A Note on Gods, Magic, and Spellcasting

written and shared with permission by Jonathan Hardin

Notes on Gods, Magic and Spellcasting

Hi! This is a particular note written from me to you, who may be concerned about the use of magic in a game like Dungeons and Dragons. I would like to say that I remember being raised in a conservative Christian home, but as a homeschooled child all the way through high school, I still experienced my fair share of make believe. Some stories and games that attracted me include most of the fantasy genre, such as Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, Narnia, The Book of Three, movies like Legend, The Neverending Story and Labyrinth I remember very much enjoying. Cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I remember being called out for by some of my homeschool friends since they practiced eastern meditation. That being said, we were never allowed to play games that involve casting spells. Our backyard sticks could be swords, guns and fishing poles, but never wands. 

I say this, because I want you to see that I know where you are coming from. You don’t want your child to play a game because of what it may expose them to. Now, good news, Dungeons and Dragons is not so much a game as it is a method in which to play a game. If you use the mechanical rule system of Dungeons and Dragons, but create a world in which magic doesn’t exist, that’s fine! Maybe you have a space travel setting, or a Indiana Jones style adventure, or it’s possible that you could set up a woodland creature story, in which all of your students are furry little creatures with sticks and acorns as helmets. My point in saying all of this that the beauty of this game is that your imagination is the limit! Even in my home games, magic sometimes fails or the gods change their minds, but the practicalities of casting spells is not the focus, not more so than the story, the lessons and morals. If magic, and gods, and mythological stories as such are still leaving you unsure, then consider stories like X-men and Marvel Superheroes must get their powers from somewhere, and think of stories like Star Wars and the legendary feats of the Jedi as they turn the fabric of reality with a thought in their mind. In the game of fantasy with dragons, floating castles and fireblasts from a wizard’s hand, these can be thought of as laws and principles in the universe. In the same way that someone “discovered” gravity, electricity and how to harness a wifi connection to your portal device we call a smartphone, many things in our world, we know exist and utilize to the good of the world, and daresay, sometimes these powers fall into the wrong hands. And that my friends, makes for a good adventure. So use the tales from old, with deities and magic and spells, and allow your students to use them all to make the world a safer place, a healthier place. Teach them that the real evil is having power and using it to destroy, oppress and self-serve at the cost of life.