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Chris Palmer

RPG-ing 1980's Style

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18 hours ago, Dr.Bedlam said:


I have known more'n a few Brits and Germans. I have come to the conclusion that minding your own business is a social skill that is taught to Brit and Deutsch kids with a vigor and strictness that is unknown in the States, which substitutes "trying to hammer your religion down someone else's throat" as a virtue instead. I remember at least one major network news documentary that aired in the  mid eighties in which Anton LaVey's daughter and the head of the Church of Set (who really would have come across better without the Mr. Spock haircut) did their durndest to get their points on the air and in front of a big audience.

I thought the whole thing was kind of a steaming load, as did most of my friends. Then again, we'd been playing D&D for years, and never summoned even a tiny demon or eaten any babies at all.

 

 

Dang. I am deathly curious to see what the police would have DONE if they'd FOUND some sort of "satanic material." And after decades of working with kids, I have come to the conclusion that EVERY generation makes up completely new words. I can see no other reason for "phat" and "bae."

Years later, I learned that a lot of what happened was traceable to Pat Pulling and "Bothered About Dungeons And Dragons [BADD], which started out as her inability to handle her son's suicide without a scapegoat, and ended up as her livelihood, as she did rather well doing consulting work and holding seminars for church groups and law enforcement. By then, she'd branched out, and knew not only about the evils of D&D and other games, but about satanism, drugs, gangs, secret teenage rituals of evil, backmasked records, heavy metal, and the significance of certain bands' hairdos. By the time she died, she was literally making a living out of demonizing youth culture of the eighties.

Cultural osmosis seems to have passed it down pretty heavy in some subcultures. I had a student once who told me at length about how his mother was deeply suspicious of D&D, Harry Potter, and Star Wars, among other things. Hell, at one point, my BOSS simply assumed I had a Ouija board lying around because "well, that's part of that D&D thing, right?"  And this was AFTER it had been mainstream for DECADES. In some localities, the legend gets more play than the reality.
 

 

I was utterly unaware of paganism as any sort of organized thing at all in the eighties. Then again, there were organized satanists at the time, and I wasn't terribly impressed with them, either. I only became aware of the pagans when several of them clambered into my back yard one moonlit night around that same time. My next door neighbor and I were barbecuing fajitas and consuming a large bottle of Caribbean dark rum, which mellowed us to the point where we were prepared to be polite and mildly curious when four naked people of assorted genders scrambled over the back fence.

A long awkward moment and a LOT of very fast talk ensued.

It seems they'd been participating in some sort of pagan ceremony in the woods, when the cops showed up, and they needed a place to dummy up until they dared return to their car. Apparently, they'd been doing this for a couple of YEARS in the woods near Wimberley, up until some local retirees took umbrage at the young naked people running around in the woods, and, convinced that roosters, cats, and live babies were bein' sacrificed in hideous Dionysian rites, started calling the cops and reporting them. This was the first of these occasions, a thing that irked the hell out of me, because I was unaware of naked people running around in the woods behind my home, and would have liked to observe more of this phenomenon.

The evening was enlivened and enlightening. We wound up discussing pagan history, religion, and philosophy, and I, utterly ignorant, was enchanted with the whole thing. We had a remarkably stimulating evening, and we later wound up loaning them clothes and shuttling them back to their vehicles after we all sobered up; the only thing they had was their car keys. Their clothes and ID were locked in their trunk. Nice folks. We kept in touch until I left Wimberley to return to college.

Last time I told that story, my listener asked why I wasn't worried about a potential home invasion. As I recall, my answer was "Well, if home invaders decided to attack me in my back yard in a boy-girl-boy-girl group while completely naked and armed only with a paper bag, and I'm sitting there with a fireplace poker in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other, they showed remarkably poor judgment. Being about half crocked myself, I concluded that if this was a criminal undertaking, it was either hopelessly incompetent or utterly unserious."

"So... they didn't steal anything?"

"Well, they slugged down a fair parcel of rum, but it's not like they didn't offer fair compensation!"

"....Fair compensation?"

"Well, I have plied young ladies with strong drink in the hope that they'll dance around naked, but for these folks, it was a religious experience. That, and I can think of few other occasions in my life that involved nakedness and alcohol that were so damn educational."

 

Grump's reaction to a naked Pagan Me in his lap was that I was trying to "freak the mundane". So he just carried on helping me work on my Pathfinder character! ::P:

 

Grump has never been "MUNDANE" in his life! Mundanes don't run Pathfinder games at pagan retreats!

 

But Stay Calm and Carry On. might be his life motto.

 

I got into Wicca because of D&D 2e.

 

Which led to a pagan boyfriend that was a really, really bad choice of friends for me. ::(:

 

Which led to four years of no boyfriend at all, which led to a panicked charge at the first guy I met that I was actually interested in.

 

Who then played a round of Confuse the Pagan by accident. ::P:

 

I even tried a love spell - which didn't work until I gave up on it as a really BAD idea. <_< I gave up, burned the sachet, and a week later he started being interested.

 

But in the eihgties my interests were not in that direction, being much more involved with being ages 0 through 6.

 

But Mum introduced me to Heroquest when I was six, so it still counts!

Edited by PaganMegan
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On 5/30/2018 at 7:44 PM, TheAuldGrump said:

Even in the US, that was less widespread than the 700 Club might have had you believe.

 

One of the players in the very first D&D game I ever ran was a Catholic priest.

 

 

It depends on where you were. More rural areas tend to also be more conservative and religious, and those also happened to be areas where the Satanic Panic set its hooks in people. Here in WV, there are still people who swear that D&D is the work of the devil and that anyone who plays it is going to Hell. My roommate's aunt is one of those people, and her entire church is that way. My grandparents used to be that way, though they've mellowed out some in the last decade, setting their sights on "the gays" and other more current topics. But even then it's with reduced fervor.

 

23 hours ago, Dr.Bedlam said:

Spent most of my youth in south Texas, and as I recall, there were plenty of folks who could say "Well, we've heard it is just as satanic as blood rituals, baby sacrifices, and runnin' around in the woods with no clo'es on, and we are prepared to act accordingly," although nearly no one I ever spoke to could explain why or where this information came from. I'm guessing it circulated at a great many covered dish suppers or something.

 

Churches. Usually smaller ones with a solid base of attendees, of which there are many in rural America. They get wind of it, hear that it has demons and magic in it, and then they run wild. And I'm not talking the obvious crazies like the folks at Westboro Baptist, but even churches that don't do stuff like that will often find a couple innocuous things to latch onto and preach as pure sin and damnation.

 

Just look at all the old Chick Tracts. Those things find homes in many churches throughout the country, because there are people that actually believe they're logical examples of D&D, premarital sex, homosexuality, etc. They're often the same people who try to say that Monster energy drink is a tool of Satan as well. Seriously. That's a real thing some people believe. And unless you're going to those churches or they're outspoken about it, you'll probably never know that it's going on. You'll just think that your coworker has some weird ideas about what you do in your free time.

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On 5/29/2018 at 5:13 PM, alchemist said:

 

Not in the UK, at least not to anything like the same degree.  I certainly never encountered any such issues.

I get the impression that the US is generally a much more religious country than the UK.

 

On 5/30/2018 at 6:44 PM, TheAuldGrump said:

Even in the US, that was less widespread than the 700 Club might have had you believe.

 

One of the players in the very first D&D game I ever ran was a Catholic priest.

 

 

 

The Auld Grump

 

At the time I was living in a solidly Republican, aggressively religious area.

 

The public library had copies of the D&D rulebooks on the shelves.

 

I don’t think the Satanic Panic was anywhere near as bad as it was hyped.

 

 

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 Like a lot of things in this life I think it is what I make of it ... entertaining escapism ... evil noghtyness ... social speculation ... it is what you made of it ... it is what thay maid of it ... we each have a perception,  and sometimes it's hard to share ... what you might be ok with might be worse than death to another, is it right or wrong ? Who is to say, but ... we all have to choose for ourself , meaning others have the right to choose for them selves ... forcing your opinion on others is every bit as hypocritical as others forcing their opinions on you. 

 

 To be truly free ... to be outside of outside of the box ... you must be free of what others say is freedom ... free to hear yourself ... and then live it.

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I should probably point out that none of the naked pagans I met were gamers. 

 

20 hours ago, PaganMegan said:

I got into Wicca because of D&D 2e.

 

Careful. Yer gonna wind up being someone's anecdotal evidence.

 

19 hours ago, Unruly said:

 

It depends on where you were. More rural areas tend to also be more conservative and religious, and those also happened to be areas where the Satanic Panic set its hooks in people. Here in WV, there are still people who swear that D&D is the work of the devil and that anyone who plays it is going to Hell. My roommate's aunt is one of those people, and her entire church is that way. My grandparents used to be that way, though they've mellowed out some in the last decade, setting their sights on "the gays" and other more current topics. But even then it's with reduced fervor.

 

Churches. Usually smaller ones with a solid base of attendees, of which there are many in rural America. They get wind of it, hear that it has demons and magic in it, and then they run wild. And I'm not talking the obvious crazies like the folks at Westboro Baptist, but even churches that don't do stuff like that will often find a couple innocuous things to latch onto and preach as pure sin and damnation.

 

Just look at all the old Chick Tracts. Those things find homes in many churches throughout the country, because there are people that actually believe they're logical examples of D&D, premarital sex, homosexuality, etc. They're often the same people who try to say that Monster energy drink is a tool of Satan as well. Seriously. That's a real thing some people believe. And unless you're going to those churches or they're outspoken about it, you'll probably never know that it's going on. You'll just think that your coworker has some weird ideas about what you do in your free time.

 

Unruly's take is a good one... and, I think, a fairly accurate one.

I've met people who seem to think that D&D is "what pagans and heathens and satan worshippers do on their weekends; it's certainly NOT a CHRISTIAN thing. Not that there's anything wrong with that..."

And I've met people who are firmly convinced that it is a devil's snare set for the unwary and them what seek out unhealthy, unholy, and unwholesome entertainments, and that it somehow sets in motion secret forces that darn your immortal soul to heck, IN SUCH A WAY THAT YOU'LL NEVER BE AWARE OF IT, like somehow if you get to 13th level with your elf ranger, you'll be denied entry to Heaven for some reason. You've crossed a rubicon. No going back!

And I've met at least one person who was badly confused about ME -- her understanding of the situation was that one who plays these games is a Tempter, one who does the devil's bidding, one who seeks to draw the souls from children to gain favor with the Dark One -- and apparently, once you get to know me, I'm just not that evil evil eeeeeevil. Or I don't seem that way.

I WILL talk about nutsos like the Westboro folks. Their entire worldview is built around screaming at the unbelievers and financing their church so they can scream at more unbelievers. They aren't the only churchy bunch that operate that way, only one of the loudest and most odious. 

The WBC gets press. They get their message out. They do this by being loud and odious. It sells papers, so to speak.

Back in the eighties, SEVERAL churches took offense to D&D. The art on the PH (showing a demon statue) and the DMG (with a demonic efreet holding a dancing girl, Kong style) couldn't have helped. And then we have Pat Pulling claiming to know how D&D incites satanism and suicide and hiring herself out as a consultant to law enforcement. It's a shame all her books are out of print; I've read a couple that were circulated through police channels, and it's a scaaaary view into the worldview of a zealot.

Who screams at unbelievers.

And this whole natural process is why D&D is thought by some to be satanic. All it takes is one good loud churchy type screaming about it -------> news outlet picks up story on a slow day ------> other churchy types pick up on this ------> another news outlet picks up on it ------> snowball effect. This is exactly what happened with D&D, except that you could also insert "Woman's son commits suicide, so she reinvents herself as a forensic sociologist who knows about the evils of D&D, drugs, backmasked records, hair bands, and so forth, despite not actually having any degrees or credentials, but people believe her anyway, because of the news coverage" between the arrows in there somewhere. Regrettably, local sheriffs' departments took her seriously, which increased her credibility, and just add that to the snowball effect.

None of this is new. You're all aware of all the craziness accompanying the Harry Potter books and movies, I remember a ruckus about the time Pokemon became popular, I distinctly recall a big noise when Magic cards hit it big, and I'm sure with the new popularity of superhero movies, there is at least one mad preacher howling about how all these superheroes are Satan's sneaky way of getting us to accept new and false gods! Regrettably, this sort of looniness in the religiosity seems to be built into our culture. It happens EVERY time something new and different gets the kiddies' attention. 

Why? I dunno. My first thought is "Because if I want people to listen to me, a good way to do it is to scream real loud about how this thing you like WILL CONDEMN YOU TO HELLLLLL! Or cause cancer or something. Whatever it takes to get your attention. And since we all care about our children... well... how could this thing the kids like be EVIL? AAAAH! IT'S EVIL! LISTEN TO ME, YE PARENTS!!!!

And news outlets will air ANY damn craziness on a slow news day.

And the word spreads. And believers will believe. And next thing, some kid is having his D&D books confiscated because of the big devils on the covers. 

On the other hand, news outlets don't want to seem TOO loony. Dungeons and Dragons... Pokemon... Harry Potter... all these items got noise about being satanic... and then... nothing happened. All the elves and dwarves grew up and became stockbrokers and teachers and salesmen and now their kids play eladrin and dragonborn and Ghod help us, even tieflings. The Harry Potter freaks didn't rise up and burn down the White House and build a shrine to Satan there or anything. And me? I regard the evils of D&D the same way Voltaire did the evils of coffee: when someone told him it was a slow poison, he replied "I think it MUST be, because I've been drinking it every day for thirty years, and am not dead yet!"

Times change. A thing has to be somewhat eviler than the retailers like before the news media will take notice.

But there's still plenty of folks out there who'll tell you about the unsavoriness of this whole book game thing with the funny dice. Old legends die hard, among those who truly believe them.

Edited by Dr.Bedlam
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I only remember a couple of negative incidents involving people's attitudes towards D&D. The first was little black and white pamphlets left on top of the

books in the store. This would've been roughly 1984. The pamphlet was a comic about a girl who commits suicide because her character died in game therefore D&D was evil. Even at 10 years old that seemed pretty stupid to me.

 

The other was when I was in my mid twenties. A neighbour who was a windbag and a strong Catholic was visiting my uncle at the same time I was there. 2 of my cousins that did everything I did were also there. He started going on about how anybody that played those sorts of games were devil worshippers. So the 3 of us said, "Yeah we used to play them a lot. Don't any more but still have a bunch of stuff for it." He was a bit uncertain how to continue so he switched track. "Have you heard about those crazies that like paintball? I hear they're running around pretending to kill people. Who'd want to do something like that?" Our reply was, "You realise that 2 of us are running a paintball rental business on the side and everyone here has played?" He didn't know what to say so he just left.

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 I as a Christian find it so hypocritical that people pass judgment without understanding ... yes the monster manual Ds are filled with evil demons, devils, and dragons ... it's a book of bad guys ... with a few other types thrown in to round out a FANTACY WORLD ...

 

 And yes , it has been a gate way to evil for some , just like TV , on line porn , Hitlers blah blah about master race , Genghis Kaun rampage ... ect ... evil comes in all forms ... so dose the opportunity to shine a light on choise ... we each have one , and if it's given by God who can take it away ?

 

 I especially get tired of Christians getting lumped into one group ... the Catholic Church was the church of Dagon , as pagan as pagan gets if you know your history ... personal beliefs are just that , personal.

 

 Look to history before passing judgment on today.

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4 hours ago, Zink said:

I only remember a couple of negative incidents involving people's attitudes towards D&D. The first was little black and white pamphlets left on top of the

books in the store. This would've been roughly 1984. The pamphlet was a comic about a girl who commits suicide because her character died in game therefore D&D was evil. Even at 10 years old that seemed pretty stupid to me.

 

That would have been one of Jack Chick's old tracts(aka Chick Tracts). The guy was a loon.

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3 hours ago, Boaz said:

 I as a Christian find it so hypocritical that people pass judgment without understanding ... yes the monster manual Ds are filled with evil demons, devils, and dragons ... it's a book of bad guys ... with a few other types thrown in to round out a FANTACY WORLD ...

 

 And yes , it has been a gate way to evil for some , just like TV , on line porn , Hitlers blah blah about master race , Genghis Kaun rampage ... ect ... evil comes in all forms ... so dose the opportunity to shine a light on choise ... we each have one , and if it's given by God who can take it away ?

 

 I especially get tired of Christians getting lumped into one group ... the Catholic Church was the church of Dagon , as pagan as pagan gets if you know your history ... personal beliefs are just that , personal.

 

 Look to history before passing judgment on today.


Aw, what fun is that? The whole POINT of passing judgment is to feel better than that OTHER schmo. Because you're more RIGHTEOUS!

That being said, I don't lump Christians into one group. I believe there was one dude the Romans called Jesus, ran around the holy land preaching for a few years before he ran afoul of local politicians and got nailed to a piece of lumber. This is a matter of historical record, and reflects no religious beliefs whatsoever.

I also believe that there are a minimum of 150 other Jesii that have been invented for various purposes since then. How much any particular one resembles the original Jewish Carpenter is largely a matter of opinion, which I ain't gonna go into here.

Jack Chick was the epitome of a believer who monetized the process. Those little black covered comic books that you find in public places ain't cheap; his company sells them in bulk to religious organizations that wish to put forth a particular viewpoint about a particular thing. I have priced some of them, and frankly don't wish to convince you of anything that badly. I did wanna get copies of Dark Dungeons, but for some reason, they don't seem to sell that one any more. A LOT of Chick's weirder stuff is out of print.

To veer sorta back towards the original topic, I HAVE felt that Hasbro/WotC would benefit from the approach of the 1980s. My problem with D&D these days is their insistence on selling it encased in fifty dollar hardback books, some of which don't seem bound very well. Frankly, I'd be a LOT happier to see more of it sold in softback, at a more reasonable price point. That, and I miss "dungeon modules," a little throwaway thing you can whip out and plug into your game when the iron is hot but you don't have anything prepped and ready. They borrowed the idea of the Adventure Path from Paizo, but instead of releasing it in small inexpensive softbacks, you get to drop fifty bucks on the newest version of Ravenloft. Yeesh.

Whatever happened to the Boxed Set? I miss it. Closest 5e has ever gotten is the Starter Set...

 

Edited by Dr.Bedlam
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Eh, the adventure path isn't really a Paizo invention as it's got its roots in some of the oldest published D&D modules. Back in the late 70's they released Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, and Hall of the Fire Giant King which all tied together. Then they led to Descent Into the Depths of the Earth, Shrine of the Kuo-Toa, and Vault of the Drow. Which then culminated in Queen of the Demon Demonweb Pits. Which were then collected into a single book in the 80's, Against the Giants.

 

I'd say that was one of the first, if not the first, adventure paths.

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13 hours ago, Unruly said:

Eh, the adventure path isn't really a Paizo invention as it's got its roots in some of the oldest published D&D modules. Back in the late 70's they released Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, and Hall of the Fire Giant King which all tied together. Then they led to Descent Into the Depths of the Earth, Shrine of the Kuo-Toa, and Vault of the Drow. Which then culminated in Queen of the Demon Demonweb Pits. Which were then collected into a single book in the 80's, Against the Giants.

 

I'd say that was one of the first, if not the first, adventure paths.

Not quite - the current incarnation of an adventure path starts with when the characters are starting our. Typically 1st level.

 

Gygax's tack was that experienced adventurers were peeling back the layers of the onion, to find a Conspiracy of EVIL! - at least by the start of the Drow series. (I seem to recall that when Gygax first ran the Drow series in his home game it was only connected to the Giant series by the fact that it was the same players, and mostly the same character. Linking them came later, in part because it had worked well in his home game.)

 

But, as the saying goes - close enough for jazz. ::):

 

Adventure Paths were an evolution, not an innovation.

 

The core idea was there, turning the path into a series of monthly (or bimonthly, or when-we-get-around-to-it) installments with the intent that a single party would advance through the series was all that really changed.

 

And, mostly, it was a means to get people hooked on Dungeon Magazine - the desire to finish an entire twelve issue adventure path is a strong incentive. (I actually consider the Paizo years to be the strongest that Dungeon ever had.) Knowing that you will have an adventure that is tied to previous adventures, and will be of the appropriate level.

 

And when the players are done, they have a story to tell you.

 

The best form of advertising is word of mouth, and, like those long ago Gygax adventure, people tell War Stories, no crap, there we were in the River Kingdoms....

 

The Auld Grump

Edited by TheAuldGrump
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...hell, for that matter, I miss gaming magazines that seemed like more than just ads.

 

Gygax magazine is sorely missed.

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Roll Call of the Dead...

Dragon Magazine

Dungeon Magazine

Arcane Magazine

Shadis Magazine

White Wolf Magazine (and not Inphobia)

Space Gamer Magazine

Fantasy Gamer Magazine

Journal for the Traveller's Aid Society

Dungeoneer's Journal

Pegasus

Judges Guild Journal

Thieves' Guild

Different Worlds Magazine

White Dwarf Magazine (long ago - back when it was mostly RPGS)

Troll Magazine

Warlock Magazine

 

Those are the ones that I can remember, just off the top of my head... let us have a moment of silence.

 

The Auld Grump

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"Demons are out to destroy you... and your husband needs to understand that."

Edited by Dr.Bedlam
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On 6/1/2018 at 7:00 PM, Pingo said:

 

 

At the time I was living in a solidly Republican, aggressively religious area.

 

The public library had copies of the D&D rulebooks on the shelves.

 

I don’t think the Satanic Panic was anywhere near as bad as it was hyped.

 

 

I went to an all girls Catholic school.

 

We had a D&D club in the school.

 

Spelljammer ROCKED!

 

No, Grump has never seen me in the little plaid skirt! ::P:

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         You gain the Dubious Knowledge feat, and you're trained in the Dominion of the Black Lore skill..
       
      Pathfinder Hopeful: You've long wanted to join the adventurous Pathfinder Society, a world-spanning organization of relic hunters.  This aspiration has led you to take up the dangerous life of an adventurer eager to make a name for  yourself and gain the attention of the Pathfinder Society.
          Choose two ability boosts.  One must be to Strength or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.
          You gain the Additional Lore feat, and you're trained in the Pathfinder Society Lore skill.
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