Round 4 of the RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by The Dice Bag, and the topic is religion.
Most of the contributions to the carnival so far deal with religion within the fiction. The one exception that deals with the elephant in the room is RPG Centric's post, It’s my fault Black Leaf died!, a look at the classic Chick Tract Dark Dungeons that represented Dungeons & Dragons as a satanic/occult recruiting tool.
Most gamers, myself included, think Dark Dungeons is hilarious. Not long ago, though, there were organised groups such as Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (B.A.D.D., lead by the infamous Patricia Pulling) who were actively "educating" law enforcement, school counselors, psychologists, pastors, and parents about the evils of "Fantasy Role Play" and Dungeons & Dragons in particular.
I grew up in the 80s and started playing D&D in the early 90s. The moral panic about D&D was still going strong, though in hindsight I can say it was already beginning to fade when I cracked the 1st edition AD&D Players Handbook for the first time. At the time it strongly affected me and I felt compelled to hide my hobby and tangential interests from anyone who I thought might take it the wrong way—or worse, use it against me. I remember fellow students in high school making jokes about playing Dungeons & Dragons and then killing their parents. Most players today don't remember how D&D and roleplaying in general was demonised only a short time ago, but to a certain extent it still colours my reaction every time someone asks, "So, what did you do this weekend?"
Which is all just a lead-up to today's gem. When this month's carnival was announced my mind immediately went to an old The Watchtower article about the evils of D&D. I couldn't find that, but in my searches I came across an archive of BBS text files, extracts from a "D&D Handbook" available by mail-order, that were aimed at Christians as resources to use in their communities to fight the Fantasy Role Play Menace.
For gamers who mercifully missed out on that dark period in RPG history this will be an interesting peek into the hysteria that arose when D&D first gained a measure of popularity. For those who remember, this might be a less amusing reminder of what it was like to have to hide a major pastime and source of hours of pleasure. Either way, it's amusing to see how far out of context the "evidence" presented needed to be taken in order to look incriminating.
Without further ado...
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.....
Mind against mind, the battle rages on with only the sharpest and fastest thinkers going out ahead of the pack of hungry and fighting players as each scheme and plot against the other to survive.
The "War Room" is in the mind of each player as the make-believe battles and struggles pit player against player; against the elements; against the environment; against creatures from this world and from other worlds; against lords - gods - demons - devils - curses - witchcraft - every known power of warfare that the mind can conjure up.
"Only the strong survive" doesn't apply here. The limitation of the mind determines the outcome. Rules and regulations, limits and players tools governing the "Game" are contained in the different manuals and volumes of books containing hundreds of pages. It isn't easy reading much less and easy game.
It is a challenge not only to win, but to stay alive. The sharper the mind, the better the memory, the longer the player will stay alive in the game.
Dungeons and Dragons (commonly known as D & D) is an elaborate fantasy game which evolved from the war games popular in the late 1950's. The DM (dungeon master, or god) sets the stage in the fantasy world. Each player assumes the identity of the character he creates. Their creatures are based on a chance roll of the dice. Each character will have six basic abilities: strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity, and charisma. The manual guideline will determine whether the character will be "good" or "evil".
The object of the game is to maneuver these characters through a maze of dungeons (tunnels) filled with monsters, magic, ambushes, and adventures in search of treasures. To survive, each character is equipped with special aids - such as magical weapons, potions, spells, and magical trinkets (holy water, garlic, wolves-bane, etc.) They are also given more conventional weapons: daggers, hand axes, swords and battle axes.
Each player can stay in the game as long as his character is not killed - from hours to years. If it continues long, most players identify themselves with their character, and the line between fantasy and reality tends to grow fuzzy. One authority concerning this "game" said: "The stuff that makes me nervous is over-identification with characters. I've seen people have fits, yell for fifteen minutes, hurl dice at a grand piano when their character dies."
Fantasy Role Playing (FRP) is promoted by many schools in "gifted and talented" programs as a means of challenging and developing the mind of a "bright" child.
The Fantasy Role Playing in D & D has come under fire by different individuals and groups claiming that the player may align himself to "God"; promoting violence, teaching religion, encouraging sexual perversion, indoctrinating in witchcraft, and even leading to death.
Well, lets look at some facts.
CONCERNING VIOLENCE - The following occured to D & D players as an apparent result of the game. In November a 12 year old boy shot his brother. In January a 14 year old boy walked into school and killed a teacher. Psychiatrist Laurance Johnson cautions, "If I had a child who tended toward schizophrenia, I'd never let him near D & D. There's a danger that it would reinforce feelings of grandiosity, of omnipotence. Reality and fantasy are hard enough for schizophrenics to differentiate."
CONCERNING BECOMING GODLIKE - "This game lets all your fantasies come true. This is a world where monsters, dragons, good and evil; high priests, fierce demons; and even the gods themselves may enter your character's life". * "Changing Alignment: Whether or not the character actively professes some deity, he or she will have an alignment and serve one or more deities of this general alignment indirectly or unbeknownst to the character" (Dungeons Masters Guide, p. 25). You serve a deity or deities whether you want to or not.
CONCERNING WITCHCRAFT / DEMONOLOGY - Swords and sorcery (witchcraft) best describes what this game is all about.... * "Magic users draw upon arcane powers in order to exercise their profession... He or she must memorize and prepare for the use of each spell, and its casting makes it necessary to reabsorb the incantation by consulting the proper book of spells..." * George Marsh, member of the Cardova Park School Board (California) stated in a letter, why he voted to remove D & D from the school district's summer program: "The Supreme Court has already barred religious activity from public facilities. D & D is clearly religious in content."
CONCERNING DEATH - "If the Assassination is being attempted by or in behalf of a player character, a complete plan of how the deed is to be done should be prepared by the player involved, and the precautions, if any, of the target character should be compared against the plan. Weapon damage always occurs and may kill the victim even though 'assassination' failed." (Dungeon Masters Guide, p. 75).
CONCERNING SEXUAL PERVERSION - "... These evil creatures will certainly expect to loot, pillage, and rape freely at every chance, and kill (and probably eat) captives" (Players Handbood, p. 31). The game may be just a game. However, it has become much more to many people. - In Seattle a father is under treatment because his son used his service revolver to kill himself after being involved in D & D for only 2 years. - In January a 17 year old walked onto a school stage, pointed a sawed off shotgun to his head and fired. Many - many cases are on public record of involvement in D & D leading to violence - murder - suicide.
Yes, it's only a game. But it contains the spiritual teachings of witchcraft.
"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..." Prov. 23:7. "Keep thy heart with all dilligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Prov. 4:23.
We become what we think. If we dwell on murder, rape, demonology, sadism, prostitution, witchcraft, etc. we absorb that knowledge and the thin line between fantasy and reality is removed and may leave no way out but death.
If you are involved - even a little bit with any fantasy role playing, stop and ask yourself of its influence on your mind and life.
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things." Paul the Apostle wrote these words. You can read them for yourself in Philippians chapter 4 and verse 8.
* D & D Handbook
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