I was in a conversation recently about how Game Masters manage factions—how do you track their activities and relationships? I use a technique of mind mapping. If you’ve never heard this term, a mind map is a drawing that abstracts the relationships between people, organizations, nations, etc into a spatial diagram. It can look similar to a flowchart, but it doesn’t necessarily progress to an end point. Here’s a sample of a map I used for planning a long-ago Unknown Armies campaign:
The Christian Gamers Guild is not alone in our efforts to build faith communities among the geek sub-cultures. Numerous other organizations, ministries, and individuals are also doing valuable and powerful work among Trekkies, roleplayers, cosplayers, video gamers, and many other segments. As the nature of Internet communities is to change constantly, we’ll try to continue updating and republishing this list twice a year to keep it fresh.
This time around, it’s categorized by type so you can more easily find the kinds of groups and ministers you’re interested in. Some entries fall into multiple entries, of course, so I’ll try to put them in their most salient category, with a note about other things they do.
Although several of these organizations produce (or are) products, the Christian Gamers Guild does not endorse any of them, in accordance with our policy to neither condemn nor endorse any particular game product (and by extension, any other organization, ministry or service). If you have any questions about the appropriateness of any product for yourself, your family, or your gaming group, it is up to you to investigate and decide. Read more
Today happens to be the fifth Tuesday of April, and that actually creates a hole in our article schedule.
I write two series, the Faith in Play series that appears on the first Tuesday of every month, and the RPG-ology series that runs the third week. Other members of the Christian Gamers Guild typically fill the second and fourth weeks, most notably Mike Garcia with his game stories and special rules and setting information, but we’ve also had quite a few contributions from R. C. Brooks and his D20 game setting, guild board member Eric Vandenhende, guild president Reverend Rodney Barnes, and our webmaster Bryan Ray. They all have real-world jobs, though, so it’s understandable that they don’t keep pace with someone who spends nearly all his time writing and reading things others have written. It thus sometimes happens that there’s nothing to post.
I’m writing this not merely to fill a slot that would otherwise have been empty, but to recognize—and to get you to recognize—that we welcome contributions from other writers. We had a wonderful piece at the end of last month from Stephen Taylor, not a member of the guild but head of Games for All in the United Kingdom, about how to launch and run a games or hobby ministry. We would love to have more perspectives on more related subjects from more Christians, and if you have something to say about faith and leisure activities, and don’t know where to say it, the invitation is extended to you to give us your idea here and we’ll try to slate you into one of our openings.
Probably the easiest way to let us know you’re interested is to post a comment at the bottom of this page; we’ll see that you commented, and follow up somehow. You can also reach either Bryan or me through Facebook, such as messaging the Christian Gamers Guild’s Facebook page or contacting us personally.
I look forward to reading your thoughts, and I’m sure our many readers do so as well.
This is the backstory for a character in my house rules game. It’s much more detailed that the average backstory, but then a character with a name like Yolo Swaggins, Master of Swag End, demands some explanation.
In a hole in the ground there lives a hobbit er, hafling*. It is a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell; he could only wish it was a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it rotting or molding: it was a halfling-hole, which should have meant comfort. But it didn’t. It had a warped round door like a porthole, painted with peeling green paint, with a once shiny brass knob mostly in the middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a once comfortable tunnel, with crumbling paneled walls, now stained with water marks, and floors of broken tile and moldy carpet, strewn with decrepit furniture, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats—though the halfling hated visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, meandering randomly into the side of the hill—The Hill, as all the people living there called it (though that didn’t really distinguish it from the other hills nearby as those residents referred to their hill as The Hill too)—and many little round doors, all in better shape than this one, opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the halfling: empty bedrooms, dirty bathrooms, damp cellars, moldy pantries (lots of these, though sadly there was little in any of them), musty wardrobes, counting rooms (he had whole empty rooms devoted to counting and storing his non-existent wealth), dirty kitchens, dim dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms, which is not saying much, were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows which at least let in the light, through deep-set round windows looking over his weedy garden and beyond, sloping down to the mere pond. Read more
Where is the holy spirit moving in your life? In church? House groups? Your personal prayer time? I hope so, these are where you expect His presence. Bringing people together, giving them life and pointing them towards the truth of the Good News and Jesus. Now think about hobbies. They do two of the three. I firmly believe that God has brought us together through our hobbies and is just waiting for the right person to come along and make the links between scripture and the task you’re all enjoying. Is that person you?
It sounds like a big ask, like it’s something that you need a theology degree and years of training to achieve. But that’s the thing: It’s actually really simple. All you need to do is build friendships with people and wear your Christianity on your sleeve. This is called building relational ministry. The teaching can come later. It is important, but it’s not what’s needed to start with.
Going out into the world and meeting new people is called mission, which seems an odd word until you realise it’s what Jesus told us to do; it’s literally our mission.
He said to them, “Go into all the world. Preach the good news to everyone.” — Mark 16:15 NIRV
Many churches take that phrase of “preach the good news to everyone” and use that as the baseline to begin their mission from. How many events have you been to where the phrase ‘Can we just stop there for a second whilst we have our reading’ has been said? To some people if an event doesn’t have this then it’s not a church event. And to be fair, in the past when Christianity was more, for want of a better word, powerful in the West it did work. But it ignores how society has changed over the past years. We live in a world of fake news where people don’t trust experts or establishments any more. Instead they trust people they know, people whom they respect and are friends with. Those they have an existing relationship with.
I have found that mission works best when taken as a series of steps. Read more
An updated list was republished on August 27, and is available here: http://christian-gamers-guild.org/wp/blog/admin/our-friends-and-allies-2/
This article will remain at this address for the purposes of maintaining incoming links, but much of the information available here has been obviated or changed, and I encourage you to check the more recent article.
The Christian Gamers Guild is not alone in our efforts to build faith communities among the geek sub-cultures. Numerous other organizations, ministries, and individuals are also doing valuable and powerful work among Trekkies, roleplayers, cosplayers, video gamers, and many other segments. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are a few people we think you should get to know!
Editor’s note: Where possible I’ve paraphrased what each group has to say about itself, replacing all the “we” language with “they.” I don’t know why I’m putting this in an Editor’s note, since the author and the editor are the same person, but whatever…
And some errata: Geekdom House has split off their publishing arm into Mythos & Ink in order to comply with Canadian non-profit law. GH itself is retooling a bit, and we’ll know more about what they’re becoming in a few weeks, I guess. I am also adding some other groups that I overlooked initially. They’re all at the top of the article, so if you’re just looking for the updates, start here!
Although several of these organizations produce (or are) products, the Christian Gamers Guild does not endorse any of them, in accordance with our policy to neither condemn nor endorse any particular game product. If you have any questions about the appropriateness of any product for yourself, your family, or your gaming group, it is up to you to investigate and decide.
Gaming 2 Give unites players everywhere through gaming marathon fundraisers that provide scholarships, mentoring, internships and more to single moms and their children!
Gaming 2 Give is a 12-Hour Virtual Gaming Event that will take place on 12/7/19 at 12 pm-12 am EST.
Funds are used to focus on the economic empowerment of single mothers between the ages of 18 and 35, by lifting them from poverty to professionalism. They identify barriers that hinder single moms from success and remove them by creating practical solutions
centered around career coaching, mentoring, scholarships, financial literacy, and on-the-job training through paid internships.
ChristGames.org is a Christian game development organization on the Internet devoted to teaching you how to make family friendly video games. If you have ever wanted to make a game, but were not sure where to start, then you have come to the right place. They will teach you every part of the industry, from design, to programming, and even to marketing and distribution. They are a community of like minded people serving the risen lord wanting to help you succeed in your dreams of becoming a faithful game developer!
The Nerdy-Gritty is a podcast a weekly discussion where pastors Dez and Fox delve deep into the details of pop-culture! Comics, movies, video games… even YouTube itself! Everything is up for grabs when Dez and Fox start spewing their opinions. They have a YouTube channel, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
The Grave Robbers reach out to the Goth community with the love of Jesus Christ. They provide an exciting and God honoring environment to connect with other Christian Goths around the world and help our Goth brothers and sisters to grow spiritually in their walk with Christ. They are God’s Night Watch.
Gaming Rogue is providing news, tips, events, and gaming deals for the gaming community. And occasionally slipping some Scripture into the feed.
The Gaming Chaplain is a Twitch streamer playing both video games and table top RPGs, with the hope of expanding into miniatures.
The Christians Discord group is a safe place for humor, fellowship, praise, prayer and active mobile, console, and PC gaming. Not a gamer? No problem; join for the fellowship.
Camping Grounds is a game studio ministry that focuses on making fast pace visual novels of praise and worship.
Cactus Game Design publishes a variety of Christian-themed games and toys, including Solomon’s Temple and the Redemption Collectible Card Game.
The Bridge is a Facebook group for those who bridge Christianity and Fandom. It took over from where Fans for Christ left off a couple of years ago.
God Loves the Freaks is a book that points to a serious issue facing the church today – reaching out to subcultures and those who are considered the freaks of society. Stephen Weese paints a vision of a church living by grace, in unity; without the legalism that divides and causes us to shun others based on outward appearance. God looks at the heart and he loves everyone, including the freaks. If God loves the freaks, shouldn’t the church as well?
City on a Hill Gaming is a 5th edition D&D actual play podcast. They looked in vain for a family-friendly actual play and couldn’t find one, so they made their own!
Deliverance is an epic “Christian Fantasy” Boardgame Adventure that features Angels vs Demons in a cooperative tactical dungeon crawler for 1-4 players. And yes, it 100% fits within the Biblical narrative while being a fantasy game! It’s not available yet (as of 2/4/2019), but there’s a Kickstarter campaign starting up soon, and there’s a Facebook group to follow for news and playtesting opportunities.
Costumers for Christ: Mild-mannered minister by day, Scott Bayles and his family are active costumers and comic-collectors who share the message of Christ through comics and cosplay. There’s also a Facebook page and associated group and Scott has written a book entitled Holy Heroes: The Gospel According to DC and Marvel.
Dungeon Master Pastor is a blog where Pastor meets Dungeon Master, and following Jesus meets tabletop fantasy role playing. As baptized children of God, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. One of those things happens to be: Play Dungeons & Dragons like a boss. They run an annual Pastors & Dungeons Retreat where, with a mixture of gaming, learning, and Sabbath rest, ministers will explore the connections between life, ministry, and the world’s greatest roleplaying game.
Chara Games designs and publishes innovative and fun tabletop games with Christian themes. They want to help you, your family, and your friends find joy through the relationships built around the games they publish.
Geeks Under Grace wants to Educate Christians on how to safely consume pop culture, Evangelize geeks with the message of the Gospel, Equip Christians and churches to reach geeks with the Gospel, and Encourage Christians as they grow into a deeper relationship with Christ. They have articles and reviews about video games, board games, rpgs, television, movies, comics, music, anime, and Christian life.
Geekdom House exists to love and serve nerds and geeks by making a creative contribution to the culture and encouraging, fostering, and facilitating deeper community through discussion and support. They also desire to provide the space and opportunity for those seeking excellence within those sub-cultures to hone and perfect their craft and to give them the tools and encouragement needed to graft their love of geekery into all aspects of their life.
The Aetherlight is a swashbuckling steampunk action-adventure game based on the greatest story ever told! Astute players will recognise echoes with the epic story of the Bible at key points: characters, major plot shifts, life lessons, and personal encounters. The Aetherlight is a story as old as time, reimagined for a digital age.
Mighty Grace Positive Gaming reaches out to video gamers through various media, shares the message of Jesus Christ, creates a positive encouraging community, facilitates spiritual growth and wellness with people. They have a very exciting personal support and counseling service for gamers available in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese. That is in addition to convention and local game store ministry, streaming, and game reviews.
The Holy Lands RPG is an expressly Christian high-fantasy tabletop RPG. Real Christianity is the fundamental faith of the character, not some allegorical fantasy faith in a polytheistic (multi-god) world. The character believes in, proclaims, and fights for God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the real message of eternal salvation.
The Christian Game Developers Conference is a unique event, focused around encouraging and edifying those who are interested in both making games and glorifying God. The conference is three days of talks, workshops, and fellowship, fellowship, fellowship. Come prepared to show what you are working on, and to encourage others in their projects and be inspired.
Mythos & Ink is a small press with a passion for publishing great stories and the community built around them. Keep an eye on them for their upcoming podcast The Wayfarer’s Guide to Worldbuilding.
Innroads Ministries is the umbrella organization for the Game Store Prophets and Bard and Bible podcasts. They have a number of articles about ministering through tabletop games, both roleplaying and board games, and how to bring your faith to bear on your hobby. Check out their Facebook group The Tavern to interact with them. That’s not the whole of their efforts, though! Check out their What We Do page for more information.
Saving the Game is a podcast at the intersection of faith in Christ, tabletop roleplaying games, and collaborative storytelling. They provide resources for Christian gamers, and in their own way they aim to close the gap between non-gaming Christians and non-Christian gamers. They have a Discord channel, where you can chat with them and their other listeners.
Love Thy Nerd wants to speak redemption, hope, truth, and love into the parts of nerd culture that have often been alienated, demonized, dismissed, or simply ignored by Christians. They also want to educate Christians on the value of nerd culture and how we can love our nerdy neighbors better. They minister at conventions; host articles on comics, video games, roleplaying, film, and more; and host three pocasts: Humans of Gaming, Free Play, and The Pull List. Interact with them in their Facebook community.
Geek@Arms is a podcast at the crossroads of geek culture and Christian faith. Your humble editor is one of the hosts. We discuss comics, sci-fi, fantasy, historical swordsmanship, video games, medieval reenactment, tabletop gaming, and more.
The Geekpreacher, Derek White, is a United Methodist pastor who not only serves his own church, but also ministers at several gaming conventions, including serving as the chaplain for Gary Con. He realizes that geeks need a pastor too and tries his best to share faith and spirituality in a way that complements geek culture.
On the Min/Max Podcast, two seminarians and a photographer explore the intersection of gaming, nerd culture, and theology.
Cardboard Koinonia brings people together in fellowship to foster relationships, and build community across cultural, social, and generational divides using games. They run Family Game Nights in which they invite people from all walks of life around a board game table. They have a Facebook group.
Redeemed Otaku is a podcast about anime for the Christian consumer. Reviews, discussion, recommendations on old and new and rarely covered anime from a Christian worldview.
Wild East Games makes board games and is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Brian and Jill Bollinger. Brian is a pastor, and his personal testimony is prominent on the company web-site. Geeky polymaths, they also operate Bollinger Edgerly Scale Trains, which sells model train kits and building supplies, and tickcomics.com, a guide to collecting Tick comic books.
The purpose for Gaming and God is to bridge the gap between the pastime that is playing video games to scripture, biblical values and life lessons that we can use daily.
The podcast 1 Geek 411 is the brain child of friends Cameron Franklin and Chris Nicolay. Cameron and Chris met at Oklahoma Christian where they bonded over ultimate, video games, and Magic: The Gathering. They began discussing social norms and questioning why it’s okay to watch sports for hours a day but then geeks and nerds are questioned about playing video games or their other activities for hours. As a result 1 Geek 411 was born.
The Nerd Chapel is committed to being a bridge between the Body of Christ and nerds/geeks/gamers who are interested in exploring the Bible and Jesus. We also want to be a resource for Christian nerds of all sizes.
Gamechurch is a non-profit dedicated to bringing the message of Jesus’ love, hope, and acceptance into the culture of video games.
Faith & Fandom is a book series of devotional essays on faith & geek culture. There are 5 volumes out now, plus a kids edition! They also do podcasts, art, panels, apparel, memes, and Comic Con life in general. They travel to roughly 28 comicons a year in the south east and also have a podcast series and a video series.
Games For All is a blog by Stephen Taylor, who wants to help you discover your character and skills for life through gaming. And give you pointers to help your children/partners/friends do so to. For parents in particular he hopes this blog will give you an insight into what on Earth your children are talking about when they discuss their gaming hobby, and perhaps give you some alternative games to suggest when they want one that makes you feel uncomfortable to buy them.
ScreenFish is where faith and film are intertwined, creating a place for dialogue and discussion on the latest in film, tv and movies.
Open Table Ministries puts on strategy game nights three Saturdays per month in Kettering, Ohio.
Christian Geek Central exists to equip, encourage and inspire Christian geeks of all kinds to live more and more for Christ. To this end, they’ve made it their goal to be both a gateway to, and creator of, the highest quality entertainment and resources on the web that they believe will be of special interest to Christian geeks. In addition, Christian Geek Central is an active and growing community of Christian geeks who come together to both celebrate and examine their favorite hobbies from a biblical perspective. They host a podcast network, including: Christian Geek Central, Untold, Strangers and Aliens, Theology Gaming, POS TOS, Helix Reviews, and Retro Rewind. And if that weren’t enough, they also have a forum!
The Pop Culture Coream Deo Podcast examines the artifacts of pop culture in light of God’s self-revelation.
And finally, what about us? The Christian Gamers Guild is a community of Christian gamers that has been working to explain roleplaying to Christians and Christianity to roleplayers since 1996. Joining the Guild is as simple as joining our email discussion list, which is the core of our ministry. In addition to the discussion list and the articles on this web-site, we also organize and host worship services and panels at a few gaming conventions each year, and CGG members are frequently in attendance at many other cons, regardless of whether the Guild itself has an event scheduled. We have a few branded items in our Store, if you want to show your allegiance, or you can make your own using the materials available in the publicity package.
Phew! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can find your sisters and brothers in Christ all over the place, at conventions, in games, and on Twitter. And whoever you meet and game with, whether they’re a believer or not, remember to extend the love of Christ to everyone!
Another Beckett Family adventure in the Northumbrian frontier. These events occur during the down-time between the family’s investigations into the ruined Temple of Pholtus.
Lord Balin had tasked the Becketts with learning the whereabouts of his missing provost. They interviewed various people in the village of Lakesend while some of their number were healing and training.
Cast of Characters
Most of the party members are part of one large extended family—the noble Beckett family. A few are retainers
Granny Beckett: Witch. Eccentric matriarch of the family.
Lord Roger Beckett: Ranger. New family head.
Sir Raynard Beckett: Cavalier. Handsome and witty.
Daniel Beckett: Assassin. Passionate and protective.
Brother Lewie: Cleric of St. Cuthbert. Erratic but insightful.
Raymond Beckett: Fighter. Stoic and responsible. (NPC)
Rayner Beckett: Thief. Bastard half-brother to Raymond.
Marin: Young scout and skiff pilot. Recently taken in by Granny.
Lord Roger pressed upon his kin the need to complete the task that Lord Balin had given them: To find his missing provost, Master Kevan. With the Keep preparing for siege, the man was sorely missed. Over dinner, the family reviewed what they had found thus far.
Master Kevan is not the only villager that has gone missing. Jehan the shepherd had disappeared first, and Hammond the shepherd later disappeared (the family was currently occupying their cottages and watching their flocks on the hillside). There was no trace of these two men.
Gunnar the smith had his two apprentices, Tormad and Arn, go missing, and while some villagers whispered that he murdered them or that the teens had drunk too much and drowned, the smith swore that the two were doing late night chores out back when they vanished.
Though it may not have been related, a week or so earlier, several villagers reported seeing a large man-sized creature with bat wings flying over the village. No one could give a good description, saying that they caught a quick glimpse through the trees as it flew in front of the moon. Conclusions varied wildly, but most suspected that a vampire was kidnapping and feeding on the villagers.
One man, named Egil, who once lived on the cliffs overlooking the swamp, claimed that some mysterious group had seized his son, Erland. In a panic, he fled to the village, where he sought passage on a ship heading south to Yarrvick. He claimed that this secretive group had infiltrated the village, and, fearing to be seen, he did not feel safe in booking passage. Instead he hid, with the aid of the baronial falconer, Frederick. The falconer had allowed him to stay in an unused shack of his in the poorest part of the village. Unfortunately, that shack burned to the ground in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. Roger had sifted through the ashes the following morning and found a hastily scrawled letter that the man presumably buried. In it, he claimed that the secretive group had found him and was coming for him. He mentioned markings on their faces. Apparently his attempt to use fire to keep them away caused his own immolation. Either that or he was insane.
I write this only to calm my nerves. It has been seven days since I left home. When they dragged away Erland, all light went out of my soul. I wanted to die, but panic took hold of me. Unfortunately, panic drives away reason, and I fled without significant coin. I must book passage southwards, away from this nightmare-infested land, but I have little coin or even shelter.
Frederick took pity on me, kindly soul. He remembered visiting my homestead on the cliffs, years earlier, where he used to train his birds. He arranged to let me stay in this tiny cottage for the next few days, rent-free. That should be long enough to book passage. They won’t think to look for me in this tiny, dusty hovel.
Terrors in the night! I am not safe, even here. I do not think they saw me, for if they had I would certainly share my son’s fate. There are more than I suspected though, even here in the village. They move about by night.
I made a try for the docks today, hoping to sell my services to a guildsman, but I know now that I am trapped! Twice along the way did I see villagers with those telltale marks. They know I am here! I see it in their eyes! I fled back to this dark hovel. The docks are being watched. I know it now. How to book ship with no coin and also avoid detection? Without Erland to provide for me, I shall perish alone in this dirty hut. I fear to go about by day lest I be discovered, but the night brings its own horrors. Damnable misery!
I awoke with a start. They are creeping about outside…
I can hear them whispering in the dark… Lighting the lamp was probably a mistake, but fear has taken the reins. Perhaps fire will drive them off! Need more than an oil lamp though. An old bulls-eye lantern may do! Celestian’s mercy—the previous occupant left one, along with plenty of oil. If they come for me, I shall show them such a blaze that they will slink back to the shadows!
Adela Farmer, the village gossip, mentioned that several villagers had changed their ways recently and without explanation, though the expected siege may well explain everything. She mentioned that several villagers no longer went out by day, staying in their homes with shutters and doors locked. She mentioned Felden the tailor, Hurlen the farmer, Ulfias the farmer, and Torstein the old pilot as examples. She was also leery of two men that seemed to be squatting in the newly constructed village hall. Another village gossip, Emma Mason, confirmed what Adela said and added that William Wainwright and his family never come outdoors anymore. She also mentioned that William Wainwright and Felden Tailor had come down with some sort of disfiguring skin malady.
Rayner had spied on the two men in the village hall one evening, a few weeks ago, but his attempt to follow them failed. In a conversation with Lord Melias, he seemed to dismiss them as potential problems. He did share, however, that he feared that a secret group existed within the village. He was worried that such a group might serve as a fifth column during a siege, and he wished to root it out. He suspected Felden the tailor, the two merchants at the village trading post (Dagonet and Arnauld), two newcomers staying at the Welcome Wench, a wandering ‘peddler’ at the Welcome Wench, and the entire band of Pholtan pilgrims that had recently arrived in the village. He shared that the pilgrims had been seen poring over a map in the Welcome Wench, making secret plans, often in the reserved room in the back, presumably to keep away from prying eyes.
As for Torstein the pilot, Brother Lewie learned that this old man, who had ferried people up and down the length of the lake for decades, had stopped working just months prior. His young daughter, Marin, was trying to keep the business alive. Brother Lewie found her near the docks, and she shared that her father was very ill. She mentioned that he had come down with some ailment in recent months and could no longer work. Granny paid him a visit, going to his small cabin on a small island in the lake. She found him rather delirious, short of breath, and sweating profusely. His face was marked with grayish patches and blisters. At first she feared plague, but she eventually ruled this out. Granny questioned Marin at length, and eventually she noted that her father became ill soon after he stopped attending the gatherings on the hillside. Apparently, he had been one of a small group of devotees to Celestian. His small group of astrologers, mystics, navigators, and pilots had met occasionally over the years, especially on days of the new moon or during lunar eclipses. However, Marin shared that her father grew disenchanted with the group when eastern astrologers began to join the group in growing numbers, changing the group’s traditions and exerting control over its members. He eventually left the group after having words with such men. Granny spoke with the old man briefly, giving him herbs to restore him a bit. He seemed to have trouble answering any questions about that group or the eastern astrologers that came to dominate it. On two later occasions, Granny tried other herbs, but nothing seemed to restore his vitality. He died during her last visit, and Marin—destitute and in danger of starving—had taken service with the Becketts soon after.
Wymund the weaver reported that he heard and saw things scurrying around in the darkness around his house at night—things larger than animals and perhaps men, though he could not be sure. He asked Reince the woodcutter to clear the trees from around his home, but the woodcutter never showed up to do the work so he eventually did it himself. This seemed to do the trick, for he thereafter had a clear view of anything that approached his home, and the sightings and sounds ceased. In the course of conversation, he mentioned that other folk in the village seemed strange of late, and Felden the tailor’s name came up again, as did Hurlen the farmer and Ulfius the farmer. He also noted that Galiena the spinster had grown ill with some strange ailment.
Sir Raynard, Granny and Brother Lewie visited Galiena and found her in a terrible state, sweating profusely and writhing in pain. Sir Raynard pointed out that her skin was marred with small pustules, blisters, and gray patches. Her face and neck were a patchwork of scars and bleeding cuts. Brother Lewie did his best to revive her and ease her pain, and for few minutes she seemed more lucid. In response to their questions, she mentioned that ‘terrible things had arrived in the village about a year ago’ to control them through pain. She screamed that things were alive and crawling about inside her head, and she clawed at her skin repeatedly. They noticed her bloody knitting needles by the bed. As she spoke, she seemed to convulse in pain whenever she tried to give answers that related the recent events. After several agonizing minutes, despite the efforts of Brother Lewie, the spinster died before their eyes. Before she left, Granny noticed that the wooden shutters on one window had been knocked off their hinges.
Father Godfrey sent an acolyte to Lord Roger to report on his investigation of the body of the unknown wounded man that had died on the hillside, perhaps coming from the ruined temple of Pholtus. He and his assistants had discovered thousands of tiny worms in the corpse. They found these almost imperceptible worms in almost every piece of tissue that they cut from his body, whether it was near a wound or not. They saved a few tissue samples and then burned the corpse for fear of some new plague.
There was much discussion on how all this might connect, but there was no sign of the provost. Like the two shepherds and the smiths’ two apprentices, he was gone without a trace. The fat, jovial and ever-sweating merchant, Master Arnauld, advised Sir Raynard that he should stay indoors at night, as everything nefarious or mysterious seemed to transpire after dark.
Unsure of how to continue, the family eventually decided to speak with the woodcutter, whom the weaver described as acting strangely. Reyner, Roger, and Sir Raynard walked through the muddy streets of the village, crossing the algae covered wooden span of the west bridge. Two Baronial guardsman and a tax collector talked quietly under a large willow tree nearby. Not far beyond the bridge, they spied the woodcutter’s home. It sat far back off the road, partially obscured by several large trees and many lush green bushes. They knocked on the door to no avail, and Reyner noted that he heard noises inside. Eventually, they heard a moan, as if someone were in agony. Questioning the legality of what they were about to do, they nonetheless pushed to open the door. It was locked, and Reyner went around back, only to find that door locked too. Eventually Raynard put his shoulder to the front door and knocked it off its hinges. Inside they found several children lying on the floor, semi-conscious and writhing in pain. In a bedroom, they found a disheveled woman writhing and groaning on the stuffed mattress. They sought to aid her, but she was delirious. Realizing that they needed help, they sent Reyner running back to fetch Brother Lewie or any of the clerics.
The young man sprinted out of the house and down the path. Only seconds later, without quite knowing why, he slid to a halt. Just then, a burly woodsman lunged at him from behind a broad oak tree, wielding a long axe. The bearded woodsman rushed him, but Reyner had the wherewithal to slip away, running back to the house screaming for help. Twenty yards away, Sir Raynald drew his sword and rushed out to meet the oncoming woodsman. When the woodcutter ignored all shouts and pleas, the knight struck him with the pommel of his sword, stunning him for a second, but the crazed man suddenly struck back and hit Sir Raynard in the ribs with the axe. Furious, the Frangian knight grabbed the muscular woodcutter and threw him to the ground, wrenching his arm behind his back and driving it into the ground. Reyner heard an audible snap, and the man wailed. The young Beckett jumped in and wrapped himself around the man’s ankles so that he could not rise. Roger, with bow drawn and arrow nocked, shouted for the Baronial guardsmen about a hundred yards away, near the wooden bridge that leads into the village.
One guardsman came running and helped to secure the scene, allowing Reyner to go to the Shrine to get Father Godfrey. Though the vicar seemed busy, he and a few of his novices came immediately. It took more than half of an hour to fetch them and to return, but the vicar wasted no time once he arrived. He and his men checked on the woman and children. The guardsman followed Father Godfrey’s lead, and the PCs and the acolytes of Cuthbert took the family to the Keep by means of a wagon.
As they left the Keep, Roger muttered under his breath to Raynard, “You did not have to break the man’s arm”.
“Easy for you to say”, the knight snapped. “Your every breath does not feel like a dagger in your side, ” he continued, holding his ribs.
Roger grinned widely, continuing to chide, “I just point out that he was already restrained…”
“Well what if he broke loose?” replied Raynard flatly, glaring at his brother as they walked.
Roger laughed again and smacked his brother on the back.
“Bloody bastard! That hurts!” yelled Raynard. “Get away from me!,” he muttered, still wincing.
Laughing, Roger then dispatched Rayner to the temple of Saint Cuthbert, situated up on the hillside above the village. “Cousin, fetch me Brother Lewie. We need to heal my delicate younger brother,” laughed the ranger. Rayner nodded and ran off. In the temple, he found Lewie and asked him to return, noting that Raynard was still in great pain.
Brother Lewie eventually found his older brother, kneeling by the shepherd’s cottage. Raynard gritted his teeth and Lewie inspected the wound. “I think that lunatic cracked a rib,” wheezed the knight.
The young cleric was sympathetic as he dressed the wound, saying, “I would wager that you were not expecting to be attacked, especially after you knocked him senseless with the pommel of your sword. We should all learn a lesson from this. As for your wound, my friend, there is no cut. The damage is internal. I shall ask the Saint to heal you, lest you be laid up for a week or more. Pray with me, cousin.” Raynard joined the young priest in ritual prayer, and moments later, a flood of warmth flooded through the muscles along his rib cage. The sharp pain subsided much.
“I owe you one, cousin”, quipped the knight.
“Nonsense”, the cleric replied. “You owe the Old Man in the Crumpled Hat. Make a donation at the temple,” he continued, looking up toward the limestone structure that dominated the hillside.
Back at the cottages, Roger mused aloud to Daniel, “Well, Raynard is not dead. We can be thankful for that. Yet, did we gain anything from that bizarre encounter?”
Daniel mindlessly flipped his dagger by the handle, catching it and throwing it again repeatedly. His eyes were not on his blade though, for he was starting blankly at the ground, pondering his older brother’s question. He finally offered, “Today we learned that whatever is afflicting this place has spread further than we thought… and we still have no clue as to its cause. Small comfort.”
Sometimes I look at the search queries that lead people to this website, and I see something interesting. One day last year, I saw that someone had asked Bing “is hacking a sin in christanity” (sic). I have no idea what that person actually had on their mind—if they were wondering about software piracy, or cheating in a video game, rooting their phone, or penetrating the computer systems at NORAD. All I know is that they were interested in God’s view of hacking. Now, bear in mind that I’m no theologian nor a professional minister. I am just someone with a platform who thinks he has something to say. Maybe it will help somebody. Read more
Over the past eighteen months, our diligent and dedicated webmaster Bryan has been republishing much of the material generated by and for the Christian Gamers Guild over the previous two decades in a new web format which is thought to be more accessible and is certainly better looking. That has included material from our e-zine The Way, the Truth, and the Dice, a couple of articles from elsewhere, some new material, and of course my own Faith and Gaming series. The upside of this is that many readers have discovered these articles for the first time. The downside, from my perspective, is that it became just a bit tougher for me to refer people to the articles—not individually, but as a collection. The old site had a single “Chaplain’s Corner” index that described and linked the entire series plus quite a few other articles on and off the site, and when people had questions about role playing or other hobby games I could (in addition to addressing the specific questions) refer them to that page for more information than they perhaps would have wanted. That page still has some valuable links, but Bryan agreed with me that now that the entire series has been relocated there ought to be a page that indexes it all at the new locations.
Several thoughts occurred to me as I undertook this. One was that there were a few articles I wrote which are excellent pieces not originally part of the Faith and Gaming series, and they should be included here. The second was that it would seem particularly arrogant of me to index my own contributions and ignore those excellent articles by everyone else, so I am going to attempt in essence to map the entire site—not in the old directory tree mapping style, but in something more useful. Read more
I pondered what to write in this month’s column. Normally I’m not much for noting special events, but this column marks the conclusion of four years during which a new subject has been addressed each month, relating our faith to our gaming, exploring how we can make our game play specifically Christian. The hope is that such a milestone would be marked by one of the better entries in the series. It’s difficult to know, however, which articles will prove themselves particularly helpful until the responses start appearing, so there’s not much sense in focusing too much effort on that decision. Noting that this is about playing games that are peculiarly Christian, I realized I had a topic note that spoke of a specifically Christian story one might tell in a game.
Of course, it might be presumptive to begin by stating that it is a particularly Christian story. That would seem to be the first question. We have twice before examined stories that might be specifically Christian in their essence. In Deals it was the Faust story, the story of the man who sold his soul to the devil and didn’t really get what he wanted from it. In Goethe’s hands that was a very Christian story; the question is whether it would be so in the hands of the average role player. We also considered the Redemption story—not the Redemption Story, the story of Christ’s sacrifice for us, but the more personal story of the Prodigal, God’s effort to redeem us individually. It may be that this is a specifically Christian story; on the other hand, it appears in pop culture expressed by those who have no known commitment to our faith, so if it is a specifically Christian story it may have lost much of its impact in our post-Christian world. Read more