When Stranger Things Hit Dungeons & Dragons Dead On

Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons | Dungeons & DragonsBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Dark Horse Comics
Available Now

Spoiler Alert

Anyone who wants to know how Dungeons and Dragons enriched the lives of the boys from Stranger Things are advised to pick up the comic book! Jody Houser and Jim Zub‘s tale is familiar. Although they are not yet fully a team (Dustin joins in the fun midway), I remember how I was introduced to the game by my friends and how I scrimped for money to buy the various editions. Although this tale sees them play in the school cafeteria and the clubhouse, I had the school library of all places!

The game introduced me to the fantastic. It eventually led to me discovering the myths and legends that inspired this game—including how it inspires the modern day pop culture—and I never looked back. I loved exploring the past and started writing about the fantastic. Back then, one of my favourite films was Dragonslayer.

This tale shows these lads reading the world differently and recognizing where archetypes exist. It’s a nice touch by the writing team, since part of the heroic fantasy is inspired by Joseph Campbell’s book, The Power of Mythir?t=wiupgeatthmo 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01LP4GN28. The year is right for when these publications were really popular, and I’m sure this cycle is used in the journey Will, Mike, Lucas and Dustin are in.

Seeing them work together shows how when all are one, they can face anything, including bullies. They are playing a module of their own design, a quest for the Elder Tree which symbolizes their growth, to which they have to face down a multi-eyed creature, a Beholder! As much as I like to see their adventure realized in full, leading up to meeting the Demogorgon, all we have are quick glimpses of that world they made for themselves. As I recall, there were three adventures included with the sets they have. It’s curious not all of TSRs accessories are shown and I figure the reason is because Will can’t afford it.


This tale is set before season one, before the boys face the Prince of Demons. Here, not even a mind flayer reference is made (yet). The fact these adventures are based on the TSR game (not Wizards) is enough to get me excited to see what the next three issues will entail, and where the boys story will go. Along the way, fans will love the bonus included with each issue–a stat sheet of the characters Will, Dustin, Mike and Lucas played.

The variant covers by David Michael Beck (pictured left) are just as terrific. They reproduce the look of those early adventure modules and I feel they are worth seeking out when the trade paperback is not likely to offer repros of everything.

I do get the sense that each issue will not only follow the boy’s life through school but also trace this game’s legacy up to but before advanced edition. After reading all four issues, I’ll have to rewatch the series again just to see how well all the D&D continuity holds up.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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