[Philippine Genres] Horror

Posted: November 7, 2014 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Local Scene, Roleplaying Games
Tags: , ,

We continue our series looking at the various genres of RPGs within the context of Philippine gaming, and how viable they in terms of how well Filipinos here can relate to them.

Today we’ve got our sights set on Horror, by far one of my favorite genres to run. If you check out the categories sidebar, I’ve got a ton of posts for the World of Darkness. But enough about me, let’s get to the subgenres of Horror.

Action Horror

By default, a lot of Horror RPGs tend to drift towards Action Horror, but in terms of a cultural connection, I feel that this is an under-represented genre in Filipino Gaming. The Philippines has a very large body of monsters to fight against, and I feel that these deserve a lot more attention in gaming tables here.

Part of the reason here is the cultural impact of monsters. For example, it’s really difficult to get people in the Philippines to take a Werewolf seriously, or a Banshee even. They’re definitely iconic monsters, but the innate fear of these isn’t present as they aren’t tied to the Filipino culture.

Besides, a lot of players here aren’t as familiar with local monsters, and being able to spring something truly alien and different is worth its weight in gold.

Gothic Horror

Aside from Ravenloft, Gothic horror doesn’t quite have a place in most Filipino gaming tables just yet. It could come from the fact that gothic literature hasn’t really taken off here, and that most people here think of Anne Rice or Stephanie Meyer as opposed to Bram Stoker when you say “vampire.”

That said, I can certainly see where this could work. Again, a Rizal-era vampire in Manila story would certainly pique my interest. Or even a tale featuring Prometheans during the same era, stalking the gaslit streets of Intramuros in search of the true meaning of humanity.

Psychological Horror

Here’s a tough one. A lot of horror set in the modern-day also deals with Psychological horror, with little to no supernatural intervention, but an overhanging atmosphere of dread. This is a difficult one to pull off, and one that could definitely work.

Culture can play a role in this kind of horror, playing on elements of modern Filipino society as a source of the dread. Disconnection from the family due to having to take a dead-end job in a call center, where you start getting threatening calls from a mysterious person who seems to know far too much about you, for example.

These games require an incredible amount of buy in from the players, but if done right can be beautiful. Philippine gamers tend to prefer more action in their games, but there’s a recent trend of gamers who are more willing to try games that have heavier emphasis on story and playing a character as opposed to shooting monsters in the face, so there’s certainly hope for this.

Horror is pretty universal, but Culture plays a key part in making it relatable. In order for something to feel alien, you need to establish a baseline of familiarity, and that’s where culture comes in. I think that Horror is a distant third to the usual Fantasy-heavy RPG population in the country, but I’m fascinated to find out what people have been doing with it as there’s a lot of potential for some truly memorable games.

Next up we’ll tackle Supers and Anime, two related genres that have significant popularity in the country, but does that popularity really translate to the gaming table?

  1. Hi there. Just stumbled upon your blog by chance. I really found this article insightful, informative, and timely. About 2 years ago, a friend introduced me to the World of Darkness setting when we played a Changeling setting. I’ve been fascinated with WoD ever since.

    Just recently, I began toying with the idea of creating a Vampire: The Requiem chronicle set in modern Manila. I’m a relative newbie and so are my friends so it’s taken a while to set things up (we just did character creation and a little bit of setting the tone last time). So I found it really helpful that someone’s already explored the idea of horror in the Philippine context.

    Have you participated in any WoD games set in Manila? Promethean sightings in 19th-century Intramuros sounds awesome.

  2. Thanks for sharing background info on your Mage game. I can almost imagine the gatherings that take place out in the open in Plaza Miranda, and yet at the same time unnoticed by mundane people. Wipe away the grime and grafitti, and you’ll discover the city’s faded glory. It has been and continues to be the backdrop to revolutions and romances, profit and piety, wealth and war.

    The Kindred revel in tropical nights thick with ecstasy and torment. The yellow-eyed taxi driver who kidnaps female passengers and brings them to a dark, hungry thing in the sewers. The strange noises – faint bells and chanting – coming from a sealed up chamber underneath San Agustin church. The expats who venture into the Pink Lips drag club want tonight’s performance to be an unforgettable experience. The Queen, a cross-dressing Daeva, would love nothing but to grant their fondest desires. The tabloids talk about a woman found dead with bite marks all over her body and drained of blood. “ASWANG SA TONDO” screams the headline. People love to eat up sensational news.

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