In light of recent events surrounding Dungeons and Dragons, the tabletop game’s future has never been less certain. However, with the impending release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, we could soon witness the nearly 50-year-old game change forever.
2023 has already been a busy year for Dungeons and Dragons, with the leak of the controversial OGL license, The Legend of Vox Machina, and the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie dominating the news. By the end of the year, however, the game could look very different indeed.
Ultimately, with the core foundations changing and the mainstream media beginning to catch wind of the successful tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons has never been more uncertain, with its future either proving to be more successful than players have ever seen before, or disappearing into the void of a Bag of Holding.
The increasing popularity of Dungeons and Dragons
Before looking into the future of the game, it’s important to briefly dive into the past of Dungeons and Dragons and its dip into mainstream media back in the 1980s during what’s best known as the ‘Satanic Panic’ era.
Explored most recently through Stranger Things, Dungeons and Dragons reached the spotlight for the first time in the 1980s for all the wrong reasons — with some in the mainstream media viewing the game as a gateway to the occult.
While that controversy slowly disappeared, the game did not. Instead, Dungeons and Dragons rose in popularity, especially in the early 2010s with the emergence of D&D 5th edition in 2014 and the introduction of popular creators like Critical Role and Dimension 20 who continue to bring the game to a much wider audience.
Now, in 2023 the tabletop game is more popular than ever – but how far can it go?
From media to mainstream
Dungeons and Dragons reappeared in mainstream media soon after the surging popularity of Stranger Things Season 4, with the game being heavily featured throughout. Since then, the previously niche game has slowly and quietly been sweeping through the world, only increasing in popularity with every new book, episode, and conversation surrounding both Stranger Things and D&D as a whole.
Coupled with the ever-growing audience behind shows like Critical Role has exponentially increased this games footing in both the gaming world and the film and TV industry.
Soon after these successes, the animated series Legend of Vox Machina was born, proving to the world that, unlike some of the past iterations, this hit TTRPG can be as fun to watch as it is to play. On top of this, the show highlighted how much potential lies behind the expanding world of Dungeons and Dragons 5e, with the capability to convey epic battles along with heartfelt emotions, all encased in a glorious mixture of magic and monsters.
The 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons saw arguably Wizards of The Coast’s most successful years yet. The Open Game Licence (1.0) allowed fans from all walks of life to contribute to the vast expanse of the game’s lore while creators were able to promote their own worlds with their own characters, allowing fans to play as anything from a mystical rune-covered spellcaster to a wise turtle musician.
However, in recent weeks, D&D has been placed into turmoil. On January 4, 2023, an updated OGL was leaked, detailing a more restrictive license that outraged fans, caused an outcry, and led to vast unsubscriptions and calls for change.
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The game is under fire again, but this time from the fans. The controversy comes just three months before one of the biggest Dungeons and Dragons movies hits theatres worldwide, forcing many to question how important the upcoming film is to the future of this age-old game.
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves – a turning point
In light of recent events surrounding Wizards of the Coast, it has become increasingly apparent that Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has a lot riding on its shoulders.
Filled with A-list actors, an interesting storyline, and a true(ish)-to-book background, this film has the potential to succeed beyond anyone’s imagination. If the movie is a hit among critics, fans, and viewers who have never heard of D&D then this will vastly open up the world to the TTRPG and will likely inspire thousands to learn how to play and join a campaign of their own.
The move to mainstream media will likely introduce conversations surrounding TTRPGs, promoting more people to come together and create a vast world around them, working together as they solve puzzles, fight battles, and live life through their characters.
Ultimately, if Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves succeeds, it could pave the way for this previously controversial game to truly cement itself across the world. Inspiring more creativity, discussions, and iterations through TV shows, Films, books, and more
However, as seen through a variety of video game movies, like Assassins Creed, or the older D&D movies, there’s an entirely likely chance that the film will flop, with fans either feeling like it doesn’t represent the game well enough, or it not grabbing the attention of critics and those who’ve never heard of D&D.
In that case, we have to step back and look at Dungeons and Dragons as a whole, with the impending OneDnD version coming soon, and analyze what its future may become.
The uncertain future of Dungeons and Dragons
There are two ways the future of D&D can go, and it undeniably feels like Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a sort of crossroads for the franchise.
The first is that the film is a huge success, inviting fans new and old to talk about the game and the upcoming TV show. This could serve to introduce thousands of new players into the fray and thus many will be hearing about the game for years to come, with it now rapidly enveloping itself in mainstream media. Those new players will soon be met with the upcoming edition, OneD&D. At that point, with the increased popularity, it wouldn’t matter whether players move over to the new edition or stay with 5e as the game will be loved enough for huge fanbases to exist on multiple editions.
However, if this movie fails to succeed, Dungeons and Dragons could be in jeopardy. Fans are currently disgruntled by the plans detailed by Wizards of The Coast and some are looking for other great TTRPGs to explore. Due to this, the game has never been so unstable and an unsuccessful iteration as big as this film will be upon release could be the final push to bring Dungeons and Dragons into a pit that will take decades to climb out of.
These are all predictions, naturally, but it certainly feels like we are at a stage never-before-seen in Dungeons and Dragons. The solving of the OGL 1.1 license and the success (or failure) of the movie could, without a doubt, change the future of D&D forever, for better or for worse.