Wednesday, February 11, 2015

KURIPOT GAMER: Buan Campaign Setting

As much as I love Hari Ragat, Hari Ragat is different & new. It's not Dungeons & Dragons in bahag. And that sort of saddens me. I always wanted my Pintado Mangangaso to kill a beholder.

Lo & behold, BJ of Nosfecatu answered my worries with Buan Campaign Setting for Dragons & Dungeons.

Manual support: lend them stuff. Yay!
The Raiding, Trading & Feasting isn't mine though,
it's Phil's. The rest are mine. (Pic by BJ)
Before anything else: you see, the Philippine TRPG community is small. I run around the community making friends here and there, and since I don't have money to pledge or back their projects I offer manual support: I lend books, playtest their games, play in their experimental games etc. I like it this way because: 1) I don't spend- because I have no money, 2) I get the creator's personal insight on their games, how they want it to be and what it becomes to me, and last 3) Playing in their games/ running their games gives us a real, friendly social interaction, not just on a 'business' level. The game becomes more human, and in the process becomes more light and friendly. AND that's why I know 'inside' stuff.

Buan is still young, BJ's still fleshing out many things but with what's available to view, Buan is starting out beautifully.

BJ reminds everyone that while the game is pre-Colonial Philippines inspired, it's still D&D. You have your D&D armor, weapons, spells and classes: they're definitely staying because the difference enters with D&D5e's backgrounds, bonds and the fluffy stuff. Haaa. See, change through fluff, not crunch. Smart move, BJ, smart move.

A Fluffy Kind of Crunch

Here we have two Level 19 Barbarians
With backgrounds like Lakan, Babaylan, and the background I'm all for: Batikan, the fluff is well served and how it enters the game is well placed. You can be any class you want and put a title over that class. A painted hunter famous for bringing down the baddest of the beasts? I did that. A rogue who's searching the land for arcane knowledge in hopes of becoming a babaylan- totes possible. A barbarian who leads his tribe to prosperity and abundance, too dramatic-y and Erap-y for my taste but yeah, it works. All thanks to D&D5e's background but personally I would've done that because that's how I roll anyway. Hahaha.

In Buan, the classes are treated as expertise, your line of skills. It's a part of a bigger picture, and part of the bigger picture is your background. Because of the setting of the game, you'll revert to your background more than your character class- if you're on a particularly good session (at least for me), you character class only functions in a) combat or b) obvious 'duh' situations.
Utang

A 7th Attribute? Before you get pissed with another 'failure modifier', check out how Utang works: it's a Filipino concept, Utang na Loob. Literally translated, it's 'debt of inside' or 'inside debt'- and it doesn't make much sense. Basically, Utang na Loob is if someone has done something good to you, you're expected to do something good to him back.

How does BJ gamify that? As a filler in for wealth. Instead of keeping track of your gold, your Utang score increases and instead of buying stuff from people with money, you roll d20+Utang mod vs target number to see if the merchant/ NPC will be willing to sell, trade, or lend whatever it is you need- it represents how famous your hero is, if he's done epic deeds in the past that benefited the people, he'll probably have a high utang score. So it's not just a replacement for gold tracking, it can also be an encouragement for more heroic and altruistic deeds (pwidi piro dipindi).

Though I'm getting ahead of myself (with this whole thing anyway, it's too early! Is layk aym nat Pilipino), BJ's about to change the name for this attribute to something else when he thinks of a good word.
DM: You enter a 10 ft x 10 ft forest glade, thick and lush trees surround you.
Suddenly, a gang of lean-bodied, heavily tattooed men with spears
and axes jump from the darkness and flank you. What do you do?

Player: I roll a new character
The Feel

It's definitely D&D. It runs on D&D anyway. Hahaha. Before you think that pre-Hispanic Philippines (the term pre-Hispanic Philippines is weird... but okay) crossing over to *culturally appropriated* game setting IS cultural appropriation, think of it this way: we're not debasing cultures, we're not wearing their clothes without knowledge of what they mean, we're encouraged to research, know, study their culture (out of interest mostly) for the game itself. To a certain extent it's appreciating the culture.

With that out of the way, bahag in D&D works. It definitely works. You can opt for a more swords & sorcery flavor or keep D&D as it is, but the main point is that Buan is a skin you can put on your D&D games to get a different flavor. D&D puts another flavor to your orcs, but they're orcs. And this is good. Because when you're tired of your standard western flavor but don't want to learn a new system, or just want to see the same creatures in different light (why not? Writers do it all the time!). While we only have a Tikbalang for now, additional races would give the game a more... Bahay Kubo feel but will definitely retain the D&D mood.

D&D in a dimly lit bahay kubo anyone?

Magic and Mysteries

The Philippines has a different take on magic, we don't have wizards and warlocks who can throw fireballs. We have witches that can curse and diwatas that can do whatever they want though; and this being a reskin of fluff rather than crunch, magic is treated as the Diwata's doing. That's it. It's still the Vancian (or as my D&D friends would correct me 'pseudo-Vancian), it's just that instead of saying 'I cast fireball!' you get to say 'I allow the Fire Diwatas to possess me momentarily to summon a fireball upon my hands!'. I dunno about you but the second one definitely sounds cooler.
You get to have a go at these guys! In bahag! Ha! Asteeeg!

What's On the Horizon

Ask BJ. Haha. No, since there's still no news of a 5e OGL, BJ is still contemplating what to do next. Currently, I'm pestering him to make a system generic campaign setting so our friends from Savage Worlds, GURPS, Fate, and what-have-you systems can have a go at this thing.

It's fun, it's small enough to be "modular", it's big enough to be significant. It's the perfect addition to your Westernized High Fantasy or the starting point if you ever want to play in a pre-colonial Philippine setting without diving to too much research (heh, magresearch ka pa rin parang awa mo na). HARDCORE!

If you want to check out some of BJ's stuff or want to add something to your 4e or Pathfinder games check this out.