The story of how it came to be starts in 1994...
I was a postgraduate student at the University of Canterbury and my schedule had become a little bit more flexible after finishing my undergraduate degree. It had been a few years since I’d played, but I still loved roleplaying and so I decided to check out the university’s roleplaying society, or FUGSOC as it was then called. It may have had an inauspicious name but it was a great club, and over the years I played some awesome games with a bunch of great people.
One of those people was Masen Ma who, along with being as interested in gaming as I was, had another passion: movies, and this was a great time to be into movies. It felt like every week there was something great to go to. Once Were Warriors, The Crow, Shallow Grave, Clerks, Leon, Desperado, Twelve Monkeys, Heat, Seven, The Usual Suspects, Casino, The Shawshank Redemption, and Pulp Fiction all came out over that two year period.
Now, this passion for movies, when combined with roleplaying, would manifest itself in almost every explanation of what his characters were doing. These descriptions and interactions were always cinematic to the point that it felt like he was recounting the movie playing out inside his head. These descriptions made me want to play a game that could coax what he was seeing into the open. Unfortunately in the dark, pre-internet days, no games that I was aware of, would do that.
So I sat down and tried to write a diceless and semi-GM-less game which I hoped would give that creativity the space it needed. My mind, filled to overflowing with the constant diet of great films with amazing characters settled on a character drama wrapped around a heist with a twist.
The plot and tensions just fell into place and then, most importantly, the stars aligned with the right players because, despite the fact I had no experience with dice-less nor GM-less(full) games, FAITH worked. And it continued to work. The sessions I ran at our local convention were always full and people that played it would borrow it and run it themselves. At one point I was even contacted by a woman who asked if she could hire me to run the game for her son for his birthday.
The game, at that point, was not as streamlined or GM-less as it is today, but even so, whenever I went back and played it with another group, or someone used it and got back to me, it mostly seemed to have gone well. Still, I never really thought about it as something I could publish and largely forgot about it as the years went by.
Then, over the last couple of years I started playing some of the fabulous games like, Fiasco, Witch- The Road to Lindisfarne, and recently Vast and Starlit. These games, with tight frameworks that require no preparation, and had a finite duration, were a panacea for the increasingly common refrain “I don’t have time for gaming”.
I was not only inspired by these games, but was also a part the bulge of gamers struggling to find time for themselves after meeting the requirements of parenthood and added work responsibilities. So I did what anyone would do: I broke out FAITH and began getting up increasingly early on the weekends and working too late into the night to finish it. It took me some few months, and the help of some awesome people, but it’s done. I finally managed to get it into a condition where it’s fit to go out into the wild unaccompanied by a long explanation and the anxious look of a parent letting go of their child’s bicycle for the first time.
Now, for those keeping score, Masen’s rendition of Cleveland, one of the characters in FAITH, was worth every second of the time I put into writing it. Sadly however, he’s long since, as he puts it, “hung up his dice bag” and so have many like him.
I have hopes though, that FAITH, and these types of game, might lure Masen as well as others like him back to roleplaying because, if you ask me, they're missing all the fun.