January 2, 2012

Fantastic Locations in the Jangalan Isles

RPGBlogCarnivalLogocopyHappy New Year!  As our 195th post, and our contribution to K.J. Davies’ Fantastic Locations theme for the RPG Blog Carnival, here’s a sampling of fantastic locations from the Hari Ragat setting.  I’m using Keith’s template, but added a fourth item, the Attraction of the location – why should adventurers want to have anything to do with it?

Pulo Mabannog
Pulo Mabannog, Island of the Giant Raptors, is a large, mountainous island that is the only known nesting site of the great bannog birds.  (Bannog are the equivalents of the roc in Philippine myth).

It’s the only nesting site of the bannog, who are reputed to guard a fount of great spiritual power in the interior.

Relatively easy to reach for a seafaring people, but extremely difficult to leave alive.  The bannog will usually attack ships passing too close to the island, and will definitely attack ships trying to leave.  Other dangers await in the interior.

Even with regard to the rest of the Hari Ragat setting (the Jangalan Archipelago), this island smacks of the unreal.  Nobody has ever explored it and returned.  There are no verifiable facts about its interior, only rumors.  That there is something powerfully magical there is plainly evidenced by the fact that the bannog nest there, and grow as big as they do.

Rumors abound of what the adventurer stands to gain by exploring this isle. 

First, the bannog themselves.  The heart of a bannog confers Bala, spiritual power, if eaten, while its eggshells and nestlings are also worth a great deal to any practitioner of magic.

Second, there is the legend of the Merah Lembu, the gigantic Crimson Bullock of Mabannog.  Said to be owned by the Lambana of Mabannog, the blood of this creature is said to have the power to make one the ultimate warrior.  This of course is all legend and rumor; the truth may be very different, such as the bull being no mere beast at all.

Third is the Lambana, or protector-Diwata, of the island herself.  It is rumored that this goddess has a wild, predatory nature like her bannog pets, but great will be the reward for whoever can win her favor.

Fourth is the island itself.  The warriors and hunters who could clear Mabannog of its greatest dangers to mankind, allowing its settlement, will win great fame indeed.  Making Mabannog safe will also allow voyagers from the southern part of the archipelago to sail a shorter route to the north, and vice versa, and ports here could reap a fortune simply for being along the way.

Mount Kulindang
Mount Kulindang is a volcano on the island of Balayan, that is barely kept dormant by a curious custom. 

There is only one Mount Kulindang.

The mountain is easily visible from anywhere in the central part of Balayan, and it is not too difficult to climb its lower slopes.  Few, however, dare to do so lest they disturb the sleeping Diwata of the mountain, for the Diwata is temperamental and has control over the volcano’s eruptions.

The unreality of this site has everything to do with its being a sacred place and the fear the locals have of upsetting its supernatural guardian.

The Diwata of Mount Kulindang is a male diwata – a rarity as most diwatas are female – but like the more famous Lalahon he is temperamental and likely to cause an eruption if offended.  For this reason, the Balayans periodically choose a maiden to become the Flautist of the Mountain, responsible for keeping the diwata blissfully asleep.  She must be beautiful, a virgin, and of course very good with the flute.

Successfully wooing the Flautist will win the suitor great fame, but unless he can also solve the problem of the diwata, he will also gain the enmity of the Balayans.

Lake Bawan
Lake Bawan, also known as Lake Mapating, the Lake of Many Sharks, is a freshwater lake in central Balayan that is inhabited by many large bull sharks.

The uniqueness of this lake comes from the oddity of its fauna; the sharks, rays, snakes and turtles that live in its depths are all marine animals, but they’re here in a freshwater lake.  How did they get here?

The lake lies at the bottom of a bowl-like valley, actually the caldera of an extinct volcano, and is ringed by farming and fishing communities.  It’s not difficult to reach the lake at all.  The accessibility problem is with the waters of the lake, for the sharks here are not only voracious, they have learned – again quite oddly – to view humans, even humans in boats, as food, and know how to get at them!

Who expects to meet sharks in a freshwater lake so far inland?

There are rumors that the sharks of the lake were placed there by the lake’s Diwata, to guard her treasure which lies at the bottom.

It is also rumored that the sharks have a Mother who lives in the deepest part of the lake; slay her, and the shark problem will be resolved because the rest of the sharks will flee back to sea*, die off, or simply never breed again, allowing them to be extirpated permanently**.

*Implying that there’s still a connection between Lake Bawan and the sea.  What if slaying the Shark Mother brings down the wrath of the Shark Father?!

**While I consider this a fun adventure hook, make no mistake – I’m all for the conservation of sharks, and will give you a very poisonous glare if you ever order shark’s fin soup in my presence! :)

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