There are many reasons to love the latest and greatest season of the Duffer brothers’ Netflix smash hit, Stranger Things: the stellar cast, the practical effects, Kate Bush, Metallica—but best of all? Its unabashed love for the greatest role-playing game of all time, Dungeons & Dragons.
For those who have never experienced the sublime pleasure of selecting a character class or rolling a natural 20, a primer: Created by the legendary Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and first published in 1974, D&D is considered the birth of modern role-playing games and the reason why RPG video games exist. No D&D, no Skyrim.
But what is perhaps most remarkable about its place in the Stranger Things universe is not so much the goblins and paladins that populate this fantasy realm, but the moral panic that falsely framed D&D as a gateway to satanism and suicide. Borne of the infamous Chick Tracts, a series of Christian fundamentalist screeds, the 1984 publication Dark Dungeons was the match that lit a powder keg of pearl-clutching outrage.