Cinema background with movie projector and film reels on a dark background

When coming up with your next D&D campaign, it can be hard to get the creative juices flowing. Sometimes it’s easy to pull from pop culture, especially with movies.

If you need a quick fix to gain some inspiration, you can check out some of the movies on this list. Although not all are specifically fantasy movies, each has been chosen for a specific gameplay aspect of D&D. For more Dungeons & Dragons ideas and fun gaming info you can check out GameCows.


The Expendables

Logo for The Expendables franchise, featuring all of the characters and the title in red text

If your adventuring party is filled with murder hobos or simply wants nonstop combat, drawing inspiration from The Expendables is a perfect choice. The Expendables doesn’t take itself seriously and just wants to deliver what the audience really wants… and that’s adrenaline-fueled nonstop action.

The Expendables is an amalgamation of action movies. The elevator pitch was basically, “How many action stars can we cram into a single move?” Surprisingly it’s actually an excellent movie too. It focuses on action with a flimsy (but adequate) plot to keep everyone invested. It’s the perfect inspiration and example of how to focus on action/combat while still giving your players/viewers something to cheer and root for.


Mission Impossible

Scene from Mission Impossible

If you’re seeking a campaign filled with intrigue, espionage, and daring heists, Mission Impossible is a great way to get your creative juices flowing for your next D&D campaign. 

There are 7 Mission Impossible movies to choose from with an 8th coming out soon. No matter which one you watch, you’ll find tons of inspiration for your next D&D campaign. The first Mission Impossible has some iconic heist scenes and espionage that can be adapted for a high-stakes mission in your game, and the later movies just amp up the action with Tom Cruise’s insane stunts. 

Picturing your player characters in a similar fantasy setting and how they could solve parallel situations with magic or skills is a fun mental exercise when coming up with new campaign ideas. 


Conan The Barbarian

Scene from Conan the Barbarian (1982). Conan holds up a sword

Conan the Barbarian was basically a D&D campaign, to begin with, so it’s not a far stretch to rewatch this classic 80s movie for inspiration. The Conan movies were the epitome of the Sword & Sorcery fantasy subgenre. The Sword & Sorcery subgenre is characterized by sword-wielding heroes, violently slashing through hordes of enemies and stabbing evil sorcerers. It’s a tried and true formula for any D&D campaign.

From the vast landscapes of Hyboria to the towering ruins of ancient civilizations, Conan’s journey takes him through treacherous jungles, desolate wastelands, and enchanted realms teeming with mythical creatures. Drawing from the rich lore and gritty atmosphere of these films, your D&D campaign can embrace themes of survival, conquest, and the clash of civilizations.


The Goonies

Scene from The Goonies with all of the characters gathered together

If you’re looking for something fun and a little campy, maybe rewatch the classic film, The Goonies. This beloved 1980s classic follows a group of young misfits on a quest to find the lost treasure of the notorious pirate One-Eyed Willy. From secret underground tunnels to booby-trapped caverns, their journey is filled with danger, mystery, and camaraderie.

It’s a perfect map for building your own tailor-made adventure, especially for young kids. The Goonies will infuse your D&D campaign with a sense of wonder, nostalgia, and the unyielding determination to overcome any obstacle in the pursuit of treasure and glory. You also have to remember that the real treasure is the friendships you made along the way… and the ship full of gold too while you’re sailing off into the sunset.



Scene from Alien (1979) with a xenomorph

For more advanced Dungeon Masters who want to build a challenging encounter, Alien is the perfect inspiration for an all vs. 1 encounter. Ridley Scott’s iconic sci-fi masterpiece introduces a group of space explorers who encounter a deadly extraterrestrial creature aboard their spaceship. The tension, isolation, and lurking dread in Alien can be masterfully translated into your campaign, as your players navigate dark corridors, face unknown terrors, and uncover the secrets of a malevolent species.

Getting that perfect blend of atmosphere, tension, and fear just right is going to be difficult, but the payoff is going to be worth it. Picking a single creature that can stalk, hunt, and outwit your players is a far more satisfying adversary than a horde of faceless enemies.


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By Bryan Truong, Co-Founder @ GameCows

Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, Bryan Truong used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.

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