Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Town of Sabungan

(Part 1 of COCKAMANIA!!)

The town of Sabungan is a well known destination for people who wish to bet on cockfights. Lying on a bend of the Oryang River, Sabungan becomes a floodplain during the monsoon rains, which people take advantage of by developing canals and irrigation systems for growing rice. It is also because of these floods that Sabungan’s homes are elevated on posts, perching them high above the ground like the cocks that they adore.

Source: WikiPilipinas
And adore these cocks they do, with a gusto that other people may reserve for their lovers. Or perhaps it is not erotic, but narcissistic: The Sabungan man bathes his cock and feeds it with expensive meats and grain. He strokes it, he brushes it, he fluffs it, he speaks to it in low voices. He compares it constantly with others’ cocks. The more a person loves himself, the more attention he tends to give to his cock. Some babaylan even say that the cock is actually one of man’s souls. It is his spirit of pride, and when it dies in the ring (for cockfighting is indeed a lethal sport), he loses a part of himself and must raise it anew to be whole again.

This cock fever is shared by the rest of Sabungan, as well as most of the people who come here to gamble. Everywhere, sculptures of cocks by expert goldsmiths and woodcarvers decorate houses and street markers. Instead of a marketplace, the town center is a great cock fighting arena. It is a great amphitheater of bamboo and wood, raised above the ground by stone pillars that were quarried near the haunted wood before it was haunted. This arena is suitably grandiose that, when people talk of Sabungan, they usually refer to the arena instead of the town.

Recent events

During Sabungan’s cock festival a harvest ago, Pilandok the town deadbeat entered a very unusual cock in the games. Its plumage was swirled with the colors of a rainbow, it could use its wings to hover in the air, and it was unusually swift and precise with its talons. It was also the biggest cock around.

Sarimanok, as Pilandok called his magnificent cock, naturally won all of its fights. Just as naturally, no one wanted to pit their cocks against the Sarimanok since the festival. Instead, they all wanted their hens to breed with it.

Image owned by WotC

The breeding process was not smooth. More than a fair share of already rotting eggs were hatched and those that did survive were ugly and disfigured, scaly skinned with only a few splotched of feathers in between. But they did grow to the size of dogs and handily beat normal-sized cocks in battle. (Treat them as cockatrices.)

And so Pilandok graduated from trainer to breeder, and with his exorbitant fees he has gotten quite rich. Some say he is now rich enough to woo the datu’s daughter. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? For now, it is time for the annual cock festival once again.

People in Sabungan

Artisans set up shop outside the arena, showing off their works of art to any who would seek them out. Unlike cluckers, they probably won’t try to swindle you - but they do tend to have a very high opinion of their work. Artisans are commoners with either Dexterity or Intelligence scores of 13, depending on what suits their craft. Any artisan worth her rice will be skilled in her craft’s related artisan’s tools - the best ones will instead be experts with their tools.

Table: Artisan Types
Typical Culture
Typical Barter DC of Art
Inker (Temporary tattoo)

Cluckers are merchants that wander around the arena who hope to separate people from a portion of their winnings by selling food or trinkets. The food is cheap and the artworks are of questionable quality, but if pressed by characters who look loaded, they can be persuaded to bring them to their artisan partners’ shops for the good stuff. Cluckers are commoners with Charisma 13, and they tend to be skilled in barter and insight.

Gamblers are the lifeblood of the festival. Their bets fuel the otherwise stale economy of Sabungan. These gamblers likely have gone through Meilakanjan, the lakan city, on their way to the festival. And they tend to be as varied as the shells of the sea. Others will be local cock owners, themselves. Before their cocks are tested on the pits, they almost always bet on some matches, themselves.

Because of the nature of pairing bettors against one another, half the population tend to be lucky, while half tend to be down on their luck.

Table: Random Gamblers

Owns cock?
Lucky Today?
Once lost a finger to a vicious cock.
Foreign datu. Might be in disguise.
Peninsulares. Curious about local culture.
First time gambler. Money is too easy to steal.
Could be worse
Local. Expert on the rules - may still be unlucky.
Could be worse
Is samot - either a gnome, or a tikbalang
Optimistic. “Today is my day - I can feel it!”
Is an entourage to (roll again)

Kristos are the bet fixers of the arena, moving around the rowdy crowd and pairing underdog bettors to equivalent favorite bettors. They also facilitate secondary negotiations after pairing, and if necessary, they can use command to tell stubborn bettors to pay. Kristos are babaylan acolytes, and as is typical of the babaylan, their genders tend to be ambiguous. The success of the festival largely (but not entirely) rests on the kristos’ unsullied reputation as umpires.

Available at
  Adarna House!
Pilandok is the village deadbeat who somehow struck gold. Right before the floods came a year ago, he stumbled upon a small, perfectly spherical, iridescent object while looking for a quick buck in the woods. He had no idea what it was, but it seemed small enough to safely feed to his sickly cock. (It was definitely too big.) So he added it to his cockfeed, and lo and behold, the rock transformed his cock into the sarimanok.

His new position as a gintawo (noble by gold) has left him utterly bored - he wishes that someone will dare challenge his sarimanok into a fight again. Ironically, it’s not as if he was ever very busy before. Even when the going was tough, he was never really motivated enough to do anything substantial.

Pilandok. Half-orc rogue 3. High/low Ability +2/-1 UTA 16 AC 13 HP 19 Skill Die +1d4 SKILLED Athletics, Intimidation, Perception, Stealth EXPERT Barter, Deception. Weapon itak (1d6, finesse), Sneak Attack +2d6, Cunning Action, Fast Hands. Half-orc traits. CR ½.

The sarimanok is blessed with the powers of the celestial diwata - in fact, it has now lived as a spirit for so long that it barely remembers its cruder animal existence. It does perceive rightly or wrongly that it owes Pilandok its life. As such it is fanatically loyal to him, and will protect him from any who would do him harm.

The adarna stone is stuck in its throat - removing it will necessitate either killing the sarimanok or performing a DC 20 Wisdom (Medicine) check.

Sarimanok. Medium celestial (diwata). High/low Ability +2/-4 UTA 13 AC 13 HP 39 Speed fly 40ft (hover) Skill Die +1d4 SKILLED Performance Weapon bladed talons (1d4, two attacks) Magic (2 slots, DC 13) charm person, color spray, sleep Petrifying feces sleeping targets, Con save DC 13 or be petrified. CR 1.

Random Encounters: Town of Sabungan
Diwata Oryang, human guise
1d4+1 cockatrices are loose!
The datu’s warriors, acting like they own the place
Gambler, currently happy
Someone they’ve met before (roll on your list if you have one)
Gambler, currently anxious
Kristo, doing something suspicious
Dead body
Someone challenges Pilandok!
The head kristo

Betting on Cock Fights

Two types of betting occur in the cock fighting pits - the solemn central bet between the cock owners and the loud, chaotic shouting matches that are the side bets. If the player characters involve themselves in betting, use the below rules for adjudicating both types of bets using the Utang na loob.

The central bet occurs between two cock owners and their respective friends and family. This is a team effort, as central bettors are traditionally expected to utterly believe in their own cocks and be willing to bet more than just a single purse to it. For a team to even be capable of making this big bet, they must have a collective Utang modifier of +4 or higher.

Once the capacity to pay has been settled, the head kristo examines both cocks and determines the cock who will be declared as the favorite. The nuances of what makes a cock favored is left to the GM, but the following are always true:
  • The sarimanok is favored over cockatrices.
  • A cockatrice will be favored over a regular cock.
  • A regular cock has no chance of beating the sarimanok.
It is also possible for the head kristo to determine that the cocks will be evenly matched. Once determined, the head kristo calls out the favorite, and the side betting begins as the owners prime their cocks for combat.

Determine the winner with a Wisdom (Animal Handling) contest between the owners: The owner of the favored cock will roll with advantage. Each member of the winning side will roll 1d6 - if the result is higher than their current Utang modifier, then their Utang score increases by 1 as a result of the winnings. Meanwhile, the cock of the losing side dies, and each member of the losing side will reduce their Utang score by 1.

If the Wisdom (Animal Handling) contest is a tie, both cocks deal mortal wounds to each other. The first cock to die loses, to be determined randomly by the GM.

Side betting is a chaotic affair that occurs after a favorite has been declared. It involves scrambling into a crowd of excited bettors, shouting and shoving and making hand signals as they look for bet partners and a kristo to sanction their bet.

To look for a bet partner, the bettor first determines two things: Will he bet on the favorite or the undercock? Will he push for short or long odds? Once that is determined, he rolls for an Utang (Barter) check:
  • Betting on the undercock, willing to go for short odds: Medium DC
  • Betting on the undercock, pushing for long odds: Hard DC
  • Betting on the favorite, willing to go for long odds: Medium DC
  • Betting on the favorite, pushing for short odds: Hard DC
  • Cocks are evenly matched: Hard DC
On a success, the bettor lands a safe bet, and losing won’t significantly hurt his Utang score. On a failure, the bettor finds himself with an unsafe bet, and if he loses he will reduce his Utang score by 1.

The winning cock is then determined by the central bet. Characters with winning bets roll 1d4. If the result is higher than their current Utang modifier, then their Utang score increases by 1 as a result of the winnings.

Note that while many cock fights will occur over the course of the festival, only 1d4 fights per day will generally be worth the while of the player characters if they choose to participate.

Part 2: The daughters of Habagat
Part 3: Oryang, the river goddess