> FAQs > The
Myths About Role-Playing Games
the years, the role-playing hobby has amassed a menagerie of myths and
legends - both about how the game is played, and the type of people who
play them. What follows is a brief collection of the most popular myths
you may hear about role-playing games in general and Dungeons
& Dragons in particular. If you know of any that I
have missed, drop me a note to let me know -
| Player and Character Are The Same
A player is a real
person; a character is the role that the player plays in the game. All
of the actions that the character makes, all of the items that they
possess, even the characters themselves are
imaginary, and do not exist in the real world. This is possibly the
most frequent mistake that people make about role-playing games.
this respect, a player and their RPG character are no different than an
actor or actress and the role that they play. Charleton Heston isn't
really Moses. Vivien Leigh isn't really Scarlett O'Hara. Gene Wilder
isn't really Willy Wonka. The things that those characters do in their
respective stories are not the actions of the people who play them.
is terribly ironic when a news story accuses gamers of confusing
fantasy with reality, while exhibiting much of the same confusion all
on its own.
| There Are Winners And Losers
myth also includes any claim that RPGs share some qualities that most
of the games that preceded them do (they're played on a board, a player
rolls dice to determine how far to move a piece, etc). Unlike other
forms of games, RPGs do not usually have clearly defined winners and
losers; rather, they are much more of an exercise in team effort.
Confusion in this area is often proof that no real research into RPGs
has been done.
| RPGs Teach Their Players How To Cast Spells
often have a system of magic involved, and it is usually a form of
fantastical magic, far-flung from anything found in witchcraft or the
occult. There are some RPGs that have been designed to have a
more "real-world" feel to them, and the authors have used actual
occultic sources as their framework; nevertheless, one cannot
learn how to cast spells by playing a role-playing game, any
more than they can learn to swing a sword or ride a horse.
magic used in RPGs is entirely "make-believe," it exists only in the
game world, and NEVER causes any effects in the real world.
It is NEVER directed at real people, and any claims to the contrary are
many RPGs have some form of magic system, many others do not,
especially the plethora of science fiction RPGs.
| RPGs Glorify Violence
While combat does exist in most RPGs, it is
never promoted as the answer to everything. Conflict is a
large part of our history, and RPGs reflect that. But there
is much, much more to the hobby than simple hack and slash... if that
were not true, there would certainly not be as
many gaming books on the shelves as there are! There are
books on other cultures, people, races, and traditions, all of which
are interacted with in any number of ways, only one of which is
combat. If AD&D (for example) was the roleplaying
equivalent of Quake (for example), it would fit
rather neatly into one 100-page rulebook. For the record, it
| RPGs Promote Obsessive Behavior
strange that a devout sports fan who can talk about little more than
scores and statistics isn't considered "obsessive" by most people, yet
a gamer who plays once a week is. Any pastime holds the potential to do
what it does all too well: pass time. A person who spends a
lot of time playing RPGs is simply a person who would spend a lot of
time doing something else if games were not a part
of the equation. Personal responsibility and maturity are the
true focus here. Gaming is no more of an obsessive hobby than
any other, it just involves more brain power than most. Perhaps this is
what a lot of the critics fear.
| RPGs Create Criminals
many circumstances, games have been blamed for causing "seemingly
normal" people to commit crimes that they would never have dreamed of
had they not been exposed to RPGs. This is a preposterous
notion to those of us who understand RPGs, but to many, it seems very
possible in the light of all of the myths that are held as truth about
games. The truth is, according to the CAR-PGa,
that all media accounts of crimes committed "in the
name of gaming" had many other, more understandable factors
involved. The real story here is that "Abused Child Kills
Parents" does not sell quite as many newspapers and magazines as "Game
Taught Child To Kill."
| RPGs Promote Suicide
by causing severe depression over the loss of a character, or as some
demented way to start their life over again at the beginning, RPGs have
been accused of being a possible cause of suicide among their
players. The Center for Disease Control, Department
of Suicidology, and Albert Einstein University feel different
about the matter, however; all three have done extensive research on
RPGs and found no connection between gaming and suicide. The
experts have spoken. Also, as mentioned above, the CAR-PGa has researched all of
the "gaming related suicides" on the record, and found extenuating
circumstances in every one. Again, it
comes down to what sells more papers or keeps the public tuned in
through the commercial break.
bears noting that the isolated incidents in which gamers have
committed suicide are usually misinterpreted by the uninformed to make
it appear as if gaming causes people to take their
own lives. By their own figures, the suicide rate among
people who play RPGs would be much lower than the
average for any other group of people. Therefore, uninformed
really isn't that harsh of a title.
| RPGs Are Played By Males Only
this may have been close to being accurate many years ago, it is
certainly not true today. The fact is that many gamers are
female, although the hobby is still male-dominated. In a study conducted by Wizards of the
Coast in 1999, it was found that 19% of the respondents
between the ages of 12 and 35 were female. That's almost one
out of every five gamers.
| RPGs Are For Kids
can be as simple as a game of cops-and-robbers in the backyard, or an
intense session of playacting the bickering leaders of city-states on
the brink of war. At it's root, it is the same type of game,
but for most of us, the way we play is altered as our tastes
mature. An 11-year-old can play a fighter in Dungeons
& Dragons and go about hunting dragons and rescuing
damsels and never tire of it. An adult who does the same will
begin to look further into the character, developing a personal
history, and pursue higher-minded goals.
one of the great things about roleplaying; it spans not only age and
maturity, but culture and gender, and becomes what the player wants it
to be. It's hard to find a hobby that does that.
addition, in a study conducted
by Wizards of the Coast in 1999, 59% of the gamers surveyed
were between the ages of 19 and 35, and the largest portion of that
range (34% of the whole) were between 25 and 35.
The Myths About
Dungeons & Dragons
in mind that any of the above myths apply equally as well to
D&D, as it is the granddaddy of all RPGs. Likewise,
some of these myths could have been applied to other RPGs that are
similar to D&D in certain ways.
| D&D Was Created By Satanists
myth has been propagated by William Schnoebelen, evangelist and
self-proclaimed expert on satanism and witchcraft - but by no means was
it started by him. Usually, this is an attempt to make D&D
look like a tool for Satanists or occultists to gather new members.
There is no evidence to support this claim. For more on Schnoebelen and
his various claims, visit the Basic Gaming FAQ.
| The Dungeon Master's Guide
Contains A Procedure For Selling Your Soul To The Devil
not the most common myth, I have heard it more than once. And
I have combed all editions and printings of the DM's
Guide and Player's Handbook and found
nothing of the sort. Can anyone help me out
here? What could they be talking about?
| D&D Manuals Contain Demons and Devils
For The Players To Worship or Command
myth is only half right. While it is true that certain
editions of D&D
contained several types of demons and devils in it's Monster
Manual, they were listed as opponents,
along with most of the other creatures in the Manual.
When TSR released the second edition to D&D in the early 90's,
they removed the demons and devils and replaced them with other
creatures, in an attempt to keep everyone happy. In 2000, TSR
announced that demons and devils would be returning to the game when
the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons was
released. In the November 1999 issue of InQuest
Gamer, TSR brand manager Ryan Dancey referred to them as the
"ultimate bad guys," and said in "all materials ever produced for the
game, they are portrayed as opponents to be overcome, if not killed
Players do not worship any
of the things found in a D&D manual; it's
the characters that may (See the myth Player
And Character Are The Same, above), and they are
not given the option of worshipping either demons or devils.
| People Act Out The Roles Of Arsonists, Rapists,
and Torturers While Playing D&D
first came to me from a copy of the Jehovah Witness magazine The
Watchtower back in 1983, and since then, I've heard it
repeated several times. The truth is, there are no rules
for arson, rape, or torture among the manuals for
D&D, so therefore, these acts are not promoted by the
game. However, it is possible for a character to perform
these actions if the player wishes so. Therefore,
technically, it can happen; however, anyone who actively chooses to do
these things, and seems to be enjoying it, really
needs to seek help. It is a sign of very serious problems.
opponents of gaming have claimed that the Dungeons Master's
Guide mentions rape in a manner that might encourage players
to act it out. This is untrue. For more on this
matter, check out the Basic
Gaming Advocacy FAQ.
| D&D Manuals Contain False Gods For The
Players To Worship
this one is only half right. There are deities for the
characters to serve in certain D&D books (Deities
& Demigods, and the latter revision Legends
And Lore, as well as others), but these are for the characters
to serve, not the players. (See the myth Player
And Character Are The Same, above). No
one has to do anything special in the real world
for a deity that their character serves in the game.
That's just silly.
no character has to serve a deity. There
are no specific rules designating that this must occur, except possibly
in the case of cleric characters (holy men and women who gain their
powers from a higher source). The original statement
regarding this, made in the first edition Dungeon Master's
Guide, suggested that all characters should serve a deity
because it would help to flesh out the background and motivations of
the character. This is just as if a Christian actor would
research the Muslim faith if he were preparing for a role as a Muslim
character. It is a vehicle for better role-playing, and not
an adoption of a new faith system.
| D&D Has A Manual That Contains
Graphically Violent Rules For Combat
there was a book called The Arduin Grimoire that
contained charts that were supposed to make medieval combat more
"realistic." These charts contained bloody descriptions of
body parts being torn off or crushed. But,
it wasn't an official D&D product, and
was not recognized by TSR as such, and due to it's violent nature, many
stores refused to carry it.. The combat used in D&D
and AD&D is much more "heroic" and unrealistic,
because it is meant to recreate tales of heroic fantasy, not the first
half hour of Saving Private Ryan.
| A D&D Manual Describes Adolph Hitler As
A Heroic Character
This one has come to me in many forms - that he is mentioned as someone
who embodies "D&D-style charisma," that he appears as a
character in the manuals, or even that he would have made an excellent
player. Actually, the first edition Dungeon
Master's Guide does mention Adolf Hitler - but not as a hero,
villain, or even as any part of the game. The mention is made
in a discussion about the difference between charisma and physical
beauty, and it uses him as an example of someone who had a very strong
charisma with a certain group of people, but not much in the way of
physical beauty. Any attempts to use this example as a
connection between games and racism or anti-Semitism is very, very
low. In doing so, one would also be suggesting that several
history and sociology books are doing the same thing.
read more about this topic, including a direct quote from the Dungeon
Master's Guide, visit the Basic Gaming Advocacy FAQ.
| D&D Encourages Kids To Hide Out In
Steam Tunnels / Sewage Systems And Act Out The Game
is probably the first myth I had ever heard about
D&D. This comes from the tale of James Dallas Egbert,
who hid in the steam tunnels beneath his university and attempted (and
failed) to commit suicide with a drug overdose.
There is no evidence that he went down there to play D&D, as
there was no one with him, and he didn't have any dice or
books. Plus, he admitted his intentions to the
media. Despite that, investigator William Dear,
chose to maintain the gaming angle, partially in an attempt to protect
both Dear and his family members from the truth about his homosexuality
and drug abuse. In reality, most of us would rather sit around a table
and enjoy the game, rather than get all hot and sweaty in an
Spencer Lease, Owen Raine
document is a work in progress, and is in no way complete as you see it
here. If I have left something out, or missed an important
point, it is imperative that you, the reader, bring it to my
attention. All contributors will receive credit for their
contributions at the end of the document.
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more about role-playing games by exploring the other FAQ files in this
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