The truth about the dungeon master who disappeared in the steam tunnels



I was there, at least at the beginning. Dallas was associated with the MSU Tolkien Fellowship and Science Fiction Society. Both of these clubs bet at the student union on Saturday evenings for talk, games, and friend-time.

Something Dear’s book misses is that Dallas was into pot. He was high much of the time I saw him. It probably didn’t do him much good.

I graduated before the steam tunnel investigation.


Satanic Panic has ruined so many lives. So many innocent kids who just “don’t fit in” completely ruined by an out-of-control religious extremism. I feel like this is getting better, but the people who were in their 20’s when this happened are the goofballs pushing right-wing lunacy on us today in office and in front of Fox News.

It’s like an entire generation is defined by their fear and paranoia.


It’s hard to explain to people how hard it was to be queer in the late 70s. The vast majority of us desperately tried to find something, anything, to bury our sexuality under, be that drugs or religion or something else. Living like that does permanent damage to a person. Two of the guys I know were gay in high school – a small rural high school – died very young. Another guy spent years trying to become a priest. I spent years trying to be a “proper” Christian (until Jerry Falwell de-converted me at an anti-abortion rally and SAVED me from the worst that religion has to offer).

How different ALL our lives might have been had we not grown up so sure that there was something terribly wrong with us. And how lovely it is to see the world changing so much in my lifetime. I wish more of us could have survived to see it.


Sometimes you can take things just too far

Hunh. Gonna hafta think on that.

Wow, I had no idea “The Lurking Horror” was based on a real story. (Or at least, a real fake story.)

I started at MSU Fall of 79 in Holmes Hall and was very active in the Tolkien Fellowship (Friday evenings in the Student Union Tower Room). Supposedly, told by members who knew him, Dallas was not very active in the Fellowship but he was definitely getting into the LGBT scene.

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The ability to hit armor class 0, took me a year to figure that out when I was in grade school.


Gee, what we really need more of in this story is mistaking correlation for causative effects. Reefer Madness isn’t far off from Satanic Panic.

Chances are he was stoned all the time because HE WAS CLINICALLY DEPRESSED.


I remember reading this book with a combination of pity and envy. The pity was obvious, but as weird as it might seem, I also envied him a little, because I wanted to be at a campus that had a nerd scene that involved LARPing in steam tunnels and hanging out with other geeks all the time, and if there was one at my school–a notorious party school–I didn’t find it. (I had no trouble making lasting friends in either high school or graduate school, but there’s not one person from my undergrad years that I’m still in touch with.)

Also, WRT Dallas’ drug use, Dear’s book does note that Egbert actually made his own drugs, and although I don’t recall any specific ones being named, I’d suspect that one of them would probably have been crystal meth.


I remember tossing a Frisbee around with the rest of the SF Club before the meeting and having two jocks taunt us with cries of “Faggots!”.


Probably, yes.

The investigator Dear was a relentless self-promoter who enjoyed news stories about his being a “real-life James Bond”, because he drove a fast card and dressed in a snappy way, or something. The entire book was about D&D and those infamous steam tunnels, until the last chapter which finally revealed that while this Chief Wiggum with a bolo tie and expensive watch was running around inside his own fantasies, Egbert was just kipping on someone’s sofa on the sleazy side of town.

Back in the day, I was mistaken for someone knowledgeable about gaming and put on an afternoon talk show opposite this blowhard. I hope the tapes have been long since recorded over.


Which totally ignores the weapon and armor combinations!

(I prefer the BRP approach, though the rules still have some glaring bugs.)

A good read.

I hear not getting laid is one of the leading causes of insanity.

I wish there were more contrived horror stories to promote games I like versus this D&D silliness, which is one of the most useless RPGs out there. The whole game is a loot hunt to put it in modern video game parlance. Just think how big Chaosium would be these days if they had a nice scandal involving collegiates who drive themselves mad reading through a forbidden tome that turned out to me a Sears & Roebucks catalogue with some cat hide stapled to it. White Wolf pulled off that coup sort of, with the Florida Vampire killers in the 90’s but not the extent that D&D did with this Egbert silliness. I’m of course not suggesting that game companies promoted this in any way or latched on to the contrived RPG connection to this disappearance. They probably tried to distance themselves from it like when WW had two paragraph long disclaimers in the beginning of their game books explaining how vampires are not real, and if you think they are you should probably get mental health treatment.

Back to the CoC connection (Call of Cthulhu RPG), there is probably more of a threat from Chaotes/Chaoists (Chaos Magick practitioners) from Chaosium’s CoC, considering a fair amount of them are into Lovecraftian Mythos related belief systems.

I got into gaming in the mid 80s, and remember people telling me, well into the 90s, that games were Satanic. Of course, as a pagan (and queer too! I win! I get multiple gods, sodomy, and no guilt about either), I didn’t much care. Even in college, the chaplain once explained to me, with a straight face, that RPGs were how “pagans recruited.” I told him my mom was how pagans recruited me, and the last thing I’d ever want to do is convert someone to paganism, since I was a lazy cuss and doing such a thing implied an obligation to teach them stuff.

I was born at the right time (mid 70s) to experience discrimination against gays. It was bad, and as a teenager I contemplated suicide, not because I thought I was wrong, but because I didn’t want to live in a world where everyone else was. Fortunately, I overhead some kids talking, and one said “fucking faggots should all be shot.” That cured me of my suicidal urges. Screw that kid; if he wanted me dead, I wasn’t going to do his work for him.

I was also born at the right time to experience things getting better. I have experienced no significant discrimination due to my sexual orientation or my religion since graduating from grad school, although that might just be the sorts of people I hang around with.


I could do without the “LOL, D&D is birth control” schtick, even from an ally. I know at least three happily married couples that met around a gaming table.


One of my publishers spoke wistfully of the possibility of a player of the company’s Superhero RPG leaping off a bulding while wearing a cape.

Any publicity is good publicity . . .