Friday, April 29, 2016

El Filibusterismo's Simoun in Eberron, Part 1

Jose Rizal's "El Filibusterismo" is one of the classic works of Filipino literature, and one of the most memorable characters of the novel is the enigmatic Simoun. A mysterious jeweler and pawnbroker, the elegant financier glides through the hallways of power in the peculiar "frailocracy" of the colonial Philippines, hobnobbing with prelates, colonial bureaucrats,  and the native elite. Always immaculately dressed and never seen without his distinctive tinted spectacles, Simoun hovers around the halls of power, ready to provide favors for favors, sharp-tongued advice, or a little loan here and there for his friends. Woe to those who cross the man, for he always seems to know the details of past misdeeds that he can wield like the sword of Damocles. 

A man of smiles and honeyed words, unbeknownst to many, Simoun is a man pursuing a vendetta. Wronged by Church and State, betrayed by his own people, his family destroyed and his lady love sent to a convent to be the plaything of an amorous friar, Simoun is determined to set the halls of power on fire, an explosive revenge that would make Edmund Dantes proud.

Monday, March 21, 2016

L5R: Mantis Through the SEA Lens (Introduction)

I wasn't even a teenager yet when I first heard about Legend of the Five Rings. I was a young kid into Magic: The Gathering at the time, and I saw this completely different TCG that had two (!) decks, provinces, strongholds, holdings, and that peculiar quirk of bowing to your opponent after your turn is done to say "table is yours." It had samurai, it had honor, and it was something I really wanted to try. But as it happens, it's a miracle that was able to afford Magic on a schoolboy's allowance in the first place. L5R was simply out of reach.

Fast forward to my college days and beyond. I have abandoned TCGs as RPGs appealed to me more. Here I am running Dungeons and Dragons and it offshoots for my players, juggling hubris for awakened magi in NWoD, and running around as an ork MMO player/criminal in 2078. But I haven't touched L5R. Rokugan had accumulated an enormous metaplot since my time as a wide-eyed kid looking at Dynasty and Fate decks, and this presented a barrier to entry for me. (It doesn't help that most of the L5R fans I can draw with a game pitch locally would know tons more about the metaplot than I ever can.) L5R's aesthetic also seemed to give me the vibe that Asia = Japan and China, and I personally found my Southeast Asian (SEA) roots underrepresented.

When I told my friend and L5R aficionado +Jay Steven Anyong about my reservations on running L5R, he asked, "how about running  a Mantis Clan game?" So I looked up this Mantis Clan.

Oh boy.

Moshi Ira of the Mantis Clan

A cursory glane at tha Mantis makes me think that they are perfect for running a SEA-themed game. They exist on the corners of the Empire, and interestingly they are not as pivotal to the head canon of L5R fans. They are a conglomerate of former minor clans, which ties well with how SEA thalassocracies functioned. They do not shy away from gold/koku, and by tweaking their "greed" a little bit you can subvert that into the SEA concept of honor.

They still feel a bit too East Asian for my tastes, though, so I will probably have to do a little tweaking and reskinning.

Let's see how this goes.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monster Monday: The Supremo

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History Note. The Surpemo, obviously, has been inspired by Andres Bonifacio. But for him and the Sons of Layaw in general, I also looked into the Cofradias preceding the Katipunan as well as the Katipunan offshoots that broke away from Aguinaldo's Revolucion. I also quite obviously drew from some of the katipunan beliefs, and made some stuff up. I won't distinguish which is which.

The Supremo on Patreon

Filipino Struggles Through History by Botong Francisco.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Monster Monday: Anitan

Gina Alajar as Dian Lamitan, from GMA's Amaya

Anitan is a diwata of thunderbolts. She is a harmful deity, bringing death through the storm's deluge and sickness from a plague of frogs. However, she is uncharacteristically kind to animals: She has a fondness for frogs and toads and have been known to personally come to their aid. She also likes monkeys, for they have the boorishness of men but not the ambition to be more than what they ought to be.

Anitan is not beseeched so much as she is called upon to beg for mercy. Her servants fear her power even as they embody the destructiveness of her storms. If the blood of an intelligent creature is spilled or sacrificed, she might be called on for the following:
  • Speak with Animals. (Utang na Loob DC 10)
  • Restoration of health from diseases or poison (Utang na Loob DC 15)
  • Calm the Storm. (Utang na Loob DC 20)
When she appears before her supplicants, Anitan takes on the form of a voluptuous woman dressed in the fineries of a dian. More often, however, she appears before her enemies as a bipedal and slimy toad who's as large as an ogre.