[nMage Manila] The Ugly Side of the City

Posted: November 13, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Campaign Design, Mage: the Awakening, Roleplaying Games, World of Darkness
Tags: ,

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.

  1. Hikikkomori says:

    Don’t forget stray gods.
    We have no such thing as animal control here. The closest thing are ‘Tanods’, or essentially Militia. (heh. term to scare foreigners.)

  2. Jennifer says:

    I love this. I’m always excited when people decide to set their game (or book, for that matter) in a place other than the US. Yes, Vampire/WoD offers stuff for Europe as well, but still, most campaigns don’t take place there and that’s a pity. I’m looking forward to reading more about your campaign.

  3. Tentaclese says:

    I ran a rather successful Mage Game in Manila. I had a fun time writing up the shadow world of Makati. Makati itself is rather small but it is surrounded by endless slums. There are strong spirit animals like rats and cockroaches. I had a gestalt of cockroaches speak in cold random numbers scare my players.

    Makati Med was ruled by a spirit who would heal anyone who could pay. Never go to the basement less you want to loose your mind. (There is a psychiatric ward for drug addicts)

    Over to the ‘Philippine sign to the world’ (Its that corner of Edsa where you have the twin towers, that tall ass building beside them which looks like it’s made out of Mahjong tiles and two other towers which are about the same size. Looks kinda like the buildings are giving the skylight the bird.) is actually a Kapre or tree spirit which has modernized itself and rules over Makati trying to maximize profits.

    The many malls are vast mazes which are ruled over consumerism spirits who want its victims to gorge themselves over consumerism and sloth.

    • Yeah. I’ve been down the psych ward of Makati Med. Mostly because the old physical rehab shared the same floor. I remember sitting in that cold corridor as early as 6am waiting for my morning appointment and hearing strange moaning from the inside of the ward. Or how the lights flickered. I was sooo glad the physical rehab moved to the new building eventually, but until then creepy place!

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