Zich’nyyrl shifted his taloned feet as the overlord spoke.
“You should be returned to the maelstrom for your latest failure, but I am a kind ruler,” it hissed. “Beyond the gate lies a land rich in the mineral we require, inhabited by mindless savages. Zich’nyyrl, you are to take this token through the gate, contact the savages and negotiate a purchase of the land. We have amassed large quantities of this soft, worthless metal the savages hold precious, in addition to numerous polished rocks they hold similarly dear, which we will offer in exchange for the land.
“After passing through the gate, you are to make contact with our scouts at base camp, then present the savages with this token, through which they may request as much of their “currency” or any other payment their primitive minds may desire. Report your success to me, and your rank will be restored. If you fail, you know what awaits you.”
Worlds away, Nezedhra, Priestess of Avandra, bristled at her latest assignment. Investigate reports of foulspawn entering from the Far Realm, in the Dreadbogs, in the dead of winter? Her friends, all boon companions of a dozen quests, uttered no complaint when they heard of her assignment, since they knew her status as the most junior member of the order. Secretly, though, they all hoped that another acolyte would take orders soon, so that such undesirable quests could be assigned to the newest junior member.
Amazingly, Zich’nyyrl and Nezedhra met without conflict, and the latter agreed to send a messenger to the temple carrying the foulspawn’s offer. Unfortunately, word of the offer – and of the wondrous token through which someone could ask and receive virtually anything – quickly spread outside the temple walls. Even now, agents from every temple, government, cult, bandit gang and wizards’ academy are swarming toward the Dreadbogs, seeking the priestess to influence what will be asked or steal the item, even though she doesn’t even know how to use the item to ask on their behalf.
This was no assignment for a junior priestess.
Some may recognize the basic plot outlined above as being remarkably similar to a science-fiction film, “The Prototypes,” which was made for television this year. The synopsis for the film appears on this page of the Internet Movie Database.
The database contains entries from thousands of films, most of which offer a synopsis or full plot summary. These summaries, modified to fit into a Medieval fantasy setting, can provide background material for legends, rumors and complete adventures in a Dungeons & Dragons game.
IMDB allows visitors to search the database in numerous ways, including:
- By genre – the example above came from searching “science fiction.”
- By plot – using keywords such as “sword” or “betrayal” yields interesting results
- By character – adapting situations and personality traits from favorite characters, particularly villains, can be a great help to the DM
One of the strengths of using this site for plot inspiration is that it covers multiple genres. Most conflicts presented in any movie can be modified to suit a D&D setting, often by substituting technology with magic or rituals. Clearly, the plots of fantasy films are more easily carried into a D&D game, but the DM must be cautious not to use material from films the players may know. Even then, the sheer number of database entries is sufficient to keep a dungeon master (DM) busy for years, giving rise to the title of this post.