It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, thanks to RL distractions. Times have been kinda rough to us, what with all the terrorist incidents on our island playing havoc with our tour business. But I do owe you all something on Hari Ragat, so here are ideas for some trickster-spirit themed microadventures.
The wilds of the Janggalan Isles are rife with minor trickster spirits like the Kibaan. Rarely seen, they usually make their presence felt through their pranks. Most of the time these pranks are harmless, but these light-hearted, child-like beings never consider the consequences of their actions so they can accidentally trigger nasty surprises.
Trickster spirit encounters are not meant to be combat challenges – the tricksters will simply disappear and play even wilder pranks if attacked – but rather as roleplaying-cum-negotiation encounters or tests of the party shaman’s abilities. Sometimes the tricks are meant as means to get the party’s attention because the little folk need something from them. Or the GM can use these simply as reminders that the jungle is home to the supernatural.
- The party is led astray. The appearance of the jungle and surrounding landmarks are masked by illusions, and everyone’s sense of direction becomes muddled. This can lead to unexpected encounters.
- The party is pelted with fruit out of nowhere, followed by sweet, clear child-like laughter.
Sometimes the tricksters do it while monkeys are present, tempting the party to try something against the monkeys; these will then reply with a great ruckus and pelting the party with even more fruit, including heavy or spiky ones capable of causing injury, and with their own feces. Only after the monkeys have done their worst do the real culprits break into laughter.
- While at a river or spring, the party is startled by almighty splashes and great gouts of water, as if big rocks are falling into it. Only after they have scampered to safety do they see that nothing has fallen into the water but some fruit, and then the tricksters’ signature laughter.
- Food is stolen from the party, often done in such a way as to make it seem as though another member took it. The tricksters however, being spirits, will not touch any food that has ginger or much salt in it.
- While hunting, the party’s hounds suddenly go crazy. They may go haring off after phantom prey, flee as if in terror, begin howling, or begin fighting amongst each other.
- The party hears the festive music of drums and gongs in the middle of the jungle. When they go to investigate there is nothing there. Or there may be something else there – like the lair of a big and very irritable wild boar. This works even better when the party is indeed headed for some jungle village for a festival.
- Wild fruit that are unripe, bad-tasting or even harmful are made to look like perfectly ripe and delicious edible fruit, tempting the characters to pick and eat them, or worse yet take them home as presents. Only when bitten into is the deception revealed.
- Children playing outdoors disappear, only to be found somewhere else hours or even days later. The children have only hazy, but happy, memories of what happened to them.
Sometimes children get picked as regular playmates of the elfin folk, but this constant mixing with the supernatural has ill effects: listlessness, loss of appetite, even catatonia or a wasting sickness.
- Invisible presences tag along with a band of hunters, scaring off game with thrown fruit and noises whenever the hunters get within range.
- An interesting or valuable object is spotted lying on the jungle floor, as though lost there long ago. On picking it up, the object turns out to be a dead branch, rotten fruit, a thorny plant, animal dung, or even a snake.
- Domestic animals go missing. Sometimes they come back, and sometimes they don’t, but are replaced with something else.
- One character in the party keeps hearing strange noises, but no one else does.
- While the party is near a river the water foams and parts as though furrowed by the prow of a large vessel; this may be accompanied by the music of gongs and singing, as though a wedding fluvial is passing by. However, there is no boat to be seen.
These hooks are derived from various Philippine folk-tales, including some that I heard during my assignments to the Lumad and Muslim tribes around Davao.