Back in February, when we all still thought movies might be coming out, we were dazzled by our first look at David Lowery’s The Green Knight, which cast Dev Patel in a dark Arthurian fantasy. We have no idea when we’ll get to see the film — but the studio’s letting us explore a little part of that world by literally turning it into a tabletop game.
Revealed today, movie studio A24 has helped develop its first-ever tabletop game to help while away the time until whenever The Green Knight actually gets its release. Developed by Lowery and game master Timm Woods, The Green Knight: A Quest for Honour is a collaborative storytelling pen-and-paper RPG designed as an introduction to the world of the film and its themes.
Suitable for four to six players, A Quest For Honour asks players to pick from one of five roles — Knight, Noble, Hunter, Sorcerer, Bard — before getting to rolling D20s, exploring the mythical realms, setting on a series of challenges that will eventually see them face the dreaded titular Green Knight. But it’s not just hacking and slashing: A Quest for Honour wants its players to consider just how far their characters will go in their own sense of personal honour to win the day or simply survive in this dark, fantastical world. As if the classic D&D starter set aesthetic wasn’t already obvious from the box art above, there’s even a cheesy faux-retro ad for the kit:
To learn more about what to expect out of A Quest for Honour and what it was like translating a film none of us have actually had the chance to see yet into its own roleplaying experience, we spoke to Woods over email. Check out the full interview below!
James Whitbrook: Tell us about how you came aboard this project.
Timm Woods: A24 reached out to me, mentioning their work on a film adaptation of the Green Knight story — I was initially worried that they assumed I was an expert on Arthurian myths! But when I heard about their plans to design a Green Knight game, I was immediately captivated. The story of the Green Knight is, in some ways, the archetypal medieval “Quest.” All the ideas and pieces for a game were already in place, so I knew that adapting the story to a tabletop game would be a blast.
Whitbrook: What was the collaborative process with David like bringing the world of the film to a tabletop setting?
Woods: David’s vision of the Green Knight tale emphasises a sense of uncanniness, mystery, even horror — some of my favourite elements of a good tabletop roleplaying game. It was important that the game be about investigation and decision-making, rather than just hack-and-slashing. It’s a beautiful world, but also full of danger, and telling which is which is the crux of a lot of the gameplay. The film’s themes of honour and choices carry over into the game in lots of different ways.
Whitbrook: You’re having to condense a single movie that most people haven’t seen yet — and won’t get to see for a while — into a games system. Where did you start?
Woods: The story of the Green Knight is in some ways a classic — lots of games are modelled after it, many without even knowing they are doing it! Making a tabletop roleplaying game that centered around an epic quest with a seemingly straightforward goal was the easy part. The hard part was capturing the sense of doubt and fear the hero feels on the Green Knight quest: these are the real threats. We started by designing core mechanics that reinforce gameplay about inner struggles, rather than outer struggles. I think even if players haven’t seen or heard of the Green Knight, these are ideas that will resonate with them.
Whitbrook: What were the complexities of making the game feel true to David’s movie, while still feeling a bit different from your standard fantasy TTRPG?
Woods: The Green Knight game is different from other TTRPGs because the external goals are mysterious, and largely secondary to the conflict within the character — will you press on and continue the quest, or flee in fear and dishonor? It’s a look at the classic medieval quest through the lens of inner conflict. I think what makes the game feel fun and different is exactly that same shift: you are forced to think about the consequences of your actions not just on the world and your party, but upon your character and their honour as well. And, despite your best efforts, sometimes you can’t always fully control whether your character is plunging into disgrace or rising toward redemption.
Whitbrook: Beyond the influence of the movie itself, did you look to any other TTRPGs for inspiration when creating this game?
Woods: I am a fan of many TTRPGs that certainly had a hand in inspiring the Green Knight game. Dungeons & Dragons is of course the best-known TTRPG, and fans of fifth edition D&D will recognise some similarities of gameplay. Games like Pendragon, which focuses on Arthurian mythology, and Call of Cthulhu, a game of mystery-solving and psychological horror, also had a hand in influencing how the concepts of honour and dishonor could form the basis for fun gameplay.
Whitbrook: How flexible is the game system? Do you expect groups to be able to tell more stories in the Green Knight world beyond this starter, or was it designed as a one-shot themed adventure?
Woods: The Green Knight game comes with an adventure that roughly patterns after the film (as well as bonus prompts for future quests), but Game Masters can and should feel free to use the system to tell their own quest-based stories. The world of the Green Knight is rich with mystery and adventure, and the rules allow for tales of honour which go far beyond what we’ve made.
The Green Knight: A Quest for Honour starter set is available to preorder from A24’s website now. The Green Knight is set to hit theatres… eventually, hopefully