Saturday, August 5, 2017

L5R: Mantis through the SEA Lens (Compassion and Glory)

With +Jay Steven Anyong and Chester spearheading a Living L5R campaign here in Metro Manila, I have been tapped to GM the adventures of the Mantis Clan. It also gives me a reminder to return to this idea, so let's get straight to the task at hand!

To recap, the goal is to tweak the concept of the Mantis Clan by drawing more heavily on Southeast Asian (SEA) societies. The closest analogs would be the maritime, pre-Islamic mandalas of the 13th Century. Majapahit is a very good peg. But I am a biased Tagalog so I will likely draw as heavily (if not more so) from Filipino examples.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Adarna and the Aasimar

(First off, an acknowledgement: #RPGaDay turned out to be a bust, as I was simply unable to maintain the momentum of daily posts. But I did have half a month's worth of responses, which is more than what I usually even write for a year. So that has been a plus.)

Actress Marian Rivera as
the iconic Darna.
This week, I released the first of two diwatas that I am planning to release for November: Adarna! There are some commonalities between the Star Maiden trope, the Adarna bird, and the superhero Darna, and I figured it would be a fun idea to see how they will mix together.

Check out the Adarna on my Patreon! And if you want to see more content like this, support me by becoming my patron. I will truly appreciate it.

November is also the month showcasing the release of Volo's Guide to Monsters. WotC has turned its release schedule slow but steady for 5th Edition, so every release has been quite anticipated. I for one will certainly get it when it arrives on local shores.

One of the races that has been made available by Volo's Guide is the aasimar, which from what I've gathered has been significantly expounded upon from what we see in the Dungeon Master's Guide. An interesting bit that has been noted to me by one of my friends is that this version, particularly the protector subrace,is strikingly similar to the adarna. How will the two races coexist if they are in the same campaign setting?

Well, one good way of going about it is to acknowledge their similarities by having the aasimar and the adarna actually related. it is not uncommon for the star maidens of folklore to live on earth and have half-mortal children, only to leave them once they regain possession of their wings. A connection to their parent could still remain, however, and the adarna can even be the aasimar guide for the player character. The adarna is significantly weaker than the deva angel, but this lets the adarna be a more prolific presence in the aasimar's story without overshadowing the player characters.

Alternatively, this parental relationship could exist, but the adarna parent could have perished, with her wings being used by someone else to channel a celestial form. It thus becomes the aasimar's duty to retrieve her parent's wings so that her legacy won't be tarnished.

Monday, August 15, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 Day 15: On populating the game with NPCs

Your best source of inspiration for RPGs?

I have this nasty habit of eavesdropping. Whether I'm in public transit, in a family reunion, or with friends, I like listening to people tell stories and how they inject their own points of view of things into the story. Heck, when I was young, my mom's barkada (whom I will now affectionately call the titas) used to lament how I was always within earshot and therefore they couldn't tell my mom their juicier stories. 

They eventually got used to me though, and so I heard things that no 12-year old should hear. But I digress.

Anyway, one of the things that I have internalized through listening is that you only get a small window to peek into what it is they're talking about. Far too often the info is biased, or imprecise, or told in a way that puts the storyteller in the best light. So I don't know exactly what is going on, but on the other hand I usually see just enough to speculate. My speculations are usually incorrect, hah.

Anyway, I feel like NPCs characters encounter in their stories are mostly the same. The motivations that justify what they're doing are rarely put in the limelight (this is the player characters' story, after all,) but they are there and it makes them the hero of their own story. Haha I am probably rambling here, but basically I like to think that by listening to people I am able to craft NPCs that are more than just cookie-cutter. And to me this is a huuge part of what makes my RPG games tick.

An aside: I also do a lot of research into Philippine culture and folklore, as anyone who's visited this blog before knows. And whenever I make Filipino-themed games, these things are pretty helpful as well. But to me the NPC creation takes the top spot.

#RPGaDAY 2016 Day 14: So much death

Your dream team of people you used to play with?

I would have to go with...

  • Miggy Unabia and his reckless abandon.
  • +Christian Castell so I don't need to master the rules while he's around.
  • +Jaykie Lazarte 's caution, followed by his sudden passion for combat.
  • +Christopher Ian Santos and his ability to intimidate oppenents with "wan'na die?"
  • Adding +Phil Corpuz here even if I still play with him, because we need that guy who is quiet and yet enjoys pwning d00dz just like the rest of the party.

We'll probably play some kind of murderhobo game.

#RPGaDAY 2016 Day 13: Complete stories

What makes a successful campaign?

For me, a successful campaign is one that is able to tell a complete story. And to me this relates to one's awareness of time and circumstances. Everyone might be willing to be in the game at the start, but at some points schedules will change, people will have shifting familial requirements, the horrendous Manila traffic could make it impossible for some people to go. 

I find that, locally, it is generally realistic to expect people to be able  to commit for a year. If you try to create a story that spans longer than that in real life, there is a greater possibility of the game fizzling out before you can reach a satisfying conclusion. So typically I set the game to last for only a year.

Once I have the length and the frequency of the game sorted out, I have a good idea about what kinds of stories I can tell within the time frame that has been given to me. Here the system can help a. In D&D 5E, for example, I can expect a monthly game to get players to levels 7 - 8 in one year. With that information I can then plot out an appropriate big bad, figure out when the action will be at its peak, and leave "buffers" for things that players would want to do that is not necessarily tied to the main plot.

So far, this seems to work out for me. Games have a definite beginning to end times, and a complete story is told.