Back before I had accomplished much in the field of pastoral ministry, and long before I became one of everybody's reference points for scouting ministry, my first professional recognition came as a writer in the field of fantasy role-playing games. I wrote 21 articles for Dragon magazine, TSR's house organ, over a period of a dozen years (approximately 1979-1991). I also wrote a quarter of one of their rules expansion books. I was reprinted frequently in their Best of Dragon anthologies and a wee bit of my stuff found its way into the core rules for AD&D (3rd edition). Toward the end of my period of writing for Dragon, I even gave an academic lecture on fantasy role-playing games to the ISU Department of English. Hey, it would look good on my Vita, I thought.
When I came to playing FRPGs, I was already a fully-formed adult, with an advanced degree and a lifetime of reading fantasy literature. That made my stuff stand out a bit for the younger set, who were meeting the fantasy tradition through the games themselves. I was also one of the very few clergymen in the whole country who was known to play or write about the games. That got me a fair bit of attention, both good and bad. Kids ranging in age from 11 to 20 would write or call me to talk about their difficulties dealing with the religious folk in their lives. I was glad to be able to help them. On the other hand, I've been slandered and written about stupidly by both Moody Press and Christianity Today. That was when I learned that evangelicals are never shy about expressing their opinions on cultural topics; the fact that they know nothing about the issue at hand does not hinder them from expressing an opinion, either. Since that time, I've seen that it's not just evangelicals who do this.
Anyway, it is twenty years and more since I was last published in the field of fantasy games, and it's a hoot to learn that I have fans. I mean, kids photocopied my stuff and saved it. People who are now adults are talking about what my writing meant to them when they were young. And the fact that they remember me positively is a joy to me. Whether it's leading youth to Christ or teaching them how to camp or turning them on to the joys of literature, it's good to know that you've had a positive effect on others. Of course, what would make me happiest of all would be to know that there were/are those who liked what I showed them about fantasy or about camping, and who because of that went on to discover what Christ could mean in their lives. That would be the greatest of all satisfactions of this sort. But, hey, I'll take what I can get.