October is #RPGSEA month! Roleplayers from the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore are coming together to share articles that put us on the map of the tabletop RPG scene. We’re loud, we’re proud, and we’re out to spread the love for our hobby. Tabletop roleplaying games are for everyone!
Girls Got Game will be sharing posts that we see from our friends in other countries on our FB Page. Make sure to check them out! If you want to participate, go right ahead: we’d love to see what you’ve got in store for us.
People who know me know that I love Persona to death.
I’ve been desperately in love with the franchise since Persona 3. The game left a huge impact on me as a writer and a tabletop gamer. As things stand, people who have been at my table or have played with me under other GMs have told me that there’s no taking the Persona-fag out of this girl. (Sup, Waking the Dead homies!)
The latest entry to the franchise was one of the more impressive games of this year despite its shortcomings. There are plans to produce other Persona games in the future, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there’s a drive towards creating homebrews based off of the games.
People who know me also know that I love World of Darkness.
The best way to homebrew something is to stick to a system that you have a lot of feelings for. New World of Darkness and the God Machine Chronicles happen to be my systems of choice. Persona stories are supernatural/slipstream in nature, making WoD a natural fit with regard to flavor. In fact, the creative team behind Geist: the Sin-Eaters cited Persona 3 as one of their video game influences. Given the way Sin-Eater campaigns go and how they put the system together, I am not surprised at all.
Other people have attempted to create their own WoD-centric Persona homebrew. Jay, the author of The Life and Times of A Philippine Gamer, has a handy post dedicated to conversions for NWoD and Persona. On my end, however, I’m more interested in developing Persona users as their own major template. What better way to run a campaign than to have something that’s tailored to explore Persona-centric themes, right?
Introducing Life Is Inevitable/Death Goes On!
I call Persona users Cards as a homage to the heavy Tarot-based motifs within Persona games. They are the Second Breathers of the World of Darkness, people who have, like Sin-Eaters, been given a second lease at life. Unlike Sin-Eaters, however, it was not a geist that drew them back into the fold. The sheer force of their dying will sundered their souls in half, and filled both halves with mysterious knowledge.
After completing their Pilgrimage and remembering the fact that they are now defined by their first death, Cards find themselves participating in the Grand Game of Fate, something that – depending on your sensibilities – may or may not be machinations of the God Machine. They are each shuffled under a Dealer who represents their Triumph, and expected to play the Game whether they like it or not. As if dying and coming back wasn’t already a HUGE issue, right?
I’d like to give credit where credit is due.
This take on Persona users is, in no way, unique. The first time I ever played a Persona homebrew was under Mahar Mangahas, a very good friend of mine who was as inspired by Persona as I was. He started things out for me by generating almost all of the Major Arcana abilities that I make use of in my template. I just sort of took what he started and ran with it as best as I could.
And of course, let’s not forget that ATLUS started all of this for all of us. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for their crazy shenanigans.
Cards and the Philippines
Metro Manila – and, by extension, the Philippines – is a grossly under-utilized setting in tabletop games. Our country is a weird hodgepodge of cultural narratives and beliefs. Our capital never really sleeps, especially since the BPO industry doesn’t look like it’ll die anytime soon. On a creepier level, we’ve also got a staggering number of death rituals to consider. Perhaps it’s because like any developing country, there are way too many ways to die.
Persona games always talk about life, death, identity and one’s sense of self, and they necessarily conceptualize this in the Japanese context. Considering these themes for the Philippines is much more interesting. How do our huge networks of extended families effect us? What does it mean to be queer in a hyper-Catholic country like ours, and how does that define a Card? How would the Dark Hour/the Fog/Palaces be different in the Philippines? What sort of Shadows would our Cards have to deal with?
…And, of course, since this is a Persona game, what kinds of Persona would Pinoy Cards have? I don’t know about you, but an Emperor Card with Lapu-Lapu seems pretty badass. Consider, as well, a Devil Card with Simoun, or a Tower Card with a Bakunawa. The possibilities are endless, especially since we’ve got a whole lot of awesome stories to draw from.
All homebrews are labors of love, and meant to be used.
I’m not making any money off of this thing, and my only profit would be good vibes and other STs trying my stuff out for a spin. Cards were originally built with my own homebrew – Waking the Dead – in mind, but you’re absolutely free to change whatever you like.
Life is Inevitable/Death Goes On has a blog that you can check out, but I have not put everything up there for public consumption just yet. While that’s still under construction, interested players and STs can view and download the full PDF of the homebrew below!
I’ve also created an expansion called The Minor Arcana, also available for download.
Girls Got Game would love to feature your homebrews for any tabletop system. Feel free to contact us if you want to strut your stuff!