By Anthony Casperson
The Kickstarter for Greater Than Games’ Sentinel Comics RPG came to an end yesterday. The story is a continuation of the tabletop game Sentinels of the Multiverse, of which I’ve mentioned a time or two here before. (Sentinels is one of my favorite games after all.) In the RPG, the players take on the role of superheroes who team up to take on various bad guys.
The crafting of the superhero characters seems really interesting to me. Each hero is made up of four parts (and then made from choices of the player from there). These four parts are the character’s background, power source, archetype, and personality.
The background seems to be about the character’s alter ego. There are some nice backgrounds, like Upper Class, Academic, and Performer. But there are also some less-than-happy backgrounds, like Struggling, Tragic, and Unremarkable.
Power sources deal with how the character got their superpowers. Like the backgrounds, there are more positive sounding power sources, such as Power Suit, Training, and Genetic. And there are negative sounding power sources, such as Accident, Radiation, and Unknown.
The hero’s tendency to harness their power is found in their archetypes. Whether that be fighting right in the face of the enemies, taking the Close Quarters Combat archetype, or raining down projectiles from afar, taking the Marksman archetype. Other archetypes include: Form Changer, Elemental Manipulator, Speedster, Shadow, and Minion-Maker.
Rounding out the character, their personality gets into more psychological areas of interacting with external stimuli. Here too, we see some that have a more positive connotation, including Stalwart, Alluring, and Natural Leader. And there are those personalities with a more negative connotation, like Lone Wolf, Impulsive, and Distant.
As I was looking at these heroic qualities, I thought about how we as human beings are made up of several similar qualities. Events that occurred in our past form and shape us. Our genetics create trajectories for our life. Natural aptitudes and abilities lean our appreciations in certain directions. And for we who are followers of Jesus, the gifts granted to us by the Holy Spirit guide our spiritual formation as well.
All of these parts, and more, are crafted for us specifically by God. Our choices in how to interact with them expand from there, but each of us has been molded by the Creator of the universe. The perfect Creator who makes no mistakes. As Psalm 139:14 puts it, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Our specific qualities shape us into whom God desires for us to be.
Some might be wondering about those negative parts. “Did God really make me to struggle with depression, anxiety, body-image problems, self-esteem issues, and the like?” “Are my marital problems, addictions, physical disabilities, social ineptitudes, etc. really something that God planned to give me?” How can these negatives really be useful for God’s workmanship created for good works?
Negatives can be used for good if we allow God to work through them for his glory. Just like how a person trapped in a power suit because an accident caused their skin to burn if exposed to the air can use that problem to become a hero, the negatives exemplify our character if we choose to allow them to.
Though this part of Psalm 139 refers to never being outside of God’s perspective, verse 12 struck a chord in this conversation of negative qualities. It says, “even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you” (ESV). The darkness, the negative qualities of our lives, don’t keep us from being used by God. He can see us and use those qualities for his good, for his light.
Though it’s never fun to struggle, and hardship is brought about because of sin in the world, that doesn’t remove us from being used by God. We can take on the role of agent of God for whatever missions he has for each of us individually.
It is said that giving weaknesses to the heroes of a story “humanizes” them. Negative qualities don’t keep us from doing good. They show our character in the midst of adversity.