I am going to start by just throwing this out there: I am the Dungeon Master for the game Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition. I’m also an orthodox, quasi-evangelical (to substitute for the weighty title postmodern orthodox, which has postmodern in the title, so it must be bad.). Because of this apparent dichotomy, my players and I get judged on occasion for playing, one of which asks that we not speak about it on his facebook for fear of him losing his job. This seems tired and ridiculous to me, and here’s why:
Many evangelical Christians have been conditioned to understand Dungeons and Dragons as a demonic, occultic tool of the devil, used to trick nerdy teenagers into becoming witches and wizards, being possessed by devils for using real spells. THIS.DOES.NOT.HAPPEN. Well, let me qualify that: This doesn’t happen anymore than it would for any fictional work. In my own research on the topic, I’ve come across what I believe is the root cause of this misconception:
The majority of the hype concerning Dungeons and Dragons comes from Patricia Pulling and William ‘Bill’ Schnoebelen’s work, mostly in the early-to mid-eighties, about the occultic nature of Dungeons and Dragons, and that it leads to suicide, schizophrenia and a tendency towards satanic and occultic worship. In 1979, tragically, Pulling’s son, Irwin – an avid D&D player – committed suicide. Pulling believed this was because her son’s principal cast a ‘Dungeons and Dragons Curse’ on Irwin, so she sued him, as well as TSR, who owned D&D at the time. After this, she started ‘Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (BADD),’ which spread the ‘truth’ about the evils and suicide risks involved with Dungeons and Dragons. Schnoebelen got on board later (1984ish) and wrote an essay called “Straight Talk about Dungeons and Dragons,” published by Chick Publications, a bastion of fantastic theology and level-headedness. He claimed that real occultic practices were in D&D and therefore was evil. Now for the otherside:
I will concede this point, however. Dungeons and Dragons does pull the majority of its source material from all myths and legends of the world. In that respect, Dungeons and Dragons is fundamentally ‘pagan,’ (it should be noted, however, that Narnia and Lord of the Rings were just as much so).
Frankly, D&D is playing imagination like you did when you were a kid, except now there is a framework that capably functions through a series of dice rolling and statistics, to simulate random events. As Dungeon Master, I narrate a story (ours, particularly, is one of renewal and redemption) and everyone plays out the story. That’s it. No evil, no raping and pillaging, just 5 guys that sit around, eat chips and travel through time. With swords. And sidekicks. It’s nerdy, but not evil.
For more information on our game, see our Wiki, http://willkinchlea.com/dnd