I had a D&D related experience today that fully broke my brain for ten minutes, I couldn’t comprehend what I was looking at. It’s definitely a good thing, but it was so surreal considering where we were just twenty or so years ago. This is what I saw: Demon Week
Let’s get some context. I’m forty-two years old. That means I was a minor playing D&D right through Satanic Panic where the game was associated with so-called devil worship. I lived in the U.K. and my parents were not religious so it wasn’t so bad for me, but it was big. If you don’t know too much about it, it was pretty serious. Fear of devil worship and Satan in religious communities got everywhere to witch hunt proportions. In cases such as the McMartin pre-school trials, people were brought to trial under accusations of ritual satanic abuse of children – that example turning out to be completely false and being the longest and most expensive trial in US history at the time. In the West Memphis Three case, teens were falsely jailed for murders, because they looked ‘metal’ or ‘goth.’ It was all over the TV, it was crazy. No shit, my neighbour told many people in our street, and eventually my mother, that I was holding satanic rituals and orgies at my house based on my long hair and love of Dungeons & Dragons. In the D&D world it led to TSR taking all the demons and devils out of the game for the 1989 2nd Edition.
Cut to today.
I was already aware that following the successful staggered release of the D&D 5 rules this year, WotC were now bringing out a major campaign set in the Underdark. I saw the PAX live game, checked out a couple of sites and saw it was called Rage of Demons. But for some reason the insane turnaround, culturally, didn’t register. Until I clicked into a FB post on the D&D page and saw the above linked post.
Yes, the current promotion for it – essentially by Hasbro – is called “Demon Week” and has individual ‘did you know’ style intros on the restored to the game demons and devils. Today – Baphomet. Yes, Hasbro is running spots introducing you to Baphomet. And the cute quiz at the bottom there asks “How well do you know our featured demon lord?”
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s awesome and funny and I don’t believe any of it leads to murderous behavior, satanic panic was nonsense. But it blew my mind to see how much things have turned around. As late as 1990 being associated with this stuff could get you arrested, and now Hasbro are running ads introducing you to “our featured demon lord.” Mind gladly blown.