Dungeons and Dragons - Concerns for the Christian
"Dungeons and Dragons Fantasy Adventure Game ("D&D Game" for short) is a role-playing game for persons 10 years and older. In the D&D rules, individuals play the role of characters in a fantasy world where magic is real and heroes venture out on dangerous quests in search of fame and fortune. Characters gain experience by overcoming perils and recovering treasures. As characters gain experience, they grow in power and ability." TSR, D&D Basic Rulebook, p. B3.
TSR (Tactical Studies Rules), producer of D&D, was founded in 1974. Estimates of its sales have been as high as: $23 million gross in 1979, $45 million gross in 1980, $60-90 million gross in 1981 with net income of $28 million. In 1980, children age 10-14 bought 46% of the D&D games, those 15-17 bought another 26% of the games. TSR has 140 employees, is producing academic area games, translating D&D into other languages, producing a major film, producing electronic versions, etc, They are one of many companies producing similar FRP games.
Children and adults find the games exciting and challenging. But the games include some aspects that need a closer look by Christian children and parents. Some of these are suggested here:
Gary Gygax, originator of the game, said that "the most extensive requirement of the game is time." (D&D Basic Manual, p. 3)
Articles in newspapers and magazines have told of many people who spent many hours a day or week playing, sometimes investing hundreds to thousands of dollars in materials and conventions.
Again Gary Gygax has said: "You have to pursue D&D with your entire soul if you're going to do well at it." (Rolling Stone, Oct. 1980)
People tell of talking about nothing else, having no friends who do not play, experiencing peer pressure to play and rejection of those who do not.
Ephesians 5:15-17 tells us to make the most of our time, and to watch carefully how we walk.
Philippians 4:8 says: "...fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable." Does D&D measure up to these standards?
People have said: "I've seen people have fits, yell for fifteen minutes, hurl dice...when their character dies." "It's when you take the game home with you, when Johnny's mad for a week because you killed his character, that it's an addiction." Gary Gygax said: "when you start playing out a fantasy, it can really eat up time and capture you totally. Most people can handle it, but there are probably exceptions." A Dr. Douglas Brown said: "If a person isn't too well put together to begin with, it's not going to be good for him."
Many find D&D to be an escape from the real world and find it more exciting. But some have found it hard to separate the real from the imaginary and carry the game into real life.
Matthew 16:24 and the verses following talk about Christians "taking up a cross", not trying to escape from the world, but giving up their lives for Jesus and serving Him.
See Philippians 4:8 again.
D&D contains a lot of violenceThe whole concept of the game is to do battle with monsters. Characters are equipped with various types of armor, weaponry, potions and spells. It is necessary to kill, not just the monsters but even humans, in order to succeed in the game.
A central Washington police department asks as a standard question of those arrested: "Are you a participant of Fantasy Role Games?" Another source stated that 60 suicides were directly attributed to D&D in 1981.
Galatians 5:19-26 describes our human natures and the fruit of the Spirit. What is it saying?
D&D makes use of several effective teaching/learning techniques including involving the feelings of the participants, role-playing, fantasy, and memorization. The roles (classes, professions) include religious-type roles (although not Christian by any means) such as cleric, Druid, and monk. Other roles are that of fighter, thief, illusionist, assassin, etc. The fantasies include doing battle with devils and demons using various types of weaponry, spells and potions. Magic-users, elves, and clerics use spells, which must be memorized before a game begins after consultation with the proper book of spells. The spell must then be spoken or read aloud in order to have any effect.
One of the book's author says that in D&D good is given far more attention than evil, but a 40-hour-per-week player claims that it is better to be evil because you can do evil things and get away with them. An FRP games representative stated in The Milwaukee Journal, 11/5/81, that "these games are teaching the difference between right and wrong." In D&D even lawful good characters kill many other human characters in the name of duty to eradicate evil.
Leviticus 19:26 says not to practice any kind of magic.
I Thessalonians says to avoid every kind of evil ("even the appearance of evil" in some translations).
Deities and Demigods, page 5 says: "Serving a deity is a significant part of D&D, and all player characters should have a patron god. Alignment assumes its full importance when tied to the worship of a deity." The Dungeon Masters Guide, page 25 says this: "Whether or not the character actively professes some deity, he or she will have an alignment and serve one or more deities of his general alignment indirectly and inbeknownst to the character. Another D&D book says that the Gods and their Cohorts will occasionally assist their devotees with aid, or harm them.
In Deities and Demigods, a total of over 200 foreign gods are mentioned.
Exodus 23:13 tells us not to even mention the names of other gods.
Deuteronomy 7:25 and Ezekiel 6 talk more about idols and false gods.
See Galatians 5:19-21 again.
Dr. Gary North, a Christian economist, author of the book None Dare Call It Witchcraft, and editor of the Remnant Review, said this: "Without any doubt in my own mind, after years of study of the history of occultism, after having researched historical research, I can say with confidence: These games are the most effective, most magnificently packaged, most profitably marked, most thoroughly researched introduction to the occult in man's recorded history, period. This is NO game." (Remnant Review, 12/5/80)
D&D uses hundreds of traditional Christian terms, but not with traditional meanings. It also deals with the casting of spells, magic, sorcery, witchcraft, voodoo, demon and devil worship, ESP, levitation, etc.
The words demon, devil and hell appear a total of 225 times in eight pages of Deities and Demigods (pages 16-23), and encourages the worship of them as lesser gods (page 105).
The words Devil, devils, and Satan also appear in the Bible (over 150 times), but the Bible teaches something entirely different about them.
Deuterononmy 18:9 and following tells us to have nothing to do with people who do things in this area. 1 Peter 5:8 talks about the devil as a lion, looking for people to eat! John 8-44 calls him a murderer and the father of lies (a deceiver). Check other Bible passages for more information here.
Ephesians 6-:11 instructs us to put on the armor of God to do real battle with wicked spiritual forces, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age.
Philippians 4:8 again directs us to focus our attention on something better.