What Would You Want From A Game About Defenders of The Faithful?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
By which I mean, men and women (or mice) of faith, charged by their god(s) to defend the church and it’s faithful from supernatural evil.

What kind of resolution would you want to see?

Combat heavy, investigation, problem solving, ritual banishment mechanics?

Ability to play lay-persons with little to no “magic” helping the “Paladins”?

Specific mechanics for Faith?

Things I haven’t mentioned?
 

steenan

Adventurer
Your characterization screams "Dogs in the Vineyard" to me.

It's a great game because, despite being about defenders of faith and faithful and containing supernatural evil, it's not a game of "us versus them".

You have the rules of faith. Then you get faced with situations that are much more complicated. It's obvious that there is sin, that the demons are at work. But telling the good from evil is your job and there is no "correct" answer. There is no "right" judgement, known to the GM, that you need to figure out. You judge and you take the responsibility for it.

It's a great game about faith and morality in part because it has no rules for faith and morality. Instead it has rules that force players to think about what faith really means to them, what is moral and what is not.

If you haven't played it, you definitely should. ;)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Your characterization screams "Dogs in the Vineyard" to me.

It's a great game because, despite being about defenders of faith and faithful and containing supernatural evil, it's not a game of "us versus them".

You have the rules of faith. Then you get faced with situations that are much more complicated. It's obvious that there is sin, that the demons are at work. But telling the good from evil is your job and there is no "correct" answer. There is no "right" judgement, known to the GM, that you need to figure out. You judge and you take the responsibility for it.

It's a great game about faith and morality in part because it has no rules for faith and morality. Instead it has rules that force players to think about what faith really means to them, what is moral and what is not.

If you haven't played it, you definitely should. ;)
Definately not what I’m looking for in this context, but I’ll check it out.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Some admittance that the faith and those above you in it are imperfect, and may be corrupt. That in defeating evil you may have to confront those who claim to be working in the name of good.

A game that is conceptually nothing more than "faith good" and "not faith bad" disgusts me to the core.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
I think you'd want a range of faiths, or at least a range of organizations representing various faiths that would allow for latitude in playstyle, goals and whatnot.

With a range of faiths and goals you get conflict, which is great, but you also probably want some sort of over-arching evil to pull things together.

I think a game like that would be a great opportunity to do something neat with a faith rule that feels and acts differently from your run of the mill magic in other systems. Miracles rather than fireballs...

As for combat vs investigation vs exorcism, my thought would be to write a solid three pillar game that can do whichever of those people want to feature.

With a solid three pillar system, a given group could focus a campaign on high magic or low, investigation or demon busting, or whatever. Balancing the system to accommodate both high magic characters and plebs is probably the toughest part. WoD did OK there with the Hunter book, but those Hunters were squishy when mixed with other characters, just like non-mages in Ars Magica, SDC characters in Rifts, etc etc, you get the picture.

What's the historical framework here? Medieval? Renaissance? Modern? All of the above? I'm going to stop because I feel like I'm abusing my poor question mark key.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
By which I mean, men and women (or mice) of faith, charged by their god(s) to defend the church and it’s faithful from supernatural evil.

What kind of resolution would you want to see?

Combat heavy, investigation, problem solving, ritual banishment mechanics?

Ability to play lay-persons with little to no “magic” helping the “Paladins”?

Specific mechanics for Faith?

Things I haven’t mentioned?
Defending the church and the faith can literally go any of those ways. The only way to fail is to try to go all of those ways. Instead pick one and support it hard.

There are plenty of games that have combat as a core for overcoming obstacles, so I'd go for something different. If it comes to direct combat with the supernatural, the paladins are toast. Sort of Call of Cthuhlu-esqe. That doesn't mean a paladin couldn't temporarily protect someone from a demon or whatever. But it's more about possession, demonic influence, people getting tainted and acting in more sinful ways as defined by the church, etc.

Ars Magica has a whole troupe system for playing mages and normals, might be worth a look if you want to play lay-person support.
 

Riley37

Visitor
I think you'd want a range of faiths, or at least a range of organizations representing various faiths that would allow for latitude in playstyle, goals and whatnot.
This. As a member of a minority religion, I am painfully aware of what happens when one religion declares its members are "the faithful", and declares all others not worth defending. When you say "the church", do you mean that there is only one church?

There are all too many historical examples. In some of those examples, one form of Christianity was on the dominant side, and bad things happened to other kinds of Christians, and also all others, such as Jews. In other examples, Islam was The Faith, Muslims were The Faithful, and bad things tended to happen to all others - perhaps not quite as bad to Christians and Jews, fellow "People of the Book", but worse for others (such as animists). In the USSR, Stalinism held a role equivalent to "the faith", only atheists were promoted to high Party office, and some Christian activists (and many Jews) were sent to the gulags.

Would a defender of the faithful also defend the passengers of the St. Louis on its voyage from Hamburg to Cuba?

In the Forgotten Realms of D&D, I would happily play a cleric of Lathander working hand in hand with a paladin of Bahamut, or vice versa. I would prefer a game in which they sometimes ally with less closely co-aligned cults, such as chaotic good Corellon or Tymora, against shared enemies - they have their differences, but they're allies against Tiamat, when necessary.

As it happens, I recently played a paladin with the Ancients oath (dedicated to life and liveliness), working closely with a warlock of the Raven Queen (all about death), against their mutual enemy: an empire using a particularly nasty form of necromancy. The paladin didn't like the warlock's use of Hunger of Hadar... which brings something fundamentally *wrong* into the Prime Material, something which doesn't belong here... but better to live with it, a minute at a time, than risk the consequences of an Imperial victory.

In Call of Cthulhu, perhaps a rabbi works with a priest of Ganesha; maybe the combination of Vedic scriptures and Kabbalah lore is necessary to defeat the cultists of Nyarlathotep. In "Beyond the Supernatural", I'd play the Nega-psychic, the atheist skeptic whose dis-belief in magic is so fervent, so strong, that it can remove demons and other cross-dimensional incursions. (It doesn't just banish them. It *retroactively* negates their existence. "That never happened.") The rabbi and the priest of Ganesha find my "faith" annoying, but they work with me for the greater good.

In Middle-Earth, the PCs could be a team of Istari, all "faithful" to the Valar. The story would have to fill in some details which Tolkien did not elaborate. In this setting, there really is only one faith, and those who don't follow it, don't follow any other religion either (for example, Frodo had no point of comparison, when Faramir's rangers, before a meal, ritually turned to face West). But even Sam could invoke Elbereth, without much understanding of who she was.

Meanwhile, in Narnia, there is at least one worshipper of Tash, who turns out to serve Aslan. Those who sincerely worship Tash, are still better than the hypocrites who turn to "Tashlan".
 
Last edited:

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Some admittance that the faith and those above you in it are imperfect, and may be corrupt. That in defeating evil you may have to confront those who claim to be working in the name of good.

A game that is conceptually nothing more than "faith good" and "not faith bad" disgusts me to the core.
Yeah, there’s no need to put any kind of focus on political corruption in a organization of faith, here. A group can explore or ignore that as they please.

What any game I make will have, regardless of what anyone else wants or thinks about it, is a complete lack of any canon instance of Paladins of the Church of Light (or whatever) refusing aid to the faithful of the pagan-animistic Vitari Dana, because of some perceived lesser status of their religion. If a faith doesn’t worship The Dark, it’s fine. No Inquisition, no persecution of minority faiths, etc. I don’t make grimdark media, of any kind, ever.

I think you'd want a range of faiths, or at least a range of organizations representing various faiths that would allow for latitude in playstyle, goals and whatnot.
Agreed. I always liked the different kind of knights in David Eddings’ Elenium series. Other elements of the books are rather aggravating as an adult with better understanding of the tropes and stereotypes he is employing, but the knights are cool. I’m sort of imagining a world where animistic pagan faiths abound, as well as various other forms, as well as different faiths based on the dedication of the faithful to The Light. The Church trains knights, but they happily ally with their siblings in faith who serve the moon goddess Hesrana, and with the seers and spirit warriors of various regions, etc.


I think a game like that would be a great opportunity to do something neat with a faith rule that feels and acts differently from your run of the mill magic in other systems. Miracles rather than fireballs...
Yeah, I like that. Certainly faith as an attribute could also work, especially if it mirrors my other game WIP where your stats are resource pools you can draw upon, rather than modifiers you add to rolls. Faith as the vehicle for supernatural ability is cool for Paladins and priests and such, but for layfolk I figure we would want to also use faith as a way to call miracles via prayer? Like as a thing anyone can do if they have faith. “The Light shines for all. For the farmer, the hunter, the priest, the meek, and the bold. The sun does not shun the rabbit while warming the badger, it warms the world, and all who seek its light. I stand in the very shadow of the Dark, and ask only that the Light shine through me.” And then a roll happens or a resource is spent or whatever, and The Thing occurs.

As for combat vs investigation vs exorcism, my thought would be to write a solid three pillar game that can do whichever of those people want to feature.

With a solid three pillar system, a given group could focus a campaign on high magic or low, investigation or demon busting, or whatever. Balancing the system to accommodate both high magic characters and plebs is probably the toughest part. WoD did OK there with the Hunter book, but those Hunters were squishy when mixed with other characters, just like non-mages in Ars Magica, SDC characters in Rifts, etc etc, you get the picture.
yeah balancing skills which serve all pillars is probably the key. But the more I think on it, the more I think that part of the appeal for some would strongly be the thought of playing a character recruited for their skill in something, being asked to help protect the meek, relying on skill and faith and luck. So, laypersons would have specialties that becoming a knight precludes training as well in, but wouldn’t want to try and be frontline against creatures of The Dark.

What's the historical framework here? Medieval? Renaissance? Modern? All of the above? I'm going to stop because I feel like I'm abusing my poor question mark key.
I think maybe divorced from any specific one, using mice or other critters or a world that is very not earth, or both, and being built to serve the type of story intended, with no regard to whether bows are anachronistic next to mechanical clocks and gas lanterns and majestic cathedrals. I don’t want it to be too strongly Western European, though. Mediterranean is fine, as is American Mission style cultural influences, Byzantine, etc, as far as the Church goes, with cultural influences ranging more widely for the other faiths and cultures.

Perhaps rather than than building a whole world for this, the goal should be to build some parts, give examples, and give guidelines and mini-game style and “plot coupon” style rules to the players to help build the world in play.
 

Michele

Visitor
I think I'd like to see various ways of fighting evil, not just one.

As to the notion that you might find evil and evil persons in the church itself, I don't think this actually defies the equation of faithful = good, unfaithful = evil, because if a high priest is actually evil, then he was only feigning being faithful.
So, if you want shades of grey (which is what I'd prefer myself), the point wouldn't be whether you can be faithful and evil. The point would be that one (a higher-ranking member of the church, but even a PC) might be faithful and... intolerant, oppressive, fanatical etc. And the question would be, at what point being intolerant becomes being evil?

Also, I think that Nietzsche's saying about staring into the abyss may be very important for characters who routinely face supernatural evil. And if you fight fire with fire, what makes you different from the arsonist? In a game about faith, good and evil, it's an important quandary, I think.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think I'd like to see various ways of fighting evil, not just one.

As to the notion that you might find evil and evil persons in the church itself, I don't think this actually defies the equation of faithful = good, unfaithful = evil, because if a high priest is actually evil, then he was only feigning being faithful.
So, if you want shades of grey (which is what I'd prefer myself), the point wouldn't be whether you can be faithful and evil. The point would be that one (a higher-ranking member of the church, but even a PC) might be faithful and... intolerant, oppressive, fanatical etc. And the question would be, at what point being intolerant becomes being evil?

Also, I think that Nietzsche's saying about staring into the abyss may be very important for characters who routinely face supernatural evil. And if you fight fire with fire, what makes you different from the arsonist? In a game about faith, good and evil, it's an important quandary, I think.
I mean, fighting supernatural evil with a sword isn’t really fighting fire with fire though.

I think there here are two ways to go fo such a game, and the decision has to be made at the start. Either it’s a game that wants to explore moral quandaries, or a game that can do, but isn’t focused on that.

I think id rather create the game that focuses on other things.
 

Michele

Visitor
I mean, fighting supernatural evil with a sword isn’t really fighting fire with fire though.
It very easily is.
One of supernatural evil's mainstays is possession. As late as 2018 that I know of, there were cases of exorcisms in which the supposed victims of possession by the devil ended up badly hurt at the hands of the exorcists. I'm sure the exorcists thought that beating up the victims' bodies would save their souls, and so it was a necessary, lesser evil, in comparison to the greater good.

And that's in our actual world, where objective evidence that the devil does gain possession of hapless people is skimpy. Imagine a world where such evidence is rock solid - or a world where, evidence or not, everybody believed possessions do happen.

I think id rather create the game that focuses on other things.
To each his own cup of tea. But if the focus of the game is actual faith and concrete action, then moral quandaries are hard to dodge without losing focus.
 

Bagpuss

Adventurer
By which I mean, men and women (or mice) of faith, charged by their god(s) to defend the church and it’s faithful from supernatural evil.

What kind of resolution would you want to see?
First a god that doesn't directly commune with their followers.

Next a schism in the church, so that you have political rivalry, which later builds with each side accusing the other of being corrupted by this supernatural evil, finally all out war between the two parts.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Except those that worship The Dark? Seems there is a persecution of them...
Worshiping destructive forces of darkness and corruption isn’t a valid life path. I’m not here for what you’re trying to imprint on this hypothetical game. I don’t make grimdark. Period.
 
Last edited:

Michele

Visitor
I don't know what geimdark is, but one would have to wonder what are the supernatural evil's powers, then. If evil can't seduce the faithful, corrupt them, tempt them etc., then what is evil? A pack of dire wolves who just happen to come from another dimension or to have things like a breath of fire? Who can, in other words, only cause physical harm, albeit in more dangerous ways than a pack of normal wolves, thanks to their supernatural powers?

That's entirely feasible and may be satisfactory for some players, but then I don't see much need for framing the PCs as holy "defenders of the faithful". They can be the lay defenders of their village or townspeople just as well. The town's militiamen.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don't know what geimdark is, but one would have to wonder what are the supernatural evil's powers, then. If evil can't seduce the faithful, corrupt them, tempt them etc., then what is evil? A pack of dire wolves who just happen to come from another dimension or to have things like a breath of fire? Who can, in other words, only cause physical harm, albeit in more dangerous ways than a pack of normal wolves, thanks to their supernatural powers?

That's entirely feasible and may be satisfactory for some players, but then I don't see much need for framing the PCs as holy "defenders of the faithful". They can be the lay defenders of their village or townspeople just as well. The town's militiamen.
Who said anything about evil not having those powers?

I said im not interested in a game that is about corrupt organizations of faith. I’m also not interested in the sort of rhetorical trap in the post I replied to. In a world with inarguably real supernatural evil, banning the worship of that supernatural evil is not “persecution”.
 

Michele

Visitor
Who said anything about evil not having those powers?

I said im not interested in a game that is about corrupt organizations of faith. I’m also not interested in the sort of rhetorical trap in the post I replied to. In a world with inarguably real supernatural evil, banning the worship of that supernatural evil is not “persecution”.
So maybe evil-worshippers can't be PCs - but they definitely might be enemy NPCs. Because if evil is real, is present, and is powerful, somebody will worship it.
Similarly, the game might be not about evil organizations - but evil organizations are likely to exist, if nothing else as enemies.

I also now understand what you meant by "grimdark", but "not doing it" is not really an option, IMHO, if you have a setting like this.
If the PCs, however much they might be holy servants of good, have to eradicate a coven of worshippers of evil (or an infestation of evil possessions, or an avatar of evil that hides within an overpopulated urban neighborhood, etc.) that will be a grim and dark business, no matter how clean and bright the heroes are.

That is my opinion, of course, but that's what you asked.
 

Bagpuss

Adventurer
Worshiping destructive forces of darkness and corruption isn’t a valid life path.
But without death and decay their can be no room for new life. You call us evil but we are but two sides of the same coin. There is no circle of life without death. Light always casts shadow, it is the very cause of the dark you seek to destroy.

I’m not here for what you’re trying to imprint on this hypothetical game. I don’t make grimdark. Period.
There is nothing grim about the dark, don't fear it and persecute it, embrace it and accept it as part of life.

I'm not really sure what you mean by "grimdark"?
 
Last edited:

pogre

Adventurer
Investigation and banishment would be the resolutions I would like favor.

Disclaimer: I definitely am a grimdark guy - so my preferences might not be helpful.
 

Advertisement

Top