This graphic novel uses Ka-Blam Digital Printing!

This graphic novel uses Ka-Blam Digital Printing

Ka-Blam is a trademark of 01Comics, Inc. The Ka-Blam Girl is by Steven Butler. (I do not own the rights to either.)

About my "canon notes:"

Posts labeled "canon notes" are not meant to accurately portray any religious, scientific, or social canon. They are notes concerning the fictional universe I've invented for the setting of Wolfram: A Gothic Parable.

Concerning the Evils of Tabletop Roleplay:

Okay, spoiler alert, that title is completely tongue-in-cheek.  I'm not here to rag on fantasy games at all.  Tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons should be no more problematic to my fellow Evangelicals than Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles of Narnia.  You just have to know what you're discussing in order to make a fair and proper judgment.

I'm drawing a few deep breaths as I write this.  I'm trepidatious as to the response it may receive.

I'm just going to briefly address one big misconception: that D&D is an exercise in summoning demons or a gateway to the occult... (I've heard both concerns in the past.)

Okay, the simplified rules are these:

Who do you choose to be?
You play a character from such-and-such a race in this mythological world (a lot like in any video game).  You have a personal goal (which is different from the quest objective), some tools, specific skills, and a backstory.

Your character has a sheet explaining his/her history, goals, and stats. Like so...

I called my character (who was premade) Jayne Cobb (after the Firefly character), because he wants a statue built of him in his hometown square, and because he isn't too bright.  He has a proficiency for handling animals (determined by this Wisdom statistic), among other proficiencies. This could come in handy if there's an aggressive dog in the way of the quest, needing to be calmed or defeated before you can move on.

Casting the spell of numbers: 
Your character has certain stats, which are mathematically linked to specific skills and proficiencies.  When you want to do something important to the game, any action that would yield consequences if it took place in real life, you have to roll a die or dice (resolving the variable in a predetermined equation) to determine whether or not you succeed in it—anything from playing a practical joke on a friend to swinging a sword, to casting an attack or healing spell—you know, all the stuff that already happens in your favorite fantasy stories.  If this is the kind of magic you're opposed to portraying positively, you might want to revisit your children's reading list and weed out the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia, both of which featured both good and evil mage-type characters.  (I realize, with sadness, that some Christians actually have gone that far already.)

The puppet master:
So, what is the quest?  It can be any objective the Game Master decides.  Uh-oh, a Game Master?  Is that another word for Satan?  Nope, no such advantage to the argument I'm addressing here.  The Game Master (or GM) of the game I'm currently playing is named Jorge (pronounced George), and is a coworker of my brother... i.e., he's an ordinary human being.  To be a GM, you have to be fair, competent, and imaginative.  And the objective?  We're not sure yet.  It might even be a MacGuffin, for all my party knows...

The morality system:
Now, you do have the option to play an evil character. However, this is roleplay. You're not actually have condoning everything your character does.

There are two axes that decide the morality of your character.

Law / Chaos - Abiding by a legal or social system vs. Making your own rules
Good / Evil - A regard for life and morality vs. a disregard of life and morality

Lawful good is your basic Scouts of America deal. It doesn't allow bullies to win the day and plays by the rules for the greater good.

Neutral good recognizes that society's rules may be wrong at times, but at others times it actually benefits people when you follow the rules. They abide by a ethical code, but might be tempted to break it if they feel it will be of benefit to others in their party.

Chaotic good tends to rob from the rich to feed the poor. Whatever you can do for the disenfranchised and downtrodden, they do it without regard for whether or not it's "legal."

Lawful neutral believes the law and societal norms are absolute. Since justice is the highest standard, mercy isn't much of a virtue to them. It's strictly titt-for-tatt.

The standard for true neutral is absolute balance. Too much of one thing, and the world is going to fall apart. Too much of another thing, and... well, same results. Or, they just coast and don't really have much of a goal.

Chaotic neutral does what it wants, when it wants. They won't just kill someone or something for the fun of it, but they totally will if it steals their watch or insults their mother.

Lawful evil exploits legal systems and society's rules to get what they want, which usually involves power or some evil indulgence. They don't mind letting someone take the fall for disobeying anunjust law or for getting in the way of their plans to purge their enemies.

Neutral evil just gets its kicks. It does what it wants (usually exploiting or bullying) whenever they think they can get away with it.

Chaotic evil doesn't care much what others want or what they think. Without the slightest restraint, they do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it, and probably will squash anyone who opposes them, if they can manage it. They tend to operate alone, since they don't really like others and no one likes them.

On balance, I think this pretty accurate.

The bottom line:
Far too many Evangelicals exhibit a knee-jerk reaction to the word magic.  Without really examining the subject, and under the guise of authority, they spread rumors that certain games, books, or other activities are satanic.  Only a critical and rational examination of the activities in question will determine whether or not that is true, and most of us are not willing to go out of our way to verify the rumor that something is evil.  I'm fairly convinced that if The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which provided an accessible and relatable  parallel of the Passion of Christ, had been written only ten to twenty years ago, the Evangelical community would likely have rejected it rather than embrace it.

The only magic you access in a game of D&D is the magic of imagination and mathematics.  Oh, and friendship, mischief, cooperation, and the thrill of adventure, if you want to call those magic as well.  It's the kind of thing you did as a kid, only with a map and tokens, with a heck-ton of extra math and rules thrown in to make it more realistic.

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