Setting the Mood

If you are like me, you spend far too much game time listening to players talk about nuances that have nothing to do with the game, or watching the group degenerate when one person pushes too hard for everyone to get back to role-playing.  As a DM, it is often frustrating to watch your carefully planned out adventure laying fallow because the players just can't get into the mood.  Often, some players will get frustrated and ruin what little fun the others have by trying to drive the group by brute force.  With some careful preparation, and some pre-emptive psychology, these problems can be avoided by spending an hour or so prior to game time setting the proper mood.  The following movies may be watched before a gaming session get the players into the proper mindset for a hard night of gaming.

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Movies and Videos

Army of Darkness:  This is the third edition to the infamous Evil Dead series.  Those who are familiar with the series are aware of its comic bent and the raucous, fast paced action that distinguishes this movie among its peers.  The Necromantic plot bent and the unique combat sequences makes this movie a good choice to get players into the "hack and slash" mindset.
Braveheart:  Historical epic about William Wallace's attempt to drive the English from his homeland.  Although this movie is based in historical fact, the fight scenes and character interaction appeal to all Dungeons and Dragons fans.  The ending may bring some players down and the sheer length may prove daunting to most players.  Movies like this are best watched long before players ever start gathering to game.
Clash of the Titans:  Sheer epic bliss.  This movie is one of the classics of fantasy movies.  Those familiar with the myths surrounding the movie plot will find it gratifying that the filmmakers made a real attempt at authenticity.  The acting is only average but Harryhousen's claymation makes the movie worth the time.
Conan the Barbarian:  The hero of old is back in a full length movie.  The star power of this movie is enough to drive viewers into a frenzy.  James Earl Jones is still one of my favorite actors of all time.  Set in the mythic Cimmeria, this movie tells the tale of Conan's youth and shows how the man was shaped into the greatest warrior in the land. 
Conan the Destroyer:  The second installment of the Conan movies, Conan is hired by to guide a teenage girl to a holy relic.  Fans of the original novels and comics may find this movie a little lacking in the plot area.  Conan's many battles and the climactic fight with a god are sure to get player's attention.
The Dark Crystal:  Jim Henson's masterpiece about two dying races of "mystical" beings.  Although the muppet feel of this movie may put many people at odds with the magical forces that vie for control in this movie.  I recommend this one for its novel approach to good and evil if nothing else.
Dragonheart:  Sean Connery as a dragon.  That alone should get many people to watch this movie.  The special effects are great although the plot is a little weak at times.  As in most great epics of old, the "good" guys win out in the end but only by sacrificing much of what they hold dear.
Dragonslayer:  I have read the book and watched the movie.  Although much of the magic in this world is subtle magic, the dragon is one of the best ever seen on film.  Verminthrax rules the screen as the great she-dragon terrorizing a small kingdom.  Views of good and evil are skewed as right and wrong becomes unclear.  This movie is definitely one that all players should watch at some point or another.
Excalibur:  A rendition of the Arthurian legend.  Although this movie is rather old, the magic and special effects gives this movie a contemporary feel.  Unlike other movies about Camelot, this movie tries to encompass all of the legends and myths about that kingdom. 
First Knight:  Again, Sean Connery is at his best as King Arthur Pendragon, lord of Camelot.  This movie focuses on Lancelot and his relation to Arthur and Gwenyver.  Just as the original stories, the characters are complicated.  This movie deviates from many of the Arthurian tales is several ways.  The most notable is the absence of Merlin and the introduction of a new nemesis for Arthur.
Gladiator:  Epic battles, grand conflicts, and enough plot twists to keep you guessing, this movie is one of the best ever caught on film.  The story is based in the declining era of the roman empire.  A popular general is banished after the Caesar's son slays his father to become Caesar.  The movie chronicles the general's passage from soldier, to slave, to gladiator, to hero. 
Kull the Conqueror:  Those familiar with the Conan comics will know of Kull from Atlantis.  Kull is a lone warrior who tries to become one of the Dragon Legion only to be turned away due to his birth.  The laws of the kingdom of Valusha end up putting Kull on the throne after he slays the king.  A mad sorcerer frees a Demoness from her long sleep and then the real fun begins. 
Labyrinth:  Reality twists and bends as a child is placed at the center of an insane world controled by a mad warlock.  David Bowie plays the roll of the ruler of the realm of madness and tries to corrupt a virginal girl with his overtures.  I would recommend this movie to anyone who loves a dive into dimentia.
Ladyhawke:  A cruel ruler, a noble warrior, a virtuous lady, and a sneaky rogue, this movie has it all.  This movie has an intricate plot and characters so dynamic that they leap off of the screen.  The mix of mysticism and "ordinary"ness makes this movie memerable.
Legend:  The forces of darkness have used a beautiful innocent girl to plunge the world into darkness.  The hero of the movie must join forces with elves and dwarves/gnomes to combat the orcs and goblins.  They must rescue the last unicorn before the girl is turned down the dark path and the world is forever lost to the Lord of Darkness.
Merlin:  Yet another Arthurian legend, this movie focuses upon the life of Merlin the Magician.  The filmmakers try to show t