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Author Topic: Religion and the Game  (Read 8198 times)
Brennan Taylor
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« on: February 04, 2004, 07:12:11 AM »

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
Otherwise, this is pretty easy, but I also come from a religious background, so ideas leap at me. I imagine playing this with my current group would not work at all. Grr. Now to find ex-religious or religiously-liberal people that would enjoy this, as I think it rocks.


I actually playtested this over Christmas with my relatives out of state. My sister, her husband, and his brother were really into it, but my other gaming friend who was with me was seriously turned off by the subject matter. I think it is very interesting, personally, but I can imagine I will have trouble finding folks who want to play.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2004, 07:18:56 AM »

I don't want to get off subject too much - Vincent, maybe splitting this into a "Religion and the game" thread might be a good idea - but, yes, I think many close-minded gamers will get turned off my this.

I tried to run a one-shot with a guy in my group a few weeks ago. The crux of the one-shot was the fact that the PC had faith in a governmentally-enforced atheist country. Man, did that work out wrong. This guy, all defensive about his anti-religious beliefs, totally played the character like a raving asshole.

This is a fairly common thing among gamers, and the young adult population in general: they're so defensive about their religious/anti-religious beliefs that they overreact and shut down any possibility of thinking on the matter. Me, I'm not particularly religious. I like the concept, though, and can't understand why if someone's beliefs aren't harming society, why you'd deny them the belief.

Anyway, my bet is that this game will be considered more offensive than kill puppies for satan, which is awesome.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2004, 07:53:08 AM »

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
I don't want to get off subject too much - Vincent, maybe splitting this into a "Religion and the game" thread might be a good idea - but, yes, I think many close-minded gamers will get turned off my this.


I found it interesting that the guy who didn't like playing was Christian, and very open-minded for a born-again. On the other hand, my wife doesn't want to play and she is extremely open-minded. I'll ask both of them why they aren't interested, and give a report.

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
Anyway, my bet is that this game will be considered more offensive than kill puppies for satan, which is awesome.


That will be really funny, and I think you might be right. This game subscribes to a very rigid religious worldview, and also deals with a very conservative religious community, not always in the most flattering light.
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bluegargantua
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2004, 07:49:35 PM »

Quote from: inthisstyle

That will be really funny, and I think you might be right. This game subscribes to a very rigid religious worldview, and also deals with a very conservative religious community, not always in the most flattering light.


  Interesting...

  ...I actually get a somewhat positive vibe off the Faith.  They've got this arcane hierarchy and some weird morality bits, but ultimately it's all about working together to be good to each other.  I think one of the great things about the Faith (and thus Mormonism) is the concept that you don't let the families in your community go hungry.  You don't take slackers, but you sincerely make an effort to help people in need.

  Admittedly, it's a faith that slots you into a role and woe betide the round peg in the square hole, but there's still that "family" aspect to it.  And, unlike real religions, the Dogs help correct pride and the sins that follow from it which keep things from breaking down (ideally).  I suppose you could say the Inquistion was a Catholic version of the Dogs, but I think there's something a little deeper to the Dogs.

Tom
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Don't laugh, Larry would strike unseen from the shadows and Curly...well, Curly once toppled a dictatorship with the key from a Sardine tin.
Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2004, 07:23:12 AM »

You have excellent points here, and I think my reaction may not be typical. I am a libertarian and a Quaker, and a lot of the game-world society really rubs me the wrong way. It is a strict social order with very clear and inflexible roles for all members, and anyone who does not conform is severely punished (by both demons and Dogs). Plus, I have some baggage from growing up in an area near Utah, where there is a pretty widespread (and only partially concealed) resentment of Mormons.

This is, of course, not to say that I don't want to play. I find the world interesting to explore even if it doesn't agree with my personal philosophy.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2004, 08:13:32 AM »

See, what's weird to me about someone not wanting to play for religious  reasons is that I doubt that player would have a problem playing a Cleric of Ghnat-Vhzu the Bewoggler in a Sword & Sorcery game. I see the objection, and I might even share it, but I'm not sure what it is.

Now, me, I'm Jewish. I really dig the One God idea; I'm a firm adherent to "no gods before me" and love the questions it raises. But this isn't worship. It's telling a story.

Hm. [thinks] For a long time, I couldn't play Christian characters. Too much baggage for me, I think. Then I played a falled Jesuit who wandered into China from India and became a martial artist. It was a bridge for me, I guess; a Buddhist Christian is better than a Christian one, I guess. A little while later, I played a vampire Catholic priest (inspired by The Last Days of Christ the Vampire), which was interesting: the GM wasn't up to the task, but the PC was an avid Christian, having been embraced in, oh, lessee...1993 or so by Jebus himself. It's hard not to believe when he's right there.

I haven't played a Christian since (though there have been characters who, if it came up, would have had to have been), with my Dogs being the closest I've come. I wouldn't mind playing another one if it made sense.

I think the thing might be this: if your faith is shaky - in your Atheism, Catholocism, Judaism, whatever you got, you'll feel like you can just fall into whatever hole happens by. If your faith is strong, you'll stay out of the holes. But if your faith isn't faith at all; if it's the flexibility of holistic observation, you can climb into and out of the holes at will.

So, yeah, fear of oneself.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Librisia
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Posts: 35


« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2004, 08:48:48 AM »

Hey, Brennan is my husband, so I thought I'd let y'all know why I didn't want to play DitV on our Christmas break in Arizona.

Playtesting:  I hate making characters.  Really.  Hate it.  So, if I'm going to take the (for me) huge amount of time and effort to play a character, I want to know that we're not going to just play for a few sessions and say, "Hey Vince, we playtested that for you. It was cool!"  and then never play again.  Brennan likes to diddle around and try things out.  If I'm going to go to the trouble of playing, it better be long term.  Like having ... well, nevermind, I might offend the moderators with that analogy.

The religion thing:  I have to be honest and say, when this game was summarized to me as "A game where you are playing early Mormons" I thought - "Uh, pass."  Hearing about the game on this forum it sounds much more interesting to me now.  Here's what's interesting:

Rigid roles - I love to mess with those and cross those boundaries in real life, so in a game it can be double cool

The family aspect - very nice, humanist sentiment.  A backbone of Christian theology.  Playing it in a game can make one realize how messed up that dynamic can get.  The Nazis were VERY family oriented you know.  :-)

What I'm noticing here as I write is that my whole reason for playing would be to see how far I can go to test the boundaries of the social system that Vince has apparently built in.  Living in Colorado for most of my formative years, I have to say honestly that I share the anti-Mormonist sentiment that runs rampant in Colorado (and probably the whole U.S. as well)  Shame on me.  Really, it's stupid, like any prejudice, and I'm honestly ashamed.  

I guess if I read the rules and looked at the game, it might pique my interest even more.  Unfortunately, that smacks of effort, and I can barely get myself to read the stuff that I HAVE to read for graduate school.  I've never read a game book in my life, except to look something up relating to play I was already involved in.  

I'm also in a space right now where I don't want to play anything that only tangentially interests me.  The group Brennan and I have been playing in for the last 3 years exploded, and I think it's kind of soured me on gaming.  So add that to the fact that I hate making new characters, and I think it sums up why I haven't been interested in playing DitV.  

Those are the varried reasons I haven't played the game.  They have less to do with the game itself than with other things that are going on in my life, both related and unrelated to gaming.

I am happy to be on this list, and I can lurk and occasionally speculate.   Be warned, my speculation will be that of someone who is not thoroughly familiar with the material.  

Krista
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"Let me listen to me and not to them."
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lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2004, 10:52:06 AM »

Hey Krista.  Thanks!

Everybody in the history of writing roleplaying games has said that you really ought to make an exception for my game, because it's not like all the others.  Can I bring myself to say it too?

...Not quite.  Not out loud, not yet.

But I'll lead up to it with: what is it you hate about making characters?  

Might it actually be something you hate about conventional rpgs?  

If I were to offer you character creation that takes at most fifteen minutes at the table with no agonizing, plus five minutes more of solid, fun, group-engaged pre-play, what would you say?

-Vincent
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2004, 12:28:23 PM »

Quote from: Librisia
Playtesting:  I hate making characters.  Really.  Hate it.  So, if I'm going to take the (for me) huge amount of time and effort to play a character, I want to know that we're not going to just play for a few sessions and say, "Hey Vince, we playtested that for you. It was cool!"  and then never play again.  Brennan likes to diddle around and try things out.  If I'm going to go to the trouble of playing, it better be long term.  Like having ... well, nevermind, I might offend the moderators with that analogy.


And woe betide me, the game designer with the wife who hates new game mechanics.

ME: Hey, I just thought of a cool new game mechanic...

KRISTA: What was wrong with the old one?

ME: Nothing, but this one is new!

:)
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bluegargantua
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2004, 12:28:32 PM »

Quote from: lumpley

Everybody in the history of writing roleplaying games has said that you really ought to make an exception for my game, because it's not like all the others.  Can I bring myself to say it too?

...Not quite.  Not out loud, not yet.


  I will:  There's a lot of great stuff to sink your teeth into.  I mean, it's a roleplaying game so yeah, it's like every other RPG out there, but the core concept, the "what am I roleplaying" is really different.  

  The "Mormon" thing gets a lot of play here because that's the costume Vincent's muse currently wears and it's where he's coming from but check this out:

Quote
Dogs in the Vineyard is set in a fictionalized, fantasized frontier region, with demons, monsters, magic, and a supernaturally charged landscape. The PCs are like circuit preachers, missionaries and marshalls - they travel from congregation to congregation, holding the "vineyard" together both socially and spiritually. They're responsible for the faith of the communities they visit, which will often mean identifying, getting to the heart of, and resolving the sins of the community members.


  Change "frontier region" in the first sentence to "pre-statehood Utah" and that's the very first public description Vincent ever gave about Dogs.  Notice there's no mention of Mormons or Mormonism or anything like that.  Because he mentions Utah, you instinctively think "Mormon", but notice how the description could just as easily be any sort of charismatic religion.  I can imagine a game of Dogs set in the same "time period" but located "back East" based off of Christian Scientists.  You could even play a modern-day game based off the Yazidi in modern-day Iraq.  All you need is a fringe, but self-sustaining, religion that clashes with "normal" belief systems in the area and you're good to go.

  But that's just one half of it, the other half (and, to me, the really interesting bit) is this:

Quote
You know how usually the GM gets to have God as an NPC? Not in this game. In this game, you the player are responsible for your own PC's religious experiences, with some clearly defined mechanical options and no oversight from the GM or anybody. Which will mean that you're responsible for judging your character's righteousness, with a totally free hand and like I say no oversight. If you say that your character's conscience is clear, God agrees with you. If you say that your character has sinned, so he has, and you decide yourself if he can make amends and how.


  So there's this completely rigid religious framework, but you stand outside it and can completely break the rules and maybe it's OK and maybe not -- but you get to decide.  And that totally happened in the playtest I got to be in.  We said "yup, whole lotta sinning here, but we'll tell a few lies to cover it up because the truth will be pretty devastating to the community and that's even worse".  Lots of Big Decisions to make.

  I think that, when this goes public, the blurbs will play down the Mormon aspect and play up the "Spiritual Investigator" aspect.  I think it will be more accessible to people and they won't bring all their "Oh, it's a religious game about Mormons" to the table.

Tom
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Don't laugh, Larry would strike unseen from the shadows and Curly...well, Curly once toppled a dictatorship with the key from a Sardine tin.
Librisia
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2004, 01:44:31 PM »

See, you'd think after nearly 14 years of marriage, Brennan would have had the prescience to pitch me the game the way Tom just did.  

I'm a sucker for the supernatural roleplaying stuff, so saying, "them demons and angels and all that thar stuff is REAL in the game," would have made me jump on the bandwagon.

Brennan, didn't you learn anything from trying to get me to watch "Field of Dreams?"  Which, by the way, everyone, he described to me as a cool baseball film.  That wasn't the INTERESTING part of the movie.  The baseball stuff was just the vehicle.

I'll tell you why I don't like to make characters, Vincent.  I don't want to make any decisions when I'm trying to have fun.  In game it's okay, because those are important decisions for my character to make,  but having to make 10,000 minor decisions about what color underwear my character likes to wear on a Sunday just doesn't appeal to me anymore.  That's because I make all the decisions, every day about stupid crap, because AHEM someone is either too slow or won't make a decision about something.  I have decision-making overload.

If I could come up with a character concept,  wave my magic wand and say "Levitra!" and have the character fully formed on the sheet that would suit me just fine.  Then I probably wouldn't mind making characters so much.

Krista
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"Let me listen to me and not to them."
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2004, 08:17:44 AM »

Holy crap, V, you made exactly the character creation system Krista wants!

Krista, it's  all about writing down what's important for you, the player, to see in the character. That takes about 20 minutes the first time. Probably 10 if you've done it before and know what you want. Then the opening scene with your character, in which you finish (or don't) your training will probably take another 15 minutes.

It's half an hour of thinking about what your character's like and then wearing hir home from the character store.[/i]
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Librisia
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2004, 04:39:46 PM »

*childlike whine* But I have to understand the world for that first and it still means I have to THINK about it!

Seriously, it continues to sound more and more cool.  Especially what Emily said about the coats.  I promise I'll try it out some time soon.  

Right now I'm obssessed with this character for a Harry Potter campaign that I'm forcing Brennan to run this weekend.  I can't think about other characters right now.  It's all about her.  ;-)

Plus, I've got another character in Deadlands who's already doggy-sounding - except she's dead and not religious.  :-)

Krista
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"Let me listen to me and not to them."
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bluegargantua
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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2004, 06:03:14 AM »

Quote from: Librisia

Plus, I've got another character in Deadlands who's already doggy-sounding - except she's dead and not religious.  :-)


  OK, that's the coolest charcter concept EVAR!  (at least, so far)

  You were just some non-Faith schmuck who bit it and then rose from the dead.  You can't go back to your old life, but the local Branch took one look at you and said, "You're gonna be a Dog" and sent you off for training.

  Cause that's the way it works.  I don't know if you saw it, but basically, the Branch of a town keeps an eye out and when he sees someone he "knows" is going to be a Dog, well, they're going to be a Dog.  Usually this is some youngster in town, but it doesn't have to be.  It could be a shambling, undead horror.  Which will make for a whacky game, but hey...

  I had the idea to play a Jewish kid from New York whose parents died.  As an Orphan, he was adopted by a family of the Faith and rode the "Orphan Train" out west.  So there's this Jewish kid with a New York accent and the Branch says "Hey, you're gonna be a Dog!" and the kid's like "What?" and then he's a Dog, with only d4's in Church, but d6's in Jewish.  

heh
Tom
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The Three Stooges ran better black ops.

Don't laugh, Larry would strike unseen from the shadows and Curly...well, Curly once toppled a dictatorship with the key from a Sardine tin.
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