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D&D/roleplaying- does it influence religious investigation

ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,188
edited March 2017 in Off-Topic
So in my last disscussion 'Evils' of AD&D, we touched on some issues that I am curious about ('and now for something completely different').

Has playing D&D (PnP or computer) had some influence as to your REAL LIFE religious curiosity. I won't specifically include any religion within the poll (and that includes atheism and agnosticism as they are certainly legitimate choices as well) as the choice does not really matter, the influence, (or not) is what does. This could also include influencing one NOT to have an interest in religion as well.

In my own instance, it is hard to say if one choice had an influence on another, but in general I think that over time interests and experiences build upon themselves to shape what we prefer.
Having some age on the forum gives me the chance to say I investigated, joined in, followed, and studied quite a few religions, both Left Hand and Right Hand paths.
I know that D&D led me to interests in college, minoring in medieval history. That in turn got me to exploring the catholic church as my studies into medieval church and state and love of rituals led there.
After a while that led to becoming a non practicing catholic and then on to Left hand paths and alternate new age (some white hand stuff there). It also led to a general returning or leaving to something previously followed. Eastern religions got a fair shake as well.
Nothing quite had the Umph like fantasy divine stuff( wouldn't THAT be something). Is that it?
Everything pretty much left me sitting right in the middle now, taking a little of this and a little of that and making my own combination of beliefs.
Still, sitting in the middle still leaves something to be desired, something that nothing explored yet to date has quite supplied. Maybe it will come to me, the internet has certainly given the keys (if not made it more difficult at the same time)

I only ask that everyone be respectful here as I believe all religions have something beneficial to offer (fingers crossed-we always have the OVERLORDS (admins).

Remember, it is not about WHAT you believe or think is right, but were you INFLUENCED
My first poll so take it easy, hehheh

Poll is anonymous due to the sensitive nature.

D&D/roleplaying- does it influence religious investigation 24 votes

Yes, D&D influenced my choice, study of, or interest in (of a) religion
8% 2 votes
No, D&D did not influence my choice, study of, or interest in (of a) religion
66% 16 votes
I honestly can't say
8% 2 votes
Show me the results
0% 0 votes
I honestly don't care
16% 4 votes
Post edited by Zaghoul on


  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,197
    Religion is always a fascinating subject, but for me, the interest was wholly separate from DnD. It did, however, influence my fascination with folklore. Old bogeyman tales or probably never existed creatures.

  • NotabarbiegirlNotabarbiegirl Member Posts: 143
    MY Gaming and my Religion/ Relationship with God are different categories. I can separate them easily, just as I can study other belief systems than mine with out embracing them for personal use.

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,188
    @ThacoBell Got my interest into folklore as well

    @Notabarbiegirl I get that, and it is a fair point. For me, as I started D&D at such a young age I think it fostered more of a curiosity into the study of religions and ancient cultures. I don't intend this poll to be about non-separation of game and person (church n state, hehheh), just of one thing possibly causing new interests or an openess to arise. :)

  • NotabarbiegirlNotabarbiegirl Member Posts: 143
    @Zaghoul I understand that and I had more self-imposed exposure than just my games. I was a high level reader growing up. Therefore, I ventured into vast new lands and thoughts different than my upbringing often. I embraced the sci-fi and fantasy genre a few years after reading Shakespeare and Mythology for fun in Elementary school "Many moons ago" . Also, as an "old gamer" , especially a "girl gamer" kept me stretched well past the real life belief system.

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,188
    @Notabarbiegirl Heh, yep, my reading was quite different in grammer school as well. Actually it was that reading that I chose myself (choosing to ignore the boring info in class at the time) that almost had me failing out of school later.

    Mythology- I remember taking that in college and thinking on the benefits of being schooled in the names already from the ol Deities n Demigods book that came out when I was younger.

    It was hard to find girls that were interested back then (being shy did not help), at least in my ol small town. When we did I always thought it brought some sorely needed diversity to the group.

  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,876
    Most D&D campaign settings never really did their religions all that well. Forgotten Realms being the prime offender here: it having 250+ gods and all. Even when additionally consulting deity specific books, such as Faiths & Avatars, they just feel terrible “flat“. Resembling more fan clubs than anything. The fact that seemingly everyone can ascent to godhood with the right backing is another point which waters it down quite a bit. It's as if Ed Greenwood's motto was 'quantity over quality'...

    Eberron was better in that regard because clergymen indentify themselves with their churches and temples instead. Not specific deities. This with the fact that gods in Eberron don't possess avatars to walk the realm of mortals felt actually refreshing to me.

    But honestly, other franchises' religions are much more interestingly done than what D&D has to offer. It's after all more interesting to have a smaller amount of faiths within a world setting, than taking a bite out of every Earth country's folklore and mixing them together somehow. Call of Cthulhu was successful in that regard. Same as The Dark Eye. Trudvang Chronicles being another fascinating treasure trove of folklore.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,188
    @Kamigoroshi Sorry, edited post to read REAL LIFE. But yes, esp. back in the early days of D&D before everything was more fleshed out. Some adventures just seemed like they existed in a vacuum.

    @FinneousPJ Edited the pre poll decription to read 'D&D may have led to NOT having an interest in religion as well.

    Any others reading could interpret the yes or no poll answers also to mean it did, or did not, lead to NO INTEREST in religion(no interest in religion being a valid choice in my opinion for the poll.)

    But I figure most everything has a reaction to something else. Listening to music may provoke a response, road rage is a response. Hear a preacher speak at a church for example may lead to one person's revelation and another person leaving a church forever. Same with listening to politicians, ones parents, ones friends ,etc. A news story.
    Maybe this helps.

  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,876
    In that case, nope. As said before D&D did a terrible job on that front.
    At least Call of Cthulhu managed to influence my sense of aesthetic. Which is something, I guess.

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,188
    @Kamigoroshi Never played the game but read all Lovecraft's novels and short stories. They certainly influenced me in what I considered was imaginative and thought provoking reading material.

  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    No... but if we broaden the question a little to include other fantasty systems, Terry Pratchett was a massive influence on my beliefs/ philosophy.

    I particularly like his idea of a feckless, selfish, petty and generally inept pantheon... seems much more in keeping with my own observations about the world.

  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 861
    edited March 2017
    I would have found the path of Flying Spaghetti Monster fundamentalism with or without AD&D.

    Interestingly, my P&P days were in the very early '80s (1st Ed.), and at the time there was fear in certain circles that the game would lead to an epidemic of demon and devil worshiping. Some parents just worried that too many jaunts through the Tomb of Horrors could fray the lines between fantasy and reality in the minds of young players. But in either case, a change in religious and philosophical perspective was exactly what spooked them. Does anyone remember the movie Mazes and Monsters, with Chris Makepeace?

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,197
    @BelgarathMTH I've done/still do the same thing.

  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 861
    @BelgarathMTH What about the key buffing spells, like DUHM?

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,188
    @abacus You have a point there. When think roleplaying I just automatically think D&D because of such a long association with it. But really this poll could mean any roleplaying game I think.

    If we put it up against science, I know SOMETIMES a person's real life science beliefs or science fiction likes, influence them to turn away from religion, then again it can also strengthen it as well (or if voting no- science might not affect a person's tendancy for or against religion as well).
    In church history(I.E catholic),esp in medieval and even more so renaissance times, science caused many a person and priest to question the way things were explained (I found this very interesting in college studies)

    @OrlonKronsteen Yep, Mazes n Monsters. As to DUHM I can imagine a good sermon or blessing good have very well inspired many in the 'holy' wars of times past to get really fired up and receive a natural adrenalin boost.

    @BelgarathMTH Haha, I hear ya. I studied so much church history and was such a part of 'the Church', I cannot say the thoughts did not enter my mind, just because of my playing D&D.

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,188
    Looks like this has run it's course. Thanks to everyone that got involved, it was, informative. :)

  • QuickbladeQuickblade Member Posts: 959
    edited April 2017
    D&D, no.

    Although I think the good/evil+law/chaos bi-axis has shaped my moral views a bit. People can do good, but break the law. People can follow the letter of the law, but be evil.

    Other fantasy books, yes. I just reread an old novel called 'Shaman' which included, you guessed it, fantasy shamans (involving sort-of time-travel, but ironically, actual dates for the main character happened recently, as it's set in 2017 in a dystopian future). There were many references to Mircea Eliade, a well-known historian of religion. A lot of Christopher Pike novels when I was younger had a lot of New Age/Hindu mythology in them.

    Also when I was a kid I read a ton of mythology of all sorts. Greek and Norse mainly, but also Polynesian/Hawaiian and a bit of Native American.

    It might sound stupid, but my views on religion is what "feels right", not anything I've ever read, and what feels right to me is one or more of several things:
    1. Is that there is, at best, a creator of the universe who made the universe and is just watching it without interference. A Deist perspective.
    2. There is no separate Creator from Creation, everything is metaphysically connected to everything else. Hell, everything IS physically connected to everything else by means of gravity. A Pantheist perspective.
    3. There is no free will, everything happening now is already predetermined by prior events, and the future is already determined by what happens now. There is no God because any being would be trapped as well by prior events.

    I really can't point to any books that shaped "that is why I think so".

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,188
    @Quickblade Interesting. I'm hearing you though.

    Uh oh, ya done got me ruminating again :);)

    I actually got the notion to read fantasy and science fiction FROM being introduced to D&D at around 10 or so. That in turn led to reading historical fiction, fantasy and SF.

    I sometimes wonder if when looking at an a particular alignment description, some folks might think 'that fits me perfectly' and are then more apt to follow that in RL after playing it often enough. Personally I think human nature is more complicated than that in RL for various reasons, but for a game it's not to bad. Just thinking aloud here (so to speak).

    I think it would be interesting if there a way to look back on our life and see what the different choices we made caused us to look down a new path. The beliefs you mentioned, like anyone might have, seem to be from different choices we make , people we hear, sights we see, trauma we experience ,etc., and take an interest in or not, basically just shape us in general. Life just seems to do that.

    So what feels right, as you mention would seem to be a combination of life experiences that we all experience or not, of many sorts that eventually solidify into a belief structure.

    A poll like this could include so many different things.

    Similar in a way that we might look up something on the internet or the library(for us older folks) and end up looking up something totally different.
    I find it interesting on how books, games etc., might lead us to a religion, being an atheist, an agnostic, or even, after having exploring so many, we end up with an combination of varying beliefs that then, through putting ones own touch on them, develop something new.

    We all know these tests we take to determine our class, alignment, etc. I know some at least must think, what if I push this choice,will it change my alignment, or my class, etc.

    Imagine the length of the test if some 'brain reader' could design a test that gave us the option to see all of the choices we made and the ability to be able to tick that box or another option, and see what happens.

    Anyway, I find my own connection to D&D, fantasy novels and movies, early resistance to parents church requirements, must have had SOME influence in my life and led to exploration of many different religious beliefs, biases, just the sometimes irritating notion to question most things in general.

    Or maybe it all didn't. Will we, in old age, really ever know what did and what didn't influence us in each and every way? B)

    Got me wanting to watch Monty Python and the Meaning of Life again for some fool reason, hehheh.

  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 9,806
    Religion, not really. But I do think often about how nearly every RPG ever made is influenced by it, and since practically half of modern games have RPG elements baked-in, D&D is without question the single greatest influence on video games that has ever existed, and I don't even think it's really close. So we can praise some deity for that.

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,188
    @jjstraka34 Hmm, if not religion, then, I wonder how many people got into game design/development, writing, the movie industry, archaeology, etc., because of said D&D influences or the books that led them to read. I think that touches on my last reply. Maybe D&D influenced more than just one or two things with peoples choices, directly or indirectly, as I am thinking you may have alluded to.

  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 1,996

    @BelgarathMTH What about the key buffing spells, like DUHM?

    I've found Jack Daniels to be more effective.

  • Son_of_ImoenSon_of_Imoen Member Posts: 1,810
    Playing Dungeons & Dragons (and Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay and delving into Runequest) for me was just a very fascinating hobby. What influenced my view on religion was delving into religion and philosophy (I studied Religious Studies and Philosophy, until my mental illness prevented me from studying), but most of all it's influenced by critical thinking by myself and reading popular science books as a hobby to broaden my view of the world. The person of Richard Dawkins has been most influential of all, plus the other three of 'The four horsemen', Daniel Dennet, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. With honourable mentions for Stuart Kaufmann (whom my uncle exposed me to, but I forgot the title), Ilya Prigogine (Order out of Chaos), Robert Wright (Non-Zero), Martin Nowak (Super-Cooperators) and Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs and Steel) to help me understand the world.

  • Son_of_ImoenSon_of_Imoen Member Posts: 1,810
    *edit: another big influence is my parents, whose religion is very mild compared to the kind of religion Richard Dawkins is antagonizing against, making me think he's often creating strawmen. From my parents I've learned being Christian (capital C in English says me spelling checker, looks weird I can say!) can take the form of being inspired by stories and narratives, by the community your part of without adhering to any metaphysical belief in a God outside of those stories and narratives.

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,188
    @tbone1 I will admit, ol JD can have an influence for sure.

    @Son_of_Imoen I did start a stint in my early college years in the eighties where I got into medieval history and religion. The medieval history I am pretty sure from an interest in the time period from fantasy and D&D. The religion seemed to come out of that for some reason, first Christianity (it DOES want me to capitatlize it, huh) and formative Judaism and then on to eastern religions through exposure to learning Japanese ( I got tired of Latin).

    I do know Jared Diamond that you mentioned, I think he has some interesting ideas on what has shaped the world, especially after getting into epidemiology, and combining that with in depth study on the psychology of terrorism(inc. state terrorism).

    Parents, yep. Whether we go with their ideas or rebel against them, I wholeheartedly agree our family and peers have one of the biggest influences on our development. Yeah, the stories we here, esp those regarding religion can, if not lead one to religion seem to be able to make one think and reflect sometimes that can lead one to something they certainly did not intend to set out to do.

    In general, I just find it interesting how a single or combination of events or exposures to things, can lead us down paths we never would have thought of before them.

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