Matters of Faith

ZombieOriginally published in Wayfinder #15

Once the pyres start burning, it’s hard to tell the dead from the undead. It doesn’t help that one becomes another so easily.

I try to count faces as each body lands on the bonfire. I see a bearded bald man that I recognize as the retired baker Matheo. Had he died before, or was he one of the victims? Something split his head wide open, but I’m not bright enough to figure out if it was a battleaxe or a ghoul’s claws. As it turns out, I’m not bright enough to do much of anything but cause disaster.

“This is where priests would come in handy,” I tell Linnea, trying to sound like the thought just barely popped into my head.

“Don’t talk nonsense, Davorik.” Her reaction isn’t very surprising, even to me. Nearly a dozen people died last night before the city watch managed to get the ghouls under control.

“It’s not nonsense,” I defend. “Clerics kill undead, right? They could have stopped the attack or at least gotten folks back on their feet instead of landing in the fire.”

“And what do you think created these things in the first place?”

I swallow. “I don’t know…what?”

Linnea laughs bitterly and taps a long fingernail against one of my protruding fangs – a habit she has whenever she wants to remind me that I’m only her half-brother. “People see you with your big muscles and green skin, and they think they see a dumb brute. Don’t let them be right. Do some studying once in a while. Magic makes the dead rise. That type of magic comes from the gods and their followers.”

“But it’s not all like that. There are good clerics, too.”

“Look around you, brother. Look past last night’s disaster and you’ll see a thriving city. The wounded are being tended in hospitals that didn’t exist a few years ago. Children go to schools that used to be nothing more than money sinks for corrupt clergies. Everything we have in Avendale comes thanks to the fact that General Voran got rid of the churches and their damned holy wars.” She waves a hand at the burning corpses in the city square. “When the god-worshipers get involved, we get this.”

“But if it wasn’t for the god-worsh…I mean, if it wasn’t for a cleric, you wouldn’t—”

“No,” she says, cutting me off and turning away. “I wouldn’t. But you know what? Maybe I shouldn’t.”

She storms off to help with repairs, leaving me to deal with my questions alone. Continue reading

Do You Feel Less Guilty if Screen Time Means Non-Violent Games?

Video Games

My wife introduced our kids to the Mario Party video games. Our kids, in turn, have informed me that for the next few days I should refer to them as Mario and Princess Peach. Thankfully, they didn’t go so far as to ask me to amend their birth certificates.

These games of make-believe sometimes leave me wondering if we’ve allowed too much screen time in our house. But then I ask myself what I and my brothers were doing when we were about that old. We pretended we were robots because we watched Small Wonder every morning.

More significantly, there was a time not long ago where I was worried my son didn’t have much of an imagination. Playing games of pretend seemed to be foreign to him. Now that’s no longer a problem, so unless he starts struggling in school or socially, I’m happy to see him flex his creative muscles.

The fact that our kids have easier access to video games than any previous generation does lead me to wonder which form of screen time is better. Are video games building our kids’ imagination and problem-solving skills, or are they even worse than TV? The research is mixed but seems to favor video games.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!

The Goblin Problem: A Short Pathfinder Adventure

Goblin

The goblins of the Greymire are nuisances, but they rarely cause trouble for the village of Ardyne. The freshwater swamp they live in offers plenty of food and distractions, meaning they usually stay away from big folk. Despite a few instances of stolen chickens or raided junk heaps, relations between the goblins and locals are about as peaceful as it gets. However, the two societies have never seen each other as allies…until now.

The old meat and piles of garbage surrounding the goblin home have attracted some deadly pests – a flock of stirges. Afraid of the blood-sucking beast, the goblins have taken shelter and sent one unlucky soul to seek help.

“The Goblin Problem” is a short adventure for four 1st-level Pathfinder characters. It is specifically designed for younger players, featuring plenty of room for nonviolent solutions for those who wish to pursue them. However, it is also suitable for older, more experienced players.

Read more at the Screamsheet!

More Hands-On Dads Means Great Things for All Parents

Dad and Baby

We all know that times change, but I’m not sure we always appreciate how drastically they change. Take stay-at-home dads. They used to be rare but, as discussed in a recent NPR article, they’re becoming more common. The emergence of the stay at home dad has brought a slew of parenting changes for the future.

A survey from the Pew Research Center found that dads have more than doubled their family involvement since 1965, that fewer dads are the sole bread-winner for their family, and that more dads see parenting as central to their identity. However, there’s no road map – this new breed of father is learning as they go.

Even dads who still work full-time outside the home tend to be more hands-on with taking care of their kids. Fathers are changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, and driving kids to activities more than they did in previous generations. But because the roles have changed so dramatically, they don’t usually ask their own dads for advice.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!

The Five Stages of Struggling Through Bedtime

Bedtime

My daughter is willful, and that will serve her well later in life. But right now that willfulness means that she refuses to sleep in her own bed at night, and that’s robbing my wife and I of precious shuteye. As such, the bedtime wars have begun.

Actually, they haven’t really begun so much as they’ve continued for a couple years now. We set rules about when she was allowed to climb into bed with us, and she’s ignored those rules. Exhaustion wins out in the end, and it’s hard to pick a fight with a preschooler at three in the morning.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!