what’s this about a shakespearian D&D storyline?

At Gamehole Con this weekend, Chris Perkins dropped some D&D future product spoilers. For instance, you might have heard him say that there will be a 5e Open Game License. But you might have missed this tidbit: a future D&D storyline will be “a giants based story influenced by a Shakespearean play.” That sounds nuts!

sparta-romeo-and-julietSo my question is: what Shakespeare play?

The Tempest: Elminster is washed up on a desert island with his daughter? who exists apparently? Elminster enslaves some spirits giants. Years later, the PCs wash up ashore. In classic Forgotten Realms fashion, Elminster messes with the PCs for a while and then fixes everything.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Titania and Oberon, rulers of the fairie court, are already D&D canon. Throw some enemy giants or fomorians in there. Half of the players must wear donkey heads and the other half must wear fairy wings and glitter.

Henry V: How about Henry V mashed up with Against the Giants? Choose from exciting 8th level pregens like
-King Henry, a rogue 5/paladin 3, who gives inspiring speeches like “Once more unto the breach glacial rift of the frost giant jarl, dear friends, once more!”
-Scrope, a fighter 8, a friend of the King. The DM secretly informs him that he’s actually a traitor working for the giants.
-Falstaff, a rogue 8, who has a really cool character concept but isn’t allowed to attend any sessions and dies offscreen in an NPC speech.

Romeo and Juliet: A forbidden love between rival factions. Is Romeo a giant, or is Juliet? Both possibilities are creepy. Or is Romeo a fire giant and Juliet a frost giant? The PCs all play the part of Mercutio and are all killed before the end of the adventure.

As You Like It: A pastoral comedy set in the Forest of Arden. The “all the world’s a stage” speech is changed to “all the world’s a D&D game” and is read aloud by the most morose player. There are no giants in this adventure, but for the sake of the adventure, Shakespeare is considered to be a giant.

Tamburlaine by Christopher Marlowe: Perkins did say a Shakespearean play, not a Shakespeare play, which lets in the other Elizabethan playwrights. Tamburlaine is a mass-combat campaign suitable for epic characters (armies are numbered in the hundreds of thousands). It’s easy to find inspiration from its blood-and-thunder speeches like

What means this devilish shepherd, to aspire
With such a giantly presumption,
To cast up hills against the face of heaven,
And dare the force of angry Jupiter?
But, as he thrust them underneath the hills,
And press’d out fire from their burning jaws,
So will I send this monstrous slave to hell,
Where flames shall ever feed upon his soul.

Right there we have devil shepherds (and, by inference, devil sheep?), giants, burning jaws, and a monstrous slave who is sent to hell, all of which could be statted up.

7 Responses to “what’s this about a shakespearian D&D storyline?”

  1. 1d30 says:

    “… Or is Romeo a fire giant and Juliet a frost giant? …”

    Sounds like their romance was rather …

    ( •_•)
    ( •_•)>⌐■-■

    … steamy.


  2. Rich says:

    Titus Andronicus, and everyone thinks, “This is the least bloody game of D&D I’ve ever played.”

  3. Rhenium says:

    The Merchant of Venice.

    Replace Shylock with a giant, a midget, a kobold, a level IV demon, anything else and it might get produced more than it does these days.

  4. Pandy C says:

    Hamlet or Macbeth seem the most likely. Ambition and murder fit quite easily into D&D.

    Least likely? Twelth Night or Othello 😉

  5. “Much Ado About Nothing” is a fine summary of every edition war *I’ve* ever seen.

    Are we sure that “Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo Kill Everyone,” also known as “Rome,” isn’t the screenplay of Bruno Heller’s “Julius Caesar” and “Antony and Cleopatra” D&D campaigns?

  6. Roger says:

    Julius Caesar. “He doth bestride the world like a colossus….”

  7. Marc G says:

    I once ran a Deadlands game based on Love’s Labors Lost. It turned out pretty creepy!

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