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Bukana Illustrated: Spirit Elves

This is the second part of a series within a series. We’re going to look at how we adapted somewhat obscure creatures from Philippine myth into a player bloodline (‘subrace’). Last time, we looked at Daphne Gragera’s spread of spirit masks. Today, we’ll explore the elves themselves.

The Spirit Elves (Tamahaling/Mahomanay) are the children of twin nature deities, Inay, the hunter and Amay, the cultivator. When a spirit elf from either tribe reaches adulthood, that elf undertakes a spirit walk where their minds enter the Ethereal Plane. There, they are met by their patron who assumes a visage distinct for each individual. Each of these is generally grouped into aspects of each god. For instance, the Nurturer, the Venger, and the Stalker are all aspects of Inay known to the Tamahaling. Once the young elf returns from their journey, they fashion a mask for themselves depicting their guiding aspect. That mask is then imbued with divine energy and bound to the elf. These are “Spirit Masks” and each holds power when worn by its owner. It is one of the benefits of the Spirit Elf bloodline. The Tamahaling and Mahomanay are generally reclusive folk, and these masks are not understood by outsiders. This has led to many superstitions and misunderstandings that claim that what they see as the “masculine” masks of the Mahomanay indicates that they are all men and that the “feminine” look of the Tamahaling masks shows them to be women. The reality is, that like many elven cultures of Bukana, the Spirit Elves are largely gender-fluid and pansexual, but even that is far from universal and individuals have the freedom to find their own truth.

Daphne began by making some sketches of what she always considered Philippine elves to look like:

Using these as a starting point of reference, we went about making these forest wee folk into a more fantasy adventuring player option. Daphne made them a bit more human-like, while maintaining the creepy/cute.

Since elves are generally medium-sized, we went back one more time, scaling them up and modifying them further.

Now, all we had left to do is get these forest friends colored and masked up. You may remember these masks from the initial sketches from last time.

You did it again, Daphne!.

Stay tuned for next time so you can see the fight scene we put these two elves into. In the meantime, check out Daphne’s impressive work at Artstation.

New Mechanics: Combat & Weapons

Hook Sword


Fifth Edition (5e) clearly has placed an emphasis on simplicity. While this is a very good focus for new players, Secret Garden believes that we can use this as an opportunity to add nuance that opens up design space. As an example, we bring you some of our additions to combat actions. 

The ten “Actions in Combat” that the core 5e rules presents cover a pretty wide range of options for a player whose character is caught in battle. However, once we started looking at the plethora of weapons and martial arts in Southeast Asia, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to do justice using only those ten choices. So we will introduce two (so far) new combat actions; the first is Defend which offers a middle ground for a player that is somewhere between a full-on Attack and a completely defensive Dodge. This action will allow the character to still attack, but also increase their survivability. This is particularly true if they are using a Defensive weapon (see below).  The other, Bind Weapon, is actually an addendum to the Ready action that gives players that choose to, a way of tying up a particularly dangerous enemy weapon.

New Action in Combat:
Defend

When you take the Defend action, you sacrifice attack power to focus on blocking enemy strikes. With this action, you make one melee attack with disadvantage on both the attack and damage roll. See the “Making an Attack” section for the rules that govern attacks. Until your next turn, you add your proficiency bonus to your Armor Class against melee attacks if you can see the attacker. Until your next turn, you cannot take opportunity attacks.

Bind Weapon

You must be wielding a melee weapon with the Binding property and you must have proficiency with it. If you have taken the Ready action, you may use your melee attack to restrain your opponent’s melee weapon. To do so, when you take the Ready action, declare that you are readying a bind. After that, whenever an opponent that you can see attacks you with a melee weapon, you may choose to either let the attack pass or trigger the bind. When you trigger the bind, you make an attack roll with a weapon that you are wielding with the Binding property. This attack is contested by the opponent’s attack that triggered the bind. If you succeed, you have bound the weapon, neither your attack, nor your opponent’s does any damage. If you fail, your opponent has disadvantage on the damage roll and your attack does no damage.

  Your opponent cannot attack or in any way use a bound weapon. A creature with a bound weapon can use its action to attempt to free the weapon. To do so, it must succeed in a Strength (Athletics) check contested by your Strength (Athletics) check. You may release a bound weapon at any time as a free action.

New Weapon Property:
Defensive

If you are wielding a weapon with the Defensive property and have taken the Defend action in combat, you can use your reaction to deflect a blow when you are hit by a melee attack. When you do so, the damage you take from the attack is reduced by the amount shown next your weapon’s Defensive property. Example: Defensive (1d4).

As an example of how this opens up design space for more advanced combat tactics, here is the rough draft of a Hook Sword and some preliminary Feats that complement it and the Actions seen above. Please note that not only are these rules rough drafts, but some of them are not necessarily going to be in our Core Rulebook.

New Martial Melee Weapon: 

Longsword, hook 1d8 slashing Defensive (1d4), Binding

New Feats: 
Tiger Hook Adept

Prerequisites: Proficiency with Long Sword; Dexterity 13 or higher.

You have trained in the Hook longsword, also known as Hook Swords or Tiger Hooks. You gain the following benefits.

  • Increase your Strength score by 1 to a maximum of 20.
  • If you have successfully bound an enemy’s held weapon with a Hook Sword using the Bind Weapon option of the Ready combat action, on a subsequent turn you may attempt to disarm that weapon (the GM decides if this is not possible, such as with natural weapons, etc). If you do, make a Strength (Athletic) check, The difficulty of the check is 10 + opponent’s Strength modifier + opponent’s proficiency bonus (if they are proficient in the weapon being wielded).
  • The Defensive property of your hook longswords increased from 1d4 to 1d6.
Tiger Hook Master

Prerequisites: Tiger Hook Adept feat; Two-Weapon Fighting Style class feature; Strength 13 or higher.

You have mastered the art of wielding the exotic, but deadly hook longsword. You gain the following benefits.

  • Your Dexterity score increases by 1 to a maximum of 20.
  • When you are wielding two hook longswords, they each gain the Light weapon property.
  • Once each turn after you miss with an attack with a hook longsword, you may immediately make a bonus attack against the same enemy using the sharpened hilt of the sword. If successful, the attack inflicts 1d6 piercing damage.
  • If you are wielding two hook longswords, you may use the Attack action to loosely link the hooks together and make a single sweeping attack. If you do, your hook longsword gains Reach until the end of the turn and you make a single attack roll. Apply the results of this roll to the Armor Class of each creature within range of your hook longsword. For each creature whose AC is equal to or lower than your attack roll, inflict 1d4 slashing damage (roll separately for each creature affected). This is still considered a melee attack with a hook longsword, so apply any appropriate modifiers to both the attack and damage rolls. You can only make this single attack this turn regardless of whether you have features that grant additional attacks.

Legal Information Permission to copy, modify and distribute the files collectively known as the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD5”) is granted solely through the use of the Open Gaming License, Version 1.0a. This material is being released using the Open Gaming License Version 1.0a and you should read and understand the terms of that license before using this material. The text of the Open Gaming License itself is not Open Game Content. Instructions on using the License are provided within the License itself. The following items are designated Product Identity, as defined in Section 1(e) of the Open Game License Version 1.0a, and are subject to the conditions set forth in Section 7 of the OGL, and are not Open Content: Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master, Monster Manual, d20 System, Wizards of the Coast, d20 (when used as a trademark), Forgotten Realms, Faerûn, proper names (including those used in the names of spells or items), places, Underdark, Red Wizard of Thay, the City of Union, Heroic Domains of Ysgard, EverChanging Chaos of Limbo, Windswept Depths of Pandemonium, Infinite Layers of the Abyss, Tarterian Depths of Carceri, Gray Waste of Hades, Bleak Eternity of Gehenna, Nine Hells of Baator, Infernal Battlefield of Acheron, Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus, Peaceable Kingdoms of Arcadia, Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia, Twin Paradises of Bytopia, Blessed Fields of Elysium, Wilderness of the Beastlands, Olympian Glades of Arborea, Concordant Domain of the Outlands, Sigil, Lady of Pain, Book of Exalted Deeds, Book of Vile Darkness, beholder, gauth, carrion crawler, tanar’ri, baatezu, displacer beast, githyanki, githzerai, mind flayer, illithid, umber hulk, yuan-ti. All of the rest of the SRD5 is Open Game Content as described in Section 1(d) of the License. The terms of the Open Gaming License Version 1.0a are as follows: OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a The following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. and is Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc (“Wizards”). All Rights Reserved. 1. 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Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License. 10. Copy of this License: You MUST include a copy of this License with every copy of the Open Game Content You Distribute. 11. Use of Contributor Credits: You may not market or advertise the Open Game Content using the name of any Contributor unless You have written permission from the Contributor to do so. 12. Inability to Comply: If it is impossible for You to comply with any of the terms of this License with respect to some or all of the Open Game Content due to statute, judicial order, or governmental regulation then You may not Use any Open Game Material so affected. 13. Termination: This License will terminate automatically if You fail to comply with all terms herein and fail to cure such breach within 30 days of becoming aware of the breach. All sublicenses shall survive the termination of this License. 14. Reformation: If any provision of this License is held to be unenforceable, such provision shall be reformed only to the extent necessary to make it enforceable. 15. COPYRIGHT NOTICE Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, LLC. System Reference Document 5.1 Copyright 2016, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Chris Perkins, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, Bruce R. Cordell, Chris Sims, and Steve Townshend, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. END OF LICENSE

Alpha Test: Gnome Ancestry & Bloodlines

Duwende Mound Gnome


Today, we look at the alpha rules for the first of Bukana’s ancestries and its bloodlines (races & subraces). To understand our Cultural and Tribal feat system, please read this article. We look forward to your feedback.

You may recognize this ornery dude from Ash Ben’s Duwende Bridge illustration.

Gnome

The fey of Bukana tend to shun or even hate humanity. Not so with the diminutive gnomes who greatly enjoy playing pranks on the larger people. Sometimes these pranks are meant to teach lessons, but depending on the gnome, may be little more than simple theft or harassment. Regardless, gnomes love thrills and excitement. They are master illusionists. Standing no more than 3 feet tall, gnomes are described as child-like in appearance by larger humanoids. They have large noses and the males tend to have facial hair. 

Gnome Traits

Gnomes share a number of physiological traits in common with each other.

  Age. Gnomes mature at the same rate humans do, and most are expected to settle down into an adult life by around age 40. They can live 350 to almost 500 years.

  Size. Gnomes are between 3 and 4 feet tall and average about 40 pounds. Your size is Small.

  Speed. Gnomes are between 3 and 4 feet tall and average about 40 pounds. Your size is Small.

  Darkvision. Accustomed to life underground, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray. 

  Gnome Cunning. You have advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws against magic.

  Languages. You can speak, read, and write two languages of your choice. Common and gnomish are popular languages. 

  Culture Feat. You gain one cultural feat of your choice (see “Feats”) that you meet the prerequisites for. The Gnomish Society feat represents common training of people that have been raised in the ancient traditions of the gnomes.

Bloodline. Gnomes of Bukana belong to one of three playable bloodlines: mound gnomes, shepherd gnomes, & gold gnomes. You may choose one of these bloodlines. You gain one tribal feat of your choice (see “Feats”) that you meet the prerequisites for. The Duwende, Lampong, and Kibaan feats represent common training developed by those who have embraced these traditions.

Gnomish Society (cultural) Feat

Prerequisites: Starting character and can speak gnomish

  Magic and engineering are fundamental to your culture. You’ve lived your life crawling around in burrows. However, there are few other commonalities between the disparate gnomish people. Reduce your walking speed by 5 feet to a minimum of 25 feet. You gain the following benefits:

  • Your Intelligence score increases by 2, to a maximum of 20.
  • Choose two weapon proficiencies.
  • Choose one of your skill proficiencies. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check made using that skill.
Shepherd Gnome (Lampong)

  The lampong are the protectors of the wild forests. They use their mastery of illusions to prevent overhunting and deforestation. They appear as small old people with long and wild white hair. They are particularly populous in rocky warrens amongst the highland forests.

Lampong (tribal) Feat

Prerequisites: Starting character and either shepherd gnome bloodline or Gnomish Society feat

  Your tribe lives throughout the highland forests of Bukana. Here, they thrive in harmony with nature and protect it against misuse and destruction. Lampong communities are generally Good aligned, but rarely Lawful. You gain the following benefits:

  • Your Wisdom score increases by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You know one cantrip of your choice from the druid spell list. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for it.
  • You gain proficiency with the Nature and Survival skills.
  • You gain proficiency with the Herbalism Kit.
Gold Gnome (Kibaan)

 Even more unusual than the gold-colored teeth for which they are named, is the fact that a kibaan’s feet seem to point backwards. Their heel is on the front of the foot, while the rear sports toes. They claim that this is to confuse humans when being followed after a particularly good prank. Amongst the engkanto, it is the gold gnome that so consistently lives near human communities, sometimes just below them.

Kibaan (tribal) Feat

Prerequisites: Starting character and either gold gnome bloodline or Gnomish Society feat

  You have been raised in Kibaan communities, likely within or near a human settlement. You are a consummate trickster. Whether you’re teaching a lesson or haggling for goods, you love to misdirect, obfuscate, and befuddle others. Kibaan tend toward Chaotic alignments, but are often Good. You gain the following benefits:

  • Your Charisma score increases by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency with one of the following tools: Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit, or a Gaming Set of your choice.
  • You know one cantrip of your choice from the illusion or enchantment schools. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for it.
  • You gain proficiency with the Deception and Persuasion skills.
Mound Gnome (Duwende)

There are many, many different duwende. Each colony has their own appearance and they vary greatly from community to community. Local humans usually give them names using colors such as “black duwende,” or “red duwende” based on their skin or hair color, or a color that they commonly wear. They almost always live underground and often raise termites for food. Some mound gnomes look like other gnomes with long white hair and generally human-like facial features, while others have more goblin-like appearances.

Duwende (tribal) Feat

Prerequisites: Starting character and mound gnome bloodline

  Virtually every warren of Duwende is home to a group that is physically unique from all others. No generalizations can be made about them beyond what can be said about all gnomish communities. Peaceful, warlike, nocturnal, hairy, bald, spiny, dark, red – Duwende can be any of these things and more. You gain the following benefits:

  • The ability score of your choice increases by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • Choose one of the following: Your Darkvision range extends 60’ to a maximum of 120’, you gain proficiency in the Perception skill, or you get a +1 bonus to your AC when you are unarmored.
  • You gain proficiency with the Survival skill and have advantage when using it to devise and set traps.

Legal Information Permission to copy, modify and distribute the files collectively known as the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD5”) is granted solely through the use of the Open Gaming License, Version 1.0a. This material is being released using the Open Gaming License Version 1.0a and you should read and understand the terms of that license before using this material. The text of the Open Gaming License itself is not Open Game Content. Instructions on using the License are provided within the License itself. The following items are designated Product Identity, as defined in Section 1(e) of the Open Game License Version 1.0a, and are subject to the conditions set forth in Section 7 of the OGL, and are not Open Content: Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master, Monster Manual, d20 System, Wizards of the Coast, d20 (when used as a trademark), Forgotten Realms, Faerûn, proper names (including those used in the names of spells or items), places, Underdark, Red Wizard of Thay, the City of Union, Heroic Domains of Ysgard, EverChanging Chaos of Limbo, Windswept Depths of Pandemonium, Infinite Layers of the Abyss, Tarterian Depths of Carceri, Gray Waste of Hades, Bleak Eternity of Gehenna, Nine Hells of Baator, Infernal Battlefield of Acheron, Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus, Peaceable Kingdoms of Arcadia, Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia, Twin Paradises of Bytopia, Blessed Fields of Elysium, Wilderness of the Beastlands, Olympian Glades of Arborea, Concordant Domain of the Outlands, Sigil, Lady of Pain, Book of Exalted Deeds, Book of Vile Darkness, beholder, gauth, carrion crawler, tanar’ri, baatezu, displacer beast, githyanki, githzerai, mind flayer, illithid, umber hulk, yuan-ti. All of the rest of the SRD5 is Open Game Content as described in Section 1(d) of the License. The terms of the Open Gaming License Version 1.0a are as follows: OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a The following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. and is Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc (“Wizards”). All Rights Reserved. 1. Definitions: (a)”Contributors” means the copyright and/or trademark owners who have contributed Open Game Content; (b)”Derivative Material” means copyrighted material including derivative works and translations (including into other computer languages), potation, modification, correction, addition, extension, upgrade, improvement, compilation, abridgment or other form in which an existing work may be recast, transformed or adapted; (c) “Distribute” means to reproduce, license, rent, lease, sell, broadcast, publicly display, transmit or otherwise distribute; (d)”Open Game Content” means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Product Identity. (e) “Product Identity” means product and product line names, logos and identifying marks including trade dress; artifacts; creatures characters; stories, storylines, plots, thematic elements, dialogue, incidents, language, artwork, symbols, designs, depictions, likenesses, formats, poses, concepts, themes and graphic, photographic and other visual or audio representations; names and descriptions of characters, spells, enchantments, personalities, teams, personas, likenesses and special abilities; places, locations, environments, creatures, equipment, magical or supernatural abilities or effects, logos, symbols, or graphic designs; and any other trademark or registered trademark clearly identified as Product identity by the owner of the Product Identity, and which specifically excludes the Open Game Content; (f) “Trademark” means the logos, names, mark, sign, motto, designs that are used by a Contributor to identify itself or its products or the associated products contributed to the Open Game License by the Contributor (g) “Use”, “Used” or “Using” means to use, Distribute, copy, edit, format, modify, translate and otherwise create Derivative Material of Open Game Content. 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Grant and Consideration: In consideration for agreeing to use this License, the Contributors grant You a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive license with the exact terms of this License to Use, the Open Game Content. 5.Representation of Authority to Contribute: If You are contributing original material as Open Game Content, You represent that Your Contributions are Your original creation and/or You have sufficient rights to grant the rights conveyed by this License. 6.Notice of License Copyright: You must update the COPYRIGHT NOTICE portion of this License to include the exact text of the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any Open Game Content You are copying, modifying or distributing, and You must add the title, the copyright date, and the copyright holder’s name to the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any original Open Game Content you Distribute. 7. Use of Product Identity: You agree not to Use any Product Identity, including as an indication as to compatibility, except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of each element of that Product Identity. You agree not to indicate compatibility or co-adaptability with any Trademark or Registered Trademark in conjunction with a work containing Open Game Content except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of such Trademark or Registered Trademark. The use of any Product Identity in Open Game Content does not constitute a challenge to the ownership of that Product Identity. The owner of any Product Identity used in Open Game Content shall retain all rights, title and interest in and to that Product Identity. 8. Identification: If you distribute Open Game Content You must clearly indicate which portions of the work that you are distributing are Open Game Content. 9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License. 10. Copy of this License: You MUST include a copy of this License with every copy of the Open Game Content You Distribute. 11. Use of Contributor Credits: You may not market or advertise the Open Game Content using the name of any Contributor unless You have written permission from the Contributor to do so. 12. Inability to Comply: If it is impossible for You to comply with any of the terms of this License with respect to some or all of the Open Game Content due to statute, judicial order, or governmental regulation then You may not Use any Open Game Material so affected. 13. Termination: This License will terminate automatically if You fail to comply with all terms herein and fail to cure such breach within 30 days of becoming aware of the breach. All sublicenses shall survive the termination of this License. 14. Reformation: If any provision of this License is held to be unenforceable, such provision shall be reformed only to the extent necessary to make it enforceable. 15. COPYRIGHT NOTICE Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, LLC. System Reference Document 5.1 Copyright 2016, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Chris Perkins, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, Bruce R. Cordell, Chris Sims, and Steve Townshend, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. END OF LICENSE

World of Bukana: Anggrephon Rajahnate

The kingdom of Anggrephon is a shining jewel of Bukana. It is a rich and prosperous nation with many alliances throughout the archipelago. The region of the northeastern islands has long had economic and social ties to the influential kingdom of Bhodan. That maritime power’s culture can be seen and heard in most of the coastal barangays in the rajahnate and nearby. Attire and architecture show a commingling of Bukanese and Bhodani styles. Merchants bring exotic spices and vegetables that have changed the cuisine extensively. Many loanwords can be heard and foreign accents creep into the speech of the native Tigayon tribes. However, it is the ubiquitous Pahli temples that now dot the landscape that most thoroughly shows the extent of influence that that culture has had.

History

For centuries, foreign aesthetics and ideas have followed the merchants coming from Bhodan. Nowhere in the archipelago is that more obvious than in the nation of Anggrephon. Bhodan was the first major power to establish regular ties with Bukana inhabitants. As the islands closest to that land began to prosper, a series of alliances between local barangays coalesced into a true nation. Over the course of time, this state took on more and more of the trappings of its neighbor and became known as the Rajahnate of Anggrephon. 

  With the influx of new ideas came new gods. In some cases, local Bukanese deities only took on some foreign aspects; in others, a native divinity would be completely replaced with an outside one that shared some commonality. One of the interloper gods brought to the isles was Pahli, god of secrets, whose influence swelled outside of its own homeland. Now the head of its own pantheon, the puzzle god’s religion, Pahli-Cha, has made inroads throughout Bukana. About two hundred years ago, the raja of Anggrephon converted to the path of the puzzle-walker. While other religions persist within the nation, Pahli-Cha has become the dominant religion.

Life in Anggrephon

This is a prosperous nation, and trade dominates most day-to-day life. Here, incoming merchants from Bhodan and other lands, drop off their trade goods with any of a number of powerful merchant guilds. These groups then divide the wares amongst their merchants who then distribute those goods throughout Bukana, some loading them into smaller vessels and others onto wagons for trips into the interior of the island. Most of this commerce is funneled through one of the larger barangay ports such as the capital city of Kanlungan, but some smaller settlements have established themselves as viable alternatives, particularly for certain specialty goods. For instance, the aptly named Dugolog just south of the capital has extensive slaughterhouses and tanneries to facilitate the processing of livestock. 

  The caste system here is well established, but even the lowest of indentured workers is a bit better off than those elsewhere. Raja is a Bhodani title mostly equivalent to a Lakan. The current ruler is Raja Diwa Maralit II, great-great-grandchild of the first of the Matahari Dynasty. Below the Raja is the noble caste who act as ministers to the royal court and run the trade guilds; they also serve as datus for smaller settlements. These are served by the warrior caste. They tend to perform the hands-on management of the government and guilds, as well as command the nation’s small standing military. While members of this caste are lesser nobles, they are required to serve their datus so are less free than the free people below them. The lowest of the castes serve as indentured laborers. Different strata exist within this commoner caste, though, differentiating between those that work the land and those who are completely dependent on their lords. Social mobility is rather common in Anggrephon with commoners buying their way into the free caste and that caste being awarded lesser noble status for exceptional deeds.

  The kingdom grows a modest crop of rice and other vegetables which supplements an extensive fishing fleet. They don’t quite produce enough for their own consumption but have little trouble trading for additional foodstuff. Raja Diwa leaves much of the administration of the kingdom to their subordinates. The Raja is a devout student of Pahli and they enjoy spending time studying texts and discussing esoteric religious doctrine with monks rather than on managing the mundane matters of their rulership. As such, minor corruption has crept into the Rajahnate and travelers can expect to pay some bribes in the course of their business.

  Numerous people make Anggrephon their home. The indigenous Tigayon tribes form the bulk of its human citizens, but pongo, dwarf, and gnomes are also common. Pilandok, in particular, have fully integrated into the society of the rajahnate as they have fully embraced mercantile endeavors. 

Adventures in Anggrephon

The capital, along with many other barangay, lies on the coast of Paglaw, the largest island in northeastern Bukana. As such, Kanlungan acts as a staging point for many expeditions into the island’s interior. Additionally, many of the dangers that lurk within the forests and volcanic peaks end up threatening the nation and its citizens. Merchants disembarking from the trade centers of Anggrephon often hire on extra protection, particularly when expecting danger. Pirates and tribal raiders are common threats in the area.

Cultures: Berani Tribes

This is a new series of articles that will discuss various ethnolinguistic groups within Bukana and beyond. An ethnolinguistic group is an umbrella term for a number of tribes that are joined together by common language and traditions. For instance, today we are looking at the Berani. This is a term that may or may not be used by members of this culture to describe themselves. Many “Berani” would instead refer to themselves by their specific tribal name, without acknowledging any relation to another Berani-speaking tribe. Players are encouraged to work with GMs to come up with a character’s tribe and think about how they relate to other nearby tribes. We have recently discussed how we intend to handle “racial” stats in Bukana, by using Cultural and Tribal feats that are not tied to any particular ancestry (race) or bloodline (subrace).

At the southeast corner of Bukana, lies a cluster of islands of Akar Kusut, the Tangleroot Isles. In the dense jungles that give the region its name, the Berani tribes reign supreme. These people live in tandem with the natural world, supplementing their farming, fishing, and hunting with frequent raids on local communities and vessels. The Berani are notorious headhunters and anyone dealing with them is extremely careful to avoid their ire lest they become embroiled in their bloody ritual feuds. 

   Each tribe is led by a powerful warrior, who is counseled by druids and shamans. They have no pantheon and no native clerics. The Berani are pure animists, they pay homage to a multitude of nature spirits as well as their ancestors. However, they do not hold any spirits, regardless of power, as gods. The Amethyst Church has sent out numerous missionaries from the nearby sultanates and have made some limited success in converting the Berani tribes. This has caused trouble, as the tribes that embrace the new religion are then targeted by their more traditional neighboring tribes.

Berani (tribal feat)

Prerequisites: Starting character, can speak Berani, and either human ancestry or Bukanese Human Society feat

  You are a member of one of the fierce Berani headhunting tribes of the Tangleroot Isles. You have learned to appreciate strength and unbending traditions. You gain the following benefits:

  • Your Strength score increases by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You have proficiency with the spear, shortbow, and shields.
  • You have proficiency with the Survival and Athletics skills.
  • You add twice your proficiency bonus to Survival skill checks.

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Bukana Illustrated: True Aswang

We’ve previously looked at the Markupo piece that Brian Valeza did for us. Some of you may recognize Brian’s work from Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, Paizo’s Pathfinder, Elder Scroll Legends and other tabletop and mobile games. Today we’re going to talk about Aswangs and his latest illustration for us.

Aswang is a term used in Philippine myth quite extensively, so we knew that we were going to have to take our time to give them their proper due. The creatures called aswang run the gamut from weredogs to old witches. They generally fall into a few categories: ghouls, werebeasts, witches, vampires, and viscera suckers. Karl Gaverza of PHSpirits.com suggested that we have Brian illustrate a creature that combines features of each of these aspects, which we dubbed a “true aswang.” This is person who has completely given up their humanity for the terrible gifts offered by the agents of the Under-Realm.

There’s a lot to dig into on this horror show. The wings and the missing lower body are from a class of self-segmenting fliers. The furry forearms and wicked claws come from the werebeast shapeshifters. The nasty chompers tie in the vampire and ghoul aspects, while the overall hag look wraps up the ensemble with the warlock versions.

If you actually want to play a character who has begun their journey down this dark path, check out the Yanggaw warlock subclass in our class decriptions.

Check out Brian’s art on Artstation.

Framework: Ancestries & Bloodlines

Here at Secret Garden Games, we don’t like using the term “Races” to describe various species of peoples and their abilities. And we downright hate the term “Subraces.” So unlike most 5e settings we prefer the terms “Ancestries” and “Bloodlines,” respectively. So we present to you the basic descriptions of the ancestries and bloodlines that will be printed in the Players’ Guide.

Dwarf

Dwarves are stone and fire incarnate – volcanoes made manifest. Deep in their ancestral mountains, they dedicate themselves to their clan and to the endless toil of freeing the earth’s riches that are their birthright. These stout people possess a stern devotion to their ancient ways and an endless fury for those that threaten that heritage. 

Terrace Dwarf (Calanget)

  Arrogant and vengeful, but hard-working and loyal, the calanget consider themselves the rightful owners of the mountains. These dwarves taught humans how to build rice terraces and in turn many have adopted the tradition of headhunting. Calanget are the most commonly encountered dwarves in human lands as their clans frequently send caravans to trade with nearby communities.

Blood Dwarf (Sagay)

  The sagay live deep within the volcanic mountains that make up the highlands of Bukana. Within their labyrinthine domain, they mine rare gems and ores. These obsidian-skinned dwarves trade some of these natural treasures for human blood, for it is said that their babaylans use it to forge magical alloys and empower their mystical rites.

Elf

Elves are a slender, highly magical race. Like all of the enchanted races of Bukana, they share a deep spiritual connection to nature. They are a very long-lived species that tend to dwell in remote areas away from human settlements. Here they create magnificent works of art through what would be many human lifetimes.

Spirit Elf (Tamahaling/Mahomanay)

  Spirit elves are one with Bukana. These people live in magnificent homes high in the canopy of the most hidden and ancient balete trees. They are split between two tribes created by their twin gods. The slight, red-skinned tamahaling are the guardians of animals and the pale mahomanay are the stewards of the land. They hide their faces behind intricately carved masks of their gods, leading many presumptuous outsiders to believe that all tamahaling are women and all mahomanay are all men.

Bane Elf (Dalaketnon)

  Thousands of years ago, a civil war amongst the high elves led to the exile of a sect of free-spirited, often cruel, hedonists. These bane elves fled to the Serpent Isles where they quickly built a dark reflection of Biringan City, enthralling many dark creatures. Since heaving off the shackles of cultural taboos, they indulge their urges and seek new sensations. Many take up the adventuring life to sate their curiosity and discover new experiences in the mortal world.

Fire Elf (Jinn)

  Hailing from a far-off land, the jinn are the mortal embodiment of fire spirits. They are inquisitive and adventuresome. Most found in the archipelago have been attracted either by riches or the burning volcanic peaks. They tend to be pale with a reddish cast to their skin; their eyes burn like hot coals.

Whistling Elf (Palasekan)

  They are said to be the invisible protectors of the trees. Islanders who hear their whistling communications at night know to stay out of the forests. Unbeknownst to most, these elves are not invisible per se, but can change their appearance at will, masquerading as simple humans. They use their abilities to move amongst local communities and spy on any who would harm their natural homes.

Gnome

The fey of Bukana tend to avoid or even hate humanity. Not so with the diminutive gnomes who greatly enjoy playing pranks on the larger people. Sometimes these pranks are meant to teach lessons, but depending on the gnome, may be little more than simple theft or harassment. Regardless, gnomes love thrills and excitement. They are master illusionists. Standing no more than 3 feet tall, gnomes are described as child-like in appearance by larger humanoids. They have large noses and the males tend to have facial hair. 

Shepherd Gnome (Lampong)

  The lampong are the protectors of the wild forests. They use their mastery of illusions to prevent overhunting and deforestation. They appear as small old people with long and wild white hair. They are particularly populous in rocky warrens amongst the highland forests.

Gold Gnome (Kibaan)

  Even more unusual than the gold-colored teeth for which they are named, is the fact that a kibaan’s feet seem to point backwards. Their heel is on the front of the foot, while the rear sports toes. They claim that this is to confuse humans when being followed after a particularly good prank. Amongst the engkanto, it is the gold gnome that so consistently lives near human communities, sometimes just below them.

Mound Gnomes (Duwende)

  There are many, many different duwende. Each colony has their own appearance and they vary greatly from community to community. Local humans usually give them names using colors such as “black duwende,” or “red duwende” based on their skin or hair color, or a color that they commonly wear. They almost always live underground and often raise termites for food. Some mound gnomes look like other gnomes with long white hair and generally human-like facial features, while others have more goblin-like appearances.

Pongo

In form, pongos appear to be more humanoid, upright-walking simians. Pongos love adventure and are infinitely curious, making them annoying to other peoples. However, pongo are loyal to a fault and a strong sense of community makes their family units tight-knit. People of this Ancestry usually take up a time of travel in their youth which leads many to a time as adventurers.

Orangutan

  Hulking ape-people, the orang utan dwell deep in mountainside forests. Here they form large communities in treetop dwellings. They live close to nature and hold it in deep reverence. They value wisdom and thoughtfulness and can frequently be found in meditation. They often use their quick wit and cleverness to their advantage.

Vanara

  These folk resemble human-like macaque monkeys. They are exceedingly playful and curious, even by pongo standards. They hail from the distant land of Bhodan where their village troupes organize into militias to fight their eternal war against the rakshasa demons. They love adventure and travel far and wide in order to bring back stories of their exploits.

Merfolk

The waters of the Bukana isles are teeming with aquatic life. There are countless bloodlines of merfolk that call the region home. Only a rare few, however, can reliably interact with “landwalkers.” Merfolk of all kinds tend to be skittish around humans, although they can often be found trading in ports or luring an unwary islander to a secluded waterfall for a nice meal.

Highfolk (Kataw)

  Unbeknownst to most surface-dwellers, the Bukana archipelago sits in the middle of a vast undersea kingdom. This domain is ruled by the kataw. Supremely arrogant, each kataw is a member of a royal clan and tends to treat everyone else as though they were peasants. These merfolk are humanoid and walk on two legs. Their skin is covered in beautiful, iridescent scales and they sport all manner of colorful fins and frill on their head, neck, and limbs.

Bamboo-Folk (Litao)

  Freshwater merfolk are often treated by their marine kin as backwater lessers (pun intended). Lowest even among these are the litao. These people are so reclusive and timid that local humans believe them to be spirits. The fact is that they are generally socially awkward and prone to constant anxiety. Rarely, a brave litao will venture out of the dense bamboo forests that they call home and enter the wider world, particularly if that home is threatened. All litao seem to be male and many tales speak of them being bullied and teased by sirena merfolk. Their strong fishy odor does nothing to improve their social lives.

Riverfolk (Tubignon)

The elusive Tubignon are masters of elemental magic. These freshwater merfolk inhabit the winding streams and lakes of Bukana. They gather in small communities or explore the mysteries of the arcane in solitude. They possess an alien beauty to land-dwellers and sport a host of bright colorations.

Deepfolk (Siyokoy)

  The monstrous siyokoy are commonly believed to be evil worshippers of fell gods of the deep. Those that dwell closer to human ports and further from the trenches, can sometimes be found interacting with landwalking people. Amongst other merfolk, however, they are shunned and often hunted outright; the kataw in particular hate the deep-folk. In fact, it is this prejudice that pushes some siyokoy into the adventuring life on land. These people appear as fish-like humanoids with large eyes, gills, and rough scales covering their bodies.

Human

There are over one hundred ethnicities and languages native to Bukana. This number is easily doubled with the influx of foreign traders who use the isles as a commerce hub. All manner of physical features can be found with skin colors ranging from olive to nearly black. Humans are the most widely adapted and cunning races of the Middle-world.

Burulakaw

  These small celestials hail from the Sky-world. They are often sent by the gods on some sacred duty or, more rarely, cast out for some transgression. They have the ability to fly which increases as they gain experience in the Middle-world. Little is known about these people and they seem to have trouble understanding the customs and even physics of the mortal world. They are often quite dedicated to whatever cause they take up and are frequently rigid in their beliefs.

Minotaur (Sarangay)

  The minotaurs of Bukana have powerfully built humanoid bodies with the heads of water buffalo. These hulking people live in the hills and mine gems which they use to adorn their sickle-shaped horns. They are, as rule, stubborn and frequently aggressive, That being said, they are commonly found in human settlements trading, blacksmithing, and acting as strong labor.

Pilandok

  These woodland tricksters appear like humanoid mouse deer. They are quick-witted and affable, but love to use trickery and magic to confound intruders to their homes. They are very common in human lands. As many have taken up trading since their naturally out-going personalities make them successful merchants.

Community During a Pandemic

Secret Garden Games is pleased to bring you another guest article from one of our collaborators: the Tanuki Society.

Community is essential, especially to gamers and even more so during a pandemic.

Everyone desires to be part of something bigger than themselves, part of a group. For the psychology nerds, it is derived from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For table-top gamers, we have traditionally found community as an intrinsic element tied to the pursuit of our hobbies. Whatever the reason for joining a hobby, you’ve benefited from the social and communal facets.

The restrictions and quarantine set in place keeping us from this exact sense of community is why this current once in a century pandemic has felt so harsh. We are unable to simply run down to our FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) for a pickup game. No Friday Night Magic. We haven’t been able to admire a friend’s freshly painted model. No trades or flipping through a friend’s trade binder. For the most part we’ve been stuck at home which severely limits our options to scratch that game itch.

If we cannot meet in person for gaming, what can we do? What else but to turn to the internet! Yet, trying to play games online is far from a suitable replacement. My Commander/EDH group is venturing into SpellTable but it’s not the same as sitting at an actual table. Online is helpful, but there is no chatter, catching up from the week or laughing amongst friends. To be able to see my opponent and the board simultaneously, my two-camera setup resembles a Rube Goldberg Machine.

There is one genre of games that seems to be the exception for this lack of social connection: a good ol’ fashion Role Playing Game. For those that haven’t ventured into the vast RPG universes, a role playing game is cooperative storytelling. Players take on the role of fictional characters in a story narrated by a Game Master. In normal times, an RPG group might even resemble a business meeting to the outsider so it’s a pretty easy adaptation in the era of zoom meetings and Google Hangouts. This type of genre is most easily transferred to the current pandemic times, as there is not a huge need to alter much to the foundation existing already. There are less physical requirements other than your imagination and readiness to download Zoom. Most games only require some books, dice, paper, and a pencil. The game master even benefits from being able to present reference material and pass along secret information without raising suspicion.

My group has been playing the Legend of The Five Rings RPG from Fantasy Flight Games for several weeks now and going strong in storyline, cooperation and catching up in social time. From firsthand experience, I’ll say it has gone a long way to alleviate a sense of isolation. The standard table banter is still present which just is not a consideration in many other online game platforms during these times. If you have been missing socialization with your gamer friends, I highly suggest diving into the RPG world and choosing an adventure with your group. To be able to set a consistent time to visually see and interact with your friends is not only rewarding, but an event to look forward to and feel supported by your people.

If you are hesitant to take my word for it, have a quick look at how these games are being used as a form of social therapy! https://geekandsundry.com/rpg-therapy-for-kids-is-a-real-thing-and-it-works/

Everyone can benefit from some healthy escapism, especially right now. [My group is looking forward to exploring the world of Bukana when that releases] (feel free to remove the hard shil)l

Play Online- Browser Based  

Spell Table- Magic The Gathering

https://www.spelltable.com

War Table- Warmachine/Hordes, Judgement, GuildBall

https://wartable.online

Sun And Moon- Legend of The Five Rings CCG

https://www.hwstn.com/sunandmoon/getting_started.html

The Iron Throne- A Game of Thrones LCG 2.0

https://theironthrone.net/login

Play Online- Download

Vassal- Open Source Module Based

http://www.vassalengine.org

Table Top Simulator- Module Simulator

https://store.steampowered.com/app/286160/Tabletop_Simulator/

World of Bukana: Spirits

Spirits – Through the Mists

The tropical islands of Bukana are a highly magical place. Its people rightly believe that every person, object, and place has a spirit or soul. These entities are said to wield a myriad of powers and abilities and are the cause of many natural phenomena, as well as diseases and luck – good or bad. Furthermore, the spirits of the dead also play a major role in the lives of the native people, either as beneficent ancestors or as marauding ghosts. Everyday Bukanans make regular offerings and prayers to all of these spirits and more to ask for aid or allay their wrath. These spirits inhabit the ethereal plane that largely parallels the material world. Locally, this place is called the Realm of Mist, or simply the Mists. The last type of spirit is called an engkanto, or the enchanted. These fae entities do not dwell within the ethereal plane, but within the mysterious “Unseen Realm,” also known as the Feywild

Babaylan Mediums

Despite their constant appeasements, spirits are rarely visible to most mortals. It falls to those rare individuals who possess the gifts of the medium. These folk are born with a power that, if nurtured, allows them see, hear and otherwise interact with the Plane of Mists. The training that each of these people receive varies from culture to culture. Once their powers are fully realized, these mediums become intermediaries to the spirits and through them to the gods. The eldest spiritual leader of each barangay is called a “babaylan” in the common trade tongue of the coasts. However, given the host of other names used throughout the isles, this term is often used informally to refer to all spell-casters capable of communing with the spirit world.

Communing with Spirits

When dealing with spirits, care and respect must be shown. They are usually addressed with an honorific title such as apo (elder) and attention must be paid to specific rituals. A large part of any medium’s training involves learning about each type of spirit and their idiosyncratic wants, needs, and taboos. A wide range of techniques are used to contact, entice, and appease the spirits of Bukana. Offerings of food and drink are very common. Candles and incense are sometimes burned. For some powerful spirits, only sacrifices are enough to cajole them. In this case, sometimes a small measure of the babaylan’s blood will suffice. In other instances, animal sacrifice is necessary. If a babaylan is very powerful, they may be able to force a spirit into compliance through threats or magical means. This is rarely done by the vast majority of mediums as spirits make dangerous enemies and such practices can gain the babaylan a negative reputation in the spirit realm.

Diwata Elementals

Every rock, tree, bird, and mountain has a spirit. These elemental spirits are collectively known as diwata. The spirits of inanimate objects as well as places are generally tied to that location. The diwata of animals and elements tend to be more wide-ranging. When a nature spirit is seen, it often takes the form of an animal or plant. Rarely, they take more humanoid forms. Whatever shape they choose, it always bears natural elements as well as otherworldly characteristics. Birds with multiple eyes, an orchid with arms and legs, or civet that crackles with electricity.  In the wilderness, these spirits often manifest in the physical world relatively frequently, but rarely in front of humans. It is quite common for mortals to catch fleeting glimpses in their peripheral vision or stumble upon an unwary diwata before it disappears back into the Mists. This is particularly true when encountered in places of natural power such as waterfalls, hidden glades, and inaccessible mountaintops. These locations are called “dambana” and are held sacred by local peoples.

  It is these spirits that are contacted when a barangay must clear land, hunt, or plant crops. These souls are much more alien than those of ancestors and great care must be taken to ensure proper rites are performed to avoid angering them. Statues are never made to represent these spirits, but glyphs are often carved into natural rock faces to honor them. In ancient times, the mysterious first occupants of Bukana, known only as the “Old Men,” erected large stone pillars covered in intricate runes and imagery. The exact purpose of these megaliths is not known, but they appear in places of geomantic power and seem to both attract and glorify the spirits.

   Diwata are the most likely spirits to serve adventurers as abyan companions. By binding themselves to mortals, they are able to maintain physical form indefinitely and to roam beyond their usual domains. When accompanying mortal “friends,” these spirits regularly take the form of familiar animals. Sometimes they take more exotic shapes such as small typhoons or anthropomorphic plantlife, but these are the mark of special entities that are bound to more powerful mortals. As an abyan grows stronger, they begin to display more extraordinary traits, belying their immaterial natures. A black crocodile with a stony ridge down its spine, a tarsier with glowing red eyes, or eagle with two heads are all examples of spirit companions that have grown in power.

Anitu Ancestors

The indigenous Bukanans are served by the spirits of their ancestors. The souls of humans are continually reincarnated until such time as they have reached sufficient enlightened power that they are claimed by one of the gods of their people. Once that occurs, a portion of the person’s essence remains behind as the rest of the soul passes on to its god’s domain. This forms the ancestral spirits known as anitu. These s[irits lack the personalities of their previous owners, since the rest of the soul has gone on to serve the gods. Therefore, anitu have many abstract characteristics. For instance, they could have four arms, two faces, or even animalistic and elemental traits. They usually wear archaic clothing with elaborate ornamentation such as piercings, skull trophies, tattoos, or headdresses.

  Anitu are represented by their living descendents with small humanoid statues called taotao. These totems are usually carved from stone, wood, ivory, or bone. Wealthier families inlay their taotao with precious metals and stones. Even poor families keep simple statues in the corners of their homes to honor their beloved ancestors. Larger communities build wall-less structures out of sacred woods with frond roofs to act as dambana spirit houses. Here many taotao are kept, often with bowls to hold sacrifices of food and plants. These statues are not revered on a day-to-day basis, but in times of need they are used to contact the spirits and make offerings.

  Ancestor spirits that serve humans generally do so in one of two ways. Some are bound by rituals to protect places. Called pili, these guardian spirits appear to shamans as being resolute warriors with aspects that denote strength and durability such as iron and stone. For those cultures that hold dogs as being sacred, their pili are accompanied by loyal canine spirits. Rarely, these custodians are set to watch over people who are thought to have a great destiny. The guardians receive regular offerings, with their magical pacts being reinforced annually as part of larger celebrations.

  Anitu that act as spiritual guides and intermediaries to the gods are called pintakasi. Unlike the pili, these spirits rarely manifest physically and more often aid their charge with knowledge and divine magic. In this role, pintakasi are most likely to accompany adventurers as abyans. They too must be appeased with regular offerings. Should their ward perish, these ancestors will guide their soul to judgement and speak on their behalf.

Engkanto Fae

The engkanto are by far the most capricious of spirits. Rarely are the fae truly appeased, and never for long. These creatures usually only manifest in the material world when hunting or looking to cause trouble. Most cultures in Bukana use simple warding phrases and sacrifices to try to convince mischievous and dangerous engkanto to seek their sport elsewhere. However, legends claim that a number of the peoples of Bukana descend from the engkanto. These folk, such as the elves, dwarves, gnomes, and merfolk, say that their ancestors chose to leave their immaterial selves behind and manifest physical bodies within the material world. These stories gain credence from the fact that the most magnificent of these people’s ancestral dwellings descend into the Feywild itself. The most ostentatious bane elf treetop palaces always seem much bigger on the inside. A merfolk’s underwater grotto is filled with water that is breathable by land-dwellers. The deepest blood dwarf forges somehow tap directly into active volcanoes without killing everyone. Here, you will find the true engkanto flittering about, causing mischief or acting as servants and assistants. These are the most unlikely spirits to accept life as a mortal’s spirit companion. When they do, it is usually to a one of the aforementioned fae descendants or so someone else with a connection to the Unseen Realm.