The Dungeons & Dragons movie trailer has fans debating over the in-game accuracy of one breakout scene. Yesterday, Paramount Pictures debuted a first look at Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves via the movie's first trailer. The two minute trailer is jam-packed with references to the Dungeons & Dragons game and franchise, with the core cast of characters each defined as belonging to a specific character class from the current Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition rules. Sophia Lillis's character Doric is a druid and is seen using her class's signature "Wild Shape" ability during the trailer, transforming into an owlbear to savage several armored soldiers. Doric transforms into an owlbear twice during the trailer, so it seems that she has a particular affinity for the owl/bear hybrid.
However, Dungeons & Dragons sticklers are pointing out that Doric's transformation doesn't follow current Dungeons & Dragons rules. Fifth Edition rules define owlbears as a Monstrosity, a creature that is "not ordinary, not truly natural, and almost never benign." Owlbears specifically were created as a result as a magical experimentation, something that is specifically commented on in the rules for D&D monsters. This is relevant because druids can only wild shape into Beasts, a different class of D&D monster that includes most mundane animals and creatures that are part of the normal fantasy ecology. Dinosaurs and giant animals (such as giant spiders) are also classified as Beasts.
So if Dungeons & Dragons Druids can't Wild Shape into owlbears, why did the movie trailer prominently feature an owlbear transformation? Well, some Dungeons & Dragons fans are forgetting about the most important rule in Dungeons & Dragons: having fun. If a game's Dungeon Master says that it's okay for a druid to transform into an owlbear....then it's okay for the druid to transform into an owlbear.
The discourse around owlbear wild shaping should probably lead into a conversation about setting realistic expectations for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. While the new movie looks to take its source material a lot more seriously than previous D&D movies, it's still going to take some liberties while crafting a movie made for general audiences. We're going to see fight scenes that take more than 30 seconds to resolve (remember, each "round" of combat is the equivalent to about six seconds in time in the game's world), characters might cast spells that they wouldn't usually have access to, and we might even see monsters fight in ways that we're not used to. And all of that is okay! Similar to how the Marvel movies take liberal interpretations with the comics, Dungeons & Dragons fans should be okay with the movie not following the Player's Handbook to the letter. The most important thing is that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves captures the heart and spirit of a D&D adventure.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves will be released on March 3, 2023.