Mazes & Monsters and the BADD old days: I’m collecting stories of the backlash against Dungeons & Dragons

I’m collecting stories. I want to hear from any of you who played Dungeons & Dragons or any other pencil-and-paper fantasy role-playing games back in the day.

Specifically, I’m looking for stories of condemnation, consternation, opprobrium and sheer, unvarnished panic that you may have encountered during the height of the backlash against such games. Anything related to the Satanic panic, BADD, Mazes & Monsters, or to any of the myriad fundamentalist urban legends involving dark magic, spiritual warfare, or encounters with “real” spells, monsters or demons resulting from the perilous use of graph paper and multi-sided dice.

I’m guessing that some folks have no idea what any of the above is all about. But I’m sure that others know exactly what I’m referring to.

I first played such games back in the Reagan years. We played Tunnels & Trolls, which was every bit the down-market knock-off of D&D that its name suggests. It was a cheaper, simplified version that relied entirely on six-sided dice — requiring an unwieldy number of them for play at higher levels (we looted every Yahtzee set and board game in all of our houses).

The great advantage of Tunnels & Trolls for my friends and I was that it was not Dungeons & Dragons, which allowed us to defend the hobby in our evangelical Christian world by saying, “Oh, no, no, no. Of course we’re not playing Dungeons & Dragons. This is completely different.”

Eventually, to better shield ourselves from the concerns and criticisms of the good Christian folk at our churches and our school, we switched to MERP — Middle Earth Role-Playing. That was based on Tolkien, and Tolkien was friends with C.S. Lewis. So that had to be acceptable.

But for every member of our core-group of players, we had several other friends who wanted to play, but were not allowed. Some of their parents or churches objected due to the Mazes-and-Monsters style urban legends that were circulating back then. Others came from churches that embraced the demons-are-everywhere notion of spiritual warfare that Frank Peretti would soon ride to riches with This Present Darkness and its sequels. Others simply condemned any game involving imaginary magic for the same un-reasons that a later generation of evangelicals would condemn the Harry Potter novels.

I’m reconsidering that part of my personal history because I’m interested in how that anti-D&D sentiment ties in with the Satanic panic of that same period, and with the related phenomenon of things like Mike Warnke’s “ex-Satanic high priest” ministry, like the viral rumors about Procter & Gamble, and like the obsession with combatting Satanic baby-killers that was then transforming the public identity of our increasingly politicized evangelical subculture. (One irony of all of that, I think, is that fantasy role-playing games wound up being condemned by many people precisely because they had adopted a moralistic framework in which they were role-playing their own fantasy scenario.)

So I want to hear your stories too. If you were the proud owner of a set of multi-sided dice back then, what did your parents, relatives, teachers or Sunday school teachers think or say about that hobby? Did you have any encounters with anyone associated with BADD (Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons)? Did you encounter any religious objections to your playing such games?

Please let me know. Share your stories here in comments or, if you’d prefer, email me at slacktivist (at) hotmail-dot-com.

Thanks.

  • rikalous

    You know, this reminds me of something Ben “Yahtzee” Crowshaw once said about how we are all
    nerds of one kind or another.  Even people who are dedicated sports
    fans are, measured by certain sets of metrics, nerds.  He generalizes
    that anyone who is passionate about something is a form of nerd,
    and piteous is the rare non-nerd who never finds something to be
    passionate about.

    Oh, definitely. For instance: superstitions. I assume most of you know about the tabletop gamer’s rituals to appease the Random Number God so that the dice may roll in their favor. The only other time I’ve seen that level of magical thinking in otherwise perfectly sensible people is my dad on game day. He might wear a new team shirt if it isn’t an important game, but if it is he has to be wearing the shirt with a proven history of good luck. Someone could probably right a psychology paper on the phenomena.

  • reynard61

    “There’s something odd about the tract-instead approach. As though you’re reproaching the server for being so tacky as to want money for their work.”

    I’m waiting for the payday when all of these Fundie-owned-and-run corporations like Hobby Lobby and (Jack) Chick-fil-A start handing their employees an envelope with a tract in it instead of a paycheck. Will a bank even cash a tract?

  • reynard61

    “I’ve not even watched the show and the first comic has me giggling <_< I like."

    I'm a regular reader and semi-regular commenter (same name and avatar) and I can tell you truthfully that it only gets better and funnier. (Also, read Lyntermas' alt scripts. They're hilarious!)

  • Noah Brand

    If nobody’s mentioned it yet, I want to bring up Cruel Doubt, a 1992 TV movie-of-the-week about a teenager who killed his stepfather, and whether or not he did it because of D&D. It was hilariously awful. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104031/

  • Dwculp

    LOL… You are correct, it should be part bird/part human female! I wrote that on an iPad in a hotel room in very tired state of mind!

  • Turcano

    The truly horrible thing is that I actually prefer Failcost to pewter; for all of its many faults, you can at least glue it together properly and straighten it with a heating element.  Although I suppose I just had a very bad initial experience with pewter when I bought a Thunderfire Cannon that I belatedly discovered was impossible to put together.

  • AnonaMiss

    Mistform, you’re a PBPer? :o What do you play? 

    I don’t pbp anymore but I’m still involved in the communities somewhat. I played at Aelyria from, eh, 2003-2005, when it was still Alleria, and also played a couple of its moderator rebellion “spinoff” games, most notably Surrender and Adylheim.

  • guardiaspiridian

    I’ll relate the worst of my experiences here.  Wait until you get a load of this noise.

    It had to be 1993, summer.  That year I went to a rural community school in Missouri.  The high school went grades 8-12 in one building, senior class was like 25 people.  Yeah.

    That year we did a lot of cool gaming.  The buddies I made there were pretty cool and had never been gamers.  MERP, Shadowrun, some Dragon Quest and BECMI D&D.  We played Warriors of the Eternal Sun on Sega.

    One of our guys knew his dad might have a problem, so we straight up took him the D&D basic book and he decided he’d play a Chaotic Thief in our game.  Good times.

    Well, I would come to Oklahoma in the summer, as my family has always lived here.  I would spend a month or two and go back, as I always did every summer.  When I got back to that Missouri town, things had changed.  I wouldn’t know until school started.

    Everyone shunned me, even my buddies.  I had no idea where all the hate was coming from.  It was seriously weird…the whole community was just being hateful, but no one would tell me why.  Well, I had a buddy that was the police chief’s son…and he told me what happened.

    During the summer, some organization (I never found out if it was BADD but it was organized by the churches) came to the town and put on a seminar at the school auditorium.  The subject of the seminar was Dungeons & Dragons, and how it was evil.  Demons, spells and whatnot.

    Well, it was like poison in the well.  For the rest of the time I lived in Missouri, people were convinced I worshiped Satan, apparently through my game.  Also, I was after their kids.  I pretty much had it out with every single person in the community, from my gym coach wanting to confiscate the [I]Knight of Newts[/I] to the school librarian wanting to confiscate [I]Shadowrun[/I].

    All my friends turned on me, but I made new and better ones.  Still, the entire time I lived there after this it was hard.  My own folks, however, figured out it was just a game, but that I had a passion for it.  By the time we moved back to Oklahoma in 1994, they had fully accepted my hobby and I started to collect miniatures for Warhammer 40k.

    I could go on at length about individual encounters…but I wanted to share this story about the entire community being anti-D&D and being made so in the span of a single seminar.

    Ignorance can accomplish a lot of things, but it didn’t bring me down all the way.  The way I felt about the friends that had abandoned me ended that world and paved the way for another, brighter planet full of games and friends that weren’t easily swayed by bullshit rhetoric.

  • Carstonio

    I would describe that as simple fandom. Nerdiness involves awkwardness with social interaction. In some cases, the hyperfandom may be an escape from the social discomfort, where nerds bond over their shared feeling of being different. Other types, such as RTC, seem to involve the hyperfandom causing the awkwardness. A sports fan would qualify as a nerd if the fandom involved feelings of difference and awkwardness.

  • Michael Pullmann

     Given that the “most dedicated” Supernatural fans have publicly slandered and occasionally threatened the actors’ real-life wives for ruining their slash fantasies, I can’t really blame the creators for having a dim view of their fandom.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     “Don’t they realize we’re brothers?!?”
    “I don’t think they care.”

  • Katie

    I’m also active in a play by post forum (I’m actually one of the moderators) and for me the main advantage is that its easier to find time to type up a post or three than it is to have a dedicated day or evening a week to game.  Its also allowed me to make friends with people from all over the place, who I would otherwise never have met, including my now-boyfriend.   This is my longest term experience with gaming, my involvement with a PnP group kind of fell apart when I got a job that required me to work weekends.

    To keep this on topic, I ran with a fairly geeky crowd in junior high and high school, this was in the early to mid 1990′s, and by then the Satanic Panic had pretty well faded.  We were aware of it, but it was a source of amusement, not anything that negatively affected anyone’s life.

  • Darkarchetype

    Oh, I can tell you about this one. My dad basically thinks Harry Potter is the devil’s work, Dungeons and Dragons is evil, and even Pokemon is sketchy because “don’t demons live in fire?” and there are fire-breathing creatures in the game.

    I just framed all my role-playing as other things. We don’t play D&D (and granted, I don’t use the system, I use other tabletop systems); I play “that game I play on the weekends. It’s like interactive storytelling.” I don’t mention magic and stuff like that. It’s just a big game of “reframe it so it doesn’t have certain buzzwords that will set off the Raging Evangelical Mentality.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    The rest of us have a dim view of that segment of fandom, too.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I would describe that as simple fandom. Nerdiness involves awkwardness with social interaction.

    I will give you that.  I do not mind people in the Christ fandom, they can be quite nice, but their fandumb can get really irritating.  

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I have the exact opposite dice superstition: that I will only make my rolls if I don’t care what the result is. This often has the effect of my not being able to cast a spell I should be able to cast, but randomly getting goodies like psi powers during character generation — when the chance is such that I shouldn’t care about the roll.

    So what I often do is cop a ostentatiously not-giving-a-shit act whenever I roll, sometimes refusing even to look at the result. Sometimes it works, sometimes it  doesn’t…dice being, y’know, random. 

    Oddly, during a 10-year long Rolemaster campaign, every single attempt I made to either overcast spells or cast Water magic (one of my 5 elemental lists) failed and failed BADLY. HOW CAN THE DICE KNOW?!

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    They might as well gouge while they can: once 3-d printing becomes common, miniature piracy will go THROUGH THE ROOF. I already know a couple people who buy one unit and throw it into the replimat until they have an army. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    It never occurred to me either — chiefly because I never invited ANYONE to play. Inviting people leaves one open to rejection, while just sitting in a game store window playing your game invites inquiry. 

    It’s kind of how I live my life, and I’m just realizing the flaws in that. 

  • Mike Timonin

    Somewhere, I have written about my long descent into Dungeons and Dragons. The short version is something like this: in the middle of 10th grade, in the late 1980s or early 1990s, Dad got transferred, and so we moved. The group of folks I connected with at the new school played D&D, and, eventually, I was invited to make a character and join in. The church we joined was a small, non-denominational charismatic evangelical church, which means it was a hot bed for satanic panic type behavior. When I told my parents about the game, they got a copy of some sort of pamphlet (could have been Dark Dungeons? I’m not sure) about the dangers of D&D. (It was the pamphlet that combined discussion of several different fantasy role playing games, but called them all Dungeons and Dragons – there was discussion of the fact that there were stats for tripping over your own entrails, for instance, which were derived from some non D&D system). At any rate, I did not play D&D at that time – I had to wait until university. However, I did play lots of other role playing games in high school, including Shadowrun, which had the same sort of “realistic” magic system that people at church had problems with. My relationship with the church was always somewhat ambivalent.

    My parents were actually kinda odd about the whole thing – they didn’t really monitor me all that closely, and basically assumed that I would make good choices (which I’m inclined to think I did) – but they did object to Robert Asprin’s Myth series, on the basis that it featured demons (as opposed to all of the other reasons why the books are objectionable, but never mind), and to C. J. Cherryh’s Hellburner, because the title included the term “hell” (never mind that it referred to a propulsion system on some sort of spacecraft).  

  • Cathy W

    Hubby said yes, I can share.

    He was in high school at the time, so this was probably around 1986-1987. He lived in a house next door to his church (Church of the Nazarene, which strikes me as a fairly moderate denomination with some odd hangups, and at a minimum from his experience not prone to seeing demons around every corner). One of the other boys in his youth group was the son of the church secretary, so had access to the building, and when Hubby and his friend were planning to put together a Dungeons and Dragons game, they concluded that one of the classrooms there at the church would be a good place to play, as long as they were careful not to make a mess, which they were. They went halfsies on a set of books, found a couple other players, and started playing regularly.

    Apparently the youth pastor was curious, but not alarmed; the head pastor, on the other hand, when he found out about what was going on, preached a very uncharacteristic sermon about how Dungeons and Dragons was steering our young people – “even some of those in this very church!” – away from salvation. Lots more fire and brimstone than usual. The game was moved to the basement of one of the other players – less convenient, and happened less regularly. Hubby’s mom started to grouse, where she’d been okay with the hobby before. But the final straw was at a youth retreat where they had a campfire ceremony in which the kids were encouraged to put in the fire a representation of things that interfered with their salvation, and the other boy who’d started the D&D game threw all the books into the fire – including the half that were Hubby’s.

    That kind of irritated Hubby, and the freakout over a harmless hobby might have been one of the first nudges he had down a spiritual path that led to atheism.

    (My own story is quite the opposite; my parents thought it was nice that I had a hobby, as long as I spent my own money on it, and actually played one or two game sessions. I had a teacher in middle school who recommended it as an exercise in teamwork, storytelling, and creativity. But even though my family was nominally Christian, we were not involved with any church; I suppose things might have been a little different if we had been.)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    No one has to know your real gender if you don’t want them to.

    I am not okay with hiding my gender, ever. Particularly if it’s out of fear because other people might be assholes to me because of it. Why would anyone want to play with anyone who’s an asshole to half the population, anyway? I am also not okay with playing male or even agender characters in RPGs of this type; I simply cannot do it, my gender identity is too strong. I have to play women or girls or not play. I could play a droid or something, but that droid would have a feminine identity.

    I understand why so many women in gaming hide their gender identities. But I wish, selfishly, that they’d stop doing it. It makes it that much harder for the rest of us. Though it’s not as hard now, in most areas of gaming, as it used to be — and that is thanks to girls and women playing and not hiding.

  • Tricksterson

    Never mention to your father that in the non-bowlderized Japanese version it’s very thinly veiled that Pkemon are meant to represent Shinto kami since I’m sure that he would think Shintoists worship demons too.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     I mostly play on http://www.giantitp.com – so mostly just standard D&D campaigns   Though they do run games for just about every system (and several freeform) there too; not to mention OOTS being there and all <_<

  • ScorpioUndone

    My story is pretty much the same as anyone/everyone else’s. I showed interest in playing, it sounded like fun, who wouldn’t want a miniature dragon, and was of course forbidden from so much as uttering the phrase D&D. I’d occasionally sneak behind my parents’ backs and try to get games together with friends, but it never worked out, probably because they were forbidden from playing, too.

    I eventually got around all the scare by picking up video games– I got hooked on the first Final Fantasy game for the Nintendo and have been playing that series off and on ever since.  

  • Tricksterson

    My parents never got bothered by my flirtation with D&D (it sank because I was the only one willing to GM and frankly I wasn’t very good at it.  Never got all that into it until the 3rd edition, instead I was much more into Aftermath and the various Hero System games and later Shadowrun and WoD).  What bothered my father was when I inscribed elemental sigils on the walls of my room in magic marker and a pentagram on the floor, which was a couple of years before I discovered D&D.  And no, I wasn’t a Heavy Metal fan either, I was into Billy Joel and Jethro Tull at the time.  More annoyingly he never understood my fondness for science fiction and fantasy because he didn’t consider them “serious literature”.  Never made a dent when I pointed out that half of Ayn Rand’s novels (He was an Objectivist) were sciece fiction as was 1984 of which he was also fond.  he was very much of the “If it’s good it can’t be science fiction/If it’s science fiction it can’t be good” school of thought.

  • Evan Hunt

    It isn’t much of a story, but… I had a best friend from age 10 to 13 and, though it wasn’t our most common shared activity, we did play D&D together several times.  But then he got caught up in a pentacostal church, and he started telling me their horror stories with wide-eyed credulity.

    I rarely had much patience for them, and eventually it killed our friendship, but at first I tried to be nonjudgmental and just get along with him.  But I snapped one day when he told me the story about D&D being satanic and promoting witchcraft. I told him that was ridiculous, and all the worse because he knew it was ridiculous — he’d played D&D, he knew there was no witchcraft involved.  He responded by telling me about a woman who’d come to speak at his church:  she’d played D&D herself until a few years ago, but after she was saved and learned about how evil it was, she decided to burn all her books…. “and as they were burning, she heard screams coming from her fireplace!”

    I suppose that woman might have been delusional.  He didn’t mention whether she was soliciting for donations.  But I’ve always assumed she was, and she was probably making pretty good money telling hackish ghost stories to a profoundly gullible audience.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     Understandable

    I mostly bring it up for people who want to get into gaming but are uncomfortable around a table (for a variety of reasons; gender just being one);  I mean myself, I’m biologically male but my gender identity is a bit… complicated and I don’t like all the assumptions that go with identifying as either; so I personally rarely reveal my gender online.*

    But I understand where you’re coming from too.

    *I will say this has lead to some slightly amusing situations where half the group is using ‘she’ and half the group is using ‘he’ to refer to me.  I don’t mind at all

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    They might as well gouge while they can: once 3-d printing becomes common, miniature piracy will go THROUGH THE ROOF. I already know a couple people who buy one unit and throw it into the replimat until they have an army.

    Yeah, but in that I see pretty clear parallels between miniature sales and software sales.  Piracy happens and there is nothing you can do to completely eliminate it, but there are things you can do to raise the barrier of entry to pirates (limiting the amount of “casual” piracy that can happen) and mitigate the demand for piracy in the first place (prices in excess of the value the market is prepared to tolerate tend to drive up piracy demand.)  

    Given that 3D printing is still a semi-expensive process to do out of the home, and you already have a barrier of entry right there (the only people who could afford to pirate the models can afford to buy them) and as much as they manufacture these machines there is only so much they can do to bring the prices down (lots of moving parts and expended material.)  The other aspect to this is that home-done casting, which cheaper, still requires a certain amount of investment on the part of the pirate both in terms of money and in terms of practice to be able to do a good job of it.  

    The second factor I mentioned, the price being out of sync with the value, is something that increases demand for piracy in the first place.  Even more “casual” pirates will be more willing to go to those extra lengths to pirate when the price of the original is high enough to justify the hassle of going through some of those more necessarily difficult pirate means.  If the prices come back down to reasonable, demand for pirated product will dry up and you will see fewer people actually pirating.  

  • Katie

    I think that there is a difference, though, between a genderqueer person not revealing their identity because they don’t want to be stereotyped or someone using RPGs as a way to explore their gender identity and cisgenderd women hiding their gender because they are afraid of being harrassed.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You know, there is also something interesting about the story of the company TSR itself (which was the original publisher of Dungeons & Dragons.)  The company was eventually taken over by Lorraine Williams, in a stock-consolidating move that could charitably called “hostile”.  I doubt Lorraine was trying from the outset to assume control of the company, but when she was invited in to help clear reorganize away some of their debt she wasted little time in getting a majority share and alienating Gary Gygax.  

    Anyway, among many other things, she decided to purge D&D of “Christian-hostile” elements, which meant among other things removing any references to things like demons and devils (they were still therejust not allowed to be called that.)  I am not sure how much of that was her own personal conviction, and how much was a business-motivated desire to placate the moral guardians in Satan-panic mode who were so shrill about it at the time.  

    Either way, the Satan-panic in the late eighties had a direct effect not simply on D&D consumers (or want-to-be consumers) but on the product itself.  That alone probably did not doom TSR, but it was one of many nails in the company’s coffin which led to its eventually closure in 1996.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    he was very much of the “If it’s good it can’t be science fiction/If it’s science fiction it can’t be good” school of thought.

    Ah yes, the so-called “Sci Fi Ghetto“.

  • trillaphon

    I first played D&D my senior year of high school and loved it. My mom was convinced that you had to cast real spells to play. I had a bad breakdown halfway through the year and was hospitalized with psychotic symptoms.

    Mom went through and cleared everything out of my room. Her biggest concern was finding the Rulebook for Vampire: The Masquerade (my friend had lent it to me). She was certain that by playing these games I was inviting demons into my life, like intentionally. They became forbidden, and she took all my books, music, computer out of my bedroom, leaving me basically just with clothes and a Bible.

    I remember her handing me pages printed off the internet from someone who claimed to have been “delivered” from the influence of the game. I laughed at it; clearly the guy had never played and knew nothing about the game. She saw this as evidence that demonic influence was deeply affecting me. Eventually I promised I wouldn’t play just to get her off my back…most of my friends played and I always felt alienated because I couldn’t. But the first Bible verse I learned as a kid was Ephesians 6:1 and as a result I very rarely questioned my parents on their rules.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Incidentally, I have a friend who is from a devout family (and she herself is quite devout) who is quite the geek and would love to play more RPGs… but her mother is (or at least was for a long time) terribly afraid of Dungeons & Dragons.  

    This led to amusing situations where my friend scratched her roleplaying itch by playing Neverwinter Nights on her computer, which her mother was okay with because it was “not D&D”, it was just a fantasy computer game.  She said that she could play it as much as she wanted without her mother getting upset… as long as her mother never figured out that it was actually an officially licensed digital adaptation of D&D, using third edition rules and taking place in the Forgotten Realms setting.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    I remember her handing me pages printed off the internet from someone who claimed to have been “delivered” from the influence of the game. I laughed at it; clearly the guy had never played and knew nothing about the game.

    Around the end of the Satanic Panic period, I was at a pro-life rally with various booths set up for various organizations.  Talked with the German lady at the Shield of Roses booth (Catholic organization praying the Rosary to end abortion), watched an Eastern-rite priest trying to corral his kids, then went to a booth which was shall we say a bit into the Satanic Conspiracy Theory.
    Said booth was hawking one of the “Satan’s Bid for Your Child”/”Turmoil in the Toybox” books that were widespread at the time; I took a skim through the section on “Dungeons & Demons” and laughed out loud.  (Same effect you had.)  Told the guys in the booth that I’d been a gamer since ’76 and from my 14 years of in-country experience this book was total BS. 

    Bad Move.  The Bibles and tracts came out and the High-Pressure Witnessing and quoting like Calormenes began.

    I finally managed to disengage and get back to the Shield of Roses booth.  The old German lady had been watching the floor show and asked me, “Vell, did you haff an interesting discussion?”

    “More like a shouting match,” I answered.  “Who taught them how to Witness(TM), Josef Goebbels?  As in ‘Effective Propaganda consists of Simplification and Repetition.’”

    She fell off her chair laughing.

  • Carstonio

    I avoided D&D in high school because I didn’t want to give my classmates another reason to think of me as a nerd. Partly I wanted to be liked out of simple self-preservation, since dislike is the reason that anyone deliberately hurts anyone else. But mostly I wanted people who disiked me to leave me alone – it’s almost like many take it personally when someone wants to mind his or her own business. I suppose my avoidance of D&D only punished myself.

    I didn’t hear of the fundamentalist opposition to D&D until many years later, and it still seems ridiculous. The reasoning would have to apply to the entire fantasy genre. Maybe these folks don’t object to The Hobbit because that story has very little magic. 

  • Anubisbard

    In early 80′s small town Pennsylvania, I didn’t know much about the backlash – but when we tried to start a D and D club at school we were denied.  Apparently, some people objected to bringing witchcraft into the school.  We didn’t push and that was it — we went back to playing in the basement and drinking rum and cokes.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    In early 80′s small town Pennsylvania, I didn’t know much about the backlash – but when we tried to start a D and D club at school we were denied.

    Similar to a story I heard from a teen at a Brony meetup/picnic last year.  Said he got his bid for an on-campus My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic club denied hard by the school prinicpal.  Also said his school DID have an approved Zombie Apocalypse club, though.  Still scratching my head over that one.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Anyway, among many other things, she decided to purge D&D of “Christian-hostile” elements, which meant among other things removing any references to things like demons and devils (they were still therejust not allowed to be called that.)

    So that’s what happened to D&D 2e, with its “Baatezu” and “Taanari”.  Casualty of the “TSR Wars”.

    Granted, I remember when D&D Demons were originally introduced in 1976/77 – a little volume called “Eldritch Wizardry”, with a cover illo of a naked chick shackled to an altar.  Now THAT caused a bit of an uproar!

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    He responded by telling me about a woman who’d come to speak at his church: she’d played D&D herself until a few years ago, but after she was saved and learned about how evil it was, she decided to burn all her books…. “and as they were burning, she heard screams coming from her fireplace!”

    That sounds like a retold variant of the Christian Urban Legend that made it onto the 700 Club.  Except in the original version it was D&D lead miniatures screaming as they were melted down by the Righteous.

    And it’s not just D&D stuff.  Two years ago, my sister-in-law claimed the reason for my depression I was going through at the time was a DEMON had hitched a ride into my home via a picture on my wall of an elegant cobra-woman in a white dress.  She (my SIL, not Miss Cobra) then tried to steer me towards a “Spiritual Warrior” she knew.

    I know exactly how that picture caused my depression.  Some circumstances around my acquiring it (at a Furry con art show) paralleled some stuff that happened when I broke up with my only girlfriend years ago and triggered a flashback at full emotional intensity.  No demons necessary.

    Wrote my way out of that depression with a 10,000-word fantasy novelette turning the experience into Magic Realism — an imaginary creature, the cobra-woman from the art piece, trying to reach into reality and become real, but only getting as far as dreams.  It ends with her hoping that in the Resurrection, she will be Resurrected from imagination to reality.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    (It was the pamphlet that combined discussion of several different fantasy role playing games, but called them all Dungeons and Dragons – there was discussion of the fact that there were stats for tripping over your own entrails, for instance, which were derived from some non D&D system).

    Probably Dave Hargrave’s “Arduin Grimoire”, which was a D&D house rules variant.  We didn’t call it “Bloody Arduin” for nothing.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Oddly, during a 10-year long Rolemaster campaign, every single attempt I made to either overcast spells or cast Water magic (one of my 5 elemental lists) failed and failed BADLY. HOW CAN THE DICE KNOW?!

    Marc, you are talking to the walking Dice Implosion of Expeditions Ltd.  Nothing like being sent out of the room when another player had to make a vital saving throw.  My DM even used a random-number generator to give me a sheet of “dice rolls” of various sizes I could mark off as I used them.  No effect.  They even used to sit me next to “Rollin the Roller” (the Dice Explosion of the group) in the hope we’d damp each other out.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     Certainly; I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.  It’s just one of those situations where a person has to decide what they personally can handle based on their own mental health.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Bad Move.  The Bibles and tracts came out and the High-Pressure Witnessing and quoting like Calormenes began.

    You know that makes me think, maybe someone should go to one of those rallies while holding a copy of their Player’s Handbook to act as a witnessing tool.  People will get curious, ask about it, and you can spread the Good News to those who have yet to hear it.

    … D&D not actually being Satanic is considered good news, right?  

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     “You have to BELIEVE in Pelor my friends, and His light WILL shine on you!  *thumps PHB* Can I get an amen?!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Since you bring up Questionable Content, I’d just like to mention that, upon finding gainful employment for the first time in *mumble* years, one of the first things I did was to get one of Jeph’s “Geek (save ends)” T-shirts.  I love that thing.  (It seems to no longer be available, or I’d have tossed an image on here.)

  • Launcifer

    Well, this whole thread makes for depressing reading given the stories people are sharing. Here’s a (slightly) better one:-

    When I was at university, I lived in off-campus housing owned by said university, which meant that I had no choice over my housemates. At the start of my third year, the only other in-house survivor of my – or, I guess, our – truly catastrophic second year was a committed Christian, albeit one who took great interest in other faiths. He also worked for the housing folks and had been showing Erasmus (European students on an exchange year at my uni’) students and their parents around our house as a precursor to the signing of rental agreements and whatnot.

    He’d been having a perfectly pleasant and interesting discussion with a French Muslim family whose daughter was planning to attend the university when the father spotted his collection of RPG manuals and proceeded to launch into a diatribe questioning whether or not my housemate was a “true” Christian given his choice of reading material and whether or not his daughter could live in a house containing such books.

    This continued for maybe five minutes until one of the other French Muslim families (there were three) wandered into the room, at which point the mother from the second family launched into quite possibly the most epic – and polite - rebuttal I have ever heard in my entire life. My French wasn’t – and isn’t – good enough for me to follow the entire conversation, but I know that it began with a phrase something like: “When I was imprisoned for writing a cookery book…”. I still don’t entirely know what the mother of lady no.2 said, but bugger me if it didn’t work.

    At the end of things, the father from the first family apologised for judging my housemate and we all went out for a meal together to a nice Vietnamese restaurant just down the road (as you do). I even have vague recollections of his sitting in on one of our gaming sessions when he visited around the time of his daughter’s birthday, though this could well be me conflating two separate events.

    I don’t know if there’s a point to this post but, if there is, then I guess it’s to highlight my amazement at where the moral panic managed to penetrate, coupled with a vague wonder at just how willing my housemate’s father was to listen to reason (I’m guessing here but, given what followed, he must have been quite severely chastened by events as they played out), though the shine’s somewhat removed by the fact it required someone he “recognized” to tell him. I’ve also wanted to tell someone this story for about ten years now, but that’s another story.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    That has a distinct Rolemaster sound to it.

  • Kit

    Too young for the mainstream D&D objection, but from a small enough town that it came up anyway. Nothing major in my memory, possibly because I was too young for the hardcore group. I do recall a neighbor/friend my age tattling on her older brother who snuck some RPG books into the house.

    When I was in late elementary in the ’90s, one of my dad’s college students loaned me The Vampire Book*, an earlier edition with a beautiful black and white faux-relief cover of some historic vampire painting or etching, which I unthinkingly took to my Catholic** school like any other book. I was pretty surprised when my parents were both called in at the end of school and I was held after for some kind of mediated meeting amongst us. The teacher rather thought my parents didn’t know I had the book (I had not been spoken to privately about it at all, so as not to, um, I dunno, spook me? So as not to ruin the surprise), but of course my (hyper liberal) dad had negotiated the terms of the loan, read over the book, and thought it was great. Eventually the teacher and principal concluded that I couldn’t bring the book to school anymore because it was scaring the other children (doubt it, though my possible Satanism did affect my popularity), but that I *wasn’t* going to be punished for bringing it that day. …Gee, thanks? This is only marginally relevant to the general Satanic Panic issue, but I distinctly recall them asking about my other hobbies, and giving my parents an oral list of things to consider future warning signs that the book was affecting my soul, D&D among them.

    Now, Harry Potter, that I was around for. My middle school science teacher not only burned them, but invited students to bonfires. And conscientiously objected, to misappropriate a beautiful sentiment, to large swaths of doing-her-damn-job, re: anything relating (to her; of course to me all science relates to) evolution. I have no doubt that she was caught up in the BADD old days, though she would have herself been a teenager then.

    *A bigass research compendium on vampires in media from woodcuts to Buffy. I wish I’d realized what was happening sooner and checked the Author Bio, ’cause the guy is a famous religious scholar.
    **The school was theoretically very Catholic, but due to the town size, only one of the teachers/principal was, so it had a strange Episcopalevangelical flavor.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    By the time we moved back to Oklahoma in 1994, they had fully accepted my hobby and I started to collect miniatures for Warhammer 40k.

    I am surprised that they did not take more objection to that.  I heard from church that it promotes worship of the Ruinous Powers.  Pretty soon you will be painting Eight Pointed Stars and beseeching Khorne for his favor.  I can remember the incantations now…

    BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!  SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    HOW CAN THE DICE KNOW?!

    I think mine tend to respond to where mood meets use – I get better results when acting in accord with the purpose to which I put them. I have a board game called “Mwahahaha!!” where the point is to play mad scientists competing for global domination. The more “in character” I get to the game, the better I seem to roll.

    Then again, there’s a dice bot on an IRC channel I used to frequent who seems to produce results that most amuse “her,” or what would be most dramatically appropriate. She likes to drop failures at the most hilarious-in-retrospect times, though always seems to pull through with a merciful result at the very last moment. She doesn’t have a proper RNG seed, instead being hooked into a detector online that listens to cosmic background radiation or something like that (maybe just ambient noise at some location? can’t remember…), so I tend to think of her as the universe taking a turn and laughing at the players.


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