Why demons?

I’ve just published a new set of printable paper miniatures depicting demons, which folks can use in tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder. (There’s also a set of tokens here, using the same images.)

Some people might wonder why I would want to use demons in my games or why I would want to include them in a product, especially since I’m a Christian from an evangelical background. Some folks have had concerned that the inclusion of imaginary demons in games like D&D opened players up to influence from real life evil spirits. For a while, D&D‘s publishers started calling them Tanar’ri, in order to avoid this stigma.

One of the reasons I don’t have a problem with demons (and other evil creatures) being included in these games is because I think they can be a useful way of depicting human evil. Even in real world scripture, I think that evil spirits are often being used symbolically to talk about social evils.

In the regular game I’ve been running on Thursday nights (we’ve been using the D&D book Out of the Abyss) the party has gradually become aware that the subterranean world of the Underdark is being influenced by Demogorgon, the two-headed prince of demons. In the lore of D&D, the two heads of Demogorgon are divided, constantly scheming against each other, and this is also the nature of the madness he spreads. In two settlements the adventurers have visited, this madness has taken the form of greed, division and paranoia.

The town of Sloobludopp had been divided between two religious sects, led by warring relatives, as though the community had two heads attacking the one body. In this situation, the party ended up siding with one of the ‘heads’ and when the two factions came to blows, their violence summoned the Demogorgon to the town to destroy it.

More recently, the part has been exploring the dwarven city of Gracklestugh, which appears to be afflicted by a similar madness. However, this time they’ve noticed how the madness of Demogorgon is pulling the city apart, and they’ve been looking for a way to unify the city and bring festering, hidden conflicts into the open.

This is all very simple to talk about in a game, but it’s not hard to see that these are dynamics that impact on our real world. It seems like our societies are becoming increasingly selfish, fractured and paranoid. I think these stories can call us to live generously and to find ways to reach out to ideological enemies in the midst of real and serious conflict.

Does God come to accept human evil?

On Wednesdays I have been gradually reading through the book of Genesis and posting some reflections here.

Three weeks ago I wrote a bit about Elohim deciding to destroy the world because of human evil. Two weeks ago I wrote a bit about the ancient cosmology of the story and about the undoing of creation. (A week ago I was tired so I had a rest.)

Today I’ve been reading about the end of the flood. Elohim tells Noah and his family to go out and multiply – an echo of the instruction that Elohim gave to the first people at the beginning of Genesis. This is the beginning of a new creation. The key difference I notice is that as Noah and his family exit the ark and make sacrifices, YHWH is acknowledging the evil of human nature rather than saying humanity is good. But, in this instance, YHWH’s response to human evil is not to destroy creation.


To sum it up, one way of looking at the overarching story so far could be:

Humanity is good. God says, ‘Go and multiply.’

Humanity is evil. God says, ‘I regret creating the world. I will destroy it.’

Humanity is evil. God says, ‘Go and multiply.’

This has me wondering, what has changed in the story?