local diwata to do it for you. You can even create really awesome terrain or weather effects, if you can win a Contest vs. the spirit in charge; typhoons at sea, landslides, even earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are possible, if you dare the risk.

You should always be thinking in terms of ‘what can the local spirits do for me?’ and ‘what spirits owe me favors/what spirits do I have good influence with?’ Magic in Hari Ragat is very much about your relationships with different aspects  of the supernatural and how you can turn these to your advantage.

Buff/Heal
Again, buffing and healing in Hari Ragat is all about working with the spirits. Instead of Cure Light Wounds, however, your go-to heal is the same as your go-to buff; an invocation to the ancestors for more spiritual energy (Anito Dice). Instead of healing party members one by one, you instead try to assure the supply of Anito Dice for the whole group, letting each player draw as much from the Anito Dice pool as they need for either power or defense/damage soaking.

Know
There are, again, a lot of options for acquiring knowledge by supernatural means in Hari Ragat. You could perform a Rite to contact any god or spirit, the difficulty based on how powerful or remote that entity is; gods of course are the hardest to interrogate! You could perform a Rite that gets the ancestors to grant you oracular visions.

You can scout distant locations by using your Spiritwalk (astral travel) ability, or a Familiar if you have one, or again do it firsthand by switching souls for a while with your Totemic Twin creature. (Caution is advised with the latter, as a) you will suffer any harm dealt to your Twin; and b) Totemic Twins are usually snakes, and thus likely to invite attack if spotted).

Tips for Playing a Shaman Effectively
If I were to play a Baylan or Katalunan shaman in Hari Ragat, I’d do the following:

  • Identify a strong relationship with specific entities, or with the ancestors, which gives me more power in that area;

  • I may buy Umalagad spirit allies that I can call upon at any time when I need their help; depending on my concept, I may get Umalagad that can help me with some kinds of magic, or Umalagad that can help protect me in combat;

  • Take up some perk that gives me an edge in defending myself, if ever I’m forced to fight in physical battle;

  • Use magic more during the preparatory stages of an adventure and the lulls between action scenes to prepare ahead; for example, before casting off on each leg of a long voyage I’d perform Rites for fair winds; or before engaging in a monster hunt, I’d try to locate it by Spiritwalking, or quiz the ancestors about how best to fight the thing;

  • During combat, I’d stay away from melee, and instead concentrate on working magic that’s relatively easy and will help my warrior allies – Prayers to the ancestors for more Anito Dice would be a top priority;

  • In a truly desperate battle, I may gamble instead on a difficult and dangerous battle-winner, such as an Invocation of Wrath to the diwata of the mountain where we’re fighting so as to bury the foe in a landslide, or to the diwata of the river to raise up a flood a la the Ford of Bruinen in Fellowship of the Ring;

And lastly, I’ll keep in mind the taboos that keep me in good graces with my spirit allies.

babaylan

Here’s a sample Baylan template from the Minneapolis playtest. This Baylan is set up to be mainly a conduit to the ancestors, so she’s great at channeling in Anito Dice for the party, her Diwata Blood gives her more spiritual power than normal for a human, she has a Familiar that can extend her capabilities in imaginative ways, including gaining information, and lastly she’s set up to be effective vs. evil witches and sorcerers. Lastly, she’s got a Medicine Bag 2, which means I can draw 2 bonus dice total from it when needed for my Rites.

September 18, 2014

Character Goals and Paths for Hari Ragat

It’s always easier to roleplay when you have a concrete objective for your character, and in the case of Hari Ragat, can help guide your character choices and play even if you’re not familiar with the milieu. Thinking along these lines, I got the idea of describing some goal-based ‘paths’ that you can take for your character:

The Quest for Fame
Renown is the basis for all advancement in the game. All character types need Renown to advance. You gain Renown from any and all of the following:

a) Defeating dangerous foes, human or animal, natural or supernatural;

b) Performing social feats that increase your status – throwing grand feasts, marrying into a high lineage, winning titles, making grand gestures of generosity or honor, etc.;

c) Completing long and dangerous journeys, exploring new lands, and founding new settlements.

The Path of the Pintado Warrior
You want to accumulate powerful Tattoos that show off your prowess and great deeds, and which give you power to perform even greater deeds.

The Path of the Bagani Warrior
You want to perfect yourself in the martial arts, and for this you want to locate the Guro who can impart to you more and rare Secrets of fighting.

The Path of the Manlalayag
You want to earn a reputation as a great voyager and explorer. Your goals should thus include acquiring or improving your ship, increasing your Dulohan crew, and going on epic journeys.

The Path of the Manunugis
You wish to earn a reputation as a great hunter and slayer of dangerous beasts, particularly the supernatural monsters that lurk in the depths of the sea or the jungle. To this end you want to accumulate fighting Secrets, Treasures and Tattoos that help you deal with such beasts.

The Path of the Kadatuan
You wish to rise to rulership, and gain the right to new and higher titles, e.g. to rise from a simple warrior to Datu, from Datu to Lakan or Rajah, and even all the way to Rajah Hari Ragat if you can. To do this you must accumulate Yaman (wealth) and Dulohan (followers); secondarily, you will also want to accumulate Bahandi (heirloom treasures) because Bahandi is key to marrying up and sealing diplomatic deals.

The Path of the Babaylan
You wish to rise in the favor of the gods and spirits, in particular the Diwatas of your homeland and your Anitos, or ancestor spirits. This increased favor is cemented in the form of Lores (things the spirits or older shamans teach) and Compacts (bargains made with specific spirits).

The Path of the Witch Hunter
You wish to gain a reputation as a formidable witch hunter, a slayer of evil sorcerers, demons and abominations like the Aswang. To this end you want to accumulate Katalunan Secrets for fighting evil beings, Treasures such as enchanted weapons, and appropriate Lores and Compacts.

It’s possible to orient your character to a path that’s different from your ‘character class,’ if I may use the term.  For example, your character may be a Hunter, but wish to become a Datu; this means you should adopt the goals of the Path of the Kadatuan too.

September 17, 2014

Secret of the Seven-Serpent Slash

Kampilan from Mindanao

This is a two-handed Kampilan technique developed by the monster-slaying hero Lantawan, who once had to face an evil seven-headed Naga that would die only if all its heads were severed at once.

The technique can only be practiced with a Kampilan, and as it uses both hands, precludes the use of a shield during the round in which it is performed.

If performed against any creature or character who does not also know the technique, you gain Advantage Dice; moreover, you may distribute any Victory Points gained to all targets in front of you, until you are out of VPs to distribute.

For example, if you rolled up 3 Victory Points, you can assign 1 VP each to three opponents in front of you, or 2 VP to one and 1 VP to another.

Tip for use: Make a maneuver to gain Advantage first, and if you win, use the Advantage on the round after to perform the Seven-Serpent Slash with more dice, thus increasing your chances of gaining more Victory Points.

What do you folks think of this?

September 16, 2014

Fate of the Jangalans: FAE Customizations: Approaches

In the Fate Accelerated version of Hari Ragat, the approaches will follow a way similar to how Fate Freeport is doing it: Using the familiar d20 spread of attributes.

We decided to implement it this way to make the system more accessible to our players. I mean we anticipate that they're going to have enough trouble as it is due to the exotic setting... we wanted the system to be as familiar as possible.

So here's how we are mapping the approaches for the Fate Accelerated version of Hari Ragat:

Strength - You're using the muscles and physical power to solve the problem.
Dexterity - You're using your speed, balance and agility to solve the problem.
Constitution - You're using your endurance or innate toughness to solve the problem.
Intelligence - You use your intelligence, reasoning or logic to solve a problem.
Wisdom - You use Willpower, awareness and common sense to solve a problem. 
Charisma - You solve a problem using Personality or Deception to solve a problem

Note, all of them can be used to execute any of the four actions, though usually the first three approaches are valid in a physical contest, while the last three are valid in a social contest. or in magic. 

There's this idea about the "validity" of an approach. The GM and the people at the table will need to decide if a particular approach is valid. For example, you can defend against an unarmed or blunt weapon attack with either Strength, Dexterity or Constitution. But against weapons with edges or piercing points, you can only use Strength, representing a parry, or Dexterity, representing a dodge. After all it doesn't make sense for you to defend with your body if it's going to get cut or stabbed!

What do you guys think about how we plan to implement approaches?

September 15, 2014

With a Little Help from My (Spirit) Friends


Warriors aren’t the only characters with loyal followers in the Hari Ragat game. Shamans can have their loyal companions too, in the form of Umalagad – personal spirit ‘friends’ or allies who are always invisibly with them and may lend a hand in various situations depending on their nature.

In game terms, you use Umalagad as a resource just like a warrior would use his pool of Dulohan followers; spend from your Umalagad pool when you want your Umalagad to exert themselves to help you at something.

Sounds useful, eh? In fact, some specially blessed warriors, specially those belonging to illustrious lineages, may have Umalagad too.

Possessing Umalagad reflects a special relationship with one aspect of the spirit world. Your Umalagad may be ancestor spirits, nature spirits, or something else. Here are some possibilities:

Guardian Spirits
Both shamans and rulers have access to Guardian Spirits. These are ancestral spirits who attach themselves to you to protect your life; you can spend them to avoid death just like Bala. They do nothing else.

Wisdom Spirits
Wisdom Spirits are ancestral spirits who are wise and are good at dealing with other spirits. They are available and useful only to shamans, as their purpose is to give the shaman aid in making invocations. You can spend your Wisdom Spirits for bonus dice in making invocations. They do nothing else.

Valor Spirits
Valor Spirits are the spirits of your great warrior ancestors, who bind themselves to you to help you achieve victory in battle. They are accessible to all kinds of heroes. You may spend Valor Spirits to give you bonus dice in combat rolls. Valor Spirits however do not help you absorb damage.

Bane Spirits
Bane Spirits are vengeful, sometimes outrightly malevolent spirits of the dead who can aid a shaman or sorcerer in working harm to others. For shamans, they're usually ancestors who've bound themselves to the shaman for a specific purpose, usually vengeance on some old enemy. For sorcerers, they're usually the spirits of the unburied dead, sought out and enslaved for the purpose of working curses. Bane Spirits are spent in invoking curses; they do nothing else.

September 14, 2014

Fate of the Jangalans : Secrets of the Fate version of Hari Ragat

Work continues on the FAE conversion of Hari Ragat.While most of the game will be running on a straight up FAE port, there will be unique subsystems built in that would give a slightly different feel.



One of these are the Secrets.

Unlike the Vivid version, Secrets in the Fate version of Hari Ragat are specialized stunts that rely on a triggering condition to be used, and usually grant bonus actions or other effects

What is a bonus action? It is the opportunity to execute one of the four actions (attack, defend, create an advantage or overcome) as a "free action" that doesn't count as part of the player's turn. The Secret determines the type of action that can be executed.

Here's an example:

Secret of the Living Hand
This Secret is usable with any kind of sword, so long as the off-hand is free (no shield). You may create an Advantage whenever you try to punch your opponent, or parry his attacks, or seize his weapon from him with your free hand, so long as your opponent doesn't have a shield.
Trigger: You are in melee range and have a sword and a free hand. Your opponent has no shield.

Effect: When you make a melee attack make a bonus Create Advantage action with your free hand before you make your attack.

How does this work? When you make your attack, and you meet the trigger condition of the Secret (that is you are in melee range and have a sword, a free hand and your opponent doesn't have a shield) You may take an additional Create Advantage action representing your actions with your free hand, either to punch your opponent, do a feint,or grab a weapon or arm to unbalance your foe. The aspect that you made, would then be valid for you to invoke when you make your attack. 

Other Secrets have Aspects as Triggering Conditions, making players use the Create Advantage action to "set up" to trigger a Secret. 

Here's another example:

Secret of the Weaving Blade
This deceptive style of fighting was developed specially for the kris. The blade is kept in continuous motion, even transferred from one hand to the other if not using a shield or second weapon, to confuse the foe. You may claim Advantage for using this in melee combat.
Trigger: Place the “Mesmerizing Blades” aspect on your opponent. Mesmerizing Blades may be Overcome with a successful Intelligence action.
Effect: After attacking, if your opponent used Dexterity to defend, their defense is automatically defeated as if they rolled a -1 on the defense roll. The Mesmerizing Blades aspect on your opponent is removed after you attack. You may pay a Fate Point to the opponent to compel them to use Dexterity to defend, invoking the Mesmerizing Blades aspect. 

Essentially Secrets allow you in certain cases, to get 2 moves of actions when you take one move. Secrets are possessed by both the players and their NPC antagonists. The "Secrets" of Animals or beasts are called "Surprises." 

What do you think? 

September 3, 2014

Shooting Leave: Reflections on the Great Game

Central Asia c. 1848

I first learned of the Great Game, indirectly, through the John Huston movie The Man Who Would Be King. That film remains today in my top list, and after a year in India and a trip through Kashmir the setting fascinates me more than ever.

Header6SonsOfTheHawkF1

The second taste of this electric but little-known episode of modern history came through the pulps, in the form of Robert E. Howard’s El Borak stories. Then last year, I found John Ure’s book Shooting Leave. What I love about this book is that it gives some very interesting historical parallels, perhaps even models, for Howard’s El Borak – a Texan gunslinger who’d learned to fit so well into this milieu he was carving for himself a career as an Afghan khan. 

shooting_leave_front_cover

Shooting Leave chronicles the exploits of sixteen young officers, some British, some Russian, during the 19th century shadow struggle between Britain and Russia for dominance in Central Asia. At the time Tsarist Russia was expanding, having already colonized Siberia and bullied the Qing Dynasty into several Russia-favoring treaties, while Britain was also consolidating its hold on the Indian subcontinent. The British feared – and apparently with reason -- a Russian thrust into India through either Persia or Afghanistan, or even from farther north and east through Kashmir or even Tibet. Caught in between were the turbulent Central Asian tribes and kingdoms. British and Russian forces never clashed on the steppe, nor was either empire really prepared to do so; the Great Game thus consisted of cloak-and-dagger expeditions into the Hindu Kush, Pamirs, and into the high steppe by men on ‘shooting leave.’

Ostensibly entering these forbidden lands on the pretext of hunting, these colorful characters went in to survey, map, gather political information and strive to influence local leaders. ‘Shooting leave’ allowed the imperial governments to send their soldiers on these expeditions with an easy way to deny any accusations of espionage, for the soldiers were technically not on duty, and only a few top brass knew their actual missions. There were some very interesting folk involved here, fine inspirations all for some gaming:

There was Charles Masson, a Briton who deserted from the East India Company army to become a freelance dealer in antiquities, and later became a valuable but problematic spy for the Raj on account of his record;

There was Nikolai Przhevalsky, now chiefly remembered as the discoverer of Przhevalsky’s Horse, whose approach to Central Asian wildlife and people both was covered with a hail of carbine fire;

There was Henry Pottinger, who discovered that the only safe disguise in Baluchistan was that of a travelling mullah, for Baluchi bandits were likely to rob any other kind of traveller; 

And there was Valentine Baker, a rich gentleman sportsman of the classic type, whose idea of a proper shooting expedition was to carry crates of guns, including some of the most expensive custom-made models, and Worcestershire sauce to have with the game.

This is also a milieu that is chillingly close to the events of today, with very similar players on the table: there are greedy empires hiding behind masks of benevelont progressiveness, bitter centuries-old local feuds, and poisonous outbreaks of radical puritanism fueled by colonialism. A pulp adventure game in the Great Game setting won’t just be great potential for fun, it could also be a way of getting some insight into why our world is the way it is today. John Ure’s Shooting Leave and Peter Hopkirk’s The Great Game make great sources for it, as do the headlines.

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