In the fall of 2010, I conformed to a common stereotype about men in their mid-40s and apparently became obsessed with matters of religion. Its roots lie in my work on Shahida but that’s all politics and history, very little to do with specific religious content. Still, I did a lot of reading of and about Judaic, Christian, and Muslim texts, and I suppose it’s not too surprising that a lot of stuff went into the dark well at the bottom of my head and fermented.
So, long story short, I wrote four alpha game drafts, which I strongly suspect are totally not suitable for presentation or discussion on the internet. Which ridiculously, I’m doing anyway right now. I call this line of design … um, I’m not sure what to call it yet.
Estimated Prophet – revelation, enlightenment, looking upon the face of God
Shine a Light – observance, practice, culture, growing up, coping with death
Cathedral – church, history, doctrine, text
Daemon Lover – sin, taboo, sex, sensuality, nature, custom
None of them are about religious belief, which as I see it, is a huge non-issue which tends to blot out all the relevant issues about religion through its very non-ness. It’s the opposite of the elephant in the room that no one will talk about; instead, it’s the elephant which is not in the room but which no one will shut up about.
Usually, my design process grows right out of successful play. I do X when playing a particular game, and then I say, “Hey, X really made that game work well,” and I manage to articulate X and make it the rules-basis for a new game. For example, the rules for scenes and conflicts in Trollbabe grew right out of the techniques that I found made Dust Devils work really well for our group, especially since they were so different from the techniques that worked well for us in playing Hero Wars. But these games or notes-for-games are different. Here, I was designing totally out of my comfort zone, combining techniques that I wasn’t sure that worked with others that were frankly utterly new – raw inspiration, stuff that really shouldn’t be let out of the workshop at this stage. I don’t know if any given piece of the rules or the rules as a whole work at all.
What I’m hoping for
Feel free to discuss this material at the Adept forum. Essentially, I want responses straight from the heart. Whether it’s your reading of the current write-ups, any attempt at playing them, your thoughts on religion in RPG settings, your personal accounts and admissions regarding religion and role-playing, all I care about is your honesty. As long as that’s there, whatever you toss into this thread for those topics will help me a lot, and I hope to be able to provide interesting feedback that shows more about where I’m coming from with these … well, not games yet, “things.”
I really don’t want writing advice. These are not game texts yet and if any of them ever becomes one, I’ll write it from scratch and will need comments then. For now, these are design drafts, and I hope you can read them in that light.
Discussions about this material
The Forge: Three games about religion
Anyway: Hooray for religion
Esoteric Murmurs: Ed posting because God forbid I work on things I’m being paid to work on
B/X Blackrazor: Wherefore art thou religion? (another person’s take on the same issue)