Weekend Reading #2 – Second Verse

It’s back! Our Weekend Reading series continues with fascinating articles—and a few other things—from around the Internet. Prepare for unaccountable interest.

 

Grant

The Crumbling Chicken Church in Java“. A meditation by Luke Harrington over at Christ & Pop Culture on a peculiar Javanese landmark, 2 Kings 4, and what happens when God’s calling crumbles under earthly pressures.

He didn’t have the money at the time, so he continued to pray, and by 1994 he had scraped together the funds to buy the land and begin construction on his fowl creation. It would soon be used as a sanctuary open to people of all faiths, as well a rehabilitation center for disabled children, drug addicts, and the insane. […] In any case, though, the vision’s realization was short-lived, because in 2000 Alamsjah ran out of funding and was forced to close down his gallinaceous creation, before he’d even finished construction on the building. Nearly 20 years later, the area has been almost entirely reclaimed by nature.

 

From KQED’s Mind/Shift: “How a Sword and Sorcery Camp Uses Immersive Role Play to Teach STEAM“. LARP as well-rounded education!

“When I first arrived I thought it would be people running around and hitting each other, but it’s not. It’s about reacting to the consequences of your actions and the responsibility that comes with it,” said one 13-year-old camper.

 

Chicago gang business cards from the 1970s and 80s“. Amazing artifacts in and of themselves, but these would also be a delightful (and simple) prop for any era-appropriate game in Chicago.

“The hand-drawn graphics, the ‘Old English’ typefaces, the outlandish names and clever slogans,” he explains are elements that time stamp the activity and attitude of Chicago’s gang culture.

 

Peter

In the category of “powerful redemptive symbolism,” there’s this story about a tattoo parlor in Maryland that’s been helping people with racist or gang tattoos cover them up – for free.

Dave Cutlip, who runs Southside, said he and his wife developed the idea of free coverups in January after a man came into his tattoo parlor hoping to get a gang tattoo removed from his face.

“I could see the hurt in his eyes,” Cutlip said.

Cutlip, 49, couldn’t help the man, it turned out, because the tattoo was too prominent. Might he be able to help someone else? He and his wife turned to Facebook, offering free coverups for racist or gang tattoos with “no questions asked.”

“Sometimes people make bad choices, and sometimes people change,” the post reads. “. . . We believe that there is enough hate in this world and we want to make a difference.”

 

I picked up Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted (currently on sale for $2.99 – follow the link) on a whim over the weekend and read it straight through in one shot. I found it to be a very insightful and thought-provoking read. Though in fairness, I shouldn’t be surprised that anything written by an author recommended to me by Derek “The Geekpreacher” White is insightful and thought-provoking. It touches on Christus Victor atonement; Scooby Doo; and the “Yes, and” principle; and there are tons of challenging passages like the one below as well.

With their focus on traditional family values, the Protestant work ethic, and “God and Country” patriotism, conservative Christians snip out the Jesus who marginalized the family, who was a friend to sinners, who sided with the poor against the rich, and who was executed by the state for sedition. Snip. Snip. Snip.

Progressive Christians snip out different stuff. We’re aware that Jesus was executed by the state but fail [to] notice that Jesus’ battle with the Satan didn’t look a whole lot like what we’d describe as political activism. Jesus lived under empire, one of the most exploitative and oppressive in world history. And yet, Jesus never led a protest against Roman occupation. Jesus didn’t lead a “March on Rome” or carry a sign through downtown Jerusalem protesting Roman oppression. Jesus’ one disruptive action, clearing the Temple, was the restoration of a house of worship so it could be a house of prayer. And most worryingly, Jesus was routinely gracious to the colonial occupiers and agents of empire like tax collectors and Roman centurions, to say nothing of telling his oppressed countrymen to “love your enemies.”

 

LoadingReadyRun had their pre-prerelease for the Amonkhet set and the video is available. The LRR crew is always entertaining and they always get a lot of really high-quality guests. This was no exception.

 

Jenny

Edmonton church, art space offer religion and art together.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the article from the original source in a non-PDF format, but this particular section from the Anglican Journal interests me, especially this excerpt:

Von Bieker says art shows can provide a way of sharing ideas about God and other topics that are sometimes challenging to discuss.

“Theology, reconciliation, sexuality, gender identity…there are a lot of issues we don’t know how to have a good dialogue about,” he says. “Art and story are keys to having those conversations. That’s what Jesus did with the parables.”

 

Video games? What about the magical power of imagination?” A blog post written by a camp instructor at the Royal Ontario Museum on his first foray into the summer D&D program there. I did a little research, and though this blog post is a few years old, the ROM does still run this program.

Aside from inspiring my sense of imagination and wonder, the program was a safe space free of judgement. Because let’s be honest, there is a stigma attached to the game. But at the ROM? With my friends? Absolutely not. Being at the museum also fostered my curiosity with antiquity. People always ask me what inspired my pursuit of a career in archaeology. I always answer “Dungeons and Dragons at the ROM”. Not Indiana Jones. Not Jurassic Park like many misunderstand. It was playing a pen and paper RPG at my favorite place on earth. The Royal Ontario Museum.

 

And finally, one of the best sequences of events I’ve ever read about, a robot bought drugs and a fake passport off the Deep Web for an art show. The bot – not the creator of the bot! – was subsequently arrested.

The Random Darknet Shopper, an automated online shopping bot with a budget of $100 a week in Bitcoin, is programmed to do a very specific task: go to one particular marketplace on the Deep Web and make one random purchase a week with the provided allowance. The purchases have all been compiled for an art show in Zurich, Switzerland titled The Darknet: From Memes to Onionland, which runs through January 11.


Episode 108 – The Third Commandment (Ten Commandments, Part 3)


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Grant, Peter, and Jenny return to discuss the Third Commandment! There’s quite a lot of banter and catching up to do first, of course, and we banter about illness, the forthcoming Amonkhet set in Magic: The Gathering, Snafu Brewing and TRAPPIST-1, and more. We also have a doozy of a question from Patreon backer Richard, who asks us for our favorite stories from the table. Thankfully, we get to respond in kind! (This also gives us an excuse to mention Tooning Japanese in passing, by the way.)

Once we actually get on topic, we start our conversation about the Third Commandment with Scripture and the Roman Catholic catechism on this verse. We also discuss Jewish traditions involving the name of God (and the etymology of certain names.) After that analysis, we move on to using these and related concepts in our games: The power of names, taking oaths, and vulgarity. Finally, we wrap up with a very brief discussion of how to handle unnecessary and uncomfortable vulgarity at the table.

Also mentioned in this episode: Roger Zelazny’s Jack of Shadows; and Thomas’ comments on Episode 107 via Facebook.

Scripture: Exodus 20:7, Exodus 20:24, Matthew 5:33-37, James 5:12


STG Weekend Reading #1 – Kickoff

Hi folks! One of the things we’ve had as a Patreon goal (which we’ve just officially reached) is a weekly post of stuff that’s relevant to StG listeners, or at least that we ourselves like enough to want to share. We’re each going to try to pick three things to share with you. These will usually be articles, books, or blog posts, but we’ll occasionally drop in something else easily consumed (like a podcast or a YouTube video) if it’s really interesting.

So, without further adieu: The first StG Weekend Reading post!

Peter

An interesting ministry idea: A church-run laundromat.

The inventor of the Lithium-Ion battery has a new high-capacity battery design using glass, of all things.

This MASSIVE article on play styles and personality over on Gamasutra is a fascinating read. I’m not sure how much I buy it, but it’s sure interesting.

Jenny

I am currently in the middle of reading a book called The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins. I like it a lot so far!

It was published a couple months ago, but this article about using board games to connect with refugees is something I can’t stop thinking about.

Old Japanese animated films available to watch online for free. Here‘s where to watch them (all Japanese, navigable with Google auto-translate,) and here‘s an English article about them.

Grant

It’s got a very explicitly Evangelical bent, but if you like learning about historical figures and events in the church, Stephen Nichols’ 5 Minutes in Church History podcast is a great way to get that in bite-size chunks!

Friend of the show and previous guest Josh Jordan is part of a neat anthology of small conspiracy-themed RPGs called “The Imposters”, now on Kickstarter. Several of these games have won awards in the past, so check it out if indie RPGs are your thing!

Green’s Dictionary of Slang—in and of itself a wonderful resource—has an excellent blog about the sources of English vernacular throughout the ages. The most recent article on Mary ‘Moll’ Frith, an English “Napoleon of crime” hearkening all the way back to the late 1500’s, is delightful reading for both historical slang and a remarkable personality.


Out of the Tomb

He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. -Matthew 28:6

One of the interesting peculiarities of the United Methodist denomination that I belong to is that we rotate our clergy periodically. United Methodist pastors will serve with a local church for a period of several years and then will eventually be reassigned. There are a few exceptions (I don’t think Adam Hamilton is going anywhere, for example) but in most of the denomination, you can look forward to bidding a fond farewell to your old pastor and meeting a new one on a fairly regular basis. It’s been an interesting adjustment for me, because I grew up in various non-denominational Evangelical churches where the pastor would often stay for a very long time indeed, and when one left, it was a job opening that was interviewed for rather than an appointment that was filled.

I don’t like everything about the process, but I can see the value in a number of contexts – theoretically, moving pastors around should expose the problem ones, share around the best qualities of the good ones and – as I’ve come to appreciate – it exposes the local congregation to a variety of different teaching styles and perspectives from the pulpit, and I’ve been fortunate to have three good ones in a row at my church.

My new (or new-ish; he’s been at my church for about a year now) pastor is a friendly, enthusiastic sort and does the kind of participatory worship you’ll often see when you get an extrovert in the pulpit. More than once, he’s divided the congregation up into groups, had those groups discuss something and then share their findings with the congregation. It’s not the most comfortable sort of worship for a solitary introvert like me, and to his credit, he doesn’t do it every week, but that practice, combined with his Lenten sermon series has gotten me thinking.

The theme for that series is “what needs resurrecting in your life,” and clearly one of the things that needed a jolt from the old defibrillator for me was my sense of communal worship. For a lot of my life, my faith has been a more or less solitary practice, and I still enjoy having it that way a lot of the time. However, it took a new pastor to remind me that religion isn’t just a solitary effort. Especially as I’ve come to view my faith as being less about a code of rules that need to be adhered to and more about looking to see what can be done to serve others, the idea of worship as a group activity has slowly gained the purchase it probably should have had all along, gradually and persistently prying its roots into my stubborn heart and mind.

Another thing that should probably come out of the tomb for me is what could be called “casual religious practice” or perhaps “routine religious practice.” I have basically stopped doing simple things like praying over meals, and while I don’t think this is a horrible atrocity, those practices became tradition for a reason. It’s good to acknowledge one’s faith regularly and to thank God for continued life and sustenance. And while I’m not Catholic and never have been, I do derive a certain amount of meaning and purpose from small faith rituals, which is one of the reasons we have them.

There are other things, too. I really should read more, from actual books, than I currently do. I should structure my week better so I can “honor the Sabbath” and take Sundays off from obligations like schoolwork. But endless self-recrimination isn’t very fitting for the season.

This is the time when we celebrate renewal, new life, forgiveness, the ultimate victory over sin and death. Two thousand years ago, Jesus of Nazareth, made thoroughly and painfully dead three days prior, walked out of his tomb and split history in two. Even the dead can live again.

Happy Easter.

This week’s image is from Sean MacEntee used under Creative Commons.


Episode 107 – Relics and Holy Items


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This episode, we tackle a surprisingly complicated topic: Relics and holy items! Grant’s out sick, what with his entire house having been struck by plagues of all sorts, so Jenny and Peter have the mics to themselves. For our Patreon question, they get handed a very tough question from Jared—”What was the most rewarding campaign you ever ran or played in?”—which takes a bit to answer. Then after our Scripture, it’s on to our main topic. We discuss Catholic and Orthodox traditions around relics to lay some groundwork before moving on to talking about the use of relics in our own games: How they might work in certain sorts of settings; what to do with them; and what to do about fakes. Also, a helpful warning: Never go full Blackleaf.

Mentioned in this episode: Two Atlas Obscura articles, “Only the Vatican Has More Christian Relics Than Pittsburgh” and “The Practicalities of Transporting a 400-Year-Old Heart”; and The Fellowship of the Talisman by Clifford D. Simak.

Thomas Kolar was kind enough to provide us with a nicely-written response to our call for more information on this topic from our Catholic listeners. You can find his post here. Thomas not only responded, but also linked a number of helpful resources in his post. Thanks, Thomas!

Scripture: Exodus 25:10-11, 2 Kings 13:20-21, Matthew 27:35


Sick Days for the Gaming Group

It’s one of the unfortunate facts of life that where there are young children, there also will be illness, especially once those children start heading off to places where other young children are. Church nurseries, preschools, and elementary schools are, despite the best efforts of the adults working at them, going to be excellent places for children to share new and exciting varieties of the flu, the common cold, ear and sinus infections and a whole host of other ways that children get sick. And then, because children are often on the cutting edge of the whole getting sick scene, they often bring their illnesses home to share with their families, who, having antibodies that are really altogether passé, do the fashionable thing and get sick too. I mean you have to keep up with the times, right? The coughing, sneezing, nauseous, fever-running, rash-covered, achy-jointed times. Only the most modern germs will do for the young family that was on the go until the illness du jour laid them all out.

Yeeeeaaaah. Good times. Oh wait, the exact opposite of that.

In case it wasn’t obvious, Grant, his wife, and their kids have been sick for the last couple of weeks, which quite understandably has meant we haven’t been gaming. We did, however, do something last Saturday night. This is going to be another one of those practical posts about gaming as an adult which those of you who are in high school or college probably won’t get a whole lot of mileage out of – yet – but it will be good to store away for future usage.

The first week of the illness, we just straight-up canceled. Everyone was completely wiped out, and the Woodwards just needed to rest. Last Saturday, though, despite the persisting illness, Grant reached out to the rest of us and we had a short call at the same time our game normally would have been, it was just over much faster. We did this partly just to say hello and to allow the other player and me to hear that the Woodwards were still alive, but we also wanted to maintain our momentum as much as we could without actually doing a full session, and we also wanted to set ourselves up for success as much as possible next week. It worth mentioning beforehand that this sort of thing is often seen as the death knell of a game and it really needn’t be. Illness is going to happen, particularly if anyone in the families of your gaming group is under 16 or over 60, and just like work or school, you’ll occasionally need to take a sick day, but also like work or school, it should be somewhat expected and there should be plans in place, though you’ll obviously never be thrilled to implement them.

Here’s how the specifics of that broke down:

First of all, we did give ourselves a few minutes to just let the sick people get some sympathy and catch up a little as friends. There is definitely at least a minor thread of thinking in the gaming community that all gaming time must be about the game. I don’t subscribe to that thinking and furthermore, I don’t even try to. You obviously want to get to the game in relatively short order, but if you’re fortunate enough to be gaming with friends, go ahead and catch up a bit before gaming or in a meeting like this one. It’ll help you focus better later, and you’ll deepen your friendships too.

Once we finished with that (which only took about 10 minutes because, hey, sick people) we came to a consensus as to what we wanted to do next week when the session starts back up. Grant left us with one minor and two major adventure hooks hanging out there:

We’d just arrived on an island populated by cautious, but not hostile, lizard people. They have a couple of wounded (the minor hook) that aren’t healing properly because…
The island has ancient, mysterious ruins on it that apparently have things that make sure you STAY hurt when they hurt you but there’s also…
A couple of Kenku (a group we’re already sympathetic to) that have been captured by nasty frog people slavers the next island over.

We put our heads together as a group and determined that my cleric, Lambert (who is the informal leader of the group as far as the group is concerned and the formal, established leader of the group as far as the colonial leadership is concerned) would want to heal the wounded and then save the enslaved Kenku before checking out the ruins. The other PCs might want to do things in a different order if it was up to them, but they tend to follow Lambert’s lead when it comes to these sorts of things. When then determined that we had our plan and would stick to it next week, thereby cutting down substantially on the list of things Grant has to prepare for.

By having that conversation in advance, we also skipped the entire first part of the session that often happens in games where the players, about half in-character and half out-of-character, sit around and deliberate for roughly eighteen times longer than the decision merits about which way to go while the GM, vibrating with frustrated anticipation, looks at their notes full of awesome stuff for the party to encounter once they JUST PICK SOMETHING ALREADY.

So while we didn’t get a full gaming session in, taking a few minutes to meet anyway and plan where it’ll go will allow us to hit the ground at a full sprint next week, and that should serve us well in making up lost time.

This week’s featured image is from Yuki Shimazu, used under Creative Commons.


Episode 106 – Limiting Evil


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After over two years as a two-person show, Saving the Game is proud to announce our new permanent host Jenny Dickson! This is her first episode, and she’ll be joining us going forward.

The episode starts off with an introduction of Jenny and then moves into our Patreon question about hacks and drifts, and then the three of us dig into our main topic: limiting the evil of villains in games. We cover why to do it, how to do it, and what effects it has on the story you’re telling.

Scripture: Exodus 5:6-8, Judges 3:13-14Revelation 3:14-19

Links:
High-Heel-Face Turn on tvtropes.org
Star Wars in Traveller
The Fugitive
Episode 17: Lines and Veils

Undertale


Turbulence at the Light End of the Gray Scale

In the upcoming Episode 106 there is some mention of “shades of gray” not just meaning the darker end of the spectrum. And then today I ran across an article titled Democracy and the Demonization of the Good by Richard Beck. While the article is primarily inspired by thoughts about political discourse, the combination of the “light end of the spectrum” and that article has gotten me thinking about virtue and the ways in which good people can come into conflict.

Sometimes conflict happens because one side is evil, or both of them are. The classic examples of fighting Nazis, hunting serial killers, and tracking down thieves and crooked businessmen or politicians all apply, as do the ones of war in the underworld, either figuratively (as you’d see in a campaign with rival gangs fighting) or, heck, even literally in some games. But oftentimes, it’s not because one party or the other is monstrous. Some of the most awful and brutal conflicts in all of history were fought, not because of cruelty or wanton malice, but because of obligations, bad information, and poor communications. World War One, arguably the most horrific and brutal conflict in all of human history, was fought not over clear-cut moral grounds, but because of obligations, strategic calculations, poor communication technology, and a host of other factors that had nothing to do with evil at the start. There would be plenty of evil after it started, but aside from a single assassination that started the dominoes falling, there’s not a lot one can look at in the lead-up to the war with a terribly condemning eye if one is at all interested in being fair, especially with the distance that history provides. (Hardcore History and Extra History each did their own excellent muti-part series on WWI. I recommend consuming both.)

A bit closer to home, the Church in the US in particular is divided on a number of contentious issues, which has left sincere people of faith on both sides struggling to reconcile some of the differences that have come to the fore, and in fact if you look at Church history, this is nothing new. Religious schisms and conflicts are littered throughout the history of the church. We touched on one of the more dramatic events stemming from this in out Historical Heresies series when we talked about the First Council of Nicaea.

This is a contentious topic and one that gets people angry in a hurry. It can be difficult just to talk about in a civil way. Why would anyone want to game about this?

*ahem*

The value of myth is that it takes all the things you know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by the veil of familiarity. -C.S. Lewis

Okay, so C.S. Lewis has provided the “why” but what about the “how?”

It isn’t hard to imagine how evil winds up in fights. Caring either only for itself or for some sinister goal, evil has nothing to lose from conflict and is perfectly happy to escalate matters as far as is necessary for it to triumph, consequences be hanged. Good, on the other hand, usually only gets mixed up in fights when something important is threatened, but that’s not usually the entirety of it. If you want to bring two good people or groups into conflict, here’s at least one way it can start.

  1. Good, as previously-mentioned, only tends to get involved in conflicts to protect or preserve something important. For example: in our D&D game, the party is planning to confront a hag who has struck a bargain that will cost a young couple their firstborn. This is a major threat to innocent life, something that’s definitely worth preserving. So to have a seed of conflict at all, you need to create a situation that threatens something one of your good sides cares about.
  2. Once you’ve accomplished that, you’re going to need to set it up so the only solution that the side feeling threatened can see to their problem will imperil something important to another good group. Side note: using Moral Foundations Theory can help keep this from feeling too forced or cheesy. If one side’s Care actions threaten another side’s Purity ones or vice versa… …you’ll have a conflict that will feel very familiar to anyone who pays attention to politics.
  3. At some point, someone is going to have to assume the worst in someone on the other side, and then they’re going to have to do something that makes the other side assume the worst too.
  4. Someone needs to escalate.
  5. Congratulations, you have a conflict.

And this is about the point at which the player characters should probably come in. To use this type of conflict to its fullest potential, it’s probably best to make the sides roughly equal in how sympathetic they are. The conflict will probably be thorny, resistant to easy solutions, and exhausting to resolve if the GM has done their homework, but if the PC group manages to pull it off, the resolution will be extremely satisfying. It is worth noting that all of these same traits mean this is probably best as a sometimes thing rather than a constant theme in your games, but if what we’ve said for four-plus years about games being good moral practice is at all something you agree with, this seems like a particularly good type of practice to be getting these days.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9

This week’s featured image is from Agelshaxe and is used under Creative Commons.


Episode 105 – Exploration


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Grant and Peter are back to talk about exploration as a major feature in RPGs! First, a bit of sad news from Peter; then, we spend a bit of time talking about Grant’s Fellowship game, and how strange the system feels to him. We also answer a fun question from Patreon backer Jim, who asks what little, almost insignificant feature factors into our decision-making when we buy cars.

After our Scripture readings, we delve deep into our main topic, discussing why exploration is fun and why it matters; what sorts of characters might be motivated to explore unknown territory; how to set up random or incidental encounters so that they don’t feel artificial; a brief discussion of hex crawls; and sources of inspiration for wilderness and exploration encounters.

This episode topic was selected by our Patreon supporters, who bring you this show every two weeks and help us make the show better. If you’d like to help support us on Patreon, you can do so here. Thanks, folks—we really appreciate your support!

Mentioned in this episode: The /r/ImaginaryLandscapes subreddit; Ball’s Pyramid; the SCP Foundation wiki; and Cordyceps fungi.

Scripture: Genesis 13:14-15Mark 16:15


One Foot in Front of the Other

It has been a rough couple of weeks, no two ways about it. Those who follow me on social media may have seen a blog post from my personal blog memorializing the passing of the first pet my wife and I had together: our beloved cat Storm. His death and the loneliness and emptiness that left behind in our apartment was heartbreaking. I remember at one point looking at my wife and saying “I am tired of being sad, and I am tired from being sad.” But as hard as it was on me, for my wife it was worse, and her grief was as difficult for me as my own was. At times, more so.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. -Romans 12:15

Grief and sadness are exhausting, and I’ve had a lot more rough, half-asleep mornings in the last couple of weeks that I’ve had in the last couple of year. And yet even when the loss is crushing, such as in the case of the loss of a parent or, worse, a child, society doesn’t long excuse the grief-stricken from their daily duties. Work must be done, obligations must be attended to.

And that goes triple for those who, paradoxically, are going to experience grief-triggering events the most often – soldiers, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, firefighters, and so on.

You know: player characters.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. -Matthew 5:4

Your average PC probably sees a lot of death, destruction, chaos, and carnage just in their first adventure, to say nothing of their entire career. And they generally press on through it with nary a complaint. This is a genre trope in a lot of cases; superheroes, pulp adventurers, crack special forces troops and so on are often portrayed as “psychologically indestructible” or at least sufficiently hardened, trained, and/or outfitted with coping mechanisms to handle the stress and tragedy of what they deal with. That can be great for lighter, more cinematic, and/or high-adventure campaigns and is certainly a valid way of playing. It’s not the only valid way, though. Some games choose to tackle the stressful, painful, exhausting side of adventuring and the emergent content from those systems is fascinating. (Two properties that explore these themes that probably don’t need any more plugging from me, but are going to get it anyway are This War of Mine and Unknown Armies.)

I’ll admit to a certain level of bias; as a gamer, I’ve begun to feel a bit of what I could term “violence fatigue” in relation to my entertainment. So much of the gaming experience seems to revolve around killing things, and after a while (perhaps as a function of getting older) one starts to tire of all the cleaving and smashing and shooting. In fact, I’d say that exposure to so much violent entertainment over the course of my adolescence and adult life has actually sensitized be to it rather than de-sensitizing like concerned folks often worry will. I’ve allowed some of this to consciously bleed into Lambert in the D&D game. He’s still perfectly capable of fighting and killing if need be (ask the phase spider that scared the living daylights out of us a few sessions back) but he’d really rather not; Lambert knows that violence and death (especially with sapient beings) often leads to grief and suffering. He also recognizes that sometimes, it’s necessary. Lambert lives in a fantasy world with evil things that exist pretty much solely to cause the misery he wants to prevent. That dichotomy (and the high quality of the rest of the gaming group) has allowed for some very interesting character interactions.

A reluctance to wade into battle isn’t the only application for more emotionally vulnerable (or even just emotionally complex) PCs, though. Allowing PCs to feel things and react appropriately is an underutilized trick in a lot of mainstream gaming. One needn’t be all melodramatic and angsty about it. Lambert certainly isn’t an “emo” character, but he’s very much a “Protestant work ethic” kind of guy who pushes himself very hard. In his particular case, he tends to cope with that stress by bantering with the other two PCs, whom he trusts even if not everyone else in the colony does. It takes the edge off and lets him keep going without getting overwhelmed. It’s not a front-and-center part of his character on every adventure, but it does add a bit of texture. And that texture helps keep the game fun, at least for me.

Which can be good when the game is one of the ways I, as a player, manage some small measure of the stress in the real world. Sometimes, knowing how my PC keeps putting one foot in front of the other can help me do the same.

 

This week’s featured image is from Brent Newhall used under Creative Commons.