[Philippine Genres] Historical / High Fantasy

As pointed out by Hikkikomori over at the previous article in this series, one of the most interesting ways to use the Philippine setting is in the context of a Historical or High Fantasy Setting.

The Philippines has a rich history of various cultures mingling with the native pre-colonial civilization, and as such, one can draw different interesting time periods in which to play a campaign.  Among these times would be:

  • Pre-colonial Philippines
  • The Spanish Occupation
  • World War 2 & the Japanese Occupation
The amount of magic or more fantastic elements that could easily be implemented vary of course, with the Pre-colonial setting being the closest to the “Mythic Ages” of most other cultures.  This can range from truly high fantasy types where epic heroes like Lam-Ang walked the islands and slaughtered entire armies, to more low fantasy types involving warriors or heroes of warring tribes or fighting against foreign invaders.
The era of the Spanish Occupation leads to an interesting situation as well.  There’s a clash of cultures, faiths and ideologies as the Catholic Spanish begin to take root in a land long held by Animist faiths.  In a fantasy spin, Shamans coerce spirits to fight alongside them against Clerics of the the One Diety who impose their own paradigm of faith and magic to this contested land.  Conquistadors fight with platemail and muskets against bare-chested native warriors armed with shields and swords.  There’s a lot of room for all sorts of stories, from intrigue to swashbuckling adventure, and with so much of the islands still left to explore, there’s room to involve the fair folk in the form of diwata as well.
Another interesting era for a Historical campaign would be World War 2.  Whether as guerrilla soldiers fighting against the Japanese occupation, striking from the jungles to take on vital military objectives, or joining the forces of General Douglas MacArthur as they fought to free Manila from the grasp of the Japanese Occupation, there’s a lot of room for daring Pulp stories, or even gritty wartime campaigns.  World War 2 was a vicious time, and the Philippines was definitely not spared.
Given the history of conflict and clashing cultures in the Philippines, it shouldn’t be difficult for people to think of interesting ways to use these time frames to launch a campaign.  There’s a small resurgence of interest already for this sort of genre, as popular culture here shifts their focus towards mining the native culture as opposed to rehashing tv series from Korea or Mexico.


  1. I actually have written two papers on the U.S.’s occupation of the Philippines. I’ve had quite a few Filipino students over the years, and I love me some homemade pancit and/or adobo.

    It’s a land that deserves more attention in our community…especially if you mix in things like the manananggal or the oft-mentioned aswang.

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