About jesusgaray

I am a writer and freelancer of many things. I was born in Lima, Peru, but I was raised in Northern New Jersey. As a consequence of that, I have moments where I curse in Spanish profusely.

Card Inspirations – Vows of Silence

I mentioned that I went to a Catholic school in my first post. Well, it appears that my alma mater has provided me with some new inspiration: the school made a no-cursing pledge – for girls only.

This is not surprising to me. There was a previous moment of cognitive and departmental dissonance at that school when the theater group chose Cabaret for the spring musical one year. The church boycotted  the show. You can’t call it taking from Peter to give to Paul anymore – it’s more like slamming one hand with a hammer held by the other. It’s a worthless endeavor that harms both, and an incredibly stupid decision that marred my thoughts on the school. Up until that time the rules were, at least to me, just and lenient. I had my own “sins” to account for – ironically it’s my propensity for swearing that almost always got me in trouble. But the sexism inherent in this new edict is very disappointing, to put it lightly.

Now, as to why I’m putting this in the Cram Games blog and not in my personal one. As I was semi-frothing from the mouth I realized something – why not use it to fuel new card ideas? The first that came to mind was simple – the idea of sacrificing your voice as a way to show reverence to a deity. There are good uses for it of course – extending awareness, purifying oneself from distractions. enhancing meditation, etc. At the moment I’m trying to develop the concept as flavor for an existing Idea card, but I believe the potential for a whole new cards is a stronger one. Imagine the card affecting the followers a player has, when it makes a trade-off from one ability to upgrade/power up another.

It’s an interesting concept that I’m toying around with in my head. For the time being, I’m just going to think up of more ideas related to silence. It’d be a more productive use of my time than sending the school an expletive-laden letter.

Playtest + Farewell

Cindy1Well, it’s a bit of a sad day for us. Cindy, along with her wonderful boyfriend Will, are moving to the Bay Area. She is still working on the project, of course, so there’s no need to worry about that.we did have one last playtest tonight in a restaurant around Union Square. I’ll let Phil talk a bit more about the new changes in another post. IMG_5167

What I started doing during the two games was write down notes of my actions and those of the others to make a small vignette of the match. The first one will involve missionaries. Lots of them.

IMG_5169Cindy came up with some great ideas for the card layout. The first involved the relic cards. She thought up of this idea of taking my flavor test and putting them on a scroll/banner that wraps around the actual relic. It’s a pretty brilliant, but it also constrains me to a limited number of words (which is a great challenge). She also wants to incorporate the wrapped scroll idea to the new Prophecy cards.

I will post the little vignette later this week. Until then, spread the Good News.

The Writer, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Relic

Hi, I’m Jesus, writer of the Cult Leader game. First off, I’d like to apologize for not coming up with a better name for the game yet, but there are still many things up that are amorphous in the world-building. I joined Cindy and Phil much later into the project – they started about a year before I approached Phil. The three of us have been involved in Cram Magazine, which was Cindy’s idea until I came in and helped her build the publication’s mission. I tend to do that – jump into people’s projects and mess around in it like some crazed lunatic.


What attracted me to the game was that , like the cult leaders we want the players to become in a game session, I wanted to create a world in which its inhabitants were converts waiting to happen. Coming from a Catholic school background, I’ve seen my fair share of zealotry and hypocrisy in its leaders and followers. My senior year English teacher had us read the Bible, actually, but not from a religious point-of-view. We read the Book of Genesis, which I had done in the past, but this time I read it with great scrutiny. It interested me so much I chose The Book of Genesis as the topic of my semester paper. I compared the Judeo-Christian creation myth with one of its roots, the Babylonian creation myth known as the  Enûma Eliš. There were similarities (the dragon Tiamat/ the Snake of Eden, the void that existed before creation, etc.) that expanded my thought on the synthesis that occur between religions. Another combination, this time a directly forced one, was how Mormons attempted to co-opt the Mayan snake god Quetzalcoatl and make it a version of Jesus Christ. Crazy, right?

The setting I proposed in my commentary after that first play-test came a came from a list of potential future developments in genre fiction made by fantasy author China Mieville. He mentioned the idea of “garbagepunk”, a subset of the oft-mentioned steampunk genre. The idea is to move the world past the clockwork gears and even the VR machines of another genre, cyberpunk, and see what happens with the materials in the post apocalypse. This of course bring images of a men wearing leather jackets traversing through the Australian desert, but what he meant was a true hard reset. The survivors of whatever catastrophe would have no recollection of the civilization before them, nor have a goddamn clue as to the purpose of the remnants left behind.

That is where the idea of Relics came in. I have been at enough museums in my life and seen how outdated some ideas become (see dinosaur fossils). Imagine that you were in the world of the game. You are generations removed from civilization  and one day you stumble onto a fossilized McDonalds french fry container. What is the meaning of those golden arches? Do you even have an alphabet at that point to realize that it stands for an “M”?

I’ll continue on in future posts, but the next time you go for a fast food run, consider that what you are eating out of could become the next Dead Sea Scroll.