Stranger Things and D&D at Last: A Review

The Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set was pretty much inevitable. From the moment we saw Mike DM D&D for his friends early in the first session of the Netflix series, the clock started ticking when some crossover product would be released. Announced at Toy Fair earlier this year, Hasbro is heavily gearing this product to the mass market, not just hobby game stores.
Modeled on the original “red box” D&D Basic Set, the Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set has nice faux wear and tear on the box as if one of the kids in the TV show carried it around in their bag. Like the original red box set it comes with six, not seven, polyhedral dice (only one d10 that has to be rolled twice to generate percentile results) though these are all a sapphire blue instead of the original colors. In addition to a starter rule book, adventure, dice and pre-gens it also comes with two demogorgon minis that have a nice amount of detail in the sculpture.

The rules in the set are 5th Edition, of course. While not authentic to the original red box the entire point of this crossover is to attract new or lapsed players so pulling them into the current rules makes the most sense. Plus 5th Edition has a old-school feel anyway mixed with more streamlined mechanics.

The actual explanation of the rules and how to play are nicely done. While the 5th Edition Players Handbook does a good job of explaining everything, it's simplified even more here without dumbing it down. The examples of how to play use the character names from Stranger Things, of course.

The best part and the showcase material is “The Hunt for the Thessalhydra, a D&D Campaign by Mike Wheeler.” Written by Stan! and Ben Petrisor, it's a mix of the D&D adventure you see Lucas, Will and Dustin play on Stranger Things with echoes of the weird things happening in their town, like “The characters meet the Proud Princess, a powerful adventurer who has her own quest and wants nothing to do with the characters.”

More than just a gimmick, the adventure is broken down well for a new DM about taking time for certain things, plus with in-character notes about Lucas wanting to be all business. The “Notes to Myself (As Dungeon Master) have good advice for anyone, especially the part about “my job as DM is to make sure everyone has a good time...” Some experienced DMs still need to learn that, unfortunately.

If you ever wondered what the kids' characters on the show are, wonder no more. The pre-gens in the set match what you see.

If you're a huge Stranger Things fan, you'll probably like the Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set. More importantly, if you have a friend who loves Stranger Things but has never played D&D and is curious about it, the Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set is probably a perfect gift.

This article was contributed by Beth Rimmels (brimmels) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!
 

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

Zaukrie

New Publisher
This seems like another review that is just a summary of what is in the box. What happened to ENWorld articles that had good reviews? The linked to review on page 1 is much more helpful.
 

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Nathaniel Lee

Adventurer
I like the visual design of the map in the included adventure, but the "handwriting" font is too neat and perfect to look like a little kid wrote it. I would have preferred the notes to look a little bit more "scrawled" (in other words, the immersion level could have been a little bit higher). I also would have preferred the miniatures to have been the "demogorgon" and "thesselhydra" miniatures from the show... BUT it's also kinda cool to have the show's actual monster in miniature form.

It's definitely not bad as a starter set for the game, but I would have liked the adventure to have been _in addition to_ the Phandelver module.
 

Why is this 10$ basketball not the same as the one the NBA players use? That's an absurd position as is the idea that an entry level D&D product have the same quality as the standard game, where you would need to spend about $175 dollars to get full game version/quality as the Stranger Things set

If that 10$ basketball leaks air and doesn't bounce properly, it's still overpriced. What's "absurd" is saying that quality doesn't matter at all as long as the price is cheap enough.
 

JRedmond

Explorer
2 minis, dice set and 3rd to 5th level adventure for 25-30 bucks? It's a fine value and has more people asking me to DM than any time since 2015.

It's a fine product

I disagree the miniatures are cheap, the "painted" model is identical except the mouth has a little red paint. The adventure should start at level 1 for new players to not overwhelm them. The adventure itself is extremely short and poorly written. Let's compare it to the Starter Set which is $12 and has one of the best 5e adventures released so far. I love Stranger Things and it's great if it brings in players but it's a bad product. I'm also not the only one with this opinion.

Also read the reviews on Amazon, while the average is three stars right now if you read the individual reviews you'll see why. All the five star reviews are Stranger Things fans who have said they aren't even going to open it. There are many very low reviews on there.
 
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I have read as main complains:
Nearly empty box. That was the same with the original set. Enough space to put everything you have in as a beginner. Dice, pencil. Whatever you like.
The box needs to be this big to find a space in a game store.
- Overly simple adventure. Starting from level 2.
Actually the Phandelver adventure was not as good as everyone says. At least as intro. The first encounter was very deadly. The goblin lair was also quite deadly for your first journy into DnD. Phandelver thereafter is a bit overwhelming for a first time DM.
So if the adventure is not too hard, easy to play and short it is a plus point in my book.
I have not seen it yet so I could be wrong.
 


Nathaniel Lee

Adventurer
In retail the OG Starter set is $20. Source, the Target by my house

Yep -- $19.99 list price at Amazon. The extra $5 is for the license. LOL

The miniatures are a little weird -- rubbery and flexible -- but they work just as well as the WizKids minis and have a decent sculpt.

The adventure looks pretty short, or maybe it's just sparse on explicit details. There are definitely less locations in the module with the entire adventure basically taking place within a single cavern.

It's not bad, but it objectively gives you less for a higher price tag. I think it's fine for what it is, but those complaining about it make fair points. That said, I don't think it's a bad product for fans of Stranger Things looking to get into Dungeons & Dragons.
 

I bought it twice (once for collecting, once to open) and it's been my worst buy in a very long time.
The big box is almost empty, the rulebook is about as enchanting as a tax form (what wretch conceived this horrible layout?), the miniatures are sub-par and the adventure is... short.

Avoid this box like the plague. A huge disappointment.
 


Cool idea but it is just not well done, especially as compared to Mines of Phandelver, which may be the best 5e adventure ever and a great way to start playing the game.
 

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