Parents say role-playing is dangerous

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Hey guys, 

So my parents, both doctors, claim role-playing games are dangerous. They have told me about the role-playing murders in Spain and the US. Ppl murdering their families because they recieved orders from game players- loads of nonsense.

Anyway, I've been trying to find articles or essays proving them wrong. Haven't found any.. do you guys have any idea where I could find 'em, so I can start playing and get my parents off my back?

Really appreciate the help!
 
Lots of murderers breathe air.  Clearly breathing air makes you a murderer.  You should tell your parents to stop trying to make you a murderer by telling you to breathe air.


In all seriousness, there's really nothing we can do.  If they believe complete nonsense like that, there's not much that can be done.
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Out of curiosity, what kind of doctors are your parents?

Even if those stories were true, we're looking at a handful of gaming-related murders vs thousands, maybe millions of gamers who live happy, productive, normal lives.  They wouldn't think, perhaps, something else might be at fault?
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There was a big scare about role playing games (specifically dungeons and dragons) a few decades ago.  A guy named Jack Chick made a bunch of comics that supposedly highlighted the "dangers" of playing these games, and you can probably find a collection of them on the internet.  Perhaps if you can show them just how ridiculous the arguments against RPG's are, you can assuage their fears.  

Another person, Patricia Pulling, decided to absolve herself of all responsibility concerning her son's suicide by blaming his participation in D&D.

You can find a good critcism of her work by someone with a good understanding of RPG's here:

www.rpgstudies.net/stackpole/pulling_rep... 

Good luck man, and I hope that your folks quickly learn that D&D is healthy for the mind, and nothing to be afraid of! 
People have been spreading stories about it since the early 80s. I suggest you Google up the Pulling Report by Michael Stackpole, which shows just how badly the anti-D&D crowd misinterprets data and just makes things up.

D&D is just a combination of a table top strategy game and improvisational acting. It is more likely to encourage skill in reading and math than suicide, murder, or drug use. Or you could just hand them a Players Handbook and have them look over it themselves. Most reasonable people are quite shocked at the difference between the urban legends and the reality of the game.

Another thing to keep in mind is that D&D is owned by Wizards of the Coast, which is in turn owned by Hasbro. Hasbro is a multinational corporation with more assets than many small countries. The game itself has distribution all over North and South Americas, Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. If suicide and murder could be linked to this game, than why has it been going since 1974? There's a good chance the game is older than your parents. If it could be linked to such things than why haven't any of the publishers, distributors, authors, etc. been sued into the ground? Can you say "makes no sense"?

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Damn, this is the kind of thing I'd expect to hear from uneducated rednecks, not doctors. What the others have been saying; it's complete nonsense. They even use roleplaying as therapy for some patients. It's supposed to make you better, not suicidal.
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good grief the 80s Satanic Panic is still lingering? The FBI used to have a whole web page devoted to debunking the whole RPG/skateboard/cattle mutilation/etc... wacky claims from the 80s. Course that didn't deter many people from believing it anyway just like the gov't reports on the non-existance of UFO's didn't deter those true believers either.

/shrug
Yeah that line of thinking is complete bunk. I mean I doubt the corrections departments of various states would allow the inmates to play RPGs if they were dangerous in any sort of way. Also I doubt the military would allow RPGs to be played by the troops either. Hey, you know what? Your television puts out harmful radiation, you might want to get rid of that too.

Sorry for my snarkiness but I can never take these sorts of accusations against a simple hobby very seriously.
100% of the population plays role-playing games. Seriously. There might be some few outliers, but I feel quite comfortable in saying that 100% is close enough. Everybody plays them as a child, with their friends or alone. My daughter (at 5) does it constantly. Kind of annoying, actually, as she'll address me as Pinky Pie, and I have to figure out if she is at that moment Sweety Bell or some other young pony. Yesterday and today she has been Carmelion, a puppy dog. She has various tasks to do as these characters, and loves to involve me and my wife in her play.

D&D is like a grown-up version of what she is already doing, and what every child - everywhere - does. In many instances, I would bet that D&D is actually further from that stupid Satanism BS than what little kids do. The way your character casts a spell or does a ritual is to announce the action and take note of it, with a pencil, on paper, to indicate the expenditure of the power or components. In a child's RP game with their friends, they may actually play out the actions of casting a spell or ritual. Given how safe and normal children playing these games are considered, that D&D gets this bad rap is just completely loony.
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You could show them these

www.rpgstudies.net/stackpole/pulling_rep...

www.rpg.net/realm/critique/gama.html

www.cale.com/paper.htm

However, they are unlikely to change anything. Apparently, your parents are somewhat adverse to actually researching a topic rather than just taking someone else's word, else you wouldn't be posting this. Therefore, all those sites do is pit their word against whoever your parents heard the evil satanic stuff from. It creates a he-said-she-said situation, and you are not likely to win as most parents will err on the side of caution, especially since they appear to already be predisposed towards that side.

I had a friend whose mother was very religious, had heard the same stuff about D&D, and was very concerned about her son playing it. I simply sat down with her, explained how the game in general was, explained a bit about my particular campaign (since I was the DM), and even invited her to sit in on a game session. She didn't actually insist on sitting in, my willingness to address her concerns calmly and rationally were enough, along with the invitation for her to watch, which probably assured her that we had nothing to hide.

Really, that is the best way to approach this. You need to find out exactly what their concerns are, address those concerns point by point, keep your cool (as soon as they see an emotional outburst, everything else you say will fall on deaf ears), and then try to convince them to let you play while they watch to ensure that there is nothing objectionable going on. Show them a copy of the PHB. Or show them a D&D computer game.

Also, be open and honest. Don't try to cover up certain points, because if they find out the truth you lose all of your credibility. So if they ask about demons, tell them that their are demons, but usually as bad guys that the characters are supposed to defeat, and you might politely point out that the Bible also has demons in it, but the mere mention of such beings does not make it unholy (tread carefully there, if they are religious you don't want to sound like you are disparaging their beliefs). If they ask about evil characters, tell them that evil characters are discouraged but technically allowed. Go into campaign-specific details. If the campaign doesn't allow evil characters, point that out. If it does and you intend to play one, explain why and tell them why it isn't something they should be concerned about. If the campaign features a monotheistic religion, that could be a selling point. If you intend to be a cleric of Thor or Pelor or whatever, make sure you explain that it's just a game, it has absolutely no effect on your religion in real life. I've found that a lot of religious people let go of their conviction when you explain everything and they don't feel like you're trying to hide something from them.
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I mean I doubt the corrections departments of various states would allow the inmates to play RPGs if they were dangerous in any sort of way. Also I doubt the military would allow RPGs to be played by the troops either.



Many corrections departments don't let inmates play because the position of DM is considered an authority position, and prisoners are not allowed games that put other prisoners into a position of authority over one another.

The Israeli military believes some bunk about it weakening a persons connection to reality, and uses it as grounds to lower people's security clearance. But I can tell you for a fact that it is reasonably common in the US military, including (and especially) amongst people in the intel field. (Yeah, me and some buddies played D&D inside the intel office in Iraq. Two Army E-4's, an E-5, and a Marine Corp E-4.)

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I mean I doubt the corrections departments of various states would allow the inmates to play RPGs if they were dangerous in any sort of way. Also I doubt the military would allow RPGs to be played by the troops either.



Many corrections departments don't let inmates play because the position of DM is considered an authority position, and prisoners are not allowed games that put other prisoners into a position of authority over one another.

The Israeli military believes some bunk about it weakening a persons connection to reality, and uses it as grounds to lower people's security clearance. But I can tell you for a fact that it is reasonably common in the US military, including (and especially) amongst people in the intel field. (Yeah, me and some buddies played D&D inside the intel office in Iraq. Two Army E-4's, an E-5, and a Marine Corp E-4.)



Yeah, thus the 'of various states' part of my statement. I know for a fact that D&D can be played in Washington State pens, since I do have a couple of friends that work for the DoC. They have yet to release the inmates to use dice yet (some, particularly the d4, are sharp and can be used as a weapon), though from what I've been told it's in petition at the moment, so the inamtes tend to us ehomemade spinners for the various dice.  


As for the military, I was actually speaking specifically about the U.S. military. I've known no less than six people who played while they were on active duty, and all of them have sat at my table at one point or another (while on leave or after they served and were back home), so I'm right there with you on that one. By the way, I'm sure you've heard it before, but I don't think it can be said enough; thank you for your service, and I think it's completly awesome that you played in the Intel office!         
I just tend to play Devil's Advocate at times. As bone_naga said, if you aren't up front with people it tends to hurt you more in the long run. Either it looks like you were trying to cover something up or that you didn't do your research/analysis thoroughly. Either way, people become less liable to to take your word at face value.

As a further note on D&D in the military, when I was stationed in Germany we had a bunch of folks who played. I think the group topped out at 6 people, but a grand total of 12 cycled in and out of the group over the year and a half we had it going before I left. Not sure how long it stayed together after I changed duty stations, most of the people I've kept in contact with from then left either before I did or shortly after (Germany is a 2 year assignment for single soldiers, 3 for married). And I also know that at least one other group was going for a while, but I'm not sure how well that worked out (that group had at least one guy who tried to be the lone bad ass, which usually is a pain in a group activity like D&D).

As for my service, there's a few people on the boards that serve or have served (and at least one military spouse). While we're all proud of our service, I think I speak for all of us when I say it still feels a little weird getting thanked for it. Though you're welcome all the same.

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Here's a shout out for Scholars' Books & Games in Bridgewater, MA, and for Paladin's Place in Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany where I was stationed for two years. Support your FLGS!

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I worked on a Master's degree in a military town (Clarksville, TN. Fort Campbell was right up the road), and as a result, of the people in my games, at least a quarter were active-duty. Soldier'll do anything  to alleviate boredom.

OP: Can your parents cite these studies? I'm curious as to what new cra-*cough* I mean propaganda has come out since that hysterical scare in the 80s. 

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BEST SOLUTION:  Show them real people playing D&D and having fun.

Most parents would jump at the chance to get their kids get involved in an activity that is intelligent, highly social, loads of fun, promotes reading and gets their kids away from the TV/computer. Hopefully once your parents can see that it's just a fun game they'll realize their fears were totally unfounded.

TRY THIS: Get them to watch the Robot chicken D&D episodes on youtube. Here is a link to the intro

and here is a link to a good example of game play from the same series. It highlights the teamwork and happy social atmosphere created by D&D.

I've found this video series to be the single best tool to help concerned parents. In fact, every parent I've ever showed this video to has immediately expressed more interest in how they can get their child to play.

Seriously, tell your parents to watch the videos and think about all the good things this game promotes.
If you can get a hold of a PHB I'd show them that, especially if it's 4e as the presentation is very much more gamist which is wonderful for this kind of debunking. It's hard to view it as this murder simulator or satanic plot when it's so clean-cut and professional. 

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They are comitting the logical fallacy that correllation equals causation. Doctors should know better but as we all know the incidence of stupidity is much greater then the incidence of rational thinking.

In all probablility they know they are completely full of crap and they just do not want you to play such games for a myriad of reasons and have just latched on that particular one to shut you up. You should develop some far more odious personal habits so that they regard a mere role playing addiction as the much lesser of evils.
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It's not even clear there's a correlation.  Data suggests that RPG players are less likely to commit crimes than the general population.  They are equating irresponsible reporting that fits their preconceived notions with the truth.
Hey guys, 

So my parents, both doctors, claim role-playing games are dangerous. They have told me about the role-playing murders in Spain and the US. Ppl murdering their families because they recieved orders from game players- loads of nonsense.

Anyway, I've been trying to find articles or essays proving them wrong. Haven't found any.. do you guys have any idea where I could find 'em, so I can start playing and get my parents off my back?

Really appreciate the help!
 

Get them to sit down and play D&D with you. Maybe that's unlikely to happen, but I can almost guarantee that once they see what the game is actually about they're going to have a more favorable opinion. You may not convince them its all OK, who knows? Still, at least they'll have some real idea of what the game is about vs the strange warped silliness that floats around online.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
To the OP: If any of this is true, you're stuck with waiting until you are old enough to play without your parents' permission.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
Out of curiosity, what kind of doctors are your parents?
 



The anti-intellectual non-scientific kind that dont research and prefer to jump to conclusions based on inuendo?

 
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Probably the best way to convince your parents is to provide examples of actual D&D players to combat the baseless fearmongering they've heard.

I am currently a researcher at Georgia Tech Research Institute, and I previously spent 10 years working for the US Air Force in both active military and civil service positions.  My gaming group in Nebraska, of which I was DM, consisted of a rather decent sized chunk of people from US Strategic Command, among other military organizations.  My current gaming group, is mostly college students and programmers with a liberal bent.  So, D&D runs the gamut.


Tabletop RPG's, of which D&D is the prime example, are a hobby, no different in effect on the hobbyist than model railroads or model rockets or stamp collection.

If, while building model railroads, a hobbyist is inclined to place minature people in dire situations, such as being run over by the trains, or maybe shows them drowning in a nearby lake the model train drives past...and then that hobbyist actually murders someone...would you blame model railroading?  The answer is no.  Clearly that person would have other issues unrelated to building model trains (and even probably unrelated to the models they built, as it is normal for people to display at least some amount of morbid curiosity during their lives).

Like any other hobby, D&D provides people the opportunity to express themselves.  D&D at its core in fact encourages the hobbyist directly to act as the Good Hero, vanquisher of Evil, and always has.  Though, like any other hobby, D&D ultimately just gives you the rules and methods to play how you want.  If someone, anyone, goes out and does anything bad in real life, D&D is not the thing to blame.  Some parents (and others, but usually parents) just can't get over having to find a scapegoat, which is why D&D and music and video games get blamed for unrelated psychological problems people actually have.

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Another reasonable series of articles were put up by Scott Kurtz on his website.  He both agrees and disagrees with your parents.  I know we all like to defend our hobby, but it can lead to antisocial behavior, in the same ways that TV, video games, and even reading can.  It's all about the moderation.  I remember fifteen years ago I asked my parents why they never had a problem with us gaming.  (This was back when I was just about to move out for college and had already been playing for a decade or so.)  My mom loved us gaming.  She knew where we were at, what was going on in our lives, it was fantastic for her.  Her only fears were the sheer amount of pizza, popcorn, and high sugar sodas we drank.  Can gamers go off into their own little world?  Of course.  But again, lets remember that people have blamed murders on Beatles tunes.  I'm fairly sure there are no longer advocacy groups promoting removing Yellow Submarine from the world's iPods.

The simple truth of it is that for most people who take part in the hobby, it is a positive.  Suicide totals are actually lower amongst gamers than other segments of the population, including religious segments.  Now that we're finally entering the second generation of gamers, it's much less taboo but there's always going to be hold overs.  Since D&D is the biggest name, alot of that is still tied directly to them, despite the fact as far as family friendliness goes it has always been far more on the side of family friendly than some games produced by other manufacturers.  I wouldn't have them read the boards... but I never suggest that as proof.  If you have anyone in the local community who has gamed before that can tell them about their experiences that really is the best option.  You might also offer up to see if it would be alright in a trial basis to have happen in your house.  If they can see it, I'm sure it will assuage most of their fears. 
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Hey there!

Thank you all for your responses and suggestions! I really appreciate everything you've written down!! I'll be sure to be open and honest about the whole thing. 

The links given by Style75, PhilipENoe and bone_naga came in really handy! 

I'll post a reply with my parents answer as soon as I get it .

Cheers!

PS: They're cardiologists. -Conservative parents.

 
People who think they know that RPGs cause bad behavior are good examples of why INT and WIS are different ability scores in D&D and why intelligence and wisdom are two different things in real life.

I've played with enough people to have had a few sociopaths in my games.  But RPGs didn't make them sociopaths; RPGs were just one of many activities they engaged in on a daily basis that put their personality disorders on display for others to see.

The only people I've ever known who thought that D&D was Satanic (years ago) pretty much thought that everything was Satanic.  Even their religious leader told them to let it go at one point.  I would classify their behavior as borderline obsessive.  I'm no doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night so ironically, I would say THEY were the ones with the mental health issues, not the D&D players.  However, over time, those people have lightened up considerably.

So people can, and do, change.

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There is one educational video out there which tackles the hard truth of the dangers of role-playing in a fantasy setting: Mazes and Monsters. 
There is one educational video out there which tackles the hard truth of the dangers of role-playing in a fantasy setting: Mazes and Monsters. 



When dealing with new posters you should put a sarcasm tag on your posts so they know you're joking. To Beautyofdarkness, this is a joke. This movie was terrible and based on the anti-D&D hysteria of the 80's. Don't show this to your parents.

To MadcatX, thanks for the laugh Smile That movie was so bad I can only watch it in 10 minute chunks. It's to believe that Tom Hanks was in it, the lowest point of his acting career.
There is one educational video out there which tackles the hard truth of the dangers of role-playing in a fantasy setting: Mazes and Monsters. 



When dealing with new posters you should put a sarcasm tag on your posts so they know you're joking. To Beautyofdarkness, this is a joke. This movie was terrible and based on the anti-D&D hysteria of the 80's. Don't show this to your parents.

To MadcatX, thanks for the laugh Smile That movie was so bad I can only watch it in 10 minute chunks. It's to believe that Tom Hanks was in it, the lowest point of his acting career.



Thank you. But the thing that the movie failed terribly at is even getting it's one message across. Anybody who actually pays attention to this movie will notice that the character who goes off the deep end was not a mentally stable person to begin with.

And god... if you could take this seriously AFTER seeing the Tom Hanks crying scene... 
It's to believe that Tom Hanks was in it, the lowest point of his acting career.

It was only his second movie (and first movie lead role). Everyone has to start somewhere. And we'll always have Bosom Buddies!
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.

As both a parent and a life long role-player, I have to wonder if your parents are actually concerned about you wasting your time with D&D, rather than any "dangers." I let my kids play (I even run games for them), but at the same time I am well aware that D&D is a HUGE time sink. You can spend/waste a lot of time on it.  Your parents probably just want to make sure that you take a balanced approach to the game, that you keep up with studies and that you get outside to exercise. 


I suggest you talk to them and try and come up with some kind of agreement where you show them that are meeting your responsibilities (school, chores, works, etc.) and not letting take up too much of your time.


It is really not any different than parents limiting computer/video games. 

If you think it will help to have specific examples (granted I'm still a faceless internet persona like everyone else here), I'm in the military with a security clearance and I play the game regularly, sometimes with other soldiers. I'm also a husband and a father and D&D is a family game in my house. The best man at my wedding was one of my gaming buddies. I was introduced to D&D by the pastor at my church (that went a long way towards calming my grandmother, who was not exactly a fan of the game), and my brother (who also played, although not so much anymore due to other obligations) is finishing seminary school right now.

In fact, there is even a D&D parents group here community.wizards.com/dndparents which you could show them. There isn't a lot of activity at the moment but you could invite them to browse through the posts there, post questions of their own, or directly contact group members with specific questions.
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Like with anything in life, over indulgence can ruin anybody. The game can be played responsibly just like with video games, tv shows, dvd movie addictions, internet addictions, comic book obsessions, MMO online WOW addictions... etc... Now, I can say lots of postive things about RPG games. I have seen the games turn people that weren't into books, into reading, creative writing, and socializing prospects. They used to say D&D was bad, but now the problem is mostly with video game addictions, social media addictions, cell phone Ipad addictions. I would much rather my kid be reading books, and using his imagination that sitting in front of a tv burning away his eye sight, playing a game that requires not much thought. I have seen people kick drugs for RPG's which is an amazing feat. I have seen RPG's help people get through rough depressions, and help get their mind off of tragedies in their life and brought happiness to them. I think RPG's are great, I look at them as a mind excercise that helps keep my mind sharper, and helps keep the cobwebs and rust out of my brain. Just don't forget about the real world along the way.
Every hobby should be done in moderation. Too much of a good thing will always kill the fun in the end. I've seen plenty of RPG groups disintegrate due to gamer burnout. Set up a regular gaming schedule and try to stick to it and you'll be fine.

When my son is old enough to play there'll be limits on gaming just like there are limits on TV or computer or sports or anything else he's into.
I worked on a Master's degree in a military town (Clarksville, TN. Fort Campbell was right up the road), and as a result, of the people in my games, at least a quarter were active-duty. Soldier'll do anything  to alleviate boredom.


  My local FLGS, the Citadel Game Cellar, is on the far end of easy walking distance from the US Naval Submarine Base in Groton, CT. I'd be hesitant to say half, but at least a damn good chunk of his business is from the squids...

And hey - at least the OP isn't thinking about joining a Rocky Horror Picture Show cast... The Columbine shooters were occasional audience members at the local show. Clearly Rocky Horror made them do it.

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I worked on a Master's degree in a military town (Clarksville, TN. Fort Campbell was right up the road), and as a result, of the people in my games, at least a quarter were active-duty. Soldier'll do anything  to alleviate boredom.


  My local FLGS, the Citadel Game Cellar, is on the far end of easy walking distance from the US Naval Submarine Base in Groton, CT. I'd be hesitant to say half, but at least a damn good chunk of his business is from the squids...

And hey - at least the OP isn't thinking about joining a Rocky Horror Picture Show cast... The Columbine shooters were occasional audience members at the local show. Clearly Rocky Horror made them do it.

I once ran a campaign on the weekends after my 4th grade Catholic Catechism class that included our teacher, Sister Maria as the party cleric, largely playing herself as Sister Maria the Benevolent... (Never roll dice with the clergy - that woman could roll a natural 20 on a d6...) She once killed a vampire by grabbing two jugs of water, reciting the actual blessing Catholic priests use to make holy water in character, and smashing them over it's head.





Quick aside, I was in the Navy and stationed at Groton for a while.  I remember the Citadel quite fondly.  ;)

All around helpful simian

She once killed a vampire by grabbing two jugs of water, reciting the actual blessing Catholic priests use to make holy water in character, and smashing them over it's head.



Now that is too cool for words!   

I once ran a campaign on the weekends after my 4th grade Catholic Catechism class that included our teacher, Sister Maria as the party cleric, largely playing herself as Sister Maria the Benevolent... (Never roll dice with the clergy - that woman could roll a natural 20 on a d6...) She once killed a vampire by grabbing two jugs of water, reciting the actual blessing Catholic priests use to make holy water in character, and smashing them over it's head.



Thats one of the best stories I've read on these boards.

I had a cool teacher in 6th grade who played with with us once. Maybe I shouldn't have killed his wizard with a poisoned trap.
I worked on a Master's degree in a military town (Clarksville, TN. Fort Campbell was right up the road), and as a result, of the people in my games, at least a quarter were active-duty. Soldier'll do anything  to alleviate boredom.


  My local FLGS, the Citadel Game Cellar, is on the far end of easy walking distance from the US Naval Submarine Base in Groton, CT. I'd be hesitant to say half, but at least a damn good chunk of his business is from the squids...

And hey - at least the OP isn't thinking about joining a Rocky Horror Picture Show cast... The Columbine shooters were occasional audience members at the local show. Clearly Rocky Horror made them do it.

I once ran a campaign on the weekends after my 4th grade Catholic Catechism class that included our teacher, Sister Maria as the party cleric, largely playing herself as Sister Maria the Benevolent... (Never roll dice with the clergy - that woman could roll a natural 20 on a d6...) She once killed a vampire by grabbing two jugs of water, reciting the actual blessing Catholic priests use to make holy water in character, and smashing them over it's head.





Did she recite Ezekiel 25:17 before laying into enemies?
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