Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Philippines as an RPG setting

The Philippines is, unfortunately, a great place to find all sorts of villains and human tragedies. The country is filled with factions that don't really have a sense of duty to its people (even those factions that traditionally fill the role like the police, military, or government). Everything is just a game and faction heads are constantly just probing each other for weaknesses, unsympathetic of who they tred over.
Quoting myself in a forum discussion.
...Well the truth of the matter is that the book's description of the Philippines is not that far from the actual. You can even say our "triads" don't work in shadows and in fact work out in the open (we have a impotent self correcting judicial body: office of the ombudsman doesn't tackle anything worth while without international pressure). We are top 3 of the most corrupt in Asia, even legitimate actions need greasing (you can't even pay proper taxes or attain proper permits without a bureaucrat threatening to tie you up in red tape).

Its really a warlords paradise with a comfortable tech base and a very useful backdrop to run politically charged modern combat games against less well equipped and trained extra-military forces (warlords henchmen). There is are roughly around 20+ political murders here every year. Not to mention the human trafficking that goes on because of our huge labor export and the complications of being a "western" ally amidst a number of anti-western faction with porous borders.

I very much envy American gun rights.

Typical Philippine Scenario-
Part 1 (introduction) Big Pork barrel (government spending deal) worth about $20M several or Corporation wanting to develop X despite certain protective laws in place (could be land, natural resources, a sector of the tech industry etc. ) factions are always trying to get a big piece.
Part 2 (PCs get hooked in) Apart from these factions messily maneuvering to get the largest piece, you have leaks and some civilians (typically small time local journalists or human rights activists) getting caught up in the wheels.
Part 3 (Things get Complicated and Climax) Typically some people get killed and someone gets the money OR someone successfully leaks the information (which is usually the losing side who didn't get the cut they wanted) and while somtimes the innocent survives...
Part 4 (Resolution, Debriefing) Those who survive long enough to get public and international moral outrage causes these factions to duck down and keep a low profile. This is merely get a slap on the wrist. Rinse, Lather and Repeat (ex. ZTE Scandal, Missing USAF donation for
Balikatan, Phil-Russian Money Laundering, Fertilizer Scandal, Razon-Coal mining etc. )

Philippine Journalist Blogs and Forums have almost all the classic example cases of corruption: fixed bidding, secret bidding, conflict of interest deals, passed laws with "secret" provisions catering to a particular faction etc. etc.

Mercenaries here are plentiful thanks to our very corrupt and underfunded military and police, private armies go with the territory when you reach status 3+
The setting is a play of grays. Factions only care for their own goals, and they use deception, pandering, force and seduction to get what they want. There are so many victims to exploit and almost no one to turn to, no greater good that will protect the lone justicar. PCs have to play really smart if they want to play the political aspect OR really competent to survive the arms difference.

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