This campaign is new to me because I’ve never really run a Mage game set in Manila before. Ironic, perhaps because I live here, but then again I’ve always associated the World of Darkness to the US or Europe, given the presence of Vampires and Werewolves, both of which aren’t really something you’d expect to see in a Manila setting. Amusingly enough, the supernaturals that you can expect to see here would be Mages and Changelings, and maybe a Sin-Eater or Mummy somewhere.
That said, I’m trying to lock down on the tone of the game. Manila has to feel like a World of Darkness reflection of Manila, and that means that a lot of the stranger and perhaps unpleasant elements of reality will show up in the game. These include:
- Traffic and Bad Driving – Needless to say, I don’t imagine car chases here. Foot chases over dangerous terrain however, will be more plausible.
- Heavily Armed Thugs – Criminals here have a disturbing propensity to use heavy firearms while the cops are often restricted to the use of their .38 revolvers, or 9mm pistols.
- Garbage – Garbage is a reality in most of Manila’s streets. Sure some of the more developed areas like Makati and the Bonifacio Global City are pretty clean, but once you’re out in neighborhoods like Tondo and Binondo, heaps of trash on the street can be a fairly common occurrence.
- Stray Dogs / Cats – Manila tends to have a fairly large population of stray animals. While they’ve yet to band together in packs, the occasional rabid dog has been an issue in poorer communities.
- Badass Home Security – Houses in Manila sport some pretty interesting home security measures. High walls topped with shards of broken glass, or loops of razorwire are a common sight, while more affluent communities have electrified wire running along the top of the wall.
- Weapons of all sorts – From the famous balisong butterfly knife to the infamous sumpak improvised firearms to regular blades, staves and guns, the Philippines has some pretty interesting weapons if you know where to look for it.
- Weather extremes – If it’s hot, then it’s the kind that can give you heat stroke. But when we get hit by a strong typhoon, then certain areas of the city go underwater really fast. Not to mention that the traffic in the city snarls up to a near-standstill.
It’s an interesting setting given just how much can go on unnoticed by the authorities, but hopefully the Mage game will be a more optimistic one than the setting implies. The player characters are in a unique position to “fix” the broken state of the Awakened community in Manila, but they’re not about to have an easy time doing so. Still, with determination and no small amount of effort, they might be able to uproot the older, corrupted systems and put something better in it’s place.