Tuesday, February 4, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 4

Day 4: First dragon you slew (or some other powerful monster)

I'm giving a trick answer to this one: the first powerful monster I slew was my fear of Dungeons & Dragons.
As I've written about before, my mother was once a very devout follower of the Baptist church. In her well-meaning attempt to save the souls of her children, she adopted a very hardline stance against anything the church told her was evil. This included things like rock music and Dungeons & Dragons. Our church even sponsored events such as a visit from a speaker who gave a lecture about the many insidious ways in which Satan attracts youth to the yawning pit of Hell. He pointed to the use of "backward masking" to embed messages about Satan in music, witchcraft symbolism on album covers to signify pacts a band had struck with the Devil in exchange for commercial success...and magic spells and depictions of demons in D&D.
You know where this is going. Sure enough, the Jack Chick "Dark Dungeons" pamphlet was part of my mom's arsenal to "scare me straight." Like any little kid (the indoctrination started before I was a teenager), I looked up to and trusted my parents without question. If my mom said something was evil and would cause me to suffer eternal torment, that was the truth.
Of course, as we get older, we realize (for good or ill) that our parents are indeed human, with the foibles and failings to which we are sometimes vulnerable. My mother meant well, but as I grew I came to chafe under the strictures of the Baptist dogma. I just couldn't believe that I had to live in fear of a game.
Still, when my good friend Pat (who introduced me to the hobby) showed me his 1E AD&D books, I remember a moment where I had a thrill of fear. Here were the books I was told were a veritable gateway to damnation! The old church training lingered for a while. But as I read through the books, played the game, and realized that I wasn't being compelled to try and cast "real spells," I left the slain corpse of the "fear monster" behind.

So, has anyone else had to overcome a personal religious aversion to D&D? Have you had to endure the persecution of others for playing the game? I'd love to hear from you!


  1. Ah yes, back when D&D was "dangerous". I really think all that talk about D&D being Satanic had to have helped its growth and popularity. Truly no such thing as bad publicity.

    I remember in high school my friend was suckered into going to a Baptist youth group meeting, and he later told me that the youth minister gathered everyone in the church basement (after letting them play foosball for an hour) and put on a video that depicted two demons discussing how they'd spent their weekend.

    "I possessed one kid and made him listen to heavy metal music," said one.

    "I possessed a kid and made him play Dungeons & Dragons," said the other.

  2. So glad I missed all of that... It probably helped that my mum was not only a crazy hippy, but also played D&D herself.

    1. You weren't "missing" anything. It can be frightening to be on the recieving end of religious people thinking what you're doing is evil.

  3. P.S. Here's the website for the guy who came to my church as a kid to warn us about Satan and D&D. His name is David Benoit:


    Apparently, he believes Harry Potter is the path for kids onto what he calls the "Heathen Highway." I know he's not alone in that idea, but "Heathen Highway"?