Stranger Things wasn’t the only franchise to get the D&D crossover treatment. In the exact same year, we would get a second crossover starter box, this time focusing on the Rick and Morty series. The difference between the two boxed sets are night and day, and that’s going beyond the obvious fact that the two shows are of different tones.
Stranger Things’ Boxed Set gives you a rather cut and paste recreation of the Player’s Handbook from the previous starter box. It’s mini-adventure did a little better at tying to the source material beyond just including the Upside Down and the Demogorgon by including plot elements from the in-universe campaign and piecing together what they think the adventure was.
Rick and Morty, however, has its signature, cynical humor written throughout the entire box as Rick riffs on the normal Player’s Handbook. Obviously, whoever made this knows that there’s already three starter boxes that have a player’s handbook (The first one with the Lost Mine, Stranger Things, and Essentials Kit) and decided “Okay, I doubt anyone’s gonna buy this as their first product in D&D so I might as well have some fun!”
Hell, the writing is so authentically Rick that I’d be surprised if it was one of the writers of the actual show behind the pen. This is made all the more hilarious because instead of just screenshots from the show, the images are drawn comic panels with jokes relevant to the topic they’re attached to. Honestly, it’s worth hunting down a copy just for this alone if you’re a big fan of either Rick and Morty or comedy in general.
Another major difference is that whereas Stranger Things was primarily a short, one-shot adventure not unlike the ones you’d see for D&D Encounters, the Rick and Morty spin-off has an entire dungeon, filled with 40 rooms for the party to explore, making it more akin to something like Dungeon of the Mad Mage than, say, Dragon Heist.
But you want me to get to the part where I play a game and make up a story with the assistance of dice tables that determine yes or no questions and occasionally create plot twists. Well, before we do so, allow me to establish some backstory for these characters since the game, still being written in the humor of Rick and Morty, throws us into a dungeon with nary any detail in contrast to the Stranger Things crossover where we have a bit of backstory as to why we’re hunting the Thessalhydra.
- Ari Strongbow lost her brother to a raid by Orcs and wants revenge. Her mentor and father figure, Kiir Bravan, sticks with her because he believes she might go down a dark path.
- Keth Silverson was an orphan who steals everything from everyone. Lyan Amaranthia, instead of arresting him for a bounty, chooses to instead take him in and teach him how to live his best life.
- Matthias Fabian was a prince of the Fabian Family before a curse placed on him by the Colonel turned his family into mindless barbarians. Matthias survived the bloodbath, but escaped with his mind scathed, now being only known as Meatface.
- Kiir met up with Lyan and the two pairs became one as Lyan put her faith in the wizard father figure. Ari, while the appearance of Keth reminded her of the raid, also reminded him of her brother and decided to treat him as though he were her brother. Meatface just joined because they were gonna smash heads in.
And now, we can begin. Now, the module gives us a rather elaborate dungeon done in the classic blue and white color scheme commonly associated with old D&D maps. Fun fact: the reason they were blue is to prevent photocopying back then. However, it’s more of a layout. Most of the rooms are vacant appearance wise save for a few that have evocative designs.