a Christian roleplaying game

This is the fantasy Christian RPG (1984) where thinly disguised Christians beat heathens into submission to haul them back home, where the heathens convert. Opposing the Christians are monsters, thinly disguised sinners, such as alcoholics and people who believe in evolution. These creatures are not to be beaten into submission. Rather, they are to be killed without compunction, as they are irrevocably beyond God's mercy. In DragonRaid, I'd be a "selfo," a misguided, slay-worthy creature that tries to do good without accepting Christ. The game was a joyful indulgence in fantasy violence committed against fictional people with recognizable, real-world counterparts. It was about killing me.

Players "cast spells" by reciting specific Bible verses by rote. The longer the quote, the more powerful the effect.

DragonRaid PCs, called LightRaiders, had scores in stats such as Joy, Goodness, and Love. The higher your Love and Goodness scores, the more damage you dealt. To me.

When LightRaiders achieved certain minimum scores, they could qualify to take on special character roles, such as the LionWarrior or RescueMaster. Maybe this is where I got the idea for prestige classes, which wound in the D&D, 3rd edition. More likely it was RuneQuest.

For all its metaphorical content, DragonRaid had hard-core combat. LightRaiders chose from a variety of standard fantasy RPG weapons, and each weapon had a different formula for determining how good the LightRaider was with it (based on characteristic scores). There's even a critical hit table. A groin shot had a 5% kill chance and dealt double damage. These martial details, remember, are from a game seemingly built for church youth groups.

DragonRaid forbade gamemasters from creating adventures or even ad libbing events within a prepared adventure. Since the goal of the game was pedagogy and orthodoxy, it was contrary to the game's purpose to let gamemasters have control. Likewise, players were essentially not allowed to diverge from the plot defined for them.

Despite great graphics and good components, DragonRaid failed to take off in Christian circles. Some anti-RPG Christians said it used the same "mind-control" techniques as secular RPGs.

Strangely, my D&D campaign is a lot like DragonRaid. The PCs are holy warriors on a righteous crusade to claim a land overrun by the forces of darkness. (In my campaign, they're reclaiming it, actually.) It's an attractive fantasy. Or maybe that's not strange, since opposites are closely related.

October, November 2001
November 2003

Christian Tribe: DragonRaid is an example of Christianity's tribal attitude toward outsiders.