The next D&D movie...


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You mean... whatsherface, Vierna, who was crazy evil enough to try to kill Drizzt to regain Lolth's favour in The Legacy? And claiming that Jarlaxle isn't evil, well, that's a pretty strong statement, isn't it?

And no, it will become a problem the moment the first movie releases its first trailer. The company will have to decide to lose the blackness, or scrap the movie. They know it. Believe me when I say it, there is no way to do such a movie without wading through muck about race issues. Bloody hell, people whone about the orcs in Lord of the Rings, both the book version, which was eloquently answered by Tolkien himself, and the movies.


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The Drow-Racism Side Conversation:
Drow look and act nothing like any human ethnicity in existence.

Short but lithe? A few, sure.

Some form of blonde or white hair? Rarely.

Exclusively red eyes? Extremely rarely (sometimes goes with the above).
Skin black as obsidian? Eh... not that I've seen. (And certainly not with the above.)

A natural (innate) bonus to dexterity and intelligence, but penalty to constitution (the nobility actually having a bonus to charisma as well and a bigger dexterity bonus)? I... don't actually see why this would be "racist" unless it's "racist" to call someone superior to baseline humans. (It may be.)

The ability to utilize innate spell-like abilities? Not even close.

I mean, none of these images look anything like any human ethnicity. (Warning: google image search; I've got safe-search on, I don't know if that extends to you.)

Calling them "racist" as a "just because black" seems to be just looking for excuses.

That said, I can see potential cause for concern. "Potential", as opposed to "definite".

I would suggest that there are interesting conversations to be had and interesting points, but the dramatic, insistent, "RACIST!" is just... off.

Especially toward a company like Paizo who bends over backwards to be diverse and inclusive (who gave us Jatembe, Nex, and Aroden as the most powerful (non-evil) mages I've seen in Golarion canon, as just an example.

My own take is that drow are no more (or less) problematic, racially, than anything else in Pathfinder.

I mean, a quick flip flip through the various other race options will quickly reveal potentially problematic things. But the existence of racially-adjusted attributes doesn't make anything specifically a bad thing or idea.

Hitdice wrote:
I don't know. On the one hand, I think anyone who looks at baseline D&D drow and sees a racist caricature is stretching, to say the least. On the other hand, I'm a white dude, so a lot of stuff that bothers other people isn't even on my radar, and someone who thinks that that something shouldn't bother other people because it doesn't bother them is boorish, to say the least.

One of the odd things, though, is that the vast majority of people in real life that I've had similar conversations with... were white. Almost none of my friends of any ethnicity are bothered by it, but those who were were generally of my own ethnicity*. Either that or the critic in question was actually racist (even if they weren't an evil or bad person**). While I can intellectually accept that there are people who would be offended because of racial reasons, it seems to be minimal and almost entirely misplaced.

Hitdice wrote:
But given how the red martians were handled in John Carter (safely ethnically non-denominational rather than red-like-a-fire-engine-is-red red skinned) I'm betting that drow on the big screen is just a non-starter, because Hollywood wants to leapfrog any potential misunderstanding, rather than because those misunderstandings would even happen.

The Martian thing was... odd, to say the least. It also really bothered me. Not that they're ethnically neutral (that's actually cool), but that their entire coloration was just off. It was... goofy. And really sad. And made them closer to real ethnic groups*, making it a dumb decision to avoid racist tropes.

Also it was Disney. They avoid Green-lighting a lot of things that others would be more open to.

All that said, because the trope exists, I suspect you're right. It's a big enough thing that google auto-fills "racist" in when I typed "are drow r", so it's well known enough for a film company.

asterisks notes:

* Well, my apparent ethnicity. Technically I could be considered Native American, but I don't look like it.

** I really do mean this. The easiest example is one I've mentioned on the forums before. I was told by a student once in history class that, "No offense, Mr. <edited for privacy>, but frankly, you people are racist." When I asked her to clarify what she meant, she went on to say, "You know... white people. You're all racist." (We were discussing the Civil War. She amended that she didn't mean me, at least not personally, just "your people".) This girl was normally quite kind and generally quite a good person. Later, when I was discussing this, her guardian informed me that she was right (I was also informed that I "owe them" for... reasons). This is a man who is generally generous and giving. These aren't bad people. They were always quite nice to me and most others, and the girl was a good student (usually, as seventh graders will be seventh graders). Still quite shockingly racist.


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Yeah, Tactics, I don't think it's valid concern, I just think the typical movie studio is too conservative (little c) to be bothered when they can just put out something like Taken 3 or whatever.

I agree with both your drow-racism side conversation and your points on the Disney version of red martians. But we're talking about an industry that frequently casts blondes, brunettes and redheads as costars because they're afraid that their audience won't be able to tell women with the same color hair apart.

Sovereign Court

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Yeah, i don't get the "I owe them something". Why would i owe them anything? Just because I'm white? That is ridiculous.
What i owe them is a normal, decent human treatment, but i owe that to all normal, decent human beings. To single out and treat differently a person or an ethnicity either in a good or a bad way is racist IMO.


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The "drow is evil and black" issue is definitely a big problem. I personally don't agree with it, but it's probably the biggest reason a Drizzt movie will never even be considered. It's simply a firestorm that no movie studio is going to want to walk into. It comes up as a side issue in other movies like Thor 2 or Lord of the Rings, but it would be part of the main story, and a significant part at that, for a Drizzt movie, and that becomes a major problem for a movie studio. For all that most gamers aren't really bothered, a large portion of the general public would go nuts no matter how it was handled.


I don't think it would be that major a issue, especially to start with. You have an initial trilogy where the main character is ostracised for the colour of his skina and his race's allegedly innate evil nature (even though Drizzt himself, and later his father, show this not to be true). However, Drizzt repeatedly proves his heroism throughout the first three books/films. You also have another major character of colour (Regis; as a native of Calimport he should be darker-skinned, although the official art seems to be all over the place about this) who is - relatively - portrayed positively as well. In the initial trilogy, where Drizzt is the only drow (that I recall) to even appear, it's really not an issue at all.

If you want to make DARK ELF afterwards then yes, some sensitivity will be required. But you can do that through all the means suggested early on: show the rulers being evil but the underclass and masses not so much.

Also, for a film adaptation taking place in its own continuity, you can always go REALLY creative and make all the drow green or blue or something.

Quote:
You mean... whatsherface, Vierna, who was crazy evil enough to try to kill Drizzt to regain Lolth's favour in The Legacy? And claiming that Jarlaxle isn't evil, well, that's a pretty strong statement, isn't it?

I haven't read the later books - Salvatore seems to have lost the will to write after SIEGE OF DARKNESS, understandably at being forced to write the Drizzt books on pain of having them taken away from him - but in his earlier appearances Jarlaxle definitely came across as morally ambiguous and you're not sure what side he's on, and even after trying to kill Drizzt he's then willing to betray his outrightly evil masters (Entereri is in the same boat; in the last one I read he and Jarlaxle had basically turned into a Boba Fett tribute double act).


You are aware that the canon of FR is basically (as explained in City of the Spider Queen) "if the common drow were to get rid of the nobles, they would immediately have a civil war to determine who got to be the new nobles and oppress the rest"?

And please, if you are doing green or blue drow, don't put it in the Forgotten Realms.

Even early on, Jarlaxle murdered goblins because it was fun. That he's untrustworthy isn't what I would call an argument that he's Good.


I believe Jarlaxle's various statblocks in different books peg him at CN at best, depending on which part of the series he's pulled from - he does become a little less ... sadistic about his behavior in later books where he's paired with Entreri (who is LE to a T).

I don't know why I remember stupid trivia like this about books I haven't read in almost ten years.


Sissyl wrote:

You are aware that the canon of FR is basically (as explained in City of the Spider Queen) "if the common drow were to get rid of the nobles, they would immediately have a civil war to determine who got to be the new nobles and oppress the rest"?

And please, if you are doing green or blue drow, don't put it in the Forgotten Realms.

Even early on, Jarlaxle murdered goblins because it was fun. That he's untrustworthy isn't what I would call an argument that he's Good.

To be fair Sis, that's why all the good aligned PCs in my campaigns murder goblins. :P


Werthead wrote:

If you want to make DARK ELF afterwards then yes, some sensitivity will be required. But you can do that through all the means suggested early on: show the rulers being evil but the underclass and masses not so much.

Also, for a film adaptation taking place in its own continuity, you can always go REALLY creative and make all the drow green or blue or something.

And in the process, upset all the fans that are supposedly the reason for going with Drizzt and FR in the first placed. It's still a no win situation for those making the movie. Either you get creative from the start and have the ability to make additional movies at the cost of probably alienating the built in fanbase to the point you won't be making very many beyond the first, or you please the fanbase initially, and face the problems of the later trilogies with comparatively little wiggle room and set expectations that would simply compound the difficulties.

Definitely not worth it when you could use any number of other characters from FR, get the majority of the same fan base, and avoid the headaches that would come with trying to deal with Drizzt. I still think Volo or one of Ed Greenwood's other characters would be a far better place to start making FR movies. Once you establish the basic world with the general movie going audience (something that Volo could do very well), than you could pull in Drizzt with all the challenges that come with his story. Leading with that potentially divisive story, though, is a non starter; there just isn't enough room between the fans and the general public to get anywhere with it. If you have the basic background set already, it becomes a lot easier to get away with dealing with the drow in general, and it gives an escape route back to firmer ground for future movies if that focus proves to be a dead end.


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sunshadow21 wrote:
The "drow is evil and black" issue is definitely a big problem. I personally don't agree with it, but it's probably the biggest reason a Drizzt movie will never even be considered. It's simply a firestorm that no movie studio is going to want to walk into. It comes up as a side issue in other movies like Thor 2 or Lord of the Rings, but it would be part of the main story, and a significant part at that, for a Drizzt movie, and that becomes a major problem for a movie studio. For all that most gamers aren't really bothered, a large portion of the general public would go nuts no matter how it was handled.

Yeah, cuz this totally happened with Thor 2, which had Dark Elves.

One of the main antagonists was played by a black actor, so it must be an agenda thing, amirite?!? After all, they were trying to turn the whole universe black!!

How many out cries from Thor 2 did you hear, claiming the movie was purposely trying to portray the "Dark" elves who wanted to turn the whole Universe "dark" as anything remotely analogous to real life?

Who even thinks this way?

Lantern Lodge

Hama wrote:

I did something very stupid, i mentioned the movie to my girlfriend and was forced to endure a high definition torture that lasted one hour and 48 minutes.

I almost cried, not from pain, but from wasted potential that film held. It had some awesome actors, great music and (for that time) ok CGI, except for the dragons who sucked. The premise was very interesting too.
Most of us who GM could come up with a thousand times better story with the same premise.
Actually, that is what i am going to do. My next homebrew is happening in the empire of ismir where the evil mage Profion is trying to take the throne for himself. I'll post journals regularly.
First to finish the rise of the runelords however.

I look forward to reading that and I may take my own swing at this idea either as a campaign or possibly as a one shot at the UK games expo in 2014, because you're right the concept is good and deserves greater respect.

Sovereign Court

Ronin_Knight wrote:
Hama wrote:

I did something very stupid, i mentioned the movie to my girlfriend and was forced to endure a high definition torture that lasted one hour and 48 minutes.

I almost cried, not from pain, but from wasted potential that film held. It had some awesome actors, great music and (for that time) ok CGI, except for the dragons who sucked. The premise was very interesting too.
Most of us who GM could come up with a thousand times better story with the same premise.
Actually, that is what i am going to do. My next homebrew is happening in the empire of ismir where the evil mage Profion is trying to take the throne for himself. I'll post journals regularly.
First to finish the rise of the runelords however.
I look forward to reading that and I may take my own swing at this idea either as a campaign or possibly as a one shot at the UK games expo in 2014, because you're right the concept is good and deserves greater respect.

Thanks for reminding me of this. My campaign notes were tucked away in a drawer, because RotR is still not done. Now, I'm going to pay them more attention.

Kryzbyn wrote:
Who even thinks this way?

People with very low self esteem who think that the world is out to insult them because of something mostly. Or just people who are so caught up in the "fight" that they see anything that could even remotely be analogous to something that insults them as a blatant attempt to insult them. They are also very angry people.


Kryzbyn wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
The "drow is evil and black" issue is definitely a big problem. I personally don't agree with it, but it's probably the biggest reason a Drizzt movie will never even be considered. It's simply a firestorm that no movie studio is going to want to walk into. It comes up as a side issue in other movies like Thor 2 or Lord of the Rings, but it would be part of the main story, and a significant part at that, for a Drizzt movie, and that becomes a major problem for a movie studio. For all that most gamers aren't really bothered, a large portion of the general public would go nuts no matter how it was handled.

Yeah, cuz this totally happened with Thor 2, which had Dark Elves.

One of the main antagonists was played by a black actor, so it must be an agenda thing, amirite?!? After all, they were trying to turn the whole universe black!!

How many out cries from Thor 2 did you hear, claiming the movie was purposely trying to portray the "Dark" elves who wanted to turn the whole Universe "dark" as anything remotely analogous to real life?

Who even thinks this way?

All it takes is one African Studies major seeing a Drizzt movie and writing on his blog, "So the black skinned elves worship an evil spider goddess and get turned into hideous spider monsters? That looks like a demonization of Anansi," and the movie studios worst fears are realized. Mind you, I don't think that's very likely to happen, just that it's that sort of example that make drow a non-starter for the studios.

Lantern Lodge

Threeshades wrote:
Hama wrote:

3rd

They had a undead black dragon breathing fire in the second so...

So it was undead! I was wondering why the cleric was trying to use turn undead on a dragon. Thought it was a white dragon... breathing fire...

the white Dragon that they encountered on the way to the transport well still used freezing breath and froze the cleric, the dragon referred to in this point is the Dragon god of Undeath Faluzure, so I don't know if as a recently released draconic deity if the breath weapon rules can be applied


Kryzbyn wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
The "drow is evil and black" issue is definitely a big problem. I personally don't agree with it, but it's probably the biggest reason a Drizzt movie will never even be considered. It's simply a firestorm that no movie studio is going to want to walk into. It comes up as a side issue in other movies like Thor 2 or Lord of the Rings, but it would be part of the main story, and a significant part at that, for a Drizzt movie, and that becomes a major problem for a movie studio. For all that most gamers aren't really bothered, a large portion of the general public would go nuts no matter how it was handled.

Yeah, cuz this totally happened with Thor 2, which had Dark Elves.

One of the main antagonists was played by a black actor, so it must be an agenda thing, amirite?!? After all, they were trying to turn the whole universe black!!

How many out cries from Thor 2 did you hear, claiming the movie was purposely trying to portray the "Dark" elves who wanted to turn the whole Universe "dark" as anything remotely analogous to real life?

Who even thinks this way?

As far as I know, the Dark Elves of Thor 2 are not an exclusively black-skinned species.


Well, I dunno. One was grey-ish (Malekith) and the other was African colored. By the end of the movie, Malekith was black. The rest wore white masks/helmets. So, now we've got all non-white people being evil, I guess.
If you waste thought on such things.

Lantern Lodge

Right I'm going to throw a couple of concepts out for if they ever did the movie which may get my head bitten off, oh well.
the first is that some of the most 'cinematic' stories I've read relating to an established setting were those related to Eberron and more specifically those written by Keith Baker, he has a balance of description and pacing that works well, also the more modern-esque setting might be less alienating to none fantasy fans.
My second suggestion is if we did a pathfinder film that either Jade Regent or Legacy of Fire might be easier to convert to film series as at least some of the books could be reasonably combined without losing too much of the content

Scarab Sages

Hama wrote:
The only redeamable parts of the both movies are Profion and Damodar for sheer comedic value, and the rogue from the second when he "uses special secret thief's guild skills".

The wife's not a gamer, but she found that part funny.

I liked the bit where he tried (and failed) to avoid laughing as the wizard's familiar got fried.

Makes me wonder if the actor had sat in on some actual gaming sessions.
He was more than a little reminiscent of Belkar Bitterleaf.


Kryzbyn wrote:

Yeah, cuz this totally happened with Thor 2, which had Dark Elves.

One of the main antagonists was played by a black actor, so it must be an agenda thing, amirite?!? After all, they were trying to turn the whole universe black!!

How many out cries from Thor 2 did you hear, claiming the movie was purposely trying to portray the "Dark" elves who wanted to turn the whole Universe "dark" as anything remotely analogous to real life?

Who even thinks this way?

For all that the dark elves were supposedly the villains, the movie was still basically Thor vs Loki. Everyone else, from the dark elves to the most of the humans to even most of the other Asgardians, was pretty much a plot device and/or story filler, making it easy for folks not to dwell on the dark elves aspect. With a Drizzt movie, it would be much harder to deal with without gutting key parts of his story or well established FR lore. You could get away with it for the very first trilogy, but any story after that, and you have major problems, which is a major problem for a movie producer looking to develop a long term cash cow.

On top of that, it isn't even just that Drizzt has difficulties, it's that there are ultimately other FR characters that would do a far better job of establishing the world, rather than a single character. A Drizzt movie establishes Drizzt; there's no natural tie in to any other major FR character or region outside of where his stories take place. Volo (or even Elminster if done right) could establish the base world from which they could expand into other characters, like Drizzt, with a lot less chance of backlash from people who dislike an individual character or story line. And it could be done with the same amount of support from true FR fans and a lot less consternation from the general movie viewing public.

Drizzt isn't all bad, and would be a very good followup character to focus on after establishing a solid base of movie fans, but I just don't see him being a very good lead off for anyone trying to really make FR into a movie franchise, and that is what anyone making any FR movie is going to be looking to do.


Malekith was pale white, only his second in command was black.

And I don't think you can count a "severe facial burn" as making someone change races. I honestly saw nothing suggestive even remotely to incite racial concerns


...That was my point.


Quote:
You are aware that the canon of FR is basically (as explained in City of the Spider Queen) "if the common drow were to get rid of the nobles, they would immediately have a civil war to determine who got to be the new nobles and oppress the rest"?

Canon in the books. A film or TV series would be its own canon (as the LotR movies are their own canon and GAME OF THRONES the TV series is its own canon). Whilst the film or TV series would be based on the books, it wouldn't be a slave to everything they did.

This issue is also a bizarre one to bring it up because if you decided to turn the drow into albinos, for example, you'd get hit with accusations of 'whitewashing' much more severely than criticisms of racism because the drow are 'all evil' (because they're not; is everyone forgetting the BIG G$@+~%N HERO of the series is one?).

As for why you do Drizzt and not Volo or Danilo Thann or Erevis Cale is because those characters are tremendously obscure (Volo only got one - very bad - novel and otherwise only appeared in game products). Do a Volo movie and people won't care. Do a Drizzt one and more people will go, "Hey, I've heard of that character," and might be more inclined to check it out.

Creatively I actually think that's a pretty good idea: do a big story that brings various FR characters together and sends them off to do their own movies (basically the Marvel Cinematic Universe/AVENGERS in reverse). But I'm not sure commercially it would be as attractive. There's a reason the MCU started (or tried to start) with the Hulk, the most famous character they had the movie rights to, and then (after that false start) went to Iron Man, the second-most-popular.

Scarab Sages

GeraintElberion wrote:
Paizo have gone for purple-tinged drow, which hels with the black=/=black thing.
Hama wrote:
They haven't. It is clearly stated in their fluff that their skin is jet black. But you cant draw it like that, it would look ridiculous, so artists use purple highilghts.

I saw an interview with Bob Kane, where he said Batman's costume had always been all-over black, but was printed grey and blue for the same reasons, to allow the readers to see him (better than criminals in the story would be able to), and avoid the limitations of the printing process.

Made sense, then, why goons in the story would cry out "Who said that?!", and the reader thinks "Are you blind? He's standing right there. You dumbass."


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Begging your pardon... Mage in the Iron Mask and Around the Realms in 80 days. Ummm... Neither is all that good, admittedly.


Kryzbyn wrote:
Well, I dunno. One was grey-ish (Malekith) and the other was African colored. By the end of the movie, Malekith was black. The rest wore white masks/helmets. So, now we've got all non-white people being evil, I guess.

Except for Stringer Bell.


Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Kryzbyn wrote:
Well, I dunno. One was grey-ish (Malekith) and the other was African colored. By the end of the movie, Malekith was black. The rest wore white masks/helmets. So, now we've got all non-white people being evil, I guess.

Except for Stringer Bell.

Who got to be badass.

And Hogun.

I also saw a couple of black einherjar in the background during some of the Asgard scenes.

But yeah, it was mostly white people vs. indeterminate people. But that's most of Hollywood, really. Which is unfortunate.

I do have to wonder just how silly purple drow would look on-screen. It would match the artwork (even if not the text of the books. And yes, I realize it's because jet black doesn't show well in art.) and circumvent some of the black=evil issues.


Werthead wrote:

As for why you do Drizzt and not Volo or Danilo Thann or Erevis Cale is because those characters are tremendously obscure (Volo only got one - very bad - novel and otherwise only appeared in game products). Do a Volo movie and people won't care. Do a Drizzt one and more people will go, "Hey, I've heard of that character," and might be more inclined to check it out.

Creatively I actually think that's a pretty good idea: do a big story that brings various FR characters together and sends them off to do their own movies (basically the Marvel Cinematic Universe/AVENGERS in reverse). But I'm not sure commercially it would be as attractive. There's a reason the MCU started (or tried to start) with the Hulk, the most famous character they had the movie rights to, and then (after that false start) went to Iron Man, the second-most-popular.

Except that to the general public, Drizzt really isn't that much better known than any of the other FR characters. Heck, if you're going for publicity and renown factor, you go with Elminster; he's as well known as Drizzt if not more and is a cool mage to boot with a story a lot more interesting.

Sovereign Court

Elminster is too much of a Mary Sue.
Although, if they did "the making of a mage" maybe it would work...

Scarab Sages

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Matthew Morris wrote:

Interesting tangent,

As a small kid reading John Carter, yeah my mind painted the martians in technocolour. (fire engine red, lemon yellow, obsidian black) As I got older I 'softened' them to match more human colouration (not consciously, I didn't wake up and go, 'y'know, the red Martians really shouldn't be that red...') Then it never clicked to 8 year old me that the White Martians should be 'white-like-me' not 'white-like-paper' if John Carter could pass as one of them...

The books I read had the Michael Whelan covers, so it was up front and centre, that the Red Martians were chili pepper red.

As well as being "Whooooah!" smokin' hawt.


Hama wrote:

Elminster is too much of a Mary Sue.

Although, if they did "the making of a mage" maybe it would work...

You know, I know why people say this, but I just don't see it in the setting itself. In the books... yeah, occasionally it comes off this way (though even there, it's not constant). In the setting stuff? Notsomuch.

Sovereign Court

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Well in the setting, Elminster is described as a dude sitting in his house in Shadowdale, smoking his eversmoking pipe and doing inscrutable magic-y things. He also goes to hide in the cellar whenever people come looking for him.


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Sissyl wrote:
Begging your pardon... Mage in the Iron Mask and Around the Realms in 80 days. Ummm... Neither is all that good, admittedly.

Oy. Understatement of the year.


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Hama wrote:

Elminster is too much of a Mary Sue.

Although, if they did "the making of a mage" maybe it would work...

He is and he isn't. Most of the stories I've seen with him actually have him requiring just as much aid from companions as Drizzt does; the difference is that Elminster is able to retain control of the overall process and goal a lot better. Drizzt just seems to flounder around while Elminster is more of a general fighting a long term war, using his own personal resources only as necessary. In many ways, he's like Xavier from X-men. When you most commonly see him, he's already developed, and has progressed to a more indirect leadership role, but that doesn't make him invincible or all powerful. It's simply that he has enough allies and tricks at his disposal that it takes considerable effort to deal with him directly.

I do agree, though, that for a movie, focusing on his development rather than what he has long since become would be a far better story to start with. You could pull in other characters and plotlines from the various FR novels as the story progresses, and show the development from actively adventuring and studying to being more of the shadowy figure most FR fans recognize. You could also emphasize the rogueish aspect to give him more depth and reduce the Mary Sue feeling that can sometimes develop around him. He has a lot of stuff to work with, but he worked long and hard to get his tricks and his allies, and if you show that, the Mary Sue feeling diminishes, and you get more of a Charles Xavier feeling. Come up with a good story to pit him against the Red Wizards of Thay, and you have a good long developing story with a good "hero" and a good "villain." Still takes some work, but no more than using Drizzt would, and the payoff would potentially be much bigger.


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I liked the early Elminster better. Not quite sane from the burden of responsibility he bears and the sheer number of friends he's seen die, he keeps sending people out to die or worse because there is no other option. Second edition had many things slanted toward happy-go-lucky in the Realms, but honestly, look just a little deeper, and there was darkness everywhere, even then. The various villain groups were powerful indeed, the evil gods were terrible things. Monster-infested wilderness was all over the place. Elves and dwarves were disappearing. All in all, Elminster was a reflection of this, and much that was written about him did not use him as a Mary Sue. He lived in Shadowdale, because he wanted to protect the freedom of the Dalelands, and so made himself a target. Even so, he was only moderately successful at even this.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

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Sissyl wrote:
I liked the early Elminster better. Not quite sane from the burden of responsibility he bears and the sheer number of friends he's seen die, he keeps sending people out to die or worse because there is no other option. Second edition had many things slanted toward happy-go-lucky in the Realms, but honestly, look just a little deeper, and there was darkness everywhere, even then. The various villain groups were powerful indeed, the evil gods were terrible things. Monster-infested wilderness was all over the place. Elves and dwarves were disappearing. All in all, Elminster was a reflection of this, and much that was written about him did not use him as a Mary Sue. He lived in Shadowdale, because he wanted to protect the freedom of the Dalelands, and so made himself a target. Even so, he was only moderately successful at even this.

There was a scene in Knights of Myth Drannor where El and Khelben argue about how best to bring about Mystra's will. When you add in some of the ideas of the Seven Sisters (Simbul wanting to terraform Thay, for example) you got a much more complex (and insane) image of what being a Chosen meant.


The problem is that, in my opinion, the characters aren't relatable. The Chosen are a bunch of super-powered crazies so far beyond mortal men that I can't bring myself to care about them. It doesn't help that they have plot armor so thick they're untouchable.


Doing an Elminster coming of age movie right out the door isn't going to work. Why? Because that's not the Elminster people know about. They mostly know him as Elminster the Arch Mage/the Sage/the old quasi-god dude.
So you have to establish him in the movie verse as that character before you can begin to look at his background.


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Except that to the general public, Drizzt really isn't that much better known than any of the other FR characters. Heck, if you're going for publicity and renown factor, you go with Elminster; he's as well known as Drizzt if not more and is a cool mage to boot with a story a lot more interesting.

Salvatore has considerably sold more novels than anyone else in the setting and more novels than D&D itself has sold gameing books. He's outsold Greenwood at least 3-1, if not by a lot more. Drizzt is considerably better known amongst the general fantasy readership (i.e. the SFF readership outside of gamers) than Elminster. Elminster's probably the second-best-known FR lead character, agreed, but it's a fairly distant second place. I'm not even sure who'd go in third place. Probably Minsc, as once you drop below Greenwood you're looking at books and authors who have sold a lot less than the FR computer games.


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And Boo!


Werthead wrote:
Salvatore has considerably sold more novels than anyone else in the setting and more novels than D&D itself has sold gameing books. He's outsold Greenwood at least 3-1, if not by a lot more. Drizzt is considerably better known amongst the general fantasy readership (i.e. the SFF readership outside of gamers) than Elminster. Elminster's probably the second-best-known FR lead character, agreed, but it's a fairly distant second place. I'm not even sure who'd go in third place. Probably Minsc, as once you drop below Greenwood you're looking at books and authors who have sold a lot less than the FR computer games.

Raw novels by author don't actually mean as much as actual appearances by the characters, and Elminster probably has enough cameos in non Ed Greenwood products of all kinds that even if people don't know who he is as well as they know who Drizzt is, they would still recognize the name well enough to satisfy any movie maker.

GentleGiant wrote:

Doing an Elminster coming of age movie right out the door isn't going to work. Why? Because that's not the Elminster people know about. They mostly know him as Elminster the Arch Mage/the Sage/the old quasi-god dude.

So you have to establish him in the movie verse as that character before you can begin to look at his background.

I disagree; in fact, I think trying to establish him as an archmage first would be a mistake in this particular case. If you really want to hook the existing FR fans from all genres, actually explaining Elminster rather than simply having him be the mysterious figure in the shadows would actually be a very strong way of doing it. After all, a lot of people know the name, but the fact that not many have read his full actual story is a good thing in this case, and there is plenty of room for filling in details that those that have so they won't feel like they are being asked to rehash old stories.

In short, going with a coming of age story with Elminster, everyone gets something. You're still inside FR lore to the point that most fans would be expecting (even if they would personally prefer more), making both the existing FR fanbase and the suits behind the scenes happy. From a writer's and director's perspective, there's a fair amount of room to maneuver in character and plot development when it comes to the specific details, something the Drizzt stories, or most any other character, wouldn't really don't give them, so you make life easier for them. While Greenwood would likely be consulted, he hasn't retained the level of creative control over his characters that Salvatore has, making him far easier to please. For the non FR fans, they don't feel like they are getting beat over the head with decades of lore written while still being able to clearly identify the movie as FR based, making it easier for them to plug into the movie; if they don't care about FR, they don't have to. All of this with the only real downside being that the movie company would have to spend a little extra to get Elminster's name everywhere so as to get people to google it and making sure to leave themselves plenty of room for sequels to develop Elminster into the character that the fanbase is familiar with, something they would want to do for their own reasons, i.e. more money, as well.

Is it an automatic success to sell to the movie makers? No, but it's certainly no worse than the difficulty of selling Drizzt to movie makers and Salvatore. Drizzt maybe the most well known FR character right now, but it isn't that hard to make a case for a handful of other characters if you actually look beyond the glare of the raw novel sales. Even Minsc could be fleshed out with the right story; his own storyline is filled with enough plot twists to be interesting; you've got the death of a god and the vying for who among his progeny is going to be his replacement; you've got the entire age of troubles and god made man; and you've got Boo; very doable. It's not likely that they would ignore Drizzt over the long term because of his sales, but the emo dark anti-hero market is crowded these days, and there's no guarantee that Drizzt would be able to make much headway in the movie sector without help, or even with help, from a generally successful FR franchise. Going with Elminster, or even someone like Minsc to start with would be no riskier, and might actually be less risky because of the slightly reduced expectations.


sunshadow21 wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:

Doing an Elminster coming of age movie right out the door isn't going to work. Why? Because that's not the Elminster people know about. They mostly know him as Elminster the Arch Mage/the Sage/the old quasi-god dude.

So you have to establish him in the movie verse as that character before you can begin to look at his background.

I disagree; in fact, I think trying to establish him as an archmage first would be a mistake in this particular case. If you really want to hook the existing FR fans from all genres, actually explaining Elminster rather than simply having him be the mysterious figure in the shadows would actually be a very strong way of doing it. After all, a lot of people know the name, but the fact that not many have read his full actual story is a good thing in this case, and there is plenty of room for filling in details that those that have so they won't feel like they are being asked to rehash old stories.

Elminster is basically the Gandalf of FR. He's the iconic older, powerful wizard with a flowing beard and a floppy hat. Just as Fizban is his counter part in Dragonlance.

Trying to sell him off as something other than that is missing the point of using an iconic character as your selling point.
And, as Werthead pointed out too, he's still a far second to Drizzt when it comes to "fame."
A twin scimitar wielding dark skinned elf is such a staple in fantasy literature circles now. WotC even has huge posters and statues of him at conventions. Where are the Elminster statues?

I'm not saying that a coming of age movie about Elminster can't be good or interesting. It's just a movie that you might do much further down the line.


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I seriously doubt any FR character has enough 'name value' in the general public to assure nervous investors that a D&D movie will be well attended. Far better to cast a popular actor/actress in a prominent (original) role and make sure the film looks eye-popping.


GentleGiant wrote:

Trying to sell him off as something other than that is missing the point of using an iconic character as your selling point.

And, as Werthead pointed out too, he's still a far second to Drizzt when it comes to "fame." A twin scimitar wielding dark skinned elf is such a staple in fantasy literature circles now. WotC even has huge posters and statues of him at conventions. Where are the Elminster statues?

I'm not saying that a coming of age movie about Elminster can't be good or interesting. It's just a movie that you might do much further down the line.

The thing in favor of starting with it is that it's iconic enough to appeal to the existing fans without making feeling not current fans feel like they are missing something. Same with using a slightly more obscure FR character. It has to be a good movie first, and an FR movie second, and the problem with either Drizzt or an older Elminster is that so many people would focus on the FR part and the iconic character that it would be far more likely to get forgotten that it needs to be a good overall movie first before anyone, including FR fans, is going to be willing to watch it. Established lore and story is important, but you don't want to hamstring the writers too much, or risk alienating the potential fanbase, at the same time. The DC and Marvel movies don't really have that problem because comic book fans are used to having the established lore changed and rewritten on a regular basis; one more iteration to make it work as a movie is far less of a concern. It's a far bigger concern for translating FR because the lore for the most part, especially for any given character, is pretty stable once create. The fact that Drizzt is so popular and his story so stable would work against the people trying to create the actual movie; the same would be a difficulty with the older Elminster. In the end, trying to retell an existing novel in movie form is not a good way to go; book to movie translations are problematic in the best of circumstances, and this would be a situation where it would be closer to the worst of possible circumstances from the point of view from the director and writer, especially with the style of writing in most of the Drizzt novels. Finding new stories that could be written with the movie medium in mind while staying within and expanding the existing lore would be far more effective, and the early years of Elminster would provide the kind of fodder needed for such a story.

As for Elminster being less well known, how many cameos has he made in someone else's story vs Drizzt? I would be willing to bet a whole lot more; he's simply a more versatile character with natural tie ins to just about anything going on in FR. It's true that as a main character, he's not as well known, but overall, I would say he's right up there with Drizzt. He's the kind of character that no one really thinks about, but when he shows up, you're not particularly surprised either, and you'll eventually notice when he doesn't, even if it takes a while. Because he's a different type of character than Drizzt, you can't really compare the two directly. Also, Elminster is more of a sleeper character right now, while Drizzt is being actively marketed. Throw that marketing on Elminster, and he wouldn't take that long to reach the same level of status.


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Here's my problem with the current "famous character to ship the movie" scenario, whether it be Drizzt or Elminster: it ceases being a D&D movie and becomes a "that character" movie.

Now, don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong with having a movie being about that character! In fact, I love both ideas for movies!

But we're talking about (via the OP) a D&D movie. D&D is built to be a cooperative game. This poster illustrates why the movie Avengers, to my way of thinking, is a stronger "D&D" movie (although Fury being labelled "DM" is both accurate and has meta-story problems) than something built around either Drizzt or Elminster.

If we make a Drizzt movie or an Elminster movie out of D&D, people will walk away and go, "MAN! I want to play that guy next time!" And that's problematic. Very problematic. Not because they're not cool concepts or because "I hate the cl0nez" or whatever, but because neither of those are really "playable" in a cooperative game. Elminster is a phenomenal patron for PCs, and a decent solo-campaign player. Drizzt is just a great solo-campaign player. Neither lend themselves to being part of a group - the stories are just too "them"-focused. I will note that in their books it's often noted that Drizzt's companions accomplish something he could not, and Elminster relies on other people to get things done... but the movie is, ultimately, still all about them.

This is really why I mostly agree with,

QXL99 wrote:
I seriously doubt any FR character has enough 'name value' in the general public to assure nervous investors that a D&D movie will be well attended. Far better to cast a popular actor/actress in a prominent (original) role and make sure the film looks eye-popping.

... except, I'd suggest it better to cast at least four, if not more in said original roles.

And for how to do such a thing, I recommend starting like any good game session does: design the Adventure First, and then go from there.

1) Know what the adventure, the goal, the main problem is.

2) Then create characters of various "classes" (iconic skill sets) and "alignments" (clear, but not obnoxious, personalities). Make them individual enough that (like in Avengers) they might have personal friction (it will be a stressful situation, after all), but have certain ones relate well to others regardless - and make sure, ultimately, they're all strong allies for their own reasons. Hone the individual interactions and focus on those.

3) Then examine the Adventure they're going on, compare their skill sets and personality, and figure out how they'd accomplish their goals - how they'd individually prefer to do something (and what they'd say and do according to this), but then how the team would, as a whole.

4) Make sure that the rules that are followed are internally-consistent and relatively clear (in other parlance: pick a system, and run with it, even if you don't advertise what that system is).

The above four steps will create a D&D movie almost on their own. The really difficult thing to sell will be the characters. We need to love them... and that's going to be difficult. One of the secrets to the Avengers' success is that the Avengers didn't need to spend time introducing each of the characters and getting us to like them. We had six previous movies to do so.

The real challenge, then, will be to make the characters interesting and relateable* and interesting enough that we genuinely want to see what happens to them - genuinely care about them. More than all the hammy acting in the world, that's the main problem with the 2000 D&D movie's ending: we didn't care. They skipped over most of the interesting bits (with the magic map) that would have made us care about the relationship, and they never gave us reason to care about Snails - so no one really cared when he died, or when he came back.

Lord of the Rings, by comparison, accomplished this fairly well. We cared about Frodo, Sam, Mary, Pippin, Gandalf, Boromir, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir. We care about them enough that Frodo's near-death at the beginning is stressful, Gandalf's apparent death at the middle is shocking**, and Boromir's death at the end is moving.

Yes, it took us nearly three hours to get there, but I'm not really all that surprised. I'd suggest the half-hour shorter Avengers formula (I doubt people are going to sit for three hours for an unpublished work), but that makes the development much, much harder.

The benefit of the one-person movies is that we don't have to care about others nearly as much as the one person. The drawback is... it's not really "D&D"-ish enough, and threatens to have people come to the hobby hoping to get one thing (the experience they saw in the films) and ending up with something very different and re-alienating them from that disappointment.

Again, I'm not against an Elminster movie, or a Drizzt movie... but I'd recommend against making either of those the "D&D" movie.

And despite naysayers, I do think it can work. I just don't think anyone with the proper talent and dedication has been sold on it enough to do it.

Weirdly, despite the many elements I dislike about it, Book of Vile Darkness... isn't that bad. At the very least, it's fundamentally superior to the 2000 movie. The acting is better, the plot and pacing is better, and everything just seems to function a bit better. It's not great, by any stretch, but it's not as terrible as some I've seen. Its existence actually gives me hope that a genuinely good D&D movie could be made yet.

That's why I actually recommend grabbing a "have it all" pre-published adventure, like Sons of Gruumsh. The one adventure pretty thoroughly shows the gamut of what can happen in... well, an adventure. It has something for nearly every style most people who play the game would want. Create an adventure like that, and then show how the characters, through their own decisions, win. Death? Sure, it could happen. Running out of limited resources? Definitely could occur. Internal (and comprehensible) consistency while respecting the source material that came from? Necessity.

Oh, I did think of one amazingly good "D&D movie": Record of Lodoss War.

* Arg! Okay, what's the right spelling for this. Anyone know?
** Well, sort of. If you've not read the books or been spoiled.


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Quote:

relateable*

* Arg! Okay, what's the right spelling for this. Anyone know?

Relatable.


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it ceases being a D&D movie and becomes a "that character" movie.

Quite right, and desireable. It becomes a movie set in the D&D universe. That's what D&D as far as films or books is concerned: a common universe. There's no such thing as a 'D&D story' (three films has made that clear) unless it's a GAMERS/ZERO CHARISMA thing featuring people actually playing the game in RL. The mistake the previous three (!) movies made was trying to make an 'archetypal D&D movie' and discovering there's no such thing.


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Does anyone else think that, given the past examples of branded D&D movies, the producers of a licensed Drizzt/Elminster/whoever movie might try to disassociate it from the D&D brand, just to get the low budget nerd cooties off?


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Thanks, Orthos!
(I tried a dozen different spellings, including that one, but they all registered as "wrong".)

Werthead wrote:
Quote:
it ceases being a D&D movie and becomes a "that character" movie.
Quite right, and desireable. It becomes a movie set in the D&D universe. That's what D&D as far as films or books is concerned: a common universe. There's no such thing as a 'D&D story' (three films has made that clear) unless it's a GAMERS/ZERO CHARISMA thing featuring people actually playing the game in RL. The mistake the previous three (!) movies made was trying to make an 'archetypal D&D movie' and discovering there's no such thing.

I see why you say that, but I actually disagree. I think it shows a failure of people to grasp what a D&D movie is.

Avengers is a great D&D movie. So is Star Wars. So is the latter half of The Incredibles.

Lord of the Rings is a decent one.

Heck, Clue isn't bad as a D&D movie (for very specific types of games).

The only problem with a D&D movie is that people haven't taken the things that make ensemble movies great and apply those to D&D. They've been trying to make a standard "Fantasy" movie (with a singular protagonist) and bad or vague plots (and mediocre acting, at best).

That is why they haven't worked. It's not that "D&D" can't make a good movie. Just take a moderately comprehensive adventure (probably related to some D&D property or another), have a strong ensemble cast, and you're good to go for "a good D&D movie".

Heck, I will go out on a limb and say, the 2000 movie could have been a good movie. The problems with it have nothing to do with "D&D" and "movie" being in the same sentence.

1) Good Acting
2) A Strong Script
3) Internal Consistency
4) Relatable Characters

The 2000 movie had none of these. That was the (many!) failure-points of the movie, not that it was "D&D".

And, of course, Record of Lodoss War is the iconic example of D&D made into good filming.

Hitdice wrote:
Does anyone else think that, given the past examples of branded D&D movies, the producers of a licensed Drizzt/Elminster/whoever movie might try to disassociate it from the D&D brand, just to get the low budget nerd cooties off?

I suspect you're right, sadly.

However, given Hasbro's involvement, I suspect they won't succeed, at least not entirely. Which is actually a good thing.


Tacticslion wrote:
If we make a Drizzt movie or an Elminster movie out of D&D, people will walk away and go, "MAN! I want to play that guy next time!" And that's problematic. Very problematic. Not because they're not cool concepts or because "I hate the cl0nez" or whatever, but because neither of those are really "playable" in a cooperative game. Elminster is a phenomenal patron for PCs, and a decent solo-campaign player. Drizzt is just a great solo-campaign player. Neither lend themselves to being part of a group - the stories are just too "them"-focused. I will note that in their books it's often noted that Drizzt's companions accomplish something he could not, and Elminster relies on other people to get things done... but the movie is, ultimately, still all about them.

The sad truth is that unless you can get Joss Whedon to do the movie, pulling off a truly balanced ensemble script is an art that very few people can pull off, and even with the Avengers, all of the lead characters have their own movies and/or comic books to establish their basic character. As much as it would be nice to see them not have to rely on a primary "lead" character, the coop concept does not lend itself well to the movie environment without a lot of base support, something that no official D&D characters or groups have at this point. Even Lord of the Rings was stretching hard at times, and it had support from the original material. However, the right script with the right lead character could still retain large amounts of coop screen time and lay down the foundation for shifting the focus away from a single character in future scripts.

Greenwood's characters and writing style is the place to start looking at how to do it because he was trying to make a world as much as he was trying to tell a single, individual story. There's a reason that most of his characters are more obscure compared to Drizzt; even when they were the focus, they weren't the entire story, and eventually the story evolved to a point where they aren't the focus anymore. A similar approach could work if both Hasbro and the movie makers would be willing to take a long term approach, much like the current Marvel movies are working largely because Marvel is taking the long term approach and not trying to do it all in a single movie, or even a single trilogy. The true strength of D&D has always been the long term campaign, not the individual adventures, after all; specific goals shift, characters evolve, and ultimately, the focus is on the party as a whole, even if individual adventures may focus on one particular character to drive it. If you're going to translate that to movies effectively, you have to be willing to look not at a single movie or trilogy, but a long series of related movies. In that regard, among established characters, Elminster would be a more natural starting point than Drizzt, as his story already has much of that groundwork laid out whereas the Drizzt stories have evolved to be about one character, and it would take a lot more effort to evolve the story beyond being Drizzt centric.

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