How I wrote City of Judas (part six)
Again about the design process of City of Judas. I’d love to hear your opinions – as fellow game designers and as players as well.
First part (intro and inspiration): https://plus.google.com/+DavidePignedoli/posts/EzYVbYncPhT
Second part (starting to design the game): https://plus.google.com/+DavidePignedoli/posts/iMSHo8Cjqat
Third part (playbooks, counters, and moves): https://plus.google.com/+DavidePignedoli/posts/PDjiV3RU5Dp
Fourth part (about the number of moves, and about accepting good advice): https://plus.google.com/+DavidePignedoli/posts/5ZL2cUBMaoz
Fifth part (about the setting in general): https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DavidePignedoli/posts/BriT4AN3REj
Today we’re in for a sensitive subject.
The manual contains a clear disclaimer that warns the reader about how it deals with religion, and a sensitive pairing such as religion and violence. For some reason, there’s always someone that feels like it’s perfectly fine to crawl into a dungeon and kill goblins or kobolds to loot their treasures, but they grow uncomfortable if religion is also thrown into the game.
Armed robbery and murder are fine; but keep god (or God) out of the equation 🙂
Now, I believe the majority of the players don’t have any problem to deal with how City of Judas presents religion: as a piece of fiction that is used to give color to a certain type of gaming and adventures. It’s this kind of people that I guess would buy the game, so these are the people I’m addressing. If someone is offended by the game, I guess he just won’t buy it; there’s enough in the preview to drive off potential “offended” customers.
I feel like the entire setting is built with a decent balance: there’s an almost real Church of Christ, and a totally imaginary Cult of Judas. Actually, even though they appear as “religions”, the manual clearly presents them as “political” elements: the Church of Christ is a symbol of stability; the Cult of Judas is a revolutionary force (in a relative modern prospective).
The combination of a realistic Christian church, paired with an absolutely fictional Judaist cult, I think puts also the former into a different light.
In other words, when playing City of Judas, the strong fictional charge of the cult of Judas makes also the Christian church somehow “less real”. If this happens in your game, that’s fine; City of Judas is about an alternative, fantasy history, not about the real history of the crusades. This fictional space is supposed to give you the freedom to explore these sensitive topics without feeling restrained: you’re not talking about a “real” religion, even for the Christians, but about something made of imagination (mostly…).
How did you feel dealing with them in your games? Did you feel uncomfortable to have perhaps to describe one (or both, more likely) as organizations with their own agendas, which often aim to something more than religious goals?
Did you have trouble when those cults were associated with violence, greed, betrayal? Or did they instead (as I hope)served as powerful leverage to push your stories forward?