Oct 012014

If you’ve had kids, you’ve watched cartoons. And admit it, you liked some of them. Maybe most of them.

If you had kids in the 80’s, you watched 80’s cartoons. Transformers, G.I. Joe, and more, but especially for those of us in the geek set, Dungeons & Dragons.

The animated adventures of a bunch of kids magically transported to a realm of D&D, the series lasted two or three seasons before getting the hook. It was not a great cartoon; but it was our cartoon, one for those of us who loved the tabletop RPG, and so it became beloved in spite of itself.

I sort of felt that I had to love it, being the D&D guy that I was (and still am), although the rational part of me recognized it as designed to appeal to a mass market. And to be brutally honest it was not all that well done. But nonetheless, there it was and there we were, and besides, if you believe the rumors then the cartoon (and the efforts to get a D&D movie made) probably got Gary Gygax in a hot tub with Hollywood starlets. So it had some value to someone even if not one that directly impacted the audience.

But I digress. I was not in a hot tub with anyone, I was in an untidy yet tiny house room filled with the detritus and cacophony associated with raising three small children simultaneously. And so we watched Dungeons & Dragons, every episode.

The main plot was about a group of six children who were brought to the world of Dungeons and Dragons by magic and were trying to find their way back home; something that would be obstructed by the main bad guy Venger, or circumstance, or sometimes by the machinations of the supposedly good guy Dungeon Master. I always wondered about that Dungeon Master guy. He could have just sent them home immediately, right in episode 1 (although that would make for a very short cartoon series), but he seemed to be manipulating the kids for reasons of his own.

The series was cancelled before we learned why, but according to at least one source, it would have eventually surfaced that in fact Dungeon Master was using the kids to restore balance to his world (and Venger would turn out to be his son). So indeed, Dungeon Master was evil after all. If you define “evil” as someone who kidnaps children, completely against their will, and repeatedly exposes them to pain, suffering and the threat of immediate death.

It never does get better for those poor kids.

Although I’d noticed this before, for some reason it smacked me in the cerebrum the other day while running the quest Fear Factory. We know what happened to those kids! Or at least someone at Turbine with a very dark sense of humor has chosen to fill us in on one possible ending.

First there is a door, with moaning behind it, and a DM voiceover warning that the sounds are very disturbing. The door is locked and barred. Whatever is back there has been for a long time.

Opening the door reveals four zombies:

Bobby the Barbarian Eric the Cavalier
Presto the Magician Hank the Ranger


The colors, costumes and roles all match. The kids never found their way home, and have been at it so long they grew up, and even more, somehow got zombified.

But some are missing?

Dungeon & Dragons cartoon heroesMagician, Cavalier, Thief, Acrobat, Barbarian, Ranger


The Thief and the Acrobat are not in the room. For that matter, nor is the goofy unicorn. Where are they?


Rush the door!

Ah hah! They may be zombies, but they’re still in the game! The ranger is still providing leadership, still trying to get the party back together, still fighting to get home! Go zombies, go!

Except no, my characters are forced to chop them up. Sadly, I might add. Although I comfort myself a little with the thought that they are already dead, so who knows, all I’ve done is kill them a little more. Maybe they’ll be back.

Still I am wondering. Where are the girls?

Further exploration of the quest shows another mystery.

Diana the AcrobatDeceased Acrobat

Inspection of the corpse (identified as “Deceased Acrobat”) shows that she was stabbed viciously in the back. Like a thief would do.

And there is no sign of the thief. Where are you Sheila? You didn’t do this, did you? You didn’t cut some kind of deal with that deranged Dungeon Master to get yourself home at the expense of all the others did you? What about Bobby the Barbarian? He’s your little brother!

I think it was not Sheila the Thief. I think it was that twisted little unicorn Uni. I bet those backstab wounds on the Acrobat are unicorn-horn-shaped. And poor Sheila, we never found her body because the little monster probably ate her.

Poor Sheila. And poor kids overall, not a happy ending, not at all.

It never pays to trust the Dungeon Master. Never. Even when I am the DM.

Especially when I am the DM.

🙂 😀 🙂

  11 Responses to “A Dark Turn For Beloved Characters”

Comments (11)
  1. Thanks for that Geoff.

  2. I can’t like this blog enough!

    Also, I have them on DVD….

  3. You, sir, are a genius…with way too much time on his hands. I would have never noticed these things but these NPCs names are almost definitely a reference to the D&D TV show.

  4. And that show is why I, and many others, are calling for a unicorn cosmetic pet.. then there will be a small (heh) but noticeable community of greatclub-wielding (cosmetically speaking at least) halfling barbarians.

  5. The saddest part of all: The FCC and cable TV has completely nerfed Saturday animation in the U.S. It completely ceases to exist, even on the CW. Talk about a backstabbing.

    • That sounds sad when you say it like that. But now there are cartoons available 24/7. Even an entire Cartoon Network. I guess Saturday AM just got a little redundant.

      • It’s still sad because the “animation” often seen on CN is terribly poor in quality and content. There’s no way that stuff would be on broadcast TV. It’s “bread and circuses” for non-discerning kids, rather than animation such as “Scooby Doo” (of which I was never a fan) that allowed you to think a bit. The “Schoolhouse Rock” series packed more E/I punch in its years (and still does) than anything ever aired. Frankly, networks got lazy and never discerned animation as anything but “for kids,”when in fact, adults loved it too, provided it didn’t provide dumbed-down cruft like we see on CN. I don’t have cable, but Boomerang would be my only subscription if I could take it. Animation quality needed to be at “Batman: TAS” or better levels for serious consumption, but obviously that’s too expensive for some; sports programming has more $$ value.

        Saturday AM on the broadcast side changed because of a larger market to find animation. They didn’t consider the poor quality of that animation. I’m plugged into Hulu for any anime there, whose worst stuff is often better than what U.S. producers think is their best.

        • I probably misread that but are you are holding up Scooby Doo as an example of what to achieve in animation?

          Maybe it got better in more recent versions but in the past it was horribly animated with the exact same valueless plot (and exact same script) every episode. It seemed like the whole point was to reuse as many frames from one episode as possible.

          I am probably spoiled, but I grew up on classic Warner Bros stuff (Bugs Bunny etc), where they animated the entire frame, not just the lips, and where the scripts were written to appeal to all ages.

          Cartoons were originally animated short movies, but sometime around Scooby Doo they turned into animated long commercials.

          Ever since Adult Swim the animation has gotten even worse, although the stories are getting better again.

          Flintstones? Simpsons? Griffins? We’re not counting animation that is intended for prime time in this discussion are we?

What do you think?

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