Copyright 1989 Michael A. Stackpole 3816 E. McDowell #204 Phoenix, AZ 85008-4328 (602) 231
Copyright 1989 Michael A. Stackpole
3816 E. McDowell #204
Phoenix, AZ 85008-4328
Game Hysteria and the Truth
Michael A. Stackpole
The publication of "Dungeons and Dragons" in 1974 did
something no other game had ever done: it imposed rules on what
had been heretofore the exercise of the imagination. It became
the first ever Role Playing Game and, while many others have
followed and the rules have been revised several different times,
it continues to be the best well known and most widely
distributed game of that type. Role Playing Games (RPGs)have
been translated in a host of different languages and are as
popular in Europe and Japan as they are in the United States.
Dungeons and Dragons codified and dressed up with dice and
pictures the imaginary games we all had played as children = Cops
and Robbers, Cowboys and Indians and Tea Party. It made
available to adolescents and adults a vehicle to exercise their
imaginations in a very active sense = a prerogative largely
usurped by the television in modern society. It provided a
social setting for a game designed to let people escape everyday
cares and have some fun.
If the critics of Role Playing Games are to be believed, it
also did something else. According to them, it opened the gates
of Hell and has seduced over 100 individuals into acts of murder,
mayhem and suicide. RPGs are, across the board, labeled as
primers to the occult and are charged with leading children into
Satanic covens from which they do not return. Heavy RPG
involvement had been advanced as extenuating circumstances for
murder, robbery, kidnapping and a host of lesser crimes.
The body of this paper will examine the claims made by the
foes of games. It will focus on the evidence they have advanced
to back their claims. It will also pay special attention to
Patricia Pulling, the founder of Bothered About Dungeons &
Dragons (BADD) and the techniques she has used in pursuing her
vendetta against a hobby she blames for the death of her son.
Lastly, it will touch upon the links between BADD and some other
organizations within the anti-Satanism movement.
Qualifications and History
As a game player and designer I have been involved with Role
Playing Games since December of 1976. I entered the hobby
through wargaming and found fantasy gaming to be an interesting
and stimulating passtime. As I was at the University of Vermont
at the time, and was 19 years old, I was able to gather together
a group of players to share the games with me.
By September 1977 I had completed my first game design and
saw it published in August of 1978. Since that time I have
created 3 paper and pencil role playing games, 2 computer role
playing games, 5 solitaire adventures for RPGs, a game-master
adventure, and have written in whole or part over 60 articles and
selections in anthology projects or magazines. I have won awards
for all of my computer game designs, including Computer Gaming
World's Best Adventure Game of 1988 for Wasteland and the
Strategist Club's Best Role Playing Game for 1988 for Bard's Tale
III. Stormhaven won Best Role Playing Adventure for 1983 and
Citybook 1 took the same award the previous year. I have done
work for the following game systems: Advanced Dungeons and
Dragons, Tunnels and Trolls, Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes,
BattleTech, Top Secret, Star Wars, Justice, Inc., Champions,
ShadowRun and the Renegade Legion Role Playing Game. My work has
been translated into French, Japanese, German, Swedish and
Italian, as well as having both American and British printings.
In addition to all that, I have four science fiction novels
currently in print and was recently selected to be listed in the
22nd Edition of Who's Who in the West. I am the Executive
Director of the Phoenix Skeptics and a member of the Science
Fiction Writers of America. I am a founder and the head of the
Academy of Game Critics and a member of the Academy of Gaming
Arts and Design. I am also a member of the Game Manufacturers'
Speakers' Bureau. I also have a degree in History from the
University of Vermont, with a teaching minor.
In short, I have a solid grasp on reality and gaming. I
have been involved with the industry on a full time basis since
the explosion of RPGs in 1979. My training as a historian has
given me the tools to research the background of many of these
claims, and my sources within the industry provide me accurate
data on sales and distribution of games. I know what is in a
game, whether or not the game is in print, and roughly how many
copies were ever available. All this, as will be seen, is
The publication of "Dungeons and Dragons" in 1974 was
unique. It applied fantasy elements to miniatures wargaming. Up
to that point, lead soldiers had been used to refight the battles
of history, or to pit armies against each other in "what if"
battles = what if Genghis Khan had actually laid siege to
Jerusalem, or the Britons had been organized to oppose the
Indeed, this latter scenario, in 1969, provided the first
instance of magic being used when David Arneson, the co-creator
of Dungeons and Dragons, allowed a friend to introduce a druid
into a Britons versus Romans battle. The player was fooling
around when he said, "I call a lightning bolt down to destroy
your war elephant!" Dave, as the Gamemaster, pulled the elephant
off the board. The Romans subsequently massed and killed the
pesky druid, but the elements of role playing had been introduced
into a staid war game for the first time.
By 1974 E. Gary Gygax had written down and caused to be
published the rules that Dave had developed over the years. The
trio of books were virtually incomprehensible to anyone who did
not understand miniatures wargaming. Almost immediately
imitations began appearing and, in the grand tradition of gaming,
did what D&D had done, but did it differently. The second RPG in
existence was Tunnels and Trolls, and that is the system with
which the author is most familiar.
By 1989 over 300 role playing games have been produced for
the paper and pencil market. Counting in computer games would
boost that number well over 500. The games cover subjects from
fantasy and science fiction to espionage and on down to "Woof,
Meow: the role playing game of Cats and Dogs." The games range
widely in subject matter, approach, complexity and level of
professionalism in writing and production. According to David
Arneson, there are over 10,000,000 copies of D&D extant worldwide
and Pat Pulling says, in her book The Devil's Web, that there is
a base of users numbering over 4,000,000.
It is very important to note that while D&D in its myriad
forms (Basic, Expert, "classic," Advanced and Advanced, 2nd
edition) is certainly the largest selling RPG, the trend in the
industry has been to move away from the fantasy genre. The glut
of fantasy games on the market makes it very difficult to
introduce a new fantasy title. In addition, the audience has
steadily moved toward games with a high-tech edge = perhaps
because years of hacking away with swords against monsters had
lead to the desire to shoot something so it doesn't get back up.
Whatever the reason, the most popular games to be introduced
recently are ShadowRun (a cross of high- tech and fantasy), Star
Wars, Twilight 2000 (after the Holocaust), Warhammer 40,000 (SF
gaming in a bleak future) and Champions (a superhero game).
Where We Agree
The critics of RPGs point at teenagers who become obsessed
with RPGs. They suggest that this obsession leads to all sorts
of difficulties, including violence and suicide. They believe
the games to be a harmful tool that warps the minds of perfectly
normal kids and turns them into inhuman monsters capable of
murdering their parents. They suggest that playing an RPG is the
first step on the long road to a nightmare in real life.
No one would deny that as children grow up they seek to
establish an identity independent of their parents. In searching
for this new identity, kids often latch on to something that
provides them a handle on who they are. We have all been able to
identify the cliques that form in high school: the jocks, the
brains, the drop-outs, the car freaks, the beauty queens, the
band and the outsiders. At one time or another most individuals
growing up in America classified themselves in one of those
groups, or dreaded being branded with such a label.
Two new classifications that have arisen since the 1970s are
computer nerds and gamers. The reason for their late arrival is
that what they choose to identify with did not exist prior to the
mid 1970s. Computer nerds are more easily accepted by their
parents because understanding computers can be the start of a
promising career. A computer nerd's grasp of what goes on inside
a computer is a survival skill in the modern world. Yes, junior
might be a bit shy, but boy can he clear up that virus that's
been destroying my company's hard disk.
Gamers, on the other hand, have a greater problem. RPGs did
not exist for their parents. Unless a youth was lucky enough to
have a parent or older sibling who was willing to learn and
perhaps play a game, he would be alone at home. His parents
would see him devoting a great deal of time to a game, and that
roughly translates to spending most of your time fooling around.
As "fooling around" is not one of those high paying jobs, and
careers in gaming are not easy to come by, a parent's concern is
more than understandable.
And it must be said that kids can become obsessed with
gaming, just as they can be obsessed with sports, cars,
computers, dating, music, television, movies, ad infinitum. This
obsession may well not be healthy, especially if it continues for
a long time. However, no parent would suggest that cars are evil
just because Bob spends all of his time working on his car. Why,
then, are games viewed with fear?
Pat Pulling has prepared more than one document that deals
with painting a profile of a child in jeopardy because of gaming.
Mostly she uses this profile to pinpoint kids who are headed for
an involvement with Satanism, but she also allows it to apply to
youngsters who are potentially suicidal. Quoting from her
Interviewing Techniques for Adolescents (BADD, Inc., Sept 1988)
the profile goes as follows:
THE WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE AND HOW OF TEEN SATANISM WHO
1. Adolescents from all walks of life.
2. Many from middle to upper middle class families
3a Over or Under Achievers
3c Some are Rebellious
3d Some have low self esteem and are loners
3e Some children have been abused (physically or sexually)
WHEN does this occur? It appears the ages most vulnerable are
WHERE? 1. Public places such as rock concerts, game clubs in
communities or at school. 2. Private parties at a friend's home.
HOW? 1. Through Black Heavy Metal Music 2. Through fantasy role
playing games like Dungeons & Dragons (R) 3. Obsession with
movies, videos, which have occult themes 4. Collecting and
reading/researching occult books 5. Involvement with "Satanic
Cults", [sic] through recruitment 6. Some are bone into families
who pratice [sic] "satanic cult rituals"
TWO BASIC PRINCIPLES APPLY HERE "Law of Attraction" and the "Law
WHAT can be expected? 1. Obsession with occult entertainment 2.
Minor to major behavior disorders 3. Committing crimes and
status offenses such as: A. Running away B. Graverobbing (such as
bones) C. Breaking and entering to steal religious artifacts or
sometimes stealing small items to prove loyalty to the group D.
Defacing public or private property using "Satanic Graffetti
[sic]" or related Graffetti [sic] E. Threatening to kill (self or
others, self mutilation is very common) F. Aggression directed
towards family, teachers and authority figures G. Contempt for
organized religion H. Supremist attitudes I. Kidnapping or
assistance in kidnapping J. Murder K. Suicide pacts among members
of the group
WHAT can we do? 1. Document all information relating to occult
involvement (even if it does not appear relevant at the time) 2.
Keep an open mind 3. Stay objective 4. Never assume that an
individual is acting along [sic] until all other information
surrounding the case and individual has been fully investigated.
5. If individual is involved in "satanic activity," he/she will
deny a great deal to protect other members of the group as well
as the "satanic philosophy".[sic] 6. Have a team approach, work
with a therapist, a clergymen and other helping professionals. 7.
Educate the community so that potential tragedies might be
This profile, which is distributed by BADD to police
departments for their use in interrogating suspects in crimes
clearly has some flaws. Even a casual glance at the first three
sections will show that virtually any child from the ages of
11-17 is a potential candidate for seduction into Satanism.
Furthermore, this seduction will take place at times when a
parent is least likely to be present. In short, if you have a
reasonably intelligent child from a good background and he is out
of your sight, he is open to recruitment by Satanists.
And, as section four points out, after Heavy Metal music,
the devil's legions use RPGs to recruit their cultists. (A cynic
might note, after looking at Mrs. Pulling's list of methods for
Satanists, that it is no wonder Satanism is on the rise. Before
Heavy Metal, games and movies, they had little to offer
No one in their right mind would scoff at a parent's concern
for what his child is doing in his spare time. Everyone agrees
that parental interest in activities is important, and games have
long been a way to bring the family together in a social setting.
Gaming is very much a group activity and all game professionals
encourage parents to keep up with what their children are doing.
Ultimately it is a parent's responsibility to monitor his child's
behavior, to notice if there is a problem = and to deal with that
problem when it arises.
It is understandable that many parents who come from a
strong religious background would object to games that deal with
magic and the occult in one form or another. This is their
right, but to brand all RPGs as doorways to the occult is
fallacious and really points up the depth of ignorance concerning
this subject that abound among its critics. Many RPGs are based
in science fiction worlds where high technology precludes magic,
and rare are the SF RPGs that deal with religion at all. Finding
a game that does not have objectionable material on religious
grounds is not hard to do.
The Problem with Violence
All role playing games have some form of conflict resolution
that involves combat. It is perhaps unfortunate that this is the
case, but combat is an easy source of conflict for the storyline
of an adventure. Of D&D, Dr. Thomas Radecki says, "this game is
one of nonstop combat and violence." This, however, is not a
valid characterization of D&D and other games in the field.
From a designer's standpoint, I produce games that limit
violent conflict by making the outcome of the same very deadly.
I also encourage non- violence by making the rewards for a
non-violent or less violent resolution to a problem greater than
the rewards for killing something. Furthermore, as games have
developed over the years, the rewards for engaging in role play
and interpersonal interaction have been increased, and the
mechanisms have been refined, so the focus of games becomes role
playing instead of combat.
In short, the scenario being run determines how much combat
will occur. If a game is being run that takes place at a
cocktail party in a posh New York apartment, the potential for
violence is extremely low. (Note: it is extremely low as would be
measured by most people. Dr. Radecki and his National Coalition
Against Television Violence (NCTV) have entirely different
standards for violence.) Many Gamemasters work to avoid violence
in their games just because it is not as much fun as role
Suicide and Games
The fundamental charge against RPGs is that they have
triggered a number of teen suicides. We will examine many cases
later in this work, but it is important to lay to rest this
charge right here. Despite the claims of BADD and NCTV, no
evidence exists to establish causality of a game for the suicide
of anyone. In fact, what evidence there is that does exist
suggests just the opposite.
1. Dr. S. Kenneth Schonberg of the Albert Einstein College of
Medicine in New York conducted an in-depth study of over 700
adolescents who had attempted suicide. Not one case indicated
D&D or any RPG as a reason for their suicide attempt.
2. Beth Grant-DeRoos, Spokesperson for the Associated Gifted and
Creative Children of California, conducted a survey which
included all major American cities. Coroners were asked to
review the psychological autopsies of adolescent suicides. Not
one case indicated D&D or any RPG as contributing to the suicide.
3. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia released
a report on teen suicide. Nothing indicated that suicide was
more common among teens who played D&D.
4. The American Association of Suicidology in Denver, Colorado
is an expert source of information on the epidemic of suicide.
They have no evidence that indicates any games have been the
causes of suicides.
5. In The Devil's Web, Pat Pulling cites a user base for D&D
alone as 4,000,000 players. Since the introduction of the game
in 1975, the suicide rate for individuals aged 15-24 has
fluctuated between 11.7 (1975) and 12.8 (1980) deaths per 100,000
individuals in the population. (The rate has been falling since
then.) If gamers were killing themselves at the average rate for
their age group we would have between 468 and 512 successful
suicides a year. As the American Association of Suicidology
notes, only 6% of suicide attempts are successful, so the number
of unsuccessful gamer suicides would run between 7800 and 8533
In The Devil's Web, Mrs. Pulling cites 125 deaths connected
to the games as of 1987, though she does report "Many, many more
[cases] remain unpublicized; the cases are in files marked
'confidential.' This is not hype. This is not speculation. The
cases are there." Even at four times her reported case list, the
total would not equal one year's average number of suicides for
gamers, if they were killing themselves at a rate equal to the
rest of the population. Given that the 125 cases cited above
consist of roughly 50% murders and 50% suicides, the statistics
cast even more doubt on the link between games and suicide.
6. The evidence goes even further when the warning signs of
suicide are taken into account. Teen suicides are usually loners
and drug users. In The Devil's Web Pat herself notes, "Some
[players] are loners, but many are not as this is a
group-oriented game." She also says, "Generally, the adolescent
D&D player is not involved with drugs; at most, there may be some
use of marijuana."
It is important to point out that having a close group of
friends provides the support a kid needs to get through difficult
times. Furthermore, it provides a network of individuals who can
be on the lookout for the changes in behavior and activities that
could point out a potential suicide. Gaming groups do build
tight and long lasting friendships of the sort that encourage
helping and sharing problems.
There is no causal link between games and suicide any more
than there is a link between breathing and suicide. Suicide is a
desperate act of a very sick individual and to trivialize their
condition by suggesting a game could push them over edge is cruel
and unfeeling. To suggest a game could change an otherwise
normal child into a suicidal or homicidal maniac asks us to
believe that a normal individual cannot distinguish between
fantasy and reality. It also vests an incredible amount of power
in a game, and allows people to put their responsibility and
guilt off onto an inanimate object.
Occult Recruitment Objects
Mrs. Pulling and her compatriots continually point to RPGs
being used as recruiting devices for occult groups. The scenario
they depict runs something like this: Johnny is a perfectly
normal and well adjusted boy until he innocently gets involved in
a D&D game at school. A recruiter from a local coven monitors
the gaming group and selects Johnny as the sort of person he
wants in his diabolical group. He invites Johnny to a "party"
and befriends him. During this party, or the next one or the one
after that, Johnny is talked into doing something he shouldn't
(smoking dope, dropping acid or becoming sexually active) and
this behavior is caught on video tape. If Johnny ever decides to
leave the group, he's trapped.
This recruitment story often ends in one of three ways.
Johnny, remorseful, kills himself. Johnny, now insane, kills his
parents to dedicate his life to Satan. Johnny has a change of
heart and is murdered by the coven to preserve their secrets =
with the murder often being arranged to look like suicide.
It should be pointed out that no solid evidence has been
presented to show games as having been used as recruitment tools
by occult groups = if those groups exist at all. The only
anecdotal evidence comes from Rosemary Loyacano who maintains
that is how her son Steven was seduced into a coven. She claims
he managed to keep his involvement with the coven hidden from
her, though she found all sorts of paraphernalia after his
suicide. (As will be seen later, this interpretation of Steven
Loyacano's death is contradicted by other writings about him.)
Perhaps because there is no evidence of recruitment, BADD
and others always manage to intimate that Dave Arneson and E.
Gary Gygax are closet Satanists and that their work is part of
the fallen angel's plan for taking over the minds of the young.
The fact that Dave Arneson is now, and was at the time he wrote
his part of D&D, a born-again Christian has escaped their notice.
Lawrence Schick, the editor for the first edition of the AD&D
hardbacks, has said the TSR research library consisted of a few
history books and not a single volume of occult knowledge. (It is
curious that the majority of the books on the occult that Pulling
uses to point up the Satanistic stuff in D&D were actually
written after D&D and may have used the games as resource
material, not the other way around as she likes to imply.)
While parents have every right to censor what their children
read and do, they should not censor based on groundless fears.
There is no evidence that RPGs cause or encourage suicide = in
fact, the statistical evidence suggests quite the opposite.
There is no proof that involvement in games will lead to violent
behavior or involvement with the occult. In fact, the most
negative comment made about RPGs comes from psychologists who
suggest that role playing is too valuable and powerful a tool to
be left in the hands of amateurs. Unless those good doctors can
figure a way to police games of Cowboys and Indians or Cops and
Robbers (or show us the irreparable damage done to the young
because of them) I would say their drive to keep role-playing in
their private, clinical domain is doomed to failure.
However, it is perhaps not their fault that they rail
against games, because the people asking them for judgements are
presenting only a few facts. Those facts, seemingly chosen at
random from sources that are, at best, questionable, provide an
incomplete picture of both gaming and the state of a gamer's
mind. When one begins with incomplete evidence and ignorance,
one only produces nonsense in commenting on it.
But from where, if this threat has been studied in such
great detail, does this vast ignorance arise?
As far as games are concerned, Patricia Pulling is the Exxon
Valdez of ignorance. She is full of it, she's leaking it all
over, and it is left to the rest of us to clean up. In her book
The Devil's Web she says she has given testimony in a number of
trials and cites 3 as standing out in her mind. "My role was that
of jury education, explaining to the jury members the game of
'Dungeons & Dragons' and how it is played."
That she could be hired to give testimony in a court of law
as an expert on games is quite chilling. The only solace to be
found in this is that, at least in the three cases she cites, her
client was convicted and sentenced to death or life without
Mrs. Pulling says in her book, "A number of other fantasy
role-playing games exist, and most are imitations of 'Dungeons &
Dragons.' Some of the most popular ones are 'Tunnels & Trolls,'
'The Arduin Grimoire,' 'Runequest,' 'Empire of the Petal Throne,'
'Nuclear Escalation,' 'Traveller,' 'Boot Hill,' 'Demons,' 'The
Court of Ardor,' 'Melee & Wizard,' Metamorphosis Alpha,' and
Tunnels & Trolls is still in print and has even been
computerized. Version of this game have been translated into
French, German, Italian and Japanese. T&T does include magic,
but has no religious system included or implied in the game. The
game has been available since 1975, has had five editions, but
has seen its sales dwindle since 1985. Its chief claim to fame
was in its line of solo adventures to be played by single
players. (Through the solo line I became involved in T&T and I
have authored five solo adventures for that system.) Her main
objection to T&T, according to Pulling's A Law Enforcement Primer
On Fantasy Role-Playing Games is "In this game you obtain your
character by rolling 3 six-sided dice (6,6,6)..."
The Arduin Grimoire is a set of unsanctioned D&D supplements
written by Dave Hargraves. Hargraves died in 1988, but a
publisher in Texas keeps his work in print. Arduin's highest
point of distribution came in the early 80's, but because of the
violence depicted in the game, most shops don't stock it and
won't sell it. At best 30,000 copies of the books were probably
produced and the author knows of no translations.
Runequest is one of the most popular RPGs and was the first
to break away from using "levels" to gauge character development.
It has been translated into several languages, but annual sales
have slipped since 1986 when the Avalon Hill Game Company took
over publication from the Chaosium. Runequest likewise suffers,
in Pulling opinion, from the onerous usage of 3 six-sided dice
for rolling characters (6,6,6).
Empire of the Petal Throne was originally published by TSR.
It went out of print in the early 80s, then reappeared from
Gamescience in 1983. The game is virtually unknown in 1989 and
difficult to find in gaming stores.
Nuclear Escalation is not a role-playing game at all. I
know this because I helped develop this sequel to Nuclear War.
It is a card game. Pulling put it on the list in Primer on the
basis of ad copy in an unspecified magazine. The text she has
excerpted includes the phrase "Nuclear Escalation card game" in
it. (Having written the ad originally, I made sure the game was
clearly seen as a card game.)
Traveller is a science fiction published by Game Designers
Workshop. The game has been changed and is now published under
the title Megatraveller, with Traveller 2300 AD being another
title in that line. This game has neither magic nor religion,
though the occasional psionic ability (ESP, Telepathy, etc.)
could be taken by some as demonic. It is a very popular game.
Boot Hill was a wild west game published by TSR. It has been
out of print since the mid 1980s.
Demons was a small board game from SPI, Inc. It appeared in
1980/81 and has been out of print since 1982. SPI was later
absorbed by TSR and the game has not been reissued.
The Court of Ardor is not a role playing game, but an
adventure for the Middle Earth Role Playing Game (a game based on
the world of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of The Rings). (It cannot be
used except in conjunction with the MERP or with another RPG
after extensive revision.) Iron Crown Enterprises first published
it in 1983 and it was the toughest/highest level adventure
produced for that game system. It has been out of print for the
last couple of years and there are no immediate plans to reprint
Melee & Wizard is actually two games: Melee and Wizard.
Melee was a man to man combat game and Wizard was a magic duel
game. The two could be combined for larger battles. Designed by
Steve Jackson, they were published by Metagaming. They have been
out of print since Metagaming's collapse in 1983.
Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World were both TSR products
released in the late 70s and early 80s. MA is out of print,
though Gamma World had a revised edition in 1986. Gamma World
has been revived as Gammarauders, but the two games have little
more than concept in common.
So, of the thirteen games on the Pulling list, the score is:
5 out of print 5 in serious decline 2 are not role playing games
at all 1 is still popular, but goes under a different name
Mrs. Pulling's expertise with games apparently ends with
1983 because all of the products she lists in her 1989 book were
printed before then, and none that have hit the market since are
covered or even mentioned with the exception explained below.
Mrs. Pulling continues her listing of games in Web by
noting, "In England, a fantasy role-playing game is being played
by mail. A news article headline reads, 'Kids sent murder in the
mail.' ...The game is called 'It's A Crime,' and details have
been mailed to homes all over England."
What Mrs. Pulling fails to understand, it seems, is that
"It's A Crime" is a game that was created and is still being run
here in the United States. It has been available since 1985 and
is produced by Adventures By Mail. The game deals with building
up a criminal cartel, which is not a subject I find particularly
attractive, but it has enjoyed a modest following since its
She continues on, calling "Further into Fantasy" a "popular
fantasy-by- mail game in England." She links it to the case of
Michael Ryan, a young man who went on a shooting spree in
England. What she does not know is that the game was very small,
had no more than two dozen players and was being run by two
Swedes in Scotland. The game collapsed after the Michael Ryan
incident and the Swedes fled the country. No charges of any sort
have been brought against them and no one has suggested his
involvement in the game had anything to do with his madness.
Has Pat Pulling Ever Played a Role-Playing Game?
Pat certainly suggests she has spent some time learning how
to play the game Dungeons & Dragons. Her grasp of RPGs is weak,
however, and can be pointed up through things she has written.
Or, in the case of the How the Game Is Played section of The
Devil's Web, things she has rewritten.
For the sake of brevity, I will only quote a couple of
passages from The Devil's Web and it's source: The Darren Molitor
The Devil's Web:
The game itself is set in the middle ages.
Each player is solely responsible for the
actions of his character, and all players are
under the direction of the Dungeon Master.
Play begins with the six rolls of dice by
each participant who then uses the six
numbers he has rolled to organized the traits
of his character (based upon strength,
intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity
and charisma). If he wishes, he may roll
again to determine the physical size of his
character after which he assigns his persona
a race (such as elf, dwarf, etc.), a class
(occupation) and an alignment (attitude or
The Darren Molitor Letter:
The game is called "Dungeons & Dragons" and it is a
fantasy role-playing game. As you can
probably assume from the title it is set in
the medieval era of our time or history.
Because it is a game of "fantasy" anything is
possible and being a "role-playing" game
means you act as a character of that time as
if you were on stage. But there is no
physical action on the player's part.
everything is played or imagined in the mind.
And you, as the player, are the sole person
responsible for the action of your character
or characters. You control him totally.
His/her actions, words feelings, thought.
Everything about this character you control.
To obtain a "character", [sic] a player must
first roll three six-sided dice. Add up the
numbers rolled and write it down. A player
does this six times and then he must organize
the numbers he has rolled to the six
characteristics of his character. The six
characteristics are strength, intelligence,
wisdom, constitution, dexterity and charisma.
These characteristics are the "heart" of your
character. After which the player may roll
to obtain the height and weight or he/she may
choose it. The player assigns a race to the
character, a class, which is his/her
occupation and the alignment. An alignment
is the character's attitude or outlook on
The Devil's Web:
[The Dungeon Master's] major responsibility
is to create an adventure or dungeon for the
characters. Books are available with
prepared dungeons, but most DMs prefer to
create the dungeons themselves. He must
invent the scenery that the characters may
encounter in the course of the adventure, the
climate, the smells, the monsters and the
treasure. This process can take from 36 to
48 hours of work. One woman has left her
career to be a full-time DM; she is supported
entirely by her D&D players.
The Darren Molitor Letter:
The DM has a lot of responsibility, as you
can imagine. For example, the DM must create
an adventure or dungeon. There are many
books called modules with "dungeons" already
prepared, but for the most part the DM
creates them himself/herself. He/she must
create the scenery (indoor, outdoor,
underground, the various and numerable
characters a player may encounter, the
temperature, the smell, the monsters and the
treasure. [sic] It is a very long and tedious
process and the average dungeon takes
anywhere from 36-48 hours of work. There is
one case of the game being followed, that the
DM, a lady, has quit her job and does nothing
except create and prepare a dungeon for her
players. She has created an entire country.
The players of the group support her living
necessities. They pay for her home, her
groceries, her bills, etc.
I provide the text comparison above for two reasons, neither
of which is to prove Pat Pulling or her ghost writer Kathy
Cawthon plagiarists. The first block of text from Darren is an
accurate, if semi-literate, explanation of how a character is
created for D&D. What is important in the representation of this
explanation is that it attaches great importance to rolling dice
when creating a character. As players know, the more important
part of character creation is the fabrication of a background
story so you have an idea of who the character you are to play is
and what he wants out of the game. This is directly analogous to
actors creating fictional pasts for their characters in movies so
they know how to base their portrayal in whatever project they
The second excerpts are important because here we have Pat
Pulling's source for her comment about a woman who is supported
solely by her players. If she exists at all, and I am dubious
about taking a convicted murderer's word for that, she must have
friends who have money to burn. In all the years I have spent
involved with gaming I have never heard of a DM or Gamemaster who
is being "kept" by his or her players. A non-working spouse
might act as DM for a group of players, but that is hardly the
picture painted above.
Lastly, it is indeed possible to lavish incredible amount of
time in building up a world for gaming. The total number of
hours spent probably dwarfs the numbers given above, but it is
time spent both gaming and in one or two hour bites here and
there. The first adventure a player creates might take 10 or 12
hours to get perfect, but very few folks have the gumption to
make their game a full time job. As the learning curve
progresses, design time becomes shorter and some individuals,
myself included, run games totally off the cuff = no preparation
time at all.
No one said games can't be time consuming, but what relaxing
It would be fallacious to suggest the only way a doctor
could cure a disease is to have had the disease. On the other
hand, an expert in gaming would be expected to have an
understanding of a game, and few are the people who can fully
comprehend all the nuances and features of a game without playing
it. Just reading the rules of chess and learning how to move the
pieces does not impart the understanding of the game that playing
it several times does.
With Mrs. Pulling's fear and loathing of RPGs, her
reluctance to play and fully comprehend the games is
understandable. Why, however, has this fear prevented her from
keeping abreast of the games that are currently being
manufactures and sold in the US and around the world? Why has
she been prevented from doing market research? Why does she cite
games that are no longer available? Why isn't she up to date
with the trends in gaming, which now include a multi-media
approach that includes novels and computer versions of games
right along with the paper and pencil originals? Why has she
never mentioned the DragonLance series of novels? Based on a
Dungeons & Dragons campaign, they went on to become best selling
books ranked on the New York Times Best Seller List.
It is clear that Mrs. Pulling is not an expert in games.
She takes as gospel the word of a disturbed youth who was
convicted of murder and gives it her imprimatur. She has no idea
of what games are current, that the trends are actually away from
fantasy and can find no more fault with some products than that
they use 3 six-sided dice at one point in them. (One could argue
Craps, though a die shy of the proscribed number, is clearly
demonic, while Yahtzee only imperils the soul if played with less
than four dice.)
Ignorance is bliss, except when it becomes a crusade.
BADD has indeed made the hunting of games a crusade. The
profile printed above comes from BADD's Interviewing Techniques
for Adolescents. The group provides this document to police
agencies all over the United States to aid in their questioning
of suspects in crimes. One of the profile's latter sections,
partially reprinted below, indicates the prosecutorial mentality
BADD encourages in investigators.
WHAT can we do? 2. Keep an open mind 3. Stay objective 5. If
individual is involved in "satanic activity," he/she will deny a
great deal to protect other members of the group as well as the
These three points are interesting when grouped together
like this. While Pat encourages and open mind and objectivity in
points 2 and 3, she provides a caution in point 5. In essence,
she says, if they do not tell you what you want to hear, they are
lying because Satanists will lie to protect their friends. This
advice also sets up a "Catch-22" for gamers when the police use
the questionnaire Pulling has provided in this packet.
In the questionnaire titled Interviewing Fantasy Role
Playing Gamers Pulling advises:
It is very important to understand that not
all players of fantasy role playing games
over identify with the game and or their
player/characters. However, it appears that
a significant amount of youngers are having
difficulty with separating fantasy from
reality. Or in other instances, their role
playing has modified their behavior to the
extent that they react in real life
situations in the same fashion that they
would react in a gaming situation. This is
not always obvious or apparent to the
suspect. The personality change is so subtle
that in some cases the role player is unaware
of any behavior or personality changes.
Here again we have a warning to the cops that a player may
not be able to distinguish between fantasy or reality, and that
any behavior change is so subtle the person might not notice it.
This is why it is important for the
investigator to not only be familiar with the
game but to be able to ask questions which
are relevant to the suspect's gaming
Once we get into these questions, things get interesting. Recall
that Pulling has told the investigators that the players will lie
to protect their friends. She has also said the players may not
be functioning in this reality. Bearing those things in mind, as
well as endeavoring to be open minded, the investigator is given
the following list of questions with hints for answers. Anything
within asterisks (*) are my comments added in.
1. Since it is necessary to have a Dungeon Master or game
master/leader and two or more player characters, it is important
to ask the suspect, who is the Dungeon Master. [sic] (At this
point you may get double talk about several people being the
Dungeon Master or the suspect may say "no one in particular.
[sic] This is not typically standard. Generally there is one
person who assumes the continuous lead of Dungeon Master.)
*Actually, sharing the Gamemaster duties is more common. In
one gaming group in Phoenix we had a half-dozen Gamemasters
working within the same world. Switching off Gamemastering
duties, especially between game systems is very common and gives
everyone a chance to experience both sides of the game.*
2. What is the character of your suspect in the game?
They will be as follows: Thief, Magic User, Fighter, Cleric.
In the aforementioned character classes they may be sub-classes
that the individual will refer to such as Thief-Assassin, etc.
*These are most often known as character classes in gaming.
They were very common in early RPGs, but often went by other
names, like Rogue, Wizard, Shaman, etc. Since 1983 or so,
virtually no game has come out with character classes because
they are restrictive to play. It would be very easy for a player
to deny having a Thief or Magic User or Fighter or Cleric.*
3. Also, ask the individual if he "ran" multiple characters such
as a Fighter/Magic-user. *The same comment as above applies =
denying knowledge of how to answer this question would not be
uncommon among gamers.*
4. Each character will have certain abilities or attributes such
as Strength, Wisdom, Intelligence, Charisma, Constitution and
These abilities are obtained by rolling 3 6-sided dice.
Therefore, the ability score of each category will range from 3
to 18. You should find out what the [attributes are for their
current game characters].
*Two problems here. Many games have attributes with
different names, like Agility, Speed, Comliness, Presence,
Essence and Body. Furthermore only in D&D are scores restricted
to 3-18. In Tunnels & Trolls, for example, scores have no cap.
In Traveller they go from 1 to F and in ShadowRun they go from
1-7. In a game I finished designing in July 1989, attributes run
from 2-20 initially and are determined by point allocation or the
roll of 2 ten sided dice.*
5. How long has the individual been playing this role playing
*No clue given on a proper answer and the relevance of this
question is doubtful.*
6. How long has he/she been playing the particular character
that he is currently playing?
*Again, no clue as to a right answer.*
7. What is his level of his character/characters? Be specific.
*No clue for an answer here, but this must be an important
question because it appears again as question 12. There Pulling
explains that level reflects how much power a character has.
This is only true in games where they have levels. Like
character classes, levels have become somewhat passa' in more
8. What is his/her alignment?
The following are a list of categories for alignment:
Chaotic Evil, Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Lawful
Good, Lawful Neutral, Neutral Evil, Neutral Good and Neutral.
"...Observations indicate that in the past a significant
number of adolescents will [sic] choose an evil alignment. The
reasons that young players give for choosing an evil alignment is
they feel that there are less restrictions on the
player/characters therefore, they can do more, get by with more
and stay alive longer in the game.
*In reality, most players do whatever they have to do and
don't worry about alignment. Alignments are generally viewed
with distaste among players and are not featured in many games
outside the D&D family. (I once postulated an alignment system
for a game that consisted of one axis running from Naughty to
Nice and the other from Sloppy to Neat, but it never caught on.)
Alignments are basically silly and impede play, so are most often
[Pulling continues in this section by noting "There was a
young boy who was fourteen years old in Orlando, Florida who
stated that he as a Thief with a Lawful Good Alignment. In
reality thieves are not thought of in society as Good, therefore
the confusion over proper attitudes about more qualities become
confused. Right and Wrong are situational. *I might note that
Robin Hood or the patriots who held the Boston Tea Party could
have been tagged with the label of Lawful Good Thieves.* ]
9. Has the individual has [sic] any curses placed on his/her
character? If yes, what kind and get him to discuss the
procedure, type of curse.
*Mrs. Pulling's concern over curses stems from her belief
that having a curse placed on his character is what drove her son
to kill himself.*
10. What was the individual's character name/names?
*Mrs. Pulling places a great deal of weight on the name of
characters, especially if they can be found in occult works, such
as the dreaded Necronomicon! She also notes Darren Molitor used
the names Demun and Sammy Sager for his characters. After he
confessed to the FBI, he signed his confession in those names as
well as his own.*
11. What was his/her racial class in the game?
This only becomes important with the fact that many
youngsters will try try to "get over" on you when you ask what is
their character and they will tell you that they are an elf. An
elf in the game is a racial class, not a character class,
therefore most people feel that elves are innocuous, innocent
creature and pass over any involvement with negative thoughts.
The Racial classes are as follows: Dwarven, Elven, Gnome,
Half-Elven, Halfling *(Hobbit)*, Half-Orc and Human.
*In other games there are other racial/alien types. The
advantage of playing a different race comes in added strength for
Dwarves, or night vision for Elves, etc. People play other races
to escape, which is what relaxation and hobbies are all about.
The choice of racial type has no significance.*
12. What is his/her level in the game?
*See question seven.*
13. What god or gods did the individual serve in the game?
*Because most games do not deal with religion, the answer to
this game could be "Huh?" very easily.*
As can easily be seen from the material above, not only are
the questions insignificant, but the explanation of possible
answers are nearly incoherent. Very obviously Pulling's
questions are designed to determine if the suspect can
distinguish between fantasy and reality. While it could be
argued that this sort of judgement is best made by someone with
psychological training, it is an important point because of
things Pat Pulling herself mentions in the Techniques.
In her "The Who What When Where and How of Teen Satanism"
she appends to the HOW section this curious note: "TWO BASIC
PRINCIPLES APPY HERE 'Law of Attraction' and the 'Law of
Invitation.'" Being unaware of these "Laws" from a scientific or
legal standpoint, my only assumption can be that Mrs. Pulling is
referring to laws of magic. This would suggest, then, she
believes that individuals within the society are using diabolical
powers, governed by certain laws, to enslave or capture our
What a fantastic concept.
Mrs. Pulling adds another set of questions to the coven's
worth she asked the police to use above. The first is : "Has he
read the Necronomicon or is he familiar with it?" In her
explanation of this general section she notes, "This will help
determine if the individual has a working knowledge of the
occult, and if his gaming abilities lean more to the dark side
which could give cause or reason for bizarre behavior."
With that being the lead off question, and such a dire
explanation, this Necronomicon must be quite a heinous work, you
The fact is that the Necronomicon is a joke. It was created
as a volume of "forbidden knowledge" by Howard Phillips
Lovecraft. Lovecraft wrote back during the pulp era and created
the Elder Gods, the best known of which is Cthulu (Kaa-thu-lu or
Kaa-tu-lu). The Necronomicon was supposedly written by the mad
Arab, Abdul Alhazred. Penned in blood on parchment made of human
flesh, it contained a history of the Elder Gods and spoke of
their nature and the things they had done. To read it was to go
Lovecraft shared his "Cthulu Mythos" with the other writers
of the day, opening it up to public domain. Cthulu, the other
gods and the Necronomicon began to show up in stories in the
horror genre from a whole host of writers = professional and
amateur alike. Phantom copies of this book would mysteriously
appear listed in library databases, though it always seemed to be
checked out to a Mr. A. Alhazred.
In short, the Necronomicon became a joke shared by fantasy
and horror fans.
In the late seventies the first of at least five different
versions of the book appeared on the market. Most are gibberish
and at least one version repeats its Romanized Arabic text every
ten pages (the author having assumed that no one would ever try
to wade through more than ten pages of the nonsense). Another
book appeared with a black leather binding and gold stamped
cover. It retailed for $50 in 1978 and now goes for well over
Though now extant, The Necronomicon has the same veracity as
Gulliver's Travels. Citing it as an occult book would be akin to
citing Rona Jaffee's novel "Mazes and Monsters" as an
investigative book. (The fact that NCTV's Dr. Thomas Radecki did
just that in one of his press releases does not make the novel a
factual book.) A moment's research into the Necronomicon would
have revealed its less than blue-ribbon pedigree, but Mrs.
Pulling has not apparently put that much study into this tome.
Carelessness and a lack of diligence can explain some of the
problems with Mrs. Pulling's approach, but many people feel
those shortcomings can be overlooked because they perceive her
work as vital and so pure in its motivation. I have to disagree
with that sentiment because it condones the deliberate production
of erroneous material reminiscent of Joe McCarthy's modus
operandi thirty years ago. Pat warns above about determining how
much of a gamer's abilities are applied to the "dark side which
could give cause or reason for bizarre behavior." Let's take a
look at the darkside of Pat Pulling's investigations.
Do you need a license to manufacture evidence, or can anyone do
I normally try to keep the following in mind: Never
attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by
stupidity. I find it a philosophical jewel that helps bleed off
anger whenever circumstances conspire to make life inconvenient.
When I first heard of Pat Pulling's crusade against games, I
applied this bon mot to it and chose not to be angered by her.
As time passed and I heard what I classified as distortions
coming from that camp, my level of concern rose to the point
where I started to look into it.
On a radio broadcast over KFYI in Phoenix in the fall of
1987, Pat Pulling billed herself as "a private investigator for
the past six years." Robert D. Hicks, a law enforcement analyst
for the State of Virginia said in a letter to me dated 28 Nov 88,
"Pulling is a licensed private investigator, a certification she
earned on October 6, 1987." He went on to note:
You might be interested to know, however, the
certification process. Anyone with any
educational background can obtain a license.
One must, though, do two things. First, one
must either attend a 42-hour or a 48-hour
course, which can be conducted virtually
anywhere. The course includes such topics as
rules of evidence, civil and criminal
procedure, collecting and reporting
information, interviewing techniques, and
investigative techniques. The difference
between the two courses -- six hours --
involves firearms instruction. Obviously, in
six hours one cannot learn much about
firearms beyond a simple orientation.
Anyway, Pulling appears certified in the
armed variety. The second prerequisite to
obtaining a license is to pass a background
investigation consisting of a
fingerprint-based criminal records check
through the state and FBI files. If one
passes the background check, and if one
passes a one-hour exam at the end of the
private investigator training, one pays for a
Her career, if it was six years old in 1987, would have
predated her son's 9 June 82 suicide by at least six months.
Regardless, she became a PI in October of 1987, and not a second
sooner. To represent herself as having been such before that
time granted her "facts" a legitimacy that neither they nor her
Pulling's Techniques includes a story originally printed in
the Daily News-Sun of Sun City, AZ on Tuesday, 7 June 1988. The
story details the apparent suicide of Sean Hughes in
Springerville, Arizona on 19 April 1988. The piece, written by
Doug Dollemore, is a balanced story that gets facts and opinions
from family, friends and law enforcement officials. Pulling
reprints it, pictures and all, as a centerpiece of the
Techniques, and the story ends with Springerville Police Chief
Darrel Jenkins saying, "If Sean hadn't been involved in
role-playing games, he may have thought long and hard before he
pulled that trigger."
Because the story was published in Phoenix, I called Doug
Dollemore and we agreed to meet. When I showed him Pulling's
edition of his story, he glanced at it, then stopped when he got
to the last page. He told me that the original story had run in
one long column, and on the last page produced by Pulling it had
been snipped into five parts so it could all fit on one sheet of
paper. In doing the cutting, the pieces had carefully been
rearranged to provide the sheriff's quote last.
As can be seen above, that quote is a nasty indictment of
gaming. In Doug's original version of the story it ended with
Sean's mother saying, "If there's a trial I want to be there. I
want some answers." This was an ending more in keeping with the
whole non-judgmental tone of the piece. Doug also noted that the
News-Sun had not been contacted for nor given consent for the
piece to be reprinted with Pat's material.
Pat Pulling, in her Primer, reprinted the article from the
Washington post about her son's death. The story ran a full 20
column inches on 13 Aug 1983, but Mrs. Pulling only runs the
first 14 inches of the story. Cut are the comments of a
classmate and a defense of Dungeons and Dragons by TSR. The
classmate's comments, as can be seen in the cases section of this
report, suggest Bink Pulling had more problems than just with the
game. (The article concerned the lawsuit Pulling's parents filed
against the school where the game was played and TSR, Inc. The
case was thrown out of court.)
Most of Mrs. Pulling's publications are compilations of
newspaper articles and press releases that are reprinted with
little or no comment. While Mrs. Pulling is under no obligation
to print follow-up articles that might contradict the first story
that she is printing, editing newspaper accounts is, by no means
legitimate and, in the case of copyrighted material, is illegal.
As will be seen later on in the section of this paper dealing
with the cases she cites, contradictory evidence is easy to find.
"Lies, damn lies and statistics"
Mark Twain attributes the above to Benjamin Disraeli, but
neither man probably could have dreamed of the voodoo statistics
Pat Pulling is capable of pulling out of her hat.
In January of 1988 Pat Pulling stated, in a Style Weekly
article, she "conservatively estimates that about 8 percent of
the Richmond [VA]-area population is involved with Satanic
worship at some level." A Richmond News Leader article (7 April
89) notes this would be roughly 56,000 people, "more than the
number of United Methodists in the Richmond area and nearly the
entire population of Hanover County."
In an interview for that story Mrs. Pulled redefined
"Satanic worship" as "occult" and said it included "dabbling in
witchcraft and such New Age activities as channeling." She went
on to say that she had gotten the 8% figure by "estimating 4
percent of the area's teen-agers, and 4 percent of the adults,
were involved. She added the figures."
The reporter informed her that mathematically that amounted
to 4% of the total population, but she said it didn't matter
because 8 percent was probably "conservative" anyway. She went
on to add that some of the bodies from unexplained homicides
across the country actually may be Satanic sacrifice victims.
"They certainly have found a number of unsolved murders with no
motive, haven't they?"
Aa Richmond Times-Dispatch article of 23 September 88 noted,
"Authorities have estimated that more than 30,000 people
nationwide = including doctors, lawyers and other professionals =
practice... alternative religion [like Satanism and other
cults]." In that same article, one that predates both the 8
percent solution and its defense, Pulling is quoted as saying,
"To me, this is just like any other fanatic type of group.
They're not large in numbers, but they create a lot of problems."
Barely seven months earlier another Richmond Times-Dispatch
article about Pulling (5 March 88) estimated the number of
Satanists at "300,000 nationally." It was noted they come from
"as many as four generations of Satanists and from feeding stream
of teen-agers recruited with promise of easy drugs and sex and
the ultimate in revolt against parental control. 'We've found
that the people in Satanism can be found on all levels of
society,' says Pat Pulling...'Across the country, doctors,
lawyers, clergymen, even police are involved in this.'" In this
particular story she also makes her famous 8 percent remark, but
it goes unquestioned and uncorrected.
Mrs. Pulling gives us a number of conflicting images in
these stories. First we have 300,000 Satanists involved in all
levels of society, including the police. Seven months pass and
they've been reduced to a tenth of their former number, but they
still comprise 8% of the Richmond area population. At this point
Mrs. Pulling calls them "not large in number." Later yet she
defends her error in estimating 56,000 people of Richmond as
being Satanists by noting her estimate was "conservative."
Statistics are useful for all sorts of things. For example,
if we take Mrs. Pulling's estimated eight percent and apply it
to her base user population for Dungeons and Dragons of
4,000,000, we get 320,000 individuals. That is more than the
number of Satanists her highest estimate suggests exist. If,
however, we apply her definition of Satanism/occultism to the
250,000,000 people in the United States and use her 8%, we get
20,000,000 occultists/Satanists running around in the country.
The important thing to note here is that Pulling's
statistics and comments tend to vary wildly. If there was a
distinct threat, one that could be dealt with in a clear manner,
the statistics would support her theories. But when Pat needs to
show she's up to the job of taking on the Satanists, they're no
problem. When she's speaking to the press or police officers
about the threat, it takes on biblical proportions. It could be
argued that Pat has a firmer grasp on all this stuff than anyone
else, but the lack of evidence to back up her estimates, and the
sheer outlandishness of those estimates, cast doubt upon them.
One other thing must be understood here. Mrs. Pulling
notes that the police have plenty of murders nationwide with no
motive and suggests that many of them could be Satanist victims.
As her class in evidence gathering should have pointed out, a
motive is not necessary for a crime or conviction. Random
murders and serial killings occur with no motive in evidence.
Furthermore, a motive might be so obscure that unless a suspect
is caught, there's no way to begin to even guess at the reason
someone might have had for killing another person.
Anyone could advance a theory for the "motiveless murders"
that stump police on a yearly basis. It could be suggested that
mole-men from the hollow earth come up to kidnap slaves, and the
dead are ones who resisted. Better yet, some Nazi conspiracy is
killing off people related to men who defeated the Third Reich.
An utterly mad serial killer who travels around and stalks names
randomly chosen from a phonebook also explains these murders.
The fact is, however, none of those explanations make mole-men or
Nazi conspirators or a serial murderer fact.
Why then, when the Satanist conspiracy produces as much
evidence as our mole-men, are mystery murders ascribed to
With Friends Like These
Cassandra "Sam" Hoyer
Pat Pulling, during her odyssey through the Satanic
wasteland of Richmond, has come across some truly interesting
characters. Cassandra "Sam" Hoyer is one who claims that she was
raised in New England to become a High Priestess for a Satanic
Cult. Both she and Pulling appeared on a KFYI radio show in
Phoenix on Satanism.
In an article in INSIGHT (11 January 88) Sam says she was
given over to the cult at the age of 3 by her mother. She was
"born physically perfect and so was found acceptable to Satan.
Her twin sister was born with a deformed foot. The sister was
ritually murdered, she says." On KFYI Sam elaborated, saying she
was trained until the age of 17 to be the High Priestess. At
that time she was sent out into the world even though she had
witnessed multiple murders. She confessed to having consumed
some of her sister's body at the time of her murder.
In a Richmond News Leader story (21 Sept 88) she said she
was, at the age of 9, "ritually burned and I was one who didn't
[die]. By the grace of God I didn't burn, which means I was
chosen to be Satan's high priestess at the age of 42." [Note: God
makes Satan's draft picks for him!] She also said she was
tortured and abused for 16 years, then hypnotized into forgetting
everything later. "When I turned 39 they would attempt to tap
back into my consciousness."
In a News Leader article (7 April 89) Sam's psychotherapist
said she suffered from multiple personality disorder. The
article goes on to relate that Ms. Hoyer began to realize she
was a Satanic cult victim while undergoing psychotherapy in
In the KFYI radio program callers were allowed to as
questions of the guests. The most telling question for Hoyer
came when a male caller asked, "Do Satanists believe in an
afterlife?" Sam answered, "Oh, no, I don't think so." This from
a woman who was being trained to be a High Priestess?
It doesn't take someone in the College of Cardinals, or a
seminary graduate to answer that question from the Catholic point
of view. How is it, then, that a woman being trained to hold
sacrifices couldn't answer that question? And why, if Cassandra
Hoyer is so terrified of Satanists finding her, is she willing to
go public with her story, letting people know she lives and has
lived in Richmond for the past nine years. If these Satanists
are so good at making all their other victims disappear, why has
Larry Jones and File 18
As odd as it seems for Pat Pulling to be retained as a "jury
trainer" and expert witness in murder cases, odder still is her
alliance with Larry Jones. Jones serves with the Boise, Idaho
police department and is the head of the Cult Crime Impact
Network, Inc. He is the publisher of File 18, a newsletter that
he claims reaches between 1,500 and 2,500 law enforcement
individuals. File 18 reports on occult crimes from all over the
country, but appears to use as its sources newspaper clippings
sent by readers and other interested parties.
A few excerpts from File 18 are in order to reflect BADD's
ties with it, and the general slant of its editorial bias. While
each issue bears the following, or some variation of the
following disclaimer, the newsletter carries no copyright.
Disclaimer: "CONFIDENTIAL: RESTRICTED ACCESS INFORMATION FOR
OFFICIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT USE ONLY." The April 1989 issue expands
this to read: "CONFIDENTIAL: RESTRICTED ACCESS INFORMATION. NOT
FOR RELEASE TO PUBLIC, MEDIA, OR UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS OR GROUPS.
INFORMATION IN THIS PUBLICATION IS INTENDED TO PRIMARILY AID LAW
ENFORCEMENT, AND LEGITIMATE COMMUNITY PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE
COMBATTING CULT-MOTIVATION CRIMES AND ASSISTING SURVIVORS.
The December 1988 issue notes the link with BADD.
XI. WHO HAS YOUR ADDRESS?
Over the past six months or so, a number of
non- authorized publications and letters have
been mailed to persons on the FILE 18
NEWSLETTER. With the exception of two
mailings from B. A. D. D., Inc. about their
upcoming seminars, the C. C. I. N. Board did
not give prior authorization to use the
mailing list. We have verifiable information
that some law enforcement officers on the
FILE 18 list are also members of occult
groups. These people have apparently take
the mailing list and copies of FILE 18 and
passed them on to persons whose goals are to
influence the reader's sentiments against the
mission of C. C. I. N.
The February 1989 issue provides an interesting look into
the thought processes of individuals charged with seeking
evidence in criminal cases:
All across the United States, men sit in
prisons and on death rows convicted of
satanic sacrifice killings. Others have been
imprisoned for gruesome abuse and
victimization of infants, children, and
adults. Adult survivors tell strikingly
similar accounts of bondage, fear, mind
control, and rituals accomplished for years
under the noses (or with the complicity) of
so-called "normal society" and its officials.
Those who deny, explain away, or cover-up the
obvious undeniably growing mountain of
evidence, often demand statistical evidence
or positive linkages between operational
suspect groups. At best, this demand for
positive proof of a "horizontal conspiracy"
is naive. At its worst, it is a red herring
designed to misdirect the attention of the
growing number of professionals who are
convinced that we must effectively pursue and
confront what could be the crime of the 90's.
Consider the possibility that the reason
supposedly unrelated groups in different
localities over various time periods are
acting-out in a similar manner, is that
consistent directives are recieved [sic]
independently from higher levels of
authority. Instead of being directly linked
to each other, these groups may be linked
vertically to a common source of direction
and control. This "vertical conspiracy
model" is consistent with the "authoritarian"
(pyramid-type) structure seen in many cult
and occult groups. Those who accept this
theory as a reasonable possibility need to
re-think the meaning, scope, and effects of
the term conspiracy!
A growing body of evidence, intelligence
information, survivor statements, and court
convictions exert increasing pressure upon us
to "reach the verdict" that hertofore [sic]
'unrelated problems,' are being orchestrated
from a central source. Let's wake up and see
the reality of what we've ineffectually
fought for so long. Only by chopping at the
tap root of the crime tree instead of just
raking the leaves can we hope to stem or turn
In that same issue the following appears:
The solution [to Satanism]: The Editorial
Staff concurs that the only true and lasting
solution to "devil worship" or satanic
involvement is a personal encounter with true
Christianity and with the central figure of
faith, Jesus Christ. Only through this
light can the deep and dangerous tentacles of
satanic or occult enslavement be exposed and
removed from a person's life.
Lastly, the two following quotes come from the April 1989
issue of File 18:
We believe that certain groups and interests
either finally became aware of C. C. I. N.'s
existence or decided we weren't going to go
away. They devised active campaigns of
infiltration and counter-information intended
to intimidate, nullify, and/or eliminate the
worked we started, the work we encourage
among the many legitimate professionals in
police departments, schools, treatment
facilities, churches, and special interest
groups across this nation. Wedges of
distrust have been driven between credible
resource groups and authorities. Today, the
forces of opposition are hammering out
volumes of information designed to confuse,
mislead, and dilute the truth. Tactics
including: character assassination, rumor,
innuendo, ridicule, and threats of civil
litigation are designed to halt the vital
exposure of formerly secret practices,
associations, and criminal methodologies.
A bit later in that same issue we get:
VIII. Acquino, Again:
In March, 1988... on The Oprah Winfrey Show,
[Temple of Set founder Michael Acquino] said
that if satanists were really committing
crimes the police would know about them and
investigate, putting the satanists under
In the File 18 Newsletter, Vol. III... we
asked for confirmation that the United States
Military had reopened an investigation on Lt.
Co. Acquino. Confirmation came from no less
than an article published in the San Jose
Mercury News, December 23, 1988. Linda
Godlston, Staff Writer, reported: "Six months
after the U. S. Attorney's Office closed the
Presidio child sex abuse case, the Army has
launched a new investigation of one of the
original suspects in the matter = a high
ranking officer who founded a satanic church,
according to those close to the probe.
We certainly afford Mr. Acquino the benefit
of the legal presumption of his innocence,
This File 18 material needs discussion to cover only a
couple of points. The general tone of paranoia is disturbing
within a document being published by and for police officials and
other interested professionals. The idea that the solution to
satanic crimes is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ went out
with witch trials. Flip Wilson's line "The devil made me do it"
brought laughs twenty years ago, now it apparently is a motive
for crimes from vandalism to mass murder.
Most of what appears in File 18 "is quoted from books and
articles available on the newsstands... Most so-called 'police
only' materials we now use have been developed by civilians!" If
this is true, why does Jones publish it and thereby provide it
with a veneer of legitimacy that it does not deserve? Newspaper
accounts stress the unusual and always seek to have a unique
angle, but that angle often fades to insignificance as a case is
studied. Why then is some much emphasis placed on newsstand
The File 18 "vertical conspiracy" theory falls quickly when
Occam's Razor is applied to it with even the barest of pressure.
What need is there of an invisible cabal when Dan Rather or
Geraldo Rivera inform everyone of any bizarre occurrence from
coast to coast = making copycat antics not only easy, but a
surefire way of getting publicity? Why does anyone need cultists
propagating their rituals in secret when anyone can pick up a
hundred different horror novels that describe things in
Fantasy versus Reality
The place where the most caution is needed for someone
looking into the "Satanism" phenomena comes when the above
questions are answered. To the people involved in the crusade
against diabolism, the answer to our latter question is that the
horror novelists are part of the conspiracy. This will not be
said in such plain terms, but the veiled threats of a conspiracy
including doctors, lawyers, cops and other professionals covers
enough bases to leave one questioning who to trust. The
conclusion will be left for you to make, and placing people on
the inside is easier than trying to sort out the truth.
Face it, anyone who reads Stephen King has got to wonder
where he comes up with his ideas. That question leaves the
lingering impression that King must not be on the same wavelength
as the rest of us. And because his work is so exacting in
detail, it is very easy to assume that he must have special
knowledge = he must be connected with all this nonsense in some
way. The fact that some misguided kids are found acting out a
scene of one of his books confirms that King is chronicling true
rituals, ignoring the fact that the kids were recreating his
work. Not only does this put the cart before the horse in a big
way, but it leads to stereotyping that quickly lumps all writers
Where does a writer get his material? What he doesn't glean
from newspapers, magazines and research, he makes up. He uses
his imagination and puts things together to get the desired
effect. If he wants a scary scene he sets it at night with fog
and the scent of decaying garbage. He includes pentagrams and
skulls, and whatever other trappings Hollywood and the popular
conception of a scary scene would contain. A splash of blood, a
chant or two, and suddenly an evil ritual is born.
Just like the reader, the writer does not have to know what
is REAL, he just has to know what people believe is real.
Likewise, Pat Pulling does not need to present real instances and
evidence, she merely needs to give out a few details and allude
to darker, hidden knowledge that is too confidential for the
uninitiated to know. Our imaginations take over where Pat's
As an investigator, Pat Pulling is not even barely
competent. Her clients get their money's worth only when she's
doing *pro bono * work.
Pat Pulling could be a writer of fiction, however.
Professional fiction writers, if you think about it, are paid
liars. As can be seen from the cases below, Pat's mastered the
art of fictioneering or, more kindly, of creating a revisionist
history to bolster her in her crusade against a game she has
chosen to blame for the loss of her son.
I would do my best to present a detailed refutation of each
and every one of the 125 cases of suicide and murder Pat Pulling
cites as having occurred. "The list goes on and on. Well over
100 incidents have been widely publicized in newspapers all over
the country. A considerably larger number of cases have not been
Unfortunately, the cases that Mrs. Pulling has chosen to
make public are presented with so little detail that determining
when and where they happened is nearly impossible. Such cases,
until evidence can be presented to show they even exist, have to
be considered anecdotes. As you will see in the cases presented
below, such anecdotes are easily refuted by evidence often
presented in the same newspaper article that reported them in the
first place. Because of that tendency with these cases, the urge
to dismiss anything anecdotal is overwhelming.
It should be noted at this point that what follows is not
meant to be an indictment of the press. While it as been
asserted that journalism is merely a suffix of the word
irresponsible, the fact is that a reporter's job is to seek out
the unusual and inform us of it. A headline's purpose is to draw
the reader to that story. If there is a problem with modern news
reporting it is that articles cannot be inexorably linked to
their follow-ups and clarifications when they are quoted and
The cases covered below are presented in no specific order.
Many have been chosen because they are the cases that have been
touted very heavily to justify BADD's actions. These cases, as
you will see, fall apart rather quickly. If there is nothing to
these seminal cases, then one has to wonder what could be there
in the cases BADD does not emphasize.
James Dallas Egbert III Dallas Egbert is the first case of D&D
being linked with bizarre behavior in a youth, and is the story
that started all the furor back in 1979. Dallas was a brilliant
yet troubled boy who graduated from high school at 13 and had
entered Michigan State University at the age of 14. Pushed by
his parents to excel, having a younger brother who was even
brighter than he was, and being physically smaller and more frail
than his older classmates, Dallas felt a great deal of pressure.
By his Junior year he had discovered he was a homosexual and had
become a substance abuser = going so far as to cook up his own
drugs in a lab on campus.
On 15 August 1979 Dallas decided to commit suicide. He took
a drug overdose while in the steam tunnels beneath his dorm. He
awakened after some time and ran away to stay with a friend in
the homosexual community in Lansing. By the time he regained his
wits, the police had begun a massive search for him and his
parents had hired William Dear to find him. His homosexual
friends, being afraid of being charged with kidnapping a minor,
gave Dallas money and got him out of Michigan.
The police search for Dallas proved fruitless, though an
arcane game map on Dallas' bulletin board in his room led them to
believe he was playing a strange game. The press picked up on
this and published the story concerning his disappearance and
Dungeons and Dragons.
On 13 September 1979 Dallas called Dear at his Texas office
and arranged to be brought in. At that time, according to Dear's
book The Dungeon Master, Dallas said D&D had nothing to do with
his disappearance. Dear asked, "You really enjoyed Dungeons &
Dragons, didn't you?" (The Dungeon Master, page 268)
"Playing the game = for real, I man = was
total escape. I mean, I could get into it.
Scramble through those [steam] tunnels like a
monkey. And you can use all your brains.
There's nothing to constrain you except the
limit of your imagination. When I played a
character, I was that character. Didn't
bring all my personal problems alone with me.
It's a terrific way to escape."
Dear later writes:
On the morning of August 11, 1980, seated on
a couch alone in the living room of his
apartment, Dallas put a .25-caliber automatic
pistol to his right temple and squeezed the
Dallas wasn't dead. He lay in critical
condition in the intensive-care unit of
Grandview Osteopathic Hospital...Six says
later, on August 16 = a year and a day after
he had disappeared = the wonderful brain no
longer gave off waves, and the machines were
Dallas's suicide, a year after his disappearance, continues
to be linked to the game D&D even though the game, in fact, had
nothing to do with either his death or his disappearance.
This linkage is in part due to William Dear because, to sell
more books, he hopped on the anti-D&D bandwagon, blaming the game
for Dallas' death despite what he himself had written in the
book. Lest this accusation of blatant opportunism seem
gratuitous, the Dallas Times Herald, 11 December 1988, page K-4,
provides more evidence to pinpoint Dear's mercenary motives. An
ad offering autographed copies of The Dungeon Master has the
header "True Story of Boy Genius Hooked on Danger & Drugs." With
the public's concern turning toward drugs, Dear shifted his
emphasis to sell more books.
BADD seems willfully ignorant of the time lapse between
Dallas' disappearance and his death. In a radio debate on KFYI
(14 July 87) with the author, Rosemary Loyacano reacted as if the
year's time lag in no way severed the connection between D&D and
Dallas' death. Dallas is still touted as the first martyr
created by D&D.
Daniel and Steve Erwin These two young men, 16 and 12 years old
respectively, had a death pact and died less than four blocks
from their home, with Steve shooting his brother through the
head, then killed himself. BADD points out that in the first
article on the death a detective says, "There is no doubt that
D&D cost them their lives."(The Denver Post 4 November 84)
In an article in the Jainesville Gazette (18 Sept 85) the
family denied any connection between the game and their sons'
deaths. "Two young brothers carried out a murder-suicide pact
last fall because the older brother feared his sentencing in an
auto theft case, not because of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy
game, their mother said." The article went on to quote Daniel's
Dear Mom and Dad,
I am sorry that it had to end this way, but
things just came to a close. A man without
his freedom is not a man at all. Therefore,
this man is targeted for termination and my
goodbyes are now, so shall it be.
Harold T. Collins is acknowledged in the NCTV release of 17
January 85 has having died on 30 April 83 of "auto-erotic
hanging." He was 18 and lived in Marion, Ohio. An article
reprinted by BADD in Primer from The Lake Country News-Herald (30
April 83) says the police confiscated letters from friends in
Kentucky that indicated many of them were involved in auto-
erotic hanging. It also notes that his sister did not think
highly of Harold's spending a lot of time playing D&D, but
nothing indicates that the two items are related in any way.
Timothy Grice killed himself with a shotgun on 17 January 1983 at
the age of 21. NCTV quoted a detective as saying, "D&D became a
reality... He thought he was not constrained to this life but
could leave and return because of the game."
In a 20 September 85 letter to Dragon Magazine, his mother,
Royce Grice, says:
There has been a great deal of publicity
nation wide attributing the death of my son
Tim Grice to the influence of Dungeons and
Dragons. Nothing could be further from the
truth and I have steadfastly maintained so to
the press who have contacted me.
Dungeons and Dragons gave him many hours of
pleasure. It was a delight to watch he and
his friends play....
It would not have been his intent in any way
to have his death reflect negatively upon
you, your company, or your creative outlets
Irving Lee "Bink" Pulling Bink was Pat Pulling's son. According
to an NCTV release (17 Jan 85) he shot himself on 9 June 82
"hours after a D&D curse was placed on him during a game
conducted at his local high school." In BADD's Primer, Pulling
reprints 14 of 20 column inches of a 13 August 83 story
concerning the Pullings' lawsuit against the school where the
game was played and against TSR.
The article notes:
[Bink Pulling] had trouble 'fitting in' and
became dejected when he was unable to find a
campaign manager when he ran for school
office. Shortly before his death, he wrote
'Life is a Joke' on the blackboard in one of
his classes, one classmate said.
In the section of the article Pulling did not print the
'He had a lot of problems anyway that weren't
associated with the game,' said Victoria
Rockecharlie, another classmate of Pulling's
in the Talented and Gifted program.
Though she presents herself as taken utterly unawares by her
son's death, at least in BADD publications, Mrs. Pulling was
aware of her son's problems. During a seminar given at the North
Colorado/South Wyoming Detective Association 9-12 Sept 86 (and as
reported in File 18) she said her son had been displaying
"lycanthropic" tendencies like running around the backyard
barking. Within the month before his death, 19 rabbits Bink had
raised were inexplicably torn apart, and a cat was found
disembowled with a knife.
It seems very clear that Bink Pulling was a disturbed youth.
Steven Loyacano Steven was the son of Rosemary Loyacano, the
Western Regional Director for BADD. According to his mother, on
KFYI radio (14 July 87), an occult recruiter used D&D to lure her
son into the world of Satanism. After his death on 14 October 82
of carbon monoxide poisoning, Rosemary said she found occult
books, occult pornography, symbols from black masses, including
altar cloths and candles hidden in her son's room. She said that
friends of his said he had engaged in "rituals and animal
sacrifices." As she searched his room and looked in drawers she
found his writings which she describes as "horrible."
Ted Schwarz and Duane Empey chronicle Steven's case in their
book Satanism. [Note: They withhold his name, but the age,
location, method of death and details supplied in published
statements by the family all clearly point to his identity.]
Throughout his "journey through a maze of fantasy, isolation, and
ultimate madness" they splice in selections from his diaries.
While the entries are undated, they do seem consistent and
certainly reveal a youth feeling increasingly isolated as he
stumbled through his teen years.
The report his introduction to D&D came when he was 14 years
old. His introduction to the occult happened some time after he
had started playing the game.
Lonely, despite loving parents who would have
reached out to him if he had expressed what
was in his head, he began looking for ways to
change. During one of the games, a friend
called upon Satan as a way of winning. He
asked for satanic powers, and he won the
As a result, the authors say, Steven made a pact with the
devil, promising him his own and 20 other souls within the next
30 years. In exchange Steven was to be given invisibility, the
ability to shape shift, to stop time, to fly, to levitate objects
and to cast hellfire. He began to browse occult bookshops
without his parents' knowledge and began to read on mythology,
fantasy and the occult. Unlike Mrs. Loyacano, the authors do
not mention occult group involvement = they only mention one
other friend as going to the bookstores to him and detail no
ceremonies or sacrifices.
The book goes on to say:
In retrospect, his parents realized that they
probably should have gotten more involved
with their son, but they knew from their
friends that all teenagers have a tendency to
withdraw from their parents. And on the
surface, he still seemed to enjoy family
activities, camping, church.
Later they note:
He gave no warning signs to his family, his
friends, or his teachers other than his
What was important, the diary, his drawings,
even ritual objects such as daggers he had
purchased were all so carefully hidden that
even a prying mother would probably not have
found them. He used hollowed out books for
many of his treasures, his actions were
furtive, his pact with Satan too personal for
him to want anyone to discover the truth.
The suggestion that he had given his family no clues that
something was wrong is contradicted by a quote from his sister in
Newsweek (9 Sept 85): "The family knew something was wrong when
he took down his Cheryl Ladd posters and replaced them with
pictures of demons."
The family has asserted throughout that Steven killed
himself because he could not resolve the conflict between his
desire to shed blood and his love for his family. He was afraid
that he would kill them and decided, instead, to kill himself.
His suicide note, as reprinted in Satanism only hints at that
being his motive in the last paragraph:
My death is one that could of been avoided.
I could have lived for a long time here with
you. Building the foundation for my future
existence. But something went wrong. My
sences [sic] began to sharpen rapidly and to
live became a discomfort. I was caught
between the hatred for this world and the
thirst for blood. My plite [sic] for "evil"
became stagnant. The only instinct was to
act, and act fast. So, ending my life.
Steven clearly was a disturbed boy, but did D&D cause his
death? I tend to think not. D&D may have sparked an interest in
the occult, but it did not kill him. In fact, nothing in BADD or
NCTV publications, the discussion with Rosemary Loyacano or the
book Satanism suggest Steven was anything more remarkable than a
teen ager who was consumed by isolation and depression.
Michael Dempsey Michael Dempsey was the 17 year old son of
retired Seattle police man Patrick Dempsey. (Dempsey is listed
along with Pat Pulling and Rosemary Loyacano as the author of a
BADD publication about D&D.)
NCTV says of Michael's 19 May 81 suicide: "Parents witnessed
him summoning D&D demons only moments before killing himself."
(17 Jan 85 release). The Chicago Tribune story of 7 Jan 85
clarifies that a bit, saying "Michael shot himself in the
head...only hours after his parents discovered him in his room as
he invoked demons from the game." Newsweek's 9 Sept 85 story
said "...following an argument with his father, he shot himself
to death." Rosemary Loyacano, on KFYI (14 July 87) said she had
spoken with Patrick Dempsey and that the argument concerned
Michael spending too much time programming D&D into a computer.
BADD has assumed that because the argument concerned the
game, that is the reason Michael killed himself. The idea that
fighting with his father might have emotionally affected him and
caused his suicide = whatever the cause of the fight = seems to
have slipped away in importance. If he and his father had been
arguing about sports or schoolwork, it is safe to bet that
neither of those things would be blamed for his death.
Missy Macon was a clerk in a convenience store who was killed in
a robbery by Cayce Moore, Scott Davis and Chris White. A 27
October 85 story from the Ragland, Alabama News-Aegis says that
Moore told Chris White they wanted to live the life of "Top
Secret." They procured guns, rode around in a car until they hit
upon what they wanted to do, and even agreed the Cayce was to
kill the clerk because "he [had] the small gun."
The detective who found the youths had to talk Moore and
Davis out of killing themselves. He testified in court that he
did not know what "Top Secret" was, but that the boys had told
him it was a game "similar to Dungeons & Dragons." The newspaper
account goes on to correct the detective and describes "Top
Secret" as a game played on college campuses in which players try
to assassinate targets with dart guns, squirt guns or similar
non-lethal weapons. [Known as "Killer" or "Assassin," the game
enjoyed a certain amount of popularity at the beginning of the
'80s. It has largely be usurped by Survival or Paint-Pellet
games in the countryside.]
In fact, the detective was correct. Top Secret was a role
playing game produced by TSR that allowed players to adventure as
spies. As the object of the game was recreate James Bond type
adventures, it is hard to cast an armed robbery as part of the
game's milieu. Even more curious is BADD's omission of Top
Secret from the list of games Mrs. Pulling has published as
being like D&D and harmful.
In short, these boys decided to pull a robbery and ended up
murdering someone. If they had truly wanted to play the game,
they would have just played the game.
Roland Cartier was 13 years old when he hung himself on 25 April
84. The Christian Information Council, a fundamentalist group,
campaigned against Dungeons & Dragons being played at school,
blaming his death on the game. But, according to a New York
Times story (22 Aug 85) "At a meeting in May, the state police
trooper who investigated the suicide, Paul Roy, said, 'Dungeons
and Dragons no way killed this kid.' He said the youth had become
involved with drugs....'I'm sick of them saying that Roland
killed himself because of D&D = it was drugs,' said Erick
Bergeson, who used to play with the dead youth."
USA Today, on 2 August 85, ran a story that said, in part,
"Shawn Dowling, 14, who was in Roland Cartier's class at Putnam
(CT) Middle School, doesn't believe D&D caused his death. Nor
does Cartier's mother, Martha, who moved from town last month."
Martha Cartier said in a letter to the Observer Patriot
(reprinted in the Norwich CT Bulletin) "My son also played Uno,
Yahtzee, Monopoly and other games and I'll say it again = it was
not from any game that my son committed suicide. Not even D&D."
Unfortunately, the pressure on the school to remove the game
continued. As the AP reported on 8 Oct 85 "After a six month
debate, the teacher supervising student participation in the game
had decided against continuing to oversee D&D. Because no
activity is allowed without a supervisor, the game will be
James A. Stalley killed himself with a sawed off shotgun during a
school drama class at Arlington High School. The headline reads
"Classmates stunned by youth's suicide in front of his drama
class." The lead sentence of the article, however, gives a
different slant to the whole story: "A teen-ager who killed
himself with a sawed-off shotgun in front of his drama class *was
a devotee of the fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons * and had a
lead role in this weekend's school play, friends said."[Emphasis
added by BADD's underlining in the reprinted article.]
The article goes on to note that James was a shy,
intellectual who enjoyed D&D, read science fiction and practiced
Tai Chi Chuan. He had joined the school drama club earlier that
year and had already had a role in his first play. Why the D&D
angle was singled out for the lead line is unclear, but nothing
in the story suggests D&D caused his suicide any more than Tai
Chi or science fiction or being in the drama club.
Clifford Meling was a 17 year old weight lifter whose suicide was
reported in the Sunday Des Moines Register on 11 September 1988
with the headline: "Dungeons, dragons and despair over illness
before teen's suicide." The coroner said, "I can't say [D&D] was
the only factor [in the suicide] but it was one of them. This
particular game appears to lock into people's thinking. It can
mess up vulnerable kids."
Clifford's father Gary disagreed. He pointed to the fact
that his son was depressed about his inability to play football
for the Green Mountain-Garwin Wolverines. The previous year he
had played on the state championship team, but in July he came
down with mononucleosis. He lost 20 pounds and was left too weak
to play football. "You could see it in his face," his father
said, "He was just drained."
Cliff tried to return to the team, but threw up on the first
day of practice and passed out on the second. "I talked to him a
half and hour before [his suicide] happened. He said, 'Dad, last
year I was the strongest kid in the class. This year I can't do
The coroner said Cliff's suicide note said nothing about
Darren Molitor, Pat Beach, John Justice, James Alan Kearbey, Sean
Sellers, Jeffrey Meyers, Daniel Kasten All these young men have
been arrested for and convicted of murder. At one of three
points a role playing game has been brought into their cases: 1)
Mentioned by the press at the time of the murder, 2) Mentioned by
defense lawyers as the reason for the crime (in an insanity
defense) and 3) Mentioned after conviction as the reason for the
crime in a move for clemency.
Darren Molitor is the darling of BADD. Pat Pulling testified
at his trial in St. Louis. In The Devil's Web she says, "My
role was that of jury education, explaining to the jury members
the game of "Dungeons & Dragons" and how it is played." Despite
several days during which the jury was excluded from the court
room while the prosecution objected to Mrs. Pulling's appearance
at the trial, she was allowed to testify.
In her writings, Pat has placed a lot of weight on the fact
that Darren signed his confession with the names "Demun" and
"Sammy Sagar" in addition to his own name. Those were the names
of two game characters he played. Molitor also described Mary
Towney's death as a "prank." He said her strangulation was a
Friday the 13th trick gone wrong.
In spite of Mrs. Pulling's efforts, Darren was convicted of
murder. From prison he sends out a five page letter warning
children about the evils of gaming. The letter itself is
remarkable in only two things. First, it appears to be the basis
of Mrs. Pulling's understanding of the games. While his
presentation of how the game is played is not substantially
wrong, his presentation of it, as well his choice of character
names, shows Darren is not one of the most imaginative players
involved in gaming.
As can be seen from the two excerpts presented much earlier,
Darren's letter is virtually illiterate. I mention this not to
run Darren down, but because later in the letter, Darren becomes
incredibly intellectual. Compare Darren's rambling presentation
concerning the game presented above with this:
supernatural, magical, imaginary, etc.
Stated concisely it is the participation or
involvement in anyway [sic] with fortune
telling, magic practices, spiritism [sic], or
false religions cults and teachings. Within
that category is using a ouija board, ESP,
telepathy, horoscope, a seance, yoga, remote
influence of the subconscious mind of others,
self- hypnosis, following astrology and
Dungeons and Dragons.
Dungeons & Dragons is based on magic and the
supernatural. There is, in fact a hard bound
book entitled "Deities & DemiGods" for the
sole purpose of informing you of the "gods"
that are involved in the game. It gives
complete details of the "gods" and it expects
you as a player character to pick a "god" to
worship him/her. To pray to, to sacrifice
to, to obey. And to die for if necessary.
Aside from this variation in style and choice of words = and
the fact that it and BADD documents prepared by Pat Pulling share
the same punctuation errors = there is no proof that Darren's
letter was ghost-written or that he was coached in the writing of
it. It is important to note, however, that Darren has a very big
stake in his "doing the right thing." When he comes up for
parole, his obvious repentance and good works will help him
obtain freedom from prison.
Pat Beach murdered Amy Boyle and Larry Brock. Villains and
Vigilantes (a superhero RPG) books were found at the scene of the
murder. Because of that Prosecutor Reid Pixler announced to the
press that the game had something to with the murder. Seven
weeks later, however, Pixler backed off that possibility.
According to a Chicago Tribune story (6 Oct 85) "Beach pleaded
guilty to murder, telling psychiatrist that, given the chance, he
would do it again, but he would be more careful to eliminate the
evidence....Psychiatrists who examined Beach 20 times during the
course of the summer concluded that he is a 'schizoid-type'
John Justice murdered his mother, brother and father on 16 Sept
85, then attempted suicide. According to a story in People
magazine (18 Nov 85) Dr. Tim Rasmusson, Justice's doctor, said,
"He told me killed his mother because she was against everything
he ever wanted to do. He said he killed his brother and father
out of love = so they wouldn't feel hurt when he and his mother
were gone." The story also said, "A few bizarre rumors of his
membership in a teenage satanic cult or that he was a D&D devotee
who 'sacrificed his family on his DM's orders' are only bizarre
James Alan Kearbey murdered a junior high school principal and
wounded three others with a rifle. Twilight News & Views (Winter
1986) said of this case, "According to the information 60 Minutes
had, 'Police are blaming D&D.' ABC's news magazine show, 20/20,
did a report on this very incident on January 2, 1986. Nowhere
in the report is D&D mentioned or referred to." Kearbey did not
have an easy life = he was an outcast and school and was beaten
up every day. His teachers ignored him, his father never gave
him any approval and his mother just babied him. "Kearbey's
psychologist explained the occurrence as Kearbey's way of dealing
with his father's rejection."
Sean Sellers is on Oklahoma's death row for the murder of his
mother and step-father and a convenience store clerk. This is
another trial in which Pat Pulling participated. In Web she says
Sean became involved with D&D at the age of 13 and that it
started his interest in the occult, but it was meeting a "female
witch" at the age of 15, that started his occult involvement.
She "taught him much about the occult and peaked his interest all
the more. [Sean] said that he then formed his own 'coven' based
on the D&D level system and that, while most members were
teenagers, some were in their mid 20s."
Schwarz and Empey, in their book Satanism, provide more
background to Sellers' life. His parents divorced early and when
his mother remarried, she worked with her husband = a
cross-country truck driver. As a result, Sean was left with a
succession of relatives to be raised. While they do acknowledge
that he played D&D, they utterly de-emphasize it as a factor in
"his choosing the path of Satanism." They do not mention the
female witch, but do allude to a 15 year old girlfriend of whom
his parents did not approve.
If anything, Sean Sellers is a self-styled Satanist who
created his own coven and theology. Schwarz and Empey report
that since his conviction and death sentence Sean "came to see
himself as having a dual personality = Ezurate [a murdering
demon] and Sean. He finally turned to Christianity, studying the
Bible, and talking with others about the Lord." However, only a
couple of pages earlier they noted, "Sean made a show of going to
visit with a Catholic priest and even attended a Bible study
class at the request of his mother." Given Sean's track record,
his conversion may be nothing more than a convenient ploy to
influence a commutation of his death sentence to one of life
Jeffrey Meyers was a soldier who, along with a friend, was
arrested in a "ninja" costume for the murder of an elderly
couple. In addition to a number of weapons being found during
the investigation was a copy of Advanced D&D's Oriental
Adventures rule book. Pat spoke with him before his trial and
said, "He discussed his involvement with D&D, weaponry, the
martial arts and Eastern Mysticism." She notes he had studied
the occult as well as "dabbled with drugs." She attaches
importance to the fact that his character's name was Manteiv =
Viet Nam spelled backwards.
Dr. Thomas Radecki characterized Jeff's actions as in
accordance with things done during a D&D game. The jury was
unimpressed and on 15 Nov 88 guilty and "Unanimously recommend
that the defendant, Jeffrey Karl Meyers, be sentenced to death."
Daniel Kasten was arrested for shooting his adoptive parents on
31 May 87 in Long Island, NY. His lawyer, William Nash, argued
that his client was innocent by reason of insanity = to whit, he
believed himself under control of a D&D monster called a Mind
Flayer. The problem with that canard is that in a videotaped
confession, Daniel admitted to having plotted in the long term to
kill his parents. He said in the confession that D&D had nothing
to do with the killing. He also said he had hesitated to kill
his parents for so long "because it was wrong." (Newsday, 21 June
While Nash attempted to show his client was schizophrenic, a
state appointed psychologist and a psychiatrist both agreed
Kasten was faking his psychoses. In a Newsday story of 30 June
88, prosecutor Randall Hinrichs said he was not surprised at the
quick guilty verdict. "'[The jury] obviously realized the
evidence that was there and that it was not a viable defense,' he
said, referring to the Dungeons and Dragons argument."
Jeffrey Jacklovich shot himself with a revolver on 8 Feb 85 at
the age of 14. His suicide note is reported to have said, "I
want to go to the world of elves and fantasy and leave the world
of conflict." Because of this note his death has been linked to
D&D instead, as the note itself indicates, his desire to escape
"the world of conflict." Had the note read, "I want to go be
with Jesus and leave the world of conflict," would Jesus have
been blamed, or would everyone had said Jeffrey was just too
frail a spirit to endure the trials and tribulations of this
Sean Hughes was the subject of an article that Pulling edited and
reprinted. Though the boy's death was listed as a suicide, the
police seriously doubted it because neither his rifle or truck
had fingerprints on them. In fact, when Doug Dollemore checked
back with the local police, they had a murder suspect in mind in
Two important points concerning that story should be
mentioned. First, the Police Chief was convinced of D&D's having
something to do with Sean's death because of his own hatred of
the game. His son is entranced with it, and his father does not
like it. Second, and more important, Sean had not, according to
friends, played the game in years. Even so, Pulling circulated
the story about Sean, and edited the end of it so the Police
Chief's condemnation of the wrapped everything up.
Perhaps my favorite of the Pulling cases is the very first
one that appears on the NCTV list: Name withheld, details
confidential at request of family, age 14, 1979, suicide. This
sort of reporting with vague details is characteristic of 5 other
cases on the list of 37 NCTV first presented. In yet others, the
fact that a person was reported to have played D&D, as seen above
in the Sean Hughes case, is enough to make his death related to
the game, even though the case has not be solved or closed by the
police. In short, if there is any way at all for BADD and NCTV
to link anything to D&D, they do it.
One of the "non-fatal" cases listed points this out in
A 15-year old girl was reportedly raped in
Angleton, Texas by Armando Simon, 33, a
prison psychologist counseling inmates for
sexual crimes. According to court testimony,
the girl was enticed into sex through an
extended D&D game in which she was given the
role of "someone who would lose her powers
after doing something wrong." Simon played a
character constantly interested in women and
his wife would often play a lesbian. The
wife encouraged the sex by showing the girl
photos of Simon naked with other women. She
told the girl, "He always wanted a virgin as
a gift." The psychologist and the girl first
had sex after returning from a D&D convention
in Houston (Houston Chronicle, 8 May 85)
Not only is it absurd to suggest that the above crime took
place because of D&D, but it is ridiculous to even imply that it
would not have taken place were D&D not around. In Web, Pat
Pulling quotes Dr. Arnold Goldstein, Ph.D, director of the
Center for Research on Aggression at the University of Syracuse,
as saying, "We psychologists use role-playing in therapy... to
bring about good effects." Simon's seduction of the girl was
abuse of trust between patient and therapist and had nothing to
do with a game.
In 1985, the BADD/NCTV list contained 37 dead individuals
and 5 "non- fatal" cases of D&D violence. They note "...there
are 8 more deaths (6 suicides and 2 murders) in which the
information is confidential. Pat Pulling & Tom Radecki are
investigating an additional 7 murders that have been recently
reported to us in 3 separate cases. *Deaths are being reported at
the rate of about 5 per month." *[Emphasis added.] In a January
1987 release, however, the list has only grown by two murders and
the above rate projection has been amended to read, "Deaths are
being reported at the rate of three to four per month."
In that two years a couple of changes were made to the list.
They deleted one case (1985, #16, an anonymous suicide). They
updated one case (adding the name Mike Cote to 1985, #37/1987,
#36). They added two cases with a total of 3 victims (See
Patrick Beach and Cayce Moore above). They also add the Roland
Cartier case to this list, but have it under its own section:
"Reported D&D related deaths with less information available."
Despite the shuffling, the fact is that 120 new cases did
not materialize between 1985 and 1987. Likewise, 48 new cases
did not arise between 1987 and 1989, despite NCTV's dire
predictions. In fact, the only new cases to come to light are
those of Sean Sellers, Jeffrey Meyers, Cliff Meling and Daniel
Kasten. Adding the 8 deaths between those four cases to the 39
NCTV has already still puts us rather shy Pat Pulling's reported
As an aside, the 1985 release is the one in which Dr.
Radecki quotes from "the investigative book, 'Mazes and Monsters'
by Rona Jaffe." Jaffe's book is a novel, set at an imaginary
college in an imaginary town in Pennsylvania. The fact that it
is fiction does not stop Radecki from quoting a letter written to
the school's newspaper about the dangers of D&D as if it were a
testimonial. For one who spends a great deal of time trying to
determine if kids know the difference between fantasy and
reality, Dr. Radecki blundered rather grossly there.
Before I begin my summation, it is necessary to answer one
charge that can be leveled against me as if it will nullify
everything I have presented above. It is simply this: "Of course
you're saying all that. We're talking about your livelihood
here. You only care about the money = you don't care about the
hurt families feel."
That charge contains two components to discuss. The first
is that I (or anyone else in gaming) is in it for the money.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The pay scale in the
gaming industry is so low as to make serfdom in the Middle Ages
look like an upward career move. Most employees start at minimum
wage and do not rise very high above that during their careers.
Within the industry, when asked by neophytes what you have to do
to become a game designer, the most common answer is, "Take a vow
of poverty." I always add the quick caveat, "Don't worry, the
companies will make certain you keep it."
Why stay then?
I stay, as do most of my compatriots, because the work is
challenging and intellectually demanding. With hard work a
designer can become a freelancer. He can pick and choose his
tasks, answers only to himself and gets to have his work
published world wide. It is very satisfying to get a letter from
someone who has played and enjoyed a game you've designed, and
even more so when his version of the game is in a language you
Game designers sacrifice many things for their avocation.
If you marry and raise a family it is because your wife works, or
you've been fortunate enough to go after and get a job with a big
company. If you have a house or car or credit cards it's because
you've worked very hard or someone with deep pockets has
co-signed with you. It is not easy to remain chronically
impoverished, but when contrasted with the alternative of a
dismal, punch- clock existence, it is more than tolerable.
Game designers live for giving others pleasure and
enjoyment. We seek to make people use their brains, and we turn
out products that are vehicles for socialization within families
and groups of friends. Being able to play a game with someone
else turns strangers into friends. Since that's something games
do, I cannot see how they can be described as evil.
As for the second half of the charge = that I don't feel the
pain of families = this I can deny as well. My cousin Richard
was five years my senior and lived only a block from my home. He
was very much an older brother for me as I grew up. I idolized
him, as did my younger brother, and many of the things we did
were because Rick had once done them.
There were two notable exceptions to our following his lead.
First, my brother and I did not become involved with drugs.
Drugs caused severe problems for Rick and gave him an escape from
his adult responsibilities. Like a boat in a whirlpool, his
lifestyle sucked him down, and drained him dry of the wit and
intelligence we had so admired.
During my sophomore year in college, Rick was in really bad
shape, and desperately wanted to straighten himself out. He came
to live at my parent's home and I found myself playing older
brother to him. Rick always had a ship coming in and tried to
look beyond today's problems to tomorrow's rewards, but he never
realized that he was playing a shell game with himself. In long
conversations I recall being confronted again and again with his
certainty that he had an ace in the hole somewhere. Rick moved
out after only a week because he could not hack the rules of the
house (like the prohibition of smoking in bed).
Two things stick out in my mind from the autumn of 1977.
The first was my lending Rick a copy of "The Dogs of War" by
Frederick Forsythe. I'd enjoyed the book very much and
recommended it to Rick. I gave him my copy. I thought he'd find
some escape in the adventure novel.
I also recall one day in November when I was taking a
shortcut through backyards to go to a class. I saw Rick walking
toward our house on the street, but I knew no one was there and I
knew he didn't see me. I didn't call out to him or stop to talk
with him. I was late for class and I knew Rick would take more
time than I wanted to give him at that point. I'd grown tried
and frustrated because I knew he'd never change. I just walked
I never saw Rick again.
In the end of "The Dogs of War," the hero commits suicide.
In the end of his story, so did my cousin.
My family was notified of Rick's suicide at 9 pm on
Christmas Eve. He'd washed two handfuls of pills down with a
beer, then laid down to go to sleep in the snow at a baseball
field only 500 meters from our house. He'd been there for three
days before someone found him half buried in a snowdrift. Beside
him was a list of everything he had taken = perhaps his last weak
cry for help in case someone found him in time.
I understand, desperately and painfully, what Pat Pulling,
Rosemary Loyacano and Patrick Dempsey have gone through. I, too,
neglected someone when I should have been there helping him out.
Like Pat Pulling and her son, I missed the signs that Rick was
spiraling even further down into depression. Like Rosemary
Loyacano, I never reached out to Rick to find out what was truly
going on in his head, and I never visited his room to see if he
were hoarding pills.
In the Chicago Tribune story Patrick Dempsey is quoted as
saying, "I keep asking myself why didn't I take an interest in
that [D&D] book?" Paraphrased, that could have been my quote
concerning Rick. Why did I give him a book in which the hero
killed himself? I don't know if Rick ever read the book, but the
possibility that he drew inspiration from it is not one I can
Understanding what they went through, however, does not make
me the same as them. I did not live with my cousin day in and
day out for 16 years. I wasn't there to watch the stresses build
in his life, I wasn't there watching his personality change. I
didn't have years of clues that something was wrong, and as a
consequence my burden of guilt is no where near as massive as is
My guilt has not consumed me. I have accepted it and
resolved to pay more attention to friends and family members in
need. I did not sublimate my guilt and channel it into a jihad
against Frederick Forsythe or adventure fiction. I was able to
realize that Rick had far more problems than I ever could have
handled. By the end he was a juggernaut that I could probably
only have slowed and, if my book sped him up, it was such a small
contribution to his problem that it would have gone unnoticed.
Mrs. Pulling, Mrs. Loyacano and Mr. Dempsey have found a
scapegoat for their guilt. They've thrust their responsibility
off onto a game that has done nothing but bring enjoyment to
millions of people. They have launched into a holy war in which
anyone who agrees with them = even self-confessed murderers = are
their allies, and anyone who opposed them is a minion of Satan.
I realize this is a very harsh indictment of three people
who believe they are on a God-appointed mission to save other
children from the fates that claimed their kids. I know they
mean well, but good intentions cannot excuse the falsification of
cases, sloppy methodology and consistent use of propagandistic
tools in their crusade. They have manufactured an insidious plot
in which innocent games become the visible hooks that pull
children into a fatal attraction with Satanism and suicide.
As has been shown above, there is absolutely no link between
games and suicide. Not only do statistics provided in a number
of different studies explode that claim, but individual
examination of case studies prove games innocent. If the suicide
statistics for the 14 years since D&D's introduction show
anything at all, gamers kill themselves at a rate that is a
fraction of that of their peers. Numerical legerdemain aside,
having a close group of friends to socialize with provides the
sort of support network that experts agree provide help for
troubles and warning of suicide.
Likewise there has been no evidence advanced to show games
to be primers on the occult. Aside from the claims of murderers
seeking clemency, or the 20/20 hindsight of people trying to
figure out how their child came to kill himself, nothing
indicates games have anything to do with attracting kids to the
occult. In fact, if we took only 4% per year of the 4,000,000
D&D players in the US for the past 10 years and made them all
Satanists, we'd have 1.6 million devil-worshippers running
around. According to the 1989 Information Please Almanac, that
would make them the 8th largest religion in North America, about
a million adherents behind Islam. Clearly this has not happened.
Equally false is the idea embraced by many fundamentalists
that the games are an occult danger because they feature the use
of magic. It is believed that using magic in a game transforms
someone into a magic user, opening him up to Satanic powers and
temptations. It is this school of thought that, carried out to
its logical conclusion, says an actor becomes the part he plays.
Not only is this clearly absurd on the surface, but the
suggestion that magic functions in the real world brings with it
a superstitious background dating from the time of the Crusades.
This is not to be unexpected: Reason clearly has nothing to
do with the articles of faith to which the misguided so fervently
Pat Pulling's claim of expertise on games has been shown to
be unsubstantiated. She has no clue as to what games are
currently on the market. Her explanation of how to play a game
is taken from a description by a murderer. She is obviously
unaware of any trends within the game industry since 1984 and has
not made an attempt to stay current. Her expertise in gaming is
equivalent to the expertise of a geographer who still believes
the world is flat.
Her list of questions presented in Techniques for
investigators to ask suspects includes material that does not
pertain to the vast majority of games on the market today. The
answers she supplies police officers do not have explanations for
their significance, nor does her material allow for the
possibility of different answers. In short, if you have another
answer you are lying, and you are lying because you are a
Satanist trying to protect someone.
Her reputation as an investigator sinks right along with her
claims of being a game expert. She has proven unable to keep up
with market trends, which requires nothing more than a visit to a
game store from time to time or obtaining a subscription to an
industry magazine. Her sources for casework appears to consist
solely of newspaper clipping, which she republishes in edited
forms, without permission of the author. She accepts as true
utterly outlandish or entirely self-serving claims by individuals
under care for severe psychiatric problems or convicted
murderers. She embraces as an occult tome a work = The
Necronomicon = that has been known to be a joke for its entire
sixty year history.
Her grasp of statistics is feeble indeed. She invests an
incredible amount of energy and emotion in her claim of 125 plus
deaths related to the game, and clings like Joe McCarthy to yet
other "confidential" cases that she cannot reveal. Given how
well the cases she has made public hold up to scrutiny, it is
extremely doubtful cases beyond those already brought to light
will ever be revealed in any sort of verifiable detail.
In her quest to make sense of her son's death, Pat Pulling
has set aside truth, logic and fairness. She cites cases, but
does not remove them from her list when they are proven not to be
involved with gaming. She has woven rumor, innuendo and fantasy
together and has bought into the whole Satanist myth. She has
expanded her crusade, accepting as part of it the idea that
Satanists are a slavering bunch of sadists just waiting to murder
children or, failing that, convince children to murder their
parents. She has become an expert in cults and Satanism, but
really continues in her state of blind ignorance.
No one denies the pain Pat has felt in her son's death, but
sympathy for that pain cannot be used as an excuse to condone the
abuses and excesses to which Mrs. Pulling has gone. There are
times I don't wonder if her inquisition has increased parental
panic, heightening the sort of family stresses that drove Michael
Dempsey to kill himself. That is not to attempt to lay the death
of anyone on her doorstep, but to point out that it does not take
much for the hysteria she's stirring up to do some serious harm.
I agree with Pat Pulling that parents should take an
interest in what their children do, so their kids do not grow up
in a vacuum without guidance and encouragement. Parental
responsibility calls for an effort to make sure kids stay away
from things that are harmful to them. This does not mean they
should censor outright things they do not understand, but they
should make the effort to learn and share new things with their
children. Only in that way will the parents be aware of the new
challenges facing kids, and be able to offer logical and helpful
counsel to them.
Gamers also have a duty to share the games with their
parents. It is one thing to rebel and become independent, but it
is another to engage in activities that cause parents undue
anxiety. Let parents and peers know what you're doing with your
time when you play a game. Let them sit in on a session or two.
If that's not possible, as another parent or adult who
understands the games explain it to your parents. The sort of
horror stories BADD sows about games only take root in ignorance.
The key is for everyone to willfully accept responsibility
for their family and friends. Only in that way can you avoid the
sort of tragedy that leaves you looking for a scapegoat. The way
to avoid a lifetime of wondering why you didn't do something in
time is to choose to do something now. If you don't, there are
plenty of people who will come along and usurp your ability to
act by slicing away your options in the name of what they
perceive as the common good.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank