Weekend Reading 19 – The One With Less Reading Than Usual

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!

Jenny

I’m a sucker for old church architecture. I am also a sucker for abandoned buildings. This church that seemed to rise out of a reservoir in Mexico during a drought is fascinating to me, and I might use some of the pictures as inspiration for a campaign in the future.

Leonel Mendoza fishes every day in a reservoir surrounded by forest and mountains in the southern Mexico state of Chiapas. But in recent days, he also has been ferrying curious passengers out to see the remains of a colonial-era church that has emerged from the receding waters.

A drought this year has hit the watershed of the Grijalva river, dropping the water level in the Nezahualcoyotl reservoir by 82 feet.

It is the second time a drop in the reservoir has revealed the church since it was flooded when the dam was completed in 1966. In 2002, the water was so low visitors could walk inside the church.

Spirit Island is a game that I am hoping to get my hands on in the near future. Basically, imagine Settlers of Catan but if you were the island… and you didn’t appreciate these people trying to live on you.

This game is all about Fear. At the start, the invaders are not afraid of you and are settling in your lands without concern. At this point, the only way to claim victory is to destroy every last invader on the island. Not an easy task. However, the more you scare them the easier it is to convince them to leave. Generate enough fear and they’ll abandon everything they’ve built and leave you alone, but that’s also easier said than done.

To round things off for me, I just want to give a bit of a plug to my current favourite actual play podcast, The Adventure Zone. If you’ve been paying attention to the actual play scene like I have, you have probably heard of The Adventure Zone. Well, they just finished up their first campaign, and I am so impressed with the production quality and the levels of storytelling and depth of character present in that podcast (though it is DEFINITELY NSFW. Lots of swearing.) And as has become so infrequent in media these days, the overall message in the plot arcs of TAZ is that hope and love win over nihilism and evil any day of the week. So if you’ve been thinking of getting into it, now would not be the worst time. I know that I’m always hesitant to get into an “unfinished product” with the knowledge that it might podfade. Well, even though this won’t be their last episode, they have certainly finished a long, fulfilling story, and it is completely worth listening to the whole thing if you have the time.

Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy from My Brother, My Brother and Me have recruited their dad Clint for a campaign of high adventure. Join the McElroys as they find their fortune and slay an unconscionable number of … you know, kobolds or whatever in … The Adventure Zone.

Peter

For those that enjoy mixing their sci-fi and their fantasy, Paizo’s much-anticipated Starfinder RPG just became available in PDF today.

Strap in and blast off! The Starfinder Roleplaying Game puts you in the role of a bold science-fantasy explorer, investigating the mysteries of a weird and magical universe as part of a starship crew.

This article was originally written to help with business presentations and other more formal types of public speaking, but guess what else counts as public speaking (at least sort of)? GMing. A lot of the advice in here is useful to the gamemaster.

Think about it: When you’re talking casually with a friend or colleague over coffee, beer or maybe a glass of wine, what’s your intention?

– To share ideas, opinions and information
– To help your listener understand your point of view
– To entertain or elicit emotion in the other person

Those are the same goals you’re looking to accomplish with a business presentation, aren’t they? In fact, public speaking is defined as “the process of speaking to a group of people in a structured manner intended to inform, persuade or entertain listeners.”

Finally, it’s probably time we reminded folks that Project Gutenberg exists.

Project Gutenberg offers over 54,000 free eBooks: Choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online. You will find the world’s great literature here, especially older works for which copyright has expired.

The site is organized into “shelves” so here are a few that our listeners in particular might find handy:

Christianity
Mythology
Science Fiction
Fantasy

The Professor over at Tolarian Community College (a Magic: the Gathering YouTube channel he runs) just released a video about his struggles with depression. I like this video a lot because it deals with a relatively minor form of depression, and I think a lot of the time, people with non-severe issues just get shuttled into “well, suck it up” territory by society. It’s good to remember that small problems are also worth solving and life can be much better when they are.

Grant

If you’re looking for a group of Christians to play D&D with, you could do a lot worse than post at the newly-established Christian D&D subreddit (/r/ChristianDnD). I’d love to see our listeners help this grow and become a big thing, especially now that /r/DarkDungeons is pretty much defunct! (Also, fun fact: I did set up /r/SavingTheGame a while back. Haven’t used it much, but it DOES exist, and we should totally do something with it at some point.)

A few weeks ago, Relevant Magazine ran an article every Christian should read and pay attention to: “The Five Most Misused and Abused Bible Verses”. This is something I’m occasionally guilty of when looking for Scripture for our episodes; and while we take a hard line against prooftexting, we don’t always give Scripture the full context it deserves.

This Bible is not merely a collection of quotes or one-liners but is literally the Word of God. When the Scriptures speak, God is speaking. That is why we must approach the Bible with extreme care and intentionality. How it is read, memorized and quoted is of utmost importance.

However, Christians often misunderstand, misquote or misuse verses in the Bible. For example, we may turn to the concordance in the back wanting to find a verse on a particular subject, read the ones suggested, find a favorite one, and then start quoting away!

Or, possibly we hear others misquoting verses, they sound right in the moment, so we also begin spreading the misuse without taking the time to study the verse in its author-intended context.

As we continue our summer focus on gaming and mental health, there’s more and more therapists putting gaming to use as a therapeutic tool. WLRN reports on Matt Fahy’s attempts to establish a therapeutic gaming group for Tampa teens, in “Negotiating With The Dragon: Role-Playing Games As Group Therapy”:

“[The therapists] are like, ‘Talk to the bully at school. I’ll be the bully.’ And then that just stops there. The kid just looks at you and they don’t want to go any further,” Fahy said.

“Whereas you say, ‘An orc comes into the bar and he stars arguing with you about how you stole his coin purse. What do you do?’ Now the child has to think, ‘How do I talk to this orc without him hurting me?'”

Fahy said kids with behavioral disorders, anti-social traits, and those who are on the autism spectrum, find Dungeons & Dragons role-playing particularly helpful.

Finally, a great think-piece for your traditional fantasy game from Atlas Obscura: “Why Do We Sleep Under Blankets, Even on the Hottest Nights?”

Blankets are common, but not universal, to humans during sleep, at least in the modern day. But historically, the effort involved in weaving large sheets put blankets at much too high a price point for most to afford. From the linen bedsheets of Egypt around 3500 B.C. to wool sheets during the Roman empire straight through to cotton in medieval Europe, bed coverings were for the wealthy.

By the Early Modern period in Europe, which followed the Middle Ages, production had increased enough so that more middle-class people could afford bedding, though not easily. “The bed, throughout Western Europe at this time, was the most expensive item in the house,” says Roger Ekirch, a historian at Virginia Tech who has written extensively about sleep. “It was the first major item that a newly married couple, if they had the wherewithal, would invest in.” The bed and bedding could make up about a third of the total value of an entire household’s possessions, which explains why bedsheets frequently showed up in wills.

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