Last week I had the pleasure of being able to do a quick email interview of two designers responsible for the upcoming Hari Ragat RPG. Today we get to check out Dariel Quiogue and Marc Reyes’ answers on Hari Ragat’s setting, gameplay, goals and mechanics for both the VIVID system and the FATE version of the game.
Why Hari Ragat? Was it a patriotic move? Or something to differentiate yourself from the standard Western Fantasy?
Dariel: More of the latter — I’ve always wanted to see more Asia other than China or Japan in role playing games and fantasy fiction. That, and the fact that our native epics and legends do make awesome material for gaming, I think. Another idea was historical — to explore what the ‘Hindu-ized’ Malay kingdoms in the early Philippines might have been like.
What were your main inspirations for Hari Ragat?
Dariel: Hari Ragat is a mishmash of stuff from local literature and history. Some main inspirations include epics like the Darangen, Indarapatra at Sulayman, Hudhud ni Aliguyon, Biag ni Lam-Ang, the Hinilawod, and Tuwaang. The seed of the setting’s history was inspired by the Maragtas epic – I know it’s claimed to be a hoax, but it’s a good story to base an RPG on.
Then there’s the mythologies of various ethnic groups, I used mainly the Tagalog pantheon but added deities and ideas from other cultures as well. There’s quite a bit of inspiration from non-Philippine sources as well, like the Ramayana, which has a lot of Southeast Asian versions, and of course Homer’s Iliad. The hero types you can play correspond to Homeric archetypes — an Achilles-like Warrior, a Hercules-like Hunter, an Odysseus-like Corsair, and an Amazon such as
Penthesilea or Hippolyta.
How much of HR is research and how much is fiction?
Dariel: A lot of research that went through a combining and reducing filter to become fiction Hari Ragat is not meant to be taken as historical in any way, nor are the peoples and cultures described there meant to be taken as direct and accurate representations.
Tell us a little about the system, any particular mechanics that you’re proud of?
Dariel: Hari Ragat will be coming out in two flavors, Vivid and FATE. Marc and I are going for slightly divergent experiences. In the Vivid version I’m very much focused on the individual hero and your journey through the setting; a sandbox approach, meant to be driven by your character’s own personal ties in the milieu. It’s an exploration of
what being in a pagan, epic warrior culture is like, with the added spice of that unique Southeast Asian flavor. Marc’s FATE version goes for the endgame — to write the next chapter in the history of the Vijadesans.
FATE’s already pretty well-known, so I’ll talk about Vivid. Its main aim is be able to handle cinematic action very fluidly, so it’s a very simple dice pool system. I guess the best mechanic of Vivid is the way players are encouraged to gain bonus dice for their rolls. My players have told me they like the very concrete representation of their power by more dice.
Every means of gaining bonus dice ties you more to the milieu or the elements of the scene somehow. For example, there’s a group resource called Anito Dice, representing the favor of the ancestor spirits; to gain them you have to engage in things like making offerings to the ancestors, doing what the ancestors want, doing war dances before a raid, stuff like that.
Marc: I’m working on the FATE implementation of Hari Ragat, which will be based around the Fate Core version of FATE. I originally wanted to do this in Legends of Anglerre FATE, but as I was working on it, I realized that Fate Core is a much better fit.
Give us a snapshot of what a “typical” game of HR involves.
Dariel: The typical adventure is player character-driven. It starts with a feast where everyone can boast about previous deeds and talk about opportunities for more glory, giving players the chance to suggest adventure seeds to each other — ‘help me take vengeance on this guy,’ or ‘help me go and win the Maiden of Kandako,’ things like that, and let the players decide which one they want to follow. This way the players can and are encouraged to push their own characters’ agendas.
Then there’s a voyage or trek, followed by a trial, then the journey home and another drunken feast!
Marc: At the beginning of the session, the GM narrates the stakes for the next story milestone. It could be that they need to transform their town from one with wooden palisades into stone walls Or they would need to defeat a rogue flock of Manaul that are destroying the trading ships coming in from Namayan. The players, playing not just as one character but a whole clan of them, would then specify the actions of the members of their clan as they deal with the threat.
Any long term plans to expand the HR setting?
Dariel: Marc and I decided to cut the Babaylan character from the initial game, Hari Ragat: Dakila, and create a new one (Hari Ragat: Alamat) which focuses more on shamans and the magical side of things. This avoids the problem that you’ve got in other RPGs that have a very mythical setting but allowed wizard-types in — which is that the wizard either gets sidelined a lot of the time, or ends up dominating the game, or having a flavor of magic that doesn’t feel right for the setting. In Hari Ragat: Alamat, the babaylan will be the center of the game, and warriors will be mostly NPCs just as the babaylan are NPCs in HR: Dakila.
Anything else you want to tell the readers about the game?
Marc: Hari Ragat FATE is designed with a definite ending, which you should get to in about 6 sessions. (Hopefully). But it’s also designed to be hackable. I want you to be able to apply other FATE rulesets to it. I will specifically include a section on how to add the Cubicle 7 FATE elements if you want a game that plays similar to Legends of Anglerre.