Tag Archives: Stranger Things Season 3

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 4

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 4: Hawkins’ Horde was our fourth session playing vs. Stranger Stuff, a game published by our friends at Fat Goblin Games.

Episodes: Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5 – Episode 6 – Episode 7 – Episode 8

Stranger Things Season 3 - Episode 4: Hawkins' Horde
Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 4: Hawkins’ Horde

Disclaimer: Because Stranger Things Season 3 isn’t out at the time of writing, you don’t need to worry about spoilers, but I’m going to assume you’ve watched Season 1 and 2 already.

Our Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 4 session saw the boys bringing the fight to the mindless hordes of Hawkins. Here’s a summary of episode 4, with tips for running your own Stranger Things campaign at the end of the post.

rpg blog carnival logo Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 4 is brought to you by the RPG Blog Carnival. This month is hosted by Codex Anathema, and the topic is Gamemaster’s Cut, in which we look to the movies (and Netflix) for inspiration.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 4 – Hawkins’ Horde

Scene 1

Player Characters: Lucas, Mike, and Dustin. Will was played by the GM.

Things kicked off from where we’d left off, with the boys watching as Eleven supercharged a truck with lightning.

Making quick plans, the boys cycled across town to the general store. Enroute, they encountered the four-legged brain creatures — which are roughly the size of footballs — for the first time. They managed to dodge them and recall some important Dungeons & Dragons law — they were dealing with intellect devourers, the spawn of mind flayers that have the ability to turn people into mindless thralls. Yup, everything’s starting to make sense now: mindless people in the streets, brain creatures trying to capture Nancy, people acting weird.  Now they just needed to find a way to rescue Eleven and the rest of Hawkins.

At the general store, they managed to find the makings of smoke bombs, some rubber gloves, lighter fluid, and even a katana (in the manager’s office). Anyone remember the Anarchist’s Cookbook? I’m pretty sure the boys have a copy.

With Dustin on lookout, the rest of the boys made a dash for the town hall, where things were going totally bizarre. Eleven was still pulling down lightning bolts, and the truck, which was outfitted with some custom-built tech, was bathed in a blue field of energy. Suddenly the truck disappeared, leaving in its place a red portal into the Upside Down, rotating above the fountain in the town square.

Will, Lucus, and Mike had a hard time with the thralls in the streets but managed to put one or two down with a katana blow to the stomach and some Wrist Rocket shots. It turned out that whacking a thrall hard enough would free them of the intellect devourer’s hold. Good thing they only had 2 Toughness each.

Thrall
Brains 1
Muscles 2
Toughness 2
Enthralled: A thrall that takes 2 damage is freed from the intellect devourer’s enthrallment.

The boys managed to get across town, fighting as they went. Mike made a Brains check to reverse a car into the fountain, jumping out just before it crashed. In moments the car was sucked through the portal, as it continued to grow.

Mike, Will, and Lucas were now surrounded by thralls and having a hard time of it.

Cut to Scene 2!

GM’s Notes: It was a long scene, but it was great giving the boys a chance to shine. I love Hopper and many of the older characters, but really it should all be about the boys (including Max an El). Scene 1 took up most of our session, but it was great pitting the boys against a town filled with zombies and watching the players figure out how to win through.

Scene 2

Player Characters: Hopper, Steve, and Billy.

Hopper and Steve showed up as the battle raged on. Behind them, blasting Rock you Like a Hurricane, was Billy. The three quickly grabbed the boys, pulling them into their cars, as El swung the portal at them. Everyone dodged, succeeding on a massive Muscles 11 check.

Then El swung again, pulling the portal across all the cars. Every one of them was sucked into the Upside Down.

Roll credits!

GMs Notes: Oops. I did something no GM should ever do. I made all the players suffer by forcing a failure on them after they had just made a massive save. This is the worst kind of railroading, and I’m sorry I did it. Not only do I now need to separate two groups of characters, but I also need to somehow get them back out of the Upside Down. Worst of all, the players might feel that their checks mean little in the greater scheme of the game.

GMing Stranger Things

Dealing with GM Error

We’re all less than divine. We mess up. GMs are under a more powerful lens than other players, and we owe it to ourselves and our players to learn from our mistakes and make a better go of things the next time around.

It’s worth looking back at why things went the way they did. I was set on getting Hopper, Steve, and Billy into the Upside Down. When the players dodged the portal that should have been it. They should have made a clean getaway. Because I was focused on them being sucked through the portal as the cliffhanger ending to the session, I didn’t consider other options. So, everyone got sucked through, without a check. If I’d been sharper I could have had something come through the portal, like a Demogorgon. Or have the portal continue to grow as the characters drove off. Both of those options would have been way more fun.

So, don’t hold onto your ideas too tightly, because that’s when you lose sight of what’s important: the players having fun. That was my mistake.

Till Next Time

Our next session is two weeks away, so check back in three weeks for more from Stranger Things Season 3.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 3

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 3: Night Rhythm was our third session playing vs. Stranger Stuff, a game published by our friends at Fat Goblin Games.

Episodes: Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5 – Episode 6 – Episode 7 – Episode 8

Stranger Things Season 3 - Episode 3: Night Rhythm
Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 3: Night Rhythm

Disclaimer: Because Stranger Things Season 3 isn’t out at the time of writing, you don’t need to worry about spoilers, but I’m going to assume you’ve watched Season 1 and 2 already.

Our third session of Stranger Things — Season 3 ended on a real cliffhanger. Here’s a summary of episode 3, with tips for running your own Stranger Things campaign at the end of the post.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 3: Night Rhythm

Scene 1

Player Characters: Joyce, Jonathan, and Hopper.

Following Nancy’s abduction by Mr. Clarke and Barb, in the last session, Jonathan and Joyce called Hopper over to investigate. They didn’t discover much, just Nancy’s right shoe and some tire tracks.

Hopper did all his police things, then the characters headed over to the Wheeler’s house.

Scene 2

The audience sees Billy’s car, then we cut to see him kissing someone. The camera cuts again and we see Mrs. Wheeler pull back. She tells Billy that they need to stop meeting like this, but he reassures her that they won’t get caught.

On the radio, Rhythm of the Night, by DeBarge, is playing.

GM’s Notes: Yuck! I’m starting to hate Billy all over again.

Scene 3

Player Characters: Mike, Hopper, Joyce.

Joyce and Hopper arrive at the Wheelers. They discover that Mrs. Wheeler is out, with Mr. Wheeler asleep on the couch. Mike answers the door. The rest of the kids are down in the basement, playing D&D.

Hopper and Joyce break the news to Mr. Wheeler, who seems overly confident that Hopper will sort things out.

Hopper discovers that El is not there, and he’s unable to get her on the radio. The boys say they haven’t seen her all day.

GM’s Notes: The players had some time to try to coordinate, and figure out what was going on. I wanted to give them as much freedom as they needed to start getting a grip on the situation before I hit them with the next few bombshells.

Scene 4

Player Characters: Nancy. Later Billy and Steve.

Nancy wakes up in the dark. Slowly her eyes adjust and she sees small, pink creatures crawling over her. They’re gooping her with slime, while one climbs over her face. It has four legs, and its body looks like a brain, with a small underslung jaw. The jaw darts out, Aliens style, into her ear. She struggles, but the creature begins to deform, as if it’s moving through the mouth-tube, into her ear.

Nancy thrashes again, and this time breaks free. She rips the thing off her face and runs!

Bursting through a door, she finds herself in an abandoned bowling alley. As she runs, she throws stuff behind her, as she’s pursued by the creatures.

In the street, Steve is heading into a convenience store when Billy comes out, and shoulder bumps him. Before things can escalate between them, they notice that it’s unnaturally quiet in town. In the distance, some people are shambling towards them.

There’s a crash, as Nancy smashes a window with a bowling ball and leaps out into the street, followed by the brain creatures.

Steve runs into the convenience store and picks up a snow shovel, while Billy grabs a tire-iron (aka a wheel spanner). Billy pulls Steve into his car as Nancy jumps in, and Billy hits the gas, expertly driving around the mob of brain-dead people headed their way.

Billy and Steve vs the Horde
Billy and Steve vs the Horde.

As they drive off, they see a horde of more people around a truck in front of the town hall. Mr. Clarke is standing on top of the truck.

Lightning Powered Truck
Mr. Clarke and the Horde around a truck (left of image). The streets are swarming with brainless shamblers and brain-creatures (red & blue).

Lightning strikes somewhere in the distance. A storm is rolling in.

GMs Notes: The brain-creatures are the same creatures who left tracks around Steve’s car, and were waiting for the PCs in the woods. Here are their stats:

Brain-Creatures
Brains 1
Muscles 3
Toughness 3
Swarm: 3+ creatures. Make 2 attacks and draw +1 card per additional creature.
Natural Weapon: 2 Toughness damage.
Entangling Attack: opposed Muscles to entangle. Unentangle is -1 card and vs Muscles again.

Scene 5

Hopper gets a call from Dr. Owens, who’s in town, and describes that he’s seeing people mindlessly walking the streets. Hopper, who was on his way to Mr. Clarke’s house, hits the lights and speeds into town, passing a speeding Billy on the way. The lot of them hook up and head back to the Wheeler’s house. The kids were all sent home to bed… but they have other plans.

Scene 6

Player Characters: None, the GM took control of the boys to put them in deep deep trouble.

Mike, Will, Lucas, and Dustin arrange to meet on the edge of town at midnight. They’re worried about El, and, they figure, it’s usually them who figure out what’s going on before the grownups do.

They climb a water tower, while lightning flashes overhead. From the top they can see the town hall. A truck has been wired up to the clock tower, with wires attached to the lightning rod at the top of the building.

El walks out along the top of the building, throws her hands in the air and is hit by a bolt of lightning.

Shooting Sparks from fingers 1938
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Roll Credits. Watch player’s jaws drop.

GMing Stranger Things

Cliffhangers

I think about what makes an interesting game a lot. It’s my job and my passion. A good cliffhanger ending gives the story power that lasts between sessions and makes your players want to come back for more.

I didn’t think this session was particularly good, at least from my side as the GM. I didn’t throw a lot of stuff at the players, and I felt I didn’t manage to keep everyone as engaged as I hoped. But the ending got great feedback from the players and really got them excited.

Planning a good cliffhanger and making sure you have time to play it out at the end of the session is worth it. Give your players something to think about until they’re at the table again.

Fan Theories and Table Talk

We talked a lot about fan theories during the game, and some real gems came up. I love table talk when it revolves around the game because players are full of ideas worth stealing. Listen to what your players are excited about, and work that into the game, with a twist or two, for even greater effect.

Flip-Mats and Minis

For this session, I used Paizo’s basic flip-mat and miniatures from Zombies!!! (Director’s Cut) and Doom: The Boardgame, with a few Micro Machines for cars. Anything will do really, I just thought these minis added a nice touch to the feel I was going for.

The flip mat is very handy, and gets used in most of my sessions — most highly recommended GM tool, besides a set of dice!

Till Next Time

Our next session is two weeks away, so check back in three weeks for more from Stranger Things Season 3.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 2

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 2: Car Trouble was our second session playing vs. Stranger Stuff, a game published by our friends at Fat Goblin Games.

Episodes: Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5 – Episode 6 – Episode 7 – Episode 8

A big thanks to Margot for sharing her session notes with me.

Stranger Things Season 3 — Episode 2
Stranger Things Season 3 — Episode 2: Car Trouble

Disclaimer: Because Stranger Things Season 3 isn’t out at the time of writing, you don’t need to worry about spoilers, but I’m going to assume you’ve watched Season 1 and 2 already.

Our second session of Stranger Things — Season 3 was an even bigger success, as plots thickened, twists were turned, and an important character went missing. If you haven’t already, read the summary of episode 1 so that you’re up to speed.

Next up is a summary of episode 2, with tips for running your own Stranger Things campaign at the end of the post.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 2: Car Trouble

Scene 1

Player Characters: Dustin, Mike, and Will.

The boys are back from school, watching TV at Mike’s house while it’s pouring with rain outside.

ThunderCats is playing on TV. In this episode, Mumm-Ra is planning to infiltrate the ThunderCat’s lair by assuming the identity of a common housefly.

The players then recapped the previous session and made some plans. It was a Wednesday, with Halloween coming up. They talked about dressing up as the ThunderCats, and maybe going to see Back To The Future.

GM’s Notes: Yeah, you all know the fan theories about Stranger Things Season 3 and Back To The Future.

Scene 2

Player Characters: Lucas, Hopper, and Steve.

Lucas comes into the station just as Hopper and Steve are heading out to fetch Steve’s car. Because of the rain, Hopper offers Lucas a ride.

They talk about El and Mr. Clarke, who are both acting strange(er).

Steve’s car is still parked along the side of the road, but a Brains 7 check reveals that the car has been tampered with, and a Brains 5 check lets the PCs spot tracks under the car: something with four legs and two-toed feet has ripped out the car’s innards!

GM’s Notes: I’ll share stats once my players have encountered the critters, in a later post.

Scene 3

Player Characters: Hopper, Lucas, and Jonathan.

Hopper tows Steve home, then, with  Lucas, heads to the school. They bump into Jonathan there.

Looking for El, they find the AV room locked. Once inside, they find that the equipment has been shifted (Brains 7 to spot this). On investigating, they find that the radios have been hollowed out and all their components removed.

They find Mr. Clarke and question him, but he only says that El went home. Hopper later gives Lucas an important assignment: “Watch him.” They figure out a plan to keep in radio contact, even though the radios are still full of static, which comes and goes in waves.

Scene 4

Player Characters:  The Byers Family.

The family is making dinner and talking about recent events.

It turns out that Will is still seeing visions of the mind flayer. He gets the feeling that it’s frustrated about something, is watching something he can’t see, and waiting for something.

Joyce calls Hopper, so by now, all the playable characters are pretty much in the loop, except maybe for Max and her step-brother.

GM’s Notes: If you think you know what D&D monster is the big bad in our campaign, leave a reply in the comments. Hint: there are two monsters running amok in Hawkins, both of which feature in most versions of D&D (if not all).

Scene 5

Player Characters: Hopper, Jonathan, and Nancy.

Hopper heads home, but on the way gets a radio call from Flo. She doesn’t realize she’s passing on a coded message from Dr. Sam Owens, asking Hopper to meet him at a predetermined location — the bar.

Hopper calls El, who is uncharacteristically fine with Hopper being late.

Hopper meets Sam at the Gas Station Bar. Jonathan and Nancy are seated at the back (okay, they’re underage, oops). Hopper doesn’t see them, but they catch enough of his conversation with Dr. Owens.

Dr. Owens mentions that equipment — with big names Hopper doesn’t understand — has been going missing from Hawkin’s Laboratory. He also discovered a department that is using radio signals and running tests on subjects, similar to what was going on with Eleven.

Dr. Owens slips a key card to Hopper, then leaves. He’s obviously worried that talking to Hopper is going to get him into trouble.

GM’s Notes: Nancy should be 18 in 1985, according to strangerthings.wikia.com. Jonathan should also be 18. That’s the legal drinking age where I live,  which is probably why it didn’t even occur to me to check before. Good thing Hopper didn’t spot them.

Scene 6

Player Characters: Nancy, Jonathan, and Joyce.

At the store where Joyce works. Jonathan now works here part-time.

Nancy is picking up some things when two men walk in from the local Radio Shack. They’re complaining about thefts and that they just had to let one of their employees go. The also mention the radio interference. Joyce confronts them about it, but they don’t have any answers.

After the men left, Nancy thought she saw Barb walk past the isles. Nancy called out, following quickly after, as Barb left the store. Jonathan joined the chase, which ended in a fight in an alley with Mr. Clarke (see the previous episode) and “Barb” turning on Nancy and Jonathan. I drew the Ace of Hearts and Mr. Clarke and Barb escaped, carrying off Nancy!

The credits rolled, and everyone was left eager to play episode 3.

GM’s Notes: If you’ve been keeping score, Mr. Clarke, El, and now Nancy have all fallen into the clutches of evil! Mwahaha!

 

GMing Stranger Things

Session Planning

My planning fills three-fourths of an A4 sheet, in two columns, 12 point font. I’ll only plot out four or so scenes, with a sentence or three about which characters are involved, what’s going on, and some stats and tests. Other scenes happen organically, based off what the players want to do. I usually plan a cliffhanger ending.

It’s a lot less prep than I do for a D&D game, which usually involves a few pages of notes, hand-drawn battle maps, miniature selection, and maybe even a spreadsheet to speed up combat.

The key to prepping a Stranger Things game is to define the major characters, their relationships, and the plots they’re involved in. Then you can set your players free to discover the story for themselves.

To keep track of everything, I use Twine.

Twine

Twine is usually used for building “Choose Your Own Adventure” style games, like our own line of solo role-playing adventures (now offered through our Patreon). It’s very easy to build a simple wiki with it too.

I’m assuming you know the basics of Twine.

My first node is a menu page, with an alphabetical list of PCs and NPCs, locations, and other subjects. Every other page looks something like this:

** Subject 011 / El / Jane**

1. Notes about Jane...

Back to [[Main Menu]]

Breaking that down, it’s a heading, a numbered list of facts about the character, and then a button back to the main menu.

It doesn’t take much to expand the wiki, which I do as part of my session planning. It gives me a good idea of what’s going on so that I can roll with whatever my players want to do.

Playing and Spoilers

It happens that some of your players might not have finished watching previous seasons of the show. Life happens — I’ve been trying to get through Ant-Man since Christmas* — I know how it is. If that’s the case in your group, you have two unappealing options: spoil those episodes or play around them.

We’ve tried our best to avoid mentioning special moments near the end of Season 2, and a player asked to cut a conversation between two characters that would have revolved around the final episode. We still had fun, and our game makes perfect sense. So, personally, I don’t think it hampers the game too much to tread carefully around some of the plot endings.

Till Next Time

Our next session is a week away, so check back next month for more from Stranger Things Season 3.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

* Finished watching Ant-Man last night, almost 2 months after I got it. Loved it.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 1

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 1: Tuning In was our first session playing vs. Stranger Stuff, a game published by our friends at Fat Goblin Games.

Episodes: Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5 – Episode 6 – Episode 7 – Episode 8

Stranger Things Season 3 - Episode 1: Tuning In
Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 1: Tuning In

In this series I’ll give you an overview of our sessions, with tips at the end for running your own Stranger Things campaign. Because Stranger Things Season 3 is not out at the time of writing, you don’t need to worry about spoilers, but I’m going to assume you’ve watched Season 1 and 2 already.

I described a lot of the scenes to the players in terms of the camera, and talked about what the audience might see that the characters might not know, which is what I’ve done below.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 1: Tuning In

Scene 1

Player Characters: Mr. Clarke, and any of the kids (Dustin, Lucas, Max, Mike, or Will).

The camera tracks in from a high angle showing the Hawkins school. It’s a cold day and there are no kids outside.
The camera moves through the main doors and down the hall, passing hand-made posters of pumpkins and other Halloween decorations.
The text “November 1985” comes up at the bottom of the screen.
The camera pushes through a door into a class. Mr. Clarke is busy explaining scientific concepts on the board, his back to the class.
Cut to a medium close-up of El, who’s staring out the window.
Cut to what she’s seeing in her mind’s eye: scenes from the battle with the demogorgon in the school, ending with her fight with the monster in this same classroom.

Mr. Clarke turns around and notices El isn’t concentrating, again. He confronts her.

After that, the kids checked to see if she’s okay, but don’t learn anything.

GM’s Notes: El is struggling to come to terms with her new life, and doesn’t quite fit in yet. She’s also working through all the horrors she’s faced.

Scene 2

Player Characters: Joyce and Hopper

The two are sitting in the car, sharing a smoke. The radio is on. Hopper has just rescued Joyce after her car broke down, again. They talk about the anniversary of all the craziness.

At some point the radio starts crackling. Tuning it does nothing; the static is on every channel. Hopper realizes that this has been happening on and off all day.

GM’s Notes: It’s a good idea to hit your players with a bunch of questions, like:
“What’s on Hopper’s mind?”
“Does Joyce have a new love interest?”

Title Sequence

The title for Stranger Things Season 3 plays. The episode is entitled Tuning In.

GM’s Notes: Linking things as much as possible really works for a Stranger Things game. If I do my job right, my players will start freaking out every time the radio goes on the fritz.

Scene 3

Player Characters: Nancy and Billy. Later Mike joins.

Nancy hears the doorbell and goes to open the door. Billy is standing there. She asks him what he wants, and he says he’s there to see her mom. When Nancy asks her mom, she’s told that Billy has been hired to do odd jobs, like cleaning the pool and washing the car, because “your dad works so hard, honey, he needs his rest”.
On the radio, in the background, Would I Lie To You, by Eurythmics, is playing.

Cut to a montage with Billy doing jobs in the yard, often with his shirt off. This hops back and forth to Nancy and Mike confronting their mom. The kids used their mom’s distraction to milk her for around $50.

GM’s Notes: I expected things to blow up, with Billy or Nancy storming off. Maybe that would have happened if Billy was an NPC, but, for now, he’s right where I want him.

Me thinks the Wheeler family is doomed.

Scene 4

Player Characters: Dustin, Lucas, Max, Mike, and Will. Mr. Clarke joins them later.

We cut to El sitting in the AV room, listening to the radio. Again she’s spaced out, and doesn’t notice when the rest of the gang walk in.

The rest of the group asks El what’s going on, and she flips a switch that allows everyone to hear the static on the radio. She turns to Mike and says “Bad Men.” She points to his forehead, then to hers, then to his again.
They notice that Will is spacing out too.

Lucas decides that, if weird things are happening again, it’s time to go to the cops. He bums money off Mike (who’s flush with cash right now) and uses a pay phone to call. Flo at the Sheriff’s Office answers, but suspects it’s a prank call. Lucas manages to convince her that it’s serious, and she writes a note, which she puts on Hopper’s desk, under his coffee stained mug.

The kids then figure out, with the help of Mr. Clarke and a radio manual, how to calculate the distance of the transmission. Using a map, they figure that the transmission is coming from the Hawkins National Laboratory.

Lucas is creeped out all over again, and calls Hopper for a second time. This time Flo contacts Hopper over the police 2-way.

Scene 5

Player Characters: Hopper, Jonathan, and Steve.

A great scene follows with Hopper — who was patrolling those fields from Season 2 — sending up a rain of gravel as he high-tails it to the school.

On the way, Hopper finds Steve kicking the tires of his car in frustration. He offers him a ride.

Along the way, Hopper asks what Steve is up to lately. Steve isn’t doing much, and Hopper later offers him a job at the police station.

Cut to the kids getting on their bikes and heading to Mike’s house, after Mr. Clarke tells them that it’s getting late and Joyce has already called the school three times.

The audience sees Mr. Clarke (now an NPC) go into the AV room to clean up. He turns on the radio and listens to the static. A dark figure hits him, hard, from behind, and he slumps over.

At the school, Hopper and Steve meet Jonathan, who now works part-time with Joyce, and helps at the school’s photography club, which he is leaving from when they meet him. Jonathan takes them to the AV club.

The door is ajar, and Hopper pushes in to find Mr. Clarke standing in front of them. Mr. Clarke says that the gang have gone home. On questioning him, Jonathan figures out that there’s something weird about Mr. Clarke’s behavior, although there’s no sign that he’s been injured.

GM Notes: I had no idea what Jonathan, Steve, Nancy, and Billy would be up to in 1985, but I figure they are all out of school, but still in Hawkins, at least in November.

Mr. Clarke is no longer a playable character, and that pool of characters is likely to get a lot smaller before the end. Mwahaha!

Scene 6

Player Characters: Flips between Hopper, Steve, and Jonathan, and the kids. Later Dr. Sam Owens join in.

Hopper takes Steve to the Wheeler house, and Jonathan joins them there. They find that Mike already took El home, and has since returned. The remaining kids explain about the radio, and give Hopper the map showing the source of the radio disturbance.

Jonathan takes Will home (after Joyce phones the Wheeler’s).

Hopper drives home to find El asleep in front of the TV. She’s been watching “Growing Pains” and there are half-eaten Eggos on a plate in front of her.

Hopper puts her to bed before calling Dr. Sam Owens. The two have a code figured out and use it to arrange a meeting the next day.

In the morning Hopper finds out from El that the Upside Down is somehow involved, but it’s frustratingly difficult to get more information out of her.

After dropping El at school, Hopper picks Steve up and drops him off at the station. Callahan and Powell have a good go at him: “Didn’t we arrest you once?”

Hopper meets Dr. Owens, who tells him that the lab ran a mind reading program, using radio waves to boost the powers of test subject 009. It was an older project, and Owens is surprised that, if it’s the source, that it would even be running now.

GM’s Notes: If I did things differently, I’d give the teens and kids more conflict to react to during this scene. Maybe Max is having issues at home, and Lucas is taking some backlash from that. I’ll talk more about troupe style play later on, and why players might be disinclined to make things harder for themselves, which is exactly what you need in a Stranger Things game.

Scene 7

Player Characters: Kids, then Hopper and Steve.

We cut to the gang during recess. El is nowhere to be seen. We cut to El in the AV room again. She’s listening to the radio, hearing static. Mr. Clarke comes up behind her and places his hand on her shoulder.
Cut to black.

The credits play out with to the sound of the very really creepy Voice Carry song by ‘Til Tuesday.

After the credits we see Steve bringing Hopper his coffee. Steve asks “About my car…?”

GMing Stranger Things

Inspiration

Search “1985 TV Shows” on Google, look at movies that were released that year, and check out fan theories about the show. You’ll have plenty to work with.

Music

Search “Top 100 1985” on Google for those special tracks that’ll help you tell your story. Play them at the right time and they’ll make a big impact.

Scary Synth Sound Tracks

YouTube has a ton of tracks you could play in the background. Just search “stranger synths” and find something you like.

Player Handouts — Making Them Stranger

If you’re super into it and want the font, you can buy it from myfonts.com. Way over my budget though.

If you just want a title screen, a cheaper solution is makeitstranger.com. The image at the top of this post was made there.

Troupe Style Play

For Stranger Things Season 3 I didn’t just want the players playing the kids. Imagine watching Stranger Things without seeing what the teens and adults are up to! Instead, I gave them access to the main characters, and let them pick who wanted to play who, when.

In many ways this worked, because the players had watched the show and knew the characters. Also, the vs. Stranger Stuff engine is super simple, so it was easy to glance at a character sheet and play.

What didn’t work was that the players were unlikely to throw challenges at each other. Nancy and Billy could have made for a tense scene, but who’s going to throw a spanner in the works in a cooperative game? Next time around I’ll give the players more incentive to be confrontational, or use some of the PCs as NPCs to stir things up.

Even More Inspiration

The following video is the whole reason for our Stranger Things Season 3 campaign. It’s a long one, but worth checking out if you’re still unsure about running a game using the vs. Stranger Stuff rules, or how it fits with Stranger Things.

Our next session is 2 weeks away, so see you back here next month for more from Stranger Things Season 3.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

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Edit, 25 Jan 2018: Thanks to Ree for pointing out a few of the facts I got wrong. They’ve been corrected above.