Further to this question: What is the Vale of Shadows?

There are apparently some similarities, as well as vast differences, between the Vale of Shadows, as shown in the Netflix series Stranger Things and the D&D plane of Shadowfell.

What are the major differences and closest similarities between the two?

When I say the Vale of Shadows, I'm referring more in terms of the "Upside Down" dimension we see a fair amount of, as opposed to the short description of the Vale of Shadows that we get.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So I have read the other question and done of its answers... What do you feel has been left out? \$\endgroup\$
    – Levi
    Aug 2, 2016 at 5:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm intrigued by this question, but I can't help but wondering what are you referring to, the Vale of Shadows (as in Mike's imaginary DND creation) or the "Upside Down" (the show's very real alternative dimension)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Amedeus
    Aug 2, 2016 at 20:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Levi well the answer to the previous question focused on the fact it's not a D&D official thing and was made up for show \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3, 2016 at 9:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Amedeus I'm referring to the Upside Down as we see much more of that than the short description given about the Vale of Shadows \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3, 2016 at 9:44

2 Answers 2


Given how sparingly little we know about the Upside Down, it's quicker to list the similarities:

They're both dark, shadowy reflections of the "normal" world, and places of death and decay.

Beyond that if we want to compare them more deeply, the answers tend to be "we don't really know", so there's not much comparison to be had. After all,

we were only there for a few minutes of screen time total, and we saw all of the thematically important things: rot, fungus, weird stuff growing over everything, decay, death, etc. We also only saw one inhabitant: the thing the kids called the Demogorgon. There's a lot of suggestion at there being much, much more, but really the Upside Down we saw was pretty simple in terms of components.

There's one clear difference though:

Unlike the Shadowfell, which is quite significantly departed from the shape of the Material Plane, as best we can tell it seems the Upside Down extremely closely mirrors everything in our world, down to the placement of individual lawn chairs. It must look pretty strange in there when we're busy building something.

We might be able to do better comparison once there's a second season, but until then there's not much to be done.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ thanks for the answer, I'll be accepting this and perhaps we'll see if season 2 gives us any more insight! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 5, 2016 at 8:00

In my opinion, we have a direct match as for what source material the writers used. I'm 100% sure that they meant the Shadowfell, with their Upside Down. Check out the 4e source material about the Shadowfell. I don't have the books with me, but I'm pretty sure it was specified that the Shadowfell does mirror the material plane, but in a twisted way, where everything looks like it has sustained decades of ruin and decay. Exactly how the Upside Down looks, minus one point, which I think was the only original input of the writers on top of the Shadowfell. And it's the weird mold/vegetation/spores that we see all over the Upside Down. It is actually partially if not completely borrowed from another iconic D&D concept: the Underdark (coincidentally or not: Under Dark <-> Upside Down).

Add to this the Demogorgon references, and I'm pretty sure the authors' latest campaign was Out Of The Abyss...

They were clever in putting in enough differences as to avoid infringement of intellectual property, but if you ask me, it's all barely legal, if the Shadowfell and Underdark really are Wizards Of The Coast IPs.

That said... I love ST, I love the Duffer brothers. They brought two of the things I love the most (D&D and synthwave music) to the mainstream audience, in one single package that might have just changed the world as I knew it.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE, Rafael. Unlike a discussion forum, this Q&A format has some nuances and features that are worth looking into before you make an answer. Please take the tour and visit the help center to get an idea for how this site is different from a discussion forum. Answers need to be supported, and opinions are not as useful, nor as helpful, as they might be on a discussion forum. Thanks for joining in, and please browse some more of the questions and answers about role playing games. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 2, 2017 at 13:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since "Shadowfell" is new with 4E, and Stranger Things is decidedly 1980s-themed, this seems unlikely. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 2, 2017 at 16:21

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