Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising

My Rating: 9/10  

All Lodge wants is for his gaming group to finish their adventure. Unfortunately, they're more interested in seducing barmaids, mooning their enemies, and setting random villagers on fire. Desperate to rein in his players, Lodge injects two newbies into the scene: a non-player character controlled by Lodge, who the power gamers immediately distrust, and the rarest gamer of all -- a girl. Can the group overcome their bickering to save the kingdom, or will the evil necromancer Mort Kemnon triumph unopposed? A parody of fantasy films and the adventure gaming community, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising is a hilarious romp through the world of sword and sorcery -- in this case, a world of exploding peasants, giant house cats, and undead roast turkeys. Game on!  

Funniest comedy I've seen in roughly forever. Funnier by far than all the Hollywood comedies I've seen lately, even topping Black Dynamite. You have to have played a lot of tabletop D&D to appreciate it. It's an ultra low budget flick filmed on a student income with SPFX done on PCs, about a group of D&D players struggling with their DM who (like all DMs) wants to write an epic fantasy story to rival Tolkien, but instead struggles constantly to keep his players from destroying the plot and looting his world. EVERY D&D player will laugh at this movie. We were cracking up constantly. My friend Paul will recognize all of our group, especially including the pincushion (and Hellion. And the DM-provided nanny NPC). Truly demonstrates why bards are the silliest class ever.

"Quick, everyone! Take shelter behind the mound of dead bards!"

Hilariously quotable:
Brother Silence: As if killing the bard impresses us.

Flynn the Fine: [singing] Shut up, dear peasant, rest your head. Or I'll have the sorceress kill your ass dead.

Flynn the Fine: What is that heavenly music?
Priestess: The Hymn to Therin. It calls to our goddess.
Leo: [voice-over] I seduce the priestess!
Lodge: [voice-over] She's taken a vow of celibacy!
Leo: [voice-over] Dude, 20 ranks in seduction!
Flynn the Fine: [to priestess] Hey, baby. Wanna tune my mandolin?
[rolls and the priestess and Flynn leave the room]
Daphne: [to Hierophant] Please understand the horny Bard does not represent us.
I have to stress very heavily that you will suffer through the first ten minutes of this. It begins awfully, with an SCA-type microbudget scene of a D&D party fighting monsters and painted walls, then segues directly into a typical D&D table argument over rule minutia which is downright painful to sit through. I was wondering whether I was going to be able to stand to watch it. Stick with it!

As it progresses, you get to see every funny thing you ever experienced in D&D played out on screen. The enjoyment improves massively with the introduction of the girl player, the newbie who has a fighter with low strength and high charisma (So she can talk her way out of situations without having to fight everything they meet), who is the only one actually roleplaying her character in a party of power gamers. The interaction between her and the DM and the band of players who just want to pillage the landscape, frying peasants and asking how much XP they get for killing cows, is hilarious. 

The movie transitions back and forth from the real world to the game world, where all the scenes are shot in cheap SCA costumes and phony sets. This is because it's a micro-budget movie, but it works wonderfully to convey the sort of tacked-together feel of typical D&D fantasy adventures. It is loaded with classic touches, such as the male player playing a female character, who does the typical thing of playing her exactly like a male character with boobs, and whose in-game persona fluctuates back and forth between a female actress and himself in a dress, depending on whether he has remembered he's supposed to be playing a female or not.

If you see screen shots or clips from this, you'll be put off by the videorecorder look. It looks terrible from the start and you'll be wondering how the hell this can be any good. Once you start getting into the characters and the story, though, that all goes away, and you start LOLing all the way to the end at the visual representation of every silly aspect of RPGing that you've ever experienced, from the insanity of bards singing in battle to boost party morale, to the one with the hit bonuses so high that every strike is a critical hit (I hit him in the throat. I hit him in the throat again. I hit him in the throat again.) to those wonderful moments when someone rolls a 1.

(Also, I should add that if you enjoy Knights of the Dinner Table, you'll enjoy this, because a lot of the humor is the same)

I have no idea how this would play to anyone who hasn't at some point been a tabletop gamer, or at least played multiplayer RPGs.  But really, if you weren't a tabletop D&D player at some point in your school years, what are you doing reading this blog?  Go back to your sports bar.

Suggested Accompaniment:  My favorite D&D snack experience in high school was a concoction my friend Mark dubbed the Blasphemous Batch.  Get yourself a bucket.  Pour in whole milk and about half a bottle of chocolate milk syrup and stir like mad.  Add many scoops of fudge-ripple ice cream, squirt on creamy topping, and slather the entire floating bucket of glop with chocolate sauce.  Add a long bendy straw, then slurp for the next two hours.  Perfect for revving up the hyper-inflated sugar buzz needed to cope with a table full of gamers all talking at once.  Energy drinks are for wussies.