This weekend was pitch weekend, and it turned out that most of my players preferred to give Mage: the Awakening set in Manila a shot. I have to admit that I’ve been working on this setting on and off for a while now (Considering that I’ve got a few articles on it in several places on this blog.) I have to admit that I’m a little amazed that people would go for the setting, but I suppose everyone enjoys the idea of playing nWoD set in their hometown. It’s one of those things that nWoD does really well.
With regards to my players, I’m looking at a larger roster this time around. As of my last discussions, my players are:
- Silver Countess
All of which are relatively old hands to gaming, so I don’t expect to run into problems there. Aside from deciding on which game to run, I’ve had a chance to ask my players for what kind of expectations or requests they might have and two stood out from the rest. Maddie requested more interaction, a game that was beyond the usual monster of the week and combat after combat. Vicente on the other hand was looking to do something else aside from the usual politics, as he’s had enough of that in real life to be wasting good leisure time doing the same. Both of these are valid (and good) feedback for me so I can tailor how the game goes for these players.
For those wondering about it, here’s my pitch for the campaign:
Awakening by Night: Manila
The Philippines has always been a land of paradox.
It is the Pearl of the Orient and the Sick Man of Asia, Towers of glass and steel reach for the sky just meters away from an overpopulated hovel packed full of squatters. Catholicism is the national religion, yet the same churchgoers follow Chinese superstitions and older, more primitive beliefs. Actors are voted into positions of power, and yet the public is still surprised when these politicians lie to them.
The people there embrace any and all ideas, having lost their identity long ago after being colonized and subjugated over and over, first by other countries, then by their own rulers. It is a land that has surrendered to apathy, where just being able to make do is good enough, lest the forces that be strike them down for daring to hope for more.
The poor succumb to violence and substance abuse, falling victim to crimes of exploitation. The rich revel in their vices, running rampant across moral and legal lines without fear of any repercussions.
Human lives are the currency in the greater schemes of Corporate Greed. Able and desperate men and women shipped off into other countries with promises of greater financial stability are quickly stranded in high-risk countries with no legal means back outside of a wooden box. Meanwhile, the youth are press-ganged into high stress meat-grinders of mind-numbing and repetitive work as call center agents working the graveyard shift, burning the candles of their own health on both ends all for the promise of easy money.
The Church, once the source of spiritual health and guidance has fallen afoul of terrible scandals that have shaken the faith of the people to their very foundations. Heedless of this exodus of believers, the narrow-minded coven of Bishops continue to rally against Reproductive Health while dodging questions about their expensive SUVs. In its place countless religious factions have sprung up, led by charismatic leaders, each with their own interpretation of divine truth.
- Corruption in the Ranks
- Symbols and Meaning
- Brainwashed Masses
- Crisis and Opportunity
With their mortal lives steeped in this sort of culture, it is little surprise that the Awakened society of Metro Manila mirror this dysfunctional mindset. Factitious and jealous, there is no true Consilium for the city. Instead Awakened society lies balanced between three powerful Cabals who struggle to dominate the Awakened population of the city and further their agendas.
With regards to the game, I’ve started setting a few parameters in order to cut down on the slower paced starts of most of my games. Taking a page from my successful L5R campaign, I’ve required that all the players be part of the Guardians of the Veil order, a group of mages that serve as the secret police of the Awakened community. Given that there is no Consilium or central government in the setting, the Order has taken it upon themselves to serve as judge, jury and executioner, while working on the means by which to forge a Consilium from the disparate Cabals that make up Manila’s Awakened population.
Needless to say this doesn’t always make them popular, but it does give the players a strong excuse to meddle. Add the fact that they’re all part of a single cabal, and you get a team that has protecting each other as a priority as they only have each other to trust.
I’m leaving my players to do their character creation by themselves this week, trusting in the power of electronic communications for them to check their concepts. I’m looking to start off with a bang this weekend, so here’s hoping I get everything together in time to start by then.