08 August 2007

Spell-casting 101

I would like to write a detailed post on role-playing games (RPGs; this is an acronym-happy hobby) at some point: my own history with them, current interests, comments on their development. But not right now. Instead, I want to share something I discovered on The Escapist, an RPG advocacy site. RPGs have faced attacks based on outlandish rumors and misconceptions almost from their origins. I vividly remember the "Patricia Pulling Campaign" of the 1980s, when Dungeons & Dragons came under suspicion of causing teen suicides and leading players into the clutches of…let's all say it together now…Satan! (Thank you, Church Lady.)

Of course, there was absolutely nothing to these accusations. The Escapist website explains all this at their FAQ. Novelist Michael A. Stackpole also penned "The Pulling Report," a lengthy dissection of the RPG controversy.

If some of this sounds familiar, it's because Harry Potter has received the exact same attacks in recent years: J. K. Rowling's novels of the struggles of a young boy wizard are supposedly teaching innocent children how to cast spells and summon demons!

This would be funny if it weren't that the accusers are 100% serious about this drivel. What is funny—in the "ironic" definition of funny—about this brouhaha is that the folks screeching about "demons, devils, and diabolism" actually sound like the lunatic, drooling occultist that they claim are out to convert children into the Armies of Darkness. When they launch tirades at Harry Potter/RPGs, they sound like candidates for strait-jackets.

Finally, someone at The Escapist set about to test the hypothesis, proclaimed widely as indisputable fact by anti-Potterites and foes of RPGs, that reading these books and playing these games will teach you how to cast actual, really-and-for-truly, magical spells. Here are his test results. I think you'll find them…amusing.

I have this to add:

If anyone, anywhere, has developed magical powers or learned arcane spells that defy the laws of known physics from reading Harry Potter novels or from using RPG supplements, please immediately contact the James Randi Educational Foundation. They have a million dollar prize awaiting you if you can successfully demonstrate these abilities. Easy money, if these folks are right about the power coiled inside these book, which any child apparently can learn to cast.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go get my lunch out the Bag of Holding I created last night using only a 3rd edition Dungeon Master's Guide, a burlap sack, and a public domain DVD of Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla.