Standly Strick presents "The Devil’s Game?" 05/23/02
00000Four young men sit around a table in a basement. There are stacks of books, piles of dice, maps, and little fingerings scattered all over. One of the young men sits behind a small cardboard screen. The young man is writing something then roles some dice. He looks up and to the player to his right.

00000“Mike you have triggered a pit trap and you and Steve need to role a reflex check.”

00000 Two players each role a twenty-sided dice.

00000Steve looking happy, “I got a nineteen plus six.. So I have a twenty-one total. Did I make it Ted?”

00000 Ted replies, “All you needed was a sixteen.”

00000 Mike looking glum, “ I got a six...”

00000 Ted roles three six-sided dice, “You take twelve damage. You’ve fallen about twenty feet, the walls of the hole are smooth and have no obvious way out other then through the way you came in. There are a couple of skeletons that appear to have broken legs.”

00000 Steve, “Zsaber looks down into the hole, ‘Great going Bey’ja, where going to lose Crusher if we don’t hurry up.”

00000 Mike, “My character looks up out of the hole at Zsaber, ‘Well just don’t stand there see if Gale still has her rope on her.”

00000 Is this just a group of friends pretending to be people there not? Or is it four young people getting ready to summon demons and rain hell onto there fellow ma? Or are these sick individuals who are planing to commit suicide and end there worthless lives? Simple put these people are gamers who spend countless hours pretending to live as different people in a fantasy world. Gamers range greatly in age from as young as ten to as old as sixty. Gamers like to imagine being someone in another time or place, be it charging into battle against orcs, or shooting it out at a saloon, or even flying through an asteroid field in space. But as the world works, when someone is having fun another has to come and steal the ball.

00000 Long have Satan and role-playing games, like Dungeons and Dragons and Vampire: The Masquerade, been put together. Several groups of people claim that role-playing games lead to Satanism, yet many psychologists have done studies on role-playing games and say other wise. This argument between the Anti and Pro role-playing critics raise one major question, are role-playing games really an outlet to Satanic worship or just another game like Monopoly or Risk.

00000 One must ask them self what exactly are role-playing games. Are they a secret code for books of satanic worship and demon summoning? Or are they a game where players run around killing every monster in sight? Or is it where all the players sit around trying to best the other by collecting the most treasure or kill the most monsters? Well role-playing games are not like your average board game. Board games focus on one person winning and every one trying to beat the other where role-playing games are almost the opposite. Role-playing game encourage cooperative play where all the players work together to accomplish goals and defeat enemies. But there is more then just beating monsters and getting treasure.

00000 Role-playing games are sort of like being in an interactive book or movie. As children, most of us played role-playing games, games like “Cowboys and Indians” and “Cops and Robbers.” These games of make-believe were really role-playing games. But in these child hood games was disorder, when someone claims they shot someone else there is an argument and some times everyone goes home angry. Role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and Vampire: The Masquerade are just orderly more mature versions of these games. Role-playing games are a game that requires players to be both imaginative and mature.

00000 These games are much like books and movies in where there is an author or director, the game master or GM, and character or actors, the player characters or PCs. The GM is a referee, who tries to keep everything fair and to make sure all the players are having fun and getting a chance to do something. The GM is also the director in that he tells the players what the scene is, controls the actions of non-player characters or NPCs, and comes up with plot and puzzles for the PCs to solve. The PCs are like the stars of a movie, there are the heros and heroines, the protagonist, the good guy. A PCs role is to tell the GM what there character dose and speak for there character. PCs think of what there character would do when the GM throws a obstacle. For example, the players run into a door that is locked and they can hear the snoring of creatures on the other side. The PCs can do what ever they can think of and the GM decides what happens, some times with the help of dice. The PCs could smash down the door and fight the creatures, or they could pick the lock and sneak around the creatures with out fighting them, or sneak in and kill them all while they sleep.

00000 Many groups have formed and banded together to stop the so posed “Evil” influence role-playing games have on people. Many of these groups have attacked Dungeons and Dragons since the 70s. Role-playing games have been accused of teaching demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sexual perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, Satan worship, and necromantics (Cale). B.A.D.D., Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons, is one of the many Anti-role-playing groups. Patricia Pulling after her son, Bink Pulling, committed suicide started B.A.D.D.,. Believing role-playing games to be a major factor in her son’s suicide she started B.A.D.D. and a campaign to restrict availability of role-playing games (Cale). Bink had been depressed after he was unable to find a manager to handle his campaign for election to school council. He was apparently an emotionally disturbed student who admired Adolf Hitler. Unfortunately, his mother kept a loaded gun in the house that he was able to access, he used it to commit suicide. Patricia became convinced that the death had been triggered by her son's involvement with Dungeons and Dragons, she believed that his teacher had placed a curse on Bink during a game. She brought a lawsuit against the teacher and school. It was thrown out of court (Robinson). Initial charges by B.A.D.D. against role-playing games were based on allegations of players casting hexes or spells on teachers and parents. By the mid 1980s, the emphasis switched to the potential of Dungeons and Dragons and similar games to encouraging players to commit suicide (Robinson).

00000 In 1985 B.A.D.D. joined up with another one person organization, the National Coalition on Television Violence and issued a "Press Release from Washington." Dr. Thomas Radedki, a psychiatrist at the University of Illinois School of Medicine, said "The evidence in these [suicide] cases is really quite impressive. There is no doubt in my mind that the game Dungeons and Dragons is causing young men to kill themselves and others. The game is one of non﷓stop combat and violence. Although I am sure that the people at TSR mean no harm, that is exactly what their games are causing. Based on player interviews and game materials, it is clear to me that this game is desensitizing players to violence, and, causing an increased tendency to violent behavior"(Robinson). B.A.D.D. and NCTV "asked the U. S. Trade Commission to require that warnings be placed on the covers of all D&D books, stating that the game has caused a number of suicides and murders; and to require that CBS, or others, warn viewers and request them to get the message of the Surgeon General on entertainment violence." The Federal Trade Commission sent the petition to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. The latter decided that D&D was not a danger to the U.S. public (Robinson).

00000 Many critics of fantasy role-playing games say that the games have a corrupting influence and can lead to occult activities. They claim imaginary mystical characters used during play represent unwholesomeness (Ottens 43). Critics also claim that role-playing games can cause players to relax defenses against evil, when they become engrossed in the games, and could provide Satan with a window of opportunity to gain control of a player’s personality. Another claim is that players who take fantasy too seriously may give their imagination so much freedom that they lose grip of reality and act out the violence that maybe part of a particularly rousing game in real life (Ottens 43).When court cases involving role-playing games arise they accuse the game of involving the player into much fantasy that the person thinks he becomes his character (Cale).

00000 The biggest thing in all this devil worshiping games is magic and false gods, or mythological gods. "Leviticus 19:26 says not to practice any kind of magic. D&D claims to involve the players in the worship/service of other gods...Exodus 23:13 tells us not to even mention the names of other gods...D&D contains much information and encourages activity that deals with the occult world." (Mel Gabler). In this statement Mel Gabler is basically saying that practicing any kind of magic is bad. But in Dungeons and Dragons the players don’t practice magic, there characters may practice magic all the player dose is say that his character is casting a spell. Saying that pretending to cast a is evil, is like saying any actor or author who pretends to cast spells or writes the casting of spells is evil. Although many groups claim Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games lead to self destruction there has been much research on the subject that disagrees with many claims. B.A.D.D. did some research and estimated about four million gamers, and with the average suicide rate about 500 gamers would commit suicide a year. However, B.A.D.D. has documented an average of seven gamer suicides a year (Cale). According to B.A.D.D.’s research suicide rates are greatly decreased by playing role-playing games. The American Association of psychologists, The Center for Disease Control, and Health & Welfare [Canada] did extensive studies and found that there are no links between Role-playing games and teen suicides (Cale). In an article “Satanic Cults, Satanic Play: Is ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ a Breeding Ground for the Devil?,” Daniel Martin and Gary Alan concluded that fantasy role-playing games do not foster destructive behavior. Martin and Alan speculate that role-playing games may prevent self-destructive behavior. Because teenagers may find acceptance in the community of their gamer peers (Ottens 43). James Forest and Suzanne Abyeta also conducted research and studied criminal tendencies of gamers. They found that gamers committed fewer crimes (Cale). Much research has pointed to role-playing games as an aid to many problems in life. It has also been proven that role-playing increase decision making skills. Some schools offer classes for role-playing because of the fact that they lower self-destruction and improve decision making skills (Cale).

00000 Although many critics of Dungeons and Dragons have probably never read the book. Many rumors about Dungeons and Dragons can be disproved within its pages. Gary Gagax originally wrote and created Dungeons and Dragons. The book has gone through many changes in its three editions and there have been countless expansions and supplements for this single game. Many elements have stayed with the game in its long life span. Alignments play a major factor in the game because they determine how characters act and what role they play in the world. Players are given the option to play many of these alignments, but out of all them the book suggests that all evil alignments only be used for enemies against the player characters, or PCs (Cook 89). One of the biggest rumors in Dungeons and Dragons history is that players are required to chant and mimic the casting of spells. Spells listed in the rule book do not describe how they are cast. Gary Gygax has said that he actually made all the spells up out of his head (Cale). In the chapter that list and describes the spells’ effects, no where dose it speaks of chanting the spells when cast, nor dose it list any “magical word.” It doses say whether the spell is verbal or not so the PCs know if they can cast the spells if their voice is being hindered (Cook 157-58). In the book there is no mention of God or Satan but instead deities for the PCs’ characters to worship. Deities range from good ones to evil ones and a PCs alignment plays a factor in determining what deitie they follow. Some cleric spells do require the character to make a sacrifice to their deitie in order for the spells to work. However, the type of sacrifice depends on the deitie. If the cleric has a good deitie the sacrifice may just be burning some food at an altar. Yet clerics with an evil deitie, do to their evil alignment, may need to make human sacrifices (Cook 174-274). Dungeons and Dragons may have some stuff that makes it sound evil, but that is so a Dungeon Master, the person who runs the game, can make villains that are much more evil to the PCs who play the heros.

00000 The Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual is another source that is accused of adding to the evil in a way. The Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual is a source book, much like an encyclopedia, that has descriptions of mythological creatures, from dragons to giants, and real world creatures, from cats to spiders (Cook 2). Another thing is that on the grand scale good is greater than evil. Solars, planetars, and devas﷓﷓the ranks of angels﷓﷓are greater in power than the demons, daemons, and devils who might be arrayed against them, even without recognizing that the evil creatures cannot cooperate in mutual trust.(Young) The Monster Manual has many different creatures, including dragons, celestial beings, trolls, fey, and other good and evil creatures. The Monster Manual is a source to find statics on creatures the players may run into. Each creature has a description on how it looks, lives, fights, and other things to help a game master. Evil creatures are sometimes given more info then good because the game master needs to know how to make them a villain to the players(Cook 2).

00000 Another role-playing game that suffers heavy fire is Vampire: The Masquerade. Many vampire cults have been found playing Vampire: The Masquerade and their diabolical are sometimes blamed on this book. In the book it states that vampires are not demons embodied in corpses, but are souls elevated to a new way of life. They are a new race of creatures that are higher on the food chain. In Vampire Caine, son of Adam and Eve, is the first vampire. Caine was banished by God to the land of Nod after slaying his brother Able. Every time a vampire embraces someone they pass on Caine’s cursed blood. When Caine was damned he made no pact with the devil, he was just cursed , by God, to walk the earth forever with his eternal bloodlust (Hagen 22+). In the game PCs struggle to maintain there grip on life in the unlife, they try to keep there Humanity. In Vampire the main goal in the game is to stay as human as possible and not to let the beast take control. The beast is what vampires avoid becoming. If the beast takes over a vampire becomes nothing more then a wild animal sleeping and feeding. Vampires are monsters, they are nothing but wolfs in sheep’s clothing. Vampires are nothing more then predators (Hagen 134-36). In the end Vampire: The Masquerade just simulates the life of a predator in a dark and painful world.

00000 On the eighteenth page of the Vampire: The Masquerade book it has a disclaimer that addresses many of the problems with destructive behavior in role-playing games. The disclaimer reads, Vampire: The Masquerade is a game. It’s a game that requires imagination, effort, creativity and, above all, maturity. Part of maturity is realizing that Vampire is only a game and that the situations depicted in these pages are strictly imaginary. If you beat somebody at Monopoly, you don’t go out and foreclose on their house. If you sink someone’s Battleship, you don’t go down to the Navy Yard and start throwing Molotovs at the boats. The same principles applies to any roleplaying or storytelling game. In other words, you are not a vampire. When a game session ends, put away the books, pack away the dice, enjoy the rest of your life and let other people enjoy theirs. For the 99.9999+% of you who are sufficiently well-adjusted not to need such a ridiculous disclaimer, have fun.

00000 I have enjoyed role-playing games for about five years and have found them very relaxing and a good and unharmful way to take out aggression. I also find it a good source for socializing and to help me think on my feet. Role-playing games may not be for everyone and you need some imagination. Role-playing is a good way to live the life of someone your not. To experience things in another time, world, social class, country, or personalty. I find it fun to step into the shoes of a warrior who tries his best to live up to his fathers image as a knight. Or to be a F.B.I. agent trying to track down a serial killer. But me and every one I role-play with are aware that no matter how intense the game gets, no matter how into character we get, it is still a game.

00000 So are role-playing games Satanic? Yes and no. You can not tag role-playing games with a vague word like Satanic. Satan is mostly a Christian, that many people tag onto something they don’t understand or fell it violates the laws of there religious belief. Now are role-playing games related to destructive behavior, not really. On many occasions have juvenile crime been linked to role-playing games because they own a book. Any thing that can take heat off the real causes, like mental disturbance, bad parenting, social problems, and others. Or when these can be used to build fire for Anti-RPG groups. Although Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games have taken a lot of heat from parents and anti-groups, it is still a prosperous industry. And according to many researchers and psychologist role-playing games are a good and healthy hobby. Role-playing games can lower suicide rates, criminal activities, and other negative things. Although some people that already have problems, like mental disorders and some depression, should probably not participate in role-playing because they may not be able to handle it. Over all role-playing games seem to be more beneficial then destructive, but in the end it is one’s religious belief that determines if role-playing games are Satanic or not.

Works Cited

Cale, Charney. “The Real Truth About Dungeons & Dragons.” 2000. Online. Internet. 6 Feb. 2001.

Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Dungeons & Dragons Players’ Handbook 3rd Edition. Reno: Wizards of the Coast, 2000.

Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual 3rd Edition. Reno: Wizards of the Coast, 2000. (2)

Gabler, Mel. “Dungrons and Dragons ﷓ Concerns for the Christian.” the Christian Connection. Online. 7 May 2002

Hagen, Mark Rein, et. al. Vampire: The Masquerade. Canada: White Wolf Game Studio, 1998.

Ottens, Allen, and Rick Myer. Coping with Satanism: Rumor, Reality, and Controversy. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 1998.

Robinson, B.A. “Dungeons and Dragons and Other Fantasy Role﷓Playing Games.” 2002. Online. Internet. 14 April, 2002.

Young, Joseph M. "Confessions of a Dungeons & Dragons(tm) Addict." Online. 7 May 2002.

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