Combining D & D with religious learning

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Hi there,

let me begin by stating that I realize that religion can be and often is a touchy subject. I am not trying to offend anyone. 

I am a long time fan of Dungeons and Dragons and for many years I've been looking for a way for me to get back into gaming. I have found one avenue that I think would be really fun and that is beginning a gaming session for the kids at my local synagogue. I have spoken with the admins there and they have agreed it could be fun for the kids but they would like me to use the game as a vessel for teaching religious stories and ideas. i have explained that while this may be possible that the game still fundamentally relies to a great extent on violence and that there will be the potential for the killing of creatures and monsters and even people. They acknowledged and understnd this and are ok with it as long as the right messages get across.

All that being said I was wondering if anyone has dealt with this kind of thing before, preferably from a specifically Jewish angle, but any general advice on combining religious stories with the world (possibly) and rules (definitely) of Dungeons and Dragons would be very helpful. I did a preliminary search of these forums and have not found anything, but if I missed something please feel free to reply with a link.
Hi there,

let me begin by stating that I realize that religion can be and often is a touchy subject. I am not trying to offend anyone. 

I am a long time fan of Dungeons and Dragons and for many years I've been looking for a way for me to get back into gaming. I have found one avenue that I think would be really fun and that is beginning a gaming session for the kids at my local synagogue. I have spoken with the admins there and they have agreed it could be fun for the kids but they would like me to use the game as a vessel for teaching religious stories and ideas. i have explained that while this may be possible that the game still fundamentally relies to a great extent on violence and that there will be the potential for the killing of creatures and monsters and even people. They acknowledged and understand this and are ok with it as long as the right messages get across.

All that being said I was wondering if anyone has dealt with this kind of thing before, preferably from a specifically Jewish angle, but any general advice on combining religious stories with the world (possibly) and rules (definitely) of Dungeons and Dragons would be very helpful. I did a preliminary search of these forums and have not found anything, but if I missed something please feel free to reply with a link.



Well, let me say first, that this sounds like a perfectly fine idea. Finding new ways to teach or learn things isn't bad. Also, I wouldn't worry about the violence...I mean, the Tanakh/Old Testament/whatever-one-defines-it-as is full of violence! (that's not a qualitative statement...just some levity)

There are many faith-based classes, so that is a really good starting point for a religion based game. That could be a bit "on the nose" though because the characters in various religious books cover a wide variety of archetypes and roles so I probably wouldn't worry too much about that.

Since the request is for religious stories and ideas, you might find it easy to take your inspiration for quests and such from the religious texts themselves...not necessarily overtly, but a series of quests based around the importance of the 10 commandments might be quite interesting, especially if they reinforce the importance of upholding them. Similarly, for important religious stories, these could be the tales of the world and setting itself. The kids can find scrolls, texts and whatnot in  the world as they are exploring that tell them bits and pieces of the stories of people like Moses or Ezekiel or Jonah.

If you could give more info on any thoughts you had on the approach you are considering that might help. I don't want to just throw a wall of text at you. Laughing

I taught Sunday school while in high school even though I'm definitely not what you would call a religious person, but I still think it's really important for kids to understand and learn the important lessons of religion as it can give a good foundation for morals, etc. Good on you for doing this.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I've actually put thought into this one myself. Here's my suggestions:

Take a story of your choosing and modify it to fit within the D&D world. To use an Old Testament story off the top of my head, the Destruction of Sodom and Gemmorah. In this case the players might be the heralds of *insert person/deity here* that have been sent to the cities to warn them of their wicked ways ect ect...

Basically do an alternate 'verse of the story and replace the main characters from the Old Testament with the PCs. Let them make their choices and see where it goes.
Spiteful Wizard and Voice of Reason of the House of Trolls The Silent God of the House of Trolls Unfrozen OTTer Arbiter of the House of Trolls Yes, I have many titles. Deal with it.
These are great replies thank you so much, I'm at work now but I will spend some time later giving more specifics for us to work with. I'm glad to see other people are interested in/have thought about this!
David and Goliath - city in the gaming world taken over by a neighboring kingdom, the party faces off against a giant to win the city's freedom.

The Macabees - Again your party has to rally the city against an invading and/or occupying force..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />
Job - your party starts off very wealthy and properous only to have a long series of misfortunes. 

Book of Ester (hopefully there is a girl in the group) - the party fights against an evil tyrant

Noah and the Ark - the local seer in a coastal city has foretold the destruction of the city by a tidal wave, but the people don't believe it.  The party's task is to save as many as they can.

(As someone else suggested) Sodom and Gamorah - two possibilities:  1) the party are the visitors and are rescued by the one "good" family, 2) the party are the last vestments of goodness in the city and a group of visitors are attacked.

Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac - In a city, there is an annual animal sacrfice to a deity.  this year though the temple priests have proclaimed that this year's sacrifice will be human.  It is also announced that the city will be destroyed if the sacrifice is not performed.  One of party members is chosen to be the sacrifice through random lots.  Does the party try to free their friend or accept their fate?

Moses and the Exodus - the party memebers are of royal lineage, they are served by slaves.  They see the slaves are constantly whipped and beaten.  Do they put up with this mistreatment or do something about it?

King Solomon's decision - The party is tasked with recovering a kidnapped child.  They discover that the parentage of the child is in question.  The people who "kidnapped" the child also claim to be her parents.  The party is tasked with mediating the dispute.

 

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This is really great stuff!
Aside from doing modified versions of specific stories, you can use an RPG as a context for teaching moral principles. Require your players to be good-aligned, and make sure moral consequences are clear and direct.
Aside from doing modified versions of specific stories, you can use an RPG as a context for teaching moral principles. Require your players to be good-aligned, and make sure moral consequences are clear and direct.



Very true! Part of that is to always make sure that the bad guys get their come-uppance too

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I'm interested in this myself.  My wife is Jewish, and our family is interfaith, which makes for interesting holidays and some great fodder for DND.  Lately, I've been really interested in ways of working the diaspora into my game.  Given the nature of the races in the default universe, you could explore various interpretations of the diaspora with a lot of different races.  Tieflings and Dragonborn immediately come to mind, but you were willing to make some major changes to the interactions of the planes with the "middle world" you could apply the same to Eladrin.  Maybe the feywild, as a kind of pre-moralistic garden of Eden has been lost to them and the campaign can center around trying to make one's way in a world that is fundamentally at odds with the teachings and traditions of the PCs.  In this case, the PCs themselves are the points of light, seeking to bring justice and balance to a broken world.
Aside from doing modified versions of specific stories, you can use an RPG as a context for teaching moral principles. Require your players to be good-aligned, and make sure moral consequences are clear and direct.



Very true! Part of that is to always make sure that the bad guys get their come-uppance too

This is an interesting thread.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Hi there,

let me begin by stating that I realize that religion can be and often is a touchy subject. I am not trying to offend anyone. 

I am a long time fan of Dungeons and Dragons and for many years I've been looking for a way for me to get back into gaming. I have found one avenue that I think would be really fun and that is beginning a gaming session for the kids at my local synagogue. I have spoken with the admins there and they have agreed it could be fun for the kids but they would like me to use the game as a vessel for teaching religious stories and ideas. i have explained that while this may be possible that the game still fundamentally relies to a great extent on violence and that there will be the potential for the killing of creatures and monsters and even people. They acknowledged and understnd this and are ok with it as long as the right messages get across.

All that being said I was wondering if anyone has dealt with this kind of thing before, preferably from a specifically Jewish angle, but any general advice on combining religious stories with the world (possibly) and rules (definitely) of Dungeons and Dragons would be very helpful. I did a preliminary search of these forums and have not found anything, but if I missed something please feel free to reply with a link.

I understand your concern. I was pulled aside in junior high school because of a misconception that the game was tied in with devil worship activity. Fortunately, our English teacher was a gamer and a respected member of the staff. He showed how the game encouraged reading, writing, creativity. I felt it could also encourage contemplation of moral issues.

As a Christian, I've at times incorporated biblical principles into my games and used happenings in the Bible, particularly Old Testament stories as ideas for events in a more fictional and fantasy world. I usually, however,  just use basic biblical principles of morality as a solid ground to base my perception of what is good and evil in epic struggles between those two principles.

As a teaching tool for your faith (and this would apply to any faith, I believe), you could use the real-world maps and have the adventures include the real people of a specific era. The specifics would have to be suited to the maturity level of the participants, of course.

There were of course many battles depicted in the Old Testament that could be the basis for a campaign. For a less combat-heavy game, though... there are plenty of examples of person-to-person encounters in which one person has a chance to impart wisdom on the other.

Perhaps a wise NPC, a king solomon or other such figure, could be used to inquire about what the players learned from their encounters. OH! Such a figure might have the power to send them as participants into various times and places for brief stints and bring them back once their mission is complete. This wise figure could be just the guy to allow you, as moderator, to share knowledge with the players.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
@Sir Joseph,

 you have some interesting ideas there. I like the idea of the wise NPC as a central quest giver/catalyst and learning check point. I don't really want to use real world events and locations directly for my game but it's definitely something that I could see working. Thanks for commenting a lot of really good ideas are coming up in here!
Hey I'm going to be keeping a blog while engaged in this process so feel free to check it out.

dungeonsdragonsandtorah.blogspot.com/ 

 As I recall, there's at least one Biblical-era or Biblically-influenced roleplaying game out there...

Edit: Found it.
 Testament is an actual Biblical-era third-party supplement for the D20 system (3.5 ed.).  This might be your best bet - combining historical setting with morality lessons would really give an authentic feel to the game. You may even be able to find a particular time period of the bible where the party are actually able to assist some of the great Jewish heroes with their endeavors. It contains new classes based on historical and cultural archetypes, so some of them will need to be refluffed to reflect a Jewish perspective - i.e., the Egyptian-themed wizards may need to be rebranded as, say, Kabbalists (sp?) or something, but it shouldn't be too hard if you're knowledgeable about Judaism and history.

 (On a related note, there's also Seventh Seal, a modern-day Biblical horror game somewhat in the vein of old-school White Wolf games in which the characters are Sentinels - men and women called to serve in the ongoing battle of G vs E...)

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There are reasons they call me Mad...

That definitely sounds like it's worth looking into. I personally am looking to use a fictional world as I think this will make it easier for me to do non-religion specific quests if the opportunity arises and also to jump around and cover whatever subject, event ectc. I want.

I'm toying with an idea that will lead my heroes to a central dispatch that will transport them to hotspots when necessary or simply serve as a home base. From here we can have an ongoing central town, city etc. while having the ability to deal with any story or lesson I want to incorporate without permamently changing the world the characters live in.

I don't think it would work to simply throw all the major biblical stories and battles at an environment with all the necessary consequences that would flow out of them. 

Definitely interested to explore some of the classses from Testament to see how they give them a more religious oriented feel. 
A note on religion, fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, literature, and role-playing. The thing is, Everything from the Qu'ran, to the Bible, to the Bhagavad Gita, are all "fantasy." Now, let me clarify before I make anyone angry. All stories are fantasy. Real life, is fantasy. To paraphrase the words of one of my favorite "fiction" authors who said this through one of his characters, "What you see here before you is what your people would call fantasy, but that is not the same thing as a lie. The greatest gift of my people, is that we can take our fantasy breathe life into it, and make it real."

All of those old stories are the genus for the world's literature, whether someone believes those stories or not, whether someone has a problem with religion or not, every culture has stories of the monomythical hero and those stories inspired a world-wide tradition of storytelling that has been in existence as far back as history can reach. If you believe the stories are real, then great. If not, then they are still metaphors that are designed to demonstrate realities inherent to human nature. They don't always have to be didactic, but they are always true in some way or another.

Interestingly enough I happen to specialize in "Old Testament" heroes. Now, if anyone is concerned about content and children I should add a disclaimer that some of them aren't always age-appropriate, at least as the idea is tradiionally thought of. A lot of awesome Old Testament heroes are found in the Judges. Ehud matches the archetypal trickster, Samson is the archetypal scourge, I could go on. Note that all of these heroes are responsible for the deaths of the tyrant, whom Campbell dubs Holdfast. Holdfast, like the Hero, has many archetypes, one of them being King Og, going back to the Ehud story. Campbell claims that the hero goes to meet with the tyrant, because he holds the secret to his destruction, and with an act as simple as the push of a button, destroys the tyrant. This is a pattern that repeats itself throughout Judges. if I were you, I would focus on this.

For an example, you could create a story where the characters grow up in an occupied and oppressed land, and discover artifacts that look remarkably similar to the ones that appear in Judges, but for whatever reason they are normal mundane objects, they appear to have lost the power they held in the stories. Another thing you can do, is include knowledge of those Old Testament stories in your setting, but to everyone they are just stories. No one had ever considerd that they might be real. See the meta-theme there? Then the characters (and thus the players) are presented with the choice of stepping into the shoes of those heroes. Who knows, maybe they always were those heroes, and the stories appealed to them so much because those stories never really were about Ehud and Samson, but about us, all along.

One of the hardest things about teaching the Bible to anyone, especially young people, is they feel like those stories don't relate to them. Believe this or not, this is an even more common problem in groups that are regularly exposed to Biblical teaching, because they enter a mentality of familiarity, which makes it easy to gloss over the ideas. If you really want to teach a solid Biblical lesson, demonstrate how in reality we aren't a single bit different than the people in those stories. If you can make people feel like they have lived through Ehud;s or Samson's or someone else's shoes, you have done your job.

A note about magic and Biblical law: I don't want to presume anything, because I know there are varying traditions in Jewish Orthodoxy and I wish in no way whatsoever to step on anyone's traditions or beliefs. With that in mind, I will say depending on how you and yours view the idea of magic, there are again ways that can be handled. The idea of the aging, robed wizard with knowledge for the hero has been around for a long time, and even takes some of its inspiration from iconic imagery in the Bible. Take Moses for example and the massive smackdown that was frequently laid out when he led Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness.

Now, Galadriel makes a most interesting proclamation about this in The Fellowship of the Ring, when Frodo refers to her power, and the power of the elves, as magic. The following is a close paraphrase. "You call it magic, but I don't know this word. You use the same word for the powers of the Wise as the deceits of the Enemy." From the perspective of the un-initiated, the powers of one would be indistinguishable from the powers of the others. The wise sage with secret knowledge is easily managable in this context, the only question is from where they draw their power. That is another direction you could take things if you plan on using the sage archetype. Where does the power come from, and what is required to obtain which kind of power?

The prophets of Baal had to spill their own blood for power, and even then it didn't always work, and YHWH servants (The servants of the Wise, kinda like Gandalf eh?) are frequently seen using the same abilities, but theirs' overcoming the ones they come against, again like the Patriarch Moses with the staves of snakes when he came against the Egyptian mages. At one point, even Daniel at one point held the title of mage. Granted, his power came from a very different place, but he still held the title. This opens up the interesting opportunity to explore the idea, "if the acts look the same on the surface, what makes an act commendable vs. condemnable?" Also, if the name "wizard" simply isn't to your liking, you can always do what my brother did for one particular setting and rename the class "prophet." You could even draw a distinction between prophets and wizards depending on alignment, similar to paladins and anti-paladins.


These are all ideas that you can run across any authority figures that may be responsible for approving any stories or ideas you had thought up. I know I would certainly play a game in a setting like that if I got to play a character who followed the archetype of Elijah's apprentice, Elisha.

I see you mention the Pantheon in your blog. Ordinarily that may be an issue, but I genuinely think there is a way around it, and a cool one at that. In the Bible, you see multiple references to harsh and evil spirits (I'm not calling them daemons, devils, or demons, because those are all modern interpretations of what those things are) that some messengers of other gods draw their power from. The ol' KJV translation refers to them as "familiar spirits." Straight out of the PHB, and even the DMG, its been said that clerics don't even need gods for their power, that just being devoted to an alignment, or another idea altogether is enough.

I would like to point out that sometimes these spirits even get sent on missions from God, like when the lying spirit was sent into the mouths of the prophets. So, there you have the source of evil power in the setting. But what's cool is that this works both ways. Who worked with Daniel to overcome the Prince of Persia? Michael. There we have a full-blown Biblical example of the servants of God working together in both realms to make things happen. Even in the Bible, there are lots of places people draw power from, and not all of them are pleasing in the eyes of God. You have a lot to work with there.

Sorry for such a long post, but this is kind of a personal interest of mine too.
@Zaramon

thanks so much for taking the time to add to the discussion here. You have some great stuff in there that I think will be very helpful. Some of it coincides with my prelimanry findings in the Testament Rule book which I downloaded last night. I'm definitely going to be making some use of that rule book and may incorporate some of what you outlined as well. I think some of your ideas would definitely help me round things out and end up where I want to be.

I have recently updated my blog with a breif discussion exploring my choice of setting.

If you guys get a chance please check it out and leave any comments you may have. Constructive criticism is always appreciated be it for content or structure (this is my first blog after all).

Here's a link to my blog again.

dungeonsdragonsandtorah.blogspot.com/&nb...
Glad to be of service. I will be keeping a close eye on your thread and your blog for a while. I'm interested to see where this goes.
So I'm thinking now a D & D world for our home base. This will allow for a consistent environment to exist that the characters can come back to in between religious outings. They will be able to make a place for them in the town, city whatever where they are situated and I can take them on non-religion specific quests if the opportunity arises. I will then have the "Wise Sage" dispatch them to various "critical" events that require their assistance for one reason or another and in this way I can neatly insert them into the various biblical stories without worrying about how much time elapses in between them. This will also give me more lee-way in mitigating unwelcome alterations on events and time lines as the characters will regulary be removed from their position of influence over biblical events.

-Any suggestions on which D & D world I should be using?

-Within that any suggestions for a place to settle them into?

-Any characters you feel should specifically be kept in/removed?

I'm also going to be using the piety system from testament as well as some of the classes and prestige classes. There is some really good stuff in there. I'll give more specifics as I figure them out myself. 
So I'm thinking now a D & D world for our home base. This will allow for a consistent environment to exist that the characters can come back to in between religious outings. They will be able to make a place for them in the town, city whatever where they are situated and I can take them on non-religion specific quests if the opportunity arises. I will then have the "Wise Sage" dispatch them to various "critical" events that require their assistance for one reason or another and in this way I can neatly insert them into the various biblical stories without worrying about how much time elapses in between them. This will also give me more lee-way in mitigating unwelcome alterations on events and time lines as the characters will regulary be removed from their position of influence over biblical events.

-Any suggestions on which D & D world I should be using?

-Within that any suggestions for a place to settle them into?

-Any characters you feel should specifically be kept in/removed?

I'm also going to be using the piety system from testament as well as some of the classes and prestige classes. There is some really good stuff in there. I'll give more specifics as I figure them out myself. 



Sounds like you have a good handle on things thus far.

I might not use a pre-generated world. You might get more mileage out of crafting the world as you go, especially if you want to invoke a specific "feel" to the game.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Generally I would agree, my concern is in biting off more than I can chew. I'm already mashing together multiple rule sets with a religious curriculum. Having to generate even just one part of a continent of a home brew world can be daunting if you are a bit anal about things (which I can be). I guess I might just have to be willing to set up shop for them quick and dirty and not let them stray too far until I have time to lay out more.
Generally I would agree, my concern is in biting off more than I can chew. I'm already mashing together multiple rule sets with a religious curriculum. Having to generate even just one part of a continent of a home brew world can be daunting if you are a bit anal about things (which I can be). I guess I might just have to be willing to set up shop for them quick and dirty and not let them stray too far until I have time to lay out more.



My best suggestion for that is to look up methods for generating "hexes" of content or just look up various random generation tools for DMs in general. It will eliminate a lot of the meat for you to chew but still get you equivalent results. In fact, many times the results are better because the world is a big random place and there is far more in it than anyone could hope to quantify.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Excellent idea, will be posting on my blog in the near future about the first campaign I am planning but here are the basics.

Do you have any suggestions for which tools to use?

-Thinking that I will have their first mission be to solve the crime of Cain and Abel as a test. G-d obviously already knows who did it but wants to test our players.

The wise man who transports our players between two worlds is an Angel, a messenger of G-d who will speak for G-d and give them instructions, evaluations, etc.

The players will be tasked with tracking Cain, confronting him, defeating him in battle if necessary and finally with placing the mark upon him.
Excellent idea, will be posting on my blog in the near future about the first campaign I am planning but here are the basics.

Do you have any suggestions for which tools to use?

-Thinking that I will have their first mission be to solve the crime of Cain and Abel as a test. G-d obviously already knows who did it but wants to test our players.

The wise man who transports our players between two worlds is an Angel, a messenger of G-d who will speak for G-d and give them instructions, evaluations, etc.

The players will be tasked with tracking Cain, confronting him, defeating him in battle if necessary and finally with placing the mark upon him.



The website blog Hack & Slash has a good set of tools. The link is hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/

However a particularly nice grouping of tools can be found on the particular post hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/2012/04/on-... here. That link has a bunch of other links to it to various tools that let you instantly build a town full of NPCs with character traits and such attached. It is SUPER helpful. It basically explains by example this hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/2012/04/on-... post which has A LOT in it.

If you are gonna do Cain and Abel, I would suggest having the servant make it so that the names they hear are not necessarily the names of those involved...that way there can be a bit of mystery involved for them. Also if you want a good instant evil-Cain archetype, Vandal Savage from DC Comics was possessed of the power of Cain and that power let him incite murderousness in others. That could be a good lesson about evil begetting evil and that one must be wary of carrying sin in their own heart. As true heroes, your players would not be susceptible to that corruption which is a perfect reason for them to be chosen, no?

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I will discuss with the head of the school as to whether or not she wants me changing names but that's not a bad idea. As for the the power of Cain idea I like that and will definitely consider it. Using such an idea would make it more interesting as the minor encounters on the way to Cain could be his "followers" rather than random encounters.

Thanks so much for those links! 
I will discuss with the head of the school as to whether or not she wants me changing names but that's not a bad idea. As for the the power of Cain idea I like that and will definitely consider it. Using such an idea would make it more interesting as the minor encounters on the way to Cain could be his "followers" rather than random encounters.

Thanks so much for those links! 



No problem, glad to help.

I'd definitely say to reveal the names at the end so they understand the relevance of the game they played in regard to the story of Cain & Abel. Having the different names for the adventure will just keep them from immediately going "It's Cain!" if they already know the story. If they don't, well then no problem at all to use the names.

If you need an in-game explaination, perhaps the messenger makes it clear that it was important that the murderer be condemned by his actions not by his name that will live in infamy. Hence the need for obfuscation.

Hope you find them helpful. I am messing around with the big city generator right now and it is ca-razy!

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I'm sorry I didn't see this thread sooner.  This looks like a great oriject and I wish you the best fo luck!

What age are the kids who will be playing, as this should affect the moral quandaries you want them to examine.

For younger kids (pre-teen), stick to the kid-friendly stories in Genesis and Exodus.  Cain and Abel, Noah's Ark, Abraham negotiating for the survival of Sodom, the Burning Bush, Joseph in slavery, and saving the baby Moses.  Keep the stories simple and straightforward.  Maybe try to rin an entire adventure in one or two sessions.

For young teens, I think they will be more interested in the violence.  Break it up into three parts:

First, the story of Exodus and the trek through the desert works well here.  Do it through thin metaphor though.  Have the kids take the place of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.  Have them be the prophesied saviors of an enslaved people.  They use their miraculous powers to free the slaves from tyranny, to help them escape, to travel through a hostile realm surrounded by various enemies.  They have to deal with people inside their own encampment rebelling against them (such as Korach).  So the questions they deal with are: how to be just, how to set up a society, what does it mean to be a good leader?

Second, they get to the Promised Land, it is fileld with a race of giants.  here you transition from the story of Moses, Miriam, and Aaron, to the story of Phineas, Joshua, and Gideon, in which they have to conquer this new land and drive out the giants and ogres and other creatures living there.  Now they have to deal with the issue of finding a home and living in harmony with the people already there.  Sure, a lot of the Canaanits are brutal, tossing children into the fires of Moloch, but maybe some of the Canaanites aren't so horrible, like those nice Asherah worshipers.  The PCs have to wrestle with the concept of a just war and knowing how far they should go.

Third, they have to keep the Promised Land.  Again, you have folks like the Philistines, Assyrians, and even Egyptians encroaching on the lands. Now you are int he stories of the Judges, Samson,  Saul, David, and Solomon.  You have devil cults and demon cults trying to corrupt the people they led out of slavery.  Now they can wrestle with more difficult concepts like balancing between preserving your traditions and being allowed to assimilate into the culture.

For older teens, they can handle more morally nuanced issues.  Move onto the stories of the prophets.  Maybe make the PCs phophets themselves, charged with policiing the Kings and making sure they act justly, while the kings (and PCs) also have to deal with global politics -- the struggle between Egypt and Assyria.  They can deal with villains like Balaam, and Joshua saving Nineveh.

Of course, I don't mean for this to be followed literally.  Use a homespun campaign but make obvious parallels between these stories.  I might even reserve a portion after the session to discuss the moral issues raised out-of-game and to have the kids read the relevant portion of Torah and Haftorah that inspired that game session. 

Good luck.  This sounds like it could be a geat experience! 
Just an update, I will be meeting with the head of the religious school and the Rabbi's wife this Thursday so I'm not really making any more moves or working on this too much more until then. They will be giving me the go ahead in general I believe, but may have me tweak certain things. I'll let you know how it goes.
Just an update, I will be meeting with the head of the religious school and the Rabbi's wife this Thursday so I'm not really making any more moves or working on this too much more until then. They will be giving me the go ahead in general I believe, but may have me tweak certain things. I'll let you know how it goes.



Awesome. Hopefully things continue without any major speedbumps.

Have you come to any other decisions about the game or anything else relevant to the thread? Hope to hear back with more information about this little project and if you want any more input...all you gotta do is ask. Best of luck.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Meeting was cancelled, this happens she is very busy. In the mean time anyone have thoughts on minimizing, reducing violence or managing violence in a way that might make it more acceptable to religious teachers? I don't think the violence should be removed as an option by any means (since the mechanics for it are a huge part of the game and fun of course) but would like to hear thoughts on making it more palatable.
Absolutely. Do not use hp as physical health. Use it to measure morale and combat ability only. Abstract. If someone is at low numbers they can surrender or flee. Slashes of swords batter defenses, not flesh. The shot that reduces to 0 or less is the real blow.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Meeting was cancelled, this happens she is very busy. In the mean time anyone have thoughts on minimizing, reducing violence or managing violence in a way that might make it more acceptable to religious teachers? I don't think the violence should be removed as an option by any means (since the mechanics for it are a huge part of the game and fun of course) but would like to hear thoughts on making it more palatable.



This is a tough one, especially if you're going to go with some of the more violent sections of the Bible. For a long time war was a major element in that bit of history. Ehud stabbed a king to death, Eleazer killed 800ish people on his own in one fight, tens of thousands of kills were attirbuted to King David...that's a tough one.

Now, that aside, and I'm not making any kind of a value judgment here, but I'm not so sure violence in any story, especially something like the Bible, should be made to be more palatable. Sometimes that stuff is gruesome for a reason. I would start by asking what kind of message your teachers want to send.
'Real world Religion has no place in a Dungeons and Dragons game' - Gary Gygax

You want the Battle of Massada? The Siege of a Israelite Fortress by Romans. 
The Citadel Megadungeon: http://yellowdingosappendix.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/the-citadel-mega-dungeon-now-with-room.html
Well, most of the stuff from D&D comes from real world religions. In fact, its pretty difficult to not discuss religion in some forms. Elves and Dwarves, for example, are absolutely part of a real world religion that is still practiced today. Gygax may have got them from Tolkien, but Tolkien didn't just make them up. Though Tolkien's dwarves and elves, particularly the elves, are much closer to the source material.
'Real world Religion has no place in a Dungeons and Dragons game' - Gary Gygax

You want the Battle of Massada? The Siege of a Israelite Fortress by Romans. 



'Gary Gygax advice has no place in a Dungeons and Dragons game' - YagamiFire

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

'Real world Religion has no place in a Dungeons and Dragons game' - Gary Gygax

You want the Battle of Massada? The Siege of a Israelite Fortress by Romans. 



'Gary Gygax advice has no place in a Dungeons and Dragons game' - YagamiFire



Bahahaha!!! Nice.
The meeting went well and we are going to start in a few weeks. The hardest part for the Rabbi's wife to wrap her head around is that there is nothing to plug in and no game board required. The idea of a game that relied so much on the imagination was mind boggling! I think this is exactly the reason something like this can be such a great project. If parents can't even comprehend entertainment without an iphone how can kids be expected to!

So anyways they want me to start with the chanukkah story and do two sessions over two weeks. I think this will work well as there are is so much material to use in that story. The hardest part will be boiling it down to two 1 hour sessions (I told her I need an hour of play time so it's booked for 90 minutes). I am thinking 3 focal encounters per session.

I like that more abstract view of combat from Yagami

Absolutely. Do not use hp as physical health. Use it to measure morale and combat ability only. Abstract. If someone is at low numbers they can surrender or flee. Slashes of swords batter defenses, not flesh. The shot that reduces to 0 or less is the real blow.

I am going to try and use this.

Thanks for all the good stuff on this thread! 
'Real world Religion has no place in a Dungeons and Dragons game' - Gary Gygax

'Gary Gygax advice has no place in a Dungeons and Dragons game' - YagamiFire

From his position as a system author, I agree with Gygax.

From the position of a random DM *as* DM, that's just one end of a range of valid decisions on the subject. This project is more or less at the other end. Somewhere in between is lifting adventures wholesale from a religion you expect your players to NOT be familiar with, simply as a source of inspiration.

(The hazard with copying religious stories is that most such stories have just one clearly identifiable hero, while most D&D groups have 3-6 clearly identifiable heroes. You don't want to elevate one PC above the others if you can reasonably avoid it, and particularly not in the first adventure. On occasions when you can't avoid it, you need to rotate the spotlight among the players.)

"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
(The hazard with copying religious stories is that most such stories have just one clearly identifiable hero, while most D&D groups have 3-6 clearly identifiable heroes. You don't want to elevate one PC above the others if you can reasonably avoid it, and particularly not in the first adventure. On occasions when you can't avoid it, you need to rotate the spotlight among the players.)



When I go for this kind of story, I like to handle it with types. Like, maybe there's a little bit of Moses in all of us, for example. Personally I like the point that it makes given that Moses was refered to as a friend to the divine.

Great project Aristaqis! I was just watching an interview with Tracy Hickman in which he talks about what a great vehicle D&D could be for teaching morality. Regarding a world to adventure in you might want to check out "GURPS Banestorm" or its predecessor  "GURPS fantasy". The back-story for that world is that people, whole cities in some cases, have been magically transported to the world of Yrth from our own Earth. And so it combines real world religions and ancient cultures with a fantasy world. You could easily copy the entire holy land during the time of Judges and drop it into Yrth.


Another option might be to forego the fantasy world entirely and have monsters and demons be a very rare but real threat to the people of the old world. The players could be secret monster hunters for Moses or Joshua. These types of games get pretty grim though as the single monster needs to be pretty scary. Check out Lamentations of the Flame Princess for some insight on running that kind of campaign.


Best of luck! And thanks for doing a Blog, it will be fun to read about your progress.


 

So anyways they want me to start with the chanukkah story and do two sessions over two weeks. I think this will work well as there are is so much material to use in that story. The hardest part will be boiling it down to two 1 hour sessions (I told her I need an hour of play time so it's booked for 90 minutes). I am thinking 3 focal encounters per session.


The Hannukah story works great as a D&D campaign.  Have the party be a part of the Maccabean revolt.  The party might fight a giant (always a fun biblical encounter) working with the Seleucids, save some villagers from Assyrian troops, and then a grand battle to take back the Temple.

Part two is when they discover that there is only one day's olive oil for the Temple. High Priest Jonathan Maccabee himself sends the party on a quest to get the olive oil.  The party would know (thank you, metagaming) that they have only eight days to get it done.  Along the way, you have environmental hazards and giant boars.  Maybe the sage who makes the holy oil appropriate for the Temple wants to test the characters of their knowledge of Judaism to ensure they are not Seleucid spies.