Online Role-Playing

I have been roleplaying for a great number of years. Possibly longer than a lot of people who will be reading this (2017 made 20 years involved with roleplaying, both online and in person). While there have been large gaps in my RP history, I haven't forgotten the basics. The end sum of role(/roll)playing is that you are telling a story, sometimes within the semantics of the mechanics of a particular system. However I'm not here to discuss the benefits of one system over another. (A)D&D, Rifts, D20, Homebrew, there are as many systems to play within as there are imaginative people in the world and all of them have pro's and con's to them. Again, this isn't a post about your favorite system. More to the point, this is about a particular style of role(/roll)playing that is very well suited (and has been immensly popular in this author's opinion over the last 20+ years).

Before we go further, let me define roleplaying and rollplaying.
ROLEplaying is pure, unadulterated, communal story telling. It focuses on story-telling, character development, and the like. This is typical of many live chatrooms this author has been part of. No dice, no system, no real rules aside from the golden rule. It really requires a creative individual with a good command of the dominant language used.

ROLLplaying is primarily concerned with dice-rolling, system mechanics and the like. It is not mutually exclusive to roleplaying and, in this authors opinion, is dependent upon roleplaying when used in a text-based medium as often found online.

Now, the format that I'm talking about is called play-by-post. Some people call it RP chat (if the forum is a chat room such as Discord, AIM, ICQ, IRC, etc.). Some define Play-By-Post significantly different from RP chat. What I'm talking about is essentially RP chat within the mechanics of a particular system where the GM acts as moderator for the PCs, guides the story along, and plays all of the NPC roles necessary (unless some previous arrangement with the players was reached beforehand regarding one NPC or another). Essentially they are the moderators of the chat. The players tell their story and the GM makes sure everything goes along smoothly, describing new scenes/settings as necessary for the part(y/ies) involved. You can play this style in forums or traditional chatrooms or in more modern settings such as Discord or similar apps. Regardless of the medium used, the end result is communal story telling with some dice-rolling to determine outcomes.

With that in mind, over the years I have found that the best conventions to use in terms of structure of posts is those found in fictional novel writing. In essence everyone is gathering together to tell the story of their characters and how they interact with not only the world around them but with the other player characters as well. Once you strip away out of character comments, dice-rolling, and post editing (where possible) for clarity, what you have is a hopefully long-term community written story based around a group of characters.

If you're basically telling a story, then you would think it should read like a novel (even if not always grammatically correct or with perfect spelling), right? Well, what if it doesn't? What if people are just spamming out words as if they're doing an in-person group? At least in an in-person group (whether traditional 'pen-and-paper' or LARPing) you can use body language to know who is talking to who, the tone of voice can convey all sorts of things that you'd otherwise have to describe, etc. Basically you don't have to do a lot of scene or mood setting. Your actions/tone of voice set those for you. However, in a textual medium, it's impossible to know these things if you're not making them known, and it's even harder when you're not using some common punctuation marks to denote between speech, thought, and physical action.

If, as we've established, we're doing communal story-telling then shouldn't we use the same conventions that conventional stories use, such as descriptive text and all the punctuation marks that go with it?

Let me show you some of my conventions and examples after the cut.
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Community-based, RP chatting/play-by-post requires that everyone contribute to the best of their ability. It allows for everyone to have a more immersive experience which, in this author's opinion, increases the amount of enjoyment everyone can explore. In the end, these are just suggestions or guidelines, however I provide them with the intent of increasing everyone's pleasure in playing at whatever kind of game you're engaging in, because if you're not having fun, then what's the point?

Game on!

Sick Like a Dog

There is a benefit to honouring God to be sure, but you must always go into observances such as communion with a clear and clean heart and conscience. Knowing is just as important as doing.

In this case I got an object lesson. I went into a Passover celebration without addressing something God had been burdening me with that He wanted me to clear up. I figured I would do it if the other person (as is usually the case this involved an apology on my part for past behaviour) brought it up, but as the time drew nearer and nearer, I had yet to hear anything from my buddy and I had yet to say anything. Don't say there were no consequences as I just spent the rest of last night with diarrhea and, to top it off, I vomited this morning. Yeah, I know there is a stomach bug going around, but the timing is too good to be a coincidence (I do not believe in such, to believe such one would also have to believe God does not take an active role in our affairs which is completely not true).

Let this be a future and only warning for me. I have only started to recover as I admitted my sin and repented. Tomorrow I meet with my Brother (the buddy from earlier) for a meeting prior arranged to discuss our Bible study we are writing under inspiration and I will take care to address this issue. Let it not be said I do not learn from my mistakes.

Food for Thought

I won't have to worry about starvation if my wife dies. I have not forgotten how to cook, nor have I lost the child-like wonder of how the sum of the parts is greater than what is brought together. It's much like a child being formed in the womb. It is, from the moment of fertilization, much greater than the sum of the two parts that bought it together.

And - like my cooking - not everyone wants the end result (which is unfortunate in both instances, much more so with the child). The next time you are about to throw up in someone's face how it's the woman's right to choose to be able to murder the wondrous life growing inside her, consider this: You were once exactly like that child.

Live for Christ, Forsake the World

I look around me, at my own life and the values my family show to the world, and I realized something. This isn't how it is meant to be. We shouldn't be compromising to the world just because the world-system is so endemic, or because other Christians do the same. We are called to be citizens of Heaven, Children of God, in this world but not of this world. Christ has already overcome the world, He has done the hard work for us. Why can we not let go? Yes, it is hard, and it doesn't get easier as time goes on but doesn't Christ give us the strength to go forward and live in the victory He won?

I had actually envisioned this post being much different, and had written much (over 4 paragraphs) but apparently it wasn't exactly what God wanted me to share. Most of what I had previously written (and lost) was a rebuke on the way so-called "carnal" Christians live. 6 days for the world and one day for Christ. Engaging in a host of evil, sinful activities (willingly, knowing it doesn't please God) and letting false teachers appease their conscience with false doctrine. This will probably be similar, hopefully with more love.

Romans 8:7-8 is pretty damning for many of us, especially those who willingly participate in demonic activity for one reason or another. If we are satisfying the flesh/world, we are not under God's rule no matter what silver-tongued pastors might want to tell you.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

To be in enmity with someone, you have "a feeling or condition of hostility; hatred; ill will; animosity; antagonism" - according to - toward that person. Its easy enough to see the truth in it, just look at those athiests who loudly decry that there is even a god, much less the God. To be carnal just means to be worldly, concerned with the pleasures of self. How can we be pleasing God when we are just looking out to fill our own desires? Surely we send a confusing message not just to the world but to our kids (if any), too.

On the one hand we are telling them its okay to live like the world 6 days a week, because God will forgive sins (which is only half true, we need to repent - or turn away - from them as well), but on the day we go to church, there is another way we act even though we talk about and love the same things. How can we love what is good when we cannot even admit to ourselves the difference between good and evil? How can we properly tell our kids, in essence, not to drink a beer while holding a beer in one hand? When we tell someone we hate evil and then go off and celebrate demonic "holidays" how serious do you think we are taken? Scripture says a double-minded man is unstable. Perhaps we all - myself included - need to double check our foundations.

I am not particularly proud of myself right now. There are things I have allowed, done, talked about or thought about that are definitely not Godly or Christlike. I am thankful,l though, for the Holy Spirit's guidance and conviction when I am in the wrong. It leads - at least for me - to reflection in Scripture, conversation with God, and me moving out of the way to allow for the change in behavior. It isn't easy though. Such dedication to God comes with persecution. The world does not like to be forsaken and Satan will fight tooth-and-nail to keep me in his system.

Of course I could be just as wrong as anyone. If nothing else, I pray this gets you to thinking about your behavior and what God thinks about it. Pray, reflect, read. Take care and God bless.
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T-Minus 9 Days

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Writer's Block: Life or Something Like It

What experience has changed you for the better (or worse)?

Being diagnosed with a primary bone cancer (Stage 3 osteoblastic osteosarcoma) 17 years after going into remission with Stage 2 Synovial Sarcoma. I've definitely become more aware of God in my life and what it really means to trust in Him for everything, not just big things but everything. Big, little, whatever. Nothing is too petty or below God's concern if it concerns you and nothing asked for in Christ's name will be denied. Even before this second-time cancer diagnosis I had been blessed by God. Born-again in 2009, cured of bi-polar in 2010, married in 2011, and now receiving His healing through the men and women of Vanderbilt University Medical Center - at no charge to myself (I have no insurance or job and my wife took personal leave from her job to be with me) - in Nashville, TN. Even more importantly, though, I have become closer to God throughout all of this and have a deeper understanding of how important it is that we go through Trials & Tribulations.

Without faith in God and supportive family and friends, I would not be able to rationally deal with cancer a second-time. I thank God everyday for the love he pours out over me and all His Children.

Are You My Friend?

Title: Are You My Friend?
Scripture References:
John 5:53-58; 10:10; 15:12-17
1 Corinthians 13
Mark 14:36
Ephesians 1:4
Galatians 3:26-29
By: Joseph A. Nagy, Jr.
CopyFree (F) January 2011

Christ's definition of friend: Unrelenting love for one another (John 15:12-17).
We can never hope to totally live up to that or emulate His level of friendship. The best most of us can hope for is someone we can trust and share some good conversation with, perhaps even someone we can trust with secrets and our ideas on what we believe about conducting more intimate relationships (not necessarily with each other, mind you). The worst some of us wind up with are two wildly different definitions (Christ's and our own) and therein lies a world of hurt.

Underlying all of that, though, is Christ's definition which is most poignantly defined in the above mentioned verse. First, we start out with unrelenting love.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12)

None of us are even capable of loving anyone near that much. We just don't have the capacity, even if we had the will. Our bodies, our minds, cannot even begin to comprehend the love that God and Christ have for us (John 3:16). Even Paul can only write about a smidgen of what is love (1 Corinthians 13) and its importance. How can we, who are imperfect, begin to understand the perfect love of Christ and God, much less reflect that in our own lives? We are given direction with God's full knowledge that we will be imperfect in our attempts at being obedient. We fall, we stumble, prayerfully we look up and ask God for help and go at it again.

If the first part of Christ's definition is unrelenting love and that's near impossible, how much harder is the next part of the definition: being self-sacrificial even unto death.

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

Christ, again, not only spoke it, but He lived it when He was unjustly tried, scourged, and crucified for our sins and to what end? That we may have life through Him (John 6:53-58) and not just for a little while, but abundantly (John 10:10). Christ sacrificed Himself for us, so that we may live, because He LOVES us. Does an enemy willingly die for his foe that the foe may live? Do even the ants not willingly give their lives so that their queen might live? How much greater is the love from the one who created us for Him to come to earth, live as a man in a man's body and die a sinners death so that our debt may be paid in full - a debt we could not ever repay. Are you willing to lay down your life for those you call friend?

It's really starting to get hard to call someone a friend now, isn't it? Unrelenting, sacrificial love. How can you love someone so much to do those two things as Christ has done them for us? It doesn't get any easier, though, so don't take off your boots.

"You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." (John 15:14)

Friendship is dutiful. You do for your friends and do not expect anything in return. Does your friend need help? As a Christian, if you truly consider someone a friend, you will be burdened to help them as you can and are led. You do it not expecting even so much as a "Thank you." You do it because it's exactly what Christ did for us. Again, we have Christ as are example and the provider of our definition. Christ loved God so much that even though He would have gladly given up the job, He did his Father's will (Mark 14:36). When have you suppressed your own desires to do something for a friend, no matter how much it would have inconvenienced you?

Unrelenting, self-sacrificial, dutiful love. I told you it was getting hard yet Christ continues to build upon this definition of what it means to be a friend.

"No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)

Friends are equals. One is not greater than the other. They hide nothing from one another. I could quote from all the Gospels where Christ has made known to His disciples and those around Him what the Father has made known to Him. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are full of examples of Christ trying to fill the people with God and empty them of religion. Do you treat your friends as equal to yourself? Greater than yourself? Lesser than yourself? Christ, as part of the Holy Trinity (or Triune if you prefer) could have lorded His relationship with God and the Holy Spirit over everyone, He could have made them feel inferior (as we all are), He could have robbed them of their dignity. Instead He always treated them as students and then friends. He made them feel welcomed. He answered their questions and subjected Himself to their touch. By living in a body made of human flesh He humbled Himself and did so without a second thought.

Unrelenting, self-sacrificial, dutiful, equalizing love. There is only one more part to this definition, this model, that Christ has set forth for us and we can find it in these two verses.

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another." (John 15:16-17)

We have been chosen by God (Ephesians 1:4), as Christ choose the apostles, and how we treat each other was so important that Christ Himself made a lesson out of it and modeled it for us so that we may use a concrete example in our treatment of others. I'll be the first to admit that I have not been as good at this as I could have been. I've let the enemy use my own hurt in certain situations to perpetuate that hurt in some vain attempt at justification for how I felt. It only wound up in more hurt and ruined relationships.

Christ and God throughout the ages have modeled for us the true meaning of friendship. Sometimes it was hard to recognize, as tough love is always hard to accept when you are on the receiving end of the "tough" part. The best we can do, though, is to model ourselves after Christ and God and let ourselves be led in our friendships, whether they are just for a season or longer lasting. When we stumble - and we will stumble, from time to time - know that God is there for us. He's not going to condemn us (though we might be in need of some form of chastisement), but love on us as He always had. Unrelenting, self-sacrificial, dutiful, equalizing (Galatians 3:26-29) love.

Why Hello There

I know I haven't posted in a while, no excuse. Just not really thought about my LJ. Hopefully I'll think more about it in the near future, though.