Hvad er rollespil? Et skævt perspektiv på en gammel hobby

De fleste, der forsøger at besvare dette spørgsmål er rollespillere eller velmenende bibliotekarer og skolelærere, men der er en gruppe mennesker, der også med stor iver har sat sig for at definere eller forklare rollespil. De er genstand for dagens indlæg, og jeg vel citere uddrag af deres forklaringer, så vi kan få et bedre indtryk af, hvad rollespil er.

En tekst fra 1980

Although fantasy wargames have been around for some time, it is only recently that they have become a fad, particularly among university and college students.

One such game, Dungeons & Dragons, is perhaps the most popular. […]

There are several variations to Dungeons & Dragons as well as innumerable other games which center on fantasy and role-playing. Many electronic versions exist which, for a nominal price, allow participants to match their skills and wits against unforeseen circumstances in their quest for imaginary treasures secreted among imaginary labyrinthine obstacles.

It has come to my attention through inquiries from different locales, that this particular game, Dungeons & Dragons, has become, or is becoming, a fad on Christian college campuses, One dean of a prominent Christian university in the South called and, not being familiar with the game, asked our opinion since it was absorbing a good part of some students’ time and was apparently gaining in popularity.

I must confess that, at the time, I knew little about the game beyond the fact that it involved a role-playing format centering on the imagined use of magic and blood-letting, Even with that limited information, however, it was easy to discern that such fantasy could harbor spiritual danger for the participant. […]

I have since, with prayer, done some research into Dungeons & Dragons and upon that research I have drawn some conclusions which, no doubt, will bring accusations that I’m just trying to find more areas in which to destroy people’s fun. […]

As one who was at one time a “chessnut,” my personal inclination would be to find a fascination with games that stimulate the imagination and offer challenges to logic and to problem-solving abilities. […]

In fact, all competition has built into it the danger of falling into an ego trip (or trap). This is not to say that all competition as such is evil. In a free society, competition is necessary to ensure survival. Competition, though, should be engaged in with an attitude of humility, trusting God for the outcome, whatever it might be.

Some endeavors offer a greater temptation for ego to manifest itself in us, however. The next thing to actual defeat of others and self-exaltation as rulers over the vanquished is the voluntary, imaginary role-playing that is offered by such games as Dungeons & Dragons.

One might argue, and reasonably so, that Dungeons & Dragons offers no greater an opportunity than sports such as football,basketball, or even golf to feed the ego. Yet there is a unique self-satisfaction that comes with superior mental achievement that does not come with physical achievement. This is because, above all, man is a spiritual being and, in everything, he seeks to satisfy his soul – even when engaged in what seem to be purely physical endeavors.

It is the opportunity for self-satisfaction that causes fantasy role-playing games to be so popular on campuses where it is meant for the intellect to be stimulated.

But why focus our examination on Dungeons & Dragons? Because, beyond the self-aggrandizement offered by other types of games (even chess), this game offers the player the added opportunity to cast himself in roles associated with demon powers. In his imagination he assumes the role of a sorcerer or some super-human person who possesses extraordinary abilities. It is through the casting of spells and enchantments that he breaks the powers of others seeking to destroy him on his quest for treasure.

The game offers an endless variety of situations as well as abilities to overcome, through magic, the adverse circumstances presented. The players create their own characters based upon guidelines that categorize them as “good” or “evil.” There are six basic abilities for each character: strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity, and charisma. The game’s creators suggest that characters be classified according to their strongest traits, determined by the rolling of dice.

Should a character have an exceptionally high rating in intelligence he would best be suited as a “Magic-user.” He may also learn additional languages (some of them not human) which may enable him to overcome certain obstacles to his progress.

According to the instruction manual, “Wisdom is the prime requisite for clerics. Clerics can perform miraculous spells even though they do not have special intelligence, and second level (experienced) clerics can heal wounds,”

It should be noted that, “Clerics are humans who have dedicated themselves to one or more of the gods. Depending on the god, the cleric may be good or evil, lawful or chaotic. Clerics have their own special spells. . . . Spells for evil clerics differ slightly from those of good clerics.”

In addition to the above occultic roles available are those of “Fighting’ Men” including “Elves,” “Dwarves,” and “Halflings” (half-human and half-something else). Then there are “Thieves” described as “humans with special abilities to strike a deadly blow from behind, climb sheer surfaces, hide in shadows, filch items and pick pockets, move with stealth, listen for noises behind closed doors, pick locks, and remove small traps such as poisoned needles [all “godly” pursuits, eh?]. . . . Thieves are not truly good and are usually referred to as neutral or evil, so that other members of an expedition should never completely trust them.”

The underlying motivation of greed in these quests for “treasure” is little to reckon […]



Granted, it is “make-believe.” […]




Each character is given an alloted amount of gold, determined by rolling the dice. With this gold he outfits himself by purchasing certain items from a list of those necessary to embark on his quest: “Dagger,” – “Hand Axe,” – “Mace,” – “Sword,” – “Battle Axe,” and assorted other weapons. In addition to weaponry he can purchase armor, a horse, a cart, or other paraphernalia for defense and protection. Among the items available for casting spells are “Wolvesbane” – “Holy Water” – “Garlic,” etc., all part of the esoteric or hidden mystery religious system that characterized the ancient druids and the clerics of the middle ages.


To take the space to relate all the rules and regulations for Dungeons & Dragons would require a book the size of its 48-page manual. Suffice it to say that such role-playing opens one’s mind up to learn of secrets best left buried in the ancient past. […]




Would any right-thinking Christian accept as entertainment a role-playing game centered on sexual fantasy? Such a game might put the player in a position of seeking imaginary sexual conquests. Most assuredly, every Christian would say that to engage in such a game would be wrong. […]





Teksten er fra 1980 og ifølge The Escapist den første kristne kritik af rollespil og Dungeons & Dragons. Jeg har fjernet omtrent alle referencer til bibelen, anekdoter om Satan og kristne besværgelser for at fokusere på selve beskrivelsen af rollespil. Tilbage står mere eller mindre en udefrakommendes blik på rollespil

Kilde: A Media Spot Light Special Report (1980): Dungeons & Dragons – A Look at Fantasy Role-Playing Games af Albert James Dager.

En tekst fra 1991

[…] It may help the reader to understand the connection between “games” and occult involvement when he or she understands that Fantasy Role Playing games like Dungeons & Dragons are substantially different from traditional games such as chess, checkers, or Snakes and Ladders. Unlike these, FRPs are played mainly in the minds of the players rather than on a game board. Due to the fact that each game is basically limited only by the imagination and enthusiasm of the player, it is common to hear of games that continue for extended periods of time. While a simple game of checkers might take anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, a detailed game of Dungeons & Dragons may go on for several days or weeks or in some cases, years.


The game [D&D] itself consists of strange-looking dice and books or manuls. Important details of the game such as strength, intelligence, wisdom, and son on, of each individual character are determined by several rolls of the dice. Dice rolls also determine other factors such as the “hit points” of each character, which represents the amount of damage he can sustain as well as what weapons and armor the character is supplied with.

The game is controlled by an individual who is generally more experienced with D & D [sic] that the others. This player is known as the Dungeon Master or DM. The main role of the Dungeon Master is to design and prepare the adventure and setting of the game for those who are actually going to play. The DM chooses such details as the terrain, odors, various creatures and beasts and so on. While all of this may sound as simple as sitting down with a pen and paper and jotting down a quick list of particulars, the process is extremely involved. […]

The game requires a minimum of two players but is usually played by a small group (approximately five players).

After the Dungeon Master explains the particulars and setting of the game he has created, play begins.

Pat Pulling mentions in her book, The Devil’s Web, that the play is described so vividly “that the participants actually can visualize it in their minds, almost as if they were watching it on a giant movie screen. Since it is imperative for the players to ‘become one’ with their characters, the players feel extremes of emotions relative to the action of the game. They experience anger, frustration, fear, elation, triumph, and despair.”

The game ususally includes pretended criminal acts committed by the characters – torture, rape, and theft. The object of the game is to survive, and almost anythong the character decides he needs to do in order to survive is fully accepted. I have mentioned that Fantasy Role Playing games are essentially limited only by the creativity and imagination of the individual. […]

Resten af afsnittet bygger videre på Pat Pullings ubegrundede påstande om farligheden ved rollespil, ved at rollespillere knytter sig følelsesmæssigt til spillet og bliver afhængige af det, og det tydeligt, at her knækker filmen for forfatteren. Resten af kapitlet prøver at bevise at rollespil er okkult, leder folk bort fra kristendom og er fyldt med alskens vold, brutalitet og nihilisme, hvilket gøres ved at citere diverse regelbøger ud af kontekst på en underlødig maner. Derefter listes en række tilfældige cases, hvor rollespillere er gået amok. Det er så som så med dokumentationen, og der er ingen grund til at antage, at der er nogle korrekte oplysninger i noget af dette – de kristne kritikere har her en lang tradition for løse rygter som beviser.

Kilde: Evans, Charles G.B.: Teens and Devil-Worship – What Everyone Should Know. Huntington House Publishers 1991, p.141-143

En tekst fra 1993

Dungeons & Dragons is a role-playing game, in which the players create an imaginary enviroment populated by hostile creatures and various hazards through which they must maneuver. The game stresses cooperation between game players in dealing with the hazards, rather than competition, and doesn’t have winners or losers. The rules of the game are set by the particular roles of fantasy characters chosen by each player and a facilitator, called a “Dungeon Master”, who organizes a series of adventures. The game characters are drawn loosely from magical-fantasy literature and medieval folklore. Movement and events are determined by a throw of the dice. The players use their imaginations cooperatively to deal with the hazards structured by the Dungeon Master.


It can’t automatically be assumed that fantasy role-playing games have any significant effects on players, any more than card games or chess. There are few, if any, scientific studies of the psychological effects of fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. Therefore, claims about the supposed criminogenic influences of D & D [sic] games must be regarded as sheer speculation.

Denne tekst handler om tilblivelsen af 80’ernes Satan Scare, og den beskæftiger sig med mange aspekter af hele fænomenet. Jeg fik desværre først i hænde efter mit indlæg om farlighed i rollespil, som den ellers kunne have været et virksomt redskab til.

Kilde: Victor, Jeffrey S.: Satanic Panic – the Creation of a Contemporary Legend. Open Court 1993, hhv. p.172 og p. 175

Rollespil er …

Det vi lærer gennem de tre tekster er, at rollespil er Dungeons & Dragons, og beskriver man Dungeons & Dragons, har man beskrevet rollespil.

Ifølge tekst 1 er rollespil konkurrencepræget, og en slags mental sport med risiko for at blive et egotrip, og det er rigt på okkulte elementer. Med terninger identificeres mængden af guld til at købe udstyr for, og ens karaktertræk fastsættes. Man spiller forskellige klasser og racer, og besidder diverse moralske livssyn.

I tekst 2 beskrives rollespil som anderledes fra almindelige spil, blandt andet ved dets lange varighed, og ved at spillet er forestillet. Mærkelige terninger anvendes blandt andet til at fastsætte karaktertræk, hit points og guld til indkøb af udstyr. Der er en spilleder, bruger en masse forberedelsestid på at skabe eventyr og verden. Der skal helst være mindst to spillere, men typisk spilles der med fem. Spillerne knytter sig følelsesmæssigt til deres karakterer, og der er en masse vold.

Jævnfør tekst 3 skaber spillerne et fiktionsunivers befolket med udfordringer, som spillerne gennem samarbejde overvinder. Spillet håndteres af en spilleder, begivenheder håndteres ved terningkast, og fiktionsuniverset trækker på diverse folklore.

Så fra konkurrencepræget egotrip (og okkultisme) til følelsesmæssig afhængighed (og okkultisme) med en forberedende spilleder til samarbejde (og middelalderfolklore) med en spilleder. Samme spil, tre forskellige billeder. Hvordan passer de ind i vores generelle opfattelser af rollespil?


~ af Morten Greis på 2. september 2011.

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