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Chris Palmer

RPG-ing 1980's Style

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On 6/2/2018 at 1:26 PM, Dr.Bedlam said:

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



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



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.


The same craziness happened with the Oz books, complete with book burning.

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16 minutes ago, Dr.Bedlam said:

I make it a point never to challenge Megan on either Oz or banned books.


But, yeah, I remember reading about the attacks on Oz back when the attacks on Harry Potter were going on. (Which reminds me, I wonder what the Westboro Baptist Church is up to, these days....)


The Auld Grump - the US has had religious whackadoodles for a long, long time.

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