One of the funny things about American culture is how there are certain divides that are hard to see past. There are certain figures who have millions of fans, yet are largely unknown to people at large. One such figure is Jack T. Chick. He’s the man behind Chick Publications, which publishes Chick Tracts, of which about a billion copies have been printed. Chick Tracts are tiny comics intended to help fundamentalist Christians proselytize. They can show up all kinds of places–I even have a couple I found at a bus stop here in godless California–and they provide a window into a very distinct and unique worldview. For Jack Chick there is Good (the things he believes in) and there is Evil (absolutely everything else). Good is his particular flavor of fundamentalist Christianity, evil is Darwinism, Buddhism, paganism, Islam, and especially Catholicism, or at least his strange caricatures of these things.
Chick Tracts are generally incredibly easy to pick apart on a purely factual basis, and certain tracts are rather reprehensible on a moral basis (the infamous and emphatically discontinued “Lisa” tract comes to mind). Gamers mainly know of Chick Tracts because of the Dark Dungeons tract, which embodies much of the paranoia of the anti-D&D moral panic of the 80s. Whatever else Chick Tracts are, they’re a fascinating body of outsider art. Chick draws some himself, and has employed other artists as well, so the art ranges from eccentric to genuinely impressive. Aside from the inevitable parodies, there are a a few people who collect and study his work, expressing fascination and admiration even if they find his actual beliefs ridiculous and occasionally repugnant. There are a couple of books about Jack Chick, and even a documentary, God’s Cartoonist.
A friend of mine had the idea to make a Chick Tract RPG, following the same form factor as a Chick Tract (which is to say a little 2.75″x5″ booklet). When I heard the idea, a game popped into my head nearly fully formed. My friend hasn’t gotten around to putting together his take on the concept, but just as Chick Publications has put out over 250 tracts, there’s certainly room for more than one satirical RPG. Saving Throw (aside from being a dumb pun) is my satirical Chick Tract RPG. This version is a letter sized PDF, but I do aspire to get a few illustrations done and do a small print run in booklet form.
To play you will need a d20, 15 tokens of some kind, and a basic familiarity with Chick Tracts (which for better or for worse you can view for free online).
Not really. This area is maybe less religious than some, but there are still churches everywhere.
3 thoughts on “Kyawaii RPG #8: Saving Throw”
Neat! Looks like sort of a bleaker, crueler version of The Drifter’s Escape. Have you read Fred Clark’s reviews/rebuttals of the “Left Behind” series on Slacktivist?
Thanks! I hadn’t really been thinking in terms of other games, since I was first and foremost following the particular source material. I haven’t read that particular Left Behind review, though I know of the series, and I’ve read probably more than I should about the weirder aspects of fundamentalism over the years.