True Dungeon


It features a 6,000 square foot medieval village, complete with tavern. It's filled with intricate puzzles and monsters. Those who survive are rewarded for their efforts with treasure. It sold out last year at GenCon, and is scheduled to sell out again. And Wil Wheaton once played a bard who got killed by a giant spider. It could only be True Dungeon.

truedungeon-logo.jpgTrue Dungeon returns to GenCon Indy this year, bigger and better than before. This d20 variant, created by Jeff Martin of Dwarven Forge fame, is part RPG, part LARP, giving fans of tabletop gaming a chance to act out real-life adventures in a full-sized dungeon without all the running around in the woods waving foam swords.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Each True Dungeon event starts in a 6,000 sq. foot medieval fantasy inn and village, allowing players to meet, get into character, and begin their adventure. Groups of seven will have 30 minutes to explore the area, meet NPCs, purchase equipment at shops and share some real soda or beer. After that, it's into the dungeon for a two hour epic odyssey of exciting sets, interactive props, fiendish traps, deadly monsters and much more.

Don't feel like delving into the dungeon? Not to worry, says Jeff Martin.

"I wanted to provide a place unlike anywhere on Earth. In short, a geek bar."

"The event has been greatly expanded this year with the addition of the True Dungeon Tavern," says Jeff. "Not only will it be open to all players, but Gen Con gamers can come in and hang out (9:00am - 2:00am, Thursday through Saturday). We wanted to create an awesome place for gamers to "geek out" and revel in drinking in a medieval fantasy inn. Gen Con comes only once a year, so I wanted to provide a place unlike anywhere on Earth. In short, a geek bar."

This year's dungeon is also expanded and improved, in response to feedback from last year's players. For starters, the event will be moving across from the Exhibit Hall to the Marriott Grand Ballroom. That gives Jeff and crew much more room for more NPCs, more props, and even a back alley for all you thieves and rogues. Inside the dungeon itself, gamers will find improved lighting, more monstrous surprises, and improved gameplay.

"The event has grown tremendously, and we will greatly improve the quality of the experience this year by moving to the "one-DM-per-room" staffing model," says Jeff. "This will make the DM training much easier, and the DMs will do a great job this year. We have also decided to make the dungeon a little less deadly to allow players more of a chance to see all the hard work we put into the entire dungeon."

truedungeon-tavern.jpg     truedungeon-tokens.jpg

But don't worry; there's still plenty of opportunity for more adventurous players to test their mettle. In addition to the normal True Dungeon adventure, there's also a challenging Hardcore adventure for gamers who want an exacting contest of wits, skill and daring (along with a special prize for those who manage to finish the dungeon alive).

And what reward will you receive for all your efforts? Treasure, of course.

"The treasure tokens were a big hit last year, and we will bring them back for 2005," says Jeff. "The tavern will offer ample places to spend any loot recovered, as players will be able to equip their characters with better weapons, armor, and even some magic items. These tokens will be available prior to the show at our website, and at the event. They can also be found for free inside the dungeon, and all players will get some free ones at the start of the adventure."

Even Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame has taken a run through True Dungeon as a bard

True Dungeon players also gain event experience points much like D&D characters. As a player goes up levels she gets some special skills, feats or bonuses for her upcoming adventure. One such bonus that will be open to 3rd level players will be the opportunity to join the Adventurer's Guild -- and hang out in a secret VIP room inside the tavern. The Guild room offers some nice benefits for a character before an adventure.

And getting into that VIP room will be very challenging, indeed. Last time around, over 1500 gamers participated, and the event sold out during pre-registration. The best way to secure a spot this year is to pre-register starting on May 16th at the Gen Con website . Even Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame has taken a run through True Dungeon as a bard (he talks about it in his blog), so who knows who you might see this year!

"The Lord of the Rings movies have had a strong effect on me, as they have shown me that it is possible to create something very cool with a lot of hard work," says Jeff. "I think they have encouraged me that my geek efforts were valid and well-spent, and they have inspired me to try even harder to make a cool experience for our gamers. I can't think of anything I would rather do."

For more info, check out the True Dungeon website at

That sounds pretty frigging cool. I have never heard of this but it sounds great. It makes me wish I was going to GenCon this year.


Seconded. Sounds pretty farging cool. Thanks for the write-up, Aeon.

i've always wanted to go to gen-con...but it's so expensive!
(especially considering the plane ticket price)

I wonder... if a barbarian PC freaked out at a monster attack and inadvertently punched a DM out... would that player be kicked out, or receive bonus XP for good roleplaying?

There's nothing like this in the UK that anyone knows of, is there? I'd love to go to something like this (I've LARPed and love roleplaying) but I can't find anything remotely similar.