Weekend Reading – Internet Neighbors

Our Weekend Reading series (brought to you by our Patreon backers) continues with a curated selection of fascinating articles—and a few other things—from around the Internet.

 

Jenny

Apparently, pilgrims were also graffiti artists. St. Peter’s Church in Sudbury, England found a medieval carving of a peacock beside the organ.

Most people would be aghast to discover graffiti on the walls of a historic property. But when there’s a chance it could have been created hundreds of years ago by medieval pilgrims, it takes on a very different meaning.

On a bit of a more serious note, Requiem for a DM by Owen S. Good on Polygon talks about his memories of his high school DM in the years before that DM died of suicide. It definitely brought back a few memories for me, and I’ll admit to shedding a few tears reading it.

…we rarely slept even if we called it a sleepover. “All Night D&D-athon” is how Monty usually termed these get-togethers, with Mack and Seppi and Eric, which usually ended in Eric, who had named a dark elf for a G.I. Joe character or some stupid thing, losing his boots of speed or a sword of flames +2 versus undead. Monty, our dungeon master, would chop you down if you got too impressed with your character. He once put a curse on me in which I could only carry copper pieces. And we played with encumbrance rules.

For my bit of silliness for the week, CBC Comedy wrote a fun little piece about this podcasting thing that we here at Saving the Game love so very much.

In a press release issued earlier today, podcast hosts across the country officially expressed their belief that, “Anyway, um, that should… about do it for this week I think.”

 

Peter

Jason D. Wood, also known as The Mad Cleric (who we had on back in Episode 63) has a great article about being a responsible gamer up on his blog.

Regardless of which stereotype fits you most closely, I think we can be a part of creating a new stereotype: that of the responsible gamer.  You know, the person who is deeply engaged with the people around them–who does good, creative, life-affirming work–who lives with purpose and vivacity–and also really loves games.  That’s who I want to be.  But is that possible?

Very much in the wheelhouse of most of our listeners is this fantastic article about building empathy through story.

When I, a man, read the memoir of a woman, my brain begins to live her story and understand it in a way I can’t reach any other way. When I, a white person, read a story with a protagonist of color, my consciousness expands to understand marginalized perspectives in a manner unavailable to my rational mind.

Story is the ultimate conveyor of empathy and solidarity.

And finally, this is just too cute: the first annual comedy wildlife photography awards!

These days there are countless annual photography competitions throughout the year and one of the most recent to join that long list is arguably the best yet, the ‘Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

 

Grant

It’s the 50th anniversary, sort of, of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. No, really. Twitch.tv is streaming all of it (ALL of it!) as a fundraiser for PBS stations, and naturally lots of people are talking about Fred Rogers and what he meant to the generations who knew him. You might have seen this Twitter thread and Entertainment Weekly article by Anthony Breznican in passing—”Remembering Mr. Rogers, a true-life ‘helper’ when the world still needs one“. It’s a warm, poignant story about real, immediate ministry, from a man many of us consider a modern-day saint.

Then he opened the student union door and said goodbye. That’s when I blurted in a kind of rambling gush that I’d stumbled on the show again recently, at a time when I truly needed it. He listened there in the doorway, the bitter Pittsburgh winter wind flowing around him into the warm lobby bustling with students.

When I ran out of words, I just said, “So … thanks for that. Again.”

Mr. Rogers nodded. He looked down, and let the door close again. He undid his scarf and motioned to the window, where he sat down on the ledge.

 This is what set Mr. Rogers apart. No one else would’ve done this. No one.

He said, “Do you want to tell me what was upsetting you so?”

In the above article, Anthony Breznican mentions in passing a 2016 Christ & Pop Culture article as well, which is equally worth your time: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Reconciliation and Foot-Washing in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood“.

But here in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, only five years later, a quiet Presbyterian minister and an African-American police officer show the world how to integrate swimming pools. Rogers invites; Clemmons accepts. As Clemmons slips his feet into the pool, the camera holds the shot for several seconds, as if to make the point clear: a pair of brown feet and a pair of white feet can share a swimming pool. Nearly 25 years later Rogers and Clemmons reenacted this moment. A much older Rogers and Clemmons sit with their feet in a similar blue wading pool talking about the many different ways that children and adults say “I Love You”–from singing to cleaning up a room to drawing special pictures to making plays. As the scene ends, Rogers takes a towel and helps Clemmons dry his feet with a simple, “Here, let me help you.”

Over at Gnome Stew, Troy E. Taylor offers up a really interesting idea—one especially relevant to the sort of gaming we talk about on STG—in his article “Setting That Moral Compass“. He suggests using the first adventure of a new campaign to calibrate the characters’ “moral compass”, testing declared alignments and philosophies against how they really act.

Of course, for the DM, it is far more informative if a character’s outlook is revealed during the course of play. Do you have a rogue with a heart of gold? Is that cleric far more selfish than he lets on? Will the sower of chaos be the first to demand a fair trial?

The party’s first wilderness journey can be a great time to put the player’s declarations to the test. Instead of rolling on the random chart to decide whether it will be kobolds or bugbears that torment the characters on the road, devise some encounters that feature moral conundrums. Then sit back, watch and take note on what transpires.

These need not be time-consuming or even taxing, in terms of combat. But they can be revealing about elements of their character’s character.

Finally, if you’re looking for a great encounter site for your game, you could do worse than this completely forgotten and abandoned Tennessee town, swallowed up over the course of a hundred years by the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Southern horror? Pulpy exploration? Who knows!

What we’d actually discovered was the Elkmont Historic District, an abandoned town that’s just outside of the still-active Elkmont Campground. It’s the perfect place to pitch a tent and go for a midnight flashlight adventure.

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