Fellow 2021-2022ADRIAN HERMANN

Term: 10/2021 – 07/2022

Since 2017, Adrian Hermann has been the Professor of Religion and Society for the Forum Internationale Wissenschaft, at the University of Bonn (Germany). He specializes in the global history of religion in the 19th and 20th centuries and has recently begun to engage in the field of role-playing game studies. He teaches in various cultural studies and media studies BA and MA programmes at the University of Bonn. Over the last 15 years he has written on 19th century Buddhist modernisms in Thailand, documentary film, and at the moment is finishing a book on a 1900 anti-colonial Catholic movement in the Philippines. His main publications include:
•    Unterscheidungen der Religion: Analysen zum globalen Religionsdiskurs und zum Problem der Differenzierung von ‘Religion’ in buddhistischen Kontexten des 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen: V&R, 2015).
•    To give publicity to our thoughts: Journals of Asian and African Christians Around 1900 and the Making of a Transregional Indigenous-Christian Public Sphere. Edited with Koschorke, K. et al. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2018).
•    “A Call for a Permissible Plurality Within Theory-Building in a Time of Excess”. In Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 30(4-5), 487 497 (2018).
•    “Distinguishing ‘Religion’, Variants of Differentiation and the Emergence of ‘Religion’ as a Global Category in Modern Asia”. In Soziale Systeme 23(1-2):215-234 (2018).
•    Hijacked: A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of Good and Bad. Edited with Dorrough Smith, L. & Führding, S. (Sheffield: Equinox, 2020). 



Modelling, Simulating, and Playing the End of the World As We Know It: Tabletop and Computer Role-Playing Games as (Post-)Apocalyptic Story Engines

Visions of the apocalypse and the building and exploration of (post-)apocalyptic worlds have been a central topos of the history of tabletop and computer role-playing games (TRPGs and CRPGs), which can be understood as attempts to model, simulate, and make playable (post-)apocalyptic worlds through creating a setting, providing a system of rules, and facilitating the creation of characters to play in these emergent narratives. This project explores these games both as expressions of the (post-)apocalyptic imaginary but also as already representing the result of an analysis of the elements that make up such narratives. In my analysis I will focus mainly on North American and Southeast Asian case studies. As (collaborative) transmedial “story engines” (Merwin/Sniezak) role-playing games do not provide a single linear narrative but rather present the ‘building blocks’ out of which a potentially infinite number of stories can be developed. Engaging with (post-)apocalyptic TRPGs and CRPGs promises a significant contribution to research area A (an archive of imaginaries of the apocalypse) and will help to establish a transcultural archive of images, tropes, and discourses that are used in modelling and making playable narratives of the (post-)apocalypse. This ludic imaginary is a repository of possible futures, which can be analysed in regard to the ways in which the games model (through identifying ‘building blocks’ of such narratives), simulate (by creating game mechanics and systems of rules), and open up to playful engagement (by providing occasions to create concrete narratives around particular characters) via the breakdown of social order and the creation of utopian or dystopian future worlds.

Profile of Adrian Hermann on the web page of University of Bonn