Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Musings: The Jungle in a Filipino Fantasy Setting

As a tip of the hat to A Fire in the Jungle I decided to mention this aspect about the Filipino Fantasy setting: jungle.

Jungle

The Philippines isn't all jungle (especially with all the mining and illegal logging and cities). But a lot of it was jungle way back when. I'm not sure how many of you have ever been in a jungle, but this isn't your nicely spaced out, well managed forest in a tropical climate. Those of you who've had to go through thick foresty wilderness in the temperate zone know what a godsend trails are.

Even footing, the ability to see what you're stepping on, thick vines  and annoyingly sharp thorns, branches, and even leaves make going through thick jungle difficult to impossible. And this is ignoring things like the heat, insects, and wild animals. And mystical creatures like pugos, kapres, aswangs, tikbalangs, and mananaggals, and mystical threats like mambabarangs, mangkukulams, and engkantos / malignos.

Any filipino fantasy setting should remind people what a hostile place the jungle can be -- and can even up importance of a class like the druid for extended travel into the wilderness.

Potential Encounter Seed

After tackling this kind of terrain all day, a nipa hut (an indigenous home built on stilts from wood and nipa leaves) with a light in the window at night can be a welcome sight. But be wary. Some of these homes are enchanted, designed to trap the unwary traveler who eats a well-laid out meal at the table of these seemingly empty homes. Doing so will imprison those who consume the meals in the land of the engkantos.

Of course, attempting to leave the area of this enchanted nipa hut will be difficult. Illusions and enchantments and invisible spirits will attempt to confuse the travelers, often sending them back to the mysterious house where the scent of freshly cooked food entices them to come closer. By the third approach to the same house, despite attempts to head back into the darkness of the jungle, experienced travelers will know to attempt simple methods to ward enchantements -- prayers, oracions, and even reversing one's clothes to confuse the spirits.

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