Roll For Insight: How Do You Approach A D&D Film?

April 19, 2019 by brennon

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Dungeons & Dragons may soon have another film adaptation. There have of course been attempts at this in the past; does anyone remember this particular fantasy epic?


No, very few of you do, and for good reason. It was a pretty poor film, taking typical fantasy troupes and throwing them into the ring with the veneer of Dungeons & Dragons over the top of it.

D&D Movie Poster

It made for a poor example of what Dungeons & Dragons could be. So, how do you solve the D&D movie problem?

A Traditional Approach

One of the things you could do is instead of creating a D&D movie which is a generic fantasy story, you could look towards the different worlds that have been created by some of the big authors. The one that comes to mind first is that of Dragonlance by Laura and Tracy Hickman.

Dragonlance Cover

This series spans a trilogy of books as well as a selection of different short stories and its own campaigns setting for D&D itself. It birthed a range of great characters, fascinating villains and more. For that reason alone you could see this becoming the D&D story to bring to life.

One of the key aspects of it is that it took the format of an adventuring group, much like The Fellowship in Lord Of The Rings, and could have you rooting for different characters off the bat as well as focusing in around a single protagonist in Tanis.

Another of the big aspects of D&D history is the Forgotten Realms. Based in the realm of Faerun The Icewind Dale trilogy by R. A. Salvatore followed the exploits of Wulfgar The Barbarian and this was then followed by Drizzt Do'Urden in The Dark Elf Trilogy.

The Crystal Shard

Again, much like with Dragonlance, these books were a massive success and immediately have offered up a range of likeable and diverse characters, each enough to drive home a movie. As long as the adaptations were faithful to the source material you could see them finding a home with avid fans of Dungeons & Dragons. Considering the appetite for good fantasy fare as well currently within the industry these have the wheels to become more than single movies, maybe expanding out into trilogies if required.

Taking something like this not only offers up a ready-made set of stories for them to explore but it also means that the expanded offerings for D&D are up for grabs for those wanting to know more. If you wanted to explore the places they visited in the movie, they are ready to go in the form of the literature and adventure modules.

Entering The Real World

Another approach to take when creating a D&D movie would be to take the same route that movies like The Gamers and have done. Keep the characters grounded within the real world and have the game be a way for them to explore their friendships, building them, breaking them and more besides. You could even still work in some of the fantasy elements as well where you show the characters off on their adventures at times, working through things that the players in the real world are also having to deal with.

The Gamers Dorkness Rising

We've seen Stranger Things doing great things with this where the game they play is explored but it then combines with their life in the real world too, informing the way they deal with the creatures from the Upside Down and some of the other Sci-Fi elements.

You could also potentially throw them into events akin to that of the original D&D cartoon. Maybe, just maybe, you could have them do a Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle/Narnia and have them drawn into the Fantasy world as teenagers or young adults, having to become the heroes they've played on the tabletop.

True Strike

However they approach this they really have to focus in on the elements of D&D that make it great. You either take an established story driven by this amazing game, subtitled it as 'A Dungeons & Dragons Movie' for example OR you make the game the central focus of it all. You would have the dice rolls, interactions and more being something that viewers will learn about as the movie progresses, seeing just what D&D can do when it comes to informing our encounters.

So, that's just my thoughts on things so far. Either take one of the existing universes or try and draw on the social aspect of Dungeons & Dragons from around the tabletop. Personally, I'm looking forward to...

Dragonlance: A Dungeons & Dragons Film

"The one that comes to mind first is that of Dragonlance by Laura and Tracy Hickman..."

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"...where the game they play is explored but it then combines with their life in the real world too"

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