I was a Cub Scout, and there are some very vivid memories from that time in my life. One in particular stands out. I had just bought a pinewood derby car. For those of you who don’t know, this is a small rectangular wood block that Scouts carve into a car shape and race down a ramp. I had just gotten my first one, and my dad brought me into the garage. He let me outline the shape of the car I want, and then he cut along the line I had drawn. Then he gave me some sandpaper. I spent hours shaping it, painting it, and getting ready to race it. It was psyched. My dad would ask me, “are you sure you want to do that?” in a tone I’ve come over the years to associate with parental panic.
Banned Books Week is a an annual celebration of our intellectual freedom, “ the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.” We, as Librarians, work hard to make sure that we maintain our subject “collections”, like Cooking, with modern sources and classics. We are dedicated to maintaining a diverse collections suitable for all people and view points. In collections like cooking, this is fairly easy. In sections like politics and religion, this is truly a challenge. Patron requests for materials make this easier.
I have been playing tabletop role playing games since I was 13 years old. This year, I will be have playing tabletop role playing games for 20 years. Through gaming I have forged friendships that have lasted that time, and I’ve met people from around the country. Role Playing Games also inspired the teenage me to read. I fell in love with adventure, and I fell in love with the stories of people.
How Role Playing Games Work
Tabletop Roleplaying Games are generally played by a group of 3-6 people. In most games, one person tells a story that the other players are protagonists in. In Dungeons & Dragons, the person who tells the story is the Dungeon Master. They use the game rules to build fantasy worlds, like the one portrayed in Lord of the Rings, for their players to experience. Everyone else is a player. They take on the role of heroes in the fantasy world. They may be a group of warriors trying to prevent the rise of an ancient evil like The Fellowship in Lord of the Rings. They might also be mercenaries laying siege to a city as a noble’s request. The Dungeon Master sets the stage, the conflict and then players move through the world trying to resolve that conflict. The players dictate characters actions, have conversations as the character and incorporate themselves into the setting the Dungeon Master has created. Tabletop Role Playing is one part collaborative storytelling and one part improvisation theater.
The Benefits of Role Playing Games
It is important for people skeptical right now to understand that role playing games help build social skills, narrative literacy and an understanding of small group dynamics. There is objective value to playing this game. For me there is also an emotional value. I have had a lot of fun playing role playing games. I think playing them have made me a more empathetic and creative person. The game I started with is the same that most do. Dungeons and Dragons.
Dungeons & Dragons
The most famous tabletop role playing game is Dungeons & Dragons. It was created in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Aronson. The first edition of Dungeons & Dragons allowed players to take on some of the most common characters of sword and sorcery fantasy literature. The early game was amateurishly produced, basically a punch of paper stapled together. The modern game is published by Hasbro subsidiary Wizard’s of the Coast. Each edition (we are on the fifth) has dozens of supplements, even though you only need the three core books to play the game.
The Dungeons & Dragons Core Books
The Core Books; The Player’s Handbook, The Monsters Manual and the Dungeon Master’s Guide each contain one central element of the game. The Player’s Handbook contains the bulk of the rules, and it explains how a player should build their protagonist. The Dungeon Master’s Guide help a Dungeon Master create a story and gameworld. The Monster’s Manual contains antagonists for the Dungeon Master to set against protagonists.If you are intimidated by creating your own story, you can use a supplement like Horde of the Dragon Queen. Supplements in tabletop role playing games have two functions. They either add new rules or they add new settings. Some do both. The Rise of Tiamat is a supplement that provides the Dungeon Master with with a story, setting and monsters that he can easily drop players into.
Other Tabletop Roleplaying Games
After Dungeons & Dragons came out, several hundred other games followed. Some differed from Dungeons & Dragons because they were based off other fiction genres. The World of Darkness & Chronicles of Darkness game lines inspired by the urban fantasy genre. Series such as The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, the Anne Rice Novels and the Patricia Briggs Novels have a similar feel and even similar tropes. Numenera draws from the Space Operas like Star Trek, Star Wars and Firefly. Gumshoe attempts to recreate the noir mystery genre through rules and guidelines for pacing.
Other games, such as the Fate Core System and Gurps attempt to be “setting neutral”, not tied to a specific story or genre. This way the dungeon master can create a story in whatever setting they want using the same rules as a base.
Finally, there are games that are based directly off movies and books. The Dresden Files, Supernatural, Firefly and even Star Wars have their own officially licensed tabletop role playing games that allows people to take on the roles of their favorite characters.
Role Playing Games with Children
Some games, such as Mouse Guard are designed for children and young teens. While other games, such as the previously Chronicles of Darkness are meant for adults. It is important that parents individually decide what games are appropriate for their children. Games based off Star Wars, Marvel or other kid friendly media properties are usually safe. Games that do not have a specific setting are usually safe. Parents need to take an active role in the selection of media their children consume. The main determination on whether a game is appropriate for a child is how the game is run by the dungeon master.
Tabletop Role Playing Games in the Modern Age
It can be hard to find people to play with sometimes. Luckily the internet has made things easier. Websites like Obsidian Portal, not only allow Dungeon Masters to show off their games, but it also allows people to find other people to play with. Another great way to find people to play with is through meetup.com. There are several tabletop role playing meetups on Meetup, including some run by libraries.
If you have no place to meet, you can always use a virtual tabletop, skype or Google Hangouts to play the entire game online. One of the games I play in meets twice a month online. We use Google Hangouts, primarily because it is free and my friends live all over the country.
How to get started playing role playing games
First you need to pick a game you want to play. The person who picks the game is usually the one who ends up being the dungeon master. The book will contain a list of other things you need. Role Playing games require relatively few materials, but most use some sort of die. If you have been playing for a long time, you tend to acquire hundreds of them. But you don’t want to start filling your house with odd shaped pieces of plastic. Instead you can use a die roller app or website. Some of the companies, like Fantasy Flight who make the games, also make free die roller apps available through the ITunes or Google Play store specifically for use with their games.
Usually the hardest thing to find is a group of people to play with. There may be a number of people in your area who have always wanted to play.
Librarian’s are masters of Self Education.
There are two types of education.
The kind you get from a school. This is a guided experience that exposes you to ideas outside your own interests, and it forces you to look at the wider world of knowledge. This is important, because we all need to be challenged if we wish to grow. This is Standardized Education. It is proved by degrees awarded by institutions. Teachers are masters of standardized education.
Then there is the kind you get from pursuing your own interests. This kind of education is harder to prove that you have. It is harder to credit to a specific institution. It is absolutely necessary for us to succeed. It is acquired by trial and error and by consuming information materials. These materials could be a Youtube video, a book or a podcast. Librarians are masters of this other education, self education.
Leadership is not the same as administration. The alchemy of talent and skill that makes a good leader is complex. To become a true leader is not an easy task, and there is no quick solution. Michael A Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas, both professors at Long Island University, pass these fundamental truths from the Ancient Philosophers of Greece to us in the first paragraph of their book The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders. Published by the American Management Association, the authors show off their skill at breaking down the complicated philosophical lessons by Classical philosophers into something a busy professional can read and benefit from.
One hundred and sixty-five years ago, Elizabeth Oakes Smith announced to the world that she thought it would be best if society were abolished. The problems with the social order of mankind, were so ingrown, so intractable, that something better and altogether would have to be put in its place.
Books are great gifts, but what books should you give? Even if you know some of a person’s favorite books, it can be hard to think of new ones to buy as gifts. A few places to look for ideas for giving books (as well as ideas for new books to read) are listed below.
Opioid addiction is a frightening physical and mental affliction. It has taken root all over Long Island and the Country. The Patchogue-Medford Library has partnered with Suffolk County Long Island Mentors & Mentees and the Stony Brook Graduate School of Social Work to offer a six week workshop for the friends & family of those afflicted with addiction.
SMART Recovery for Family and Friends (F&F) is a workshop that offers support and tools to those who are impacted by the addictive behavior of a loved one. When a person is involved with someone with an addiction, it can become easy to neglect their own needs. Instead of spending so much time focused on their loved one, the F&F program welcomes participants to focus on themselves and the goals that they want to achieve. By attending these workshops, participants will have others to relate to and can support one another with empowerment and hope. At the meetings for Family and Friends, participants will feel as if they have a safe haven to come to and discuss their struggles. They can then learn new skills that will facilitate positive changes.
Participants will be taught how to respond to addictive behaviors. There are some responses that may be unproductive. This program will provide different strategies that can be used to change these unproductive responses to ones that are more helpful in the long run.
The first session of this series is Saturday, November 14th at 10:00 A.M. , the following sessions are the November 21st, December 5th, December 12th, December 19th
What are books?
In 1857, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, an author and later Patchogue resident, would give her own answer: “Books are the natural outgrowth of thought.” In a book, the author not only expresses his thoughts to others, but makes his thoughts into something new apart from himself. Plato observed that books allow author’s to meet people living long after the author himself; they communicate thoughts over great expanses of time and space and even beyond death. It is often observed by readers that you seem to know an author by reading his books.
At the same time there is a distinction to be made between author and book. Oakes Smith noticed that we can like a book and dislike the author. “We are often disappointed,” she wrote, “at the seeming discrepancy between authors and their works, and wonder that such gorgeous, tropic flowers could strike root in those icebergs. We turn away mournfully from the cold, polished manner and artificial words – so different from the glowing, inspired thoughts which held heart and brain entranced till the last page was turned and the last sentence ended. But the chill is the semblance, the warmth the reality.”
In other words, on meeting authors she has found herself disappointed – they have not lived up to their books! Oakes Smith was friends with and supporters of Edgar Allen Poe, Horace Greely, Susan B. Anthony, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Thoreau. She also disagreed and argued with many of these literary contemporaries – it is interesting to imagine who might have inspired such a remark.
It may be that the books of an author can be so much like an author as to be unrecognizable when compared with the original. After all, it is in thinking that we are the most ourselves. Books, however, are unchangeable. A book, Oakes Smith noticed, can, somehow, be more real than the person who wrote it.
Elizebth Oakes Smith and her husband, the editor and humorist Seba Smith, lived in Patchogue, owned property, and are buried in Lakeview cemetery. More about the life of Oakes Smith can be found on the local history website as well as the Oakes-Smith website of Professor Timothy Scherman.
The original essay “Books” by Elizabeth Oakes Smith is reproduced on our Local History website.
Tonight is the season finale of AMC’s Turn: Washington’s Spies.
If you are like many fans of the series, you are interested in the history behind the show. Particularly interesting is the question of what really happened and what was created for the sake of an interesting story. Find out the answers – and how much you know – by trying True or False in AMC’s Turn. Questions are available for this week’s episode, as well as all previous episodes from season 1 and 2.
If you would like to in watching Turn from the beginning, we have the first season in the library collection. If you missed last week’s episode 9, Prodigal, you can watch it online on the AMC website here.