Dungeons & Dragons: The game comes to life on TV
Stranger Things turned the popular role playing game (RPG) Dungeons & Dragons mainstream, so Hasbro is running with the game’s success and creating a television show. The fantasy genre has turned the tide in Hollywood. It seems like after the success of Game of Thrones in 2011, the fantasy genre has found a new home on TV.
Netflix picked up the slack with the end of Game of Thrones by releasing The Witcher, and Amazon has two series in the works based on The Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time. Hasbro is now throwing their fantasy property in the mix for the chance to air on primetime television.
What is Dungeons & Dragons?
Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy RPG where players create characters and take them on adventures. The game is played with seven different types of dice per player, and the story is up to the Dungeon Master’s (DM) imagination. Everyone else is part of the campaign’s traveling party made up of different races & classes. This is a simplified explanation – to really understand the game visit the D&D website.
Dungeons & Dragons revolutionized tabletop gaming. Tabletop games traditionally had a linear arc meaning there was a defined beginning & end. In traditional tabletop games, players know how to win from square one, or from the first draw of a deck of cards.
Take a game like Monopoly – everyone starts with the same amount of money and at “Go”. It ends when all but one player doesn’t go bankrupt, or when one player gets frustrated and flips the board over. In Dungeons & Dragons, there are no winners or losers, characters can start at different levels within reason, and players can join, leave, or come back at any point.
New content in the works
In Hasbro’s earnings call, CEO Brian Goldner mentioned the entertainment branch was in the early stages of developing a Dungeons & Dragons series. According to Goldner, “[The team is] also working on a couple of different approaches, because there is so much mythology in canon.”
We don’t know what the show will pull from with so much Dungeons & Dragons lore. The first edition was released in 1974, and there were three rule books in the set – today, there are over 1,200 official books. There are entire books on spells, monsters, character races & classes, and premade campaigns.
There is no word yet if anyone’s attached to the project, but the news came up in reference to Hasbro’s upcoming Dungeons & Dragons live-action movie. The movie is currently in pre production and is slated for a 2022 release. Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley are writing & directing the film for Hasbro and Paramount Pictures.
We imagine Hasbro will most likely stick in the fifth edition realm because it’s the era of Dungeons & Dragons with the most growth in popularity & sales. The fifth edition was released in 2014 to coincide with the game’s fortieth anniversary and brought in a Dungeons & Dragons renaissance.
History of Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons was created by Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson in 1974 and sold 4,000 copies in its first two years. In the 80s, the game became a victim of the religious right and was condemned by parents across the U.S. The condemnation was fueled by stories of kids summoning demons before committing suicide, murders in the name of the game, and its non-Christian subject matter and characters.
The bad press led to excellent sales, but it didn’t last. Gygax & Arneson sold Dungeons & Dragons to Wizards of the Coast in 1997. They released a movie starring Jeremy Irons & Marlon Wayans, and the company released the third edition in 2000.
After the release of the third edition, the early 2000s weren’t kind to Dungeons & Dragons. Demand diminished, and comic book & gaming stores were in decline. The Dungeons & Dragons community needed to find a new home.
As the internet grew, so did Dungeons & Dragons. The game rose in popularity after geek culture came into vogue, DMs live streamed games, and apps like Facetime, Zoom, and Discord connected players worldwide. Wizards of the Coast also released the game’s fifth edition in 2014, and it was an instant success.
Wizards of the Coast recently announced Dungeons & Dragons was in its sixth consecutive year of growth. In 2017 Bloomberg estimated there were roughly 12-15 million players in North America. In 2019 Wizards of the Coast saw a 300% increase in the introductory box set sales and a 65% sales increase in Europe.
Which premade Dungeons & Dragons campaign would make a good TV show? Let us know in the comments.