Frank Mentzer wrote the iconic Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set which came out in 1983.
Known as the Red Box, it introduced a generation to the wonders of role-playing, and helped plant the seeds of white-hot Netflix sensation, Stranger Things. Now, Frank would like to give back, and run game for the young stars of Stranger Things, and maybe even pop in on an episode.
Frank was moved seeing his work referenced on the show. In one episode, we even see the cover of a D&D book Frank worked on, the Dungeons & Dragons Expert Rules Set. He said watching the show was, “pretty cool… I’m not part of the System, just an old retired game designer, so I never heard anything about the show until it started in mid-July. And it’s already a phenomenon in many ways; huge summer buzz.”
But Frank was not content to slump on his well-earned laurels. He wants to give back. Frank said, “These young actors did a fabulous job. They seem to love the D&D game… but they’re young, have very probably never experienced the Original game, and may not be D&D fans at all! Newer versions are rather rules-heavy by comparison (popular in the current market of course). I’d like to show not only the actors but any & all other interested production folks what a real old-style D&D game is really like — fast and engaging, with very few hard-and-fast ‘rules’.”
Which begs the question, what would one of the godfathers of D&D run for the kids and crew of Stranger Things? “I often do something called ‘The Ad-Lib Dungeon’ at game convention[s]… Each participant writes down a person, place, or thing, and passes me that scrap of paper. I take 15 minutes and, drawing on my 40-year background with such things, create an entire adventure that includes all those items within a reasonable plot. The plot lines can get kinda strange, due to the variety of the suggestions, but overall it works quite well.”
And if the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, wanted Frank to have a cameo, or maybe run game for the kids on the show? Frank “Can’t rule anything out. I’m volunteering an absolutely free service with no strings attached… I’m 65, doing fine, and not looking for work. But this whole show is fabulous, and hits close to home. So I’m motivated to reach out.”
What do you think of the D&D roots of Stranger Things? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Netflix and Wizards of the Coast.