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 I have been at enough museums in my life and seen how outdated some ideas become (see dinosaur fossils).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.