Saturday, June 15, 2019

Economy in the Land of the Ten Clans

One of the things I find fascinating about Chinese history is that it was a copper based economy and were very early adopters of paper money. I am not going to delve into the complications that a paper money economy would bring to a fantasy world, so I am going to stick to that unappreciated and much maligned copper piece. Gold was never minted and never widely used as a currency (except for the upper echelons of society) and silver normally showed up in ingots, not coins.

While hardly accurate, here is my attempt at translating the normal D&D coinage system into something like an ancient Chinese copper-based economy:

1 cp = 1 copper coin
1 sp = 1 “ring” of 10 copper coins
1 gp = 1 “string” of 100 copper coins
1 pp = 1 silver ingot

What follows is a very basic breakdown of the primary trade goods that are present in Land of the Ten Clans, broken down by region:

Beongae (Lightning)

Livestock: Pig/Boar
Grain: Rice
Crop: Cucumbers
Raw Material: Wood
Premium Finished Good: Music Instruments/Bells
Inferior Finished Good: Textiles

Doku (Poison)

Livestock: Poltry
Grain: Green Millet
Crop: Oranges
Raw Material: Clay
Premium Finished Good: Bone China
Inferior Finished Good: Tea (Green)/Rice Wine (Green)

Huo (Fire)

Livestock: Dog
Grain: Wheat
Crop: Pomelos
Raw Material: Cotton
Premium Finished Good: Tea (Red)/Rice Wine (Red)
Inferior Finished Good: Armor & Weapons

Korudo (Cold)

Livestock: Crab
Grain: Sorghum
Crop: Chesnuts
Raw Material: Feldspar & Quartz
Premium Finished Good: Armor & Weapons
Inferior Finished Good: Musical Instruments/Bells

Suan (Acid)

Livestock: Fish
Grain: Black Millet
Crop: Dates
Raw Material: Ore
Premium Finished Good: Silk
Inferior Finished Good: Porcelain

Note: a Premium Finished Good refers to the highest quality version of that product in the land whereas Inferior Finished Good refers to the most common and affordable version of the product.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Map of The Land of the Ten Clans

Any resemblance to the Real World is purely intentional

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Races of the Land of the Ten Clans

I not only want the Land of the Ten Clans to be Asian-flavored fantasy, but I also want it to be human-centric. Therefore, there will none of the standard D&D non-human flavors of demi-humans such as elves, dwarves or halflings. I do, however, want there to be distinct differences between the various human factions. Therefore, rather than using the standard human racial traits, I propose the following:

Humans in the Land of the Ten Clans

  • +1 on two Ability Scores of your choice
  • Proficiency in one Skill of your choice
  • Subrace

Human Subraces in the Land of the Ten Clans

Beongae (Lightning)
  • +1 Str
  • Advantage on Athletic checks when swimming; auto succeed on DC10 or less
  • Double Con when determining how long you can hold your breath
  • Languages: Common and Beongaego
Doku (Poison)
  • +1 Int
  • Ability to write in a Cipher that requires magic or a DC of (your Int + Proficiency Bonus) to read. It is possible to teach allies to read your cipher without a check.
  • Languages: Common, Dokugo plus 3 additional Languages of your choice
Gweilo (Outsider)
  • Gain 3 proficiencies in any combination of skills or tools of your choice
  • Languages: Common and Gweilogo
Huo (Fire)
  • +1 Con
  • Base Move is 35 feet
  • Advantage on Con Saves vs. Exhaustion
  • Languages: Common and Huogo
Korudo (Cold)
  • +1 to an Ability of Choice
  • Gain Saving Throw Proficiency with that Ability
  • Languages: Common and Korudogo
Suan (Acid)
  • +1 Wis
  • You can read lips. As long as you can see a person's lips, you can get a good idea of what that person is saying (though not exact without actually hearing the person) 
  • +5 on passive Wisdom (Perception) and passive Int (Investigation) scores
  • Languages: Common and Suango

This set-up also allows me to change what are considered to be Standard Languages in the Land of the Ten Clans. Here is the list, where the Script from more traditional D&D languages is indicated in parenthesis:
Common (Draconic)
Beongaego (Elvish)
Dokugo (Draconic)
Hengeyokai (Elvish)
Gweilogo (Celestial)
Huogo (Draconic)
Korudogo (Dwarvish)
Oni (Infernal)
Suango (Draconic)
Note: I do plan to allow PCs to be Hengeyokai, but rather than a separate race, they will be represented by a Background.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Veil of St. Iwe

So, because I have been meditating on an asian-themed campaign world, I was obliged to draw a picture of a temple guard armed with a testubo (because that is a fundamental image for me and all things asian-fantasy). As any artist can tell you, there are times when art just demands things of the artist that the artist wasn't really planning on. This is one of those times and things went a little weird:

Temple Guard of the Order of St. Iwe

Evidently, members of the Order of St. Iwe wear a veil emblazoned with an open eye surrounded by  divine light. Given that, as temple guards, these guys need to see, I decided a new minor magic item was called for:

The Veil of St. Iwe

This simple cloth emblazoned with a open eye surrounded by divine light must be worn over the face in order for this item to work. While wearing the veil, the user gains advantage on all visual perception checks; however, any attempt to hide, disguise or otherwise conceal the use of the veil will automatically fail. Every creature encountered will treat the user as a member of the Order of St. Iwe (whether the user is an actual member or not) with all of the discrimination and persecution that comes with it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Asian Weapons in 5e

One of my favorite aspects of the 1E version of Oriental Adventures was the weapon section. More than anything else, this was the flavor that really allowed my imagination to take flight. There is something about the image of temple guards armed with tetsubos that just says asian fantasy to me. You could keep virtually everything else about the game the same, have a list of asian-inspired weapons and my imagination would transport me to whatever asian-style fantasy world you want.

Thus, a very important aspect of continuing my current thought experiment, which I am tentatively calling Jade: The Land of the Ten Clans, was to get a weapon list full of asian-style weapons. In order to do this, I really didn’t want to re-invent the wheel. As far as I can see, the weapon list in 5e is just fine. It does everything I need it to do. Thus, the key was to find asian equivalents to each of the weapons on the list. There are a couple of things, though, that I really wanted to express through the weapons list that wouldn’t be necessarily possible, given the proficiencies of the Rogue and the Ranger.

Firstly, I wanted the katana and wakizashi to be exclusively Ranger weapons. This sets up a class divide between Rangers and every other class and allows these two weapons to be the outward symbols of that class divide.

Secondly, due the ubiquitous image of the ninja armed with a blowgun, I wanted Rogues to have access to that particular weapon. I will grant, that I could have done this via a specific background, but given my desire to make the katana and wakizashi exclusive to Rangers, I found it more useful to deal with it more generally.

Thus, to solve both problems with one simple change, I swapped out the Rogue’s proficiency with the Longsword (which is the best fit for describing a katana) for a proficiency with the Blowgun.

Here is a list of the 5e weapons and what I see as decent (though not perfect) asian equivalents:
Simple Melee Weapons
Club = Jo
Dagger = Knife
Greatclub = Tetsubo
Handaxe = (same)
Javelin = Sibat
Light Hammer = Tonfa
Mace = (same)
Quarterstaff = Bo
Sickle = Kama
Spear = Chiang

Simple Ranged Weapons
Crossbow, Light = (same)
Dart = Shuriken
Shortbow = (same)
Sling = (same)

Martial Melee Weapons
Battleaxe = Naginata
Flail = Nunchuck
Glaive = Chai-Dao
Greataxe = Nine-Dragon-Trident
Greatsword = No Dachi
Halberd = Ghi
Lance = (same)
Longsword = Katana
Maul = Wolf-Teeth-Staff
Morningstar = (same)
Pike = Yari
Rapier = Jien
Scimitar = Wakizashi
Shortsword = Sai
Trident = Dang Pa
War pick = Hook Sword
Warhammer = Three-Section-Staff
Whip = Chain Whip

Martial Ranged Weapons
Blowgun = (same)
Crossbow, hand = (same)
Crossbow, heavy = (same)
Longbow = (same)
Net = (same)
Thus, the swords of the Ranger class are the Katana and Wakizashi and the sword of the Rogue-as-rank-in-file-soldier is the Jien.

Again, I realize that several of these equivalents are not exact, but in the abstract they do just fine. Given that D&D combat has always been a gross abstraction of combat, this list suits me just fine.

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Wu Xing Diagram

Yesterday, I posted about using a Wu Xing diagram to map out relationships between factions in a campaign world. Here is the actual diagram that I described:

Using this, it can be fairly easy to start putting together a political plot and conflict that is the main background noise of a campaign.

It starts with the Green Clan and their hatred of the Gold Clan and the Fire Faction in general. To get at them, they have convinced members of the Red Clan to secretly break ranks. The diagram shows that the break-away members of the Red Clan harbor enmity towards their fellow member of the Fire Faction, the Brass Clan.

A simple way to explain this is that the Brass Clan has married off one of their daughters to the head of the Red Clan, who is impotent and has no heirs. The Green Clan has exploited the anxiety within the Red Clan to place blame on the Brass Clan as a whole.

Thus, members of the Red Clan are secretly working out ways to get their revenge on the Brass Clan. To do so, they are exploiting the Silver Clan’s hatred of the Blue Clan to obtain items necessary to exact their revenge. They are also misdirecting the Blue Clan’s friendliness toward the Brass Clan in order to accomplish their goals.

In the meantime, the Copper Clan has begun to suspect the Red Clan’s plans, but have so far been unable to convince the Silver Clan of the danger. They have thus resorted to working with the White Clan through their fellow Acid Faction member the Black Clan. The plan is to sow distrust between the Bronze and Blue Clans in order to disrupt the workings of the Red Clan.

See how wonderfully complex this all gets in short order?

As an aside, I plan to have the Fire Faction territory at or near the border regions of the Empire. In other words, they are the ones that are in charge of the campaign world’s version of the Great Wall. As both the Fire Clan and the Brass Clan begin to be ripped apart by the various political plotting began by the Green Clan, the defense at the Great Wall will weaken. This, of course, opens up the possibility of a major outside threat getting into the Empire and creating havoc.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

World Building Using Wu Xing

When I am building a new campaign world, I especially like to create factions in sets of five. This allows me to plug factions into a Wu Xing diagram which indicates which factions are enemies and which factions are allies. What is particularly fascinating about this model is that enmity and friendship really only go one direction. This creates a wonderfully complex set of relationships. It also is really easy to use.

To demonstrate how useful this is, take a look at how I have plugged in the Ten Clans from my last post, where I posited a campaign world based on using only four of the twelve available 5e classes:

The Poison Faction is friendly with the Lightening Faction and has enmity toward the Fire Faction:
  • The Green Clan specifically likes the Bronze Clan and hates the Gold Clan
  • The Green Clan has also convinced elements of the Red Clan to betray the Fire Faction. This traitorous element specifically likes the Blue Clan and hates the Brass Clan

The Lightening Faction is friendly with the Fire Faction and has enmity toward the Acid Faction:
  • The Bronze Clan specifically likes the Gold Clan and hates the Black Clan
  • The Blue Clan specifically likes the Brass Clan and hates the Copper Clan

The Fire Faction is friendly with the Acid Faction and has enmity toward the Cold Faction:
  • The Gold Clan specifically likes the Black Clan and hates the White Clan
  • The Brass Clan specifically likes the Copper Clan and hates the Silver Clan

The Acid Faction is friendly with the Cold Faction and has enmity toward the Poison Faction:
  • The Blue Clan specifically likes the White Clan and hates the Green Clan
  • The Copper Clan specifically likes the Silver Clan and hates the Red Clan

The Cold Faction is friendly with the Poison Faction and has enmity toward the Lightening Faction:
  • The White Clan specifically likes the Green Clan and hates the Bronze Clan
  • The Silver Clan specifically likes the Red Clan and hates the Blue Clan

By simply plugging in these factions into the Wu Xing model, all kinds of interesting relationships and conflicts arise. This becomes especially useful when planning a campaign full of political intrigue.

And because I love doing it, here is some heraldry for the Ten Clans:

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

World Building using 5e Classes

One of my favorite poetic forms is the haiku. While tempting to see it as a very simple style of poetry where one need only come up with seventeen syllables and be done with it, writing a haiku is much more difficult than it seems. The goal is to capture a singular moment in time without allegory, simile or analogy. The skill and creativity to write a truly brilliant haiku is much greater than one might be led to believe.

Thus, I have always seen limitations as powerful creative tools. This explains my love of random tables. They severely limit my initial input as to what happens in an encounter, but open up a huge amount of possibilities when I am forced to rationally explain why that particular encounter happened when and where it did. This has consistently led to an enriching of my campaign worlds beyond what normally would have been possible if I had used my own input on encounters instead of a random table.

This leads me to today’s post — a thought experiment using limitations. Specifically, limiting the number of classes available to players in a 5e campaign and then building out a campaign world based on those classes available.

Since my favorite edition of D&D is B/X and B/X has four basic classes, I decided to use that as a benchmark. I then divided up the twelve available 5e classes into four groups:

  • Barbarians, Fighters, Rangers
  • Bards, Monks, Rogues
  • Clerics, Druids, Paladins
  • Sorcerers, Warlocks, Wizards

I then asked my children to pick one class from each category to come up with this list of four available classes:

  • Ranger
  • Rogue
  • Cleric
  • Sorcerer

Two interesting patterns emerge from this group of four classes:

First, the Cleric is the exception when it comes to magic. Rangers, Rogues with the Arcane Trickster Archetype and Sorcerers all use spontaneous casting from a list of known spells. Clerics, on the other hand, prepare spells from the cleric spell list and have access to ritual casting.

Second, there is no class that truly represents a standing army. Rangers are skirmish fighters. While rogues can emulate the sense of a disciplined army or coordinated fighting with their Sneak Attack, their limitations with both weapons and armor as well as their focus on dexterity and stealth suggest an army far more used to spying than to fighting toe-to-toe battles on a regular basis.

The campaign world that emerges from these patterns is one that is primarily focused inward because what outside threats exist can be kept in check by rangers and rogues. Thus, the driving force of most adventures is going to be political intrigue between factions that exist within the campaign world.

These factions are suggested by the various damage types available to sorcerers from the Draconic Bloodline:

  • Acid (with Black and Copper clans)
  • Cold (with Silver and White clans)
  • Fire (with Copper, Gold, and Red clans)
  • Lightening (with Blue and Bronze clans)
  • Poison (with the Green clan)

This nicely fits into a five point pattern similar to the Asian Elemental System of Wu Xing which creates a nicely complex but balanced system where each faction has an enemy and and ally. Given that the Poison faction has only one clan (and thus has their power base consolidated) and has a specialty so convenient to the art of assassination, it makes sense to understand this faction as the current royal clan (and gives me permission to use names like the Jade Throne).

What emerges from all this is a Far East-flavored, Middle Kingdom-esque campaign world where the aristocracy are descended from dragons, magic is seen as a sign of the elite and most martial weapons are highly regulated and only used by a special class within the ruling elites — rangers.

Clerics represent an outside (Western-esque) influence both culturally and magically. They would be rare and, given that their magic can be used by those outside the aristocracy, possibly illegal in various parts of the campaign world. Due to the fractious nature of the Fire faction, I could see the Gold and/or Copper clans being the most tolerant of these new ideas and magics.

Thus, the four classes can be understood in context of the campaign world in the following ways:

Rangers are akin to a samurai class. They are far more concerned about outside threats than an average citizen, but still suffer from a myopic view inward as evidenced by the Beast Master Archetype which is more about show and prestige of the animal companions (where more exotic and well-trained companions are more prestigious).

Rogues represent the default class of the average citizen. Thieves’ Cant is a kind of trade language and a (not so full proof way) to communicate under the noses of the aristocracy. The Thief Archetype represents your basic thug. The Assassin Archetype represents a basic soldier or city guard. The Arcane Trickster represents a low-born aristocrat, a dilettante that likes to slum it with the peasantry, or an aristocratic spy that keeps the ruling class informed about the rumblings and rebellions amongst the hoi polloi.

Sorcerers generally represent the upper echelon of the aristocracy. Those of the Dragon Bloodline are those that have the most royal blood running through their veins. Sorcerers who use Wild Magic are the exception. They are generally low-born who have enough dragon blood to manifest magic but not enough to control it and manifest it the same way as those who have the Dragon Bloodline. These sorcerers are generally looked down upon and seen as dangerous by both the ruling class and the peasantry.

Clerics and their followers are the most outward-looking citizens of the empire. Their magic and world-view is heavily influenced by foreign culture and ideas. Due to their focus on and care of the lower classes, they are seen as a threat by most of the aristocracy but are mostly tolerated in the lands controlled by certain Fire clans. Their existence hints at a greater (most likely undead) outside threat than the Empire has faced in generations.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

An AI Answers Jeff's 20 Questions

It came to my attention via Talysman over at The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms that there is a neural network web toy that will complete the text of a prompt a user types in. I immediately saw this as a kind of random table, and I love me a good random table. So, I decided to use it to make a random campaign setting by having it answer Jeff Rient's 20 Quick Questions for Your Campaign Setting.

What follows I have edited to make more intelligible and concise, but every word was generated by the AI and not me.

What is the deal with my cleric's religion?

I am a Catholic and my faith has been strengthened by the life of the Church (I am one of the few who has not been a bishop, but have also been active in Catholic charity work). I now work as much as I can as a public advocate for the cause of justice.

Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

There are five main ways to buy your equipment – from your nearest chemist, from your nearest chemist's office, from your nearest pharmacy, or at your nearest specialist shop. Some pharmacies have a chemist service and can be a good first step in buying your first tools.

Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

That depends on your guild. There will be a vendor standing near the entrance to the dungeon that sells the equipment.

Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

Dafnaught, Lord of Storms.

Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

Shura: I'm a warrior. No, I'm not a hero, I'm a warrior!!

Who is the richest person in the land?

Henry Clay has a net worth of $400 billion.

Where can we go to get some magical healing?

Let us tell you about it! We will be visiting your local Healing Centre on Saturday at 9 am (local time) to receive your prayers. We plan to talk about how spiritual healing works, how to prepare for it, and provide all you need to get started!

-The Bawthorn (B. Strange)

Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

The only place to get cure spells is in scrolls. If you need something, you can just pick up a scroll at the nearest booklifter and pray.

Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

You can only join a guild if it is registered. If you do not wish to continue with your current guild, you'll have to contact your guildmaster. Guilds often have a monthly membership fee. You'll need to pay for this once a month, and then pay again over time. (Note: Your current membership fee may be different than the fee you will be charged for joining a guild.)

Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

There are algos who carry large inventories, but they're not your typical Alchemists or crafters.

Where can I hire mercenaries?

Your guild has a wide range of mercenaries to hire along with a large number of skilled warriors, fighters and archers.

Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

Yes, sword and magic are banned in all of the places on the map.

What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

As of now, there are probably more than four monsters. It has been about three months since the start of the attack.

Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

Not until the Empire is destroyed.

How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

If the president wants to put up an entertainment center for his kids, surely he should go for it.

Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

Scienca is a society dedicated to spreading the word about science and technology, and helping to create peace between races.

The Society of the Serpent has never publicly expressed its desire to invade other worlds.

What is there to eat around here?

Oh, just chicken wing salad.

Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

One of the world's most famous antiquities, the priceless Necrotic Orb, contains the remains of an ancient lich.

Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

The nearest dragon is the Red Dragonborn in Whiterun. The dragons are coming to Darkshire. The Dragons are coming here. And they are coming for The Dark Lord.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Character Sheet for TFT

Steve Jackson Games was an important game company in my own formation as a gamer. I don't blog about that very often, because this blog is mostly about RPGs, not war games. Thus, when Steve Jackson won the rights to republish The Fantasy Trip, I really wanted to support him on the endeavor and managed to scrape together enough cash to get in on the Kickstarter.

I must admit that I am very pleased with the quality of this project; however, I do have one (minor) quibble. I don't like the character sheet. Admittedly, this is something I can say about the vast majority of RPGs. About the only character sheets I would readily use in a game are the sheets that came with B/X and those that came with early editions of Champions. Other than that, I usually have to comb the interwebs for someone who has created a different version or I have to make my own.

Thus, the reason for this post. I couldn't find a lot of options in terms of TFT Character Sheets, so I made my own. I thought I'd share:

Have fun!

Monday, March 4, 2019

On Vitriol: This Zak Smith Thing

Almost four years ago, Zak Smith and wundergeek had a very public fight about gender politics. At the time, I had been away from blogging due to the health of my child, but decided to use the situation as a launching point for a meditation On Vitriol in the digital age.

Ironically, at the end of this past December, right before Christmas, my youngest again had a surgery and has been in and out of the hospital since. Having walked away from blogging again to deal with this situation, Zak Smith is again at the middle of a storm within the OSR due to accusations launched at him by his girlfriend, Mandy Morbid. Again, I feel compelled to say something about this whole Zak Smith thing.

Let me be blunt. I do not like Zak. I find him to be an abrasive personality that I would not wish on anyone. I experienced this first hand when he leaped onto the comment section of my first meditation On Vitriol. While actively ignoring and dismissing the message of the post, he attacked the means in which I delivered that message and kinda proved the point I was trying to make in that post. While something I would be willing to do again, I cannot say that it was a pleasant experience.

Let me be even more blunt: I don’t even like his gaming material. I bought Vornheim way back when, didn’t find it particularly useful or inspiring and have never been much interested in anything he’s authored since. Thus, I wouldn’t miss much if he disappeared from the gaming community altogether and the world never saw another RPG-related publication by Zak.

Having said all that, I am still troubled by the reaction many have had to Mandy’s accusations. Cutting Zak completely off is not an answer I can endorse. Let me explain:

When I read the Facebook Post that started the purge of Zak Smith from all things gaming, I saw a bunch of broken people. Zak, Mandy and everybody else involved in this mess are broken. They were broken long before Zak ever did a thing to Mandy. It was this brokenness that led to Zak behaving in such a reprehensible way towards others. It was this brokenness that led to Mandy going along with the abuse as long as she did. This brokenness has also led to this community cutting Zak off. As James Raggi said in his announcement that LotFP won’t be publishing Zak’s stuff anymore:
[Everyone I talked to] was bummed out. They recognized this was a tragedy from top to bottom. Even the people who agreed with my course of action here, hell, even someone that thought I wasn't going far enough, recognized what we were losing, even while they said we needed to lose it. 
I recognize the brokenness for what it is because of my Christian world-view. We are all sinners. I also believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to repent and to allow God (who went to the Cross to give all of us a second chance) to transform the sinner into a saint. I still hold out hope for Zak that he can use this disaster as an opportunity to turn around his life and become a person we can all enjoy at the gaming table.

I say this, of course, as a Christian; however, we no longer live in a Christian society. As an openly practicing Christian who brings Christ to the gaming table I am acutely aware that I am in an extreme minority both within the OSR’s corner of the internet and gaming at large.

So, I have a serious question, not only for those who have cut off Zak, but for anyone who embraces secularism/atheism: How is it that abusive behavior (especially against women and children) is universally condemned?

As a Christian, I can answer this very easily. As the source of all good things in the world, God provides us with a standard that is eternal and universal. For secularism and atheism, answering this question is a much harder task.

Without the existence of God, there is no such thing as an eternal, universal standard, because all standards are generated by humans. Since humans are finite and mutable, any standard that we make is also finite and mutable. Considering that we have around 7 billion possible standards in the world (one for each person who lives on the planet), to expect any one of those standards to stand the test of time and continue to endure generation after generation is, well, folly.

Indeed, if we insist on the relativism of “my truth,” Zak’s opinion that breasts of a certain size have no value is perfectly valid. My truth may disagree with Zak’s truth, but since the source of these truths in both cases are human beings (the only real source of truth in a world without God), each is just as legitimate as the other.

Further, if we insist on organizing a society around one version of “my truth” over and against other versions of “my truth,” there is only one avenue for ensuring that one supersedes the others: force. As such, Zak’s abusive behavior is completely justified. He was imposing his version of “my truth” on everyone around him in hopes that his version would prevail.

Instead, we are all condemning Zak’s abusive behavior in the same way that humans have condemned abuse (especially against women and children) generation after generation after generation. Even if we refuse to acknowledge His existence, we are all using God’s eternal and universal standards to judge Zak’s behavior.

Due to the fact that this standard is actually God’s and not our own, I would invite everyone to consider the reality that this very same God knew who Zak would be when he went to the Cross. Despite all the vitriol and all the abuse, Christ still got up on that Cross for Zak.

For my part, I refuse to condone Zak’s lifestyle or to tolerate Zak’s abuse; however, if he ever needs someone that will listen in an attempt to turn his life around, he is always welcome.