Dungeons & Dragons: Not Just a Board Game

Movie Makes Concessions For Appeal


Onnika Moore

Graphic by Onnika Moore

Dungeons & Dragons hase recently received an honor that almost no tabletop games have. A movie, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” based in the Dungeons & Dragons universe was released on streaming services on Mar. 31. Joining the ranks of “Clue” and “Battleship,” the new movie has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, the highest rating of the three. However, to an avid player of the game, however, the movie leaves much to be desired.
Some of the more fantastical elements of the game had to be toned down to appeal to the general public. Most of the characters are regular humans, and half of the main party consists of humans. Dungeons & Dragons is a world filled with different, unique races. Seeing regular humans in fantasy is boring. Even outside the main party, humans are the large majority of the race seen. Only a few scenes depict halflings, elves, or dwarves. Without all these, the movie feels like another generic fantasy with only nods to the source material.
Another reason why it feels so generic is because the characters are just that. Characters. One of the essential aspects of Dungeons & Dragons is the relationship between the player and the Dungeon Master (DM). How the player’s character goes through the world is influenced by the DM, and there is an element of chance with everything in Dungeons & Dragons because most actions require the player to roll dice. Having the movie set in the universe with no external influence or visible change takes away from the core aspect of D&D. A movie with two settings, one in the real world and one in the fantasy world, is an idea.
The plot is also a familiar trope: the party has to retrieve a magical helmet to defeat an evil undead wizard. The significance of the helmet, however, is easily missed. It is not explained exactly what it does or how it will help the party defeat the wizard, so the audience is left wondering why the party is searching for it. Not only is there no explanation for why it is needed, the item does not even exist in the lore. It was made by the writers to advance the plot, with no significance to real world players whatsoever. Humor is attempted in the movie, but seems to fall flat with just a stronger nose exhale than normal. Most of the jokes are one-liners, with no buildup and no payout.
With a box office of almost $203 million, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” succeeded in its quest of bringing Dungeons & Dragons to a wider audience, and was by no means a bad movie. The film sacrificed much of what makes D&D unique to draw in the public and feels like just another fantasy movie.