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Dungeons & Dragons, the unforgettable game of dungeons

A worldwide phenomenon, the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons has been around since 1974. With such an age, it could have been long forgotten, but never mind, it is regularly updated and has found its way to the big screen on several occasions. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson's game has even inspired one of the most popular Netflix series...

A little vocabulary

First of all, we need to talk about the French title 'Donjons & Dragons'. Without a thorough knowledge of the language of Shakespeare, we might think of it as an innocent translation of the English title 'Dungeons & Dragons'. But as you play the game, you soon realise that it's not really about dungeons, the famous towers that adorn medieval castles.

In fact, the English word 'dungeon' refers to an oubliette, a sort of prison where people you wanted to make disappear were thrown, without killing them directly. (But in real life, it seems that dungeons were simply cellars and that the myth of prisons was invented later... but never mind, let's get back to our dreams!)

The French translation simply wanted to keep the alliteration with a typical medieval term beginning with 'D' to accompany 'dragons'.

But things get tricky when he also has to kill good people to protect himself. And even more so as he loses his mind.

Medieval fantasy

The game, published by TSR (Tactical Studies Rumes - founded by the authors themselves) in 1974, takes place in a fantasy world. Although newcomers may see it as 'Lord of the Rings', in reality the inspiration comes mainly from medieval legends (King Arthur, Beowulf) as well as numerous fiction writers.

The second major source of inspiration comes from a game by Gary Gigax, a wargame called Chainmail. This medieval war game with 1:20 scale miniatures contained rules for mass combat and was expanded to include rules for single combat. It was accompanied by a few fantasy texts.

"Dungeons & Dragonsé is an evolution of Chainmail, with author Gary Gigax continuing his thinking to make the game more customisable.

An increasingly populated world

The world of Dungeons & Dragons is becoming increasingly populated with characters of many different species. At first, you had to make do with warriors, magicians and priests. Then came monks, druids, thieves and paladins. Later came trolls, elves, wizards and more.

The game's great appeal, and what has made it such a huge success, is that it takes into account individual characters, their attributes and their development.

A quick note: we had to wait until the 3rd edition of the game, in 2000, to see the appearance of the famous d20, the 20-sided polyhedral die. This is used to resolve actions and conflicts. Indeed, before this specific die, many actions had to be resolved according to a system of rules.

On screen in the 1980s

In 1983, the animated series "Dungeons & Dragons", also known as "Le Sourire du dragon" in French, made its mark and captivated viewers. Created by Kevin Paul Coates and Dennis Marks, this iconic series follows the adventures of a group of six teenagers who are thrust into the fantastic world of Dungeons & Dragons after a day at the funfair. Their journey takes them on a series of epic and thrilling adventures, where they must face fearsome dragons, solve complex puzzles and battle the forces of evil. Hailed for its vivid imagination and gripping action, the animated series helped popularise the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing universe among a wide audience, awakening interest in fantasy worlds and adventure stories among young and old alike.

On screen in the 80s

Since 2016, the Dungeons & Dragons universe has seen a resurgence of interest, thanks in particular to a hugely popular Netflix series: 'Stranger Things'. This iconic series, created by the Duffer Brothers, plunges viewers into the 1980s and features a group of children who get together to play the famous role-playing game. D&D's influence on popular culture was also underlined by its first appearance in Steven Spielberg's 1982 film "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial".

This series, with its 5th season scheduled for 2024 or 2025, has rekindled interest in this mythical game, reinforcing its position in the world of board games and entertainment. With its unique blend of fantasy, adventure and imagination, Dungeons & Dragons continues to captivate players around the world, offering a gaming experience unmatched since its first edition in 1974.

In cinemas and at Shop for Geek

The game's universe has already been adapted for the big screen four times, by Courtney Solomon (2000), Gerry Lively (2005 and 2012) and the duo Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (2023). This latest film, "Dungeons & Dragons: Honour of Thieves", is intended as a reboot of the franchise. It has to be said that the first three films never really managed to appeal to a wide audience. The 2023 film is seen as more sympathetic, comic and honest.

In any case, in our geek shop you can find all sorts of goodies and accessories from the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. Figurines, illustrated accessories, puzzles, posts and other decorative items.