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The reason Dungeons and Dragons is ‘Satanic’

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I’ve stated before that I’m a gamer. I like role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and others of its ilk. I like seeing the story emerge during a campaign and doing my part in shaping the narrative.

So how did D&D get the reputation for being Satanic?

It all starts with a guy named James Dallas Eggbert III. He was a student at Michigan State University in 1979 when he disappeared for a month between August and September. No one is sure where he was during that time. It seems that Mr. Eggbert was a D&D player, had some psychological problems, and attempted suicide.

The students at MSU took to playing D&D as a ‘live action’ scenario in the steam tunnels below the University. Today the practice is known as LARPing, or live action role-playing. Mr. Eggbert is said to have participated in these games and was thought to have gotten lost in the steam tunnels when he disappeared.

Next, along comes Rona Jaffe and her book Mazes and Monsters. In it, a group of four college friends who play a role-playing game called Mazes and Monsters, end up doing a live action version in some caverns near their university. One of the players, Robbie, seems to be a stand-in for James Dalls Eggbert III, as he has some mental problems and has a hard time distinguishing fantasy from reality. Admittedly all four students have issues but the other three have more ‘normal’ problems like overbearing parents, intimacy issues, etc.

As the story progresses, Robbie, who suffers from anxiety over his brother running away from home, ends up in the big city, thinking he is his character from the game. He confronts some person on the street and ends up stabbing them, thinking they are a monster from the game.

Then it gets turned into a movie, starring the then up-and-coming Tom Hanks. I’ve not read the book, but the movie doesn’t accurately portray any game session I’ve ever been part of. The players sit around the table, with more candles than are safe for a small room, pouring through thick notebooks of hand written game material. (OK, the notebooks might be accurate.) They speak in tones that could be recitations of a church liturgy. In real life, game sessions aren’t nearly as formal, aren’t nearly as well organized, and rarely if ever have candles.

This view of how role-playing games are played is now the popular (mis)conception of how all such games are played. Even people who have never heard of James Dallas Eggbert III, now link role-playing games to weirdos running around in caverns with no grasp of the difference between fantasy and reality. Thanks Rona!

Things got even further complicated when Jack Chick put out his tract called Dark Dungeons. These tracts present Bible lessons in a cartoon format, making it easier for people to read and understand. They are passed out to people everywhere by well-meaning Christians who wish to evengelize.

Dark Dungeons tells the tale of a young D&D player, Debbie, seduced to the dark side and joins a witches coven after “intense occult training through D&D”. She finds her friend committed suicide because Debbie was too busy with playing D&D and casting spells to spend time with her friend. She gets saved and burns all her occult material, including her D&D books.

On top of this a woman named Patricia Pulling started a group called B.A.D.D (Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons) after her son, an avid D&D player, committed suicide. She concluded that playing D&D was the root cause and set out to tell the world about the evils of D&D. She said the game lead to suicide and a whole list of crimes including rape and murder.

After over 40 years of playing D&D and other games, I still can’t cast spells, I’m not out attacking people with swords, I’m not committing crimes, and I have a pretty firm grip on reality. I’ve never been approached to join a witches coven either. I guess I’m just not cool or worthy enough to enjoy all these benefits of playing D&D. I just have to settle for the story telling aspect of the game.

And yes, people do still lump D&D in with the occult. I’ve been in churches as recently as July 2023 that from the pulpit said D&D was tied to demons, as were The Andy Griffith Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Perry Mason.

I’m not sure what else to say at this point.

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