All 6 Dungeons & Dragons Adaptations for Everyone Who Seeks Adventure

All 6 Dungeons & Dragons Adaptations for Everyone Who Seeks Adventure
Image credit: Paramount Pictures, IM Global

What could be a better basis for an adventure movie than D&D?

For years, Dungeons & Dragons, the greatest of all role-playing games, hasn't had much luck with movie adaptations. Honor Among Thieves, one of the best fantasy films of 2023, seemed to lift the franchise's curse — but unfortunately, it wasn't a box office hit.

Let's take a look back at all the D&D adaptations that were officially released under the D&D brand.

1. Dungeons & Dragons, 1983-1985

By the mid-1980s, the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing system had become a household name — but not in the way its owners, TSR, wanted. So they decided to market it as family entertainment for children and young adults. D&D founder Gary Gygax decided that an animated series would be the best way to do this.

However, the game itself is not mentioned in the show. It immerses you in D&D in an unconventional way. Six teenagers go to an amusement park to see the Dungeons & Dragons ride.

The ride unexpectedly transports them to a fantasy world where they encounter a unicorn, the five-headed dragon Tiamat, and the evil sorcerer Venger. The kids are saved by the mysterious Dungeon Master, who gives each of them a magical artifact that matches their character's class.

The creators squeezed this exposition into a splash screen that lasts only a minute. So the show can be watched from any episode: it is a collection of adventures that are almost unrelated to each other.

2. Dungeons & Dragons, 2000

Director Courtney Solomon has dreamed of bringing his favorite game to the big screen since childhood, and by the time he was 17, he was in talks with TSR about adapting the game. And when he turned 19, he started his own film studio just to produce the movie.

The movie is set in the Izmir Empire, where Empress Savina rules. She dreams of changing the laws and giving equal rights to all citizens. These plans do not please the Mage Profion, who wants to take the throne from Savina. This is not so easy because the Empress has a magic staff that gives her power over golden dragons.

However, another staff is discovered that can control red dragons. The young sorceress Marina is forced to work with the thieves Ridley and Snails to find the artifact and return it to the Empress. Profion sends his servant Damodar to retrieve the staff.

3. Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God, 2005

Although Dungeons & Dragons 2000 was a commercial failure, a sequel, subtitled Wrath of the Dragon God, was released a few years later. Realizing that the movie had no chance of making money at the box office, it was made directly for TV and aired on the SyFy channel in 2005.

The story picks up again in Izmir, a hundred years after the events of the first movie. Now it is not an empire, but just a poor looking kingdom. Damodar from the first movie, transformed into the living dead, is reborn to take revenge on Izmir for its defeat. With the help of the Orb, he intends to awaken the ancient dragon god Falazure, who has been imprisoned in a rock by wizards.

The famous warrior Berek volunteers to stop Damodar and assembles a team consisting of a thief, a barbarian, a cleric, and a sorceress. While Berek and his team search for a way to reach Damodar, his wife, the young sorceress Melora, searches ancient scrolls for the source of the power that once helped defeat the dragon.

4. Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness, 2012

The final movie of the trilogy was released seven years later. It was not shown in theaters or on TV, but was released directly on DVD. The movie got its subtitle from a supplemental rulebook for the third and fourth editions of D&D — Book of Vile Darkness. This rulebook was published to add content to D&D for a more mature audience. As a result, it was the first D&D film or TV project to receive an R rating.

The plot of The Book of Vile Darkness is unrelated to the previous films in the trilogy. 2000 years ago, the powerful sorcerer Nhagruul sold his soul to demons. His skin was used to make pages, his bones to make a cover, and his blood to make ink, and so the Book of Vile Darkness was born, corrupting or driving mad anyone who dared to look at it.

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The Knights of the New Sun stood against the forces of evil. With great difficulty, the knights prevailed, but Nargul's servants escaped with the remaining parts of the book.

Thousands of years passed, the Knights lost their power, and it was time for the servants of darkness to recreate the ancient artifact. The sorcerer Shathrax kidnaps a knight to use his blood to make new ink for the book. The knight's son, the young paladin Grayson, is determined to save his father. To reach the sorcerer's lair, Grayson joins his minions, who are searching for pieces of the book scattered throughout the world.

5. Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, 2008

Between the second and third installments of the trilogy, an animated series without Dungeons & Dragons in the title was released, but it is still part of the official adaptations of the franchise.

When we talk about the D&D universe, it's important to remember that it is not one universe, but a multiverse that includes many independent world settings. The most famous of these are the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance, which have been the subject of extensive and popular book series. The Forgotten Realms were lucky enough to be brought to the big screen in Honor Among Thieves, but the only movie based on Dragonlance was released directly to DVD in 2008.

According to the plot, a group of characters led by the half-elf Tanis go in search of an artifact that will help them defeat the goddess Takhisis and her army.

6. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, 2023

Honor Among Thieves has its flaws, including a simple plot, questionable motives, and an age-old conflict at the heart of the story. But it is this apparent simplicity that is the real strength of the best adaptation to date of a game with a history spanning almost fifty years.

Once upon a time, former bard Edgin Darvis teamed up with the barbarian Holga Kilgore, the failed sorcerer Simon Aumar, and the con man Forge Fitzwilliam to make money by stealing. The team was not the most balanced, but things were going well, and the accomplices were living happily. That is, until they decided to steal the Tablet of Reawakening to bring Darvis' dead wife back to life.