True Dungeon truths for ’06

The lowdown on True Dungeon‘s gameplan for 2006 has been announced, along with a video peek of the enhanced adventure for this year, Escape from the Spider Cult. The massive live dungeon-crawl event will benefit from increased volunteer training, improved props and environments, and 5.1 stereo surround sound. Other adjustments and improvements are in the press release (below), but one that may bite them in the ass is giving “dead” players the option to hang around and watch. Oh sure, you’ll heal her, but you wouldn’t heal me two rooms ago! Find another ride home, buddy!

True Dungeon press release follows:

Gen Con Indy 2006 Preview

Greetings True Dungeon gamers! This year looks to be quite a step forward for True Dungeon. We have worked hard all through the year to make this event even better, and I think this year will be an amazing experience. We have taken some decisive action to greatly improve the event, and this is detailed below.

However, before reading further you might want to check out a little preview video we have prepared at Note that you should watch this video in the dark and play with your contrast/gamma settings for maximum fun. Much of the footage is from an actual True Dungeon trial run so it is a little dark. Finally, note that the video can be viewed in 3 different resolutions by clicking on one of the three buttons at the bottom right of the player.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Tickets for this year’s event go on sale at on May 1st at 12:00pm PST. Be sure to mark your calendars to buy your tickets that day as tickets go fast. Note that you must have already purchased a badge to buy tickets on May 1st. It is best to do so well in advance at

Our Goals for 2006

We have spent a great deal of time this year reviewing the input of our players, our own thoughts, and lessons learned with experiments tried at Gen Con So Cal in November. Here are our major areas of concern:

  • Dramatically improve sound performance
  • Improve the quality of the sets to further immerse players
  • Improve the ambient lighting to allow for some “reading” light in every room
  • Improve the quality of the module story and continuity
  • Improve the registration/introduction experience
  • Further improve the overall quality of the event

These were the six goals we pursued while we hammered out the event design and structure. The results are detailed below.

Improvements for 2006

True Dungeon, once again sponsored by Wizards of the Coast, will retain its core theme – to provide gamers with a life-size, walk-through event where for two hours they can immerse themselves in a fantasy gaming experience. We have augmented the event this year by making the following improvements:

Great Sound: We are going to wire every dungeon room with its own 5.1 stereo surround sound system, and each room will have its own dedicated music and sound effects. Therefore, we can tweak the music and effect volume for each room – and greatly enhance the audio experience by offering surround sound with a subwoofer. This is going to be a major expense this year in both money and set-up time, but we think the benefits will be tremendous to the game experience.

Awesome New Walls: This is the big news of the year! We are spending approximately 1,000 volunteer hours this year to hand carve 6,600 dungeon wall stones. We then have to apply a texturing and hardening agent, hand paint each stone and then we must mount the stones on to 4’ x 8’ walls. The walls look really cool, and it is a lot of fun creeping down a dungeon hallway that looks so real. Keep a sharp eye out for trap holes and other surprises. They will be in real 3D this year.

Cool New Ceilings: The camo-netting ceiling in the final room of the Tower module last year gave the chamber a cool feel. It felt more enclosed and dangerous. We will have camo-netted ceilings throughout this year’s adventure to supplement the immersive feel of the enhanced walls and sound.

Neat Flooring: Our budget does not allow us to do this throughout the dungeon, but some of the rooms will have “tile-like” flooring instead of the normal ballroom carpet. These rooms should really be immersive.

Better Lighting: We have learned a great deal about lighting this year – both in how to use it for dramatic effect and how to offer ample lighting for things like token reading. We will make use of colored and white spot and pin lights to improve the event. We will still have a party light source, but it will not be as important as it was in years past.

Good Module Design: We have decided that with everything going on this year (a new baby for us in July and the massive wall-making effort) that we should concentrate on offering only one adventure this year – instead of two modules like last year. It was not an easy decision to reach, but after careful thought and much debate we feel that this year we would present one adventure. This will allow us to tweak the module to make it the finest event we have ever presented.

We are going to make two duplicate dungeons this year, which should give everyone a chance to play while allowing us to concentrate on designing, building and tweaking one adventure – with two total copies. Note that we are also reducing our operating hours to improve volunteer training, so our total number of tickets will be around 2,500. The event will start around 10:30am instead of 9:00am. We will use this additional time each morning to make sure our DMs and staff are fully prepared.

This year will see the launch of a 3-year story arc that involves a great evil known as Uiz and his plan to over-run the great city of Greyhawk. This year’s module will pit our adventurers against an ally that Uiz has called into his vile scheme in “Escape from the Spider Cult”. Note that we have crafted this module so that all the rooms form a cohesive experience and story – and that clues from earlier rooms may help in later rooms.

Better Registration/Introduction: This process will be much better organized and integrated into the dungeon adventure. There will be no outside Registration desk; rather, players will meet in the back of the Tavern at their scheduled start time in an “On Deck” area. (Players are allowed to enter the Tavern free well before the start of their adventure. Players can use this time to trade for needed tokens, meet and greet their party members or share a soda or adult beverage.)

At the scheduled event start time an admin person will come out and guide the players into one of the registration rooms. The players will then turn in their tickets, sign waivers, register in the computer system, and receive their Player Level Sticker. Once that is done the players will pick their characters from a group of 10 possible characters (each one a different classes). We are adding the Druid and Monk this year as character class choices.

Next, each player will receive their FREE bag of treasure tokens (a $10 value) to help equip their character. The players will have time to trade tokens back and forth to maximize their party’s effectiveness.

At this time the players will proceed to the next room where they will meet a NPC who will start the beginning of the adventure. The NPC will give them a very brief setting introduction, perhaps trade for one or two choice tokens, and then invite the party to train for the upcoming adventure. After about eight minutes the party will stop their morning training as their solitude will be interrupted by the start of the module introduction. This will be given by a NPC – and not a television set.

An Improved Fantasy Tavern: The volunteers did an awesome job on the tavern last year, but we are taking it up a notch by introducing life-like 3D Tudor-style walls complete with rough-textured beige walls and rough-hewed support timbers. The soda prices will also be dropped to around $4 per glass, and we will offer a full-service cash bar after 6:00pm. Note that players can use their TD event ticket to gain free admission into the tavern the day of their adventure. This is at least a $3.00 value. There will be no back alley this year. Rather all activities will take place inside the tavern – where players might find some wandering NPCs, a few token merchants and maybe some old gaming buddies.

Better Volunteer Training/Scheduling: We are starting the event 1.5 hours later each day (10:30am) so that we can have a morning meeting to train and tweak the event. We are also organizing the volunteers into dungeon teams so that a core group of 25 volunteers will work together to present the best event.

Player Experience Point Level: We have put a great deal of thought and debate into what bonuses players should receive as they advance in levels. Our main concern was not giving high level players too big of an in-game bonus as that would make designing a balanced dungeon very difficult. So, with that in mind, here are the level bonuses for different player levels. They are accumulative.

  • Second Level: Ability to enter certain special events like this year’s True Arena event
  • Third Level: First pick of character class BEFORE any 1st or 2nd level players get to choose. All 3rd level+ players will roll off for order of choosing.
  • Fourth Level: Free admission into the Tavern throughout Gen Con
  • Fifth Level: Gain title of “Lord” or “Lady” which gives you certain privileges inside Tavern, perhaps event and in the official TD website Forum.

Hardcore Dungeon: We will keep the challenge of a Hardcore dungeon this year, but it will be handled differently than last year. Instead of the Hardcore rating being assigned to certain time slots, any group can opt to make their adventure “Hardcore” by informing the admin person when they turn in their tickets. Hardcore teams will be given a different light source to let DMs know of their increased dungeon challenges. Players who survive a Hardcore adventure will receive a special “I Survived” button, as well as a limited-edition special treasure token. Like last year, additional XP is available for playing in Hardcore dungeons.

Death: This subject was well discussed this year, and we have decided to modify what happens to characters once they die. Instead of a Death escorting them out of the dungeon, dead players will be allowed the option of trailing their party as a ghost. These ghosts can then silently follow their comrades throughout the rest of the dungeon – and maybe even get resurrected if the opportunity presents itself. Note that a zero-tolerance policy will be in effect for ghosts who speak, touch objects, give hints or attempts to interact with their party. Offenders will be immediately removed and no XP will be awarded. Players may choose to leave once they die, and they will be escorted out if they wish. Some players might not want to spoil the fun of an additional run.

Event Details: We will be offering approximately 2,500 tickets this year with the event running from 10:30 to midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Again, we are sacrificing some morning tickets so we can hold daily volunteer meetings to ensure we have the best possible event. There are seven tickets available per round (thus 7 characters in each group) and the price is $28.50 per ticket. This price includes a free Treasure Token bag, and free admission into the Fantasy Tavern on the day of event. Players can buy tickets starting at noon on May 1st. We realize this is a bump in price from last year, but we are hoping that players will not mind spending the extra money to upgrade the walls, room sound, sets and DM training.

Treasure Tokens: We will once again publish a 2006 edition of the tokens with many new tokens in each category (Common, Rare, Very Rare and Ultra Rare). These new tokens are available for purchase right now in our online store, and they will ship within a few days of your order. Note that tokens can be bought at the event, as well being found as treasure inside the dungeon. Each bag comes with 7 Common, 2 Rare and 1 Very Rare tokens, and each bag costs $10 each.

Order Tokens Online Here: Be sure to press “CTRL + Refresh” once the page is open so that the new token images load.

Pre-Convention Token Specials: To thank people who support the event before August, we will offer the following specials until July 31st, 2006.

  • “Party Pack Special” – Buy 6 bags and get 1 free = $60
  • “10 Pack Special” – Buy 10 bags and get 2 free = $100
  • “Golden Ticket Special” – Buy 25 bags and get 5 free = $250

In addition, you get a “Golden Ticket” to the exclusive VIP party that starts Wednesday, August 9th at 6:00pm. The party starts with all teams competing in the first soon-to-be annual “True Dungeon VIP Team Tournament” where each member of the winning party will receive a “1 of 7 limited edition” Ultra Rare Treasure Token. The winning team will be announced at the exclusive VIP post-dungeon party inside the closed Fantasy Tavern around 8:30, and then the party will continue until about 10:00pm. It is a great chance to meet the people who bring you this event. Finally, all Golden Ticket Special buyers will receive with their tokens a very cool Token Carrier as shown below. These work great for holding your tokens in an adventure. Note that all “Golden Ticket Special” orders will be shipped WITHOUT the bags – instead they will be shipped in one container.

$500 Bonus Premium – Anyone who places an order with our online store that totals $500 or more will receive a free signed copy of the official TD 2006 module. This module will be signed by the author and mailed shortly after Gen Con Indy.

The Famous “00” Bag – Back in the old AD&D days, it was really cool to roll “00” when you were randomizing your treasure roll. To bring back all that fun, 1 in 100 treasure tokens bags will have a special composition. This year, all “00” bags will replace a Common token with an Ultra Rare token! Note that these Ultra Rare tokens will be harder to find in the dungeon this year.

True Arena

We are also starting a new event this year for all the treasure token collectors. True Arena will allow you to take your 5 best tokens into a 128-player, single-elimination tournament where you can match your sliding (and collecting) skills against mighty foes. The winners from the four 32-player preliminary rounds will face off at Saturday night’s Final Battle, where prizes and glory await! The cost is $3.00 and it is a two hour event. NOTE: You must be at least a Second Level True Adventure player to play in this event. Since we track XP now in real time, it is possible to play your first TD adventure on Thursday, get enough XP to reach 2nd Level, and then play in the event on Friday.

True Dungeon Forum

Please take a minute to stop by our newly enhanced Forum section to see what everyone is talking about – and to leave your own comments. See you there!

True Heroes

We are saddened to announce that True Heroes will NOT return this year due to many circumstances. We appreciate the great job that Steve Sawyer and his crew did at the event! And much thanks to Upper Deck Entertainment for sponsoring the event – and for their great all around help.


  1. I think I like the ‘ghost’ option. Last year I played I was a little bummed out that I got killed in the third room by an arbitrary trap. Though that was the first tavern year and I made the most of hanging out there. But now that anyone can wander into the tavern, there’s got to be some premium for the poor schmucks that don’t make it through the whole enchillada.

  2. I actually dig the idea as well. I think it would be highly cinematic to find a way to rez the warrior right at a time when you needed him. I was bagging on Socal (even though I gave the TD experience there a solid “B”), and I am digging the concepts they have come up with. Reg for Indy is May 1, and you can count me in…

  3. I’m sure that’s why they’re adding the option to hang around and watch. Letting “dead” players stick around and at least see the whole dungeon might reduce hard feelings and unflattering word-of-mouth about it, and few players would pay again just to try surviving longer. Still, that “zero-tolerance policy” toward ghosts that talk is one more thing the already overworked GMs will have to watch out for.

  4. Well, now TD should provide, and you get, a “Speak with Dead” spell or item. Should be fun! 🙂

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