Despite its cast of modern stars, including Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez, the movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves throws back to the game’s heyday in the 1980s. In addition to cameo appearances by a gelatinous cube and the green-flame blade, Pine’s bard Edgin Darvis and Rodriguez’s barbarian Holga Kilgore pass by a notable sextet.
Viewers of a certain age might recognize the six fellow adventurers as Hank the ranger, Eric the cavalier, Diana the acrobat, Presto the magician, Sheila the thief, and Bobby the barbarian. Fans first met these six heroes in 1983, when the cartoon show Dungeons & Dragons premiered on CBS. Produced by Marvel and TSR, publishers of the game guidebook, Dungeons & Dragons ran for 27 episodes across three seasons.
As shown in the opening that ran with each episode, the six heroes were regular teens in the real world who boarded a Dungeons & Dragons roller coaster, only to find themselves transported into the fantasy world and given weapons. Guiding the heroes is the dungeon master, a kindly wise man voiced by Sydney Miller, and their pet unicorn Uni, voiced by Frank Welker. Along the way, the heroes battle against the forces of Venger (voiced by Transformers‘ Peter Cullen), an evil wizard and son of the Dungeon Master. The series also featured appearances by the five-headed dragon Tiamat, one of the most notable monsters in Dungeons & Dragons lore.
Adding to the richness of the show was a creative team far above what one normally found in Saturday Morning fare. Animation from Japanese studio Toei Animation gave the show a more fluid and dynamic look than many of its competitors. Even better, Dungeons & Dragons had an impressive writing staff, beginning with lead developer Mark Evanier, a protegee of Jack Kirby and veteran of comics and tv. Other writers included Steve Gerber, creator of Howard the Duck, and Paul Dini, co-creator of Batman: The Animated Series.