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.

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

    For the Changer of Ways!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    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.

    Resin is admittedly better at that than puter ever was.  However, most of the resin models that they sell now were for poses that they would never have done in old puter because of casting and assembly limitations.  I do know that you could shape puter without heating though, but its weight made attaching difficult.  A pin vice and some steel wire was the usual solution to strengthen the joins.  It is a practice I still maintain even after switching to the new stuff because it makes them easier to pose models in a more “active” stance without risking it falling apart by being handled.  

    Of course, the difficulty of attaching the puter stuff is the reason Abbadon Has No Arms.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You will know the pleasures of the Prince of Indulgence… 

  • rikalous

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

    Hah! That very PHB shows Pelor’s best-known servant casting Symbol of Pain, an Evil spell! No cleric of a Good god has the power to cast an Evil spell! Abjure Pelor the Burning Hate and all his lying minions!

  • Kit

     This. I just posted my own thing about thankfully mostly missing the Satanic panic, but that rumors of my possible Satanism assisted my inevitable unpopularity with kids. It was furthered by my love for my black leather trench coat in honor of Angel and The Matrix, that awkwardly coincided with the aftermath of Columbine. Being a very sheltered kid who had focused on the tragedy aspect rather than sordidness, I didn’t actually remember that was what those guys “called” themselves and responded with “yeah, sure, whatever, I DO like trench coats, bugger off” rather than the shocked silence that came when they were more direct. Hey, I had no reason to assume they weren’t making a Matrix reference when they asked if I hid guns in it. Did not go well for me. Luckily the teachers didn’t even notice. This was a different school from the Catholic school run by borderline evangelicals (yes, I know that’s insane), and I was known to teachers only for being a well-behaved smart kid with poor dress sense.

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

    Apparently if you subscribe to certain flavours of paganism it becomes rather amusing that I specifically have trouble with water magic. Something about water and sexuality…

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

    You see…that would make sense. 
    I’m not a bad roller; my rolls more or less track with the known range of probabilities. I get my share of criticals and my share of fumbles. 

    Except in those two cases, which once I passed 4th level (Water Bolt being the main attack spell until then) didn’t come up much. But…EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. To overcast one level you only need to crack 25, so I’d give it a go now and then…and lose spellcasting for a week or something. Or I’d like to sink an enemy ship with a whirlpool…04. WHY DIDN’T I GO WITH 1 MILE RADIUS DARKNESS?

    (We only play every so often, but at the level I’m at I get roughly 1,000 spells to choose from and having earned them from bitter experience I can generally come up with six or seven responses to every situation, so it irritates me when I forget and do water spells…)

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

    Among people who think that way, Margaret Atwood. SF folks give her a lot of shit for that, given that ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ among other works of hers, are clearly SF even if she refuses to call it that. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Second hand but: two of my siblings got into D&D (and later other RPGs) from around 1990 onwards, and as adults structured the larger part of their social lives around the RPG community. (I didn’t get into it myself partly because I was never particularly attracted to it anyway, partly because my parents wanted my brothers and I to have separate hobbies so we wouldn’t be in each others’ space all the time).

    My parents and other relatives never expressed the slightest concern. My mother, who leans towards social conservatism out of extreme social anxiety (she’d prefer if everyone were the same because then she wouldn’t have to worry about accidently saying the wrong thing) has met their friends on many occasions, many of whom are deeply into the RPG subculture and look, dress and speak differently to most young people, and she just thinks they’re lovely, polite, good friends for my siblings to have. Which is true.

    Separately, I have a priest friend who was very into D&D and only got rid of his stuff because he was taking a vow of poverty and giving away *all* his stuff. He still happily joins in a game if any parishioners think to invite him.

    No panic here.

  • Launcifer

    Would it give away my age if I threw in my lot with Malal?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Well, if you need another, I have been wanting to try out Ctulhutech, but so far I’ve only convinced 2 people to play (tager group, text based, skype). *Puppy eyes*

  • Mike Timonin

    One of my daughter’s presents this Christmas was David Lubar’s _Wizards of the Game_, which is a YA novel about a group of kids who play some sort of fantasy RPG (it’s not D&D, because D&D is specifically referenced elsewhere in the book), and try to organize a gaming convention at their middle school (Oscar Wilde Middle School.  I mentioned to my wife that no school board in the US would name a school after Oscar Wilde, but whatevs) for charity. Which runs into trouble with a local fundagelical church. What I really liked about the book was that the Christian charity they decided to donate to is run by a pastor who refutes the religious arguments being made by the BADD types – it’s a very nice “not all people who are not you hate you” type thing. Cute story, too.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    I was interested in roleplaying from the time I was ten (when one of my neighbours ran a game but she said I was too young so i didn’t get to play). Mum and gran thought it was cool so they got me the D&D box set. Dad was slightly worried because I’m fantasy prone but I sort of looked at him sideways and said “Fantasy prone does not mean I can’t tell what’s fantasy” and he shut up. However I could never get my friends interested, so I didn’t get to play until I went to University…

    Where my first gaming group consisted almost completely of evangelical christians (plus me – catholic and another girl who was anglican). It was also a very gender balanced groups I’ve ever played in (Though all the groups I’ve played in tend to be – groups that take girls without comment tend to attract them).

    One of the guys would tell the story of giving his pastor a lift and the pastor suddenly opened the car window and tossed out his Heavy Metal tapes and a roleplaying book.  So he stopped the car and made him get out in the rain and go look for them. And one of the girls actually worked in a gamng store – protesters turned up and as she put it. “Their leader was talking nonsense so I handed him his head on a platter”.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    I have a board game called “Mwahahaha!!” where the point is to play mad scientists competing for global domination.

    “Mwahahaha?”  Sounds like you were channelling Nightmare Moon — that mare had an awesome Villain Laugh.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Now, Harry Potter, that I was around for. My middle school science teacher not only burned them, but invited students to bonfires.

    While Pullman’s Golden Compass sailed right through as recommended reading?  (Even in Christian schools.)  In one interview, Pullman thanked Rowling for drawing all the fire and giving his “Anti-Narnia” clear sailing.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Really?  I thought that Pullman was kind of upset that there was not more outrage over his books.  He wrote His Dark Materials  deliberately as a dystheist tract, and yet it is book series with parallels to Christ who gets the fundies to take up their torches and pitchforks.  

  • Michael Pullmann

     No relation, by the way.

  • Tricksterson

    What’s ironic is that he got annoyed when people said jazz  (which was the closest he came to true religious belief) wasn’t “serious music”.

  • Tricksterson

    Because the ZA involves firearms, which are totally okay, especially in a school setting?

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

    Sounds like you were channelling Nightmare Moon — that mare had an awesome Villain Laugh.

    Or perhaps it was Bad Horse.

  • Tricksterson

    if they were going to get upset about a magical system it should have been Palladium fantasy.  One of my housemates at the time who was a pagan and magical practioner (not necessarily the same thing) took a look at some of the symbols portrayed in the magic section and went “Eek!”

  • Albanaeon

    Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of advantages to Failcast, such as I am refinding as I try to put together a metal Balrog, such as it’s lightness make big models much less a pain.

    Still, given that I have produced more consistent casts from resin, or at least discarded the ones that were bad, buying less than nearly perfect for the prices GW is selling is… irritating.

  • Ryk Spoor

    A friend of mine named Karl was a regular player in our games (D&D and Top Secret) for years. Then his family was given the Chick pamphlet “Dark Dungeons” and BELIEVED it. They insisted he had to stop for the sake of his soul, etc., and eventually the pressure got to him (he lived in a building they owned so there was lots of pressure to bring to bear) and he disappeared from gaming entirely. It was very stressful for him, and very sad for us.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    A bit late, but I thought I’d add a few thoughts.

    I came to gaming too late for the Satanic Panic, and in any case my parents 1. are secular and 2. raised me on fantasy and science fiction.  A Fundagelical* frenemy I had in sixth grade once told me that my reading tastes would lure me to the devil.  This caused a bitter argument between us, with me asking how on earth stories about battling the forces of darkness could be satanic, and her replying, “They just are,” in a smug tone.  Not too long after this I decided that speculative fiction was better for my mental health than her company was.

    In the nineties I recall a kerfuffle over a murder which was loosely tied in some way to the Vampire:  the Masquerade RPG.  Back then, “being on the internet” meant email and usenet boards, and there was an explosion of discussion on the White Wolf boards, mostly people fuming about how the game was being horribly misrepresented by the media.  Someone mentioned seeing a report in which the news camera lingered over illustrations of bloody, be-fanged mouths, while “special experts” said things like “women are subjugated to Sires…”  I thought that was pretty rich; not only is Sire a gender-neutral term (it’s the vampire equivalent of “parent”, ie. the person who made you a vampire), but V:tM was one of the first RPGs which actively invited female players and used “she” as its default pronoun.

    It also spurred a lot of discussion by people who remembered the D&D panic.  One person actually had a positive anecdote:  she said that she’d been in church when her pastor started up with the “D&D is evil” crap, and her mother stood up and denounced this as nonsense, adding, “[Daughter] plays this with her friends, are you saying she’s a Satanist?”  The pastor backed down.  Later on her mother told her that she preferred her daughter having a hobby which took place in the house, “Where I know where you are and who you’re with.”

    *More rare in Canada, but we do have some.

  • stonebiscuit

    My mom, who worked in our church (and just completed her MDiv!), and dad, who sang in the choir, introduced me to D&D when they bought me the red box in the mid-90s.  I was hooked, and have been playing ever since. When I brought up the possibility of it being evil to my mom, concerned that I was sinning or something, she sat me down with a Bible and talked me through/out of this ridiculous idea.

    The only issue I ever had was our DM’s dad, who didn’t let him play. We just played at other peoples’ houses.

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

     I shall keep it in mind should I ever get around to running/playing a game

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of BBSes, way back in the day I hesitated before dialling one named “Moon of Endor” (or something like that) because I believed the writings of Herbert Armstrong which stated, basically, that names had power, and the wrong name could expose you to Satan.

    I eventually worked up the courage to dial it, and nothing bad happened, so… nnnyeah.

  • CAThompson

    There’s an old story about Gygax hiring a psychologist to talk to people about D&D and assure them it was not the Devil’s own Suicide book. One of the parents asked how to get their children to stop playing?

    “Introduce them to women and liquor.”

  • Tetsubo Kanamono

    I started playing D&D back in 1978, when we rolled dice carved from dinosaur bones. At one point during my High School years my mother confiscated my gaming books because she felt it was detracting from my schooling. In all honesty it was. Because gaming was interesting and engaged my mind while school did not. I am still a collector of RPG books and have some 60+ feet of shelving space dedicated to my collection. You can find the beginning of a tour of said collection here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Z1Ski11oPQ

  • Kiba

    Why?  Because she had a headache and blamed it (I kid you not) on the presence of those D&D books.

    I grew up hearing my mother carry on about tarot cards and how she couldn’t be in the same room with them because bad things happened to her. Fast forward to the mid 90s when I bought a pack of tarot cards (I liked some of the art work) and she’s never once experienced any stuff she claimed (and still does) happened to her before and she knows I have them which makes it even more irritating. 

  • Francis Dickinson

    There’s several mentions of Hardison playing online games involving orcs.

    And I just remembered that John Rogers (Leverage writer/showrunner)
    made the classic quote about Ayn Rand and orcs, so we know which of the
    two books was influential in young Hardison’s life :)

    Hardison plays Horde in World of Warcraft and almost missed one of the cons because he was downloading the latest patch (The Mile High job?).  John Rogers is definitely a gamer – and is writing a Crimeworld supplement for the FATE Core Kickstarter (His own words).  I don’t think the rest of the group plays.  Also on a tangent the official Leverage RPG is superb,

  • Headless Unicorn Guy
    Sounds like you were channelling Nightmare Moon — that mare had one awesome Villain Laugh.

    Or perhaps it was Bad Horse.

    Like this?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNWi5T7khoo

    Speaking of Bad Horses, there’s this one famous fanfic which had a major emotional impact on me last year.  Past Sins, written to bring redemption to Nightmare Moon (i.e. the P0ny Antichrist) by having her “born again” (and not in the way you think; let him who has ears to hear, hear):
    http://www.fimfiction.net/story/41596/Past-Sins
    (Note:  requires some familiarity with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)

    I’ve had the movie version playing nonstop in my head for over a year.  (Including the climactic showdown in Chapter 21 where I kept hearing the baptismal promises from every Easter Vigil — “Do you renounce Satan?  And all his works?  And all his empty promises?  Do you reject the glamor of Evil?”)

    I later made contact with the author (a 22-year-old grad student) regarding echoes and patterns in his writing (both Past Sins and a previous novel Creeping Darkness) and confirmed that he wrote that fan novel to redeem the Pony Antichrist.

    I find it interesting that while all the BADDs and Harry Potter Book Burners are attacking and destroying anything “Satanic” (real or imagined), damning everyone not like them to Hell, and the End Time Prophecy types have signed the future over to The Antichrist and only await an airlift out, a 22-year-old lapsed Lutheran spent a year and 200,000 words writing Redemption for the Pony Antichrist.  Salvation for their Antichrist.

  • usul222

    My friends and I started playing RPGs in 93. My best friend purchased the books and wanted to run a game, it sounded cool so I told my parents. My father is a preacher. As you can guess he responded by telling me that he didn’t want me to do that. Oddly enough, the reason that he gave was “games like that teach you to lie, they teach you that it is often acceptable to break laws and do immoral things to get what you want.” He never mentioned the link to the occult. Fortunately my friend had also purchased a copy of the Star Wars RPG. When we asked if I could play that he said “Sure, Star Wars is good wholesome fun”. So we played Star Wars, and sometimes we “played” Star Wars.

    Another good story is when my brother, sister and I started to collect and play Magic: The Gathering. We were playing on the back porch when dad came home and asked what we were playing, we told him the name of the game and he got angry face. We hastily explained that there were different colors of magic cards, blue was water, red was fire, green was nature, the white ones were even holy, and we didn’t use the black cards. He looked thoughtful for a moment, then told us that it was ok so long as we didn’t use the black magic. We were surprised that this ploy worked and spent a few more weeks allowance each on new cards. After a couple months, we came home from school and the cards were just gone. No one asked and nothing was ever said.

  • Forest the DandDPreacher

     Yeah there are people who still do that. I encountered one of them a week or so ago.

  • Tricksterson

    That I can see as a valid reason.  Gaming, like anything else can be addictive. 

  • Forest the DandDPreacher

     A lot of fundie-vangilists have been raling against all forms of christian music that is less than 100 years old. my last church did this for years.

  • DandDPreacher

     Let me tell you! I have a bunch of stories of the dark days. 
     First a little about my background I am a 48 years old and have been gaming since 1975 came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in 1979. I survived satanic panic but have scars.
     Story one: in (get) high school. My high school was a dopers paradise but for someone who wanted to learn it was a nightmare. I was bullied by one  fundi-vangilist kid and a fundi-vangilist staff member daily because I was a gamer. I lived in Lansing MI. near MSU and when James Dallas Eggbert ran off the local police herded a bunch of us D&D cultists up for questioning no lawyers no parents . My dad came up to the school looking for me when I didn’t call or come home. We were putting a addition on the house and I was learning construction skills from the family. Dad went ballistic to say the least at them and me.
     The next time the fundi-vangilist staff member came to the house with other fundi-vangilist staff members during dads newspaper reading time, we had a firm belief that the Russians knew when this was and would not attack during this time out of fear. So they come to the house and start railing on about how I am a satanist blah blah blah.
     and how he needed to do something or else the  fundi-vangilist kung-fu staff member would. It was than that I heard the dreaded “eldest son attend me” this was a herald to my impending doom in most cases but this time I lived here is what happened “eldest son are you a satanist, devil worshiper or involved in any unlawful action”? lying to my dad was not something I recommended as he would look through you and make you wish the Ghost Rider was in front of you instead. I answered “no sir” most timidly.  
     His next question was “what do you of that boy who vanished from campus”? My answer “Nothing sir” than the idiots threatened my mother. A little about my dad is in order.
     He survived the Korean war and went on to be a combat instructor in firearms and hand to hand, Next to his recliner was a wooden book case I made for him it held his newspapers and his 1911 pistol, two magazines for said pistol. I said nothing of this to the  fundi-vangilists. when kung-fu guy started to move dad lined up on him while mom called the sheriff (local police are less than useful and the Sheriff was a friend of my dads) Sheriff shows up and tells him what happened and then took hold of the  fundi-vangilist and tossed them out into street . dad asked mom if she would budget in the grocery money for pizza and soda for our game group every week.
     Christmas was spectacular that year  D&D stuff  and Traveller stuff like you would not believe.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Oddly enough, the reason that he gave was “games like that teach you to lie, they teach you that it is often acceptable to break laws and do immoral things to get what you want.” He never mentioned the link to the occult. Fortunately my friend had also purchased a copy of the Star Wars RPG. When we asked if I could play that he said “Sure, Star Wars is good wholesome fun”. So we played Star Wars, and sometimes we “played” Star Wars.

    Of course, playing the “good guys” in Star Wars kind of requires you to break the laws.  Granted, they are quite probably unjust laws you are breaking in the name of toppling a tyrannical regime, but still… 

  • Tetsubo Kanamono

    Activities can not be addictive. Addiction involves a chemical dependency. Activities can be a compulsive behavior.  However, my love of role-playing games never became a compulsive behavior. You are off the mark here.

  • Tricksterson

    Okay, fuck discus.  Tried to post a link but failed.  According to the medical definition an addiction can be to a behavior as well as a substance.  examples cited include gambling, eating etc.  On a personal level I’ve seen people’s personalities dissapear into their characters.  admittedly this was with LARPing where roleplay can go on for days at a time and is reenforced by character play offsite.

  • David DeLaney

    Just noting here that I encountered a Chick tract lying on a shelf near the SF&F section in my local Barnes & Noble this weekend. I think it was the classic Dark Dungeons one, too. This is NOT a bookstore in which this happens often at all… but shows there’s still these misguided folk out there.

    –Dave

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

     

    Fortunately my friend had also purchased a copy of the Star Wars RPG.
    When we asked if I could play that he said “Sure, Star Wars is good
    wholesome fun”.

    Obviously did NOT go to Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel.  That guy had a pathological obsession about Star Wars = Witchcraft.

  • Gene

    I have two different close encounters and many minor ones that I won’t recount…

    The first event occurred when I was a student in College in late 1986 or 87.  I was a commuter student and to save money rode the college commuter bus most days.  It was usually 2/3rds empty and this particular day was no exception.  The trip took about 45 minutes and made numerous stops.  I was using the time to prep for my Saturday game (I was the DM) and had all my D&D books with me.  (They were the pretty 1st edition ones with the evocative art.  There was a big smiling demon on the cover of the DMG!).

    About half-way through the trip a fellow traveller asked if I’d mind if he sat next to me, this despite the fact that there were plenty of empty seats in front of and behind me.  But being a decent person, I just gathered my stuff together and made room for him…

    Shortly after that, the seats in front of and behind me filled in solidly and they began chatting with my seat-mate…  And then it happened:  My seat-mate asked, “Do you know Jesus as your lord and Savior?”… closely followed by “How can you read that stuff, it’s the work of Satan!”  

    It was a VERY strained 20 minutes from that point until we arrived.  At some point I explained that:  A)  Yes, in fact I am a Christian.  B)  I was taught that Jesus loved folks, not judged them.  And C)  It was a creative and interesting way to meet folks and make freinds, which clearly they needed some practice at.  I found out later that I was subsequently banned from the campus Baptist Student Center because of my status a cult leader.  This was a great relief because it eliminated all the pressure to attend bible study sessions held there every afternoon.

    The second event happened just after the Pearl High School shooting in 1997.  I have owned my own internet domain for a long time.  I purchased it coming out of college so that A)  I could own my own cyber-identity, rather than let Yahoo own it.  And B) because I hoped to someday publish all my D&D campaign materials.  The domain is host to a support website for the ongoing D&D campaign I’ve been running since 1983.  I happened to live in Jackson MS at the time, about 10 miles from Pearl High School.

    I got a phone call from someone who identified themself as a reporter for the Memphis Plain Dealer.  They were looking for color commentary “from a D&D group (he slipped and said ‘cult’ but corrected himself) leader about the rumor that the shooter had done it because his cult leader had ordered him to do it after playing D&D together.  Apparently his cult leader wasn’t taking phone calls.  (The Wikipedia article for the Pearl Shooting is really quite complete on the details.)

    They called me because a web search had established that I was a senior and longstanding practitioner of D&D in Jackson MS. 

    I think I talked with that guy for an hour.  I had so MANY misconceptions to set straight.  Once it became clear to him that D&D was a social activity with about as much actual meaning behind it as hosting football watching parties and playing poker with your buddies I knew I’d gotten through to him.  Basically:  D&D is about shooting the shit with your friends, eating Pizza, and (if you’re old enough) drinking beer together.

    I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when he didn’t call me back to follow up any further on D&D…  And as near as I can tell the Memphis Plain Dealer quit publishing negative stuff about D&D from that point on.

    Gene Pharr

    I don’t mind being on public record about this.  uurth.com is my website…  Never did publish though.

  • NJGamer

    I’ve been playing since early 1996 and largely missed the Satanic Panic.  When I first got interested my mother (non-denominational, non-practicing Christian) was worried about it based on the old rumors, but a friend’s mother explained what it was all about and she changed her mind.  She actually discussed it with some of my friends’ parents as well when they were hesitant, and they all came around once they’d had the game explained to them as well.  I never really got picked on in school over playing, though I didn’t exactly go around advertising that I was a gamer either.

    Based on these experiences, when I first started dating my wife in 2003 or so, when her parents (extremely religious Catholics) indicated that they were concerned about the game, I figured I’d just give them a quick explanation and they’d come around too.  So I prepped my little speech, told them what the game was like in practice, how it’s played, how you fight evil for the most part, etc.  I also offered to let them borrow one of my books (the original Forgotten Realms boxed set) so that they could read through it and make up their own minds.  There wasn’t a fight or anything, they basically just kind of nodded their heads and said the game made them uncomfortable.  After I left, they apparently flipped through the book, said some of the pictures were disturbing, and told her they didn’t want her or her brother playing.  A while later her mother noticed a Werewolf: the Apocalypse book that I had lent her and claimed she could feel evil spirits surrounding the book.  For the most part, the incident helped me to realize that they considered their own gut feelings and something a priest may have said one time to be more credible than a reasoned argument I made, so there was really no point in trying to explain anything to them.  My wife and I continued to play, just not at their house.  We stopped inviting her brother out of respect for their feelings, and he ended up getting pretty heavily involved with drugs and alcohol.

    In the years since I’m pretty sure my in-laws have softened their stance on the issue, considering that they know I’ve been playing this entire time and nothing seems to be wrong with me.  I even ran a D&D session in their house with a couple of their children them present, though I didn’t call it that.  Since then their youngest child has joined a D&D club at his school and there appears to be no friction due to that. 

  • http://omorka.blogspot.com/ Omorka

    Apologies if this is redundant, but given the mention of Tunnels & Trolls in the post, I wanted to point out that Flying Buffalo is currently doing a Kickstarter campaign to get the 9th edition of T&T printed.  Some of these game have stamina, Satanic Panic be damned!

  • Web

    I remember playing once and my mom came in a bit worried because she read that a kid shot another. Seems the victim tried to cast a shield spell and it failed to stop the bullet. Without missing a beat my friend said, “what an idiot, should have cast a protection from normal missiles.” My mom’s eyes bulged until we all broke out laughing. That was the end of that.

  • http://inquisitiveravn.livejournal.com/ Inquisitive Raven

    I first heard about D&D from a high school English teacher in ’78 or ’79. I think he may have been the DM for the local gaming group. He also did what could be described as Middle Earth LARPING, but I don’t think the term “LARP” had been coined yet.  I didn’t actually play until I got to college though. Female DM, lots of house rules and a homebrew setting. It was a pretty gender balanced group. 

    My parents are non-religious, so I escaped the whole Satanic panic thing, but when James Dallas Egbert disappeared, I did get the worries about being able to distinguish fantasy from  reality from my parents. Also, if my school had steam tunnels,  I never found them.

    These days if I game at all, it’s (old) World of Darkness or GURPS.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh, please. You sound like a pot smoker trying to rationalize it by saying, “Oh, it’s not physically addictive, it’s only psychologically addictive!”

    As if that made it so much better.

    Operationally, what matters is the consequences, not the definition. If what you do/use affects your daily life to the point of interfering with it, it’s likely an addiction to something.

  • GhostOf503

    Started playing when I was a 6th grader in 2000. My dad who came-of-age during the Satanic Panic told me he “didn’t want me playing no D&D” and maintained that until he saw that rather then conducting satanic incantations the game was 4 geeks sitting around a table throwing a lot of weird-looking dice around.

  • Rob Wilkison

    I got off light when I started D&D in 1987 (or so).  I am from Jacksonville and only had to promise my grandmother I would not go insane from playing D&D. My parents grew to like my gaming habit, they knew where I would be and what I was doing. I still game now and have recently introduced my fifteen-year-old niece to gaming via Nightbane.


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