|Monsters & Mana|
|Air date||June 15, 2018|
When the team takes a break to play a magical role-playing game, their fantasy world sparks useful ideas to help them solve real-world problems.
The Paladins play an Altean game called "Monsters & Mana," a "Dungeons & Dragons" style roleplaying game. With Coran taking the role of Lore Master, Shiro, Hunk and Pidge start the game and are then joined by Allura and a reluctant Lance.
Venturing into the Tomb of Horrors, the players use their special abilities to overcome all the obstacles and win through the game.
"I'm not a thief! I'm a ninja assassin, the silent killer."
— Lance as "Pike"
"A blazing sword...."
— Shiro, upon seeing the blade of the sword he found burst into flame
"Stop trying to ruin our fun with learning!"
— Lance hates learning
"I wanna be a Paladin again."
— Shiro just likes being a paladin
- The episodes pays homage to Dungeons and Dragons as well World of Warcraft.
- The Tomb of Horrors references the D&D adventure of the same name; one of the oldest modules, it is well-known for its nigh-unfair level of deadliness.
- Princess Allura's character class is a reference to the 3rd-Edition D&D prestige class, the Arcane Archer.
- The first mount she summons is also a probable reference to the white dragon Flammie from the original Secret of Mana for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System; in addition to having a very similar appearance and being an aerial mount for the entire party, Flammie also appears when summoned in exactly the same way.
- Lance makes reference to a Yalexian Pearl.
- The sword the Paladin Shiro finds in the treasure hoard is a high-fantasy version of Voltron: Defender of the Universe's Blazing Sword.
- The introduction of Shiro's character at the inn could be a reference to Aragorn's introduction in the Lord of the Rings movies.
- Shiro's character's backstory is told through manga panels of a tattered Karate Gi training to perform a hadouken-like attack and quest to avenge the death of his master, a reference to the Street Fighter character Ryu.
- This entire episode uses the trope of having a tabletop Dungeons & Dragons-like game predict future events in the real world. Key elements include:
- The Innkeeper to whom Pidge and Hunk bring their crystal represents Lotor and his use of the extrauniversal comet.
- The Innkeeper's betrayal foretells that of Lotor, as also his using of the heroes' energy represents his harvesting of Altean's quintessence.
- Shiro's dying and being reborn as an identical Paladin foretells the revelation that he himself is one of many clones.
- The Innkeeper's transformation from fast-moving sorcerer into Coranic Dragon foreshadows the forming of the Sincline Beast, which has a similar appearance complete with tail.
- Use of the Blazing Sword foreshadows the reappearance of Voltron's flaming sword (properly referred to by Paladin Zarkon as the Blazing Sword in Uncharted Regions), just as its destroying the Coranic Dragon by fire foreshadows Sincline's being defeated by quintessence overload.
- Running Gags:
- All forms of character portrayed by Coran retain Coran's moustache.
- Shiro's insistence of his in-game character being a Paladin that his said character always return with exact same character class, much to other players' dismay.
- The episode is written by Mitch Iverson, a regular D&D player. The brutality of Coran as the Game Master is attributed to Iverson.
- Lance's lack of understanding of a twenty-sided die is based on a real experience Iverson had with a friend who thought a D20 is larger than normal dice.
- This episode contains numerous references to various gaming and pop media:
- Steve Ahn made episode stills in the montage mirror the cover art of Final Fantasy XV, Final Fantasy VII, and, at the request of executive staff, Chrono Trigger.
- Lance and Allura are posed much like Tidus and Yuna's romance scene in the lake of Final Fantasy X.
- The montage includes a Korean ghost thanks to Steve Ahn.
- Hunk takes an arrow to the knee, a joke from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
- A change in the viewer's user-interface with pixels and mouse clicks is a reference to World of Warcraft suggested by either Steve Ahn or Mir staff Jang Seok Jin.
- The levitation spell birds are inspired by cuccos in The Legend of Zelda.
- The pixel art scene in the tavern is inspired by Suikoden.
- The first mount that Allura (Legendary Defender) summons is from Secret of Mana.
- The second mount that Allura summons, a "Mer-Pegasus", is colored similar to Ariel from The Little Mermaid, thanks to Lauren Montgomery.
- The treasure room contains rubies and a potion from the Legend of Zelda franchise.
- Lance's cat-like alter-ego is inspired by Merle from Escaflowne, originally intended for Pidge.
- Allura's alter-ego and Hunk's are inspired by Record of Lodoss War, with Hunk's alter-ego being based on Etoh.
- Coran's dragon form is inspired by Breath of Fire dragons.
- Coran's true form is inspired by Orcos from Kid Icarus and Ainz Ooal Gown from Overlord. Lauren Montgomery was not familiar with Overlord but saw a toy of Ains and showed it to designer Christie Tseng.
- There are fairies from The Legend of Zelda in lamps of the tavern.
- "Shiro" obtains the blazing sword from the original Voltron: Defender of the Universe.
- There were intended to be more references in the treasure room, including Aladdin's lamp, Ariel's fork, Sleeping Beauty's spinning wheel, and Cinderella's glass slipper from Disney; and He-Man's sword, but the legal team saw the notes specifically naming the objects and removed all traces of them. According to Lauren Montgomery, they were able to get other references in by not telling their legal team where the references were coming from.
- The "Coranic Dragon" was originally named the "Gygaxian Dragon" after Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax. This was also removed by the legal team.
- Rhys Darby voices all incarnations of Coran in the episode, including the monstrous dragon form, in which his voice was digitally edited.
- The alter-egos of the Paladins were designed to be based more on character personalties. Originally, it was written with Pidge as a wizard and Hunk as a tank, inspired by the 80's Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, but Lauren Montgomery suggested the opposite and had Iverson watch Record of Lodoss War for the first time, which was created from table-top RPG systems; as such, Hunk is a healer and Pidge is a tank.
- "Shiro" choosing to be a "Paladin" in the imaginary world is a joke among staff that Shiro is a stereotypical hero-type that staff generally finds boring, and their struggle to make him interesting with his tragic past.
- "Shiro's" alter-ego character, constant replacement with exact copies, and desire to be nothing other than a Paladin, mirrors his clone storyline.
- Though he did not play the game, Keith was designed as a barbarian by character designer Christie Tseng. Mitch Iverson says that Keith would be a half-elf ranger because he is part Galra, a lone wolf, and a tracker who bonds with animals (which would also have made him parallel Hank, the ranger leader of heroes in the 80s Dungeons & Dragons cartoon).
- Michael Azzi created all the pixel art scenes much like he did for the video game in Black Site.
- Steve Ahn created all the artwork for the back story of "Shiro's" alter-ego character.
- Steve Ahn storyboarded the tavern scene to include alter-egos of numerous staff members, and this made the final cut.
- Lauren Montgomery says that her favorite easter egg in the episode is when Pidge is breaking the vases "a la Zelda" and a Blade of Marmora sword appears, which was inspired by fan art of Link smashing vases while inn-keepers cower in fear.