A Demon's Nightmare

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» March 23, 2023
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Originally published at Enter the Jabberwock. March 25th, 2002. Dark Dungeons. Tract #061. Art by Fred Carter - © 1984 Chick Publications

Originally published at Enter the Jabberwock
March 25, 2002


 
Cover / Page 1

Dark Dungeons - Tract #061 (DARK)
Art by Fred Carter- © 1984 Chick Publications


Debbie thought playing Dungeons and Dragons was fun...until it destroyed her friend.

CommentatorsCommentators

  Jabberwock Jabberwock  
 
Page Index
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

o Introduction

JabberwockJabberwock What happens when teenagers gather (with some odd older woman called “Ms. Frost”) to evilly roll dice and evilly battle imaginary ogres? In this, the first of the Chick Dissections, Jack illustrates his ignorance of RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons much better than he does his comics.

 

o Cover / Page 1

Cover / Page 1
 
JabberwockJabberwock Spoooky.

 

o Page 2

Page 2
 
JabberwockJabberwock The dialog, as anyone who’s ever played an RPG can tell you, is obviously written by someone whose only experience with the game was peeking longingly through a window while quietly sobbing. As many of you can probably tell, “Dark Dungeons” is Jack Chick’s name for “Dungeons and Dragons”. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s what’s called a ‘role-playing game’ in which people make up characters and pretend their way through assortments of scenarios usually conceived and administered by the “Dungeon Master”, a person who basically functions as a referee for the game. Characters are provided with a storyline chain of different situations by the “Dungeon Master” usually involving epic journeys and battles with monsters. The reason these religious types are up in arms about “Dungeons and Dragons” (and Magic: The Gathering and Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and Wendy the Witch, and etc. etc. etc.) is because of the fact that it deals with magic and witchery. See, apparently religious fanatics have trouble drawing lines between fantasy and reality and believe that everyone else suffers from the same affliction. They feel that just because people are pretending that they’re using magic that they’ll become evil and that they’re joining a cult that will give them superpowers.

Anyway, back to the panel, usually the characters have names and you don’t have to address the DM, or “Dungeon Master”, as such for every action you take. I’m sure he’s just setting up the characters, but as you’ll read on you’ll see that he has about as much experience with “Dungeons and Dragons” as I do giving myself abortions.

 

o Page 3

Page 3
 
JabberwockJabberwock “No! You can’t do this to me!” *Vvvvvvvvvvvv* Apparently whenever Marcy loses at a game, she turns into her own little earthquake or a human vibrator.

Usually you roll a numerous-sided die to determine what happens for different encounters and traps and situations and things. Also, there are spells the other players can use to bring your character back to life.

People don’t usually act like this girl does, either. Sure, when I was about maybe ten years old or so I’d get pissed off whenever I’d fall into a pit while playing Super Mario Bros., but I knew it was just a game. Whenever I lose at something like a video game, I’m really more upset about the effort and time that I put into it that I can never get back only to fail and end up where I was when I started.

Just about everyone who plays D&D realizes that it’s just a game. Sure, it sucks when you get killed but not any more than it does when you end up having to fork over a thousand dollars for rent when you land on Boardwalk with a hotel.

 

o Page 4

Page 4
 
JabberwockJabberwock Yes, you’ve pretended to be a wizard for so long that now you can actually be one! That’s right, kids, all you have to do is pretend to be something for a while and, like magic, it will become reality! Hrmmm… maybe if I pretend to be a girl for a few weeks, I can sneak into the locker rooms of college cheerleaders. Why wasn’t I aware of this back in high school?

“You’re going to teach me to have the real power?” Okay, does black magic really work? Sure, there are neat “supernatural” things that happen sometimes, but usually a perfectly reasonable explanation is available. For instance, some people who claim to be “psychic” often just exhibit a proficiency in pattern recognition. But are a bunch of teenage girls wearing robes drinking each others’ blood really granted some kind of super power over other people? If so, why haven’t any of us seen it?

 

o Page 5

Page 5
 
JabberwockJabberwock Oh, cool. I never knew the occult was based on twenty-sided die and subtracting hit points. “Make a roll to see if you summon the Dread Cthulhu to devour the families of those kids who beat you up last week at the football game!”

Hah! Intense occult training. “Where are the Cheetos! Where’s the Mountain Dew? I cast Magic Missile at the darkness!” Get back to me, Jack, when you know what, exactly, in the fuck you’re talking about. My own personal experience with D&D is sitting in my living room with a couple of my friends joking around and half-watching TV while killing the infestation of spiders that came after my mom cleaned the basement. Boy, if that’s not “intense occult training”, I sure don’t know what is. In fact, I think that made me at least OT-3 in Scientology.

“Elfstar” Does she have a real name? I mean, you’d have to be one pretty fucked up individual to use your D&D character name in real life. Chick’s portrayal of these D&D players is that of a group of extremely immature teenagers who have some kind of debilitating array of psychotic disorders preventing them from telling the difference between reality and fantasy.

Whuh? So they’re going to accept her just like that, no questions asked? Boy, it sure is easy to join a cult these days. “I play D&D.” “Okay, you’re in!”

 

o Page 6

Page 6
 
JabberwockJabberwock I’m getting a weird vibe about the fact that this group of kids plays D&D with this weird older woman whom they refer to as “Ms. Frost”.

I wonder how many real people who play D&D have the game become “real” for them. Probably the same people who are strapped to a bed in the psych ward of their local hospital screaming “You gave me the power to fly!” at the ceiling. I sure wish I could get some kind of “real” power from playing a game. It’d be awesome to, say, grow to twice my size by eating mushrooms. Not to mention the usefulness of a real-life application of the Konami code.

“I knew you were ready by the way you played the game.” Hah. “You’re a pro at rolling 20-sided dice, man. And your fabricated imaginary dragon slaying? Incredible. And you barely lose any hit points! You are so ready to be a witch. You’ve got your wrist motion down perfectly.”

 

o Page 7

Page 7
 
JabberwockJabberwock “Which spell did you cast, Debbie?” “The one that gives me a minor stroke that makes half of my face and body cripple up.” It looks like someone’s scratching the top of her sinus cavity with a chopstick up her nostril.

Mind bondage spell. “I got a bad grade in English, so I cast Fire 3 on my principal.” “My little brother was giving me a lot of shit, so I pulled out a Scroll of Lightning Bolt and made him totally regret it.” Pfft.

 

o Page 8

Page 8
 
JabberwockJabberwock “What was the result?” Oh, absolutely nothing because MAGIC DOESN’T WORK IN REAL LIFE! Does Chick really think it does? When I was a young, impressionable kid, I used to try casting spells on people I didn’t like. Never worked. I suppose that was before I ever played D&D, so maybe I just didn’t have the real power yet.

 

o Page 9

Page 9
 
JabberwockJabberwock What the hell is she, their live-in wiccan? “This is Ms. Frost. She lives with us and casts spells on all the boys who say my chest is flat.”

“I can’t, I’m fighting the zombie. By myself. With no DM.” I’m still trying to figure this one out. You can’t play D&D by yourself, it just doesn’t work. “I’m just gonna get out my character sheet and fight a random monster, I guess.” Or perhaps “fighting the zombie” is just a euphemism for masturbation.

 

o Page 10

Page 10
 
JabberwockJabberwock Is… is that Ana Gasteyer from SNL?

“Ever since her character in the game got killed, it’s as though a part of her died.” Because we all know you can’t make up another character sheet or have someone else in the game revive you. Sheese, nobody’s this pathetic, immature or dependent on the game. I love how Chick makes his characters totally unbelievable to cover for his lack of ability to hold up an argument with actual logic.

Here’s my Jack Chick impersonation: “Look at me! I’m Jack Chick! I can’t make a valid argument using logic or reason so I have to make the characters who are in opposition to my side of the argument seem like weak-minded little assholes so that people associate those characteristics with that side of the issue! I also twist things around and give the characters unbelievably extreme negative traits so that I can try to make a point using not real reality, but a stupid, twisted, inaccurate account of reality because that’s the only place any of my points will ever really be true! Nyuuuugh!”

 

o Page 11

Page 11
 
JabberwockJabberwock No, but we’re all glad she did.

Hey, look! She’s still vibrating! I think she was the one with the real super powers. Sure, Elfstar can cast ‘mind bondage’ on her dad and get 200 bucks worth of D&D stuff, but Marcie can become her own little earthquake.

I love the D&D paraphernalia laying about. “She loved that dragon so much…”

Oh, well. No big loss, here. She was incredibly immature and weak and dependent on a fantasy game. Also: stupid. Quick tip for any authors or artists or what-have-you: If you want to make a character’s death emotional and impacting on the reader, you have to make the character a) believable and b) likeable.

 

o Page 12

Page 12
 
JabberwockJabberwock This suicide note makes not even the slightest damned bit of sense. Fictional characters cannot really ‘die’. D&D characters cannot really ‘die’. Did it ever occur to her to make another D&D character? She could even use the name and characteristics of “Black Leaf” if she wanted to.

How would she be facing life alone? She obviously had some kind of severe mental disorder, so the cause of her suicide can’t really be blamed on D&D. Someone that emotionally unstable is at risk of attempting suicide because of something as simple as someone eating one of their Twinkies, so I don’t really think that the fact that her character ‘died’ is the main contributing factor in her decision to end her own life.

 

o Page 13

Page 13
 
JabberwockJabberwock Huh. That’s funny. I’m finding it quite easy to rid my mind of her. And, no, if you left the game, she’d probably still have committed suicide because someone would’ve changed the channel on her favorite TV show or something.

Hrmmmm… ’spiritual growth’ through D&D. How does that work? “I slayed an imaginary ogre, therefore I’m closer to the dark god!”

I kinda agree with Ms. Frost, here, on this one. I think it’s more important to go about your business and tend to your own survival and life than to constantly babysit some incredibly fragile girl who’ll attempt suicide at the drop of a hat. If she’s gonna be like that, then why bother trying to stop her?

 

o Page 14

Page 14
 
JabberwockJabberwock Wait wait wait wait… because her character was weak? It wasn’t her character’s weakness that caused her suicide, it was her own weakness as a person. And I agree that she’d have taken her own life eventually. Someone would’ve forgotten to feed her goldfish and her head would’ve been right in that gas oven.

It wasn’t you who harmed Marcie. She was a fucking idiot who couldn’t handle a simple game. She’d have reacted the same if you’d have bumped her back in “Sorry”. Don’t blame yourself, kid. Blame Marcie’s rampant psychotic illness.

“What have I gotten myself into? I don’t like my live-in wiccan anymore.”

 

o Page 15

Page 15
 
JabberwockJabberwock Okay, I’m getting confused. If Debbie is Elfstar, is she like the Hulk or something? Does she somehow mutate into Elfstar? “Debbie is believed to be lame… and she must let the world think that she is lame… until she can find a way to control the retarded spirit that dwells within her.”

Honestly, who confuses their identity with a character from a game? “Oh, look! I’m Mario! Hey-a every-a-body-a! It’s-a me-a!”

She’d rather be Debbie, but I’d rather do Elfstar.

 

o Page 16

Page 16
 
JabberwockJabberwock Oh, here comes the good, wholesome, righteous Christian savior to… wait… did she just call him an SOB or is that some kind of sound effect inexplicably placed inside a speech bubble? “Hey, Debbie. What’s wrong? Can I help?” “I thought I had all the answers but now my life is falling apart. …You son of a bitch.” I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t say “sob” whenever I actually sob.

Jesus is the only answer. To what? Role-playing games? “We’re gonna play D&D, wanna join us?” “Naah, I think I’ll just sit over here and pretend to be Jesus for a couple of hours instead. Thanks anyway, though, guys!”

“I’ve been praying and fasting for you.” And we all know how great that works. She didn’t even know he was doing it until he told her, so it couldn’t have had that dramatic of an effect on her life.

“Why would you do that for me?” Yeah, why would you do that for her? You seem like a very inconsequential character. This is your first appearance in the tract, so you two couldn’t have been that close. “There’s this girl at school and I think she’s joining a cult, so I’m not gonna eat for a week.”

Also, I don’t know if he realizes this or not, but Chick is almost implying that this ‘witchery’ that Debbie is involved… er… no wait. Elfstar is invol… or is it Debbie now? Whoever the fuck this girl is… Debbie/Elfstar… is involved in is more powerful than prayer and fasting. Can Debbie get her dad to fork over 200 bucks for stuff she wants through prayer? I think not! Debbie’s “magic” had significant tangible effects. This kid’s prayer and fasting obviously did absolutely nothing for anyone.

It sort of raises an interesting question: What if black magic was, in fact, real to the point where one could actually cast D&D spells in real life and someone decided to use it to cure the sick? Now: are they evil for using magic or good for using it in a good way? And don’t go giving me that fundie bullshit about how “there can be no good wizards” because there can be. If you believe D&D is real, then you have to believe that all of it is real, so there can be both good and bad wizards. Would I be evil if I used “magic” to cure the sick? I mean, it obviously has a quicker, greater effect than prayer and fasting, so why not?

 

o Page 17

Page 17
 
JabberwockJabberwock “What can I do?” “Well, you can come with me to a meeting this afternoon and join a different cult!"

Is his spine exploding or did he just walk through some kind of inter-dimensional portal?

“The speaker came out of witchcraft and he knows what you’re up against.” But Jack Chick sure the hell doesn’t have any clue about any of it. I’d really like for someone to logically– and that’s a key word, there: “logically”– explain to me the link between playing D&D and joining some kind of witches coven. This entire thing hasn’t made any sense to me at all yet.

 

o Page 18

Page 18
 
JabberwockJabberwock Mmmmmm, dungeon of bondage. Where can I get me one of those?

“But Jesus came that you might have life and that more abundantly.” That more abundantly what? And we only might have life? Maybe we have to make a roll for it. “Roll the 1d6 to see if you have life.” Maybe dice have the real power after all.

<PeterGriffin> EHEHEHEHEHEHEHE… “came”… EHEHEHEHEHEHE… </PeterGriffin>

 

o Page 19

Page 19
 
JabberwockJabberwock Bahahaha occult paraphernalia… “rock music”… “dungeons and dragons”… “charms”… er… wait. Charms? You mean we have to give up our Blo-Pops, too? Damn you, God!

Burn them! That’s right, don’t sell them! Instead, why don’t you just throw away the hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise you’ve purchased over the past several years of your life? And now he actually attacks “Dungeons and Dragons” instead of just calling it “Dark Dungeons”. I’d really like to see the link between “the occult” and “rock music”, though. “It’s the beat! I can’t believe they’re getting away with drumming like that! Cover your ears, kids! The rhythm is gonna get you!”

Is this guy supposed to be one of the Jackson brothers?

 

o Page 20

Page 20
 
JabberwockJabberwock Her life is a mess. See? Do you see what dice-rolling can do to someone?

The woman on the left is checking out her ass, the guy on the right’s looking at her rack.

 

o Page 21

Page 21
 
JabberwockJabberwock *WARNING: Having one of the Jackson brothers order spirits out of your body will not actually get rid of a spiritual infestation.

Apparently the lower spine is one of the main exit routes for “spirits of the occult”. I really get a kick out of how all of these spectres and ghouls are magically leaving her body. “I was possessed by D&D!”

Okay, this panel contradicts itself. If someone is “in charge of everything” you do, then that’s not “liberty” like the passages from the Bible at the bottom of the page describe. “I’m free! But someone else makes all of my decisions for me and tells me what to do.”

Hrm. Okay, I’ve looked at D&D manuals before… I have friends who’ve read almost every single one of them… but I don’t remember any given point in time where my friends or I looked to them as a guide to life. You’d have to be one pretty sad individual to let a D&D manual be “in charge of everything”. Unless, of course, there was some kind of ogre infestation or something. Then it’d be really useful. “Oh, shit! What do I do if there’s a group of ogres banging down my door? How many hit points do they have? How does this enchanted knife with +3 against ogres work?” Other than that, though, I can’t really see any kind of logical or useful real-life application of anything contained within a D&D manual.

 

o Page 22

Page 22
 
JabberwockJabberwock Hah. “Filth of satan”. “Goddamn you, character sheet! You stole my innocence and love of god with your listing of my hit points, charisma, intelligence, strength and inventory! And you! Twenty-sided die! May you rot in hell for all eternity for your luring me into temptation by figuring out how much damage I do in pretend battle to imaginary monsters!” Give me a fucking break.

I bet Debbie’s daddy is standing next to the fire in tears over the two hundred dollars of his that was just tossed into it. Maybe that’ll teach him to start wearing his “skull cap of clear thought” with +5 against mind bondage spells a little more often.

 

o Conclusion

JabberwockJabberwock So as you can see, Jack Chick has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. “Intense occult training!” That makes me laugh harder the more I think about it.

I can’t believe someone could be so stupid, really. It hurts my head. How the hell is rolling dice to play a game of pretend and determine whether or not you slay the imaginary ogre related in any way to the occult and black magic ritual? *Sigh*

Someone asked me “Proving [Jack Chick] wrong? Don’t you mean you’re countering his opinion? Everyone has a right to their own opinion.” But Jack Chick has no opinions. He’s not saying “I think D&D is evil”, he’s saying “D&D will turn your children against Jesus and make them believe in the occult.” This is obviously demonstrably untrue, given the ample evidence in the world around us. So, no, I’m not “countering his opinion”, I am indeed “proving him wrong”. There’s an important difference, and all opinions are not equal. Douglas Adams, in an interview, phrased this “opinion inequality” argument much better than I can. Google for it.

Until next time, kids.

 

o Further Reading


 

o Other Reviews & Commentaries


 

o Parodies

  • 3rd Edition: Tool of Satan? - Will it take some controversial changes in the newest edition of the Master's Guide to show these foolish players just how much danger they're in?
    "We're just unwinding with a little live-action Call of Cthulhu... want to touch my octopus?"
    (foo.ca via The Wayback Machine)

  • Christians and Crusades - What if it were the Christians themselves who got carried away with fantasy role playing?
    "A flick of Hellfire can make anyone a unprincipaled coward!"
    (The Bronze Blog)

  • Dark Dungeons: The Animated Movie (2010) - Computer animated film made by yours truly, covering the plot of the tract... with a few minor embellishments.
    "The Lord shall provide! Now who brought the gasoline?"
    (Boolean Union Studios) [Video]

  • Dark Dungeons: The Movie (2014) - A live-action film with impressive production values. Produced with the expressed approval of Chick himself.
    "If they want to be a couple of chickens who go their entire lives without experiencing the unrivaled thrill of an RPG, that's their business."
    (Zombie Orpheus Entertainment) [Video]

  • Dark Dungeons: Between the Panels - A mock-u-mentary that posits to catch up with the characters of the tract 25 years after it's publication.
    "Oh, and the fumes from the bonfire scene were heinous. All that burning lead, plastic, and ink... I passed out for a little while, and when I woke up, I couldn't remember my own name."
    (The Escapist)

  • Darque Dungeons - The dangers of Dungeons and Dragons extrapolated through a thinly-veiled pastiche of Vampire: The Masquerade as well as Gothic metal music.
    "I'll fucking kill anyone who opposes the countercultural assault of noise music WITH MY BARE FUCKING HANDS!"
    (foo.ca via The Wayback Machine)

  • Demonic Deviltry - White Wolf released their tabletop game Demon: The Fallen in 2002, and since that means this old tract was due for a bit of an update, they released their own take on it.
    "Do you do that after every game? Not all the time. Sometimes we have sex instead of doing drugs."
    (White Wolf via Scribd - .pdf)

  • Dork Dungeons - If you thought basic D&D was geeky, it gets worse... soooo much worse.
    "Sometimes I think about him and, you know, touch myself in the bath... condoms, I'm thinking we'll need a twelve pack."
    (Unhelpful.org via The Wayback Machine)

  • GURPS Fourth Edition - Dark Dungeons - A new gaming paradigm causes dissention in the ranks.
    "Afraid I'll steal all the hot guys? I am totally ready. I even started my period."
    (GameGroup.org)

  • Mystery Science Theater Meets Dark Dungeons - What if the crew of the Satellite of Love took a stab at riffing on a Chick tract?
    "You know this reminds me so much of High School. Two women conspiring to manipulate the men in their lives? No. The Members Only jacket."
    (Fecundity.com)