Vinland Shore

Month: April, 2014

Insight Bonus; Why Role-Playing?

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what foe is this?

Why not just play computer games? the most frequent response I get whenever I bring up the idea of tabletop gaming. A lot of people don’t see the benefits and opportunity that come with engaging in this kind of game. Well I believe that game is too short a word to describe the experience that can be gathered from a successful role-playing experience. Another thing I often hear is that people are often “no-good” at imagining things; it seems like our minds are lazy these days and we want all the adventures to be written, beginning, middle, end. Already set out without any of the need for thinking about the deliberations of characters and such like because miraculously someone has already decided them for you!  How easy is that!

Well unfortunately for most people the idea of “imagination” has been all but destroyed as it’s something that is to be considered childish, and we should not think of childish things once we are grown adults! So, you’re going to need to put your brain on the treadmill for a bit and work it out. It’s easier for some than others but it’s painless I assure you, and you will feel much more confident about imagining things afterwards.  Despite what the outside world thinks about imagining things, in reality it’s something we do every single day. You think about future interactions with other people, taking the bus, going to run an errand. Without imagination how would we be able to analyze our future decisions and the multiple resolutions that come from each? This is one of the core aspects of tabletop role-playing.

This combined with the innumerable possibilities is the thing that makes this kind of game most appealing. There are rules of course; every game has some boundaries. No productive aim in art, music, or theatre can be without some sort of basal framework. The framework is the creation of the person who writes the world, the inhabitants and the legends of that world. The idea  is to fill that frame within the extremes of the environment and the conditions of that world, and hope to make it immersive and entertaining. It’s the GM (Game Master’s) responsibility to make the environments challenging, decorate the worlds through speech and create problems for the players to solve.

Beyond this there is nothing standing in the way of your mind. It might be arduous to comprehend for many of the people who have grown up with computer games with very meticulous rule systems; such that your actions are very restricted. Once you get around the idea that your options are so vast it’s difficult to often comprehend all the causation of each and every possibility. They are as the roots of a tree, and each and every bit as numerable.

There might be a computer game that is as enveloping in atmosphere and the myriad of actions that are possible in tabletop role-playing ten years in the future; or even more distant… In my time of role-playing my characters have started villages, burned villages to the ground, constructed temples, and razed the temples of our enemies, we’ve started virtuous and criminal endeavors, had celebrations and battles among monsters and men. All the adventures are real, because they are real to your mind. Your brain will attempt to resolve the problems you have to solve in the same way as the problems you encounter in reality.

In this aspect you’re training your mind to become better at resolving conflicts, or taking up the challenges that you have to face. Only the challenges you get to face in these worlds are much more entertaining than the ones we do on a day-to-day basis. They are none the less learning opportunities, problem solving, creativity, math, logic, and interpersonal skills. You’re not just leveling a character on the sheet, you’re also improving your own mind. ; )

Herd Behavior; Against Nature for the Sake of Nature

wayward, the black sheep doesn't follow the herd

wayward, the black sheep doesn’t follow the herd

I remain thoroughly confused about the motives of young people in this current age. I thought I had come to a closer understanding of the intentions of most young people and what their goals and aspirations as well as their social and moral ambitions are. However the closer I come to any kind of comprehension of this it evades me again, and slips through my fingers. At first I assumed it was weighted in wealth, and fame or recognition for their own accolades. Things that are no doubt valued and heralded in the present pseudo-culture, and then I discovered a new trend.

The trend is that of moral passion; however it’s a trend, and just that. While at the present it’s incredibly “stylish” to be passionate about moral and societal issues; the thing I have learned is that most don’t seem to know anything at all about these issues that they are so passionate about. It’s feigned ardor in order to gain approval from their peers, it happens in every movement of this kind. If you step outside this set of ideals and are “dissident” so to speak you will find yourself exiled from your peer-group. So naturally lots of young people are not going to risk being ostracized.

The majority of people being pressured by fear into these patterns of thinking are middle-class western people. Most people who have never been faced with any kind of strife in their lives. Most of them probably couldn’t build a fire, or know which end of an axe to hold on to have suddenly become “tortured souls” on the moral path to righteousness! Fighting for the rights of peoples they’ve never met! …of course it’s difficult for me to blame someone for their desire to maintain their social-standing as I don’t really maintain one. It is a basic human desire to be accepted by those around you, to care for and be cared for.

So called “peer-pressure” is not alone to be blamed in this situation, one look at the media and it is clearly visible. Europeans are self-deprecating in every aspect of their public appearance. In television, or otherwise in the media through popular-music and film and so on. If you look to the persons who control the media then you will know what it is that drives the question that I began with. Trends are made to benefit no one, they are a method of propaganda utilizing basic human societal structures. It trickles down through, you’re not going to risk being considered an outcast are you?

Invigorating Inspiration!

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Recently I’ve taken to walking from my place of work to my house at the end of the day. It’s quite a long walk altogether measuring nearly 12 kilometers in one direction. The majority of the walk runs a long stretch of road with the ocean on one side, and the other is made up of cliffs and outcroppings of trees periodically with higher hills surrounding and the coastline fading completely out of sight. I suppose the key aspiration of me doing this was to test myself, and reducing my need to rely on others as I have no vehicle of my own.

The first night was quick, but in the morning my muscles were quite sore which is to be expected. Then subsequent nights were substantially less difficult. However just this night I had a particularity long day, little sleep the previous night and long working hours; before I even began to walk home my feet ached. I still didn’t halt, or cease in any manner, I thought of the birds and all the other animals of the earth. They all have their own forms of movement, and they do so effortlessly. When has man become so unequal in simply traversing the land in contrast to our forebears?

Something interesting happened though, with a few kilometers left I was losing my vitality. My legs burned as if my body was pumping gasoline instead of blood and my feet ached and burned as if they were hammered with hundreds of nails all at once. Then stopping I looked to the ground, and I saw a single leaf. Brown and withered it was laying in the dim light just revealed by the light of the sky. Not just any leaf; it was the leaf of an Oak!

Around my home Oak trees are sadly infrequent so I regarded the incidental finding of this one symbol and of my near loss of will at the same crux to be something of significance! Despite the feeling as if every bone in each of my feet was broken and my muscles hesitant. This one leaf rekindled what spirit I had despite my corporeal pains. Do not underestimate one thing in our world, insight and wisdom can come from places you never anticipate, and with such haste!

Enchantment For A Few

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“druids did not meet in stone temples or other constructions, but in sacred groves of trees”

As a child I would travel the expanse of dense forest near my home. Hunting or fishing with my father; I’m sure I irritated him with inquires of the name of each tree and bird. The one thing that prevails in my memory was the sense of awe and wonder at the sight of the trees reaching up to the sky, and away from me in every direction in what seemed a ceaseless plain of wilderness. Valleys, streams, cliffs and mountains; my mind filled with the wondrous things that could occupy each and every corner of the trail on and on.  Imagination left me on adventures of discovery and magic, now my heart is filled with nostalgia and wistfulness of that awe.

Those impressions never left me, and in my adolescence my heart then longing took me again to the forest. I spent many summer afternoons absorbing myself alone in the surroundings of my natural world, and I relished wholeheartedly in my wanderings. Never feeling again such peace in myself as I did then. Alas then night would come and I would have to return to my bed, and dream of that peace again. Before long my excursions became routine; so I began to camp out. I had a small tent and I would take a few provisions and some comforts. A notebook where I monitored the weather and the fauna, and some books for entertainment; novels and a field guide. The stream provided me water, the sun warmth, and the trees shade.

I never thought my time there introverted, or alienated from anything. Adjoined to my nature, never felt desolation once in my solitude. Never occurring to me that another my age would ever endeavor to seek the same dauntless burden of living in this place. However I didn’t see it as a task to be completed; an assignment with a firm limit. This was a place that had no absolute, and there was no end and no beginning. The only burden I felt was in returning to the world we built in the place of our ancestor’s realm; on top of or in place of the groves.

Indeed it should be no surprise to us that our ancestors found these places as sacred, and held highly mighty trees to preserve them in sites of worship to the gods. The Oak, Ash, and Hawthorne; the trees of gods and divine are common throughout all of European ancient religion. Revered and powerful many of these sites were razed by Christians, and few of these sites still stand as they did. I feel that the power is still there; aspiration dwells in me to rebuild on the ashes of the destruction of the past, and build up these sites again. Not through some garish re-construction of what television believes, but by preserving the natural home of our ancestors; thus the power and spirit.

Uphold this so that many after can feel that same awe that I felt as a child in the massive forest, the awe that our ancestors felt and that future generations will feel. Words in any language are insufficient to articulate that feeling…

Earthen Womb, Ethereal Harmony

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instrument of the spirit of european man…

Modern humans seem to have an infatuation with noise; each time I go into a city or a well populated town I find myself completely overwhelmed with noise. Even without the sirens, constant traffic, television screens on the corners there is a consistent hum like a deep resonating buzz. It’s like the heartbeat of a metropolis, and I meet it with great disdain.

There is simply nothing beautiful about the sounds of thousands of lives crammed into a few square kilometers. It’s harsh noise, and it’s an assault on any conscious human being. Previous to the modern age, humans had very few occurrences where we would hear large sudden sounds, like thunder, or a tree falling. Or the unbroken sounds like a running stream or the whistling wind. Our ancestors would revel in this breathtaking yet overwhelming occurrences of the natural world; yet they were and we still are not meant to endure a constant barrage of noise.

The silence gave our forebears the opportunity to develop with their acuity, to fill the silence that nature provided. With music and instruments they created from the world around them. Through the inspiration of the natural world wind instruments were developed to give a voice to the very spirit of man. They fashioned these instruments from the bones of cave bears of the very womb of our mother earth.

Very seldom do we take the time to remain in silence, and connect in a way to our world in the manner our ancestors did. I myself am guilty of this; finding it difficult to leave home without my music player to accompany me. I still do my best to go into the open world away from the noise, and to the essential melody of the world. Take my time to gain insights, bridging the gap between myself and the essence of our forebears.

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