Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Criminals and Crusaders: A Classic Supers RPG (Cost: $12, Reward: Priceless)

I have started working on my own superhero role-playing game, after some 25+ years of gaming experience and thought. I have no idea how good it will be, but I have a lot of ideas and I want to give back to the gaming community something that helps nerds like me keep a Judeo-Christian worldview while they play mighty heroes with secret identities. [Note: image to right from Steve Dubya's photobucket. Funnnyyyy!]

Spiritually I have discovered more and more metaphors about Christ in comics and movies than I ever dreamed possible. "All truth is God's truth," goes the common saying, but I would have to say "God speaks His truth in countless ways."

God used comics and superheroes to speak truth to me. What resonated in modern heroic figures was found in the ancient accounts of the Bible. From secret identities to superstrong men to beautiful women who challenge Persian kings and win, I found Jesus DID love what I loved.

In fact, he loved it so much He made it real.

The title of my RPG harkens back to the time when "Crusader" meant someone who fought for the good, no matter the cost or loss personally. Yes, there were many things to be ashamed of in the Crusades, but strangely, no one remembers that they were a reaction to Muslim invasions and conquests after 300 years of aggressive expansion. Let's just table that, because I have no wish to fight the uphill battle of contradicting everything you and I have been taught in college through liberal-minded professors. Or as the merchants who had their right hands chopped off under Saddam Hussein's regime said when presented with the atrocities of Guantanamo Bay on video: "Yes- what they did was bad. But what Hussein has done was far worse."

One of the other classic ideas of superheroism I grew up with was that superheroes do not kill. They cannot become "judge, jury and executioner." They are servants and self-appointed guardians, so they must aid and abide by the laws of the land in a reasonable fashion.

Sure they probably break a lot of ordinances, but because of their style and/or secrecy, the police have no one to arrest but the criminal wanted on multiple charges hanging in front of the police station. And when their "license" to act "unofficially" seems to be angering the public, all they have to do is sit back for a while and let "Gorgolloth, the Living Dinosaur" chomp up half of the downtown district for a few hours before the Mayor gets on TV and pleads for their help.

We need superheroes (whether we admit it or not). We need them in fantasy to re-reveal truth, in mythical fiction as inspiration for younger readers, in the marketplace to brighten our lives, but most of all, we need them in real life.

We need men and women willing to sacrifice their own time and even good things of their life to rescue others from evil, from despair. In Judeo-Christian thought, this is a "gimmee." It is woven into the fabric of religious thought.

Heroes are not heroes because they belong to a certain organization or say certain things to make people feel better. That's a motivational speaker, but that ain't a hero per se.

Heroism involves loss. Big time loss. I don't know how I am going to put that into my RPG, but it has got to fit in there somewhere - perhaps in their origin primarily. From Luke Skywalker (see my post of last week) to Spider-Man, it costs you friends, family and love interests. If you try to keep these, they will get involved where they should not. They become liabilities and victims instead of assets.

In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne is returning to Gotham City and is talking to Alfred about the need to become something more, something primeval, a symbol that is incorruptible. Alfred remarks that he supposes that this symbol, this dual identity will be to protect the people he loves.

Wayne (nodding): "Your thinking of Rachel."
Alfred (grinning): "Actually sir, I was thinking of myself."
Its a wry moment of self-deprecation/self-preservation by Wayne's servant, Alfred. It also explains to me why so many Christians love Jesus but do not want to bear witness of Him. They know what will happen.

They know.

So they operate in secret, serving quietly, not talking back to the world, because they know they are outnumbered 4 to 1 or more. That's O.K. Jesus understands. It takes a lot to be a bold witness for Christ AND above reproach in the world's eyes.

Superman is loved and admired and respected. Batman - well, he's a psycho.

But who could wipe out the entire U.S. Army? Who is an alien from another world? Who could conquer all the nations in the world in three days?


What makes the difference? Style. Generosity. Having a "public" face. Saving lives instead of preying on criminals.

Good cop/bad cop. Somehow I have to fit that into the RPG as well.

In the end, God gives us the power to change our little part of the world. The more we trust Him and obey Him, the greater our ability and authority.

From the misadventures of Samson to the jail breaks of the Apostles, we see God loves empowering heroes supernaturally. Even imperfect heroes.


ESPECIALLY imperfect heroes!

For more on this, please read an excellent book about a modern-day superhero. I have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. Please read The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun with Paul Hattaway.

The heroes are still among us. There is no question about it.

The question is: which one does Jesus want you to be?

Ask Him. He'll tell you.


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