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D&D: Honor Among Thieves Playfully Addresses Fan Criticism In '80s Cartoon Throwback

An outcry erupted among "Dungeons and Dragons" players when the first teaser trailer for "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" arrived in July 2022. The trailer depicted the druid Doric, played by Sophia Lillis, transforming into an owlbear to maul some soldiers before returning to her tiefling form. The problem, according to "D and D" players, is that the famed tabletop roleplaying game does not allow druids to become owlbears.

But "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" has released a clever retort in the form of a short animated clip on the Paramount Pictures YouTube channel. The clip is rendered in the style of the 1983 "Dungeons and Dragons" cartoon, and depicts an adventuring party being shown the offending moment from the trailer. When the party's paladin, a human named Eric, insists that a druid cannot transform into an owlbear, and that "rules are rules for a reason," another party member calls him a "rules lawyer," a disparaging term for a player who gets too hung up on the rules to enjoy the game. The apparent dungeon master responds, "Ah, but the first rule is, if I say it's okay, it's okay. And also, Eric, you suck."

Though some say a "Dungeons and Dragons" movie should take itself seriously, the gnomish dungeon master in the '80s throwback has a solid point: the rule of cool abides. 

The rule of cool abides in the D and D movie

The humorous response from the "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" team is tongue-in-cheek, but it's a reasonable response to fan criticism. The dungeon master in the YouTube clip is invoking an ancient "D and D" precept called the "rule of cool," which states that bending the rules is okay if the result is sufficiently badass. Allowing a druid to transform into an owlbear certainly meets those criteria.

However, fans are correct that the transformation is not technically allowed. Druids generally rely on the "wild shape" spell to take on the physical appearance of an animal, but the rules for that spell only allow the caster to become a beast. An owlbear is an amalgamation of bear and owl, and is therefore technically not a beast. Instead, the game categorizes it as a monstrosity, since beasts must be naturally occurring in-universe. There is a high level spell called "shapechange" that would technically make the owlbear transmogrification possible, as it allows the caster to become anything other than an undead or a construct, but it's unclear whether Doric has reached that level in the "Dungeons and Dragons" movie.

But again, as any seasoned player knows, each dungeon master picks and chooses the rules their table follows. It's part of what keeps each campaign unique. If "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" wants a druid to become an owlbear, you can either accept it or find a different game.