In recent years, the fantasy genre has become quite the fad and is gaining unprecedented traction, especially on the small screen, be it the grandiosity of “Rings of Power,” the spin-off series of the most revered high fantasy “Lord of the Rings,” or the political intrigue of “House of the Dragon,” the prequel series of fan-favorite low fantasy “Game of Thrones.” With every major studio aiming to create a franchise using popular IPs, the choicest among them being superhero fiction, space sci-fi, and fantasy, it was about time that the legendary tabletop role-playing high fantasy game “Dungeons & Dragons” got their chance to shine in a new live-action adaptation. Wiping the slate clean by totally disconnecting from any of the former forgettable entries of the franchise, the quartet—directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein and writers Michael Gilio and Chris McKay—opted for an innovative, comedic approach to present the movie “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor among Thieves” as faithful enough to the source material for the veteran fans of the game to like and attractive enough to hook in a general audience as well.
Aside from the humorous tone, the movie manages to craftily use the fantasy tropes of the game franchise, such as archetypal characters, meticulous world-building, fantastical elements and creatures, and the theme of adventure and journey, to its best effect, and in such a way that uninitiated viewers don’t feel detached as well. All in all, it is safe to say that “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” has proven itself to be a strong enough mold upon which a sprawling universe of the beloved fantasy game series can be forged.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’?
The movie introduces us to two imprisoned friends, Edgin Darvis, a bard, and Holga Kilgore, a barbarian, who have been incarcerated for three years for larceny and skullduggery. As the duo pleads for their release to prison chancellors, we learn about their backstory from Edgin’s narration. Aside from a career in verse-making, instrument-playing, and singing, Edgin used to be a member of the Harpers, a secret organization that vowed to fight against tyranny and selflessly help the poor. Edgin was happily married to Zia and lived a modest life. But undertaking missions for the Harpers came with severe consequences. During a mission, Edgin and his associates managed to capture some Red Wizards—a nefarious cult of magicians and necromancers dreaded by the rest of the populace. The Red Wizards retaliated by breaking into Edgin’s house in his absence and murdering Zia. Before her death, Zia managed to secure their newborn child, Kira, inside a cabinet.
Edgin hit a rough patch after the death of his wife and forfeited his connection with the Harpers. As he sulked around and took to drinking, he met the barbarian Holga Kilgore, who had been an outcast herself due to her tribe rejecting her for loving someone outside her community. The two friends raised Kira with love and care and took up thievery as a profession to earn quick money. Along the way, they recruited a less-than-average magician, Simon Aumar, and a conman named Forge Fitzwilliam. The team got a job assisting a wizard named Sofina in stealing from Harper’s stronghold, an offer Edgin refused due to his past connection with the organization, but he changed his decision after learning that he could obtain a relic from the stronghold called the Tablet of Reawakening, which could help him resurrect his wife. However, during the mission, Sofina retrieves a relic of her own, betrays the team, and uses a freeze-time spell to trap them. Before getting frozen, Edgin managed to hand the talisman to Forge and ask her to take care of his daughter Kira. Forge and Sofina managed to escape, while Holga and Edgin got imprisoned for their crimes.
After stating this much to the chancellors, the duo manages to escape. They come to know that somehow Forge has managed to become lord of the city of Neverwinter and is raising Kira as his own daughter. Upon reaching the Courts of Neverwinter, the duo finds out Forge has been assisted by Sofina to become the topmost authority of the city, and he has also spun Kira a false tale about her father, saying Edgin left her in search of riches, which makes Kira resent her father. Later, as they try to retaliate, Forge captures Holga and Edgin with the help of Safina and orders their execution, and the duo barely escape with their lives.
The duo decides to visit Neverwinter again later to infiltrate and gain access to Forge’s vault, take the tablet, and prove Kira’s father’s innocence. But before that, they need to increase their chance of success by strengthening their numbers, so they decide to go to their former associate, Simon, the magician. Simon is busy doing cheap parlor tricks at town shows and conning people by distracting them. The duo arrives just in time to save Simon from an angry mob, and as he has nothing better to do anyway, he gladly joins the team to assist Edgin in his quest. Upon Simon’s suggestion, the group recruits another member, a Tiefling Druid named Doric. We get to know Doric’s human parents abandoned her due to her unique appearance as a Tiefling (due to dormant infernal ancestry showing itself in her case), and she was accepted in the ranks of the Wood Elves. Doric joined the Wood Elves’ organization, Emerald Enclave, who rebelled against the tyranny of Forge’s reign in Neverwinter as he continued destroying the wilderness. Therefore, finding a common enemy, Doric too agrees to join Edgin’s party. We also see Doric’s animal shapeshifting powers on full display as she transforms into an owlbear to beat Forge’s troops and free her Wood Elf comrades. In the meantime, Safina, who turns out to be a Red Wizard, plans to execute a yet-untold nefarious plan of her master Szass Tam, one of the Zulkirs (the ruling highest council of the magical order) of the desolate country Thay.
Using her powers to infiltrate the towers of Neverwinter, Doric makes an assessment of the defenses Forge and Sofina are using to guard the riches, and hearing her description, Simon identifies a particular unbreakable spell of the ancient wizard Morden Kainen on the vault, which someone like him cannot open. Holga recounts a tale of her tribe, where a powerful mystical artifact called the Helmet of Disjunction was secured by her tribe at the end of a battle, which can help Simon amplify his magical powers to open the seal. As speculated, they start digging through the corpses of dead barbarians and Simon reanimates them to inquire about the whereabouts of the helmet and come to know that a renowned Paladin (one of the holy knights who fights for the just) named Xenk Yendar was the last person to possess the artifact. The story of Xenk’s exploits has spread across the realm, and he seems to have quite a personality, although Edgin isn’t too interested in hearing about him. The group starts their journey to find out about Xenk.
En route, Holga stops at her ex-lover Marlaman the dwarf’s place, reconnects for a bit, and takes the staff she previously gave him. After meeting Xenk, they let him know about their predicament and request that he let them use the artifact. After learning of Sofina’s presence in the court of the Neverwinter and the relic she stole years ago, Xenk speculates about her motives, as he is convinced that she’s a Red Wizard and will carry out her master Szass Tam’s conquest. Xenk recalls that after gathering the people of the country of Thay, Szass Tam used devastating magic to create a mystical gaseous compound that turned every living being it touched into undead thralls. As a resident of Thay, Xenk barely managed to escape the horrible fate but was afflicted with a longer life than regular humans in the process. Xenk affirms his faith in Edgin and trusts him to make the right decision in exchange for the helmet.
Xenk takes the team to the subterranean world of the Underdark, where he has hidden the helmet. After they face difficulty navigating their way, Simon recognizes Holga’s staff as the Hither-Thither Staff, a portal-creating artifact that they use to get to the helmet. As they are about to leave, the group faces undead assassins of Szass Tam, whom Xenk obliterates, and later, an overweight red dragon named Themberchaud, from whom they barely escape. To let them complete their quest, Xenk leaves the team with his best wishes.
Strengthening The Resolve
Simon finds it difficult to attune to the Helmet and continually gets thrown out of the psychical plane by a vision of his great-great-grandfather, a master wizard. Simon also states that Edgin had set out on this plan even though he’d known there was a major chance of failure, which discourages the team, and they almost quit. However, Edgin gets candid as he confesses that the reason he is so adamant about completing the quest is because he thinks himself to be to blame for his wife’s death, and not the Harpers order. He reveals the truth that he had stolen the riches of the Red Wizard, unaware of the fact that they had marked their possessions, which allowed them to track down Edgin’s house in the first place and resulted in Zia’s death. Hearing his confession, the team truly comes together this time and hits upon a different plan of accessing the vault by using portals created by the Hither-Thither staff.
Honor Among Thieves
The group returns to Neverwinter and tries to gain access to the vault in different ways. While Doric enters the carriage of riches through the portal, Holga, Edgin, and Simon try distracting the guards and somehow infiltrating the tower. However, Doric’s way doesn’t lead her to the vault, and she ends up on the docks, where the riches of Forge are being loaded onto ships. Doric gets captured by the guards. On the other hand, after Simon and Holga get cornered by the guards, Simon makes one last attempt to attune with the helmet and finally succeeds by conquering his own doubt and low self-esteem. But even then, they don’t find anything inside the vault and get captured. At last, Edgin gets befooled by Sofina’s magic and gets captured, but in the end, he tries to negotiate a deal with Forge to enter his team in the soon-to-be-commenced High Sun games to allow a chance of survival.
The team enters the battle royale of the High Sun games and escapes to the docks, where Forge arrives with Kira. As the team gains the Talisman of Reawakening and exposes Forge’s ruse to Kira, Forge tries to hold Kira hostage to force the team to surrender. However, the team manages to retrieve Kira and steal the riches of Forge, then leaves with the ship. Meanwhile, Forge had invited multitudes of people across the country for the High Sun game on the order of Sofina, who wishes to replicate Szass Tam’s plan of turning the entire populace into an army of undead. Getting her chance, Sofina starts the ritual of Blackening Death to initiate the devastating magic. The team sees this from afar, and Edgin decides to turn back the ship to help the people escape this horrific fate, thereby keeping the promise he made to Xenk.
‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ Ending Explained – Was Edgin Able To Resurrect His Wife, Zia?
The team uses portals to pour the riches of Forge across the town by using balloons, which scatter the gathered crowd and prevent them from being exposed to the magic. Infuriated at her plan getting botched, Sofina gets into a vicious battle with the team and uses the freeze-time spell once again. However, this time, Kira uses her invisibility spell to bind Sofina with a magic dampener, and Simon uses his counter perfectly, leading to Sofina’s ultimate defeat and a deserving beatdown by Doric, transformed into an Owlbear, something that will remind more nerdy viewers of Hulk smashing Loki during the events of “The Avengers.” Unfortunately for the team, all doesn’t seem to have ended perfectly, as Holga has been fatally wounded by the Red Wizard’s blade, something that even a now-empowered Simon can’t cure.
Edgin and Kira join Holga in a farewell song, and Holga breathes her last. Edgin remembers some of the best memories he and Kira had with Holga as a family, and from helping the bard in his worst times, Holga had always been by Edgin’s side, even when everyone else lost their faith. After going through everything, the struggles the group had to endure to give Edgin a chance to rectify his sins by bringing his wife Zia back to life don’t seem worth it with a friend like Holga gone. Even growing up, Kira never knew her deceased birth mother; rather, Holga was more of a maternal figure to her. Edgin decides to abandon his personal goal of bringing his wife back and instead uses the (one-time-use) Talisman of Reawakening to bring Holga back to life. What’s the spirit of fantasy and adventure? If not honoring the friendship, the movie shines the resolution at its best.
The team enjoys the adulation from the townspeople and is honored by the now-awake Lord Neverwinter (who was previously in a slumber under the spell of Sofina). Forge tries to escape but gets captured by Xenk and gets incarcerated in the same prison that Edgin and Holga escaped from. In the post-credits scene, one of the reanimated corpses of the barbarian warrior waits for a fifth question, which can allow him to go back to death.