Imagine if the boys in Stranger Things were still getting together to play Dungeons and Dragons today, having collected more than 20,000 hand-painted figurines, a basement filled with elaborate war game terrain, and three decades worth of stories.
That's the magic that Robert Wardhaugh has created, after he first started playing the game in his parents' home in Borden, Sask., in 1982.
Despite the challenges of time and space, and the fact that he now lives in London, Ont., he is still playing the game with several of those same buddies.
"From an early age, I didn't like losing friends," Wardhaugh told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning host Leisha Grebinski.
He said men may not be "particularly great" at maintaining friendships in the face of challenges like work, distance or family demands. But when he first began playing Dungeons and Dragon, he saw the potential to create an epic, never-ending game of creativity — one that would slay any obstacles in the path to friendship.
"If I could create something like that, my friends would always come to me, no matter where I was."
'Words don't really describe it'
Alan Nichol started playing the game in his teen years, after meeting Wardhaugh in Saskatoon. Now, Nichol travels three times a year to wherever Wardhaugh is, to take part in the game.
Computer technology helps the friends stay in touch as well, with the group playing several sessions a week together over video.
Wardhaugh's entire basement is dedicated to Dungeons and Dragons, and he has collected thousands of figurines and props along the way.
"Words don't really describe it; it's amazing," said Nichol.
Nichol said he plans to stay in the game as long as Wardhaugh is around, and Wardhaugh said he's in it for the long-haul.
"I'll play the game as long as I'm alive and I'm able to keep on thinking," Wardhaugh said.