There’s something very unique about the fantasy world that David Lowery helps create in his rendition of the tale of the Green Knight. Compared to other fantasy movies like Lord of the Rings or The Princess Bride, the fantasy elements feel more matter-of-fact and almost gritty, all while still maintaining a sense of wonder and awe as all great fantasy stories should have. The style and tone reminded me of the kinds of Dungeons and Dragons campaigns I would play back in high school.
That got me thinking about some of the comparisons between this story and the stories that D&D can provide. Instead of doing a comprehensive essay about it, I wanted to take the easier route and make character sheets for Gawain and the Green Knight himself (based on the film versions), along with mini-figurine designs for them using Hero Forge, a free modeling website purely for making custom figurines for roleplaying games. Making characters for D&D is always something I look forward to doing, and even though this is the first time I’ve made a character based on something preexisting, that didn’t stop me from deep-diving into this.
What was interesting was that it wasn’t as clear-cut as I thought. There are some pretty direct translations of race, class, etc., but for other characters and stats, there was some personal interpretations I had to make myself. I’ll get more in-depth about what I mean by that as I go along. Here’s what I came up with for D&D-ifying Sir Gawain and the Green Knight:
Filling out Gawain’s major stats were pretty straight-forward. I think most of us would agree that he’s a human fighter with not that much experience. I initially made him first level, but I decided to create him as a character who has already faced the Green Knight and all the challenges that came before, so I beefed him up a little bit.
By the way, if you want to learn a bit more about what a Fighter is like, here’s a video to help explain the basics (also feel free to watch more videos in the “Handbooker Helper” series if you have any other questions about D&D mechanics and rules and such):
He’s got all the typical Fighter tricks and traits, like the Longsword/Shield combo, a Folk Hero background, the Champion subclass, etc. I rolled up some decent ability scores for him, but I put his lower rolls under Intelligence and Wisdom because we all know he isn’t the sharpest sword in the stone. Plus, characters under the Folk Hero background automatically learn an artisan skill (brewery, painting, calligraphy, etc.). Gawain doesn’t really seem to know anything artisan-related, but I ultimately decided to give him Cartography skills because he travelled a lot, and maybe he decided to mark down all the places he went to? I feel like out of all the skills he would be forced to learn, that would be the most likely one. That or brewery.
P.S; if you decide to play him for real, his Mother’s Belt of Protection is brutally broken because, based on the lore of the movie, no harm comes to the person who wears it. You may want to get rid of that or at least weaken it significantly in-game.
The Green Knight was a lot more interesting to make from the get-go. Both his race and class were much more unclear to me. Playable plant-based-races aren’t common in D&D lore, so I turned to homebrew races. I found a race of tree-like people called “Entlings” that seemed to fit the GK very well, at least aesthetically, so I picked that. For class, I think most people would assume he’d be a fighter or maybe a barbarian or paladin, but that didn’t seem as interesting to me. He also never really fights in the movie, and only talks and laughs and recites his poetry. Because of all that, I decided to go against the grain and make him a bard.
For more information on how bards work, watch this video from the same “Handbooker Helper” series:
I made him a level 10, College of Valor Bard specifically because he seemed to be much more powerful and revered than Gawain, and he does seem to at least know how to swing a weapon. I gave him amazing wisdom and intelligence above all else because he seems like the most wise out of anyone in the movie. Most of his spells are focused on necromancy and illusion because of his allusions to the dead (“green is the color of rot,” and all) and as a nod to his original history towards hiding his true identity. And I only gave him his armor and his axe as his equipment because what else does he really need?
P.S; Keep in mind this character sheet does not keep in mind that he can survive having his head chopped off. If you want to use that in campaign, you might want to talk to your DM first.
I mentioned earlier that doing this for a project was “easier” than doing an essay. That is because I feel very comfortable making and designing characters for D&D. It’s probably my favorite part of the whole game.
But this was interesting because I never made characters based on pre-existing characters, let alone ones that aren’t even from D&D. Because of this, I expected the process to have less experimentation and freedom, and therefore possibly less fun. I was surprised to find that mostly wasn’t the case. I actually was pretty invested in making characters that were both fun to play and accurate to the source material. I think that influencing the design process with character analysis allowed for the right amount of creative restriction for the whole thing to feel fresh and new again. Maybe I’ll do more of these in the future!
Also included here are editable PDFs that come from their D&D Beyond sites. Use them if you wish!
LaserLlama. “New and Alternate Player Races.” GMBinder, 24 Jan. 2022.
Lowery, David, director. The Green Knight. A24, 2021.
Mearls, Mike and Jeremy Crawford. Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. Wizards of the Coast 2014.