Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness Thoughts

So, there comes a point in every role-player’s life. At this point, they’ve played a few different campaigns, a few different characters, but there has always been one this that at least one of the DMs they’ve had have never allowed.

Playing an evil character.

The DMs will argue that having evil characters just doesn’t work in their game. It’ll ruin the plot and cause characters to fight and why would the rest of the party allow Ethelred the Adulterer to travel with them, especially after the damage he caused to the Temple of Boccob when they needed the priest to give them his blessing to enter the Sanctum of Magic and repair the Crown of Marragin? But I digress…..

The point is, at this point, the bright eyed and bored role-player wants to try his hand at slaughtering villagers instead of saving them, of holding the princess for ransom instead of rescuing her. In comes the evil campaign

The evil campaign is the ultimate gamer cathartic experience. They get to try their hand at “more complex characters” with “deeper back-stories”. A lot of the time, this is baloney. They just wanna smash stuff and get rewarded for it, instead of chastised for their insolence by the DM.

The Book of Vile Darkness is the third installment in the D&D movie franchise. If the first movie was the franchise in it’s infancy (and let’s face it, it wet the bed), and the second movie was the more mature flick that had some better indication of what it wanted to be, then the third film is the adult realization of the bunch. And I do mean adult. Apparently, if the mature content disclaimer on the front of the D&D splatbook of the same name is any indication, then the nudity and “mature themes” in this movie are well expected.

The film features Grayson Azreal, newly knighted member of the Knights of the New Sun, a coterie of knights dedicated to the Sun God, Pelor and the eradication of all evil. Every knight during their initiation prays to Pelor hoping to gain his divine blessing, but no knight has in over 800 years, but they still get to be knights, so it’s not that bad. Grayson is butthurt that he wasn’t the one to awaken the blessing of his deity, but before he can sulk too much, the knights are ambushed, and Grayson is the only survivor, his father carried off by the baddies. Grayson denounces his faith, and rushes off to find his father. He soon discovers the best method to achieve his goal is to join a group of evildoers on their quest to locate the pieces of the titular Book of Vile Darkness and present them to the man who kidnapped Grayson’s father.

Forced to to terrible things like murder in cold blood, break his vow of chastity, lie, cheat, and steal in order to fit in with the group and not arouse suspicions that he is more than just a man-at-arms looking for gold. Eventually it gets to the point that when he reaches his father, he’s decked out in black armor, carrying a cool wicked-looking vorpal blade, has a scar on the side of his face, and his father thinks that he’s just gone totally evil. This led to one of the facepalmiest realizations I’ve ever had. Gray-SON. His entire quest revolves around engaging in morally GRAY activities on a quest to rescue is FATHER. Clever writers, very clever…

I think this is the strongest out of the three Dungeons & Dragons films, and the purest example of the evil campaign done right. The film has relaxed a little on the previous installment’s penchant for referencing the source material while still presenting the casual role-player with enough Dungeons & Dragons-y things to call it self a D&D flick. Bonus points for including the Slaymate from the Libris Mortis splatbook in what is genuinely a very creepy scene. If you can find this movie, check it out. It’s my personal favorite of the lot, and is a great way to cap off a series that has until now really dragged.


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