Hey, everyone. While I’ve been away, Crystal and I have been working on redeveloping my web presence. My goal, as much as possible, has been to have a unified web presence, where the various parts of my life intersect. Right now, Dark Omen Games doesn’t quite integrate. I mean, let’s be honest; Dark Omen Games is really just Crystal and I doing stuff together. Why put up a corporate front, when connecting on a more personal level would probably be the better choice? So, we’re working on developing a new web site for me, which will integrate all these aspects.
However, as part of this integration, I’m going to be moving my blog. I’d like to have more of a hand in managing my blog, and I’d like to have additional integration possibilities. As a result, this will be the last post that I make to this blog. My new blog (with all content intact) can be found at sethbenezra.wordpress.com. Update your RSS feeds appropriately.
Specifically, I want to give a shout out to Billy Dennis. Thanks for giving me a home here for these last several years, and good luck with your future endeavors.
I designed a game tonight!
It’s time for Game Chef, which is an annual game design contest of sorts that’s been running for…um…ten years now, I think. A number of published games have come from this contest, including some significant ones like Polaris, The Mountain Witch, The Shab-al-Hiri Roach, and A Penny For My Thoughts.
I somehow doubt that Keepers of the Lantern (PDF) will have the same kind of impact. It’s just a short one-shot RPG poem. Mostly disposable, in fact.
But I really wanted to write it.
This year, the Forge is closing down. The site will remain with an archive of threads, but that’s it.
Eleven years ago, I signed on to the Forge forums. (Aside: through a funny convergence of events, I actually have had a user account on the Forge longer than Ron Edwards. Serious! Here’s my profile, and here’s Ron’s.) And, for that eleven years, the Forge has been a major part of my life.
I’ve launched three games through the community at the Forge.
GNS/The Big Model/Whatever we’re calling it now was a major boon for me, as it helped me broaden my enjoyment of games by coming to see that different people are looking for different things from the same experience.
I’ve made friends and colleagues across the country through the Forge. In fact, I connected with Ralph Mazza largely through the Forge, before either of us lived in Peoria.
My thinking on rituals and ritual design was shaped in part by an article by Chris Lehrich that was posted on the Forge.
There were years–years, I say–where reading the Forge and grappling with the ideas being pushed around there was a major component of my intellectual life. In fact, the Forge proved to me that it is possible to have productive discourse on the Internet.
Over the last couple of years, my life hasn’t allowed as much room for interaction at the Forge. For better or worse, the Forge Diaspora moved on most of the people I was really interested in continuing to connect with. And, as my life changed, my ability to devote the time to this place was hampered. I stopped checking the Forge regularly. Then, over time, it fell off my radar.
I’m probably not alone in this. Ron’s right; it’s time for the Forge to move on.
But still, I like that the last hurrah for the Forge is about design. At its heart, the Forge was all about quality design, leading to quality play. And, from where I’m sitting, it succeeded brilliantly.
So, Ron, Clinton, Vincent, I salute the work you’ve done over the years. Thank you for what you built.
Thank you for the Forge.
It’s a little after midnight on March 3, 2012. Around 3:00 pm today, my little sister Gabrielle is getting married. Obviously there are all kinds of thoughts wandering through my head. Here are a few I’m going to inflict on you.
*Gabrielle’s getting married! She thought it would never happen, and now it’s here!
*We have family in town. This is the first time that my side of the family has gathered in Peoria. It’s really cool to see people, some of whom I haven’t seen in years. Yes, that’s literal. IIRC, it’s been over 1.5 years since I’ve seen Tom and Elizabeth (my brother-in-law and sister) and over three years since I’ve seen Aunt Laurie and Uncle Don. It’s good to see them again.
*After the rehearsal, many of us gathered at Blue, our neighborhood bar. That’s when it hit me: I’m out drinking with my father, my aunt, and my uncle. I remember relating to them as a child. I remember going down to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle’s house. Now, I’m drinking with them, and we’re interacting as adults. Time…it is strange.
*I have to be careful with this next one, because I’m not actually interested in getting maudlin. That being said, there is very much the awareness that Mom isn’t here. Don’t misunderstand! This is definitely a happy occasion. And yet, there’s this hole that shows up from time to time. And I begin to realize that I’ve simply gotten used to the hole. That’s probably even a good thing in some ways. Life goes on, even without the ones that we love, and there’s room for healing and a certain confidence in the power of the resurrection, where all things will be made new, including my mother. But still…you know?
But I can’t end there!
*This wedding has begun to give me an idea of what a multi-day party looks like. We’ve been working on being good about our diets and being disciplined and all that, which means that I’m really enjoying all the special food and drink and…well…simply the sense of occasion surrounding this wedding. It’s not just a reception for a few hours following the wedding. We’re spending days together, celebrating this wedding and family and simply being together for a while. It gives me an idea of what the coming kingdom of heaven must be like, when we are all finally gathered together forever, never to be separated, never to be apart. That will be a good day!
And now, to (try to) settle for sleep. There’s a wedding to prepare for!
So, here we are in 2012. Weird. Just eleven days ago it was 2011.
I’ve been making various promises here on my blog, and I don’t really think I’ve kept any of them. Go figure. And I think I’m figuring out why.
Crystal has been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, which surprises no one. Of course, she did the standard thing and did some research. As she did her reading, she comes to the conclusion that I’m probably struggling with adrenal fatigue as well.
I won’t lie; the last couple of years have been pretty rough. So it really shouldn’t surprise me that I am tired and worn out. And that’s really what adrenal fatigue means: you’re long-term tired, long-term worn out, long-term exhausted.
And it’s shown. The things that I’ve often delighted in (like, say, roleplaying games and game design) have lost their savor. Instead of being sources of delight, they have simply become too exhausting to do. There was a stretch that reading anything longer than a blog post was simply too much work. I’ve been irritable, tired, and depressed. It’s true!
Oh yeah, and I haven’t really been blogging here, either. Now you know why.
But I feel like the storm has passed, and times are changing. As a result, I think I know what God is calling me and mine to do during 2012.
So, at the point in the year where everyone is gearing up for new projects, I’m trying to stop doing as much as possible. I’m trying to refuse responsibility, not take on new ones. I didn’t realize until now that I can be a workaholic. It’s not about physical work, necessarily, but mental work. I feel the need to be doing all the time. Now, I get to learn to stop, to step back, to let others do instead.
This is actually kinda hard for me to do. But, through various means, God has made it quite clear that now is the time to rest and stop. No fair trying to sneak in “just one small project”. No. Put it down.
So, for the next six months, I’m eschewing sugar, alcohol, coffee…you know, all the fun stuff. I’m trying to get good sleep. I’m trying to eat well. I’m trying to do fun things that aren’t difficult. Around July I’m going to consider the possible necessity of jumpstarting my creative life, but I’m letting it lie fallow as well. So, boardgaming is good, but publishing another game (right now) is not. On the other hand, the game of One Ring that Ralph is running is due to start this Friday. I’m really looking forward to it, in part because I won’t be running. Again, fun things that aren’t difficult. God willing, I’ll GM again. But right now, it’s time to let another.
And I’m going to work on spending time with friends.
There will be time again in the future to pick up projects and do assail high mountains (metaphorically) and the like, but for now, it’s time to stop.
So, please bear with me as I do.
So, Arianna took a bit of a tumble yesterday at church and hurt her foot. It wasn’t getting better, so I took her to the doctor. Yep, it’s a break. Yay.
We’ll be taking her to an orthopedic doctor Real Soon Now, as soon as we get our referral, which should be tomorrow.
Another rite of passage for us all.
Coming to you, live from my iPhone, it’s a quick blog thought!
In times past, the transcendence of God has been a major theme of the Church. God is high and lifted up above us. And, hey, that’s certainly true. Increasingly, though, I see God’s immanence being the theme of modern Christianity. And I think this is a good thing. In our day, we are tired and lonely and broken and scattered. So often, we feel so far from those with whom we feel we should be close. The pace of modern life makes it easy to lose those vital connections. Unless we are vigilant, we can find ourselves split from the herd, left alone to face the cold, the dark, the slowly growing certainty that our lives are a waste, the gnawing doubt that questions the value of our own existences.
Loneliness is our epidemic.
Is it any wonder then that the nearness of God is so precious in these lonely, scattered days?
A few weeks ago, I finally watched The Mission. Yep, my parents told me years ago that I’d like this movie, and they were right. Though, in a way, I feel like I needed to be at this place in my life to truly appreciate the power of this film.
So, spoilers, right? But, given that the movie came out in 1986, well, you should just deal, you know?
The two main characters are Father Gabriel, a Jesuit missionary to the primitives of South America, and Rodrigo, a mercenary/slaver turned Jesuit novice. (As an aside, seeing Rodrigo’s conversion experience is a big deal in the movie and a major part of the film.)
Politics has moved against the mission to the Indians headed up by Father Gabriel, and soldiers are coming to “liquidate” the mission. Rodridgo sees the injustice and renounces his vows of obedience to take up the sword once again to defend the Indians. This brings him into conflict with Father Gabriel, who is a pacifist.
One of the many powerful scenes of the movie is set on the eve of battle. The soldiers will arrive the next day, and Rodrigo comes to Father Gabriel to seek his blessing. Now, you need to understand that Gabriel and Rodrigo have argued bitterly over this issue, and we know what Father Gabriel thinks of what Rodrigo is doing.
And yet, Rodrigo seeks Gabriel’s blessing.
And here, Father Gabriel demonstrates his wisdom.
He rises and refuses to bless Rodrigo. His conscience will not permit it. And yet, he tells Rodrigo that, if he is in the right, that God will bless Rodrigo.
Did you catch that?
On the eve of battle, on the last night of their lives, Gabriel stands by his pacifism, but he is still humble enough to admit that he may be wrong and appeals to God on behalf of Rodrigo. That night, they part as friends. Their disagreement is not enough to divide them. They each go their own ways to their own methods of resistance (and they both die), yet they die reconciled and at peace with each other.
I wish that more Christians would comprehend and embrace this understanding of Christian brotherhood.
O Sun of Righteousness,
The lifter of my head and lover of my soul,
Shine on me today through the shadows that surround me,
That I may come, in the end, to see Your deliverance.
I got lost in the woods today.
The fact that I’m typing this from the comfort of my office should let you know that this story has a happy ending.
The day got off to a stumbling start. Nothing really bad happened, you understand. It was just not coming together well. I was feeling tired and a bit overwhelmed by the work in front of me. Then I blinked, and it was lunchtime.
So, I decided to go for a walk.
My workplace is embedded in the Forest Park Nature Preserve. We are surrounded by beautiful woods, traversed by twisting trails. So, I put my new earbuds in, started up some music, and headed out.
I started out following a trail that I knew, but when I came to a fork, I decided to take the right-hand path, which I hadn’t walked before. But, really, what could go wrong? As long as I stayed on the path and walked carefully, the trail would bring me back home.
And so I kept walking. And walking. And walking. It was beautiful. The leaves are changing colors and beginning to fall to the ground, and the rain pattered gently on me as I kept moving. I still wasn’t concerned. All I had to do was stay on the path and walk carefully.
And so I kept walking. I climbed a hillside on wooden stairs and walked along a ridge line. The path twisted and turned and grew rough with exposed roots. Some places I had to watch carefully, because the path was almost obscured by leaves and debris, making it hard to determine where the path had gone. And I began to grow a little concerned that, maybe, I was lost.
By this point, it was too late to retrace my steps. Going back wasn’t any better. Really, the best, safest, and most sensible approach was to push ahead. All I had to do was stay on the path and walk carefully, and the trail would bring me back home.
And so I kept walking. But I was smiling and even laughing a bit to myself. Because I understood what was going on, and it pleased me. I embraced the metaphor that was being handed to me and lived in the moment.
I’m back. All is well, though I was gone longer than I had originally planned. And I get it now. In this moment, at least, it’s all so clear.
Stay on the path.
Trust the trail.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
I’m posting from my iPhone! Why? Mostly because I can.
That being said, I’m rolling around some thoughts involving this blog, among other things, so this is a useful test.
Well, to me, at any rate.
“Not all companies deserve to last. Perhaps society is better off getting rid of organizations that have fallen from great to terrible rather than continuing to let them inflict their massive inadequacies on their stakeholders. Institutional self-perpetuation holds no legitimate place in a world of scarce resources; institutional mediocrity should be terminated, or transformed into excellence….The point of the struggle is not just to survive, but to build an enterprise that makes such a distinctive impact on the world it touches, and does so with such superior performance, that it would leave a gaping hole–a hole that could not be easily filled by any other institution–if it ceased to exist.”
–Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall, p. 111-112
I went for a walk earlier today.
Yeah, that’s the kind of gripping social commentary that you’ve come to expect from this blog. But, hang on a moment and let me explain.
Work has been hectic recently, and today was no exception. Wall-to-wall meetings, a fairly important presentation, and a high intensity level left me feeling tired around 3:30. Don’t get me wrong; it’s been a good day. But, I don’t do well being on a constant adrenaline rush. I need time for calm, for peace, to embrace silence.
Which is why I went for a walk.
Now, you need to understand that I have a hard time getting my brain to stop thinking. There’s a constant stream of thinking, mulling, or analyzing running in my head. I can’t stop it. Often, I’ll use that tendency to poke at game design or the book I’m reading or something like that. However, I haven’t really had a lot of energy to go into those things, so, when my brain goes to chew on something, it chews on…work.
That’s no good for someone who is trying to balance his life.
But today I realized, as I was walking, that I had actually managed to slow my mind. I think that it may have been the fact that I was playing music. But, as I walked through the woods around my workplace, I found myself able to simply walk, to live in the moment.
It was good for me, and I returned to the office refreshed.
Zen has the practice of walking meditation, of learning to “just walk”. I think that this bears further investigation. Right now, I need to be able to produce high levels of energy for extended periods of time in order to bring my A-game at work. But I also need to seek those moments of solitude and silence, where I can simply rest and be renewed.
Also, I think I need better earbuds.
“You can be profitable and bankrupt. The idea had never occurred to most students who’d worked in big companies. In the entrepreneurial phase, leader struggle just to get enough cash to become self-sustaining, but as an organization becomes big and successful, cash consciousness atrophies. Leaders in successful companies worry more about earning. But organizations do not die from lack of earnings. They die from lack of cash.”
–Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall, p. 104
Tonight we gathered for a meal and then a prayer service at Imago Dei Church. The meal was a typical potluck meal, which worked out quite well. And then, we all headed off to the chapel for prayer. We were all a little late, but whatever, right? We were going to have our prayer service.
Except we couldn’t. Because it was occupied.
Looking in the windows in the doors, we could see two members of the Imago prayer team praying with someone.
So they moved the prayer service. You know, because the chapel was being used to pray.
It turns out that the man they were praying with lives across the street from the church. In fact, Crystal actually saw him this morning when she was at the church for Bible study and prayed for him. Apparently his need drove him to come seek help. And he found love and care, and he was ushered into the presence of the Father in prayer.
That’s tremendous. That’s wonderful. That’s a worthy reason to move the prayer service.
And it made me glad to be part of a church that has been positioned to be able to be available to the lost and needy, like our neighbor.
Hi, SEO guys! How’s it going?
Over the years of conducting my research, I’ve been a leadership skeptic, influenced by the evidence that complex organizations achieve greatness through the efforts of more than one exceptional individual. The best leaders we’ve studied had a peculiar genius for seeing themselves as not all that important, recognizing the need to build an executive team and to craft a culture based on core values that do not depend upon a single heroic leader. But in cases of decline, we find a more pronounced role for the powerful individual, and not for the better. So, even though I remain a leadership skeptic, the evidence leads me to this sobering conclusion: while no leader can single-handedly build an enduring great company, the wrong leader vested with power can almost single-handedly bring a company down.
–Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall, p.61-62