D&D: Honor Among Thieves

Honor among thieves

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a movie based on the pen-and-paper roleplaying game that we all know and love. I saw it a few days ago. Let’s have a look.

Honor Among Thieves plot

Edgin is a thief. Well, more a bard/rogue multi-class adventurer. He has a heart-braking backstory about his wife and daughter, and the movie starts with him and his companion Holga escaping from a prison in the icy wastes north of Icewind Dale. He was imprisoned there after a failed attempt to steal a magic artifact and riches from his old employers, the Harpers. An artifact he wants to use to resurrect his dead wife.

Edgin travels south, to Neverwinter, to try and reunite with his daughter. However, as it turns out, his old companion Forge has taken Edgin’s daughter and his winnings from their failed heist, to become a lord of Neverwinter. Forge tries to kill Edgin and Holga, and they set out on an epic quest to rescue Edgin’s daughter.

D&D galore

If you’re an avid D&D player like me, you may have already recognized the names ‘Icewind Dale’ and ‘Neverwinter’. Those are — of course — places in the world of Faerûn, home to the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Forgotten Realms is one of the most famous campaign settings of D&D. It’s the setting of video games like Eye of the Beholder, Baldur’s Gate, and Neverwinter Nights, to name a few. Honor Among Thieves also features Owlbears, Gelatinous Cubes, and Displacer Beasts. And if you don’t know those terms, Google them, or go and play some D&D. Or don’t, because knowing them isn’t required to follow the movie.

The whole movie really feels like a D&D campaign. The way the characters act, the way they think, the way they come up with weird convoluted plans — it all screams D&D.

However, aside from that, it’s also a fun movie. No, it doesn’t make an enormous amount of sense. It’s cheesy, and weird, but — but! At its core, it’s a good story. Maybe it’s not the most original movie ever, but as I’ve written before, originality is overrated. It’s all in the execution. And I think the execution is good.

To me, good stories have people in them who feel real, and who act consistently. And that’s what this movie has. The characters are not idiots, and they don’t act out of character to push the plot a certain way. They just do what D&D players do: think up weird plans and go with them.

The verdict

I still remember the awfulness of the D&D movie from 2000. I haven’t seen the sequels to that one (I think there are two), but I don’t think they were much better. The problem with the 2000 movie, aside from Jeremy Irons overacting and the guy with the purple lipstick, was that it didn’t want to be a D&D movie. You’d think a movie based on the Dungeons & Dragons game would want to use the rich world of that game, but it didn’t. It was a silly, generic fantasy movie that had no sense of humor, and no link to D&D.

Honor Among Thieves did not fall into the same trap. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it does take the source material seriously. The source material is silly enough on its own to be funny, and if you’ve played D&D for any length of time, you’ll have run into weird applications of ‘Speak with Dead’ spells, wild shape, and deadly confrontations that you escaped with a quip or a your bardic song.

Instead of Jeremy Irons overacting a cardboard villain, Honor Among Thieves has Hugh Grant playing a misguided but charming conman. Instead of a cardboard rogue, we have Chris Pine who has a character with an arc. And on top of that, it manages to start the movie off with him explaining his backstory as a person at a D&D table might without it feeling clunky.

All in all, I loved this movie.

…And I want to play more D&D now.

Martin Stellinga Written by:

I'm a science fiction and fantasy author/blogger from the Netherlands