So, I read this book as a child, and have been trying to remember its title for a couple of years, with no success.

The story was about a group of kids who were playing a role-playing game, and eventually the monsters from within the game became real, and they then had to fight them in real life.

The main thing that I remember sticking out to me was that there was this heavy-duty Christian kid who kept telling them that the game was evil. He himself actually started playing partway through. He played a Cleric, and in the first session he played the game, he gave away all his money and just went around healing NPCs. Additionally, I think the main character was female.

I know that's much to go on, but hopefully someone remembers something like this.

  • What is a "heavy-duty Christian"? – user14111 Jul 1 '15 at 2:46
  • Sounds like Jumanji? – Ernest Friedman-Hill Jul 1 '15 at 3:06
  • As in, from what I recall, the character was a super religious Christian, and that was pretty much his defining character trait. – Drathe Jul 1 '15 at 3:07
  • "Spirits and Spells" by Bruce Coville involves a D&D-ish game coming to life with one of the characters calling it evil, but I haven't found any reference to Lydia (a female) being religious. – FuzzyBoots Jul 1 '15 at 3:44
  • @FuzzyBoots I don't know the story in question, but OP mntions that the main character was female and the religious player was male (the religious player stood out in their memory of the book, but was not actually the main character), so this sounds like it could be the right answer. – tardigrade Jan 30 '17 at 9:33

This sounds a bit like a slightly twisted version of Mazes and Monsters, a 1981 Problem Novel by Rona Jaffe later made into a 1982 made-for-television movie starring a young Tom Hanks. In that book, four college kids play the eponymous D&D-like game and one of the players, Robbie, starts to confuse the game for reality and begins to become his character, Pardieu, giving away his things and attempting to heal people with spells.

Places where it doesn't quite match up is that the monsters don't actually become real, Robbie is the only one hallucinating them, and Robbie is not Christian (although his character, Pardieu, has heavy overtones of being a celibate cleric).

Mazes and Monsters front cover

  • Yeah, that's the book that usually comes up when I get a whim to look. While I was rather young when I read this, I don't think my interpretation was so skewed at that age as to mix up all those inconsistencies you've pointed out. Though, it would be rather ironic if a book trying to scare people off D&D was the thing that got me into it. – Drathe Jul 1 '15 at 4:03
  • It seemed like a bit of a longshot, but I thought I'd mention it. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/15850/… (currently listed among the related books on the side) has a lot of other possibilities in the answers, but none seem to match up that I've found so far. – FuzzyBoots Jul 1 '15 at 13:00
  • No luck. It seems the "game comes to life" was a well-used trope in the early 90s, so I realize finding a specific book that dealt with it is fairly unlikely if that book wasn't a big seller. – Drathe Jul 1 '15 at 22:59
  • 2
    Well, Mazes and Monsters is a far out game. – Liesmith Jul 2 '15 at 13:24

Another possibility is Bruce Coville's Spirits and Spells (ISFDB), released both as #2 in the Chamber of Horrors series and #15 in Twilight: Where Darkness Begins. This one has a female protagonist, Lydia, and the game does come to life around them, courtesy of playing the game in a house haunted by a murdered servant girl. I haven't found any reference to a religious guy in it yet, but there is mention of the game being called evil:

Lydia was so silent that for a moment Tansy thought they had been cut off. When she finally spoke, her voice was little more than a whisper. “I felt… fingers. Icy fingers, probing at my mind. Tansy, tell Travis to get rid of that game. It's dangerous. No, it's not just dangerous. It's evil.”


Besides, Lydia was just being foolish.

How could a mere game be evil?

Book cover

“Magic is loose, and death is in the air.”

Trying out their new haunted house game, Sprits and Spells, in the creaky old Gulbrandsen place seemed like a cool idea to Travis, Tansy and their friends.

That was before they found out what was in the attic… and the basement… and everywhere in between.

Following up after having actually read the book in question, it is not a good match in the end. There is no hyper-religious character and no one picks up a role of going around healing everyone. Instead, the story basically has the players doing LARP-style quests to gain magic items, but it turns out that the "characters" they're playing exist in another, more magical, world, and they're attempting to take over the players via these artifacts, which are real.

I'm keeping the answer up for historical purposes, but it is not a good match for the question past the superficial of the game becoming real.

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