Weekend Reading 15

Our Weekend Reading series (brought to you by our Patreon backers) continues with a curated selection of articles—and a few other things—from around the Internet that interested us this week!

 

Grant

One of our listeners, John Henry, has been working to catch up on our episodes and responded very positively to STG 110, “Spiritual Warfare (with Rev. Derek White)”. He pointed us to a related blog post he’d written in 2015 that’s the perfect combination of enlightening, convicting, and fascinating titled “Peace Be With You”:

I lived for a couple of years with several insane roommates. Not leaves-dirty-dishes-in-the-sink-and-likes-lousy-music insane. On-medication-and-talking-to-themselves insane. I didn’t mind. I liked them. They were, in fact, very nice people. […]

I grumbled, got into my weekend lounging-around rags, and followed him out to the porch, where he proceeded to walk up and down on the lawn in front of me, and preach me a sermon. By the time he was done, I had forgotten my hangover, and sat openmouthed. I was, perhaps, not so surprised by what he had to say to me as by the fact that something so blindingly clear and obviously true had never been so much as whispered in my ear.

If you’re not especially engaged with Twitter, you might have missed that there’s an organized attempt to discuss RPG design and RPG theory there this month using the hashtag #rpgtheoryJuly. Led by indie luminaries like Emily Care Boss, Epidiah Ravachol, and others, there’s a lot of design tips and thoughts to pick through. Keep an eye on it this month, and don’t hesitate to look through the backlog of discussion under that hashtag—you’ll learn a lot.

Finally, The Getty Museum’s “The Iris” has a neat feature this week: “Thinking about Sisyphus (Or, the Afterlife with Some Rock ‘n Roll)”, on how that cautionary figure of Greek myth evolved into a modern-day reference. As you might expect from a museum blog, it’s full of artistic visual aids, making it a pleasant read as well as engaging.

As might be expected, though, what once served as propaganda could just as easily be turned into satire. Fast-forwarding a few more centuries, it’s clear that Sispyhus and his suffering offered a gold mine to political cartoonists. The rock and its pusher can be easily labeled, and doing so allows for pertinent comment on the political issues of the day. Browse online and you’ll find countless variations on the theme (a number are collected by Wolfgang Mieder in his book Neues von Sisyphus. Sprichwörtliche Mythen der Antike in moderner Literatur, Medien und Karikaturen (Vienna, 2013)). Thus far, the earliest example I’ve been able to find comes from British periodical Punch. One of its regular contributors was Richard Doyle (1824–1883, uncle of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), and his first cartoon for the magazine was entitled “The Modern Sisyphus” (1844).

 

Peter

If you’re doing a historical campaign that includes espionage, don’t overlook the powerful covert tool of… …knitting?

In many cases, just being a knitter—even if you weren’t making coded fabric—was enough of a cover to gather information, and this tradition continued decades later during World War II. Again in Belgium, the resistance hired older women near train yards to add code into their knitting, to track the travel of enemy forces.

There’s an absolutely fascinating timeline of Christian denominational fragmentation over here. If you’ve ever thought that modern Christianity seems a little fragmented, well, first, you’re not wrong, but second, the fragmentation goes WAY back.

And finally from me, here’s a useful GMing tool from Gnome Stew that’s still in the prototype phase.

I’m trying something new. As a GM, I like it when players come up with small contributions to the game. Players like bennies. So I’ve designed and printed out a handful of 3×5 index cards that players can fill out to get bennies.

 

Jenny

Apparently, the seven deadly sins used to look quite different. In fact, there used to be an eighth sin called acedia, and it was vital to the way monks lived in the desert.

The seven deadly sins seem familiar and, with that familiarity, less a matter of life and death and damnation. Sure, greed and envy aren’t great, but who hasn’t overindulged in this or that without grievous consequences? But when the list of Christian cardinal sins was first created, they were a big deal: eight of the biggest threats to a devout life as a monk in the desert. Eight? One among those that isn’t included among the sins today, called acedia, was perhaps the greatest threat of all to those monks.

Shut Up and Sit Down do wonderful reviews. I’ve played many games because of their recommendations, and I like the way they write their reviews. They describe how a game plays, not just whether they liked it or not. So I am now very much looking forward to finding people to play Lady Blackbird with.

Lady Blackbird is an innocent-looking fifteen-page pdf created by John Harper, whose name you should learn and remember. It features five pre-generated characters, one ramshackle spaceship, several planets, simple rules, and one of the most charming opening crawls you’ll ever read aloud.

Take the blasters and camp of Star Wars: A New Hope. Then, add the romance and swashbuckling of The Princess Bride. Finish it off with a bit of steampunk style. Now you’ve got the world of Lady Blackbird: low-tech, light-hearted, full of sudden plot twists and star-crossed love.

And finally, because I am a sucker for sarcasm, there are now, officially, only two kinds of librarian.

Since the beginning of time, there have been two kinds of librarians: those who divide librarians into two kinds and those who don’t. Librarians who divide librarians into two kinds have never met a false dichotomy we didn’t like. We have an easy, simple vision of the world that’s very attractive for us and others, because reducing the irreducible complexity of existence to a series of false dichotomies simultaneously reduces the effort required for serious thought, and some of us are too busy running libraries to have time for serious thought.

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