Weekend Reading 43

Jenny

This article is called “I Don’t Really Care What Gary Gygax Had to Say.” Like so many other articles, has a somewhat misleading title, but the content is quite good. I think I’d have titled it “Please Don’t Use Gary Gygax’s Opinions About Gaming to Try to Prove Someone Is Wrong About the Way They Have Fun.” Doesn’t roll off the tongue as well though.

That will no doubt make me a heretic to a lot of people. However, I’m not stating this opinion to upset you, or to suggest that the way you choose to play your games is somehow wrong. Rather, I’d like to draw some attention to how a lot of us in the gaming community (you know who you are) will use the opinions of creators like Mr. Gygax to justify their own behavior, shut down criticism of their actions, or defend their own gaming preferences.

In this weeks edition of Yet Another Cool Church Building, a treehouse church.

For fourteen years, Minister Burgess has been adding to the tree house, spending only $12,000 and never running out of material. Over that time, the treehouse has grown to truly monumental proportions, and the Minister may have already achieved his goal of building the world’s largest treehouse. Currently, his treehouse is 90 feet tall, said to contain 80 rooms, and stretch up to five stories, complete with a church and a bell tower. The bell tower at the top of the treehouse is equipped with oxygen acetylene bottles that, repurposed as bells, chime daily.

So apparently, Overwatch League doesn’t do subtitles. This means that deaf fans have to find a way around that lack of communication. A 14-year-old fan who lives near Burbank, California, where OWL is played got to go to several matches in person with an interpreter, and they’ve made up various name signs for different Overwatch characters.

14-year-old Danik Soudakoff is a deaf Overwatch League fan who was recently spotlighted on an episode of Blizzard’s weekly Watchpoint series. “When I watch on Twitch, I don’t understand anything,” said Soudakoff. So he attends matches in-person at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California, where he collaborates with an on-site interpreter to come up with creative signs for game elements, including heroes.

Peter

There’s been some controversy around Valve’s curation of Steam … well, for years, but it’s been intense lately. John Walker over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun does a good job of summing up why he believes their hands-off approach isn’t such a great thing. A couple of quick notes: 1) Walker is himself a Christian, 2) he’s ANGRY in this article, and it shows (some mild UK-specific NSFW language). As a pretty heavy user of the Steam platform, I found this to be relevant and useful, if not exactly a reassuring read.

It is not our job to run Steam! It is not our job to fix Steam! It is theirs. And their solution, each time they run into anything they don’t know how to solve, is to throw the problem at the user.

Gnome stew has a just awesome area to drop into your game world in this post. I hope they do more of these; I could easily drop this into my homebrewed setting (and might) with minimal adjustment.

So what we now have the main idea for the setting: a desert nation with a city in the center magically covered in bizarre ice growths. This ice is simultaneously constantly melting and being regrown and the result is that several rivers of water flow out of the city into the desert where they branch out and form a web of survivable arable land.

And once again, I’m going back to Richard Beck. Because again, he has nailed something I’ve long been wrestling with. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I have a deep-seeded vengeful streak that’s proven hard to completely excise. It comes out less and less in my day-to-day life, and that’s progress, but the kind of intense situations my player characters in gaming find themselves in remind me that it’s still there.

But in reality, it’s the fast, emotional, and automatic part of our minds that’s really controlling the show. As I’ve written about before, the battle to be like Jesus is won or lost in milliseconds.

Grant

First up, a fascinating and depressing article from NPR’s Dorrie Bouscaren: “In Papua New Guinea’s Sorcery Wars, A Peacemaker Takes On Her Toughest Case”. It’s a tale of economic and social tensions, clan rivalries, and the old cries of witchcraft and sorcery:

In the Eastern Highlands, the accusation of sorcery is a vigilante’s rallying cry. Nationally, such accusations are believed to be responsible for dozens of deaths every year.

Armed with machetes, a group zeroed in on their target and hacked the coffee farmer to death in his garden, setting fire to the thatch-roofed homes where his extended family lived. His relatives fled — to a nearby churchyard, to a police station, into the bush. For six weeks, they could not return to their village, terrified that they too would be attacked.

Two months later, in mid-March, the two clans were facing each other on opposite sides of the tiny church overlooking the town of Henganofi. From the back of the room, Boropi watched police officers remind the crowd that killing someone over a sorcery accusation is illegal, and that the perpetrators of an attack would be prosecuted. The principal of the school called for peace, so school-age children from the displaced clan could return to the classroom.

I usually try to make my own maps for my D&D game, but when time’s tight I don’t mind pulling something off the Internet. And there are a lotCrosshead Studios of good, free maps out there – and more if you like a particular creator and subscribe to their Patreon, these days. One really helpful site I found recently is , which not only has awesome maps but tutorials on how to make maps like they do! I know this sounds more like a plug than my usual Weekend Reading material, but I’m always fascinated by how things are made, especially art that takes time and commitment, and this satisfies that and my D&D needs at the same time. What’s not to live?

Speaking of well-made, artistic things: Hyperallergic takes a look at a fascinating indie game that reminds me of Big Fish, one of my favorite movies of all time (FIGHT ME.) “A Video Game Takes You Cross-Country into the Origins of American Folklore” reviews Where The Water Tastes Like Wine, a game all about Americana and folk tales and Depression-era art. It’s beautiful, and while the review honestly points out some design issues, the game itself looks wonderful and I hope to give it a try sometime soon.

I’m just a skyscraper-sized skeleton rambling across the United States, a bindle of tall tales and true stories on my shoulder. Sometimes I encounter the campfires of fellow travelers, maybe a Pullman porter, maybe a poet, and trade yarns. How well they’re received will help my salvation from a wolf-headed man who beat me at cards and won my life.

Such is the premise of Where the Water Tastes Like Wine. Progress in the Americana-infused game is made by collecting stories, which are sometimes sad (like a farmer’s Dust Bowl plight) and sometimes strange (such as a strangely colored cloud that passed over a town). Recently released by developer Dim Bulb Games, it’s an ambitious experience, one with which you can spend hours. It delves into how the United States is connected through collective storytelling, which always changes and grows with the telling, whether it’s Robert Johnson selling his soul at a Mississippi crossroads, or Thanksgiving. As the card-playing wolf (there must be a Grateful Dead fan among the developers), as voiced by Sting (!), says at the game’s beginning: “You see, this land is built on stories. It’s one big story, this country, woven of many small ones. Few of the small ones are strictly true, and the big story is mostly a lie.”

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