The upcoming D&D Movie just had a big win, signing Jeremy Latcham on as a producer. Hes a Marvel Exec and the producer of Iron Man. Ultimately, the movie that launched the MCU.
Since WoTC Seems to be taking this thing seriously, so will I. With some speculation and fan casting.
Being a D&D movie, the obvious draws are going to be Drizzt and the Forgotten Realms. He’s got tons of best selling books, and the realms are the big name everyone knows. Normally I’d be pushing for something a little more out there, maybe a Dark Sun, Spelljammer, or maybe even just Eberron, but in this case I think FR is probably the way to go. There is enough there to have some fan service, and its generic enough you don’t have to sell the mass market on multiple concepts. High fantasy, but also space ships? It’s probably too much. Especially considering you’ve got enough people who have surface D&D expectations, and not meeting those could throw some people off. Greyhawk is a good “At least its not FR” contender, but there really isn’t as much fan service options.
While I think FR makes a lot of sense, because of existing popularity, I think Drizzt is going to be a problem. First, a ton of his stories have been told, so changing any of them is going to anger your fanboys. Being a D&D movie, half your market is fanboys, and you can do that on the 3rd or 4th in the series, doing it out of the gate is a big risk. Second, putting FR drow into a live action movie is going to be a problem. You are setting yourself up to constantly explain why drow are not racist, and frankly, there’s a decent argument that they are. With Drizzt out, I think the best option is a new cast. Here’s what I’m thinking…
- We start with your main character. This is something your audience can grasp, and so should be relatively simple. I lean young (18 ish) human rogue. A rogue lets the character not be the best warrior, or spellcaster, or whatever while still doing cool stuff. A rogue tumbles around, teams up with their buddies, and gets lucky. That’s what protagonists do too. I’d go with a young woman from Waterdeep. Waterdeep lets us see a big iconic set piece, and is a great home for a rogue. It also gets us some opportunities for sewer fights with oozes, aberrations, and some of the wilder monsters.
- The main character needs a best friend, and that’s where our half-elven bard comes in. Hes rakish, charming, and things come easy to him. Always the cool guy, and doesn’t really get why Rogue has to keep getting in with thieves. Rich, and a bit of a playboy.
- The story needs a rival, and ours is a Dragonborn paladin in training. He’s part of the city watch, and acts as the primary foil to the rogue. They have a good back and forth, but ultimately he is trying to arrest her. A Dragonborn in the main cast mixes things up a bit, and brings in some “fun races”. He could be any sort of monster-man though.
- Being D&D, we need some magic, and the go to is a wizard, but I’d lean to warlock. Warlock is one of the more popular 5e classes, and can bring a “creepy” level to the party. Every good party needs a shadowy, mysterious guy. Ours can be a Tiefling if you want to be on the nose, or if we want to be weird about it a gnome or small race could be fun. I lean Tiefling, so we can do some prosthesis instead of weird shrinking CG all movie. The warlock can also spout all sorts of monster facts and be the one who tells us about them.
- To me, a barbarian is a no brain-er. A big, loud showoff who smashes stuff is pretty fun. I’d pallet swap ours so its an Orc woman, but any physical “bad guy” race works. She can be big and boisterous, and occupies a kind of alt role to the paladin.
With this spelled out, here’s my plot outline. WoTC, feel free to use it.
Act 1: Rogue is a thief, running cons and owes money to Xanathar. She manages to convince Bard to help her out, and things immediately go bad. We cut to the Paladin tracking them in the sewers, and suddenly the two of them run by as lasers are blasting everywhere. Xanathar is done with her, and chasing shooting eye rays everywhere. He runs with them, and the three of them duck down an alley where they see Warlock and Barbarian being super intimidating and creepy. Paladin feels obligated to stop them, and rogue kind of agrees. Bard can be your cowardly comic relief. We do a big everyone fights scene, and maybe foreshadow some with a shadowy figure. (25 min)
Act 2: The party realizes that they just messed up the ritual, and things are bad now. I’m thinking the ritual stopped something Mind Flayers were up to somehow. The Warlock and Barbarian try to storm off, but the Paladin and Rogue feel obligated to help. The Bard can’t go home with Xanathar looking for him, and can come along reluctantly. Quest on! The Warlock can explain that they needed a rare Thing to do the ritual and have so many days to do it before the Mind Flayers are done. Only now it’s harder, because they need a Thing, and the only one left is owned by a Dragon. The Warlock’s patron has been tracking it for eons, and this was the best chance (that sort of thing). Off they go, and we can do a travel arc where they encounter bandits (scary, but easy and show how the party can fight now), trolls (a joke and humorous), and some other fantasy monsters. Maybe a manticore or something in that vein. Something cool and set piece-ey, before the dragon’s lair. Include some shadowy figures and let us see more of a Mind Flayer as he coordinates the obstacles. Then we do a big dragon fight scene and really the big show stopper. (45 min)
Act 3: They get the thing, but to use it the ritual needs to be done on a special site, maybe underground near water which is why a sewer was great. Some excuse to get them under ground, and in caves. We can do some quick underdark travel, and encounter some weird underdark classics. Ropers, myconids, troglodytes, that sort of stuff. While doing the ritual, our next big showpiece is a fight with some Mind Flayers with Umber Hulks, who catch them, and there’s a battle while some of the party do the ritual. Give the Mind Flayers some real sci-fi gear to play them up as weird, and this is our finale, so the ritual should come close, but succeed. (25 min)