Make it So: Forgotten Realms the Series by Jerry Whitworth
The Hub is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with for content geared towards children as its viewership soars where stalwarts like Disney XD, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network have seen a decline. This phenomenon is due in large part to Hasbro’s properties being adapted for the small screen from such established brands as G.I. Joe and Transformers to the sleeper hit My Little Pony. One Hasbro franchise waiting to see adaptation that the company has yet to take advantage of is Dungeons & Dragons. Already adapted in a wildly popular animated series in the 1980s, the former show largely followed a different beat from the game and its world only loosely adapted characters from the source material in cameo roles. Instead, a new series should follow one of the most popular franchises with one of its biggest stars. Arguably the most recognized character in Dungeons & Dragons (only the likes of Elminster Aumar and Raistlin Majere could compete), Drizzt Do’Urden is a tragic character who overcomes adversity to become a great hero.
Born a Drow, or Dark Elf, Drizzt’s society differs greatly from many humanoid races. Living in the Underdark, a world beneath the surface of the planet Abeir-Toril set in almost total darkness, the Drow are a matriarchal society worshiping the malicious spider goddess Lolth. Males of the species are treated as inferior to Drow women and often live life like slaves where the culture places an emphasis on cunning, betrayal, deception, violence, self-reliance, and power. Empathy and friendship are viewed as weaknesses, a view that would make Drizzt an outcast among his kind. Born the third son to Matron Malice, leader of the House Do’Urden clan in the city of Menzoberranzan, and the weapons master Zaknafein, Drizzt’s father secretly abhorred his society and would foster the kind heart he sensed in his son as he trained him to be a martial expert. When Drizzt was expected to participate in the wanton bloodshed frequent to his kind, he instead betrays it leading to his father being executed for his crime. When House Do’Urden went to war with another clan, Drizzt saw his opportunity to escape into the Underdark joined by Guenhwyvar, a figurine of wondrous power that transforms into a large black panther. Eventually escaping to the surface world, Drizzt befriends the blind human ranger Montolio Debrouchee who teaches the young Drow in his ways bringing Drizzt to convert to worshiping Mielikki, goddess of the forest.
After the death of Debrouchee, Drizzt would travel ending up in Icewind Dale where he befriends the human barbarian Wulfgar, halfling thief Regis, human fighter Catti-brie, and Dwarven fighter Bruenor Battlehammer. In time, the group came to be known as the Companions of the Hall who helped Battlehammer reclaim his ancestral stronghold Mithral Hall and become its guardians against the various forces seeking its destruction. The heroes would also adventure with the pirate-hunter Captain Deudermont and his crew of the famous ship Sea Sprite. Along the way, Drizzt would make enemies, most notably Artemis Entreri. A human master assassin, Entreri would become Drizzt’s arch-nemesis who was introduced having hunted Regis for nearly five years under order of Pasha Pook only to duel Drizzt, finding an equal among inferior combatants. The pair would battle repeatedly but often would be interrupted leaving who was the better warrior left up in the air. Drizzt would become an obsession for Entreri, who was willing to ally with anyone or take part in any act in order to duel him again. At one point, Entreri would team-up with Jarlaxle Baenre, a Drow dandy fighter and head of the elite mercenary band (mostly made up of Drow) Bregan D’aerthe, which would henceforth make the pair frequent companions (at times, perhaps even friends). Jarlaxle is notorious for his extensive personal inventory of rare and powerful magic items, making him as dangerous as any wizard but with martial skills in the league of Drizzt and Entreri. Jarlaxle’s closest confidant is his second-in-command Kimmuriel Oblodra, a Drow psionicist. Rai-guy Bondalek, another of Jarlaxle’s lieutenants, is a powerful but treacherous Drow high priest and wizard. Vierna Do’Urden, Drizzt’s sister and the second daughter of Matron Malice and Zaknafein, obsessively hunts her brother following the demise of their house. Vierna would join House Baenre, the oldest and strongest clan of Menzoberranzan, and ally with Jarlaxle and her half-brother Dinin Do’Urden (son of Matron Malice and Rizzen) in order to kill Drizzt.
In addition to this cast of characters, Drizzt and his friends survived many battles and campaigns. Some of their adventures (separate or together) have included Zaknafein resurrected as a spirit-wraith, the mage Akar Kessel and the Crenshinibon (the latter, often referred as the Crystal Shard, becoming a consistent threat), Menzoberranzan’s assaults on Mithral Hall, the demon Errtu, orc clans leader Obould Many-Arrows and his frost giants, the lich Arklem Greeth and his pirate hordes, the immensely powerful Ghost King, and the terrible Spellplague. Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle Baenre would also go on their own journeys between bouts with Drizzt, such as teaming with human priest (and Chosen of Deneir) Cadderly Bonaduce and wife human monk Danica Maupoissant to destroy the Crenshinibon while dealing with the Bregan D’aerthe, the illithid Yharaskrik, and red dragon Hephaestus. Of course, with an ongoing series, showrunners can explore Abeir-Toril going beyond the Forgotten Realms setting and crossing over into others such as Al-Qadim, Oriental Adventures, and Maztica. The other famous hero of Forgotten Realms, Elminster Aumar, could also cross paths with Drizzt, perhaps braving Undermountain (a labyrinth into the Underdark beneath the city Waterdeep) or Myth Drannor (formerly the most beautiful city of the continent Faerûn before being overrun by the armies of three nycaloths) together. However, should the series do well, the door is certainly open to step into Dungeons & Dragons’ other worlds. Drow exist in the worlds of Greyhawk and Eberron where some connection may exist between the campaign settings. And with something like Spelljammer, worlds like Dragonlance, Mystara, Ravenloft, and Dark Sun are available to be explored (Lord Soth crossed over from Dragonlance to Ravenloft through the Mists of Ravenloft as another example of a possible vehicle).
A Forgotten Realms series makes sense on several levels. As already described, it takes advantage of a property owned by Hasbro that is rich with content ready to be exploited. Further, it already has a strong fanbase likely to boost the series’ viewership. In the same vein, an animated series could generate renewed interest in the role-playing modules of Dungeons & Dragons which has been lagging in recent years. Success in such a series could also mean merchandising such as video games and action figures. From a viewer’s standpoint, the series would mean an action-based sword-and-sorcery series which has all but died out in animated television leaving the door open for the next He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Thundarr the Barbarian, Thundercats, or, interestingly enough, Dungeons & Dragons. In recent years, there’s been somewhat sword-and-sorcery series in Avatar: The Last Airbender and a reboot to Thundercats, the former being wildly successful and the latter good but mismanaged by its network. Avatar, of course, would have a sequel in The Legend of Korra which maybe even more successful than the original. What more, a series based on Drizzt could tap into what has been a steadily growing market for fans of anime in America playing to the complex characters and fast-paced action found in popular shonen series like Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, or Fullmetal Alchemist. In a line-up featuring G.I. Joe Renegades and Transformers: Prime, Forgotten Realms would fit rather nicely as an action series that is neither pseudo-realistic or science fiction making it unique among the block of programming.
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