The Dungeon Masters
What is your review for the informative documentary called, "The Dungeon Masters"?
"The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy." -- Sun Tzu, The Art of War
An evil drow-elf is displaced by Hurricane Katrina. A sanitation worker lures friends into a Sphere of Annihilation. A failed supervillain starts a cable access show involving ninjas, puppets, and a cooking segment. These are the characters, real and imagined, of The Dungeon Masters: Against the backdrop of crumbling middle-class America, two men and one woman devote their lives to Dungeons and Dragons, the storied role-playing game, and its various descendants. As their baroque fantasies clash with mundane real lives, the characters find it increasingly difficult to allay their fear, loneliness, and disappointment with the game's imaginary triumphs. Soon the true heroic act of each character's real life emerges, and the film follows each as he or she summons the courage to face it. Along the way, The Dungeon Masters reimagines the tropes of classic heroic cinema, creating an intimate portrait of minor struggles and triumphs writ large.
The Dungeon Masters documentary covers the aspect of role-playing Dungeons and Dragons in various situations. For instance D&D in a LARP or table top setting is shown. The focuses on some Dungeon Masters who have a different approach to the game but one thing in common - personal problems stemming from an abusive past. Not that they were abusive but victims of abuse in some way or the other. The main names involved are:
* Scott Corum, an apartment manager and hopeful writer
* Elizabeth Reesman, a web designer and dark elf
* Richard Meeks, reserve Airforce technician and retired GM
* Mandy Butler, friend to Scott Corum
Although you get an all around feel for how people interact in the world of D&D the documentary lacked in many ways. One thing that especially needed help is the history of D&D and how you start. It would have been nice if they at least spent five minutes on the game itself by talking about its history and how one creates a character. This is mentioned somewhat but only if you have already played will you understand.
The other part that lacked was positive experiences. It seemed that the documentary The Dungeon Masters wanted to shed a negative light on the game as though only people with challenged lives tend to get involved in D&D as a way to release.
If you have seen The Dungeon Masters I will be interested in your review.
I saw "The Dungeon Masters". It is definitely a documentary but some places refer to it as a "movie". The woman who dressed up as the elf must be really dedicated because there is no way I will cover myself like that. Does she do that just for conventions? I did not understand the part about the apt. Manager, there was very little on him being a GM and more about just his personal life. That one woman who wanted to be his agent was really weird.
Actually I invited Scott Corum to join the Community and tell us more. His intro Thread is here: Source 8 He did tell me that he did not get a book done yet but has a new RPG out that is also covered here: Source 9
I got the permission to share this from Scott Corum in a recent message back and forth with him:
The documentary ended up being much more about the lives of the people in it than the game - the fact that we were all DMs was the framework for the movie, but it was more about the lives of people struggling in difficult times than the game itself.
The DVD extras actually has a little more of me GMing (a World of Darkness 4th Edition Mage game), and a few embarrassing gaming stories.
That was an interesting part of my life, and a very difficult one. The film crew was actually present on a couple of different days where I got my soul crushed a little bit. I've moved forward considerably since that time, but it's actually very inspirational for me to go back and watch the documentary every so often, so I can measure how far I've come.
Incidentally, my friend Mandy secured a divorce from her husband about a year after filming wrapped up, and is currently with someone else who seems to be a much better fit for her.
My agent and I have a much better understanding, as well; I'm handling my fiction titles, these days, and she has first right of refusal on my non-fiction work. I'm in the process of writing a self-help book, which she feels there's a good market for.
You also refer to it as both a movie and documentary is there a reason for that? I did not see the extra parts only the main part. It would have been cool to see you running a game. They focused on the guy with the hat as the main GM which was ironic because by the end he retired it all. Mandy is the lady with specs who was helping you on the set? Talking about that, those clips you made were for local or cable?
I suppose I refer to it both as a "movie" or a "documentary" mostly as a result of a lack of precision. If you go see something in a theater or watch it routinely on DVD the colloquialism for the media is "movie." Besides - after having cameras on me for eight hours a day over the course of two years, it sure felt like someone was shooting a movie.
Yes, Mandy is the woman with the glasses who helped me produce Uncle Drak's Magical Clubhouse and directed the episode. It was made for local cable, but the show can be seen on YouTube. A search for UncleDrak should turn it up.
I keep contemplating another episode, but time and schedules have not been kind in that regard.