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I am a big fan of d&d and pathfinder but some in my church find that RPGs are dangerous. How do other Christians respond to this or are these two issues non compatible? I would love to hear the community's thoughts on the matter!
Also happy thanksgiving to the USA !
A lot of people who don't play RPGs have their information direct from the supposed D&D/Satanism/Black Metal connection, which was a theory of exceptional virulence in the early 1980s when D&D was tremendously popular.
Kinda like how some kids play violent video games and then do something violent - there were a few kids who played D&D and then did something violent. Criticizing D&D as a subversive form of Satanism was a mini-industry at the time.
nick pater wrote:
The people in your church are ignorant of what RPGs are then. Educate them! The easiest way would be to hold a gaming day right in the church itself. Talk to your clergyman.
The real question is to try to understand why do they think it is dangerous, and then explain why it is not.
It's not a problem for christians in other countries, why is it in the USA?
Because someone told them it was? Well just explain them that the ones who explained that game to them, did not know/read it and did not even try to understand it.
Then ask them about movies and actors. Is an actor going to hell because he was an evil character in X movie? No, well it's the same with D&D(if you play evil characters).
Is playing a Paladin who lives his live for his god, to help innocent and protect them from evil creatures, something that would compromise your faith? No.
Honestly... I just can't understand all of this, but I'm not from the USA, so...
First off: does your church have similar issues with books, movies, and other entertainment mediums using the same themes - monsters, magic, mythical/fantastical deities, and the like? Do they prohibit their members from reading/watching things like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Greek/Roman/Norse/etc. mythology, and so forth?
If the answer is yes, then that's your problem. In which case I apologize but there's little to be done. These people have decided that harmless fantasy is a threat to their faith, and unless you can break that association, they'll carry the same over to gaming that uses similar rules and themes.
If that's the case, bring up Chronicles of Narnia. Ask them what they think of it. If they like it, inform them that Tolkien, author of LOTR, was a Christian (Catholic according to Wikipedia), and converted C. S. Lewis, author of the Narnia books, from atheism. (Though Lewis joined the Church of England, AKA Episcopalians [corrected! sorry!] here in the US).
If not, then you simply need to explain the similarities. Tell them how there's no "black magic" or Satanism or anything like that in it, that it's just like playing your way through your own version of Lord of the Rings or a similar story. And yes, I agree that an example is the best method. I would steer players toward Good alignments though; last thing you need is to finally convince them to give you a chance then end up running an Evil campaign ;)
Well, I'm an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and I've been an avid gamer for 30 years. Simply put, I don't see that any reconciliation is necessary between playing a tabletop RPG and my faith.
Do you need to reconcile acting in a production of Macbeth and your faith? Or reading The Lord of the Rings and your faith? Or watching a James Bond movie and your faith? Or sitting around a campfire sharing stories and your faith?
I didn't think you did.
30 years ago, D&D got caught up in the thoroughly discredited "Satanic conspiracy" nonsense. No matter how long a fallacy has been proven to be false, there are always some people who continue to believe it. I mean, there are still people who think the Earth is flat!
One way I bring my faith into the game is that I pretty much always play heroic characters, or if I'm the GM, I run a game where the PCs are the heroes. Redemption is a theme I tend to use as well: many bad guys can be bought back to the side of good with some work.
If that's the case, bring up Chronicles of Narnia. Ask them what they think of it. If they like it, inform them that Tolkien, author of LOTR, was a Christian (Catholic according to Wikipedia), and converted C. S. Lewis, author of the Narnia books, from atheism. (Though Lewis joined the Church of England, AKA Presbyterians here in the US).
Actually, it's the Episcopal Church that's connected to the Church of England. Presbyterians are Calvinist.
I am a Christian and I play pathfinder /d&d for 20+ years now. It is a games of imagination and chose. I would not say that they are dumb, if you did not know it just a game and you opened a book full of spells or description of Devils you might get the impression that it was an evil game. At the same time the game has its roots in lord of the rings written by a Christian. so I guess at you worried about what you think church things, then maybe you should not play it just a game it is just a game. I don't think there is anything inherently evil, but it is not as important as your church.
so that being said you can educate them, i would just ask them if there is anything wrong with video games or books.
This issue has been around since D&D came out. Closed minded people will always find a way to hate/be challenged by/be afraid of something, even a GAME, that enables a person to think outside of their norms. Here's a box, stay inside of it.
I was lucky. I went to a Catholic high school that encouraged education above conformity. That background opened the doors to the world. I've stayed Catholic, and I've stayed a gamer (since '81). I've never had a conflict to my faith, but have gamed with others that were OK with monsters but not demons. We always had plenty of monsters so it wasn't a problem.
Perception is always a big challenge to us gamers. People see the types that let the games consume their lives, instead of it just being a part, and that turns 'em off.
Keep things separate, and in balance. The game from life, etc.
I have direct experience with this whole thing. My parents became Christians in the mid '70's, and by the mid '80's when I was young they were very much into the Protestant Evangelical sub-culture. There was a lot of paranoia about D&D, occultism, Satanism, and stuff like that. They were suspicious of allowing us kids to play anything that had magic in it. I remember having to convince them to let us buy The Legend of Zelda.
Still, my parents weren't completely square about everything. They loved Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, and they loved it when all us kids got into Star Wars.
My older brother started playing D&D when he went away to college, around 2000. They weren't too happy about it, but they didn't freak out. They weren't very pleased when we started playing Magic: The Gathering either, but they let us do as we pleased since we were mature.
I didn't have any opportunities to play until after college. By then, my parents had pretty much lightened up. The main thing that helped them was seeing us actually play, and realizing how different the reality was from the scary stories that they'd heard in the '80's. Now we host Pathfinder games in their basement, and they love having our friends over.
Nowadays, one of my gaming groups is pretty much all Christians, and I'm hoping to run a Call of Cthulhu game sometime with my pastor and his wife. :)
Historically, I think the '80's panic had a lot more to do with the Cold War and the subconscious fear of nuclear war than with anything theological. There was a lot of apocalypticism (there's still plenty of that, but not compared to the '80's), and people freaked out about how the Antichrist was going to subvert their children. It was kind of like a religious version of the 1950's Red Scare. That whole thing isn't gone completely, but it's definitely on the wane.
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Actually, noone has said anything even remotely negative about Christianity thus far- in fact, all of the comments have been quite supportive.
Freehold DM wrote:
If history is any indication just give it time.
If your faith is compromised by Dungeons and Dragons, than you never had faith to begin with.
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Keep checking the mouth of each horse that passes. I will enjoy the positive comments thus far.
I find that often people who do not understand what it is have very off perceptions. Ignorance is more harmful than any faith. I liked the suggestion about hosting a game day in your church, but that might be too abrupt an introduction :)
Simply asking people what would be bad about seems effective enough.
All these people are lying. RPGs, and PF in particular, are Satan's tools for dragging souls to hell.
They'll sit there and tell you it's just a harmless game, maybe even good for developing your imagination, but it is a ruse. You think Satan would just tell you straight up that this game will damn your soul to the lake of fire?
Of course not! That's the trick, you see. The Devil is slick. He makes it seem like just a little innocent fun, but soon, at first without your knowledge, but later with great willingness, even eagerness, you are enslaved.
If you value your eternal soul, you will avoid this game and all who would deceive you into playing it.
I'm a Catholic, so while I cannot speak for all Christian denominations, I can tell you that in the Unam Sanctam Catholicam et Apostholicam 'hood there is no conflict between either. There is nothing in roleplaying that conflicts with the fundamental principles of Christian faith: It is a game, where people make up stories and act as if they were living them. It is an agreement of suspension of disbelief, but without any moral or ethical compromise.
One of the most important points in Christian morality is "Purity of action, purity of goal, purity of thought", which basically comes down "Don't be a jerk, don't try to be a jerk, and don't think as a jerk". Within the confines of the game, you are not -necessarily- breaking any of those things, even if you play an otherwise evil character. As long as you can keep differentiating reality from the game, you are not acting in any way against your faith.
The game is also not blasphemous. While it contains elements such as demons and polytheism, it does not contravene any of Christ's teachings or formal Christian dogma. Pretending to summon demons or pretending to follow other gods is not a sin.
In fact, probably the only sins that you can potentially blame RPGs for are gluttony (them potato chips and pizza, man) and maybe wrath (angry munchkins are the worst kind of angry).
My current group is entirely composed of Catholics, two of them belonging to the Opus Dei. Out of my broader roleplaying circle, probably 8 out of 10 are also Catholic, with some Protestants here and there. Even some of the priests at my school used to play AD&D and Magic: The Gathering. One of them eventually became Bishop. And while they always told us to be mindful about how we took the game, they saw roleplaying as a fantastic way to get kids involved in highly creative activities, and also a tool for those more timid to become involved with other people.
After all, Gary Gygax himself was a devout Christian.
All I can say is if you are going to bring someone around that is religious, then I wouldn't introduce them to 3rd edition's Book of Vile Darkness because that would certainly confirm their worst fears.
I believe in the Lord and I've been a gamer since 1985. If you want to bring people around then start with something very light like being the Paladin who rescues the princess etc... Don't start out showing them all the monsters that are the stuff of nightmares and keep them away from the "D" section of the bestiary until you have convinced them that it is just a game.
Tread carefully in this thread my friends.
I do get kind of worried that comments by invisible kirkergaarde are correct, but why is he on pathfinder message boards. I thank you all for your comments. In common sense I will keep with my secular group and keep all characters evil free and pg 13 violence. Devils will be reskinned as nasty creatures- there are millions of monsters anyway. I like the moral choices too . My mind is a little more at ease and it good to see religious types, including pastors play.
nick pater wrote:
I do get kind of worried that comments by invisible kirkergaarde are correct, but why is he on pathfinder message boards.
We like to use aliases to make satirical posts. In this case, it was meant to mock the hellfire and brimstone speeches that some religious leaders make about the game.
Or it was entirely serious and I've fallen prey to Poe's Law. :)
My wife and I are Christian and we both play. My parents were very against it when I was a kid, but 20 years later, now that I've turned out all right and I still go to church and don't worship the devil, they've kind of figured out it was OK all along.
Tell them they should be happy you're interested in something other than drugs and unprotected sex. (actually don't sass your folks like that)
Got my (VERY) Christian ex-girlfriend into gaming ten years ago. She got me into Jesus one year ago. Didn't change anything regarding my gaming. Gaming didn't change anything about her faith.
The two don't seem to have anything to do with each other, in my experience. For years I've played with a devout Catholic, and one of the best players I've ever had was a devout Mormon. Before you begin to think that I've specifically chosen religious people to play with, I feel compelled to point out that most of my players don't know that I identify this way, and are either strident atheists or apathetic secularists.
I'd also add that roleplaying games can be a very nice way for a group of Christians to delve into aspects of faith and morality from a positive perspective. You can develop adventures that revolve around traditional Christian values very naturally.
After all, D&D/Pathfinder draw a lot from Medieval Europe, with all the Christian elements that come with it. There is even a whole class, the Paladin, which is essentially every Good Christian Knight and Warrior-Monk trope mashed together.
And there are also some hidden Christian hints put there by Gygax, such as the clay ziggurat used as material component for the Comprehend Languages spell.
How dare they teach me stuff when I'm having fun!
I deal with the strange fact that my mother who was once a nun and is a devout Catholic (75% of her week is spent at church or doing "religious" activities) actually approves of Pathfinder as a fruitful hobby. Yet, my wife's Baptist mother is zealously opposed to Pathfinder because "it has magic"...and she read Harry Potter -_-.
nick pater wrote:
Devils will be reskinned as nasty creatures-
Not to antagonize but why? Devils are not your friends! They existed in old D&D and continued through editions and in to other games (except 2E, which re-named them) because they are absolute villains. In real life, such absolutism is rare and in most RPGs, Pathfinder included, this is the same (for instance, goblins can be neutral or even good). Sometimes, to have an enemy who is the very definition of "evil" can make decisions an awful lot easier.
Just a thought. If you don't want devils, demons, divs, asuras, or other "fiends" in your game, leave them out. It's your game, after all.
I don’t know how things are for you, but I am the son of a Roman Catholic Deacon. Which was um let’s say… trying, at times when it came to the subject of Dungeons and Dragons.
My mother and father are very understand people but for most of my teen years did not fully trust D&D and when I first started playing it the old “It’s Satan’s Game!” arguments made their way to my mother and father’s ears.
And well my parent’s never said I couldn’t play the game but they did sit me down for a great many awkward conversations about the game. I think one of the arguments I gave them that had the most impact on them was the fact that Dungeons and Dragons requires a lot of academia to play. Not only does it assume one can read but that one can read on a fairly advanced level in order to comprehend what it is helping you to do, It requires a fair bit of math, not the most advanced math but still math and my personal favorite argument was that almost all of Dungeons and Dragons has some basis in actual myth and literature and while it was not necessary to know these old tales and books it was a wonderful jumping on vehicle for learning about the history of literature and storytelling in general.
I assume and correct me if I am wrong but the major fear about the game from your religious leaders is demons and in particular Satan, The Devil, Great Deceiver, ect ect, and his/its using the game to damn your immortal soul to Hell. If this is not your case I apologize for reading too much into your posts and hope that the previous part of my post helps you. For me this was the case and while yes there are demons and really big bad ones (by game standards) in the game there are just as many angelic and benevolent forces in the game. And while it is entirely possible to play an evil game to bring about the destruction of a fictional fantasy world it is much more likely you will be playing in a game where you are an epic or up and coming epic hero who’s goal it is to destroy the evil bad guy and rescue the princess and become rich. I would venture to bet most every single for profit adventure released by just about anyone falls into the category of stereotypical good guy gets the rewards category.
When I told my religious elders and parents that there were in fact holy and angelic forces built into the game’s lore and mechanics they seemed to back down a bit but never fully accepted the rest of my story about the game being a vehicle for wish fulfillment. The only way I was able to solve my version of your problem was to finally convince them of that fact, which I did when I explained that playing D&D was like playing cops and robbers when I was kid, the only real difference was that when I said bang bang your dead! I had a system of mutually agreed upon rules that in a somewhat random and more or less fair system established that the other person was indeed shot dead by my gun in a fun and completely imaginary abstract way.
I hope my tale helps you in some way but just let your peers, parents, and elders know that the game is really nothing more than harmless imaginary fun with a group of friends