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Title: Dungeons and Dragons Lecture (16 September 1980)

Source: Reverend James R. Cotter

NOTICE: The following material is copyrighted as indicated in the body of text.  It has been posted to this web page for archival purposes, and in doing so, no claim of authorship is expressed or implied, nor is a profit being made from the use of the material.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This lecture by the Reverend James R. Cotter is, along with Albert James Dager's "A Media Spotlight Special Report: Dungeons & Dragons," one of the earliest known examples of religious-based RPG criticism.



by the Rev. James R Cotter

Before we enter into tonight's discussion, I would like to begin with a word of Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, as we are gathered here this evening, we ask that you send your Spirit to us so that we may fully understand the rich
life that you intend us to lead. Amen.

I am not going to stand before you today and tell you that I don't think you should play this game, Dungeons and Dragons. That would be as foolish as walking into a bull fighting arena filled with bulls and wearing bright,
charasmatic red suit. I do intend to point out what responsibilities you as Christians have in respect to this game.

I have never played this game, nor do I feel that I will ever be able to play this game. My remarks are based on what the inventor of this game has to say about it, my exposure to youth playing this game, my experience at a
Dragons Game Fest, and a hodgepodge of other material that has been written about this game. To ensure accuracy, I will generally limit my remarks to what is written in these three manuals: _Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook, Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual, and the Dungeon Masters Manual.

Dungeons and Dragons, D&D, began as a spinoff of war games. In the late 1950's, and 60's, companies like Avalon Hlill and Simulations Publications Inc. began marketing Gettysburg and Bismark games that duplicate actual battle situations in which the players can alter the outcome.

In 1973, Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax began experimenting with a new format for war games. Instead of the actual historical campaigns, they added a new twist -- fantasy.

With $1000 dollars and a basement, these two men started production of this game. Initially they were turned down but later on in 1975 (after sales to colleges) they incorporated and became known as TSR (Tactical Studies Rules). Somewhere in this time frame, Brian Blume entered into the corporation and Arneson left. It is estimated that D&D will gross $20 million this year. Next year, that figure is expected to triple for this Lake Geneva, Wisconsin based company.

Dungeons and Dragons is an elaborate game in which each player assumes that identity of the character he creates. His creature is based on chance rolls of the dice. The object of this game is to maneuver these characters through an ongoing maze of dungeons (tunnels) filled with monsters, magic, ambushes, and adventures in search of treasure.

The game is designed to be played by two or more players, 12 years old and up, plus a Dungeon Master. The Dungeon Master is also in charge of the game.

After the characters are established, each person arms himself with magical weapons, potions, spells, and magical trinkets (holy water, garlic, etc.). As you travel through the dungeon, you encounter many traps and wild
creatures (monsters). Your only means of defense is the magical powers which you bought and rolled the dice for at the beginning of the game, and the magical powers and strengths of those who are traveling with you.

The following are what I see as direct violations of God's Holy Word, and are several reasons why Christians cannot play the game.

1: SWORDS & SORCERY -- "Swords and sorcery best describe what this game is all about...so mind unleashing, that it becomes near reality." Page 7 of the D&D Handbook.

A. Ref. "mind unleashing": Scripture expressly states that Christians are
to be constantly in control of their thoughts, of one mind with Christ, not one that is unleashed.

1. Romans 12:2--"Do not be conformed to this world but be
transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2. II Corinthians 11:3--"But I am afraid that as the serpent
deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ."

3. Philippians 4:7--"And the peace of God, which passes all
understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

4. Proverbs 23:7--"For as he thinks within himself so he is."

Over 2700 years ago, the writer of Proverbs stated that a person is exactly as his mind lets himself think he is. The point is: what you think about determines who you are. Thoughts lead to attitudes and attitudes lead to

T&A+ACTION is the sequence. And 750 years later, Paul, under God's inspiration wrote "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by
the _renewing of the mind_."

Because of our new birth in Christ, we are to no longer follow the unleashed thoughts of the mind, to return is now even worse.

Philippians 2:1-3--"So if these is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive to live, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves."

B: Ref. "swords and sorcery": The terms "swords and sorcery" bear some defining. Sword refers to the power that you will wield in this game and sorcery refers to the use of spells and the occult. God's Word is very plain with respect to sorcery.

Isaiah 57:1-4--"But the righteous person...he will come through safely...But you come here, you sorcerers....Aren't you children of rebellion?"

Malachi 3:5--"Then I will come to judge you and you will be quick to testify
against sorcerers....says the Lord of Host."

Acts 8:9-25--Tells the story of Simon, who was a practicing wizard. He
accepts the Lord and travels with the apostles, but when he sees the miracles being done, he offers to buy them. Peter tells him that he is so engaged with witchcraft that he can't really see these things are from God.

Peter tells Simon to repent and ask forgiveness. Even though Simon believed in Christ, it was still difficult to cast off some of his old thoughts and experiences. Once one starts dabbling, it's even harder to let go.

Revelation 22:14-16a--"Blessed are they that do His commandments, that thy
may have right of the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city, (Heaven) for without (in Hell) are dogs and sorcerors, and
whoremongers and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a life. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things."

Deuteronomy 18:9-14--"When you come into the land which the Lord your God
gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of these nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination, a soothsayer,or an augur, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord; and because of these abominable practices the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, give heed to soothsayers and to diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you so to do."

"This games lets all of your fantasies come true. This is a world where monsters, dragons, good and evil; high priests; fierce demons; and even the gods themselves may enter your character's life." Page 7 of D&D Handbook.

A Ref. term "gods":
Exodus 20:2-5a---"I the Lord am your God, who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves. Do not have any other gods beside me. Do not make an idol for yourself or any likeness of anything in heaven above, on
the earth below, or in the water below ground level. Do not worship or serve them, because I the Lord your God am a jealous God."

Notice what is a violation of the first commandment:
a. When we believe in a god, not of a triune type.
b. When we fear, love, or trust in any person or thing as we should fear, love and trust god.

There is not exception or allowance in gods for the sake of game enjoyment.

Jeremiah 7:5-8--"No, if you will really live right and do good, if
you will treat one another right, if you will not oppress strangers, orphans, widows, or kill innocent people in this place, or ruin yourselves by running after other gods, then I will live with you in this place, in the land I long ago gave your fathers to be theirs forever. But now you trust in lies that can't help you."

B. In other sections the gods are referred to as "deity".
1 "It is well known to all experienced players...spells bestowed upon them by their respective deities." Page 38 Dungeon Master Handbook.
2 "Each cleric must have his or her own deity..." Page 38 Dungeon Master Handbook.
3 "The deity (you the DM 'Dungion Master') will point out all of the transgressions..." Page 39 Dungeon Master Handbook.

There can be no doubt that this is a blatant violation of the First Commandment.

There can be no doubt that this is a blatant violation of the First Commandment.

"A study of the spells usable by clerics will convey the main purpose of the cleric...note that all spells must be spoken or read aloud...clerics can employ a fair number of magic items including most potions, clerical and
"protection" scrolls, most rings, some wands, rods, and staves....." page 20

D&D Players Hand Book.

"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..." page 25 D&D Players Handbook.

A. Ref. Use of "Magic and Spells": Scripture is quite clear that the use of magic and spells is forbidden. It is looke upon by God as an "Abomination" and must not be done by the Christian, even in a game.

Isaiah 47:9-15--"These two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day;
the loss of children and widowhood shall come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and the great power of your enchantments.

felt secure in your wickedness, you said, "No one sees me"; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, "I am, and there is no one besides me." But evil shall come upon you, for which you cannot atone; disaster shall fall upon you, which you will not be able to expiate; and ruin shall some on you suddenly, of which you know nothing.

Stand fast
in your enchantments and your many sorceries, with which you have laboured from your youth; perhaps you may be able to succeed, perhaps you may inspire terror; you are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons predict what shall befall you.

"Behold, they are like
stubble, the fire consumes them; they cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame. No coal for warming oneself is this, no fire to sit before! Such to you are those with whom you have laboured, who have trafficked with you from your youth; they wander about each in his own direction; there is no one to save you."

Psalms 106: 34-39a---"They did not destroy the peoples, as the Lord
commanded them, but they mingled with the nations and learned to do as they did. They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters; whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canann; and the land was polluted with blood. Thus they became unclean by their acts.

Ref. "Magic Items": The secion I quoted only mention a few of the magical items that are used. Others that are need are: Holy/Unholy water, garlic and wolves bane. All of these are part of the ancient witchcraft practices of the early civilization, as well as when Jesus walked the earth. Again, these are forbidden by the Lord.

Isaiah 3:18-23--"In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the
anklets, the headbands, and the crescents, the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarfs, the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the prefume boxes, and
the amulets; the signet rigns and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags, the garments of gauze, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils."

C. Ref. "spell books": Today you can enter any hobby store and purchase books on spell casting. One book written by Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits, the only person to have a B.A. from University of California in magic,
_Authentic Thaumaturgy - A Professional Occultist on Improving the Realism Of magic Systems used in Fantasy Simulation Games._ D&D books themselves contain spells ranging from blessings ("to increase the strength of an individual"0, to augury (divination-"spell seeks to divine whether an action in the immediate future will be for the benefit of or harmful to the party"), to commune (contacting of his or her divinity), to speak with the dead (necromantic), to raising from the dead as well as the Resurrection (which is a spell that is able to restore life and complete strength to the person). All of these spells are found on pages 43-53 of D&D Players Guide.

Leviticus 19:26a---" You shall not practice augury or witchcraft."

D. Ref. "words spoken": "Most spells have a verbal component and so must be uttered." page 40, D&D Players Handbood.

Ephesians 5:6--"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is
because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience." If you believe it is just a game, then to use the words would be foolish and not to be done.

E. Ref. "Draw upon arcane powers": "Cleric spells, including the druidic, are bestowed by the gods....". Pg. 40 D&D Players Handbook. The books themselves openly admit that the source and origin of the power is not from
God but from something/somewhere else.

II Thessalonians 2:9-10---"The coming of the lawless one by the
activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretend signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they
refused to love the truth and so be saved."

Satan has these types of powers and uses them to keep people from
knowing the truth. To know the truth is to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and to spend time studying his word. To live a life that totally trusts on Him for all that you need. A real problem for the Christian is that in requestion spells, or recuperating from a spell, you are to pray and meditate. Realize who you are praying to.

F. Ref. "prayer": "Clerical spells...are bestowed by the gods, so that the cleric need but pray for a few hours...." pg. 40 D&D Players Handbook. "Cleric desires third through fifth level spells, the minions (angels, demigods, or whatever) will be likely to require the cleric to spend some 2 to 8 days in prayer, fasting, and contemplation of his or her transgressions, making whatever sacrifices and atonement are necessary..." pg. 38 Dungeon Master.

"Spell recovery..requires about the same period of
time. In order to pray and meditate..." Pg. 39 Dungeon Master.

As Christians, we are commanded to pray. We are to "pray without
ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17), but we are to pray as Jesus taught us. We are to pray only to God our Father, and ask for things in His name and according to
His will.

Revelation 19:10--"Then I fell down at his feet to worship him,
but he said to me, "you must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethern who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.""

Psalms 19:14---"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my
heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

Matthew 6:7--"And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the
Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many word."

Matthew 21:22--"And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if
you have faith."

Romans 10:1--"Brethern, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them
is that they may be saved."

Job 22:27--"you will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you;
and you will pay your vows."

Ephesians 6:18--"Pray at all times in the spirit, with all prayer
and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints."

Spells and everything there connected are not for the Christian. Many say it is make believe and just fun and nothing will happen. When dealing with a force stronger than you, Satan, you will have no guarantees except God. I have talked to many people who are junkies, not one started off with the idea of ending up a junky--all thought it would not happen to them--they were different. They all underestimated the power of the drug.

G. Ref. "Conjure earth elementals" pg. 44 Dungeon Master. There is a satanic worship group that meets in Santa Barbara, and part of their activities is to conjure up earth elementals. They do this by praying and by using spells and "magical items".

I Samuel expressly forbids this type of action. 
The account of the witch of Endor (I Samuel 28:7-20) states that any
relationship of this nature, is action unbecoming to a child of God.

IV Death
"The character faces death in many forms. The most common death due to combat, is no greater matter in most cases, for the character can often be brought back by means of a clerical spell or an alter reality or wish." pg.
15 Dungeon Master.

A. Ref. "Resurrection": As stated in the section on spells, there are individuals who have "power" to raise from the dead. Death--with its sting and fear are of no consequence because it can be overcome without much difficulty. Resurrection is referred to as "the revival of a character after its death, by magical means". pg. 229 Dungeon Master.When referring to resurrection, the book mentions "ring of regeneration", "rod of resurrection", and spells of "resurrection." The players are also free to by the life of an individual by paying the Dungeon Master.

Genesis 3:4-6--"But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not
die. For God Knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate."

In a close examination of this passage, Satan tells Eve that there is no such thing as death, that it was nothing more than a 'scare tactic' used by God to keep them from eating from this tree. A common tactic of Satan is to
deny death. Galatians 4 and Colossians 2 caution us not to be take in by the spirits and their vain arguements. Think of a young man, who runs into a flaming house and rescues two children. As he attempts to rescue the
thrid, the house collapses and he dies. Do we look down at what he did and mock it; of course not. Yet Christ died that we might live, and be raised from the dead. Here is a game that mocks it and makes light of His death.
It attempts to poke fun at God's plan of salvation. How do you suppose Christ feels? There was a reformation that began with disputes of this nature, and yet we toy with it. Read I Corinthians 15 and rediscover what
the resurrection of Christ really means and why it should be honoured.

Is it all right for me to play a sexual fantasy game? No, because it is not pleasing to God. Is it all right for me to play a game which is satanic and has many roots in the occult? No, because it is not pleasing to God.
We are commanded to live a righteous life.

Matthew 5:48--"You, therefore, must be perfect, as you heavenly
Father is perfect."

I Timothy 6:3-5--"If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree
with the sound words of our Lord Jesus and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce, envy, dissension, slander, bae suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain."

Deuteronomy 18:9-14--"When you come into the land which the Lord
your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his
son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord; and because of these abominable practices the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, give heed to soothsayer and to diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you so to do."

Deuteronomy 7:26--"And you shall not bring an abominable thing into
your house, and become accursed like it; you shall utterly detest and abhor it; for it is an accursed thing."

Matthew 22:37--"and he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your
God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind."

Galatians 5:19-23--"Now the works of the flesh are plain:
immortality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, durnkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such there is no law."

Here are quotes that people have made about D&D:
a) "It's a chance to sit in the dark, drink beer, and act wicked."
b) "D&D is an alternate reality where you can release your frustrations, kill someone, and not get into trouble."
c) "It's a chance to create your own world...and a social hierarchy populated with people and monsters."
d) "Advanced D&D in unquestionably 'humanocentric' with semi-humans and humanoids in various orbits around the sun of humanity. Men are the worst monsters...the 3D's of demi-gods, demons, and devils are enough to strike fear into most characters, let alone when the very gods themselves are brought into considertion."

There seems to be an inherent contradiction in the lives that we as Christians profess, in which we indulge our fantasy while playing D&D. It is extremely difficult to understand why anyone who has been born again and
is livnig in Christ would want to portray Satan or be active in the things that he does.

I Peter 5:8--"Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

A warning from Peter telling us to be on the alert for a "roaring lion," but at times  Satan disguises himself and becomes a cute cuddly kitten. That's what he had done in the game Dungeons and Dragons. Paul recognizes this in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 6:10-13--"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the
strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take the whole armour of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.:

Stand Firm in God's Word. Take your lead from it and use it as your source of wisdom. To the Glory Of God.
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