Dungeons and Dragons is banned in state and federal prisons for bogus reasons

I just think it’s nice a cat and a dog are getting on here.




The rationale for most prison book bans seems to be “Inmates want them, so no” or “Inmates will have fun, so no.”

It wouldn’t entirely surprise me if the rationale here was “Inmates will learn Magic Missile, so no.”


I know of a game designer that donates their surplus books to prisoners, says that prisoners are grateful to have them.


Okay, it would actually be a security risk if inmates learned Magic Missile. Much as I dislike the prison-industrial complex, they are right on that point.


In a forum thread years ago, someone asked how to play D&D without the use of dice. After some head scratching, it came out that the person was incarcerated and forbidden implements of gambling. Various number randomization schemes were suggested, and more discussion lead to the importance of non-cheat-able randomization. It became apparent that the emotional stakes in these games were Intensely Serious, and trust was finite.

The forum went to work, and determined that graph paper with values distributed in macro representative but micro random patterns would enable a blind Roller dropping a pen tip and a Spotter calling the value.

Fandom problem solving at its best.


And here I was thinking about Dimension Door.


Maybe it’s just that it’s a form of entertainment and emotional connection that can’t be monetized by the prison system easily. Wizards of the Coast clearly hasn’t offered enough of a kickback on purchases.

Edit: actually if this ban has been in place for a while, it might be a holdover from D&D’s role as a figurehead during the satanic panic of the 80s…


A Portable Hole would be pretty useful too.


Makes sense. Many people end up in prison because either they tried to cheat at life or took thing way too seriously to the point of violence.

as if those were the only reasons people were incarcerated. less than half of people behind bars are there for so-called “violent crimes”-- see #1 below-- while even the concept of what represent crimes of violence differ from state to state and some of these crimes do not represent crimes against persons-- see #2 below. that proposition makes less sense if given even the slightest thought.

  1. Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2022 | Prison Policy Initiative.

  2. https://justicepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/jpi_definingviolence_final_report_9.7.2016.pdf


Very true. But it is also true that it doesn’t take a very high percentage of assholes with a propensity for violence to make your live very unpleasant. Especially when you’re trapped inside with them potentially 24 hours a day.

nor does it here, either, apparently.


Pencils can be used as six-sided dice by marking the sides (unless they are round of course), and using a series of rolls you can basically emulate any other sort of die roll (with some kludging needed for d10, d20 or percentiles, but still).

My dad talked about using bread to make six-sided dice, when he was a kid - chew it a bit and then compress it into cubes (obviously not so easy to make anything beyond a d8, but not impossible).

When I first heard about D&D and twenty-sided dice back in 1975 (or was it 76?), and I had no idea where to buy the dice (or the game itself) yet, I actually did make a d20 out of paper after doing research to find out what an icosahedron looked like (my math teacher didn’t even know what a 20-sided polyhedron was called - so disappointing! - so I had to hit the library to find out).


“Knock” is a lower-level spell, and quite handy, too.


This approach was used in the Lone Wolf series of gamebooks, where the Random Number Table was printed (I believe usually inside the back cover) in the book.

Another approach, if inmates had access to index cards or some other mildly stiff paper, would be to build a deck of playing cards with die rolls on them. There’s a version (originally published via Kickstarter, but now available as print on demand) of such a deck of cards that includes not just the standard role playing game dice but also many other random elements.

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And despite the theoretical “good” alignment of most characters, it DOES feature using violence to solve problems. A typical party of murder hobos might not embody the behavior that you would want prisoners modeling.

Nah, that is silly. Violence in games or other media doesn’t statistically translate to real world violence. Also, the level of combat can vary greatly between murder hobos and practically no combat ever. It depends on the DM, the campaign, and the players. The latest game I am in has been a series of heists (all of us are rogue types) and the amount of actual combat has been extremely low until the climax.


Aside from visiting my dad when he was in prison, the closest I’ve ever personally been to being confined in a similar situation was basic training. Another recruit and I made a decent game of it in our scant spare time without pen, paper, or dice.

It was very similar to a ‘chose your own adventure’ feel with dice rolls being replaced by the GM mentally selecting a target number within a range and the player stating a number within the same range. Values “wrapped” and success was determined by distance from the target.

So range 1-20, target = 17, selected = 14. Difference = 3. This is close to target, so the GM would give a pretty successful result. (Combat was very simplified or just actively avoided.)


True, but in a prison? They’d better have a bunch of scrolls handy.

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