February 5, 2014

Hari Ragat: the Bidadali

Apsara dancers in Kulen II Theatre Restaurant, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Sick at home and my shoot delayed, dangit, but at least this gives me time to continue writing the Hari Ragat bestiary. Only this and the sample adventure remains to be done!

The apsara photo above is meant to introduce a new creature for Hari Ragat, the Malay/Philippine equivalent of the apsara celestial dancer the Bidadali. Yep, it’s the Sanskrit Bidadari, but the Malay tongues have a thing for swapping L- R- and D- sounds (thus Hari Ragat, the better known Tagalog form being Dagat).  Anyway, here’s the Bidadali, a being you gain Renown from not by slaying and looting, but by marrying her.

The Bidadali are incredibly beautiful nymphs of the upper airs, who sometimes come down to earth to bathe in the purest forest or mountain springs and to dance for the greatest kings and heroes. Every Bidadali possesses a gossamer silk scarf which contains her magic; when she wears this she gains the ability to fly, go invisible, and turn into a bird at will. Bidadali have no other magic save their incredible charm and beauty, and the ability to speak with birds.

Bidadali are benign and have truly sweet, kindly natures, but they are dangerous beauties nonetheless because the mere sight of one can cause a man to fall violently in love with her. It requires the utmost concentration, aided by great spiritual power, to resist a Bidadali's aura of charm. Those who fail fall in love with the Bidadali whether they wish to or not, and they will do anything to obtain the Bidadali, using fair means or foul.

A man could win great fame by taking a Bidadali bride home, but there’s always the risk that someone will try to take her away. Moreover Bidadali who take human husbands will always miss their homes in the clouds and the freedom they enjoyed in bird form, so if ever they find their magical scarf they cannot resist the temptation to put it on to transform and fly away, often never to come back. It's also said that a bath of Bidadali's blood unfailingly confers ageless beauty, so witches and jealous women sometimes seek them out to murder them for this purpose.

Bidadali 6/9, Irresistible Beauty, Dancer for the Gods, Gossamer Scarf of Flight, Secret of Bird Speech, Renown Value 15

Aside from the deserved notoriety in-game that winning a Bidadali bride would bring, consider that these celestial maidens have Renown Values higher than a typical Binokot princess, and their dads don’t charge a ruinous bride price …

NB: This is my interpretation of the Bidadali myth, and does not follow any particular mythology exactly. Guess I’ll have to use this disclaimer in the book too, since I’m dealing with mythologies that are still part of existing religions and traditions …

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