Fear not: Ranger, Barbarian, Magician, Thief, Cavalier, and Acrobat. That was Venger, the force of evil. I am Dungeon Master, your guide in the realm of Dungeons and Dragons!
Dungeons & Dragons was an American animated television series based on TSR’s Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. A co-production of Marvel Productions and TSR, the show originally ran from 1983 through 1985 for three seasons on CBS for a total of twenty-seven episodes. The Japanese company Toei Animation did the animation for this series.
The show focused on a group of six friends who are transported into the realm of Dungeons and Dragons via a rollercoaster. It followed their adventures as they tried to find a way home with the help of their guide ‘Dungeon Master’.
A final un-produced episode “Requiem” would have served as a conclusion as well as a re-imagining had the series been picked up for a fourth season. However, the show was cancelled before the episode was made. The script can be found from various sources online and was performed as an audio drama as a special feature for the BCI Eclipse DVD edition of the series.
- Hank – The Ranger (voiced by Willie Aames): At 15, he is the oldest of the gang, along with Eric, and a natural leader. Hank is a brave and noble individual; maintaining a focus and determination, even when presented with grave danger. Hank is a Ranger, with a magical bow that shoots arrows of glowing energy. These arrows could be used in many different ways such as a climbing tool, to hurt enemies, to bind them or to create light.
- Eric – The Cavalier (voiced by Don Most): The cavalier is the spoiled child, originating from a rich home. On the surface, Eric is the big-mouthed coward of the show, and he also fulfils the role of the comic relief character. Despite his egotism, selfishness, and snobbery, Eric is potentially also the most realistic character; complaining about the dire situations in which he is involved and voicing concerns which might be common to inhabitants of our world transplanted to the Realm. Despite his cowardice and reluctance, Eric has a well-hidden heroic core, and constantly saves his friends from danger with his magical shield, which can project a force field. In one episode, he is even granted the powers of the Dungeon Master, and manages this duty quite successfully. Series developer Mark Evanier revealed that Eric’s contrary nature was mandated by parents groups and consultants to push the then-dominant pro-social moral for cartoons of “The group is always right; the complainer is always wrong.”
- Diana – The Acrobat (voiced by Tonya Gayle Smith): Diana is a beautiful and brave 14-year-old girl. She is an acrobat, and an outspoken and tomboyish member of the group. She carries a magic staff which can shift in length from as short as a few inches to be easily carried on her person to long as six feet to be used as a defensive weapon or as an aid during various acrobatic moves. Furthermore, if the staff is broken apart, Diana simply has to touch the severed pieces together at their break point and they will completely reunite as one unit. She is skilled at handling animals, and is a self-assured, confident person. These qualities make her the natural leader in the absence of Hank. It is mentioned that Diana is chosen as the acrobat because in her real world she is an Olympic-level gymnastics practitioner.
- Presto – The Magician (voiced by Adam Rich): 14-year-old Albert, better known as Presto, is the wizard. Presto fulfils a role of the well-meaning, diligent, but hopeless magician. He suffers from low self-confidence and nervousness, which manifests in the use of his magical hat. He is able to pull an endless succession of various tools from it, but often these will be, or appear to be, of little use. There are also numerous instances when the whole group is in danger, whereupon Presto will draw from his hat precisely what is needed in order to save all of his friends.
- Sheila – The Thief (voiced by Katie Leigh): As the thief, Sheila has a magical cloak which, when the hood is raised over her head, makes her invisible. Although Shelia is often shy and nervous with a deep-seated fear of loneliness, she will always display bravery when her friends are in trouble, especially her younger brother, Bobby. Sheila is also the first to point out the flaws or dangers of the group’s plans. (In both the Spanish and Latin American versions of Dungeons & Dragons, Sheila is called a mage, or an illusionist.)
- Bobby – The Barbarian (voiced by Ted Field III): Bobby is the youngest member of the team; the characters celebrate his eighth birthday in the “Servant Of Evil” episode but says he is “almost ten” four episodes later in “The Lost Children.” He is the barbarian, as indicated by his fur pants and boots, horned helmet, and cross belt harness. He is Sheila’s younger brother; in contrast to her, Bobby is impulsive and ready to run headlong into battle, even against physically superior enemies, usually resulting in one of the others moving him from harm’s way. He has a close relationship with Uni and is often reluctant to leave her when they discover a way home. Bobby carries a magical club, which he regularly uses to trigger earthquakes or dislodge rocks when he strikes the ground.
- Uni – The Unicorn (vocal effects provided by Frank Welker): Uni is Bobby’s pet, a baby unicorn, which Bobby discovers in the first episode and retains as his companion throughout the show. She has the ability to speak, though her words are not quite discernible; she usually is heard echoing Bobby when she agrees to his opinions. As seen in the episode “Valley of the Unicorns”, Uni also possesses the potential for the natural unicorn ability to teleport once a day, and has accessed this power through tremendous concentration and effort; it is intimated that she is still too young to use this ability regularly.
- Dungeon Master (voiced by Sidney Miller): The group’s friend and mentor, he provides important advice and help, but often in a cryptic way that does not make sense until the team has completed the quest of each episode. It is the Dungeon Master who supplies the companions with their weapons and clues for their numerous opportunities to return home. As the series progresses, from his repeated displays of power, it begins to seem possible and later, even probable, that the Dungeon Master could easily return the companions home himself. This suspicion is confirmed in the script for the unmade series finale, “Requiem“, wherein the Dungeon Master proves he can do just that, without any difficulty. In some episodes, including “City at the Edge of Midnight” and “The Last Illusion”, realm inhabitants display great respect or nervous awe of Dungeon Master.
Venger (voiced by Peter Cullen): The main antagonist and the Dungeon Master’s son (as revealed in the episode “The Dragon’s Graveyard” and again in the lost episode “Requiem”), as well as Kareena’s brother (“Citadel of Shadow”), Venger is an evil wizard of great power who seeks to use the children’s magical weapons to bolster his power. Though described as an evil force, comparable to the devil, it is occasionally hinted that he was once good, but fell under a corrupting influence. This is later revealed to be true in the unmade finale “Requiem”, when Venger is restored to his former self.
- Shadow Demon (voiced by Bob Holt): A shadowy demon, he is Venger’s personal spy and assistant. Shadow Demon often informs Venger about the children’s (whom he refers to as “Dungeon Master’s young ones”) current quests.
- Tiamat (vocal effects provided by Frank Welker): Venger’s arch-rival is a fearsome female dragon with a reverberating multi-level voice and five heads that “breathe” different attacks such as ice, electricity, and fire. Although Venger and the children both avoid Tiamat, the children often use her to their own ends such as making a deal with her in “The Dragon’s Graveyard” to thwart Venger.
“REQUIEM” – The Lost Episode
On the Plain of Dreams Venger meets Dungeon Master and after attributing the heroes’ success to the intervention of the Dungeon Master he proposes the following: if the Dungeon Master does not help the heroes then he will allow them to find the Key but if they fail he will claim their totems and lives. Surprisingly, Dungeon Master agrees to this perilous gambit.
On some moors the heroes are fighting a seven-headed hydra but the battle is going badly. Dungeon Master appears and they expect him to help but, following Venger’s proposition, he just admonishes them for getting into trouble and disappears. Astonished by the lack of help the heroes flee the hydra.
Grateful for restoring Venger to his former self Dungeon Master opens a portal to the amusement park and tells the heroes that they can either return home or stay in the Realm to oppose other evils. The heroes are elated but the viewer doesn’t see their final decision. Michael Reaves stated that Requiem was the third part of a trilogy exploring the dynamics between Venger and the Dungeon Master. The first and second parts being The Dragon’s Graveyard and The Dungeon At The Heart Of Dawn. The full script can be read HERE.