Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saintly Saturday: St. Constantine

Today is the feast of St. Constantine and his mother St. Helen. Constantine is one of those historical figures that demonstrates the axiom that winners write the history books, because he is so many different things to so many different people:
  • To those who want to dismiss the authority of the bible, he is the guy who edited the Bible and had books that didn't call Jesus God removed.
  • To those who wish to dismiss the holy days of the Church, he was a pagan who worshipped the sun and had Christmas moved to December 25th.
  • To those who want to dismiss the authority of the Church, he took over the Church and had Jesus declared a God at the First Ecumenical Council.
  • To some Protestants (who wish to justify separating themselves from the historic Church), he became Christian for political reasons and corrupted the Church.
  • To medieval Roman Catholics, he is the one through whom the popes claimed temporal power.
  • To many modern Christians he is the first Christian emperor of Rome, the founder of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) and the one who signed the Edict of Milan, which made it legal to be a Christian in the Roman Empire for the first time in history.
  • To Orthodox Christians, he is given the title Equal-to-the-Apostles because his choice to follow Christ led thousands to the Church.
  • Personally, he is a wonderfully flawed human being (Thank God they all are, otherwise I wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of ever following in their footsteps). Nonetheless, his choice to follow Christ has had such a profound affect upon history that there probably isn't a single person alive today that hasn't felt its consequences.
What I find inspiring about this list is that it reminds me of an old-school rumors table. There is a lot of wisdom in those tables. In fact, I would argue that they are a key to running a successful campaign — sandbox or no.

Every story has at least two sides (if not many more, as can be seen above). Allowing space for all of these different versions of events or things in your campaign world breathes life into a campaign. Without much effort it creates creates mystery — what is the truth? The beautiful part is that you don't even necessarily need to know what the truth really is. The players will decide for themselves, bringing about a greater truth than any Referee could come up with on their own.

I would also encourage any would-be Referee to think this same way about the actions of the player characters themselves. Just because the PCs have had a successful foray into the dungeon doesn't necessarily mean that the townsfolk, the demi-humans who live in the forest, the thieves' guild, etc. will see it in such a positive light. On the flip side, a we-barely-got-out-alive-(and-some-didn't) expedition might seem down right heroic to some.

Just as the rumor table can be the genesis for all kinds of adventures, so, too, can the cultivation of differing interpretations of overall campaign themes as well as PC actions. It is a small (and relatively easy) way to have a living campaign world where character action means something (and often something different depending upon who you ask).


Alex Osias said...

Well, rumors are interesting because they never tell the whole story. :)

FrDave said...