Saturday, April 29Spiritual Warfare and Other Cool Bible Stuff

The Top 25: Dungeons and Dragons Facts For Christians


"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." - Hosea 4:6

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Can playing Dungeons & Dragons expose you to demonic possession? Does it really teach people to worship the Devil? Lets separate the facts from the fiction and discuss this often misunderstood topic in depth. Is the tract Dark Dungeons a realistic portrayal of the game? In this article:

  1. We’re going to address 25 very real concerns about Dungeons & Dragons.
  2. We’re going to examine the tract Dark Dungeons published by Chick.com.
  3. We’re going to address two articles on the subject, written by Bill Schnoebelen.

If you’re a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, friend, or whatever, it is important to know exactly what you’re talking about, so you sound informed when talking to people about the game. Feel free to use this article as a quick reference guide to start the conversation.



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Before you continue. If you like anything you read here, please do me a favor and share it via Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Google+, etc. I don’t mind writing it if you don’t mind helping me get the word out.

Two Years of Personal Research

After two years of playing, I can confirm that Bill Schnoebelen, Chick.com, and the people that have relied on their information about Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), need to update what they think they know. It may have been relevant in the 80s and maybe even in 2001, but the game, as it stands, is much different than the portrait that has been painted for it by Schnoebelen and Chick.com.

How This All Started

A couple of years ago I got invited to play Pathfinder, which is the same as D&D, and even created by some of the people involved in the creation of D&D. Why did I want to play it for myself after all these years? So I could see what all of the fuss was about, and if the rumors were true.

In high school, my neighbor once asked me to play, but I always thought he was kinda weird, so I declined. When the opportunity presented itself again, this time I thought I’d take the time to check it out. I went in completely unbiased, and with a two objectives:

  • Learn what the game is about.
  • Play the game and have fun.

So, over the last 2 years I’ve been playing Pathfinder, every Sunday like clockwork,  and this article is a summary of what I’ve learned based on my own personal experience:

An Overview of The Game

The game actually has several overall objectives, separate from the module (adventure). I’m going to bullet point a lot of this so that it’s easier to read and digest. Here are the objectives of the game:

  1. Teamwork: Before the game starts, most players figure out who is going to play what type of character (I go deeper into characters below). This helps them assess their strengths and weakness before they get started.
  2. Strategy: This is similar to teamwork, but its more in depth. Some strategies may include traveling formation, fighting formation, and when to run.
  3. Quest: Every game is different, and therefore every game objective is different. All players usually want to finish the quests set forth by the game , because that is how the game is won.

The Pros and Cons That I Witnessed

As with everything, there are pros and cons. Too often, when discussing this subject, Christians only present the cons. I wanted to do something different and form an unbiased opinion on the subject, so I ignored everything I thought I knew.

Pros

  1. Personal Interaction: In a time when people communicate via text message, social networking, email, and video chat, personal interaction is a welcomed change.
  2. Meeting New People: I actually made a few new friends, and so did the other people. We were all mutually connected by one person, but none of us had ever met prior to the game.
  3. Mentally Challenging: Imagine playing chess where there is a king, but every other piece on the board is a queen. Now imagine that both the king and queen have a list of things they can do, but you don’t know what that list consists of. You are then expected to win.
  4. Very Fun: I love chess, but this game far outdoes it on so many levels. We only get together once a week, so we tend to play for hours so we can get through as much of the game as possible.

Cons

  1. Addictive: I can see how people get addicted to games, and this one is no exception. All of the above makes the game playable for hours without getting bored.
  2. Violent: It’s violent, but so are most books, video games, and movies. Chess is violent as well, when you understand that you are actually killing pieces that represent people.

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t add things like satanic, immoral, etc. to the cons list. The reason is that those statements are way too broad, and may not apply to every adventure. I’ll get more into that as we go on.

Addressing Bill Schnoebelen’s Articles

In his original article, Straight Talk On Dungeons and Dragons, Schnoebelen made quite a few claims that I’m going to address. He later updated the information in the article, Should A Christian Play Dungeons and Dragons? I’m going to address some of those claims too. Let’s get started.

1. Does D&D Teach Devil or Demon Worship?

So far nothing I’ve found teaches Devil or demon worship. There are demons and gods that are OPTIONAL for characters to worship. Players are encouraged to play characters of a good or neutral alignment, and if they choose to worship a deity, they may choose one from the list or insert their own. I’ll talk more about alignment and deity worship below.

That means if someone wants their character to worship God, Christ, Jesus, etc. they can. It’s completely up to the individual. If someone’s character worships Satan or a demon, its because they choose to, not because they have to. The base rules do not encourage it one way or the other. While other classes may worship a deity if they choose, the cleric class does have their abilities tied to the worship of a deity, but may choose not to worship any deity at all. Here is a direct quote from the rule book:

“While the vast majority of clerics revere a specific deity, a small number dedicate themselves to a divine concept worthy of devotion—such as battle, death, justice, or knowledge—free of a deific abstraction. (Work with your GM if you prefer this path to selecting a specific deity.)”

That means worshiping deities, demons, etc., is not mandatory at all. The character I currently is part cleric and doesn’t worship a deity. The reason I chose not to worship a deity is because making a deity is almost just as involved as making a character. Since there is no pre-made template for Christ, I just opted to have my cleric dedicate himself to the concepts of life and death.



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2. Does D&D Teach Magic Spells?

In short, no it does not. There are characters that can cast spells, but not all characters use magic. In addition to that, the way a spell is cast in the game is by saying the name of the spell. For example: if I want to cast lightning, I would say, “I cast lightning.” No magic words or chants at all.

Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation has been put out about this aspect of the game. There seems to be a misconception that actual spells and chants are used during game play, and its simply not the truth. I don’t view this as any different than playing a video game and pressing the “A” or “X” button to shoot someone with a lightning bolt. They may not say it verbally, but the action and intent are all the same.

3. Can D&D Cause Demon Possession?

So far I haven’t witnessed anyone get possessed, and I was in a comic book store where 5 or 6 games were going at once. I’m also not sure how anyone would even go about being possessed as a result of the game. The entire game is literally based on the imagination of each player. I would liken it to multiple people writing a book simultaneously, without a back button. Their decisions can get your character killed, and your decisions can get their characters killed. However, none of that will cause you to get possessed any more than playing Pac Man can.

While there are characters that can summon monsters, angels, demons, and even people, no specifics are given as to how its done, and playing the type of character capable of summoning, is the choice of the player. There is no occultic knowledge inherent to the game that would suddenly make it possible to perform any real life ritual or purpose or by accident, without prior outside knowledge of said ritual. In other words, if you don’t already know how to summon demons in real life, D&D doesn’t teach you how to do it at all.

4. Do Players Surrender Their Will To the DM or GM?

Schnoebelen made this claim years ago, and it has spread like wild fire, but in short, the answer is no. His information may have applied then, but it doesn’t apply now. You do not surrender your will to the DM (Dungeon Master) or GM (Game Master). They are basically the referee of the game. They read to the story line to the players, they tell the players what the objectives are, and they ensure that the story line keeps moving. Schnoebelen made the following out of date statement about the game:

“Erosion of family values. The Dungeon Master (DM) demands an all-encompassing and total loyalty, control and allegiance.”

Because the above comment no longer applies, or may not have applied in the past, there is no reason to let this particular point stop you from playing. He also made the following out of date statement that is directly related to the above:

“Loss of Self-control-authority over self is surrendered to the DM. Depending on the personality and ego-strength of the player, this loss can be near absolute.”

This is no more true than saying we lose authority over self because we have judges, courts, and juries. The above is not applicable to the current rules. At the very least Schnoebelen’s article needs to be updated with up to date information.

5. Will Playing D&D Send You To Hell?

No. Because it does not require you to play or do anything contrary to your personal beliefs. It is no different than playing Super Mario, where you assume the role of a stereotypical and racially offensive Italian plumber, with the goal of rescuing a princess from a dragon, while eating magic mushrooms, fire flowers, and smashing the heads of turtles… and yet we don’t see any rants from Christians about Super Mario, or claims that it will send you to hell. And no, it does not and cannot “destroy your soul” as Schnoebelen claims in his article.

6. Does D&D Present A Universe Without God?

This answer depends on the game and the players. As you will see below, worshiping God is 100% legal in D&D, and it is 100% up to the player. Schnoebelen claims that D&D does not allow God, which is no longer a true statement. In fact, if there is a Christian playing a D&D game that does not contain God, it’s because they have personally chosen not to include the existence God in their game.

How Adventures Are Created

The reason this answer is so complicated is because there are essentially two types of adventures that the GM can choose from:

  1. Official Content: These are the adventures created and publish by Paizo for players.
  2. 3rd Party Content: Other individuals, businesses, and even the GM can and do write adventures for the game.

While it is true that the main portion of the adventure is pre-written, it is the character of each player that brings new dynamics into adventures. For example, some of the characters in the game may not like humans, and therefore will only speak to other elves, orcs, etc.

In our current game, fighting within the town is a punishable offense. So inside of the borders of the town, if we fight anyone, including someone who we know is evil, our characters could be detained or killed by the authorities. Again, every adventure is different.


"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." - Hosea 4:6

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An Update to Schnoebelen’s Article Is Needed

Schnoebelen cannot and should not blame D&D for any game created without God. D&D provides a core set of rules. Adventures and characters are all generated by the people that play the game. For example, if I decide to write an adventure based around King Saul, set in Israel, and as part of the story line, magic is outlawed… any player that uses their magic in the sight of an NPC (non player character), could be met with hostility, arrested, jailed, and possibly executed, per Mosaic Law (within the game). A scenario like this would surely include God, and revolve around Biblical law. The options for game play are limitless.

7. Can Playing D&D Lead To Suicide?

I don’t know of anybody that has killed themselves over D&D, but I’m sure it has happened, just as people have killed themselves over being bullied in school, or other reasons. But claiming that the game is the sole factor in a person’s decision to commit suicide, seems to be a bit of a stretch and there is no proof to back the assumption.

While I can’t say for certain, I do have a suspicion that this rumor was started by the Chick tract Dark Dungeons, which I address below. The tract implies that players become so attached to their characters that they don’t want to live in a world where their characters don’t exist, but we’ll come back to that.

8. Can Playing D&D Turn You Into A Murderer?

At one point in his article, Schnoebelen attempts to link several murders to D&D simply because the person played D&D in the past. They probably also drank milk, rode in a car, and attended church at one point in their life, but I don’t see him connecting those dots. However, there is no actual proof that playing D&D can turn anyone into a murderer.

“The American Association of Suicidology, the Center for Disease Control, Health & Welfare Canada, the California Creative and Gifted Children’s Program, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a handful of universities have studied the allegations that fantasy role-playing games cause suicide or murder. Not a single authoritative source has found any veracity to these claims at all.”

9. Does D&D Isolate You From Family?

No. In fact, one of the guys that I play with also plays at home with his kids. He is the GM of their game. D&D can be played with family. Schnoebelen made the following statement about the game:

“Isolation-psychological removal from traditional support structures (family, church, etc.) into an imaginary world. Physical isolation due to extremely time-consuming play activities outside the family atmosphere.”

While some of his statements may have been relevant in the past, this one just isn’t true, and never has been. The only thing that would stop a family from spending time together playing the game, is personal choice.

I will also point out that fiction books (Christian fiction included) are written with the goal of moving the reader into an imaginary world. In fact, if I pick up a fiction book that does not get me to temporarily forget that I’m reading, I don’t finish it. I don’t see playing this game as any different than getting absorbed into a fictional world by a book, video game, or movie.

10. Are Moral Absolutes Absent From D&D?

No. As I will demonstrate below, moral absolutes are definitely part of the game. Schnoebelen made the following out of date statement about the game:

“Situational Ethics-any act can be justified in the mind of the player, therefore there are no absolutes of right or wrong; no morality other than “point” morality needed to ensure survival and advancement. There are no win-win situations and good forces seldom triumph over evil forces.”

A good example of why this statement is no longer relevant, would be a Lawful Good Cleric that murders someone in cold blood. They lose their powers and must seek atonement to gain their powers back, because their act was evil, and against the morality of the character’s Lawful Good alignment. An act like the above is established as an evil act, and can result in the cleric’s alignment being changed from good to evil by the GM. They also fall out of favor with their deity, which can be Christ, if a player so chooses (see below). Here are the descriptions of alignment directly from the rules:

  • Good Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.
  • Evil Evil implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.
  • Neutral People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent, but may lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others.

If you want to read the full text on alignment in the game, and how it works, please click here. You’ll find that all morality in the game is based on the alignment a person chooses before the game starts.

Schnoebelen also claims that there are no “win-win situations”, which is not true at all. In fact, there is a skill named “Diplomacy” in which characters can attempt to negotiate so that a win-win is the outcome. Those that do not wish to be diplomatic can attempt to Bluff (lie) or Intimidate in order to get what they want.

Intimidating other characters is strongly discouraged. In our current game, one of the players intimidated the inn keeper for information that he didn’t want to share. Said character was denied service, and forced to be homeless and sleep in the street since there were no other housing arrangements available. We’ve been playing this module for over a month, and he’s still homeless based on what he did that very first week.

 11. Does D&D Encourage The Defilement of Innocence?

This is one I just had to laugh at. I’m not even sure how Schnoebelen came up with this statement or how he justifies making it:

“Degradation-pain and torture are heavily involved in sadistic, sexual situations that graphically appeal to visceral impulses. Much of the material (as mentioned above) is well into pornographic areas and stresses the defilement of innocence”

The very first sentence has nothing to do with anything at all. It’s just a random sentence with a bunch of buzz words designed to elicit a negative response from concerned parents. The second sentence isn’t true at all. In the last 2 years, we haven’t ventured into any pornographic areas, nor have I read any official content that’s any more pornographic than Song of Solomon 5:1-6. Nothing I’ve read in the rules so far “stresses the defilement of innocence.” Unless of course he’s reading about the bad guys that the players are supposed to rid the world of. Unfortunately, he wasn’t specific about what he read. While that’s a definite possibility of it happening, players are not encouraged to be or act evil.

In fact, there is a very good chance that if a player regularly commits acts of evil, and their alignment changes, their character will be killed by their own party, as a penalty for their evil acts. The reason for this is to discourage players from committing evil acts. If a character is killed, a player then has to create a different character from scratch, which is time consuming and discouraging. Evil is harshly punished by players and GMs.

Bill Schnoebelen Is Wrong About D&D

I realize a lot of people put their trust and faith in Schnoebelen and Chick.com (I use to), but let’s not give them a pass on spreading inaccurate information. It should definitely be addressed, and this is one of the reasons that I’m glad I checked it out for myself, and didn’t just take someone else’s word for it.

In his article, Schnoebelen claims that the creators of the game sat down with him to take notes about sorcery, so that the game would be as authentic as possible. If that is true, then they must not have used what he told them, because there is NOTHING authentic about the sorcery in the game.

  • Other than the terminology, nothing about casting spells in game, actually has anything to do with casting real life spells.
  • Players do not perform any magic rituals, rites, etc. in any way, shape or form during the game.
  • None of the sorcerer “bloodlines” are real. In fact, all of the bloodlines are completely made up for the game.

In fact, every reference to magic and sorcery are as cliche as can be. The only thing that is authentic are the words bloodline, spell, magic, and sorcerer. Based on my 2 years of reading, familiarizing myself with the rules, and personally creating a sorcerer character for myself, I no longer believe that Schnoebelen’s articles are relevant.

I’m currently writing a couple of modules (adventures), based around the Bible, and other material, because it is possible to play a Christian friendly game of Pathfinder or D&D (I’ll come back to this). Part of the reason I never played the game in high school was because of the tract Dark Dungeons. I believed that what it said about D&D was true. It may have been true then, but it has no relevance in 2015.

Click here if you’d like to read the sorcerer/wizard spell list, and see the so called “magic” that is taught. You will not find a single chant, incantation, or real life ritual on the list. Spell casting during the game has about the same level of effort and excitement as buying Boardwalk in Monopoly.



Read More About Angels & Demons In My Book

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12. The Rise of Wicca

Schnoebelen arbitrarily associates the rise in books about wicca and witchcraft with D&D. I don’t think that is an accurate assessment at all. He also claims that D&D planted the seeds that grew into Harry Potter. Since every character is based on the person’s imagination before they even start the game, the creation of a Harry Potter like character would’ve been the result long before the game started.

D&D allows people to assemble almost any kind of character they can imagine, including a gun toting cyborg (seriously, it can be done). There are no rules on what race, class, or religion a character has to be. It is all up to them. Someone who knows nothing about Wicca won’t learn it from D&D because it doesn’t teach that information in any way, shape, or form.

13. It Is Not The Morality Of The Bible

During his rant about what could only be the “Lawful Evil” alignment, he neglects to mention that alignment is not dictated by the rules of the game. Alignment is chosen at the player’s sole discretion, before the game even starts. While there are Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil characters in the game, they are always the bad guys that the players are supposed to get rid of somehow.

Alignment can be changed during the game, but actions must be taken to do so. For example, an evil character can become good over time by helping instead of harming. A good player can become evil by committing evil acts on a regular basis. Since most players create either a good or neutral character, they tend not to trust, nor do they want to travel with an evil character in the party.

14. Training To Think Like A Magician

He claims in his article that “role-playing in this sort of game prepares the player for thinking like a magician.” That has not been my experience. The very first time I played, I played a Fighter that specialized in using the bow. My character didn’t practice any kind of magic at all.

The first time I played a character capable of casting spells, I wrote down the list of spells he knew, and went on about my day. I didn’t need to learn these spells by heart or practice them, or anything else, as the article seems to imply as a necessary element of playing the game. “Learning” spells in D&D is no more involved than writing a grocery list.

15. “Excellent Advice For Budding Necromancers”

This comment struck me as interesting because to me it seems to indicate that he hasn’t actually played the game, clearly misunderstands how the rules work, and isn’t using the word “necromancy” in the proper context. He based his statement on the following comment by one of the game’s creators, Gary Gygax:

“Magic users draw upon arcane powers in order to exercise their profession … He or she must memorize and prepare for the use of each spell, and its casting makes it necessary to reabsorb the incantation by consulting the proper book of spells … those of magic-users must be spoken or read aloud.”

Schnoebelen adds the following, “This is obviously a game which requires real initiative and dedication. But look at what the gamers are filling their heads with!” He seems to think that actual spells must be written and memorized by the players, and that’s simply not true (as addressed in #14). That’s also why I believe the word “necromancy” is out of context in relation to the game.

Based on his statements, I have my doubts that he’s never played the game before, even though he claims to have a played it a couple of times. The game mechanics have not changed that drastically over time.

Spells are not literally memorized by players. They are memorized by the characters, in game time, which is usually only a matter of seconds. Preparing spells for the day only requires the player to say, “I’m going to take an hour to prepare my spells”. That’s it and their done. Spells memorized. Its an hour in game time, not a real hour, which means its pretty much instant.

As far as spells being “spoken aloud”, that too is taken out of context. Most spells have verbal and somatic (motion) components, which are ASSUMED to have been made by a character at the time of casting. For example, if I say, “I cast lightning bolt”. It is ASSUMED that my character spoke the proper incantation aloud, and it is ASSUMED that my character made the correct hand gestures. I am not personally required to chant a spell or make any hand gestures.

There are also exceptions to this rule, such as the feat Silent Spell, which allows characters to cast spells without using words (in case of paralysis). There is also the feat Still Spell, which allows a character to cast without using hand gestures (in case of paralysis).



Read More About Angels & Demons In My Book

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16. Might Makes Right Seems To Be The Rule

Here we have another completely out of date statement. I’m at a loss as to how he reached this conclusion. It would’ve been nice for him to tell us exactly what module he was reading from.

“Might makes right” seems to be the rule. You are to take treasure or magic away from other players using whatever means are available, including force, magic, intimidation, coercion or negotiation).

This isn’t even close to accurate at all. Every game has a different goal (as explained previously), and treasure is a byproduct of defeating the bad guys (in most cases).

17. Murder, Arson, Torture, and Rape?

This statement really threw me off. Based on this statement and others that he makes in his articles, I’d like to know exactly what module he was playing. He quotes a Dr. who doesn’t seem to have played the game either. The Dr. had the following to say:

“Additionally, the games are very violent. John Eric Holmes, a doctor and editor of the “Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set” believes that the game can be a healthy outlet for anti-social behavior. However, he remarks that “The level of violence in this make believe world runs high. There is hardly a game in which the players do not indulge in murder, arson, torture, rape or highway robbery.”

I’ve been playing for 2 years and not once has any of our objectives been to indulge in murder, arson, torture, rape, or highway robbery. In fact, the modules we’ve played have had the following objectives:

  1. Find out how a town’s water supply was being poisoned and fix it.
  2. Find lost/kidnapped children and return them to their parents.
  3. Help a town destroyed by a flood rebuild, and guard the city from dinosaur attacks.
  4. Our current campaign has us investigating strange disappearances in a small town.

Of course there are fights with evil characters, but this is a far cry from what Schnoebelen and the Dr. claim the game is all about. We could probably take over the town very easily since there are only a few people that haven’t disappeared, but none of us are playing evil characters, and murder, rape, and highway robbery are not the objectives. Every game isn’t always about fighting.

18. Schnoebelen’s Thoughts On The Cleric Class

“The Cleric or Priest: This is the character that often gets mentioned in defense of D&D. This is because he (or she) is a “religious figure.” Note what the handbook says: “The cleric in a generic priest (of any myth) who tends to the needs of a community. He is both protector and healer… When evil threatens, the cleric is well-suited to seek it out on its own ground and destroy it.” Additionally, we are told the main tools of the cleric are spells. Finally, we also learn that various titles might be given to the cleric, including: abbess, Ayatollah, Imam, Metropolitan, Patriarch, Prelate, Rector, Vicar or Yogi. A couple of observations are in order. Anyone who would attempt to equate this character with a Christian clergyman is obviously woefully ignorant of both the Bible and Christianity.”

If you read my comment above about worshiping in the game, then you know that what he’s saying is outdated. Again, the game is completely up to the players. A Hindu playing the game would likely use a Yogi instead of a Cleric. A Muslim would likely play an Imam or Ayatollah. These are things that he should make clear if he ever decides to write another update. His article makes it seem as if these are the only options for game play, and they aren’t.

The Truth About Character Building

Now that I’ve addressed all of the above, I’m going to show you what ACTUALLY goes into character building. Contrary to what Schnoebelen’s articles suggest, it is 100% possible to build a character that does not conflict with Christian beliefs, morals, or values at all.

19. Choosing Alignment

There are three core choices: good, neutral, and evil. From there you can choose to be chaotic, lawful, or neither. A Christian that wants to play the game while maintaining their morals, can choose any of the following alignments:

  • Neutral Good
  • Chaotic Good
  • Lawful Good
  • Neutral
  • Lawful Neutral
  • Chaotic Neutral

These alignments dictate how a character will behave. For example, a character that chooses any of the above alignments will not steal, rape, murder, or any of the other stuff the Dr. claims must be done. If a “good” character rapes someone, their alignment will change, and they will lose their “good” alignment. Evil acts are strongly discouraged.

For the sake of building this imaginary character, I’m going to choose the alignment Lawful Good. This is going to determine the morality of our character. It will tell us how to react in certain situations. For example, a Chaotic Neutral character might steal an item that they find beneficial to the team or themselves. On the other hand, a Lawful Good character wouldn’t steal the item, and may protest if he notices another player committing the theft.

20. Choosing A Race

Races are different in D&D. For example, no matter what color your character is, all humans are one race. All elves are one race. All orcs are one race. So a Christian that doesn’t want to compromise their personal beliefs can choose to play a Human, and that’s what I’ll choose for making this character.

21. Choosing a Class

For Christians that are playing D&D, but don’t want to use magic, there are two classes that are versatile, and won’t make you compromise your beliefs:

  • Fighter
  • Cleric

You can also choose to be a hybrid Fighter/Cleric if that’s what you want to do. Fighters do not need, nor do they have a use for magic. For the sake of building this character, I’m going to choose Cleric as his class, just to demonstrate a few things.


Notes: So far, our character is a Lawful Good Human Cleric. Nothing wrong there, and nothing against scripture. Our character is morally opposed to rape, murder, theft, etc. They value upholding the law, and have a desire to help those in need.


22. Choosing a Deity

D&D has a list of gods, goddesses, etc. that you can choose to worship, or per the rules, you can select your own. A Muslim can choose to worship Allah with his character, just as a Christian may choose to worship Christ. In fact, one of the guys that was playing with us played a cleric that worshiped Yahweh.  For this character, I’ll choose to worship Christ.

Important: Clerics can also choose to worship no deity at all. That means that what Schnoebelen’s says about idolatry and pagan worship is outdated as well. Idolatry and pagan worship are not necessary in order to play a cleric. Schnoebelen made the following out of date statement as well:

“Religion-values and belief systems (see below) are restructured from traditional Judeo-Christian ethics (which most people in Western culture adhere to) to belief in multiple gods and deities. Players align themselves with specific deities they select; patron deities are strongly urged. These are not fantasy deities, but are drawn from genuine ancient religions and beliefs! Only occult gods are included. In addition, defilement is urged in many ways, such as excrement or urinating to “defile a font.”

To be fair, I’ve played a game where both excrement and urinating happened, but mostly because a swamp witch was about to kill us, and we figured, we might as well. It was mostly guys being guys, but the GM wasn’t too amused by it at the time. He laughs about it now, but it definitely wasn’t in his story line.

23. Divine Magic vs. Arcane Magic

Divine magic is channeled through the person by their deity, per the rules. In order to add genuineness to the game, a cleric does not have to cast spells. They can substitute the wording. For example, instead of casting the spell Remove Paralysis, the cleric I’m creating here can pray to Christ to remove another character’s paralysis. Building a character like this is within the rules of the game and allows all divine power to be attributed to Christ empowering the cleric to heal. In fact, the game is so versatile that we could literally create a faith healer, just like in real life.

Arcane magic is a little different than divine magic, based solely on the rules of the game. I could get into the details of how its different, but it’s mostly just technical stuff. Arcane magic casters can’t use divine magic, and divine casters can’t use arcane magic inherently. They either have to multiclass or make a UMD (use magic device) check. Arcane magic can’t be attributed to a deity like divine magic, so if casting spells bothers you, just don’t play a spell casting class.

24. Customizing A Cleric

As mentioned above, a Cleric can be customized to fit your personal beliefs, so while the class is officially a cleric, you can refer to him as a pastor, preacher, deacon, prophet, etc. Players are also encouraged to create a back story. Since I’m not really creating a character to actually play, I’ll keep the back story short.

“Pastor Any Character (our character’s name) was born in the small village of Any Place. One day while tending his sheep, he heard the voice of the Lord call out to him. The Lord told him to give up everything he had, and to travel the world, healing, and spreading the gospel to every creature.”

Yes, a cleric can evangelize as part of their story line, unless the GM specifically bans them from doing it. Think about that for a moment. With just a simple paragraph, I’ve added God and evangelism to the game. Here’s is a direct quote from the rule book:

“You can proselytize for your deity, using your powers of persuasion and social influence to indoctrinate an NPC in the dogma of the faith while inspiring their fealty. Converting an NPC to your faith is similar to modifying their reaction with Diplomacy.”

Via the rules, a Christ worshiping cleric can witness to the NPCs (non player characters), and convert them to Christianity while in game, if they succeed at a diplomacy check. Again, Schnoebelen leaves this out of his article, either because he wasn’t aware of the rules or the rules have been updated since his last article.

25. Character Overview

There are other things that need to be chosen as well, such as traits, feats, armor, and weapons. In general, those all just enhance your character. The character that we’ve just put together doesn’t contradict the Bible at all. Here are the facts about our character so far:

  • Our character is human.
  • Our character is lawful good.
  • Our character is a former farmer called by Christ.
  • Our character travels the world healing and evangelizing.
  • Our character attributes all power to Christ.
  • Our character must pray to Christ in order to heal, etc.

For those that want to play a Fighter, the only thing you need to know is how to use a weapon. Your weapon of choice is decided before the game starts. Fighters aren’t required to use magic or choose a deity. Its a straight forward and simple class.

My Conclusions

I did not set out to write an article for or against D&D. I set out to write a TRUTHFUL article on the subject, based on firsthand experience, and not 3rd party opinions. Based on my last two years of personal experience, I’ve found that Schnoebelen and Chick.com need to update their information about D&D. Their published articles and tracts on this subject do not give the reader enough correct information to allow them to form their own opinion about the game.

If you’ve been struggling with the decision of whether or not to play D&D because of something you’ve read somewhere, please know that you can play the game without compromising your real life Christian values. Schnoebelen made the following out of date statement:

“Thus, in my mind, and in the minds of most who have come out of this background as I have (occultism and Satanism); there is no doubt that Dungeons and Dragons and its imitators are right out of the pit of hell. No Christian or sane, decent individual of whatever faith really should have anything to do with them.”

Both Schnoebelen and Chick.com are way out of the loop on this one. Their articles are extremely outdated and need to be touched up with relevant information for today’s Christians. They may have been right on the nose with their information several years ago, but most of what they’ve published can no longer be used in a truthful capacity.

I’m certainly not calling them liars at all. All I’m saying is that they need to update their information if their going to leave it online for everyone to read. Whether or not you decide to play the game, it is important that you know the truth, and make an informed decision. Now that I’ve addressed Schnoebelen, I want to address the Chick tract Dark Dungeons.

Dark Dungeons Is Seriously Out of Date

I’m all for teaching the truth, but let me point everywhere this tract gets the facts WRONG as of 2015… starting with the very first page. Why exactly is the DM/GM the only adult at the table (personal observation)?

The game just doesn’t work like this. The “light” spell (click here to read the text from the game) doesn’t blind a monster. It illuminates a room so players can see. Furthermore, it is the spell “Blindness-Deafness” that blinds a monster, and its not automatic. The target receives a fortitude save to negate the effect. In addition to that, the spell is considered a Necromancy Curse spell, which means (spoiler alert) a good cleric can’t cast it. This is just one example of what I mean when I say that the information needs to be updated.

https://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.asp

This page is out of date as well. First and foremost, failure to find a trap results in a trap going off. The thief/rogue is allowed a reflex save to avoid taking any damage. If they fail the save, they take the damage from the trap. It is then deducted from their Hit Points (HP), and they only die if their life drops below 0.

Even after a character’s life drops below 0, they are not permanently dead until their life total is less than their total Hit Points + their CON (constitution) score. It gets better. There are various types of poisons (click here for the list), and each has a different onset time, and means of delivery. Here are the words directly from the rule book:

“Poisons have four categories, based on how they reach the target: contact, ingested, inhaled, or injury.”

There is one overriding factor here as well: The only poison powerful enough to kill a character instantly is Green Prismatic Poison, which can only be delivered via casting a spell, not via a trap.

My point is that this entire scenario is completely irrelevant in 2015, and is no longer based on anything that can actually happen in the game. Also, dead characters can be resurrected, and continue playing. They don’t just stop existing, and they aren’t banished from the game. The player may be disappointed, but they simply roll a new character, and get back in the game.

This is just plain silly. How getting a character to level 8 in a game based on imagination equates to “time that you learn how to really cast spells” is beyond me. I’ve played a 10th level character capable of casting spells, and it in no way qualified me to learn how to cast real spells, any more than parking next to a fire hydrant qualifies me to be a fireman. Neither has anything to do with the other.

Furthermore, if you recall, I pointed out that she cast the wrong spell, with a character incapable of casting the spell in the first place. I believe that this page is an extreme case of over exaggeration.

I hope you’re laughing with me right now. This page has every fear Christians have about magic and the occult. It is a carefully crafted page meant to induce fear, in my opinion:

  • 13 people standing around in black robes.
  • A pentagram on the floor.
  • She’s going to become a “priestess and a witch”.
  • A reference to the Temple of Diana.
  • The phrase “occult training through D&D”.
  • The words: coven and craft.
  • An altar in the background.

Yes, fellow Christians, be very afraid of this very improbable scenario (subliminal messaging). Where’s the Illuminati sign finding crowd when we need them? We’re supposed to believe that someone can simply go from playing a game, which doesn’t teach a single thing about actually casting a spell, to a full fledged priestess and witch in the Temple of Diana, just by reaching level 8 of 20… all while casting the wrong spells? It’s a bit of a stretch.

And why exactly do worshipers of Diana (a Roman goddess of hunting, childbirth, and the moon) have a pentagram on the floor? Also, what does any of this have to do with the cleric class? Clerics aren’t concerned with childbirth, hunting, or the moon (the class the girl was playing).

Let’s do some real role playing and pretend that a teenager with access to a “mind bondage spell” would really use it to get $200 worth of D&D stuff from their dad. Why not just walk to the store and have the person that works there give it to them for free? I can guarantee you that it wouldn’t be the very first thing they’d use it for.

Also, the pages seem to be suggesting the idea that any parent that buys $200 worth of D&D stuff for their kid must be under a spell (silly). It may sound like a lot, but $200 is easy to spend when it comes to D&D. A single book can cost as much as $50. Then there are the additional books, maps, and figures. It’s not a cheap game to jump into.

Remember that thief/rogue that died by the thing that couldn’t actually kill it on the 2nd page? Well apparently, the girl was so attached to the character that she felt the need to kill herself instead of creating a new character. I’ve never even heard this as a rumor in real life. I’ve killed at least 10 characters in the last 2 years, and not once did I feel compelled to have a mental breakdown. The very next week I went back with a new character and jumped back in the game.

Also, it appears that she was standing on a chair on top of her bed. Try that in real life, and you’re more likely to break your neck than hang yourself. That doesn’t have anything to do with anything. Just a personal observation.

None of this has anything to do with anything about the game in real life. In fact, this scenario only fits the previous completely contrived scenarios that aren’t even based on actual D&D rules.

Looking back on it now, this tract is kinda funny, but the sad part is that there are people genuinely reading and believing that this outdated stuff still holds true. I remember looking forward to the church getting new Chick Tracts so I could read the newest one, but looking at this makes me question how many more of them are filled with this much outdated information. Maybe I’ll start a series where I start fact checking Chick Tracts. Who knows… it might turn into a fun new hobby.



Read More About Angels & Demons In My Book

Beyond Flesh and Blood: The Ultimate Guide To Angels and Demons


Do You Have Any Questions About D&D?

If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or stories you want to share bout D&D, Pathfinder, or any other RPG, please feel free to leave a comment below. I’m not an expert on the game, but I’m willing to answer your questions, and I know where to look for the answers if I don’t know them off the top of my head. Feel free to ask anything you want.

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One Comment

  • c

    I played it for about 2 years in the early 80s in Utah. Most mormons (cult) felt it was evil as well as the movie Star Wars (because of the “force”) Some smarter mormon leaders pulled me aside to discuss and learn about this game. After I told them about it, as you just did, most just left it alone, but Im sure most mormons look down at this game and I do love Bill S. He might just be looking at any negative aspects he can come up with. I think its a great game for younger kids to learn to use imagincation and playing with a group just as before D+D when me and my friends made believe cowboys and Indians or GIJoe. Thanks for the article. I still have the original D+D boxed game with all the extras. Some are on Ebay for 1000. I think Ill hold on to it for my grand kids.

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