“Hey look, the Dungeons & Dragons ride!”
Now I’m not old enough to see D&D in it’s hey day- but I know D&D quite well. The tabletop roleplaying hobby is one I’ve been a happy participant in for some years now and I’ve met some of the best people through this hobby.
The original cartoon featured six friends who go to a carnival and end up being transported to a magical realm where they take on the roles of typical fantasy characters and seek to find their way home with the help of the ‘Dungeon Master’, a little old man who helps them thwart the plots of the evil ‘Venger’ who tries to stop the kids from making their way home.
Now I don’t think kids go to fairgrounds much these days (don’t look at me I’m not a kid and I don’t own any)
It’s pretty standard fare for 80’s kids television but why does it have a spot on this list?
1. It’s Free Advertising
My first point is a little depressing but really, it’s a no brainer for Wizards of the Coast (the current owners of the D&D franchise) to put another cartoon into production- it advertises their game- D&D is in it’s 5th edition now and it’s more accessible than it’s ever been (I’m not posting any links here until Wizards send me my cheque). In the same vein as Masters of the Universe and Mighty Max, if there’s one thing cartoons have taught us it’s that they shift product. Plus with the kind of money they make off Magic: The Gathering, Netrunner and the thousand other trading card games, fantasy novels and board games they produce, you know the production values would be off the hook.
2, Kids Don’t Play D&D Anymore
More importantly, a D&D cartoon reaches out to kids to try roleplaying games. These are games based purely around the imagination; your character is as heroic as you envision them to be, the only limit to what you can do is the limits of your own mind; unlike a video game, there are no invisible walls or built in ‘game mechanics’- this is a kind of fun I feel kids (grumpy old man-not-really-that-old time) aren’t offered these days. So often kids have stories and interactive experiences presented to them on a silver platter—to have a game like D&D promoted on TV in the same way Pokemon, Transformers or (and I shudder) Beyblade would be a huge benefit to the brand. The fact the game is now a relative unknown to the average 12 year old means it’s ripe for a revamp.
3. Out With the Old, In With the. . .Old?
There are plenty of people I know older than me who remember D&D when it came in a red box- hell if you’re old enough it came in a white box (I’m not shaming and naming anybody here) and ‘elf’ was a class rather than a race.
Casual fictitious racism aside, D&D has gathered a tonne of fans over the years. To bring back the cartoon now with today’s edgier, (arguably) more lax view on what you can allow on children’s television means you could find a nice healthy middle ground between light-hearted fantasy adventure for the kids and dungeon-crawling pillaging monster bashing for the parents who perhaps spent many a night burning the midnight oil with a set of polyhedral dice.
More and more nowadays , cartoons are finding ways to subtly entertain both the parents sat watching these things with their children and the malleable, broad palette Dungeons& Dragons allows would make this tricky line an easy target for the show.