D&D and the Bible


Well-Known Member
"D&D" is in the title as clickbait.

Sort of.

Have you ever played the Parker Bros. board game called "Risk"? It is a rules-light game of "global conquest, invented in 1959. And I really mean "rules light". "Axis and Allies" is more complex, but even it is comparatively rules light, when compared to the "real" war games, usually published by Avalon Hill. You have probably seen photos or short video clips of people moving lines of brightly painted tin soldiers across landscaped tables with model houses and trees and such. I once, years ago, participated in a wargame called "Third Reich". It took us two solid hours to set up the board. Fortunately, I was playing France, and was taken out in the first turn, and so was able to take my leave.

Anyway, I mention these games because Dungeons and Dragons shares the same gaming tradition as Risk, Axis and Allies, and the Third Reich. The original D&D was actually a supplement to a wargame called Chainmail.

D&D is a tabletop role-playing game--the first one invented, in fact--that differs from other traditional board games by the inclusion of a player role called the "dungeon master" or "game master", who acts as a referee for the other players.

The other players are normally part of the same team, and work together (ideally) to accomplish some goal, usually the completion of some quest developed by the game master--rescuing prisoners, helping a town ward off an enemy army, etc. The gameplay of the original edition (There are officially five editions, so far; in reality one could make the case for nine editions) and a few of the other early editions was focused on resource management, teamwork, and exploration. Since it was a wargame derivative, fighting monsters was one of the draws of the game, but in practice it was normally better to avoid fighting, whenever possible. The "playing of roles" part of the game involved the creation of characters who the players controlled as they explored the dungeons.

The popularity of D&D was in some part due to the "Lord of the Rings" books, by J.R.R. Tolkien, but the creators of the game, while familiar with Tolkien, were more fond of earlier fantasy fiction, sometimes called "pulp fantasy"; Conan the Barbarian is the most well-known fictional character of that genre, but there were many other fantasy stories and characters created throughout the 20th Century. While "Lord of the Rings" is a story about Good versus Evil, these pulp fantasy stories were more about Law versus Chaos, and it is this latter viewpoint (the "ethical axis" as opposed to the good-versus-evil "moral axis") that was infused into the D&D rules. A strong description of "Law versus Chaos" is given in the novel "Three Hearts and Three Lions", by Poul Anderson. An excerpt:
"Holger got the idea that a perpetual struggle went on between primeval forces of Law and Chaos. No, not forces exactly. Modes of existence? A terrestrial reflection of the spiritual conflict between heaven and hell? In any case, humans were the chief agents on earth of Law, though most of them were so only unconsciously and some, witches and warlocks and evildoers, had sold out to Chaos. A few nonhuman beings also stood for Law. Ranged against them was almost the whole Middle World, which seemed to include realms like Faerie, Trollheim, and the Giants – an actual creation of Chaos. Wars among men, such as the long-drawn struggle between the Saracens and the Holy Empire, aided Chaos; under Law all men would live in peace and order and that liberty which only Law could give meaning. But this was so alien to the Middle Worlders that they were forever working to prevent it and to extend their own shadowy dominion."
When a player created a character, one of the things he decided was the character's alignment: Law, Neutral, or Chaos. This had no discernable practical effect on gameplay, but character alignment is such a core element of the rules, that it exists to the latest edition. By the way, the rules specifically call out Law as being "good" and chaos as "evil", but later editions would complicate the alignment structure by combining the "ethical" and "moral" axes, bringing about the "Lawful Good", "Chaotic Good", and "Lawful Evil" alignments, among others.

But I wish to focus on the idea of Law versus Chaos. It could also be called Civilization versus Wilderness, or Entropy versus Order. This perspective is as Biblical as Good versus Evil.

When God spoke the world and the universe into existence, after each day, it says "there was evening, and there was morning, Day One", and so forth. I assumed this is why the Jews started the new day at dusk, but Chuck Missler, in one of his lectures, goes into a little explanation of the terms translated "evening" and "morning". I don't remember the specifics, but the words mean something like "obscured" and "clearly visible", respectively, based on the idea that it is harder to see details at twilight than at dawn. "Evening" could be translated "Chaos", and "Morning" could be "order". God brought order from chaos.

Another example--this one more related to the idea of civilization and wilderness--where did God originally place humans? In a garden. Where do the people who are faithful to God wind up in eternity? The City of New Jerusalem.

Even the altar at the tabernacle/temple differs; the Old Testament altar has to be built of uncut stone (Exodous 20:25), but the Millenial Temple described in Ezekiel has four altars made of cut stone (Ezekiel 40:42). Unfinished stone is replaced by worked stone. Chaos is turned into Law/Order.

Those who reject Jesus's free gift of salvation are cast into a place of utter chaos--a lake burning with fire. Those of us who have by God's grace been saved have an eternal home that has twelve foundations. Complete security in a place of order and Law, crafted by the creator of Law.

As an aside, Gary Gygax, one of the co-creators of the Dungeons and Dragons game, and the one who turned the hobby-game into a successful business venture, was a Jehovah's witness around the time he created the game. He later seemed to go more non-denominational. He was a member of the Christian "geek" forum, Fans for Christ. He claimed Matthew 5:16 was his "life verse". He also claimed that his family had a tradition that they were descended from Goliath of Gath, the giant that David killed(!).

Speaking of war games, which person did God command to play an early version of a miniature wargame?