D&D Movie/TV What would a good D&D movie be like?

Greg K

Legend
I think the most likely reason a D&D movie will fail is the same reason the first D&D movie failed: Trying to do too much.

Where did it go wrong?

(1a) "This is a D&D movie right? So let's have dragons and dungeons and dungeons and lotsa dragons when we save the princess (queen) at the end!" Way too much stuff going on.
(1b) Letting the name "Dungeons & Dragons" get in the way of a good tale is a terrible idea.
I agree. Yet, I remember some people on these boards saying D&D has to include both dungeons and dragons, because of the name". Personally, rather specifying Dungeons and Dragons, if they do something in Forgotten Realms, I would rather they use Forgotten Realms in the title.

(2) Too many characters. The movie did not let any of them (except me, Snails) breathe.
On more than one occasion i have seen your refer to yourself as the character, "Snails". Are you doing that because of your screen name or are you actually Marlon Wayons?

(5) An amazing world of fantastic fantasy stuff is not automatically a plus. It can burn through effects budget quickly without endearing the movie to the audience. IMO Willow was one of the better pre-LotR fantasy movies; the story made enough sense without overwhelming us with weird stuff. Likewise, the first Harry Potter story is incredibly small plotwise, because Rowlings did not want to overwhelm with her weird world -- she wanted us to get to know the main characters instead.
I agree with you on the potential risk of overwhelming the a large portion of the audience with weird stuff.
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Wait. I changed my mind. The D&D movie should be a musical. ;)

Dungeons & Dragons: Underdark Story

"When you're a Drow,
You're a Drow all the way
From your first jet black cowl
To your last dyin' day.

When you're a Drow,
If your butt hits the pan,
You got brothers around,
You're a family man!

You're never alone,
You're never disconnected!
You're home with your own:
When company's expected,
You're well protected!"


****


"The Underdark
Your lovely silence . . .
A land of whistling breezes.
Always the stalagmites growing,
Always the fungi are glowing . . .

The Underdark . . .
You dangerous land . . .
A land of mythic diseases.
Always the fungal spores blowing,
Always the population growing . . .
And the money owing,
And the servants crying,
And the doom bats flying.
I like where people can fatten.
Smoke on your pipe and put that in!

I like to be in the surface world!
O.K. by me in the surface world!
Ev'rything free in the surface world
For a small fee in the surface world!"
 
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Oryan77

Adventurer
Out of curiosity, say a D&D movie was taken seriously, with excellent actors that were on screen to be great characters and not just pretty faces. Would you appreciate watching a D&D movie that paid homage to the old D&D cartoon in the sense that it was about young adults from modern day earth that ended up in a world such as Greyhawk? Or would that feel cliche and come across as a cop-out?

BTW, I'm not talking about having the same characters riding on a roller coaster, floating into a new world, and gaining new abilities. Just something with a similar premise that is more well thought out, logical as far as fantasy goes, and taken seriously.

A reason I ask is because I've always wondered if non gamers could enjoy a D&D movie like that if they were able to relate to the main characters more. Fantasy movies is the hardest genre to be successful in. A reason that I think comic books movies are doing so well is because the general audience can relate to the characters since they are more down to earth and realistic as far as personality goes.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Out of curiosity, say a D&D movie was taken seriously, with excellent actors that were on screen to be great characters and not just pretty faces. Would you appreciate watching a D&D movie that paid homage to the old D&D cartoon in the sense that it was about young adults from modern day earth that ended up in a world such as Greyhawk? Or would that feel cliche and come across as a cop-out?

Yeah, that last one. No. I do not want/would not "appreciate" a movie of the cartoon premise of "normal" modern day people getting zapped into a D&D game/world. Don't do that.
 


Uller

Adventurer
If it hasn't already been stated, a pseudo-medieval Raiders of the Lost Ark featuring fantastic locations and dark dungeons. With a dragon.

I've always thought Temple of Doom is a basically a D&D adventure:

You start off in a tavern of sorts, there is a bit of role playing and tension and eventually a combat to give the characters a reason to form a party, followed by a journey to an exotic local where the basic plot conflict is introduced (cultists stealing children...how very D&D!) When the party enters the village, they are clearly wounded and out of resources but within a day or so they are perfectly fine (after falling out of an airplane!).

Then they journey deep into a wilderness, have some random encounters. At the adventure site they have some roleplay encounters with the denizens of the place then eventually are attacked and start exploring on their own...adventure ensues. They fight lots of mooks, a few tougher NPCs and the BBEG. I'd say it probably had more of a 4e feel than 5e, what with some clear skill challenges and the use of healing surges (Indiana gets the crap beaten out of him but then is suddenly fine on several occasions)
 

Hussar

Legend
Out of curiosity, say a D&D movie was taken seriously, with excellent actors that were on screen to be great characters and not just pretty faces. Would you appreciate watching a D&D movie that paid homage to the old D&D cartoon in the sense that it was about young adults from modern day earth that ended up in a world such as Greyhawk? Or would that feel cliche and come across as a cop-out?

BTW, I'm not talking about having the same characters riding on a roller coaster, floating into a new world, and gaining new abilities. Just something with a similar premise that is more well thought out, logical as far as fantasy goes, and taken seriously.

A reason I ask is because I've always wondered if non gamers could enjoy a D&D movie like that if they were able to relate to the main characters more. Fantasy movies is the hardest genre to be successful in. A reason that I think comic books movies are doing so well is because the general audience can relate to the characters since they are more down to earth and realistic as far as personality goes.

Honestly, I don't see that as a bad idea. It's not cliche at all. I'm drawing a blank on any movie to do this in the past few decades. I'm sure someone will correct me on this, but, I can't think of any. It's a fantastic way to connect to the audience and draws very heavily on what D&D actually is - wish fulfilment gaming. Why not have a group of teens get zapped into a D&D world? Grr, I suppose that's a bit too Narnia, but, Narnia was written with WWII era children, not something the average teen can connect to today.

Personally, I'd have no problem with this as a plot.
 

Greg K

Legend
Yeah, that last one. No. I do not want/would not "appreciate" a movie of the cartoon premise of "normal" modern day people getting zapped into a D&D game/world. Don't do that.

Agreed (although, I would like to see another D&D cartoon like old one albeit without the unicorn).
 

Out of curiosity, say a D&D movie was taken seriously, with excellent actors that were on screen to be great characters and not just pretty faces. Would you appreciate watching a D&D movie that paid homage to the old D&D cartoon in the sense that it was about young adults from modern day earth that ended up in a world such as Greyhawk? Or would that feel cliche and come across as a cop-out?
I think the concept works, either as a homage/sequel or just running with the same concept and having them stumble across a portal or "Gygax's original d20".


A reason I ask is because I've always wondered if non gamers could enjoy a D&D movie like that if they were able to relate to the main characters more. Fantasy movies is the hardest genre to be successful in. A reason that I think comic books movies are doing so well is because the general audience can relate to the characters since they are more down to earth and realistic as far as personality goes.
I agree. I'd like to see this. It would easily set the new film apart from the previous D&D movies and other fantasy films.

Honestly, I don't see that as a bad idea. It's not cliche at all. I'm drawing a blank on any movie to do this in the past few decades. I'm sure someone will correct me on this, but, I can't think of any. It's a fantastic way to connect to the audience and draws very heavily on what D&D actually is - wish fulfilment gaming. Why not have a group of teens get zapped into a D&D world? Grr, I suppose that's a bit too Narnia, but, Narnia was written with WWII era children, not something the average teen can connect to today.

Personally, I'd have no problem with this as a plot.

I looked for a while and couldn't even find a TV Tropes page for "common people in a fantasy world". The closest is stuff like Wizard of Oz or Farscape. Here.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The only other fiction I remember in a similar vein are the Guardians of the Flame novels by Joel Rosenberg, which also owes a little nod to Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
 


Ridley's Cohort

First Post
I agree. Yet, I remember some people on these boards saying D&D has to include both dungeons and dragons, because of the name". Personally, rather specifying Dungeons and Dragons, if they do something in Forgotten Realms, I would rather they use Forgotten Realms in the title.

Which is a pretty good reason to go with Forgotten Realms -- anything, anything, anything other than Dungeons & Dragons.

To belabor the point, a "dungeon" as commonly used in modern English literally means a prison under a castle. To those who have not played the game, "Dungeons & Dragons" sounds like "Prisoners and Monsters". It is the opposite of poetic, even by the low standards of movie titles. Gary expanded the concept of dungeon to include fantastic extensive underground complexes, which is not wrong, but it misunderstood by 99.999% of the non-gaming populace. Getting away from "Dungeons & Dragons" as a movie brand is a good idea on a lot of levels.


On more than one occasion i have seen your refer to yourself as the character, "Snails". Are you doing that because of your screen name or are you actually Marlon Wayons?

You flatter me. I am not Mr. Wayans. I liked his performance, and thought he was the least lousy thing in the whole movie. As I recognize the majority disagree, I am being a wee bit contrary in my choice of icon and handle. The handle is primarily a combination of "let me make a slightly obscure iconic choice" and the joy of "hey! there is a rule in 3e for sidekicks! whoa!"
 
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Ridley's Cohort

First Post
A reason I ask is because I've always wondered if non gamers could enjoy a D&D movie like that if they were able to relate to the main characters more. Fantasy movies is the hardest genre to be successful in. A reason that I think comic books movies are doing so well is because the general audience can relate to the characters since they are more down to earth and realistic as far as personality goes.

That is a very good point, and it is worth remembering that the first Harry Potter novel/movie was extremely sparse in terms of important plot action, built on a protagonist who happened to be as incompetent at understanding the weird new magical world as the audience. Such gave us a lot of time to learn to like the main characters. That is a formula that does work. Even Hobbit/LotR use variants of this structure.

However, I think it is possible to start small and achieve similar results. Rather than feel compelled to Save The World! right off the bat, our heroes can begin as small fish trying to save a small pond that they will outgrow in the next movie, where it is explicitly stated from the start that there are turbulent lakes and oceans "over there somewhere".

That is why I like to point out the strength of a movie like The Seven Samurai. It is, in fact, small fish saving a small pond, where this village is only preyed on by bandits because all the able-bodied nobles have marched far away to die for their daimyo and have not been around to keep the peace for years (turbulent lakes somewhere over there).
 



delericho

Legend
It's used because it is the story. The monomyth.

Yes, I've read Campbell.

But my original complaint was about the one fated saviour (the whole "you have a destiny" thing), which is not a required component of the monomyth.

That's not saying that D&D can't use some other story, but there really aren't very many (I can't recall the number someone came up with, but it was in the teens I think).

Yeah, yeah. There are seven stories in the whole of literature. And one of them is "Independence Day".

The problem with that theory is that in order to fit everything into their seven categories, they have to simplify stories down to the point of uselessness.

It's kind of a pet peeve of mind when people talk about things being over-used, trite, whatever, when those are usually that way for a very good reason that is inseparable from the human condition.

If they simply go with "what works", they'll have the Hero, the comic sidekick, and the love interest set out to defeat the singular Dark Lord, who is seeking to destroy/take over the kingdom/world. They're best means to defeat him will be to track down the McGuffin by following a convoluted sequence of clues, all while being chased by the Badass Lieutenant. Unfortunately, things will go horribly wrong, meaning that they face the Final Confrontation with no real chance of success until, against all the odds, the Hero finds a way to come to terms with his destiny and remove the McGuffin from play, thus defeating the Dark Lord. (You remove the McGuffin because the lesson is that the power was inside the Hero all along - the McGuffin was actually helping the Dark Lord.)

The problem with that is that they don't need to bother making the film - it already exists, and it's already called "Dungeons & Dragons". And it turns out that blindly doing "what works", ironically, doesn't work.

It matters a hell of a lot less what story they tell than it does how they tell it. And my preference would be that they stay away from the "fated hero saves the world" storyline, because it's been done to death in fantasy. I'd much rather see that heist movie people have mentioned up-thread, or something in the vein of "Fast & Furious".

But given that the script was written by the guy who did "Wrath of the Titans", and given that this is a fantasy film and there are expectations, I'm very confident that what we'll actually get will indeed be yet another fated Hero saving the world from a Dark Lord. Complete with comic sidekick and love interest.
 

delericho

Legend
To belabor the point, a "dungeon" as commonly used in modern English literally means a prison under a castle. To those who have not played the game...

The brand "Dungeons & Dragons" has an absurd level of name recognition. People know it as a game, and therefore will recognise it as such. "Forgotten Realms" or "Icewind Dale" have vastly less recognition.

There's roughly a 0% chance of them not calling the film "Dungeons & Dragons". Hell, they'd prefer to call it that even if it's an entirely generic fantasy film with no connection to anything whatsoever in the game, simply because of that name recognition.
 

dracomilan

Explorer
Hell, they'd prefer to call it that even if it's an entirely generic fantasy film with no connection to anything whatsoever in the game, simply because of that name recognition.
Since as far as we know that is exactly whay they are doing (using the Chainmail script they had already prepared) I vote for the Dungeons and Dragons: Whatsisname title pattern.
And I hope it will be something along the lines of Dungeons and Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep. That should ring some bells, allow them to use one of the best locations, and allow the writers the freedom they need.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Put me down as another who thinks it would be a good idea to have the storyline of the Hero's Journey start closer to the beginning than the end. Seing characters develop as they face a...mundane...local evil can be quite engaging.

The best D&D adventure I ever ran involved a party who met at the ruins of a tavern, took jobs as caravan guards. They wound up saving the merchant princess and getting her to her destination: the site of her arranged marriage to the scion of another merchant house, averting a war. Big stakes, but small scale.
 

Yes, I've read Campbell.

But my original complaint was about the one fated saviour (the whole "you have a destiny" thing), which is not a required component of the monomyth.

Fair enough.

If they simply go with "what works", they'll have the Hero, the comic sidekick, and the love interest set out to defeat the singular Dark Lord, who is seeking to destroy/take over the kingdom/world. They're best means to defeat him will be to track down the McGuffin by following a convoluted sequence of clues, all while being chased by the Badass Lieutenant. Unfortunately, things will go horribly wrong, meaning that they face the Final Confrontation with no real chance of success until, against all the odds, the Hero finds a way to come to terms with his destiny and remove the McGuffin from play, thus defeating the Dark Lord. (You remove the McGuffin because the lesson is that the power was inside the Hero all along - the McGuffin was actually helping the Dark Lord.)

The funny thing is, I've been watching movies for decades and I'd still like to see that again.

I don't really disagree with the rest of your post. I think it would represent the D&D experience better if the hero triumphs through a mixture of skill and luck rather than predestination.
 

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