Releasing: Mangayaw, a Classical Filipino Fantasy Tabletop RPG

Or at least, an early version of it. The game has had no playtesting yet, so I’m sure I’m gonna have to tweak stuff later on. I’m gonna have to host a few games for that, which I’m psyching myself up for. Anyway, without further ado…

You can find the game here! No PDF version yet so I can edit it easily. I’ll work on that later on.

Let me walk you through the game.

It’s like, 80-90% Cairn, really. I replaced a lot of game terms with ancient Filipino terms. The Game or Dungeon Master is called the Mangaawit, which means singer. Most Filipino storytelling before Spanish colonization was through song and poem, orally performed and taught instead of written, so it’s a beautiful term for a Game Master in a Filipino game. I can’t take credit for coming up with it, because I copied it from makapatag’s Gubat Banwa.

Player characters are called Binmanwa, pertaining to people who know how to survive in the wilds. It doesn’t push roles onto players, but still describes their innate capabilities.

The Principles of the World is supposed to be a guide for the Mangaawit and players about the common sense and values of natives in the world, because they are supposed to be natives who grew up on the islands, not foreigners discovering a new culture. It’s still lacking some details, but it should do for now.

Character Creation is almost like Cairn’s, but with Ancestries from my setting. I didn’t attach any mechanical aspect to them, just a few words about each one’s nature and tendencies. Should be useful in fleshing out a character, I think?

The General Rules are mostly unchanged. Combat Rules have some added and replaced stuff.

Initiative is replaced with one that has modifiers based on players’ armor. Basically the less armor the party has, the more likely they will act first in a turn. It feels a bit inelegant compared to Cairn’s rules, but I added it there to push players into wearing less armor, just like ancient Filipinos. If I can think of a more elegant initiative rule, I’ll replace it.

I switched movement from exact measures to abstract ranges like in The Black Hack, but feel free to switch it back. I also added in rules for ships and naval combat from Into The Odd. You need ship rules in a game set in an archipelago!

The sorcery and magic rules are what needs the most playtesting. I wanted one that feels like Filipino sorcery from what I’ve read. I knew I couldn’t use Knave and Cairn’s 100 levelless spells, since there is a clear and wide difference in power between spells in Filipino sorcery.

So what I came up with is 6 categories or schools of magic that a Binmanwa has to linearly advance through. Casting spells have fatigue costs just as in Cairn, with the most powerful spells taking up 3 inventory slots.

Advancement is inspired by Weird North, QZ, and the Black Hack.

And lastly, I stat-ed up some NPCs, natives and folks, monsters and colonizers based on the ones in my setting. I’m not that familiar with the nuances of Cairn NPC stats yet, but it’s a start.

And there you have it. Mangayaw is very much unfinished and I want to see it in actual play before I make big edits. For that to happen, I have to host it for people on the internet, which I haven’t done before. So I’ll have to prepare myself for that.

How Filipinos interact with the supernatural and how I can use that in my setting

A few weeks ago, I had a friend read my setting draft. I wanted to get some feedback on it, so I would know what it lacks and what not. After reading a portion of it, he asked something to the effect of “How do the natives react to the more supernatural elements of the setting?”

To answer that question, I went reading. I had recently bought John P. McAndrew’s “People of Power: A Philippine Worldview of Spirit Encounters”. It was just what I needed.

The book has modern accounts of spirit encounters; modern sensibilities and Catholic beliefs have been mixed in with animist beliefs, so it’s not gonna be entirely accurate to how it was in precolonial times. However, if I learned anything from this book, it’s that folk’s beliefs are hard to change. They adapt, use different symbols and iconography, but they keep the beliefs passed down to them. So I think this book is a good basis, at the very least.

Animism and shamanism have an ecological and harmonious attitude towards the environment. Well obviously, if your religious beliefs tell you everything around you is alive and has spirit, you’re more likely to respect them. However, humans are still forgetful and selfish, and that’s where conflict starts.

People can remember spirits by being mindful of the areas where they live, or doing rituals and making offerings regularly. Forget the spirits and they might make people remember with drastic methods like sickness.

People have relationships with the spirits around them. Relationships with spirits are as varied and robust as human relationships. Shamans have spirits as friends and kumparis. These spirits grant their shaman friends power and knowledge; this is how shamans can heal. There are even accounts of people marrying spirits and having children with them.

If people and spirits can be friends, then there would also be enemies. There are accounts in the book about sorcerers with dark magic and curses. They are said to come from Satan, which is borrowed iconography from Christianity, but it goes to show there are hostile forces, not just friendly and helpful forces.

I think I could use this for my setting. Tawo, Aswang, Bantay Dagat, Umalagad, Diwata, and many more; they are all equally natives of the islands. There is compassion, there is indifference, there is conflict. There are allies, there are strangers, there are foes.

If there is conflict, what happens then? How do humans react? For this I think I can take pointers from how spirit healers do their job, as described by the book.

For spirit healers, illnesses are a disruption of harmony. To heal illnesses, you either strengthen and restore one’s power so they can fight through the illness, or you neutralize or expel the forces causing the disruption.

In RPGs, this kind of healing could be cause for quests. There is an herb deep in the forest that is needed by the victim to recover, go and find it! Or, if a party wants to take a more direct approach: someone in the Barangay is truly an Aswang and is eating the victim’s organs slowly, find them and destroy them!

It’s also common for healers to parley with the opposing party. This is good for the OSR style, where violence is better off as a last resort.

Illnesses in this context are directed towards one’s body, but I think you can also extend this to a community or even bigger contexts. If illnesses are disruptions of harmony, then couldn’t you categorize War, public disorder, or even natural phenomena like storms as disruptions, too? In a larger sense, isn’t colonization an illness as well?

This opens up a direction for players in my setting. Aside from participating in the zeitgeist of war and getting rich and powerful, they could be healers and problem solvers. Sort of the same job as witchers, now that I think about it.

Trying to make a Cairn hack

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’d know I’ve been making a setting. It’s what I’ve mostly been writing about for the past few months. You’d also know that I aim to keep that setting system neutral. I like exploring a wide range of RPG systems, and attaching a system to my setting feels… restricting.

That’s about to change, but also not really.

I’m trying to make a hack of a lovely game by Yochai Gal called Cairn. Cairn is a game that takes principles from Into the Odd and Knave, both minimalist takes on OSR and D&D systems. The result is a full game system in 20-something pages.

What prompted me to do this was Zeruhur’s own quest to make his own Cairn hack, based on Greek mythology. I don’t know why, but that post made neurons in my brain activate and think “What if I did that too?”

So now I’m writing my own Cairn hack, dubbed Mangayaw, which means “to sea raid”. I still want my setting to be system neutral, but I am using what I’ve written there for Mangayaw.

Before I get into detail about this project, a little celebration.

RPGSEA Creator daw ako

I have difficulty putting myself out there, so this is big for me. Last week, I was added to RPGSEA’s list of Game Designers, which was affirming as heck, but also nerve wracking, hah!

I don’t want to make this too long, I just wanna say thanks for the recognition.

Mangayaw in the works

Mangayaw is an adventure RPG that is really mostly Cairn, but with Filipino terms and Filipino inspired houserules that are barely playtested. For example, instead of STR, DEX, and WIL, characters have LAKAS, LIKSI, and LOOB as abilities.

So far I have a draft of Character Creation, Equipment lists, General Rules, and War and Violence Rules.

I still have to work on Sorcery, NPCs, Advancement and the Principles for the GM, the players, and the world.

Sorcery is my biggest roadblock right now. Instead of Cairn and Knave’s 100 Levelless Spells, I think I want to do something more like Maze Rats’ magic system where players roll for two words and then discuss with the GM what magic effect these two words would have. But that’s not set in stone yet.

For NPCs, I’m gonna have to stat up some of the natives and folk in my islands. Cairn only needs a really minimal statblock for NPCs, so that’s a load off my shoulders.

I imagine the principles part would be something I’d struggle with, too, but I’ll figure it out.

Anyways, that’s just an update about what I’m doing right now. I’m still reading a book about Philippine shamans and spirit healers and sorcerers. Once I’m done with that, I’ll probably blog about it.

Thoughts on A Thousand Thousand Islands (Upper Heleng & Korvu)

I regret not buying Zedeck Siew and Mun Kao’s zines earlier. Once I picked one up, I could not put it down. Must be some powerful magic involved in crafting these worlds.

For the uninitiated, A Thousand Thousand Islands is a series of zines detailing various adventure settings and prompts, all inspired by and based on South East Asian legend and myths. The text itself is not long; only a few paragraphs and even just sentences are given to describe places, characters, items, and concepts. Still, Zedeck Siew’s few words evoke such vibrant worlds.

The spaces in between the text are filled with the beautiful line art of Mun Kao. With the minimal text and the black and white illustrations, each zine is so easy to digest and jump into.

With my tight budget, I only got to buy two zines, Upper Heleng and Korvu, because they seemed like the ones most relevant to the setting I’m writing. I’ll definitely buy the other zines in the series in the future!

Upper Heleng is a forest in a relationship with time, space demons, and giant leeches that steal different parts of your identity. Korvu is a sea-bound kingdom with fish sauce demons, geese kept as dogs, jellyfish parasites in host bodies, and marriage between captains and ships.

Perhaps my most favorite thing about these places are the myths connected to them. In Upper Heleng, the Forest and Time are married, so Time is a motif the zine goes back to again and again. The seasons of man and states of being are called different Times. To be wise and elderly is to be in the Time of the Monkey. To be free is to be in the Time of the Kite, and to be duty-bound is to be in the Time of the Dog.

My favorite one is the Time of the Bee. It’s a wonderful South East Asian allegory for the harvest season.

The myth behind Korvu is one of a boastful King who challenged the Sea and lost, becoming its vassal forever. Their years are split into the Rainy and Dry Seasons. In the Rainy Season, they live on barges, boats, and floating houses. They travel the seas in war and trade. But come Dry Season, they go back to their Kingdom, which has now completely dried up. It is now time to settle and farm.

These settings come with boatloads of prompts and seeds for adventures. One could help a boatwright retrieve the materials demanded by picky boat souls for them to inhabit a warbarge. One could help a prince look for the Leechspawn that has his Liege’s face. Though I think exploring and immersing yourself in these magical places is an adventure in itself. A generous amount of random tables, each with interesting entries, make every encounter different.

In my setting based on the 16th century Philippines, I made an allowance for foreigners aside from its colonizers to have a presence in my setting. If my players would want to visit a foreign nation, I would place them in these places detailed in A Thousand Thousand Islands. If only I can get a campaign started…

Creating a 16th Century Philippines-inspired D&D World – Ships and Naval Vessels

My setting is an archipelago, it’s islands and people are surrounded and connected by the Sea. So of course I would need a nice collection of naval vessels to populate these waters. It’s nothing extensive, but a good place to start.

The Baroto is a dugout canoe carved from one piece of wood. There are smaller boats but one that can carry the whole party seems like a good baseline.

The Paraw has a range of boat sizes, but it pertains to boats that have double outriggers. For my use, they will pertain to fishing vessels with outriggers and sails; boats that can support a dozen or more people, but not equipped for war.

A smaller Paraw

The Balangay is perhaps the most well-known type of ship in Philippine history. We were taught in elementary that our ancestors sailed to these islands on Balangays. From Balangay came Barangay, which is used to call villages.

In my setting, the Balangay is a ship with outriggers and sails, but larger than the Paraw. Large enough to have platforms for detachments of warriors and sea raiders to shoot arrows or spears from.

A smaller Balangay

The Karakoa is the warship of the ancient Filipinos. Larger than the Balangay, with even more room for warriors and platforms on the outriggers themselves. On these platforms sit up to 40 slaves on each side, who would row in sync and increase the speed of the vessel.

This is what the Spaniards had to say about the Karakoa: “The care and technique with which they build them makes their ships sail like birds, while ours are like lead in comparison.”

A Karakoa illustration from W.H. Scott’s Barangay

The last type of naval vessel is not something that can be bought on the islands. It is the Galleon, based on the ships that the Spaniards used to circumnavigate the globe. They were ships made for hauling product and trade, but were also drafted for use in naval wars. This means they weren’t a slouch in combat, and compared to the firepower of the Balangay or Karakoa, they are beasts on the Sea.

The arrays of cannons the Galleon had could (and did) overwhelm anything the ancient Filipinos had. They were even used to bombard river-side and sea-side settlements, softening the battlefield before the colonizer forces entered the banks.

The Galleon

If it sounds like that gives too big of an advantage to the colonizers of the setting, then good. The Sun Priests of my setting shouldn’t be a pushover, or else why should they be here. The colonizer problem is not mine as the GM, but my players’ problem to solve and overcome, if they so want.

Creating a 16th Century Philippines-inspired D&D World – Barangay and NPC Generator

Last week I shared the Treasure Horde drop table that I made, based on The Black Hack’s idea. I mentioned that The Black Hack had another kind of generator that I’m really fond of, which is the One-Roll Generator. I’m so fond of them that I made generators for creating Barangays or villages and NPCs for my setting based on them.

The Black Hack wasn’t the only system I took ideas from. Godbound and Worlds Without Number also have great generators and random tables that served as guidelines for me. The generators I made are not perfect and go back to tweak the tables every now and then, but here they are.

Barangay Generator

Let’s talk about a few things here.

I got the numbers for the population sizes from my college history textbook. The book said that villages and settlements vary in population sizes, going from around 50 to 2000 heads. I used that range as a basis for the first three sizes.

Pueblo is what I used to refer to colonies of the Sun Priests. In real life, the Spanish forced nearby tribes and villages to live under their protection and to center their lives around the church. This is why Pueblos in my setting are just more populated than your usual Barangay. And with this, I won’t need an extra roll to see if a Barangay is colonized, the size determines it.

1 out of 4 Barangays are under Sun Priest control, which sounds about right for my setting.

The Predominant Ancestry table is more for flavor than anything.

I added a Diplomatic Relationships table there because I want a sort of web of relationships between nearby Barangays. Relations of chiefdoms and tribes of the Ancient Philippines were impermanent. A lot of Barangays were independent, with loose federatioms between Datus (aside from the Sultanate in Mindanao I think?), there is a web of trade and war over the islands. I don’t know if I’ll achieve this web with this single table, but it’s a start. I’ll take any suggestion for improvement though, haha.

I really like the idea of a Special Defense table like in Godbound. It creates a lot of variety. Different Barangays would respond to threats differently, and it gives each Barangay a sort of showing of strength. Aside from the ones that get “Fleeing to Caves”, that is.

Godbound and World Without Number both have a table for Pressing Issues or something like it. I think it’s a great idea. It could be a prompt for a quest if players decide to do something about it.

NPC Generator

In the Social Caste table, I made Oripun more likely than the others, because rather than being straight up slaves, I think they were more of an existence in between slave and commoner, or something like a commoner with debt. So it makes sense to me that there will be more or them than a Timawa or Free Man. “Unaffiliated with a Barangay” makes for hermits and others who live apart from other people (or maybe a Timawa looking for a Barangay to devote himself to?)

I added Other-Folk in the Ancestry table because I really like the idea of bloodsucking Aswang or prideful Dambuhala living amongst other people. What are their lives in a village like? How do they achieve harmony?

The Relationship with Barangay table is an attempt to achieve with one table what The Black Hack does with their “How NPCs are Related” table. It might be too simple to do that, so I’ll have to go back to this later on.

The Odd Source of Power table is an idea from Godbound. It’s not all martial power or fighting prowess, because knowledge and connections can give advantages and different ways of solving problems too.

I had fun making the Goals table. The Barangay may be in trouble, but everyone also has their own thin g to deal with. And just like the Pressing Issues table for the Barangay, it could be a spark for a quest if the players decide to follow it.

Creating a 16th Century Philippines-inspired D&D World – Treasure Hoard Generator

The Black Hack is a system and resource I go back to from every now and then. It has a lot of very neat ideas; for example, the Usage Die mechanic is one that I really like, especially for tracking ammunition.

Another thing I like from that book is its generators. It has one-roll generators, in which you roll one of each polyhedral dice aside from the d20 all at the same time to generate a settlement or NPCs, etc. I’m not sure if The Black Hack first used that concept, but it’s where I first saw that kind of generator.

There is another kind of generator from The Black Hack that I thought was a great idea is the drop table. There is a drop table for settlement buildings, for example, which is a whole page of sketches of buildings and establishments from a top-down perspective. You drop a number of d4s (the amount depending on the size of the settlement itself) on the table and whatever buildings the dice drops on, that’s what the settlement has. I think it’s a fun concept.

It also has a drop table for treasure, and that’s what I based this generator on. Here is a drop table treasure horde generator, based on what I think would be valuable in 16th Century Filipino society.

It has jewelry and gold, because ancient Filipinos LOVE their bling. It has textiles and clothes. It has foodstuffs and animal parts. It has broken weapons and old iron stuff, for melting down and making new weapons. It has imported stuff, like brass gongs. And it has items that should be normally found in a Barangay, but blinged up.

I might not actually use this generator as is because of it’s lack of “chance for magic consumables/items”, but I’ll still be able to use it for valuables ideas. At least I didn’t think up 72 valuable items for nothing. It was a challenge but it was also fun.

Creating a 16th Century Philippines-inspired D&D World – Native Fauna

Creating a 16th Century Philippines-inspired D&D World – Native Fauna

Since I want nature to have a significant presence in my setting, I made a long list of animals that are endemic to the Philippines along with their native names. Some of these animals are already wiped from the face of the islands, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have them in my setting. Note that I don’t have the Crocodile (Buwaya), Carabao or Tamaraw, and rodents in here because I have anthropomorphic versions of those animals as ancestries in my setting, and it feels weird to have both versions to be walking on my islands. I dunno, should I also have creature versions of those animals, too?

These beautiful creatures won’t be hostile all the time. I’ll be sure to use the Reaction Table from OSR games, so they will tend to be more neutral than friendly or hostile which sounds about right. I don’t think people and creatures that inhabit RPG worlds should be hostile all the time.

The exception for that in my setting are monsters, which come from enmity and corruption. They will have a reason to be angry; that anger is what makes them monsters, but I don’t think they should necessarily be blamed. Anyways, having a list of animals is useful for making new monsters for my players to face.

The young me who was obsessed with learning about learning about new animals had fun making this list. I also have commentary on some of the animals in the list, because I like making useful and useless comments.

A Selection of Native Creatures

The Islands have a vibrant population of fauna in its forests, mountains, caves and the Sea. Predators, prey, and everything in between.

  1. Archerfish Ataba
  2. Bat Paniki
  3. Bee Bubuyog
  4. Beetle Salagubang
  5. Boar Baboy Ramo
  6. Centipede Alupihan
  7. Coelacanth Isdang Sinauna
  8. Cone Snail Balisungsong
  9. Crab Alimango
  10. Dog Aso
  11. Eagle Haribon
  12. Elephant Gadya
  13. Fire Ants Hantik
  14. Firefly Alitaptap
  15. Flying Fish Bolandor
  16. Frog Palaka
  17. Gecko Tuko
  18. Grasshopper Balang
  19. Jellyfish Dikya
  20. Leech Linta
  21. Leopard Cat Maral
  22. Macaque Matsing
  23. Mantis Shrimp Alupihang Dagat
  24. Monitor Lizard Bayawak
  25. Moray Eel Igat
  26. Octopus Pugita
  27. Owl Kuwago
  28. Pangolin Halintong
  29. Python Sawa
  30. Rhinoceros Sungaykuda
  31. Salamander Balubid
  32. Scorpion Alakdan
  33. Scorpionfish Alakdanisda
  34. Sea Turtle Pawikan
  35. Sea Urchin Tuyom
  36. Shark Pating
  37. Snake Ahas
  38. Spider Gagamba
  39. Squid Pusit
  40. Sting Ray Pagi
  41. Swordfish Malasugi
  42. Tiger Musangbatuk
  43. Turtle Pagong
  44. Wasp Putakti
  45. Whale Shark Butanding

Some Commentary

Bat – Remember that in the Philippines live these giant bats.

say hi to the giant bat!

Boar – I have boars, I have a monster corruption effect called “Legion”, meaning I can do a Princess Mononoke boar horde

watch Princess Mononoke (its on Netflix)

Coelacanth – I read somewhere that the Philippine seas had these fish. I don’t know how true that is, but I’ll still have these weird fish. I could not find a native name for them, so I’ll just call them “ancient fish” in Tagalog.

Dog – Apparently the Philippines has this breed of dogs that that have sharper-than-normal claws and can climb up trees dubbed witch dogs. That sounds awesome.

say hi to the witch dogs!

Eagle – Fun fact about the Philippine Eagle: it’s also known as the Monkey Eating Eagle.

say hi to haribon!

Elephant – Elephants and Stegodons used to walk the islands of Mindanao, but now they are extinct. I read that they came from other South East Asian islands, so I used the Malaysian or Indonesian name for them.

Leopard Cat – This was the native species of small felines that I found.

say hi to maral!

Mantis Shrimp – I love that their native name is literally “centipede of the sea”. Imagine crustaceans that have small clubs they can swing so fast it heats the water surrounding them to the temperature of the surface of the sun, rendering armor and exoskeleton useless. Now imagine them but giant.

say hi to alupihang dagat!

Monitor Lizard – Big fast venomous lizard bois. Far Cry 3 taught me to just RUN when they’re around.

Octopus – What setting with a big focus on sea travel is complete without a giant octopus?

Pangolin – I used to play a flash game about a pangolin knight and I’ve loved them ever since.

Rhinoceros – Another big boye that is extinct in our islands. I couldn’t find a native name for them, so I made up my own. I learned that rhinos are actually in the same order as horses, so while it’s a bit of a reach, I latched on to that fact. I eventually came up with sungay kuda or “horned horse”, kuda being the Malaysian term for horses because our term for horses here has Spanish origins.

Dugong and Duyung – The Sea Cow and Manatee is the source of a lot of the legends about Merpeople and Sirens. Since I already have those legends as reality in my setting (some in the form of the dugong and duyung), I thought it best not to include them here.

dugong is saying hi, wave back!

Sting Ray – Fun fact, Filipinos believe the sting ray’s tail is an effective weapon against the bloodsucking Aswang. I’ll have a magic weapon based on this belief haha. Perhaps I should have more magic items made from animal parts?

Tiger – Another creature wiped out from our islands. First I considered Musang as its name because I remember a race of catpeople in a local TV show with this name, but I learned musang actually referred to civets. So I, being bad with thinking up names, just slapped batuk or tattoo as a suffix because y’know, they got stripes.

Whale Shark – Precious gentle giants of the Sea. Their spots are like the tars in the Sea of the Night.

say hi to butanding!

Venomous Creatures – There are lots of venomous animals here. The cone snail, the centipede, the jelly fish, the octopus, the monitor lizard, the snake, the scorpion, the scorpion fish, the moray eel, the spider. It’s no wonder the ancient Filipinos loved coating their weapons in venom in war; they have so many sources of it!

Creating a 16th Century Philippines-inspired D&D World – The Creation Myth of the Islands and Ancestries

I have a creation myth for my islands and the seafaring natives that live on them. I’ve been writing the setting under this concept, so it’s about time I talk about it in this blog series.

I’m a bit insecure about it, so know that this is the very first thing I wrote for this project and I’ll polish it up later on hahaha

The Creation of the Islands

Before, there was only the Sky and the Sea. Bathala, the Creator, saw a coconut floating in the vastness of the Sea from His throne in the Sky. It would not have taken root without land so Bathala sent down His familiars, the crocodile, the turtle, and the eagle. They became the three Island groups, Buwaya, Pawikan, and Haribon.

This is based on a Philippine creation myth. In that myth, a piece of bamboo floats to the shore, which was then pecked open by a bird. Out of the bamboo came the first man and woman. Apparently in other regions, coconuts replaced the bamboo element of the myth. I went with the coconut version for reasons I’ll talk about later.

I added in the bit about the creation of the islands because I’m really, really bad at thinking up names. I knew I wanted to have analogues for three island groups the Philippines has IRL, but I was lost on what to name them, or how they would even look like. Then I thought, what if there were shaped like animals? Then I wouldn’t have to think of complicated names for them. Buwaya, Pawikan, and Haribon are literally just Tagalog for Crocodile, Sea Turtle, and Eagle.

Then ideas came streaming in, like what if they were large enough to be islands because they were the creator god’s pets? Or what if the physical features of the islands pertained to the physical features of the giant familiars? The more I developed the concept, the more it became a very very neat idea.

The Creation of the Tawo

The coconut took root and soon forests covered the Islands. In time, the first coconut tree began to wilt. Bathala felt mercy for the tree and granted it a second life. And from the tree emerged the Tawo.

In elementary school, I read a legend about the coconut. I forgot how it went exactly, but what stuck with me was that all of the parts of that tree and fruit had use in the lives of the Filipino. Its juice and meat quenched and nourished, its wood was used as lumber, its husk was a floor polishing tool, etc.

Inspired by that, I wanted the ancestries of the Tawo, the people, to originate from the different parts of the coconut. You have the boring generic usual human ancestry, but I also wanted to have ancestries that came from nature.

The Tawong Kinis, or Smoothman; when born, their skin is as soft and smooth as coconut meat. Not much to say about them aside from they’re the usual human, no special weaknesses, no unique strengths.

Smooth and silky

The Tawong Ilog, or Crocodileman; they came from the bark of the Coconut tree. Tough scales, powerful jaws, swimming, you know the drill. Ancient Filipinos lived alongside the crocodiles in the rivers. Like, if someone was eaten by crocodiles, they believed it was punishment for some sin. This was also one of the ancestries I’ve always wanted to have since starting this project. Who wouldn’t wanna be a crocodileman in an RPG?

The Tawong Balahibo, or Ratman; they came from the fibers of the coconut husk. Fuzzy, sneaky, and tiny. I admit, this is the ancestry that makes the least sense to have in a village situation, but take a look at the Northern Luzon Cloud Rat and tell me you would not want to be an adorable fuzzy ratman. Also, there’s so many species of rodents on the Philippine islands that it’s hard to ignore their presence.

Cute, right?

The Tawong Sungay, or Carabaoman; they came from the branches that hold the coconut fruits. Hardworking and earnest. I took some liberties to have the Carabaoman in my setting. According to some books, Filipinos of the 16th century did not have beasts of burden; all farming was done by themselves. I decided to have carabaomen anyways because it felt wrong not to have them.

The Tawong Puno, or Treeman; they came from the palms and leaves of the coconut tree. Their form is like the coconut tree that they came from the most, so I wrote that they have traces of creation magic flowing in them. Apparently, ancient Filipinos were careful not to unnecessarily cut down or uproot trees and plants in building their houses, so you could say trees are also a big part of villages.

Having a creation myth for the ancestries is sort of limiting. Like if I want to have other ancestries, they would have to fit in the myth. But at the same time, I like the coherence it gives to my setting.

The Nature of the Tawo

Though from the same tree, the Tawo were greedy and bloodthirsty, and they always fought amongst themselves. They separated into different tribes called Barangay; some stayed along the Sea and rivers, some retreated to the mountains, and others found other islands to call home.

For ages, the Tawo sought each other out and stole and killed. Ships were sailed in raids and in defense. Lives were a commodity as valuable as gold.

I might have fuzzy ratmen and magical treemen in my setting, but I still want to stay true to the prevailing culture of the 16th century Philippines, which is one of constant war and bloodshed. Tribes raided other tribes for gold and manpower.

Not that players have to be forced onto this path, but it does set the tone for what campaign will be run in this setting.

This is only half of the myth I wrote up, but I went on for too long about the Tawo. Perhaps I’ll do a part 2 of this.

Creating a 16th Century Philippines-inspired D&D World – Tools/Gear/Equipment List and Flavoring the Economy

I made an equipment list! Check out a previous post for the weapons in this setting. I’m mainly using the prices in Ben Milton’s Knave (but also sometimes arbitrary) which uses a copper coin standard, and also The Black Hack’s Usage Dice mechanic because I find it nifty. Weights are minor, regular or heavy (an idea from Whitehack and Knave). I’m mixing up a lot of mechanics from different books, but even if you don’t use those, the list itself should be interesting enough to someone curious about the ancient Philippines.

But first, the economy and mediums of trade. While you could probably use the usual gold, silver, and copper currency in a 16th century Philippines-inspired world, but ancient Filipinos mostly used to barter than exchange currencies. So I settled on gold rings, blocks of salt, and dakot of rice.

Ancient Filipinos used gold powder and rings to trade, but gold rings are easier to get a feel of so I went with that. Salt and uncooked rice were also very valuable. Salt back then was in the form of lumps that were scraped or stirred into food, made by making some lye and saltwater mixture (if I understood correctly) and pouring into small, boat-shaped moulds. I’m just calling them salt blocks for ease. Dakot is a measurement for rice that I’m not really sure was used in the 16th century, so I’m taking liberties here. I didn’t specify exact measurements because that doesn’t really matter if you use item slots.

Mechanically, I’ll be running these in my game like they’re the usual gold/silver/copper because I’m not numbers-savvy and history-savvy enough to make exact values of these things. Haha, sorry.

I will describe some of the equipment and gear after the list itself. Without further ado, below is the equipment table. Also, here is the link to table in google sheets:

Description of Some Items

Axe – I didn’t catch in my book if there was an actual axe tool (aside from a headhunting weapon), but I did catch that blacksmiths made large, woodcutting bolos so I went with that.

Adventuring Gear– I like the concept of adventuring gear from Dungeon World (basically for players that tend to forget to buy specific stuff or replenish supplies), so I have them here too. Sari-sari means something like “an assortment”.

Bag, Bamboo Carrying Basket, Knapsack these are what’s used to carry stuff in my setting. The bayong is a handheld bag and the kupit worn on your back, both made of weaved dried leaves. The bangkat is an open basket storage worn on the back, made for collecting bamboo but I imagine you can also fit other stuff in there.

Bamboo – I have a bunch of bamboo stuff in there because it’s an extremely useful thing. Need a 10’ pole for probing traps? You get bamboo. Need to store water? Chop off a bamboo section and fill that with water. Hell, the ancestors even used bamboo to cook certain foods! Need a scroll to inscribe spells onto? Apparently, ancient Filipinos carved characters for magical formulas on pieces of bamboo. Need a trap? Dig a pit and sharpen some bamboo and you got yourself one. Bamboo, a must-have tool for every adventurer.

Box of Betel Nuts – the ancestors loved chewing betel nuts so much that it stained their teeth dark red. Offering betel nuts was also an important for socializing, so much so that offering it partially chewed was an act of flirtation

Caltrops – I can’t imagine ancient Filipinos would spend precious iron for spikes mean for just throwing away, but I think fishbones and plant thorns would do the same trick.

Crossbow Trap – ancient Filipinos didn’t have crossbows meants to be used as a weapon, rather then set up a lot of of these crossbow traps in a line, in different heights. They were powerful enough to drive a shaft clean through a boar’s body.

Drums – it’s something like a bongo drum.

Engraved Boar Tusks – ancient Filipinos threw boar tusks and crocodile teeth like lots as part of divination rituals. I included it here as part of a homebrew rule I’m workshopping where you can invoke the gods to hopefully get a bonus for something, or a penalty if you’re unlucky.

Rattan Ball – not necessarily a useful item but it’s used for a game of sipa or sepak takraw.

Hunting Net – meant to be set up beforehand, after which hunters and their dogs will lead game into it.

Top – another toy, because why not?