Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stuff: "Daddy needs a new Sword of Wounding."

Speaking of letting your geek flag fly . . .

The Believer has an article about to D & D'ers who made a pilgrimage to Wisconsin to play D & D with the game's inventor, E. Gary Gygax. Here's the story's intro:

This article is divided into two parts: a manual and a scenario. The first part, the manual, is an exposition of the game Dungeons & Dragons: what it is, how it’s played, how it came to be, and how it came to be popular, at least, in certain circles. If you once played D&D yourself (no need to admit that you played a lot, or that you still play), you may want to skim the manual, or turn directly to the scenario, which is an account of a trip my friend Wayne and I took last spring to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, in order to fulfill a wild and uncool dream: to play D&D with E. Gary Gygax, the man who invented the game (more or less: see below). If it isn’t immediately clear why this would be an interesting, or, to be frank, a fantastically exciting and at the same time a curiously sad thing to do: well then, you’d better start with the manual.

The article contains this gem about the late-'80s role playing game scare:

Even from the point of view of a teenage boy who would have liked nothing better than to be corrupted by any of the phenomena listed above, if corrupted meant meeting girls or even just getting out of the house, the furore over D&D was hard to understand. Didn’t the grown-ups understand what losers we were? That all we did was roll dice and shout and stuff our faces with snacks? Evidently not: in 1989, Bill Schnoebelen, a reformed Milwaukee Satanist, wrote an article called “Straight Talk on Dungeons and Dragons,” which can still be found on Chick Ministries’ website. He listed the “brainwashing techniques” which D&D uses to lure its players into the devil’s world, among which are:

1. Fear generation—via spells and mental imaging about fear-filled, emotional scenes, and threats to survival of FRP [fantasy role-playing] characters.

2. 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.

3. Physical torture and killings—images in the mind can be almost as real as the actual experiences. Focus of the games is upon killings and torture for power, acquisition of wealth, and survival of characters.

4. Erosion of family values—the Dungeon Master (DM) demands an all-encompassing and total loyalty, control and allegiance.

That's how I remember it.

I can't think of a better way to exorcise my recent D & D fixation – and reward you, dear Screamers and Screamettes, for putting up with it – than by the surreal and wonderful camptastic "Unicorns L.A." by the performance art geniuses of My Barbarian.


wiec? said...

i never got into D&D when i was younger but i always thought the covers of the books were awesome.
That line about "physical torture and killings makes images in the mind as real as the actual experiences" has me thinking i was really missing something.

i had a friend who had the Chick comic about the dangers of D&D. It was hi-la-rious, and it was funnier/dumber than most.

Sasquatchan said...

Interesting.. I had the first 4 boxed sets (basic-red, blue black and yellow that were intermediate, advanced expert), than the players handbook, MM1 and MM2, and quiet a few others.. Never actually played much.

Played a lot more battletech. And I agree, miniatures are fussy toy collectors. Hex & paper works for my robot battles.