How playing a cleric means playing their Deity.

So, I just published the prologue to the Special Spirit Squad – Scribequest’s latest adventure – and I have some thoughts on it I wish to share, particularly as to why I decided to write it in the second person, which is as a literary device is novel to say the least.

The relationship between a cleric and their deity shares more than a few similarities with the relationship between a character and their player. Both receive instructions from a higher source, to which they relate in an asymmetric fashion – they know next to nothing about their master, while their master knows everything there is to know about them; they can read their hearts, their minds and even change them on a whim.

Seldom do I feel this asymmetry more strongly then when I play Glurf, my character in the Special Spirit Squad. Glurf isn’t a very smart toad. In fact, they have an intelligence score of seven, which, in our world, could be the equivalent of some kind of learning disorder. When it comes to spell-casting, they barely understand what they are doing; they simply pray to their god for help, and hope something happens.

In practice, that god will often be me, the player.

As a player, I select the spells Glurf gains access to every time they pray. As a player, I end up determining which of those calls for helps are answered with an actual spell. So, in a sense, I play two characters: The cleric, and their deity.

This makes me conscious of a special kind of responsbility I have towards my character. If it weren’t for the me, the player, my character would probably have lived an uneventful, relatively normal life. But because they were chosen to be a Player Character in a tabletop game, their lives are destined to be filled with extraordinary events, almost as if they were chosen by the gods themselves.

That’s why I decided to write the back-story of Glurf in the second person from their deity’s point of view, to call attention to these similarities. When I play tabletop RPG’s, I often feel like Heqet does: Like the master of some unsuspecting puppet, steering them in a direction beneficial to me, but not necessarily to them. Sure, players are usually benevolent puppet masters – we want our characters to live and to achieve great things – but there is no doubt that our influence means that the character will never be able to enjoy a peaceful life, at least not as long as we are controlling them. We cause our characters much suffering – some of which ends up feeling like our own – and I wanted to capture some of that empathy in Heqet’s narrative.

So, on behalf of myself and Heqet, I apologize to you, Glurf; we’ve caused you much suffering.

Thankfully, there’s been also been a lot of joy, too. You can look forward to that.

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