I’ve never played a LARP for as long as Grand Larp before. Neither have I played a character quite so tenacious in my psyche. I’m not sure how much of that was how good of a fit Zikara was for me, and how much of it was just how long I spent in her head. Regardless, the end of the game was heartbreaking for her. Despite her every attempt, the Jeskeri were swept up into the Coalition where they will be as sheep in a pack of wolves.
In wrap up, our GMs explained the underlying metaphysics of the world, including the scientific underpinnings for the perceived miracles of Ozda. As a player, I knew it was very likely, since I know the GMs. Still, it stung at the time. And to my surprise, it still hurts.
I don’t go in personally for organized religion. The hypocrisy I grew up with from both the LDS and Catholic churches turned me off from that. I consider myself reasonably spiritual, with a strong belief in people and their potential. But Zikara grew up without religion, and found it in her darkest moments. To Zikara, Ozda had reached out her hand and saved her. Ozda brought Zikara to the Jeskeri to help them, to protect them, to guide them. She had meaning, she had hope, trust, and faith. And technically she continues in that role. She does not not know that the entire religion is bullshit. She does not know that the entity in which she and her entire extended family puts their trust doesn’t exist. But as a player, I know. And it makes me want to cry.
Trying to explain why has proven challenging. Frankly I keep coming back to frustration over a lack of respect for religion. I find it ironic that I of all people should be championing respectful treatment of religion, when I myself find very little to respect in the religions I am familiar with. Still, I’m tired of it even, or maybe especially, in science fiction settings.
In the same way that I made a plea for treating “Crazy” in it’s myriad forms with respect, this is me asking for respect for religion. What that looks like I’m not quite sure, but having a scientific explanation for everything the religion believes in, that is trivial to uncover in game is not it. Maybe it involves some mysteries that have no answer. It would leave your scientist characters frustrated, but I think you could get around it with enough other avenues of exploration that the could discover. Maybe it involves the scientific discovery of a being that is powerful enough to be a god? I’m not sure. And that frustrates me too. Not having an actionable answer frustrates me. Oh look, more irony…
I’ll keep thinking about this, and keep trying things. Expect the next few games I write to feature religion in some manner. I want to figure this out. I want to find a solution that doesn’t leave me feeling sick to my stomach and crying for made up characters that don’t even exist in a book such that others might share my frustration.