A good friend and fellow Philippine Gamer, Dariel Quiogue of Hari Ragat fame asked me to check out the Character Generation rules for his upcoming Hari Ragat RPG and I was more than happy to give it a whirl.
The game is based on Dariel’s Vivid system, a rules-light set of mechanics that focuses on the storytelling aspect of things as opposed to bookkeeping and tactics. Needless to say I’m very excited to see this game come out.
To give an idea of what Hari Ragat is about, here’s an overview straight from the pdf:
“Hari Ragat is an RPG of mythic fantasy revolving around the epic warrior heroes of the Vijadesan people. You play an Orang Dakila, a member of the noble, divinely descended warrior class: proud, boastful, a fighter and a lover, a mighty carouser, sworn to protect and provide but always seeking personal glory, moving always within a shifting web of relationships driven by passion and an iron code of honor.”
tl;dr? It’s Southeast Asian Sword and Sorcery.
If that isn’t awesome, I don’t know what is.
In any case, the text continues to provide context as to what is expected in the game:
“Your people are the Vijadesans, a seafaring Iron Age culture still in the process of settling and taming the wild tropical rain forests and coasts of the Janggalan Isles. Blessed by the gods with valor, but doomed to eternal strife, the Vijadesans are divided into many little kingdoms that are continually warring with each other.
In this game you will make seaborne raids on your enemies, or fight them off when they do the same; hunt down giants and enchanted beasts; compete in courtship tournaments to win the love of a princess, or take part in epic abductions in the name of romance; and compete for power and leadership of your people in feasts and courtly negotiations.
You will be among comrades of similar status and origins, tied together by virtue of being part of the same community, around which your adventures revolve.”
Right, so now with that idea firmly in mind, let’s get to making a character.
Character creation is a six-step procedure:
- GM Briefing
- Assign Role Dice
- Assign Traits
- Assign Aces
- Assign Hooks
- GM Review
This is probably the most obvious step, with the GM giving you a rundown of just what exactly they plan to run. This will help the players brainstorm their character concepts to gel appropriately with the kind of game that the GM wants to run.
One of the neat call-outs in this part is the fact that the GM has to make sure to detail a hometown for the heroes. This is the village, town or city where the heroes all live, whether they were born there or joined the community in some way. Details shoudl include the location, keystone characters and issues of the community.
I find that this is an inspired choice, as it anchors the player characters in a setting more firmly as it would if they were building characters in a vaccuum.
Assign Role Dice
Players get to assign 5 Role Dice, and may place a maximum of 4 in Career Role and 2 in Caste Role. Roles are central concepts of your character, and represent the character’s identity and function. Each Role is considered a package of backgrounds, skills and knowledge inherent in that concept.
For Hari Ragat, Caste roles come in two flavors: the Orang Dakila noble caste, which include hunting, fighting, sailing, carousing, boasting, courting, etc. While the Orang Malaya on the other hand are the freemen, commoners, who have access to similar activities but who are more “grounded” and oriented towards a worker class.
Career Roles on the other hand come in four varieties: The Warrior (Mandirigma), Hunter (Manunugis), Corsair (Manlalayag) and the female-only Amazon (Kinalakian)
Traits describe a wide range of qualities and gifts that make a hero more unique. This is where you can start differentiating your character from all the others. Players pick five starting traits from a list of the following:
- Ancestors (Divine, Royal, Heroic) – your hero is descended from a powerful bloodline which could be anything from a god or giant, royal descent, or the blood of heroes.
- Destiny – Your hero is blessed with a prophesied destiny and gains Advantage to any actions that further that Destiny.
- Tattoos – Your hero bears one of the ornate tattoos of the Vijadesans that have been imbued with enough spiritual power to bring additional benefits from strength, to speed, to attractiveness.
- Secrets – Your hero is privy to the secret of certain weapons, and is capable of wielding it in a manner that is superior to others.
- Companions – Your hero has henchmen, servants or animal companions that are loyal to him.
- Treasures – Your hero possesses an item with an awakened spirit that grants it special properties.
- Qualities – This is the catch-all category for adding physical or mental qualities such as “Quick-thinking” or “Strong as an Ox”
Aces are character gifts and abilities that can be spent to obtain favorable circumstances or avert a harmful event. Players have 10 points to distribute to the following:
- Bala (Spiritual Power) – A measure of a character’s life force, energy and the favor of his ancestor spirits, and is essentially an action point. It can be spent to add a bonus to die rolls or absorb damage
- Dulohan (Follower) – These are combatants that follow your hero, and act as a Mob in play
- Wealth – A measure of gold that your character possesses.
- Bahandi (Heirloom Goods) – Similar to Wealth, but the Bahandi take the form of goods such as brass gongs, porcelain pottery, or fine silks. These are important in the Vijadesan ‘gift economy’ that values physical objects rather than just gold.
- Favors – These are literal favors that important people owe your character and can be cashed in to have them perform a service to you.
Hooks are little details that form the character’s psychology, ethics, morals and motivations. There’s a list of categories for these too, but the player is encouraged to use the list as a springboard for personalized statements. Players are encouraged to have at least 5 hooks.
Okay, now that we’ve got a rundown of the steps, here’s a character I’ve put together.
Starting with the handy list of names, I’ve decided to go with Matanglawin.
The first step is to assign 5 Role Dice. For Matanglawin, I’ve decided that he’ll be a noble caste, and give him 2 Dice in Orang Dakila.
As for Role, I like the idea of him being a hunter, so I assign the remaining 3 dice to Manunugis, and take note of his starting outfit of a 3-point palisay shield, a bow and a quiver of arrows, a Kris and a knife.
Now that I’m done with Roles, I’ve got to purchase Traits.
I like the idea of Matanglawin being the son of a Diwata, a local nature diety. He’s blessed with extraordinary Beauty and Grace and has an Advantage in social contests.
He’s also in possession of several tattoos, such as one of Celerity that give him speed, and the Tattoo of the Centipede to grant him immunity against insect or arachnid venom.
Finally I’ll hand him a few combat secrets. The Warrior’s Dance is a good one to represent Matanglawin’s superior mobility, and Panuntukan allows him to participate in combat even without his bow.
I don’t think I’ll put too much into his Aces. Bala 5 is always good, and spend the rest among Wealth (he’s a noble after all) and Bahandi (He’s also quite a trader too, it seems.)
The last part is to assign 5 hooks to Matanglawin. Looking over the list of hooks, I’ve got a few ideas that I want to implement:
- Hated by Batara, another hunter in the Tribe. The two have been at each other’s throats even as children, and the potential for violence and death has only grown with age.
- Loyal to the Tribe seems like a no-brainer
- Obsessed with finding the Giant Snake that killed his twin sister when they were children. (The snake could quite possibly be a shape-shifted demon too.)
- Obsessed with adventure is always good to have as a character.
- In love with a mysterious Diwata in a local mountain.
Orang Dakila 2
Tattoo of Celerity
Tattoo of the Centipede
Secret of the Warrior’s Dance
Secret of Panuntukan
Palisay Shield 3
Bow and Arrows
Hated by Batara
Loyal to Tribe
Obsessed with Adventure
Mourning Vow of Vengeance for sister
In love with mysterious Diwata
Overall character creation is fast and easy. The fact that it’s actually broken down to just cherry picking from lists simplifies things. I found the mechanics to be easy to follow, and the character is practically bristling with plot hooks. Definitely interested to see the rest of this system in play.
If you guys are interested in more of Dariel’s work, check out Gods of Gondswane on RPGNow as it’s free and has an awesome concept:
Gods of Gondwane is a role-playing game of swords and sorcery, set in a pulp-style world of dinosaurs and a sinister alien presence that oppresses the inhabitants by imposing monstrous genetically engineered or mechanical ‘gods’ upon them.
Over a hundred million years ago, the wisest of an ancient and incredibly advanced race looked into their future – and discovered their people were extinct. Vanished, without a trace. Their proud place had been taken over by the descendants of apes. And so they who would be called the Shapers began their Great Experiment.
Casting their nets through space and time, the Shapers captured primitive hominids and accelerated their evolution, to find out how and why Man had supplanted them. When they failed to find the answer, they destroyed the cities their subjects had built, wiped them out, and tried again. Still the answer eluded them.
And so the Shapers cast their nets further up the time stream … into that place that we call the Bermuda Triangle, in that time we call the 20th century. The Eighteenth Cycle of the Great Experiment has begun … and you have been summoned to be part of it.