Theologies Are My New Jonah

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll remember my post about the Polarizing Power of Fish, where i talked about how API’s fans were split by Jonah’s surfing jams/gun regulation and that Wu Xing fans were split by the name of the the game and it’s mix of Chinese/Japanese themes. I was hoping to avoid with Part-Time Gods, but no game can really be that lucky, can it?

With Part-Time Gods, there is a split in the fanbase over the use of Theologies, the  groups/factions/splats that players choose from to help shape what kind of god they are making. Now, of course, I have a lot of fans that love the different flavors of the Theologies and use them to great effect, especially with the little extra abilities that they give the characters.

However, there are quite a few other fans of the game that just don’t like them. Some have said that they just found it hard to identify with any of them, which seems weird to me, but to each their own. As a gam designer, I gave up appealing to every player a long time ago. Many others have said that Theologies limit the gods too much or that its just not what they would expect out of a “god” game, but that’s where I think Part-Time Gods is truly set apart from other games within the “god” genre.

It isn’t JUST a “god” game.

The very title of it alone should clue in any reader that only part of the game is about being a god. So, it is true that capital-G gods, lording up in the heavens with hundreds or thousands of worshippers, probably wouldn’t need to subscribe to a theology in order to survive, in order to have companionship and an idea or philosophy to hold on to when the times get rough. But characters in Part-Time Gods are human as well, making this an all too clear eventuality in the development of the setting. Other god games make you above human mindsets, real world frailties and many of the things that would limit their godhood, but Part-Time Gods was created to break down that barrier and embrace the feeling that, even though you’re a god, you are still very much human.

Despite my attempt, however, some of the game’s reviews – while entirely positive and high-rated – say things like “I don’t get Theologies” or “I’ll likely just throw them out entirely”. Reviews are opinions in the end, but it does bug me that I may have somehow failed in conveying exactly what role Theologies were to serve and why they are important to the game. It wasn’t just an excuse to have splats. There was a large portion at the beginning of the game development where there were no Theologies. But then, Part-Time Gods was feeling just like every other open-ended god game on the market. It made sense to me that, if the player had to define the way the character lived their mortal life (Occupations), then they should have some sort of divine definition as well.

I really do think that ignoring Theologies in your game loses a LOT of the flavor of the setting, but then there are people who really aren’t buying it for the setting… they want it for the flexible Dominion rules. Granted, they are cool, but they work within the construct of the setting more than just a generic way to do powers. Maybe with more explanation on Theologies in the next supplement or something, players will grab hold of them more, but who knows.

I don’t regret the way Theologies came out. I’m extremely proud of them, as a matter of fact, and there are a lot of fans that love them. But there were enough comments from other fans online to warrant this post (which is basically just me rambling on with my thoughts on the topic).

I’d love to hear some other fans’ opinions on this. Thanks for listening.

Until next time.