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What Only Hardcore D&D Fans Know About Stranger Things Season 4's Vecna

The official trailer for "Stranger Things" Season 4 is finally here, giving fans a taste of everything they can expect from the next installment of the highly popular Netflix series. One of the show's greatest strengths is its use of nostalgia. Not just content with being set in the 1980s, the series constantly references the pop culture of the decade and presents a supernatural coming-of-age story that is heavily inspired by classic science fiction and horror films.

One of the most obvious ways that the series evokes this sense of nostalgia is through its regular allusions to the role-playing game "Dungeons & Dragons," which was first created in 1974 and skyrocketed in popularity throughout the '70s and '80s (via Nerdist). Series leads Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Will (Noah Schnapp) are all avid "D&D" players, and as such, they often refer to the supernatural beings they fight using names pulled directly from the game. A few good examples include the Mind Flayer from Seasons 2 and 3, and the Demogorgon from Season 1. It seems that tradition will continue in the 4th season as well, as there are a few hints that the next major villain in the series will be named after yet another "D&D" monster. 

Vecna is a deity in the world of Dungeons & Dragons

Thanks to the early release of the "Stranger Things" Season 4 episode titles, we already know there is an installment called "Vecna's Curse," which appears to be a reference to a malevolent deity from the world of "Dungeons & Dragons." According to the Forgotten Realms Wiki, Vecna was a human wizard who became a powerful lich following his death, and eventually ascended to full-on godhood. Fans on Reddit have speculated that the major villain of the upcoming season will be named Vecna in reference to this character. "The monster at the end is it Vecna?" wrote u/boilerbum19 in reference to the possible shots of Vecna in the recently released trailer for Season 4.

Others speculated that the name might be indicative of the character's backstory — potentially relating to one of the characters we've seen die in seasons past. "I was thinking about either Brenner or could it even be Billy?" wrote u/EclipsedOsiris, referencing deceased characters Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) and Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery). They continued on to speculate, "What if since Billy was a host to the Mind Flayer that he is able to climb out of his grave in the Upside Down as a lich or a vessel for whatever entity is in control there."

The fact that the name of such a powerful "D&D" character is being used at all in "Stranger Things" might indicate that the villain of Season 4 will be more dangerous than anything we've seen in the series thus far. But until the release of Season 4, we can only guess at what Vecna's role will be in the story.