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D&D Movie/TV D&D Movie - Wild Speculation and Poll

What do you expect/hope to see in the Setting, Tone and Framing of the upcoming D&D Movie? (Pick 3)

  • Setting - Forgotten Realms

    Votes: 50 53.8%
  • Setting - Eberron

    Votes: 4 4.3%
  • Setting - Dragonlance

    Votes: 4 4.3%
  • Setting - Homebrew/Unique

    Votes: 25 26.9%
  • Setting - Other (Specify)

    Votes: 8 8.6%
  • Tone - Grimdark

    Votes: 3 3.2%
  • Tone - Serious Fantasy (LotR)

    Votes: 21 22.6%
  • Tone - Lighthearted Fantasy

    Votes: 41 44.1%
  • Tone - Action Comedy

    Votes: 26 28.0%
  • Tone - Other (Specify)

    Votes: 4 4.3%
  • Framing - In Universe Storyteller

    Votes: 24 25.8%
  • Framing - Gaming Table

    Votes: 14 15.1%
  • Framing - Sucked into the game

    Votes: 4 4.3%
  • Framing - No Frame

    Votes: 35 37.6%
  • Framing - Other

    Votes: 2 2.2%

  • Total voters
    93

OB1

Jedi Master
Well, if they do go with any type of real world story frame (sucked in or gaming table), I hope that they stay away from any over-arching plot in the frame narrative. Just show me players having a good time, let the drama be in the game itself.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Well, if they do go with any type of real world story frame (sucked in or gaming table), I hope that they stay away from any over-arching plot in the frame narrative. Just show me players having a good time, let the drama be in the game itself.
I'm pretty sure they've said they will not do frame stories for any D&D film property, but keep it straight and set in the 5E Metasetting. That may be from the Warner Bros. period of film development, but I would expect no meta-frame at all.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
I'm pretty sure they've said they will not do frame stories for any D&D film property, but keep it straight and set in the 5E Metasetting. That may be from the Warner Bros. period of film development, but I would expect no meta-frame at all.
I can only hope that you are correct. The thought of it using a real world frame makes my eyes roll out of my head. That's great for comedies like The Gamers, but I don't want it for anything else.
 

Ogre Mage

Adventurer
After such a dismal year I am ready for some escapism. I'm not looking for grimdark or too heavy. Though it would be good to have one or two serious moments to provide some substance.

I expect and hope there will be many Easter eggs for those of us who play D&D.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'd say The Lego Movie also did a pretty good job of switching between "players" and "characters" (even though it held that reveal until the 3rd act).
I'll have to take your word for this - the very idea of a Lego movie makes me want to run away as fast as my little feet can carry me.
What do you think about a set up where the actors are playing themselves as the players? Seeing a bunch of famous actors having a great time at the table playing the game, and then seeing the visualization of their imagination on screen seems like a great way to get the feel of what it is to play D&D across to a wide audience. Could also imagine seeing subtle differences in how the characters and world look depending on whose 'POV' you were currently in. Personally, I'm okay with any of the framing except "Players sucked into the game".
Jumanji has the market cornered on this trope, and does it well.

I'd rather just see the characters, not the players.

Oh, and Hugh Grant had better be at his tip-top best, as movies like this really rely on the villain.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I'm pretty sure they've said they will not do frame stories for any D&D film property, but keep it straight and set in the 5E Metasetting. That may be from the Warner Bros. period of film development, but I would expect no meta-frame at all.
You’re probably right, but I really hope they don’t take themselves too seriously. And i do hope they have a starter set tie-in with the movie (assuming it doesn’t suck.)
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I'm hoping it will be an Action/Comedy with a frame set around a Game Table where we get to see the game through their imagination of it with some occasional cross table chatter bleeding through. I do expect it to be in Forgotten Realms but I'm hoping for a homebrew setting ;)
My thoughts exactly, though I said “lighthearted fantasy” rather than “action comedy.” But the line between those two is pretty fuzzy. What I’d love to see is something in the same vein as The Princess Bride, but cutting back to the players at the game table instead of the grandpa reading the story to his grandson.
 



M_Natas

Explorer
I really hope it doesn't use a frame device. If it is players sitting around the table, it would deflate any real tension the movie might have. It would kill a movie like any "It was just a dream"-surprise ending. You gain nothing by doing it that way (unless you are doing a comedy like The Guild)
And If they go the Jumanji-Route and have the players getting sucked in to the game they really need to be better at that than Jumanji, which is pretty hard.

If they don't do a straight High-Fantasy/Light hearted fantasy like LotR or the original Conan-Movies, they would need to have excellent writing to compensate for the structural weakness of a framing device. The would need to be princess bride-level of writing and I don't see that happening, unless they get somebody like Terry Gilliam to write and direct.
If they go the comedy route, they need at least "Enchanted"-levels of writing to make it work, even more so that the tropes Enchanted makes fun of are more commonly known than the D&D-TRPG-Tropes. Here it could work with a framing of D&D Players sitting on the table, but again - for that to work you need the higest level of writing and not the guys who made the medicoremovies vacation and game night (I enjoyed those movies, but they are medicore at best).
A light hearted fantasy would just need a marvel cinematic universe level of writing - which is something that is achievable for the two writers that are attachted to the project, if they give their best.
 

Quartz

Hero
Stars: Chris Pine (Star Trek, Wonder Woman), Michelle Rodriguez (Fast & Furious, Avatar), Hugh Grant (The Undoing, Love Actually, Paddington 2), Rege-Jean Page (Bridgerton), Sophia Lillis (IT, I Am Not Okay With This), Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom)

How many of those are going to be cameos?
 


Quartz

Hero
I think a framing device could work very well: have a short pre-title sequence. Everyone sits down at the table then the GM says, "Are we all ready to play the Search for the Maguffin? Right, you are all relaxing in the Boar's Head tavern just as ... roll initiative!
 

Undrave

Hero
I just want them to have a good balance of lore and danger with comedy.

If you try too hard to be a SERIOUS MOVIE for SERIOUS PEOPLE you'll miss the way DnD really is. We all imagine playing in a LOTR campaign, but the truth is that a Monty Python joke and Boblin the Goblin will show up eventually and ruin the tone. If you lean too hard on the SERIOUS CANON AND DEEP LORE, which is still interesting, you risk disappearing too far up your own ass and turning off people (look at the Warcraft movie).

But if you go too comedic and wacky with unflattering main characters, you fail to capture the heroic action of DnD where your hero Leeroy Jenkins onto the back of a dragon and still come out on top because of guile, strength and intelligence. You can't have a useless comedy sidekick character in a DnD party and you don't want to lean so hard on the 'unlikely hero' trope that the whole party is just level 0 goofballs. You risk destroying any semblance of danger or impact the story has.

Honestly, Slayers is probably a good tone to shoot for. A story where each character can be a source of comedy at times, LOOT is a big motivation, they all bounce off of each other wonderfully, but when naughty word gets serious, it feels important and there's stake that are both personal and wide reaching (and the heroes get to be heroic!). Guardian of the Galaxy is another good one, but with a Self-Righteous Divine -type and a smart-ass spell caster type (the Guardians are basically Rogues, Fighters and Barbarians only) to round out the team a little better.
 

M_Natas

Explorer
I think a framing device could work very well: have a short pre-title sequence. Everyone sits down at the table then the GM says, "Are we all ready to play the Search for the Maguffin? Right, you are all relaxing in the Boar's Head tavern just as ... roll initiative!
That wouldn't work at all for the normal audience and even propably not for most D&D fans. Why? Because it seperates you from the story. Suddleny the movie is not about a group of heroes fighting to save the world, now it is a movie about 5 people, sitting on a table playing make believe. It kills all the tension for the audience because now the stakes in the movie are not "will the world be saved" but only "will these 5 people have a nice time at the table".
You can't make a multimillion-dollar movie about "will these 5 people have a nice time at the table" unless you put in other real-world stakes in it.

From a writers-perspective if you put such a framing-device in, it would mean that you have a two level story. The first level is "the real world", the second level is the "game world". If you introduce "the real world" (movie reality), it means that the real world would need to be important for the story. If it isn't it is not only senseless, it would also cheapen everything that happens in the game world. If you want to do it that way, the game world needs to really impact the real world in the story.

Jumanji does that: In the original Jumanji, the game litarelly effects the real world and the players have to finish it to leave it. In the Reboot/Sequels they are trapped inside and need to finish it to leave it. The stakes in the game translate to the real world setting of the story and so they matter.
Also Ready Player One does that. The Game has big effects on the real world, thats why its matters.

Another (also quite bad example, because it is really badly written) would be Mazes and Monsters - the game is having a psychological effect on the players, so affecting the "real world" in the story - so when things happen in the game, they matter to the players.

Even in princess bride - the fantasy story is there to create change in the real world. Princess Bride is a story about a grandfather who uses a fantasy story to win his grandson over to him (at the beginning the boy doesn't like it that his grandfather his here, in the end the boy wants him to come the next day again and read the story again).

Even Stranger Things does that a tiny little bit (they use their D&D Knowledge in the first season to solve some of the mystery - but they also don't focus on the D&D Game, because that would really distract from the real story.

Another possiblity would be the Narnia-Route, which is similiar to Jumanji.

So if you really want to use such a framing-device in a D&D Movie you would need to put in real-world-stakes. There needs to be a reason why we should care about the players and not the characters, because the D&D Characters don't matter for the audience, if they don't care about the players, if you introduce the real world.
So if you put in such a framing device, you make it for yourself way harder to make the audience care about the fantasy story and you have to work very hard, to make them care.

So, what could this real-world-stakes be?
Idea 1: In a D&D Kids Movie this could be an outsider, a kid who doesn't have any friends and through the power of D&D makes new friends (like the episode of Community where they play D&D)
2: Go full-on Jumanji or Narnia - teleport the Players into the D&D World. But if you do that, you need to do it better then Jumanji. The Film Monster Hunter tried it that way (teleporting real world soldiers into the game world) and the movie is worse for it.
3: Have them work trough some real world crises and having them play D&D as a means to escape from the naughty word real world (like a pandemic ...).
4. Do a Maze and Monsters remake, but make it into a positive thing where D&D helps with the psychological problems of the players.

But if you do put in real world stakes,if you have an outer frame story, this stakes and this story need to emotionally grab the audience more than the stakes in the inner frame story (the fantasy story). If the fantasy story is more interesting and better then the outer frame story, the outer frame story weakens the inner frame story and it would be better to cut the outer frame story.
It is the same reason the "It was all just a dream"-Endings are not used in any good movie or book - because it has the same effect: If the whole story was just a dream, then the story didn't matter to the character in that story - and if it doesn't matter to the character, it doesn't matter for the audience.

And creating stakes in the outer frame that would be better then the stakes in the inner frame is really hard.
It works in the princess bride, because it is a kids movies, made for kids and the writing is really good and it is really light hearted and more of a comedy then a fantasy story.
It works in Jumanji because the inner frame story really interacts with the outer frame and put the stakes of the inner frame world into the outer frame world. The same with Ready Player One (the book, the movie is bad) - the stakes of the game world are the stakes of the real world.

So unless they pull a Jumanji I can't see a way that they can write a good enough frame story that wouldn't sabotage the fantasy story. Not unless they get a really really good screenwriter.
 


OB1

Jedi Master
That wouldn't work at all for the normal audience and even propably not for most D&D fans. Why? Because it seperates you from the story. Suddleny the movie is not about a group of heroes fighting to save the world, now it is a movie about 5 people, sitting on a table playing make believe. It kills all the tension for the audience because now the stakes in the movie are not "will the world be saved" but only "will these 5 people have a nice time at the table".
You can't make a multimillion-dollar movie about "will these 5 people have a nice time at the table" unless you put in other real-world stakes in it.
Gonna have to disagree with your assertion here. For one, everyone at a real D&D table is aware that they are 5ish people having a nice time at the table with no real world stakes and it doesn't diminish the stakes in the game.

To which one might argue, "well, that's because it's your game and you have a stake in the outcome". And my counter will be the half million people who watch Critical Roll each and every week. With Critical Roll, a large portion of their audience doesn't even play the game, they just tune in for the story and to see a bunch of good friends having a great time. But Critical Roll has also driven new players to the game, and that's what I think the 'players having a nice time at the table' frame could do for the D&D movie.

If the stakes in the game narrative are compelling, the frame doesn't matter. I think the frame of 'players at the table having a good time' can add to the tone of the game narrative and help define the stakes there, alternating between fun, exciting, and dramatic, but that, unlike Princess Bride or The Lego Movie, the frame shouldn't have it's own stakes that are affected by the game story. That is very, very difficult to pull off well, and I think would diminish the point of the frame I'm suggesting, which is just to give the audience a look into what playing D&D is all about.
 

Undrave

Hero
So if you really want to use such a framing-device in a D&D Movie you would need to put in real-world-stakes. There needs to be a reason why we should care about the players and not the characters, because the D&D Characters don't matter for the audience, if they don't care about the players, if you introduce the real world.
So if you put in such a framing device, you make it for yourself way harder to make the audience care about the fantasy story and you have to work very hard, to make them care.
I totally agree with your assessment.

I would add The Never-ending Story (the first one) as one of your examples. Also, Darth & Droids where the interpersonal relationship of the players develops through their campaign.

To which one might argue, "well, that's because it's your game and you have a stake in the outcome". And my counter will be the half million people who watch Critical Roll each and every week. With Critical Roll, a large portion of their audience doesn't even play the game, they just tune in for the story and to see a bunch of good friends having a great time. But Critical Roll has also driven new players to the game, and that's what I think the 'players having a nice time at the table' frame could do for the D&D movie.
Critical Role is performative in a group setting. You don't SEE the inner story, just the storytellers. And there is still an element of chance to the outcome. In a movie, the storyteller, i.e. the writers, director and editor are hidden. They present to you the fully done story. And the players are not just themselves acting as characters, they would add another layer and act as the player someone wrote down in the script who then pretends to be another character someone also wrote in the script. There's no natural reaction in that.
 

M_Natas

Explorer
Gonna have to disagree with your assertion here. For one, everyone at a real D&D table is aware that they are 5ish people having a nice time at the table with no real world stakes and it doesn't diminish the stakes in the game.

To which one might argue, "well, that's because it's your game and you have a stake in the outcome". And my counter will be the half million people who watch Critical Roll each and every week. With Critical Roll, a large portion of their audience doesn't even play the game, they just tune in for the story and to see a bunch of good friends having a great time. But Critical Roll has also driven new players to the game, and that's what I think the 'players having a nice time at the table' frame could do for the D&D movie.

If the stakes in the game narrative are compelling, the frame doesn't matter. I think the frame of 'players at the table having a good time' can add to the tone of the game narrative and help define the stakes there, alternating between fun, exciting, and dramatic, but that, unlike Princess Bride or The Lego Movie, the frame shouldn't have it's own stakes that are affected by the game story. That is very, very difficult to pull off well, and I think would diminish the point of the frame I'm suggesting, which is just to give the audience a look into what playing D&D is all about.
I think we will not be able to agree on this one. Critical Role is for all intents and purposes a niche audience. They get one million views - while putting it online for free. One million people is for a blockbuster movie is nothing.
Not even all D&D Fans like to watch critical role.
People watch other people play games on twitch - that still wouldn't translate well into a movie. Because for such shows like critical role or any other streamer you have a connection between audience and players. A connection you can't copy in a movie or series.
 

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