True Dungeon – D&D without the dice

LARP dungeon warriorFantasy roleplaying games are either played out around a snack-strewn table or sat at a high-powered gaming rig, right? Well, not necessarily. LARPing is a fairly old phenomenon, but True Dungeon is an interesting twist on the idea that I’d not heard of before:

“Each year at Gen Con Indy, a massive gaming convention held in Indianapolis, Martin and a cadre of volunteers assemble a life-size dungeon, complete with traps, monsters and treasure. More than 3,000 people — some dressed for the part — take on the role of a fantasy adventurer and travel through the dungeon each year, attempting to avoid traps, defeat monsters and claim treasure.

From the 6,000 hand-carved stones that make up the walls to True Dungeon‘s immersive sound effects, Martin strives to provide the ambiance of a classic fantasy dungeon. Some monsters are portrayed by volunteers in makeup, while others are sculpted creations or animatronic puppets. Martin adds more detail and complexity each year, within the limits of the space available.”

So yeah, my inner geek thinks that would probably be a guilty pleasure it’d quite enjoy as well. But I wonder if there’d be enough interest in it that a permanent installation somewhere would be a viable business proposition? Both fantasy worlds and RPGs are big business these days by comparison to their outsider status of a few decades ago, after all. [image by Danielle Blue]

Imagine what you could do with a couple of empty warehouses… and you wouldn’t have to stick to fantasy settings, you could just as easily whomp up something more science fictional. Hell, why stop at a couple of warehouses – once they’ve been emptied by the urban drift, you could make an entire town into an RPG setting! Oh, wait, hang on

3 thoughts on “True Dungeon – D&D without the dice”

  1. Neal Stephenson’s early “The Big U” describes some LARPing that approaches this, although admittedly the session is not artificial.

  2. I think it would probably be best set up as an occasional thing unless you could actually make such a Westworld (obviously without the dire consequences) arena. Though 3000 people happily attend a one day trip every now and then, given todays current western society the number of people who would be attracted to such a thing is limited(Though LARPing is not so much my thing I do include myself in this number). It basically makes it very difficult to obtain a successful business from it.
    Saying that, setting up such a arcade in Korea, Japan or China might have a sufficiently large market. Dungeons could be rearrranged regularly to provide sufficient variety, with one or two perminant features. Heck basic sci fi situations would be relatively easy to create with the use of standard laser guns found in your local quasar giving each gun a probability of missing depending on how high your dex score is. Each person carrying round a small ID card with their respective level and stats on, thus if a “bomb” is required to be planted you insert your ID card to a data port and a computer varifies your stats are high enough level.
    Ok I should stop thinking about this or I might get carried away.

    Anywho if I remember correctly I heard of a LARP somewhere in Europe where someone actually made a large animatronic dragon

  3. I am not buying into it. I like the idea of LARP but I am feeling a bit uneasy about the people you end up having to interact with. Many of them lack social graces I’d insist on. They are nice and well informed and all, but I couldn’t stand being around them all day. I tried setting up a goth vampire LARP in the mid 90s, and it went well as long as we stuck to the goth fashion victims – as soon as the students/geeks/roleplayers showed up the sincerity went out the window, campyness, insider jokes and miserable acting/clothing styles destroyed the whole atmosphere.

    My money is on high resolution MMO’s with good graphics that’ll give me something to look at. Oh and a working voice mask. If I see a peach of a drow and next thing is I hear the whiny voice of Jim, accountant IRL, my day is seriously ruined.

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