One of the great era-appropriate quirks of Netflix’s ‘80s-nostalgic fantasy adventure Stranger Things — which recently returned for a feverishly anticipated second season — is that the preteen geeks of Hawkins, Indiana, are obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons. The first and last times we see them in season 1, they’re playing D&D. They don’t return to their on-screen game in season 2, but they still talk about their real-life adventure as if they’re an adventuring party, right down to assigning themselves character classes. It’s part of the text of Stranger Things, but also the metatext: threading elements from D&D into the show’s narrative helped creators Matt and Ross Duffer create an addictively familiar world for fans of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and other 1980s icons. Some of the series’s retro elements are outdated now, like the stand-up arcades and the giant walkie-talkies. But if the show was set in the present day, the kids might realistically still play D&D. What’s more, they’d probably watch other people play D&D on the internet. Stranger Things’ Dungeons & Dragons addicts share a triumphant moment in the game. Netflix Dungeons & Dragons, the grandaddy of role-playing games, dates back to 1974, but it’s never been more popular than it is today. According to Seattle-based game publisher and Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, D&D had its most profitable year ever in 2016, and is on track to surpass it in 2017. A huge reason for that surge is the rise of “liveplay” or “actual play” broadcasts. Long-running campaign podcasts like Critical Hit and Nerd Poker have been building fandoms for close to a decade now, with groups of players recording their D&D campaigns for steadily growing audiences of thousands. Newer actual-play podcasts like The Adventure Zone have redefined what D&D looks like, with comedy and personality mattering as much as the campaign story itself. Increasingly, the new players who get in on the act are also streaming and recording video of their sessions, so fans can watch and interact with the games as well as listen to them. “Over half of the new people who started playing Fifth Edition [the game’s most recent update,