In the Details?

By Jaime Nava

Although I do spend time playing digital games, I also enjoy the occasional tabletop adventure. This means sitting around a table with others, usually my family, playing out a story with individual characters. We’ve started doing this relatively recently and one of the people who has the most fun is, believe it or not, my mom. We roll dice. We eat junk food. We say what our character would do and sometimes we even speak for them. It’s really a good time all around. What is it that we play? Dungeons and Dragons.

I’ve been reading lots of books regarding spiritual warfare abroad and at home. Some authors include Dr. J. W. Montgomery, Dr. Walter Martin, and Dr. Robert H. Bennett. Dr. Martin in particular interests me not only because his work is so extensive but his perspective seems a little different. One detail that he speaks about is the demonic connection to D&D. He claims this is a gateway for many into a realm of magic, summoning, and more. I suppose he’s probably right. He’s seen the effect this kind of thing can have on people. I’ve also heard from Dr. Montgomery something along the same lines. Unsuspecting gamers go from Cheetos eating and Mountain Dew guzzling to laying salt on the ground in a graveyard.

Although I’m sure there are some who lose grip on reality or fall for other temptations, I do not believe Dungeons and Dragons is strictly devilish. In D&D, there was a time when halflings were called hobbits. Treants were ents. Balors were balrogs. Hmm. That sounds familiar to many geeks. The Tolkien enterprise threatened to sue D&D way back when so Ents became Treants. Hobbits are called halflings. Balrogs are now balors. In 2000, Gary Gygax, one of the main creators of Dungeons and Dragons, admits that Tolkien had a strong impact on the game. Obviously.

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D&D can be pretty dark. It can be inviting to those with a sinister mind. A book can also be dark and inviting. They can also be enlightening. They can inspire. Sometimes a book can be an escape for a time into another realm where dragons roam and elves perch in treehouses. It’s not necessarily the setting but the people in the setting that make Dungeons and Dragons what it is. Dungeons and Dragons for me and my family is a time for us to stare down evil and defeat it. It’s about the epic battle between light and dark. It’s about trudging through misty bogs, about convincing the mayor to provide more compensation than he originally planned. It’s about those funny moments when the halfling barges his way through without thinking or rolling that critical hit against a group of orcs.

For us, Dungeons and Dragons is writing a story as a family. We use the tools, the system, the background to have a fantastic story that we can laugh about in the years to come. It’s our way of taking a road trip. It’s how we see foreign lands. It’s how we work together to accomplish the near impossible. To some people it’s nerdy. Some people would scoff and tell us to get out of the house (and not for LARPing). In our own way, we do. We go far beyond this world and into elfland. We go there to fight for what is good. As Chesterton adds, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” I’m sure Tolkien explains it far better than I could. We’re living out the true story of victory over evil on a miniature scale.

Be careful about what you introduce to your family. That’s good advice. Be wary, sure. Yet we also spend this time together as a family telling and recounting stories. It’s what we enjoy. In the end, the bad guys always loses. It’s the ultimate reality.

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2 thoughts on “In the Details?

  1. So much time on D&D! What a waste of time! It is a fantasy world and you have cleverly talked yourself into rationalizing some positive aspects of a silly game.

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    1. All games are silly. That’s what makes them games. What’s the difference between playing Mexican Train (domino game) around the table with my family or telling a story together?

      As for a waste of time, that’s an article I’ve been mulling over. Maybe I’ll make it my next one.

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