Dungeoned Master

The dice must flow...

The dice must flow…

Today is International Table Top Day, a celebration of table top games, an umbrella term for board games, card games, and table top RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons. For more, google it or check out #TableTopDay on Twitter. Despite being a rather harmless and potentially educational pastime, Dungeons & Dragons has long been mistrusted, vilified, and scapegoated for everything from murder to suicide to general moral decay. Many have painted the game as Satanic or worried that those playing are too unstable to know the difference between reality and the fantasy they have crafted. Similar accusations have been made against World of Warcraft, which was also blamed for a teen’s suicide. D&D was even banned from the US prison systems after the high profile confiscation of a prisoner’s D&D paraphernalia. Officials explained the legitimacy of the ban by citing that the game promotes gang activity, violence, and is a public safety issue, though officials also admitted that there is no evidence of this. All fantasy games have now been banned behind bars.

The public outcry against D&D as immoral also centered on the “illicit” pictures in the manuals, most notably humanoid females such as succubi, harpies, and various other chimeras. The creatures’ semi-nudity is accurate to mythology, but the images were omitted after the controversy, though they were added back in a later edition. Satanic-sounding names were also changed. Similar changes are often made to the American versions of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, so as to avoid a similar backlash. Cards with religious connotations are often altered as well, despite card games and table top RPGs containing numerous references to older belief systems, reinforcing a strange and ethnocentric dichotomy between Religion (our religions) and Mythology (their religions). This places certain religions on an untouchable pedestal while others are deemed “fictional” and can therefore be used, played with, or creatively appropriated.

Subcultures, youth culture, and fringe media have long borne the scarlet letter of paranoid slander, simply because many are unfamiliar with the often insular communities involved. And, indeed, viewing these subcultures from the outside can be disconcerting, just as observing the ritual surrounding the Superbowl may seem foreign and odd to those unfamiliar with football and its cult following.

For more on America’s most demonized pastime, please enjoy this tell-all exposé.

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About boundandgaggedbooks

Shannon is a freelance writer and folklore buff. She has a degree from Hampshire College in Creative Writing/Mythology & Religion, with an emphasis on epic/oral traditions, their anthropological implications, and their modern counterparts. Her work can be found in Fabulously Feminist, Wolf Wariors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology, The Concord Monitor, Redhead Magazine, and The Climax.

11 responses to “Dungeoned Master”

  1. bandaloopdeloop says :

    Reblogged this on Archimedes' Fulcrum and commented:
    I miss Deathfest. . . .

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