This page is a partial answer to an extended letter on another page, Difficult Questions:  Christian Life and Role Playing Games.  The reader may wish to refer to that page for a better understanding of the background of this one.  This is the third page of answers.

  Being a witness to others requires that your own life be a shining light; of course I just said that.  But it leads to the third question, too.

  "P. S. How would you recommend putting my faith into the game as I play to be a light to my friends? This of course would be after I found my way back. Thanks again."

Your contribution via
PayPal Me
keeps this site and its author alive.
Thank you.

  There are a lot of ways that can be done, many of them depending on you, your character, the game setting, the other players, the DM, and much more.  It begins with character creation, I think.  But I'll give a couple of examples.

  I played a kensai, lawful good with the emphasis strongly on the lawful (he frequently made it clear that he would kill a party member whose actions put the party at risk, although he never had to do so).  When I designed him, I listed his religion as "seeker of the truth", and soon connected him to the temple of Chung Kuel, Chinese god of truth and testing.  As such, he always sought to learn and follow high moral and spiritual principles.

  I played a cavalier, neutral good, who chose to be a follower of Odin.  C. S. Lewis once called the Norse religion the most noble of all, since the evil giants will beat the good gods in the end, but we are on the side of the gods.  He (my cavalier) spoke openly of his faith and his commitment to good; but he did more than that.  On one occasion, in the depth of winter, he took several thousand gold coins--about half of all he then had--and arranged with the local innkeeper to hold a huge feast and invite all of the poor in the region.  They hired unemployed workers to help prepare and serve the food, bought game from hunters, and spread the word that the poor and hungry would be fed; they even arranged to have a wagon take food to those unable to reach the feast for reason of infirmity.  No sooner had he begun this but the other player characters began to take part as well, contributing their gold and their time and abilities to making it a reality.  Several players who had been playing for years, including the DM who had been playing longer than I, said that they had never seen anyone so clearly express the principles of a good alignment.

  I ran an NPC shukenja, chaotic good, whose primary influence came from words of wisdom he espoused, and the care he took to meet the needs of friends and strangers, and sometimes even enemies.

  I played a chaotic neutral attorney, who for the brief time I had to run him was dedicated to the protection of the rights of individuals against the oppressions of the government or other individuals.  He made it clear that chaos was a principle in which one could believe, and expressed that in a clearly defined way.  Granted, he was not the best example of the gospel; yet he was a exemplary of some of its principles.

  In Multiverser, I play myself.  This gives me the best opportunity to express my faith; it also has helped me understand it better.  Wherever my character goes, he seeks to understand why God has brought him there, and to do what needs to be done.  At one time, he landed in a White Wolf world, and quickly joined the hunters against the vams.  While there, he learned that he could focus his faith through the words of scripture to work miracles, and that he could also bring groups together to oppose evil and learn to love each other.  As I considered what he was able to do in the realm of fantasy, I began to understand a bit better what I was able to do in reality.

  I've begun with things I've done as a player, because someone once suggested to me that only the DM could make a difference in the spiritual context of the game.  That's not true, and I think my examples demonstrate this.  However, it is certainly true that the referee has more influence than any player, perhaps than all players combined, and there are a number of ways in which he can bring his faith to bear in the game world.

  First, if he's playing a game in which characters are required to declare their philosophical position, such as Dungeons & Dragons (alignment), he can force players to consider the implications of those positions, and penalize anyone who breaches their commitment.  If you want help with that, Gary Gygax was very impressed with my work on alignment, both on the Character Creation site where alignment is explained and defined in some detail, and in my Alignment Quiz, which gives players the opportunity to understand and refine their character alignments both by taking the quiz and by understanding the results.  Even if the characters don't have such restrictions on their conduct (and especially if they do), the referee should always make them aware that conduct has consequences.  Those who do extraordinary good deeds will be loved, respected, trusted, and supported not only by those close to them but more and more by the masses.  Do you not think that when my cavalier fed the poor and hungry, it didn't win him many friends and open doors to him which would not have opened otherwise?  At the same time, those who are consistently evil, even if merely selfish and self-serving, will gradually build a reputation.  Even those close to them will be cautious and distrustful, and others may be openly hostile.  Someone has observed that when an evil party is returning from an adventure, their numbers reduce as they get closer to home.  Anyone who goes to sleep once he's no longer needed is likely not to awaken--and there is no reason why the only one who makes it back to camp has to be a player character.  Those who leave a wake of destruction and misery in their path will attract the attention of very powerful forces of good--and although I had observed it myself, Mr. Gygax has confirmed that AD&D at least recognizes that the forces of good are a lot more powerful than the forces of evil.  You and I are convinced that the world is so constituted; our fantasy realms should be as well.

  There are many other things the referee can do.  He has complete control over the definition of the supernatural realm in most games, and can use that to bring fragments of the truth into the fiction.  And I would suggest that the supernatural realm of a game can (must) contain much that is Christian, even without containing the gospel, the name of Christ, or other basic aspects of our faith.  (If you don't believe that, go back and read the works of Tolkien, where many Christian ideas infiltrate the story and the thinking of the readers often without being noticed.)  He creates the possible, the adventures which can be, and controls the majority of characters in the game; through them, he has the power to express the values and principles he considers important for characters--and players--to learn.  He can create situations in which players are forced to make moral judgments concerning how their characters will act, and so to come to grips with the moral principles which govern their lives and those of their characters.

  There is much that can be done, but each player and referee must learn how to express his faith in his game in very much the same way that each must learn to express his faith in life.  In fact, in many ways the role playing experience is an opportunity to make the mistakes which one would not dare make in life, and to learn the consequences without truly suffering them.  It can be a proving ground for your faith, a place to test good and evil and show the results, to express your faith to believers and unbelievers alike, and to create opportunities to discuss why you see the game--and the world--the way you do.

  Those are some ideas; I hope they help.  I'd love to hear any more that come to you.  Meanwhile, I've finished your letter; if you've any more questions, let me know.

Back to the previous answer

Back to the full letter text

No next answer

Back to the letters index

To Mark J. Young's Bible Study Materials

Read about the Multiverser role playing game--accused by some critics of being "too Christian".

Books by the Author