What Kinds of Crime Might Dungeons and Dragons Inspire?

In response to my post on the 7th Circuit decision upholding a Wisconsin prison rule forbidding inmates to play Dungeons and Dragons, Joe Carter of First Things speculates about the kinds of D&D-inspired crime that the prison authorities might be worried about:

What crime could they have committed by acting out a D&D storyline? Did they use a quarterstaff to club a chaotic good druid and steal his cloak of invisibility? Because I could definitely see why you wouldn’t want that sort of behavior going on in Folsom Prison.

Carter writes that he played D&D during his “misspent youth.” He obviously didn’t misspend enough of it, however. Otherwise, he might have known that Druids are not allowed to be chaotic good. They must be of “true neutral” alignment (or some other alignment with a neutral dimension in later, more permissive, editions of the game). If a druid became chaotic good, he would immediately lose his druidic status. Thus, we don’t need to worry about prison inmates killing chaotic good druids, because there isn’t any such thing.

On the other hand, prison authorities might have noticed that D&D has a “thief” character class, and that the skills of D&D thieves include pickpocketing, backstabbing, picking locks, and disarming traps. Perhaps they were afraid that inmates might learn these skills from playing the game. If so, I would like to set their minds at ease. I played D&D for years in junior high and high school, and one of my most powerful characters was a 14th level thief. Yet I never learned how to pick even the simplest lock myself. D&D characters’ skills aren’t transferable to their players, which is really a terrible shame. There are times when my longtime favorite “flame strike” spell could really come in handy.

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