Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saintly Saturday: St. Symeon the Fool for Christ

First, let me apologize for not posting a whole lot lately. Life intrudes. I have been traveling a lot. My actual time gaming has been much reduced, giving me less to muse about. Fortunately, today is the feast of St. Symeon the Fool for Christ.

Symeon was part of a group of monastic saints from Edessa in Mesopotamia (now in modern day Turkey). After making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the middle of the sixth century, Symeon and his companions were moved to take up the ascetic life. After being tonsured, they went out into the wilderness of the Dead Sea where they remained for several years.

Moved by the Spirit, Symeon left the desert for Emesa in Syria, where he became a Fool for Christ. This is a title given to saints who endeavor to bring ridicule upon themselves by appearing to be insane; however, this state of mind is actually a kind of holiness. These fools are able to expose evil through direct criticism, metaphoric actions and symbolic words. They force people to face their own sin in a way that other, more “civilized” methods cannot.

St. Symeon, through this holy insanity was able to save many from their sins. He died in peace in the year A.D. 570.

Of all the various types of NPCs one can throw into a game, the one I enjoy playing the most is the Fool for Christ, not only because they are hilarious characters that illicit strong reactions from players, but because they are extremely useful.

A Fool for Christ is a wonderful way to personify the omniscience of the Referee into a game world. Normally such a character would take the form of an extremely powerful wizard or other highly magical NPC quite capable of completely decimating parties and player choice. A Fool for Christ, however, need only be a 0-level human. Being a holy person, intimate with the Holy Spirit gives them all the knowledge the Referee needs them to have.

Given their relative weakness, this allows me as a Referee to impart critical information (and even some constructive criticism) in an entertaining way while letting the players know and feel that they are still in charge of their characters and where they want to take the campaign.


Robert Weaver said...

Fr. Dave,
Thank you for another Saintly Saturday. I always enjoy reading your reflections on the saints and how their example can be brought into the way we game. I also wrote a short piece on Fools for Christ a while back, including the story of St Xenia of Petersburg.

Library Bob

FrDave said...

One of the reasons I started writing these was so I had an excuse to introduce myself to some saints I had not yet had a chance to meet. Thanks for letting me know about St. Xenia.