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LEARNING DAY

Learning Day: Dark Dungeons🌭

Jack Chick was kind of a low rent missionary. A street preacher for shut-ins. A televangelist for people who live in vans. He’s what happens when you successfully convert a nerd, and why nobody tries that anymore. He writes insane tiny comic books warning people that don’t exist about things that never happen. He is at his very best when he’s talking about something he is utterly unqualified to discuss, which is everything, but especially Dungeons and Dragons. Back in the ‘80s, the Satanic panic saw nervous church ladies desperately afraid of dorks for reasons nobody could exactly pin down, and so Jack Chick stumbled in to explain the real problem with role playing games in…

For the cover, Jack Chick thought of the scariest thing he could imagine, which was a man with pinkeye in a sheet. It doesn’t succeed in setting an ominous tone, and it also fails as a reference to set up the content of the comic: There are no sheet ghosts in this tract, just like there are no sheet ghosts in D&D. Not unless you’re playing a sorcerer who uses their abilities to convince townspeople they’re a ghost in some kind of fantasy Scooby Doo scenario. Which is actually a solid idea, so I call dibs.

Jack was willing to trudge all the way down to the comic book store to glance in on a game of D&D, so he knows it involves a screen and miniature figures. But the last time he asked unattended children what kind of magic they believe in he spent two weeks in a county jail trying to trade wee comic books for toilet Fresca. He’ll often get a sense of how a thing looks, but will never ask a single question about how it works.

Dice are completely absent, as are character sheets and gameplay. This is how he thinks Dungeons and Dragons works: You go to a “cool” divorcee’s house and she tells you about the traps you’ve fallen into, not including this one. If she informs you the game is over, you are escorted out of a nice living room and then lose all of your friends. That is literally the opposite of D&D, which begins in a dank basement and gets you friends your parents hilariously insist you can do better than. Everything about the Chick scenario is wrong, unless Marcie was a murder hobo who kept rolling to molest NPCs and the group had a meeting about her. Then this is a pretty solid representation, actually.

This was genuinely a worry about Dungeons and Dragons during the Satanic Panic. You saw it all over the place. Christians were legitimately afraid that if their dorky children played enough D&D they would level up so much they’d get actual spells from the devil, which is both incredibly stupid and the absolute best way to sell something to a nerd. 

Intense occult training? The only intense training Dungeons and Dragons gives its players is in advanced scheduling and how to deal with disappointment when advanced scheduling fails. 

Also you named your elf Elfstar? 

What a fucking Debbie move.

This… this is actually pretty solid, Dark Dungeons. 

If you gave a D&D nerd the real power to manipulate minds with spells, they probably would blow that ability just getting their dad to drop a couple hundred on Dungeons and Dragons stuff. Which gets you what, two books and a pewter dragon? Debbie may look like a rat trying not to sneeze and she’s the only bitch Debbie enough to rock a Member’s Only jacket in the House of Satan’s Ex, but she is keeping it real.

Debbie can’t come to the phone right now to talk to a friend. She’s playing Dungeons and Dragons by herself, fighting a single zombie. Alone. As both player and DM. Debbie, this is so fucking sad I’m going to need you to roll a Charisma check against dying alone. No, I know you still have a long life ahead of you to potentially reform and find love. It’s a valid check. You will take a -6 penalty. You have disadvantage. 

“My loser daughter told me she failed her ‘real Death Saving Throw’ or some shit and I just cannot speak dork anymore today. Debbie, you’re almost as sad as my shitty daughter. You’re going to lose your virginity listening to Styx with a guy who pulls it through the hole in his tighty whities. You two are peas in a pod. Be a dear and go tell her she can dwarf up another life or something, please.”

You actually wrote your D&D character into your suicide note? I know there’s no publication process for suicide notes, but this is rejected. You’re not allowed to kill yourself over a board game. It’s like dying to the mouse trap in Mouse Trap. Your mother is going to tell people you died on the toilet so they won’t ask followup questions. Marcie, when you get to hell the devil’s going to seat you with shoe-sniffers who died from sinus infections and unbaptized toddlers who ate Lego men. 

Look I don’t want to side with Ms. Frost, Satan’s disgruntled Head of Dork Recruitment, but I gotta agree. Even your single player D&D game is more important than Marcie’s life. Changing out a urinal cake takes precedent, honestly.

“I would never have thought this was possible, but Elfstar is cooler than you. I would honestly rather hang out with somebody named Elfstar — and tell others about that fact — than with somebody that goes to pieces over Marcie “Boggle Suicide” Rosenblatt.” 

“Debbie, I don’t know how many times we’ve gone over this. Jesus. The answer is always Jesus. Literally whatever the problem is, I’m going to say ‘Jesus.’ Unless it’s ‘one can only lie and one can only tell the truth.’ Then I’m going to answer ‘I ask what the other would say,’ because everybody knows that, Debbie. Everybody. Except Marcie, and that’s why she’s dead now.”

There was a time in the 1980s where literally all you had to do was successfully beat a Dungeons and Dragons addiction to ensure a long speaking career on the church circuit. “I was once a lowly NPC like you,” you’ll tell the kids, “but now I am a cleric in Christ’s holy party, and the only Nat 20s I need are Leviticus 20:20 ‘If there is a man who lies with his uncle’s wife he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness; they will bear their sin. They will die childless.’ Can I get an amen?!”

If you ask a man with a mustache for help with your “dungeon problem” and he starts talking this much about bondage, he’s not going to lead you to salvation. He’s going to lead you into the basement of a laundromat. You’re not going to wind up in heaven. You’re going to wind up in a VHS they can only legally sell in Thailand. 

“No, Debbie. I’m sorry. That’s not enough. You let a friend suicide so you could solo a zombie. That’s fucking 50 XP, Debbie. You told people to call you Elfstar in real life. It costs more to save your soul than it is worth. You are spiritually totalled.”

“Debbie, you had once given your life over to a long and ridiculous collection of books full of trivial rules that dictate how to behave, but often contradict one another. That’s absurd. Have a Bible.”

This is the good ending, by the way. The ominous silhouette in front of a raging inferno is considered an uplifting image to end on. If you’re holding your finger on page 19 because you weren’t sure that following man-perm to the bondage bonfire was the right move, you can quit fingering this Chick now. 


This post is dedicated to our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme, NickH: the reason they now put escape handles inside the Mouse Trap net. RIP.

33 replies on “Learning Day: Dark Dungeons🌭”

Oh my god, Brockway. I HAVE some of these. A lot of them are just boring, but a few are complete balls-to-the-wall insanity. I remember one specifically that opened with a kid mowing down pedestrians in a drive-by because drugs or peer pressure or whatever. There was another where no words were spoken except by a doctor declaring “It’s AIDS!” If you want, I can send them to you for more ridiculous articles.

I can’t find my favorite ones, but if you’re looking for bigotry, Sin City is about a man nearly beaten to death for crashing a pride parade with a declaration that gays go to hell. For Pseudoscience, “In The Beginning” is a creationist fantasy about convincing a student that schools are lying to him about dinosaurs. I’ll keep looking , because there’s two in particular that I just find hysterical.

I found the two I was looking for. The first is “Trust Me!” Which has everything from drugs to theft to prison rape. The other is my favorite: “Gomez is Coming” which has indiscriminate murder for kicks, and terrible Hispanic stereotypes. As a bonus, I also found “There go the Dinosaurs”, which implies dinosaurs all died after the flood because the air was too thin for them.

A few of the real batshit ones aren’t on the official website anymore, but they’re easy to find if you look. There was one called “Macho!” where a preacher taken hostage by Latin American terrorists started arguing with their Catholic priest. He calmly explained that the Vatican created communists then when they couldn’t control the communists they invented the Nazis.

So the girl who plays a cleric ends up getting to cast spells in real life while the rogue is killed with no save and kicked out of their group to die alone? Chick got one thing right – old D&D really did have a huge bias in favor of casters. What the hell was Blackleaf going to do if she wasn’t a fuckup? Would they teach her mundane skills like lock picking and tumbling, or would she get the privilege to play a non-garbage class?

Surely this is going to lead to an in-depth look at Tom Hanks’ anti-D&D masterpiece, Mazes & Monsters.

I didn’t have any Chick tracts as a kid, but my neighbor sure did! I used to read them for the LOLs (because even as a 10 year old, I thought they were all kinds of ridiculous), and Dark Dungeons was indeed one of the ones subject to my youthful mockery! Little did I know, the joke was on me, I’ve been playing D&D for several decades now, both as a player and DM, and I STILL haven’t been asked to receive the Real Power, what a rip off!

I am so incredibly fucking glad you’ve got onto Chick Tracts. I can only assume the anti-gay ones (featuring a cast-out demon screaming “Bye, Ray! As a team we sure ruined a lot of kids!”) will end up on Upsetting Day?

I had a coworker once who was so squicked to have a gay coworker (me) she left a copy of “Doom Town” in the office to ‘witness’ me about how much God hates sodomites.

She later had a psychotic break and had to be hospitalized.

Chick tracts always remind me of that experience.

Even the name makes Doom Town seem really cool. Why are these people trying to scare you with a good time?

They probably should have made Debbie’ mom not just look like Ms. Frost in casualwear.

I miss D&D. I played a Bardbarian, singing and then going berserk while I was still pumped from my own music. Eventually my DM gave me an axe guitar and I accidentally got turned into a bloodthirsty demon who tried to be neutral good but hey, your going to drink evil blood from time to time. It was awesome.

1-900-HOTTIP: If you ever find yourself cheering over a burning pile of anything other than wood, there’s a pretty steep chance you’re not the good guy in that situation.

I don’t know, a burning pile of Chick Tracts seems like a good thing. Or a burning pile of Godek ‘advice’. Not to destroy the literature, just to insult the author.

But that may also mean you had to buy a huge pile of Chick tracts or Godek books, and if they weren’t used copies that the publisher saw no profit from, that pushes you firmly into “pure evil” territory.

Finding Chic tracts on a long bus in the days before I had a good cellular plan was an absolute, insane joy. I lived in NorCal, and my bus took me right by the Sacramento Airport, and I used to find these delights all over my seat on the way home to Davis.

I came here to add this information. For having stolen my opportunity we are now eternal blood rivals, Ian.

Oh sweet, I’ve never had an eternal blood rival before! What’s next, katana duel? Or is it more like years of plotting the perfect revenge?

Yeah I did see that in research, but I was resistant because it looked like a parody when I skimmed it. I have been repeatedly assured that it’s not, that it’s officially licensed, so clearly I gotta check it out. Thanks!

I backed this movie on kickstarter a billion years ago, partially because when Jack Chick gave them the video rights, he insisted that it be a serious take. Of course, Chick was SO FUCKING NUTS that he’s his own parody and a straight reading of his text is fucking hilarious. Ten out of ten, would crowdfund again.

Wow. This was hilarious. As an ex D&D player, I can relate. I had friends that had to play in secret, because the zealous religious madness of their parents, and I was not welcome in their house because I was the herald of Satan, or something.

I’m cool and i have sex with hot chicks so i don’t know anything too much about dungeons and dragons but i was friends with some guys who played it all the time… it wasn’t a gateway to devil worship as far as i could tell but some people got WAY too into caring about their characters or players or whatever. till this day i don’t even care about my own life/ friends/ family/ country/ planet or soul that much.. yeesh.

In the early 2000s someone made a D&D supplement for roleplaying Bible shit. They had stats for Abraham and Moses. You could achieve “prophet” as a prestige class.

Listen, my D&D manuals protected the hell out of my virginity, is all I’m saying, until college, when they really, confusingly didn’t.

What’s this “WARNING” on the exorcism image? Acts 19:13-17… let’s pull up the ol’ King James…

13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

So the warning is… make sure you aren’t being exorcised by Jewish folks, because your demon might be a catty anti-Semite? Or is the warning that Jewish exorcisms can sometimes lead to dangerously sexy sudden nudity?

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