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D&D Movie/TV Update on D&D TV Show -- Underdark, Small, 6-10 Episodes

Writer Derek Kolstad (John Wick) has shared an insight into the upcoming D&D TV show with Collider, which he says will be 6-10 serialized episodes with an Underdark element.

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His approach is a "tinier sliver" of the world, compared to epic stories like Lord of the Rings. He compares it to Star Wars and Jaws. He mentioned that he's like to go "deeper and deeper into the Underdark".

"In the first Star Wars, you heard about Jabba the Hutt and you don't see him until the third one because you earn at that point, and whatever the budget was for the third one compared to the first one, who cares, right? And I think in Dungeons and Dragons, who has this massive, dedicated community of acolytes, I don't want to suddenly throw everything on screen and say, 'Here's the buffet.' You'd much rather keep the story intimate. When you think of our favorite movies, I'd rather do the First Blood version. It's a guy in the woods being hunted. And it's very small, but you allude to the other things through conversation."


As yet the show is untitled. Kolstad talked a bit about legal meetings and available characters for use. It sounds like he wants to set it towards the end of any 'metaplot' that D&D might have -- "... don't want to go in the middle of the mythos. I want to come near the end where everything is canonical, it's biblical, it's happened. Or, it's about to happen. That way you can revisit certain sequences and storylines that everyone loved in the past through flashback, but where we go is new"

 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
They could also just make an adaptation inspired by The Night Below, which doesn't have any Drow in it (that I know of).

Then again, it has duergar which are essentially "Drow but for Dwarves instead of Elves."
 

Episode 3 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is the first one written by Kolstad. He gets the group dynamic bit, that's vital for D&D. Also, the empty container field fight scenes may as well have been dungeons.
It was my favourite episode so far, because it was the first one which was actually fun, and whilst it had real eyeroller of a line (Karli's one about "the only language they understand", seemed out of character and cliched), it was otherwise extremely good, and wasn't "trying too hard" with the buddy-cop stuff with Sam and Bucky. More of Sharon and Zemo honestly!
 

They could also just make an adaptation inspired by The Night Below, which doesn't have any Drow in it (that I know of).

Then again, it has duergar which are essentially "Drow but for Dwarves instead of Elves."
Duergar don't look like dwarves in blackface. They also don't have the weird/problematic elements (as far as I know) of "sexually adventurous women are eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil." (I don't think that's what Gygax or Greenwood intended, but they certainly developed that way over time.)
 

It was my favourite episode so far, because it was the first one which was actually fun, and whilst it had real eyeroller of a line (Karli's one about "the only language they understand", seemed out of character and cliched), it was otherwise extremely good, and wasn't "trying too hard" with the buddy-cop stuff with Sam and Bucky. More of Sharon and Zemo honestly!
Zemo's mask bit confused me. It's what he wears in the comices, but I don't understand his apparent reverence for it in the MCU or why it appears so solid -- maybe there's tech inside?
 


Zemo's mask bit confused me. It's what he wears in the comices, but I don't understand his apparent reverence for it in the MCU or why it appears so solid -- maybe there's tech inside?
I think Dire Bare is right that we'll find out, but he made an off-hand remark about not knowing it was there when he found it, and that the cars were full of stuff from his relatives. So presumably it's his father's mask. Which would mean it probably didn't have any particularly special properties, but maybe would be good for menacing people.
 

They could also just make an adaptation inspired by The Night Below, which doesn't have any Drow in it (that I know of).

Then again, it has duergar which are essentially "Drow but for Dwarves instead of Elves."
Actually, there are a couple of advantages to duergar over drow: not an evil matriarchy, never been black skinned, don't have angular (i.e. white) facial features.

And a major disadvantage: either need to cast short actors (see The Witcher) or have complicated or costly FX.
 

Dragonsbane777

Explorer
Underdark... the most overused setting, my gameworld doesn't even have an Underdark or Drow. What's next, a good aligned-drow hero? Maybe some other anti-tropes like a good tiefling or evil aasimar!
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Zemo's mask bit confused me. It's what he wears in the comices, but I don't understand his apparent reverence for it in the MCU or why it appears so solid -- maybe there's tech inside?
I suspect it looks solid because there's support around the mouth area to keep it from moving when Zemo talks. An actual mask that was form-fitting to cling around the entire head (rather than just drape over it like Cobra Commander's secondary cloth mask does) would wobble and move every time Zemo moved his jaw up and down and his lips flapped. Which would be a pain to deal with in ADR, but also just look kind of dumb onscreen.

The non-moving mouth mask is what we have gotten from Spider-Man and Deadpool, and I suspect they have realized it just works and looks better overall.
 



wicked cool

Explorer
Actually, there are a couple of advantages to duergar over drow: not an evil matriarchy, never been black skinned, don't have angular (i.e. white) facial features.

And a major disadvantage: either need to cast short actors (see The Witcher) or have complicated or costly FX.
just do what lotr did and the scenes give the illusion of height
 


wicked cool

Explorer
id rather have a good actor play the role and the camera illusion over cgi . CGI seems very expensive

I remember listening to the GOT directors wanting to add an undead bear but the cgi was prohibitive
 

ART!

Hero
Actually, there are a couple of advantages to duergar over drow: not an evil matriarchy, never been black skinned, don't have angular (i.e. white) facial features.

And a major disadvantage: either need to cast short actors (see The Witcher) or have complicated or costly FX.
just do what lotr did and the scenes give the illusion of height
That is a slow process. Not something you would want to have to use extensively on a TV schedule.

These days CGI dwarves would be simpler and faster, and only slightly more expensive.
It's really no slower, just different: once the relevant production staff understand that's what's happening, then everything is planned accordingly and baked into the process. Most of it's done practically (in-camera, while filming), and with modern greenscreen technology the need for duplicate-but-scaled sets is less than it was.
 

id rather have a good actor play the role and the camera illusion over cgi
. CGI seems very expensive

I remember listening to the GOT directors wanting to add an undead bear but the cgi was prohibitive
What "you rather" wouldn't fit a TV production schedule, especially if there are significant numbers of scenes that involve full and half scale characters. In theory it's simple enough, but in practice, you have extensive detailed pre-vis to work out the camera angles, two scales of sets, double the number of props, and scale doubles to deal with. And you can't shoot the scene using multiple cameras and then select which shot to use in editing.

The easiest and cheapest way to do it is to blue-screen the full and half scale characters together. Well, no, the easiest and cheapest way to do it is cast 4 foot actors.
 

MarkB

Legend
What "you rather" wouldn't fit a TV production schedule, especially if there are significant numbers of scenes that involve full and half scale characters. In theory it's simple enough, but in practice, you have extensive detailed pre-vis to work out the camera angles, two scales of sets, double the number of props, and scale doubles to deal with. And you can't shoot the scene using multiple cameras and then select which shot to use in editing.

The easiest and cheapest way to do it is to blue-screen the full and half scale characters together. Well, no, the easiest and cheapest way to do it is cast 4 foot actors.
We're not talking halflings here, we're talking dwarves. They're medium creatures, built to the same scale as humans, just shorter in stature. Most of that can be dealt with by using raised / dropped floors on the sets, and just making sure the camera doesn't show them.

For wider shots you just do some green-screen shots and composite them together, which is well within TV show budgets. Much of The Mandalorian was shot using virtual sets.
 

ART!

Hero
The easiest and cheapest way to do it is to blue-screen the full and half scale characters together. Well, no, the easiest and cheapest way to do it is cast 4 foot actors.
The problem with casting only shorter actors for the smaller "races" is because you limit yourself to a smaller pool of actors. This is why Peter Jackson didn't go that route.

Now, part of the thinking there was that there are a number of important diminutive characters in the LOTR movies, so keeping the casting to only very short actors starts to really limit you, in terms of finding just the right actor for each of those important roles. If a movie or series only had one or two, then the smaller pool of actors becomes much less of a problem.
 

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