Dungeons & Dragons: The Danger of Fantasy Role Playing Games

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2001
A Brief look at the dangers of fantasy role playing games. These games have become one of the hottest pastimes in our nation today.

Dungeons & DragonsThe Danger of Fantasy Role-Playing Games

In the 1980s, “Dungeons & Dragons” (D&D) and other elaborate Fantasy Role-Playing (FRP) games became one of the hottest pastimes in the nation, especially for teenagers and college students. Millions of sets continue to be sold.

D&D is an elaborate fantasy game played out in one’s mind using skill and creative imagination. There are dice, although no cards or boards; there are no strict rules, only guidelines. There are also no absolutes and no boundaries. There are no limitations on time since FRP games are not single experience contests but ongoing adventures or campaigns traversing from one episode to another. In theory, a single game could last a lifetime.

The “dungeon master” or referee is one very experienced in D&D and he shapes the fantasy milieu with the aid of maps, monster lists, combat tables, and the psychological/geographical terrain the players will travel through. This may involve multilevel dungeons, various occult planes of existence, towns, other worlds or time periods. All of this is mapped out on graph paper, complete with wizards, treasures, monsters, magical objects, traps, potions, demons and the gods who reside throughout various regions.

Each player selects a character whose role he is to assume, such as a fighter, assassin, monk, druid, magic user, thief, etc. The thief, apparently, is one of the best characters to emulate.[1]

Characters are assigned strengths or weaknesses on a scale of 3 to 18 and six principle attributes, including intelligence, strength, charisma, etc.—all determined by a toss of the dice. A racial stock is also selected from among gnomes, humans, dwarfs, elves, etc. Each player must decide his/her character’s alignment, whether good, neutral or evil.

While the underlying principle of D&D and other FRP is sound—creative use of the imagination in order to play a game—from a Christian perspective there are several problems with D&D and other secular FRP games.

First, the worldview in which most of these games are conducted is either not Christian or anti-Christian and although played out in fantasy, can still have an impact on young and/or impressionable minds. Unfortunately, most players seem to participate without ever considering the worldview in which they are role-playing. Nor do they consider how this might be contrary to their own philosophy and beliefs. Because of the excitement involved and the ease in which players may get “hooked” on FRP, players usually will not notice subtle changes that may be occurring in their lives as a result of playing the game.

Most FRP games present no system of absolute morality; morality is free for the individual to choose or reject as he sees fit. Thieves, assassins, sorcerers, witches, etc., may all be role-played and even developed into a kind of “alter-ego.” In general, FRP games perceive the universe as amoral—good and evil are presented as equal and opposite poles where both the characters and the “gods” are expected to align themselves with one pole or the other.

While each player brings to the game his own moral standards, the game itself can also provide the player with the potential for laying aside such standards. As one player told us, “In D&D it’s better to be evil because you get more advantages—it’s easier not to have to worry about doing something wrong.” Thus, in many of these games an immoral use of power, sex, violence, etc., is acceptable.

Good and evil can be either complimentary or in conflict. Even activities such as stealing, mutilation, human sacrifice, murder, rape, etc., can be incorporated into the adventure of the games. Only the pragmatism of the overriding situation and the good or evil characters involved are what determine the course of action or what is right or wrong. Obviously this contrasts with the biblical worldview in which morality is absolute and grounded in the character and nature of God.

Nor is the theology of most FRP Christian. Probably because of the diversity it offers, FRP games generally present a polytheistic rather than monotheistic universe—that is, they present the belief in many gods rather than one God. As the D&D manual, Deities and Demigods, asserts, “No fantasy world would be complete without the gods, mighty deities who influence the fate of men and move mortals about like chess pieces….”[2] This contrasts with the biblical teaching that there is only one true God and that this God is moral, not amoral. Most FRP games also have unbiblical views of God, the creation, man, and life after death.[3]

Second, FRP is essentially escape fantasy. For certain people the escape offered in FRP can become dangerous. There are three problems here: 1) when excessive time is devoted to the game, taking away from more important activities; 2) when excessive identification with a character exists where less control remains over one’s emotional state; and 3) when role-playing and real life are not fully distinguished so that fantasy and reality are now blurred. As one player said, “I am dungeon master 98% of the time. I am the God of my world, the creator who manipulates the gods and humans….When I’m in my world, I control my own world order…. [But] the more I play D&D, the more I want to get away from this world. The whole thing is getting very bad.”[4]

Because fantasy in general is part of God’s creation, no specific fantasy is necessarily right or good. For example, although the fantasy works by J.R.R. Tolkein, C. S. Lewis and others involve good and evil characters, they are generally considered a positive use of fantasy because they offer the reflection of an essentially Christian morality and/or worldview.

In FRP games, good does not triumph over evil, they merely coexist as equal and opposite impersonal poles together in such a manner that good is finally no better than evil—just another tool to use in one’s adventure and conquest. Because power and pragmatism are necessary for victory, the end easily justifies the means.

The greatest area of concern in modern FRP deals with the occult. Games may include such fantasy pastimes as magic and the casting of spells, protective inscriptions, astral projection, attempts to communicate with the dead, conjuring and summoning of deities and demons, use of psychic powers, and in some games even occult alignment with demons or gods. “Serving a deity is significant of AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) and all player characters should have a patron god. Alignment assumes its full importance when tied to the worship of a deity”.[5]

The problem with FRP games which accept the occult is that they may constitute a preconditioning factor in the lives of impressionable youngsters for later accepting the occult. In fact, we have received letters from people who actually moved, quite logically, from occult pastimes in their fantasy life to occult realities in their real life. Sensing both the connection and opportunity, some occultists (such as Philip Bonewitz in his Authentic Thaumaturgy, 1980) have written books to show players how they can progress from FRP into real sorcery.

Even when beckoned in fantasy, the spirit world sometimes responds. There are many examples in the world of the occult where the use of the imagination (in both occult and non-occult contexts) has led to actual spiritistic contact as the parapsychological experiment recorded in Conjuring Up Philip (1982) illustrates.

In conclusion, we do not think that games such as D&D or any FRP game which has anti-Christian elements should be practiced by Christians. Christian parents especially should be watchful over the activities of their teenagers to ensure that what seems like an innocent and creative game of fantasy does not become something worse. To date, hundreds of deaths, murders, suicides and other problems have been associated directly or indirectly with Dungeons & Dragons and other FRP—surely a sign that all is not well in the realm of adventure fantasy.[6]



  1. Gary Gyga, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook (Lake Geneva, WI: TSR Games, 1978), 7.
  2. James Ward, Robert Kuntz, Deities and Demigods: Cyclopedia of Gods and Heroes from Myth and Legend(Lake Geneva, WI: TSR Games, 1980), 37.
  3. For illustrations see John Weldon and James Bjornstad, Playing with Fire (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), Chapter 3.
  4. Quoted in Moira Johnston, “It’s Only a Game—Or Is It?”, New West, August 25, 1980, p. 38.
  5. Ward & Kuntz, Deities and Demigods, p. 37.
  6. c.f., B.A.D.D., “Articles Relating to Dungeons and Dragons,” (Richmond, VA: Bothered about D & D, 1985, and updates).


  1. Josh on March 2, 2017 at 5:37 am

    This was a hilarious read. If you want a good laugh at what this “expert” uses to back up his ridiculous claims, then get this book.

  2. Andy on September 6, 2022 at 9:12 am

    Thank you for the insight, sir. A helpful read for me and my family.

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