Christians and DnD

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Someone posted earlier about Muslims playing DnD, and the thread derailed somewhat talking about the anti-dnd hate in the late 70s and throughout the 80s from quite a few christians. It got me to thinking about an article, written by such a person, that came about around the advent of the release of 3.0.

The common christian complaint about DnD is that it's 'evil.' It is about horrible monsters, demons, devils, and people going out, and murdering things to get what they want. There was an article written a few years ago called 'Should Christians Play Dungeons and Dragons' and while the author goes out on a limb and makes some rather strange statements, there is one underlying point that he fails to get across, but can be found in his ramblings.

DnD does nothing to acknowledge, glorify, or respect God.

That was the core of his argument, and most people miss that in the other accusations and whatnot that he makes, such as casting spells in the game is the same as real life. Most of that article is superstition, but the key point above is often lost in the other rhetoric he spewed out.

Now I'm a christian, a rather liberal one in terms of tolerance and accepting others. I found most of his article somewhat offensive, but the key point again, struck me as true.

However one can look at that and say, 'Well TV, movies, music, video games, the internet, and the way businesses, governments and corporations are run don't do that either.' That would be correct as well. It is one of the key problems in being truly 'christian' in the world. I believe the phrase goes, 'To be a christian is to be in the world, but not -part- of the world.'

Now what does that mean? It doesn't mean Christians should shut themselves in their homes with nothing but a bible and food, that's unhealthy for any human, regardless of religion. Whethere you beleive in a God or a greater power, or not, we are social creatures, meant to interact with others, and not always those that share the same views and opinions. The phrase above means to be a participant in the world, and do your best to retain Christian ideals throughout. Honesty, Kindness, Loyalty, Tolerance, Acceptance, Forgiveness.

Experienced gamers know that a game in and of itself is not 'evil' or 'satanic' unless the person playing it deliberately makes it so. I'm opening this forum to get this thought out of my head, and to also ask you players your experiences with DnD and Christianity, or any religion! I know this is walking a very slippery slope, as some may think of this as an opportunity to bash a certain religious group, but please try to make it respectful and as neutral as you can.

So please, share! Has real life religion enhanced your gaming? Detracted? What have been the problems/pitfalls of religious players, or even non religious players in your gaming group?
There's normally more piety in our clerics than amongst the players, but I've never had any problem with gamers who observed a faith. They just play D&D and have fun like everyone else.
The biggest problem I ran into in D&D growing up in a small town "beat your kids or you're not good Christians" in Arkansas wasn't the demons. It was the magic. It was the spells and rituals.

The demons and what not were seen, obviously, as satanic, but the part that would get you in trouble was the casting of magic. See, in my church's (not anymore, thank goodness, now I'm a Unitarian) eyes, if you cast spells, in game or out, you were committing some form of prayer. If the prayer wasn't directly to God, you were praying to someone else. If there IS no someone else, then the Devil interceded. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" was commonly uttered at my church.

That's not even going into the full pantheon of gods and goddesses. Those were obviously directly tools of the devil.
Religous themed discussions are frowned upon by the coc. But besides all that, i am christian and it has never really been a concern. No evil spirit has yet to contact me through my dice. And as long as one does not actually place the game before one's faith i don't see how God would take issue with gaming.
I think true Christians are much more forgiving than the witch hunting hate mongers so often described here as being anti_d&d.
I seriously doubt if god is concerned with the pagan deities of old, as their worship has been quite thoroughly purged from mainstream society..it's not as if we are worshiping other gods by plying the game.
Religous themed discussions are frowned upon by the coc.

Ahh, I didn't know that. If needed I will delete my original post. I like your name, how is Mhaldor doing? (If you don't know what I'm talking about, ignore me.)
Faith has never been an issue in any D&D game I've ever played. I've played with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Atheists, but even though we sometimes have religious debates when we're not playing, religion just never comes up for us during the game. The Atheists will play pious Clerics, and the Christians will play evil necromancers, but it's never an issue one way or the other, because that's what role playing means; you get to play the part and see from the perspective of somebody who is completely different from you and who you might not even agree with.

We just all get together and have some fun.

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Faith has never been an issue in any D&D game I've ever played. I've played with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Atheists, but even though we sometimes have religious debates when we're not playing, religion just never comes up for us during the game. The Atheists will play pious Clerics, and the Christians will play evil necromancers, but it's never an issue one way or the other, because that's what role playing means; you get to play the part and see from the perspective of somebody who is completely different from you and who you might not even agree with.

We just all get together and have some fun.

Delightful!
If I had a christian in my group, I would play with him normally, but ask of him to accept the world and all parts of it as game and nothing more. If I had a hardcore christ in my group, I would seriously judge him and if someone (no matter who) would utter the sentence I quoted to me (being a Wicca), he would have to run or find himself in hospital.

Well wouldn't you say that, in general, anyone that goes out looking to play DnD, would not be in any way trying to antagonize another player? If a Christian, a Muslim, a Wiccan, a Jew, and a Hindu all get together to play DnD, why would religion come up? The only time it came up with me, was a friend who refused to play a cleric or divine class, and refused to have his character have a patron god, because that would be worshiping 'false gods.' has anything like that ever happened?
DnD does nothing to acknowledge, glorify, or respect God.

Neither does Monopoly, but few would argue that playing the Classic Parker Bros game would be an affront to religion.
Neither does Monopoly, but few would argue that playing the Classic Parker Bros game would be an affront to religion.

It acknowledge, glorify, and respect Capitalism though. That's close enough! ;)
I'm a Christian and I habitually play a Cleric, usually one devoted to a combat deity (for 4E, Kord comes to mind quickly). Religion usually doesn't come up unless it's related to in-game (i.e. can I tell which member of the D&D pantheon the newly-introduced NPC cleric/paladin/priest follows). My group and I already know where the rest stand and keep any further discussion off the table while dice are bouncing across it.
Similar is true for me. There are hardly two players with the same faith in my groups and all get along fine. Only a few are truely pious but those who are, have no problems with a polytheistic, magical world.

When I first heard about people denouncing RPGs as satanic, I had no idea why, because, while many people I know think fantasy is nonsense, escapism or whatever they call it, no one I personally met ever refered to it in such a way. Literal interpretation of the bible is far less common in Europe than it is in America, so I was quite surprised to hear about such accusations. Now I have an idea about the passages of the bible that fuel some fundatmentalists resentments against roleplayers - they follow about the same logic that caused witch burnings I have to say.

While by now I know some background facts about that issue, I know nothing about the way such prejudice influences a player's daily life. Does it make social interaction with more devout people more difficult?
There's normally more piety in our clerics than amongst the players, but I've never had any problem with gamers who observed a faith. They just play D&D and have fun like everyone else.

Same here. I think it's pretty well established here what my beliefs are (check the sig, it's right there plain as day for anyone to see). I run our gaming group, and I don't have a problem with anything in game.
It comes down to a (mis)perception that D&D is somehow tied up in the occult, that's all. I suppose D&D players might be marginally more likely to end up doing occult-like...things...but that's a chicken-or-egg argument. A Christian is prohibited from practicing magic and the like.

If D&D were really tied up in the practice of "real" magic (whatever that's supposed to be), Christians would be completely correct to avoid it. I suppose some of the old mischaracterizations are still floating around.
Hey, why talk about the crazy things the wackos think about D&D when you can LINK to it.

The link below as a link to a Chick tract. Currently certain sects of the "faithful" are wallpapering public buildings with these things. (They're even seen in the documentary "Jesus Camp") And the bottom of the laughable cartoon there's two links to more fear-mongering articles. (One of which tries to sell you a book, score!)

I do not recommend viewing the below link without a paper towel ready to mop op the blood that will inevitably come from this stupidity slamming into your brain.

EDIT: Apparently linking to the stupid site is prohibited. XD I guess I should have known, it's a dark, horrible place. If you google "D&D Chick" you can find it. The article is titled "Dark Dungeons"
Religous themed discussions are frowned upon by the coc.

No they're not. Quote where.
Hey, why talk about the crazy things the wackos think about D&D when you can LINK to it.

The link below as a link to a Chick tract. Currently certain sects of the "faithful" are wallpapering public buildings with these things. (They're even seen in the documentary "Jesus Camp") And the bottom of the laughable cartoon there's two links to more fear-mongering articles. (One of which tries to sell you a book, score!)

I do not recommend viewing the below link without a paper towel ready to mop op the blood that will inevitably come from this stupidity slamming into your brain.

EDIT: Apparently linking to the stupid site is prohibited. XD I guess I should have known, it's a dark, horrible place. If you google "D&D Chick" you can find it. The article is titled "Dark Dungeons"

Yes, it's easy enough to google. I wonder why Wizards never sued them for defamation. But on the other hand, such madness would likely be found irresponsible.
I have two problems with D and D, primarily 3.0+ and F.R. I refuse to play a Cleric of a deity for personal religious reasons, which is a requirement of Forgotten Realms, and I also did not like the dictated, contraditory morality system. Aside from those two problems, which my groups generally ignore, I don't see a problem with D and D. I am not G_d, and I do not know "the answer", but I also believe that nothing in the world, of itself, is evil, but rather what people do to or with it is what defines it as evil or not.

A main arguement I have seen is that DM(? I assume), are playing G_d, and that is the root of the evil. That it also draws people into false worship, in game but that it is real demonworship unbeknownst to the players (my character is a drow Lolth priestess, so that means I am actually funneling real worship to an idol). Another thing is that much of the ingame talk s over heard by those who don't know what is really going on, and assume that those people are serious about what is being said at the table. Lastly, well there are those guys that give it a bad name, and think it is Kool to do so. Primarily immature, they also have a long history of ruining other player's and dm's fun, if they don't like the same styles of play.
Neither does Monopoly, but few would argue that playing the Classic Parker Bros game would be an affront to religion.

Well that was the point of the next paragraph that I wrote. To argue that saying DnD isn't promoting God and His works is like saying most of what happens in our lives isn't doing that either. You are quite correct, to claim one is more of an offense to a religion while the other is not is somewhat hypocritical. I think however, that many get up in arms about the 'spells' part of it. Which I find a bit ludicrous.

Christian ideas of magic spells is fueled by belief, if you believe it will happen, and that the magic effect is not from God, that is the affront against God. That is why a lot of Christians dislike fortune tellers, mystics, ouiji and tarot. They are acknowledging a supreme power other then God. So the fear that DnD is satanic is again based entirely on fears that players will start to believe the spells and this fantasy world are real, turning them away from God and thoughts on God. It is the same reason why a lot of religious groups disliked rock and roll, motorcycles, and, (right now,) video games. This can even extend to non-religious people. Look at the big moral panics there are about games like Grand Theft Auto and whatnot.
Quick note, I'm not going to get too into this topic, but the suffer a witch to live bit is a purposeful mistranslation. A more accurate translation of that particular Rabbinic law would be "thou shalt not suffer an evil magic user to live." Witch is put in there because for centuries, it was synonymous with evil magic user.
*From poster who wondered about Muslims playing D&D*

No! A Christianity and D&D thread! What have I unleashed!?


NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!1!!!1!



In the vein of the actual thread, the whole 1980s Satanic thing was probably a bunch of hysteria cooked up by psychiatric quacks looking to sell books.
A main arguement I have seen is that DM(? I assume), are playing G_d, and that is the root of the evil.

Ahh, here is the meat of some of the arguments, yes. Playing God, one of the biggest no-no's in Christianity, and some theologians call it 'Original Sin.' The desire to be like God, to judge, and control. Which, frankly, every single person on the planet is guilty of. Hence the reason for Christ to show up, and Christianity in the first place, because we can't help doing it.

My thought process, because I love debate, that is being a DM and world building is playing at God, what of those who write fiction? TV, movies, and short stories? The short answer being, that it is almost impossible to not partake in original sin, thus the reason for Christianity in the first place, to seek forgiveness for partaking in it. But then the question comes in, if it's wrong by Christian standards, shouldn't you stop partaking in it? That is where the quandary lies for Christian DnD players.

What of other religions though? Do they have a similar problem? I focus on Christianity because I know it better then others. I am curious if anyone that studied Theology could answer if other faiths have a similar dilemma?
The main monotheistic three do, but mainly it is mainstream Christianity. Muslims would likely have a completly different set of reasons, for example viewing it as outright wrong to have any representations of angels, (not to mention humans) in artwork.

Do not suffer a witch to live is a mistranslation. However it is actual "Do not allow the well to be poisoned", referring to the jews not allowing any of the old cultures to influence their new one, as the Chosen of G_d.

As for the difference between D and D and writting a book or what not, is that you write a book, than it's over. You don't normally think you are the character, or a god or something that is in complete control of all you survey. From an outsiders perspective, Dming does. In nearly all books it says something to the effect that "what the DM/Storyteller/whatever says, goes. period". That sort of attetude is unhealthy mentally, spiritually, and socially if you don't comprehend the idea that you are not a god, you are a mediator. Even if you do, others that overhear usually do not know that it is only during the game, and that the person does not actually believe that.
As a Christian, I tend to oppose any Christian preacher who repeats the nonsense from the 80s. None of them have played D&D, can describe play or anything. Generally it's a matter to press them until they admit ignorance about the game itself. It's one of those things where the critics have no experience with the game and just heard from another person or read in a book that it's bad. But when pressed for facts, there's little or no experience of actual play or what they think play looks like bears no resemblance to real play.

I'd recommend reading the articles by the Christian Gamers Guild:
http://www.christian-gamers-guild.org/

Specifically the articles here:
http://www.christian-gamers-guild.org/chaplain/index.html

The Faith and Gaming series is excellent-- like this one:
http://www.christian-gamers-guild.org/chaplain/faga008.html

Hopefuly those links will help free some people from the ridiculous notion that all Christians are ignorant morons to condemn roleplaying out of ignorance. It's just not so. Maybe enough to give some the impression such a majority exists, but not the majority over all.

If I had a christian in my group, I would play with him normally, but ask of him to accept the world and all parts of it as game and nothing more. If I had a hardcore christ in my group, I would seriously judge him and if someone (no matter who) would utter the sentence I quoted to me (being a Wicca), he would have to run or find himself in hospital.

It's very sad that you can only respond to words with violence. Very sad. As for that particular passage, it was a direction to the nation Israel in ancient times and has no bearing on our laws today. Someone quoting that as if it should be applied today is making a serious mistake in their use of the text. Furthermore, witches in the ancient near east (which has nothing to do with the reconstructed European witchcraft of which Wicca is a subset) were also the source of poisons for would be assassins. Given the root words in Hebrew for that passage, it would also be accurate to translate it "do not suffer a poisoner to live." It just so happened that the experts in poison were witches, shamans, etc., in the ancient near east.

The root of intolerance against RPG players by some Christians is ignorance. The root of intolerance against Christians by some RPG players is ignorance. It's part of being human, but it's still good practice to not fall into the same behaviour one condemns.
Ahh, here is the meat of some of the arguments, yes. Playing God, one of the biggest no-no's in Christianity, and some theologians call it 'Original Sin.' The desire to be like God, to judge, and control. Which, frankly, every single person on the planet is guilty of. Hence the reason for Christ to show up, and Christianity in the first place, because we can't help doing it.

You are mistaken. That is not what Original Sin is.
I've actually played with a few religious people, and I have to say that the best way to make religion acceptable in D&D to them is to make all things very vague. Never actually have outer planes, and never make the gods or any of their servants appear in the game. Make divinity about as ambiguous as it is in real life, and keep it in the realm of faith. The main reason this works is that when they encounter characters that might worship a fictional god of some sort, you can simply say that their god may not even exist... they may just be worshipping air. When the question of where divine magic comes up, don't give them an answer. Give it an air of mystery where the players may not necessarily know.

Albeit in one of my settings, I actually made it where divine magic wasn't actually divine. Instead, once magical characters became vastly powerful, they began emanating power, which lower-level divine casters could wield. Also, once clerics became a certain power level, they too stopped wielding divine power from their source, and just harnessed it from themselves.
I'm a diehard Christian (I'm also full Mexican, I come outa the womb a diehard Christian) and I usually play a Paladin of [insert god of death] (3.5 = Wee Jas, 4e = The Raven Queen). I go to church every week, and I mean every week.

I also get a lot of names for villians, anti-heroes and heroes from Christian mythology (ex. Azazel).

Also if anything I think D&D supports kikin' demon ass. Seriously, who hasn't killed more demons than you remember in D ampersand D? [/mini rant]

Sidenote: Unless you're a caster you can't hate Jews if you play D&D, Jews made golems, golems = awesome.
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I once played D&D with a baptist minister ... well, he was a student in the seminary at the time, and now he's a junior minister at a church a few cities south of where I life, he and I still chat about D&D once in a while over messenger.

I am a non-practicing christian... as in I still have the faith, but I do not actually go to church but I do go to special functions. I can't be arsed to get up that early sunday morning... @_@

I tend to play characters across the board, but militant war clerics, paladins of the god of valor (Hieroneous, Tyr, Bahamut, etc... anything I can represent as a Crystal Dragon Jesus religion) and evil bastard fighters are most common.
Why the hell would god care if some friends are playing a roleplaying game. Seriously.
It's just a game. Seriously, it's as simple as that. Dnd doesn't serve any other use for the secular world either.
Why the hell would god care if some friends are playing a roleplaying game. Seriously.

Probably the same reason so many parents do.
Psh. My parents have never given a flying f@%# about me playing D&D. They know I'm not building a shrine to Satan in my bedroom.
Anyone who's after a theological justification to not play D&D can undoubtedly find one. You could probably find one for not playing Monopoly as well.

If you're a Christian and games like D&D aren't affecting your ability to behave in a Christianly manner, I don't see any reason to stop playing. Gary Gygax was a person of faith, and it never stopped him.
Anyone who's after a theological justification to not play D&D can undoubtedly find one. You could probably find one for not playing Monopoly as well.

If you're a Christian and games like D&D aren't affecting your ability to behave in a Christianly manner, I don't see any reason to stop playing. Gary Gygax was a person of faith, and it never stopped him.

The point is that the concerns are coming from people who don't understand the game. If you're a Christian parent, and you've heard a little something about an activity that supposedly has occult connections, you don't let your kids play it. If you have a more determined kid that walks you through the game and lets you see, for example, that magic spells are statistical abstractions, then you're less likely to base any decision based on rumor.

Thing is, there are a lot more people who haven't played D&D than those who have, and rumors can bounce back and forth pretty easily without being affected by the insular culture of gamers.

The problem usually isn't that a concerned Christian has studied the game thoroughly and reached an odd conclusion. It's that the perception of the game is created by uninformed rumor and that the reality of the game doesn't hit the mainstream enough to clarify the misconceptions.
I am curious if there is theological justification -for- playing DnD. It will be interesting to see what they are.
Well wouldn't you say that, in general, anyone that goes out looking to play DnD, would not be in any way trying to antagonize another player? If a Christian, a Muslim, a Wiccan, a Jew, and a Hindu all get together to play DnD, why would religion come up? The only time it came up with me, was a friend who refused to play a cleric or divine class, and refused to have his character have a patron god, because that would be worshiping 'false gods.' has anything like that ever happened?

I had one player about 20 years ago refuse to accept a patron diety b/c his lord and savior was Jesus Christ.

Ironically, he played lawful evil Monks. He never made it out of town because he always wound up killing somebody in a tavern brawl and then resisting arrest when the constable showed up (he averaged about one character a session).

But he always left my house with a smile on his face so what the heck.
The point is that the concerns are coming from people who don't understand the game. If you're a Christian parent, and you've heard a little something about an activity that supposedly has occult connections, you don't let your kids play it. If you have a more determined kid that walks you through the game and lets you see, for example, that magic spells are statistical abstractions, then you're less likely to base any decision based on rumor.

Thing is, there are a lot more people who haven't played D&D than those who have, and rumors can bounce back and forth pretty easily without being affected by the insular culture of gamers.

The problem usually isn't that a concerned Christian has studied the game thoroughly and reached an odd conclusion. It's that the perception of the game is created by uninformed rumor and that the reality of the game doesn't hit the mainstream enough to clarify the misconceptions.

The irony is that if you asked a Christian parent "Would you approve of your children playing a game that glorified the acquisition of personal excess, while encouraging them to seek pleasure in the ruin of others?" they might say "No, not at all!" until they learn that the question refers to Monopoly.

Since Monopoly is a comfortable mainstream family game that's known worldwide, it escapes scrutiny over whether it may promote questionable values. While D&D, being a 'weird' niche game, is far more likely to have rumors and untruths sticking to it. But in the end, I think most "Christian concern" over D&D can only persist if someone keeps fuelling it. Without the ranting rumormongers, most Christians will eventually regard D&D as just another game.
I was introduced to the game in 1979 or so by my cousin, who would go on to find his calling as a Presbyterian minister. He still plays occasionally.

My mom was about as evangelical as one could get, Christ permeated her life to the very end. She bought me the 1e core books for Christmas 1980, and never gave me an indication that she regretted it.

And I had a buddy in the 8th grade who had some hardcore Catholic parents (the Too Much Fun theory killed many a late-night session - they'd always call and cut it short, not because we were playing AD&D, but because, or so we joked, he was having too much fun out of their sight), but they never objected to the game itself.

I've never experienced any negativity from anyone, Christian or otherwise, concerning D&D in any of its incarnations. Well, the rent-a-cop for Daniel Hall at Clemson U. didn't like us, but we could get pretty loud =)
As a Christian, I view playing D&D as glorifying the imagination and creativity that God has given me.

Also, from the direction the players seem to be making their characters, my new campaign has a good chance of being a villains' campaign. :D

I tried running a one-shot at one of our Church game nights and the only reason it didn't start was nobody thought we had enough time, so I went on to play a game of slaughter, brutal and merciless war and putting down all who would oppose you.

Otherwise known as Risk. :D

Srsly, they're games. At the end of the game, everybody had had so much fun, we all spontaneously shook hands. As for harm? To what? The plastic pieces?

Seems to me this 'Christian hysteria' thing may well now be mostly rumor and bad luck with the occasional crazy.
I'm a Christian, been one all my life. I'm old enough to have been there for the original wave of hysteria in the 80's...and it sucked.

I first learned about D&D from a fellow pastor's kid (my father being a minister, too). The old basic blue book - to a 12-year old, it was the coolest thing ever. I asked my mom and dad to get it for my birthday, but one week before my birthday, they hysteria hits the news and my holy-roller aunt calls our house and warns us about "that satanic Dungeons and Demons" game. That was it - no D&D for me. Looking back on it now, I don't think that my parents were really opposed to it from a theological perspective, but with my father being a minister and all, it wouldn't look good to the more fanatic members of the congregation if I was playing, what with all the stupid news stories about D&D that were flying around. Same thing for fantasy novels, movies, etc. - if it had magic in it, forget it.

You know how some kids hid their dirty magazines under their beds? I had my D&D books under there...until my parents found 'em. In fact, no other issue caused more fights between my parents and I than D&D. I moved out at 18, and have been a gamer ever since.

I love my parents, but it was just the one thing I thought we'd never see eye-to-eye on. Twenty-some years later, I convinced my mom and dad to see "Fellowship of the Ring". After the movie, my dad calls me up and when I ask him what he thought of the movie, he says in a quiet thoughtful voice "I can see why you liked that stuff." A few weeks later, I learn from my mom that the old man went out and bought all three LOTR books and had read them. I was stunned (thank you, Peter Jackson!) We still don't really talk about it, but I think that there's now an acceptance on their part, and a peace between us regarding fantasy gaming and fantasy in general that was never there before.

I'm still a believing Christian, I'm raising my children in the faith, and I even lead Bible study courses at church on Sunday. Yet every Wednesday night, me and my friends of many years still get together, strap on our imaginary swords, and carve a path to treasure and glory playing D&D. My greatest recent joy is to see the looks of wonder and amazement on my oldest daughter's face as she played in her first D&D adventure ever on the worldwide D&D day. On the way home, she could barely contain her excitement "That is the coolest game EVER, dad!"

I know, kid, I know.
one of my players is a Jehovah's witness. He will get offended at alot of things, but funnily enough, he treats D&D as a "religion neutral zone". He argues that since its a fantasy game and not real, that the issues of things like the various in-game religions and whatever else opposes his views is perfectly fine.

He has only played a Paladin once, and thats the pregen Dragonborn Paladin in Keep on the Shadowfell. He has happily jumped in to the role of a pious warrior of a dragon-god without batting an eyelid. He has never once been offended by the usage of gods, presence of demons/devils, evil cults, etc etc in the game. He understands that its all just to make a story and none of it is meant to be offensive to his real world views.

EDIT: actually, I tell a lie. He is also currently playing a Dwarven Cleric of Gond, with a view to becoming a Techsmith. Again, he has happily embraced worshipping an imaginary god. One of that players most memorable quotes from that game was "I thought the whole point of playing a Cleric was so that I could have a flamethrower!"