We already know what’s going to happen in Stranger Things season 3 (and beyond), and it’s all thanks to Dungeons & Dragons. The old-school pen-and-paper RPG isn’t just a seminal part of the first two seasons of Stranger Things; it’s crucial to decoding the future of the show. If you haven’t finished Stranger Things season 2, then SPOILER ALERT because we’re about to get into the nitty-gritty of what went down this season, and what lies ahead.

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In season 2, episode 8, titled “The Mind Flayer,” Dustin draws an analogy between a fan-favorite D&D monster of the same name and whatever shadowy creature is possessing Will Byers. According to  Dungeons & Dragons‘ Monster Manual, the bestiary containing all of the game’s creatures, mind flayers are “psionic tyrants from another dimension that harvest entire races for their own twisted ends” and live in an evil, subterranean cave network known as the Underdark.

Using mind control and psionic powers, mind flayers operate as a hive mind, reporting in to an elder brain who gives them commands. They also have nasty facial tentacles, which they use to glurp your brains like so much Go-Gurt. Sound familiar? That’s basically what the shadow monster does to Will over the course of season 2, seizing control of poor, ol’ Zombie Boy and commanding an army of demogorgon dogs (or demodogs if you’re nasty) to do its bidding.

So how does this play in to season 3 and beyond? Well, in D&D lore, there are even more powerful mind flayers out there– mind flayer arcanists and mind flayer liches–who use powerful sorcery to augment their already fearsome psionic powers. At the end of season 2, Eleven, the party’s self-professed “mage,” uses her own version of “sorcery” to seal the interdimensional rift to the Upside Down. Lurking just behind the rift, watching her the whole time, was the mind flayer, our shadow monster.

While Will Byers proved to be a useful vessel in nearly turning Hawkins into the Upside Down’s summer vacation home, he wasn’t perfect because he didn’t have the magical ability necessary to help the mind flayer evolve into a mind flayer arcanist or lich. But you know who does have magic powers? Eleven. And in seasons 3 and 4, she is going to be the next target and perhaps victim of the mind flayer. With Eleven and her powerful psychic powers under the shadow monster’s control, it would take a whole lot more than heat lamps or a natural 20 to prevent the Upside Down from destroying Hawkins and the rest of the Prime Material Plane as we know it.

What do you think the mind flayer will do in season 3 and beyond? Let us know in the comments below!

Want even more Stranger Things goodness?

Is Eleven more powerful than a Jedi?

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Images: Netflix; Wizards of the Coast

Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of books about  Star Wars and  the Avengers. Follow him on Twitter ( @DanCasey).

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