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Satanic Panic of the late 80's


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Back in the day, I kinda enjoyed the movie. Sure, I knew it was a total hatchet job on my beloved hobby, but it was still ostensibly a movie about D&D, some sort of recognition.

I recently read the book it's based on. The book makes it abundantly clear the amount of psychological damage all of the characters are laboring with, then waltzes right past all of that trauma to say "D&D is at fault!"

Heard about it and even saw the TERRIBLE young Tom Hanks movie Mazes and Monsters. I was born in 1985 so by the time I learned about DND and heard about the Satanic Pact, it was mid/late 90's.
 

Back in the day, I kinda enjoyed the movie. Sure, I knew it was a total hatchet job on my beloved hobby, but it was still ostensibly a movie about D&D, some sort of recognition.

I recently read the book it's based on. The book makes it abundantly clear the amount of psychological damage all of the characters are laboring with, then waltzes right past all of that trauma to say "D&D is at fault!"
Didn't know it was based on a book.
 


wicked cool

Explorer
i lived it

first thing -the tom hanks movie wasn't awful (then) and they tended to put it on tv a lot (this is precalbe). it had an effect on my parents and I bet on most

second-not sure if its related but right around that time D&D was popular. You could buy all the books at your toysrus etc and even my local pharmacy/grocery sold grenadier sets

then it must have been 84 when I remember that stuff went away and demons etc were pulled from the game. we didn't run high level games so it wasn't as noticeable
 

pming

Hero
Hiya!

It's true! Playing D&D turned me into a Satanist!
;)

(seriously though...I started playing D&D when I was 10; when I was 17 I became a Satanist; I'm 51 now...still a Satanist, although I have split my 'religion' recently between Satanism and Pastafarianism...I guess I'm a "Satanic Pastafarian" now; just picture the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but with more black, skulls and metal blasting over the speakers as his noodly appendages caress your tender face... :) ).

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

MGibster

Legend
first thing -the tom hanks movie wasn't awful (then) and they tended to put it on tv a lot (this is precalbe). it had an effect on my parents and I bet on most
It wasn't pre-cable. HBO was launched in 1972, CNN first broadcasted in 1980, TBS started out as an Atlanta television station but became a cable station in 1976, and in 1977 the Christian Broadcasting Network was established. By the time Mazes and Monsters aired in 1982, 1 in 5 American households had cable.
 

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
Earlier I asked about the timing of this because my memory was that the sh*t had mostly blown over by high school for me (late 80s).

I first played with older kids by age 7. My Mom was not entirely pleased when she heard the DM narrate a native getting cut in half. But whatever, I was little.

we played more after that with my actual peers. All was relatively well until a friend’s mother fed my mother a lot of fear about heavy metal and D&D.

my first vinyl record was a Kiss record and it too was suspect (face palm).

so I started hiding d and d from my mother. It sucked. It was like a drug habit! My family has a religious faith but we are also all educated. It was a weird tension.

fast forward to the late 80s and I let her know my dark secret. My character was killing monsters and saving people all along. Not only that, but all my lifelong friends she loved were in on the debauchery. We had a good laugh about the hysteria. And of course then I started buying up heavy metal shirts as it should have been the whole time.

it’s wild that it happened. I am in a position to understand both sides of the issue since my foot was in both cultures and still is to an extent.

it caused me a lot of grief during the time. But I would also say that movement was damaging to some faith communities. I grew up believing that many of my guitar heroes and proponents of D&D were theistic Satanists with bad intentions. How confusing for a kid! Unfortunate.

And many years later I read about Gygax and his background and have kept up with a lot of the musicians in question and it’s ironic to see how far off the insanity really was.

it’s embarrassing to see how many good intentioned folks let the hysteria effect their beliefs. But it is also hubris to think this cannot happen again in another form.

play on! I cannot wait to play again and want to get my kids involved further. Yes, I will also teach them my faith and values too which are not at cross purposes with the wonderful game of course.

my six year old is also awaiting his first heavy metal show. Post COVID it’s going down and I will buy him a concert shirt too(, you can rest assured.

his first character ‘Halk’ (I got him to change his name from hulk) is a greenish half orc who was raised by and protects halflings. He was splitting some skulls out of the gate, as it should be.

and at six he already knows this just pretend and we don’t hit people with hammers...
 
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It wasn't pre-cable. HBO was launched in 1972, CNN first broadcasted in 1980, TBS started out as an Atlanta television station but became a cable station in 1976, and in 1977 the Christian Broadcasting Network was established. By the time Mazes and Monsters aired in 1982, 1 in 5 American households had cable.

I am often surprised when I watch old boxing matches in the 70s and see that HBO aired it. But one thing to keep in mind, that 1 in 5 number shows just how much cable wasn't a part of the average persons life in the early 80s. And it varied a lot from one place in the country to another. We didn't get cable in our house until, at the earliest, 1985 or so (and that was because we moved into an area where it was available, if we hadn't moved, it would have taken longer). I still tend to think of the early 80s as pre-cable for that reason (I think I knew one person who had cable in 1982)
 

MGibster

Legend
We didn't get cable in our house until, at the earliest, 1985 or so (and that was because we moved into an area where it was available, if we hadn't moved, it would have taken longer). I still tend to think of the early 80s as pre-cable for that reason (I think I knew one person who had cable in 1982)
We didn't get cable until 1986 and and the first video I ever saw on MTV was Bananarama's Venus. Memory is a funny thing and I tend to think of 1982 as pre-cable as well. I'm pretty sure I saw Mazes and Monsters sometime in the early 1990s but I can't remember which cable network was showing it. I'm pretty sure the only reason it's still shown is because Tom Hanks was in it.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
it caused me a lot of grief during the time. But I would also say that movement was damaging to some faith communities. I grew up believing that many of my guitar heroes and proponents of D&D were theistic Satanists with bad intentions. How confusing for a kid! Unfortunate.

And many years later I read about Gygax and his background and have kept up with a lot of the musicians in question and it’s ironic to see how far off the insanity really was.
Yeah, that frequently is the case with these things. There are certain mindsets that are really resistant to diversity of approaches to life, entertainment, faith, and so on. Fortunately, it more often leads to hysteria these days and media frenzies rather than crusades against heretics and mass executions.
 

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
Yeah, that frequently is the case with these things. There are certain mindsets that are really resistant to diversity of approaches to life, entertainment, faith, and so on. Fortunately, it more often leads to hysteria these days and media frenzies rather than crusades against heretics and mass executions.
Yes. Then like now it takes the form of goofy statements and getting the vapors.

some parts of the world sadly take the next step too.

All I can do is my part to spread the fun of the hobby...heavy metal and beer...

if that is my only legacy I am good with it
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Those crazy 80s!

I mean, just think. An entire completely bogus conspiracy theory that had, at its core, the idea that there was a large group of people that were Satanist and were abusing children. There were actually a lot of people that really, truly believed that there were organized and powerful groups of people in music, in the media, and even in the schools and in politics that were engaged in Satanic blood sacrifice and child abuse.

And there were lives that were ruined over it. It started with the crazy theories, and the book burnings. But people went to actual real prison over the hysteria!

Thank goodness we are so much more enlightened now, and wouldn't let crazy conspiracy theories about blood sacrifices and child abuse take hold.
 

der_kluge

Adventurer
I used to collect Chick Tracts back in the day, when I'd see them lying out or getting handed them. I am sad to say that I never came across a Dark Dungeons in the wild.
I don't know if they're still available (Doubtful), but I literally just went on his site and bought a couple of sets. I gave a bunch out at one Gen Con. I still have a set in my drawer.
 

Just out of curiosity...

what is the date this went wild?

I took flak in the mid 80s and 2nd edition was what year?
JD Egbert III went missing in 1979. It was blamed on D&D, until he was found. It was actually that he tried, failed, and had to come to grips with having failed to commit suicide in the steam tunnels. He hid for a month in friends homes.
1981 Moldvay Basic
1982 Cook Expert
Pulling's son (who did play D&D, but had many worse issues besides that) committed suicide in 1982.
Pulling started BADD in 1983, blaming D&D for her son's suicide.
1983 new edition of Basic and Expert
1984 Companion set for the 1983 B & E sets.
Unearthed Arcana for AD&D 1E was 1985.
1985 BEC Master set
1986 BECM Immortals set (Gold)
AD&D 2E was 1989.

1990, Mike Stackpole refutes Pulling's work, and the Canadian and US governments both release statements that D&D is not shown to be harmful to mental health.

1991 Big Black Box Basic Set, D&D Cyclopedia (containing the rules from BECM of BECMI)
 

Alas, it appears that Dark Dungeons is a custom order, which means it's only available in orders of 10,000 or more. Perhaps a GoFundMe is in order... :)

I don't know if they're still available (Doubtful), but I literally just went on his site and bought a couple of sets. I gave a bunch out at one Gen Con. I still have a set in my drawer.
 

Nytmare

David Jose
Bizarre coincidence: going though boxes of my mom's old files and just found a stack of paperclipped photocopies, mimeographs, and newspaper clippings from 79/80 along with a note from some PTA friend warning about satanic cults.
 

erc1971

Explorer
I remember my mom telling me about Mazes And Monsters. She heard it was a TV show D&D, she had no clue it was propaganda against D&D, and just thought it would be something I would find cool to watch.
 

Mythic Nation

Owner of Mythic Nation
Publisher
During that time, I applied for a government job where I had to undergo an extensive background check. It came up that most of my friends were from being DnD. Luckily the background investigator was really curious about DnD and open minded. It could have gone a lot different with a different investigator.
 

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