Friday, November 1, 2013

Another Lens: Halloween & All Saints

Playing with expectations -- especially cultural ones -- is always something I like to do in RPGs, particularly ones that are set in worlds and times other than our own. I often dip into my experiences stemming from living in the U.S. in the past, and living here in the Philippines now. The thing is, until you have that experience of being in a very different place -- sometimes a different country, sometimes just across the tracks, sometimes at your friend's household -- you don't realize something's out of the ordinary.

So here's another post on something that might be lifted for local color in your setting (perhaps on some world in the setting of Fading Suns).


The Halloween experience (costumes, kids trick or treating, etc.) is a relatively new experience in the Philippines. When growing up, my knowledge about this type of celebration came primarily from all the TV shows and movies imported from the U.S. via our local channels and the stuff we watch on Betamax (that's right, Betamax was THE format in the Philippines when I was growing up).

Our knowledge of this time of year growing up was mostly about the All Saints / All Souls days. Can you imagine what it might be like to be at that transition point when the commercial marketing aspect of a formerly solemn (well, not really, more on that later) holiday takes over?

You can have traditionalists clashing with the newer generation, you can have the day traditionally saved for preparations for All Saints / All Souls suddenly usurped by what might be considered another holiday. Like having Thanksgiving the day before Christmas Eve and Christmas.

All Saints' Day

Here's what Wikipedia currently has to say about All Saints' Day in the Philippines:
Hallowmas in the Philippines is variously called "Undas" (based on the word for "[the] first"), "Todos los Santos" (literally "All Saints"), and sometimes "Áraw ng mga Patáy" (lit. "Day of the Dead"), which refers to the following day of All Souls' Day but includes it. Filipinos traditionally observe this day by visiting the family dead, often cleaning and repairing them. Offerings of prayers, flowers, candles, and even food are made, while Filipino-Chinese additionally burn incense and kim. Many also spend the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the graves, playing music or singing karaoke.
For Fading Suns, you may use this in three ways:

  • it's a time for a mini-pilgrimage to your home planet, or wherever all your family members are buried. If a noble, it's likely that different sub-factions have different family mausoleums. It's like a time for reunions, for catching up with family gossip, for reconnecting with familial allies, and so on.
  • it's a time for the family spirits to revisit a PC, especially those who were unable to attend the reunion; to berate them for not honoring the family, to make revelations about family secrets, to give warnings about something they're facing in the future -- and then follow that up with scenes involving family members that have missed him at the reunion and want to reconnect.
  • there are unspeakable sects that worship their ancestors; this is a special time for them to perform their rites -- but during a period of excruciating scrutiny by the Church.

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