Major Spoilers brings to you the last of our reports from Gen Con, with a little bit of dungeon crawling, zombie hunting, and a Cthulhu made out of balloons.
This one’s going to be a bit light on the photos, so I apologize. Both True Dungeon and RISING take place in extremely dark locales, and any sort of flash photography would’ve ruined the game for surrounding peoples. So in the best RPG tradition, I ask you to use your imagination. In return, I offer you my two favorite cosplays – Steampunk Boba Fett and an excellent Attack on Titan rendition of (I assume) Mikasa Ackerman.
On Friday, I spent a good chunk of my day in the True Dungeon, undertaking the Lycans Afoot adventure with a doughty crew of fellow travelers. For those unfamiliar, True Dungeon is something like a Halloween haunted house turned into a dungeon crawl. Players start off with equipment tokens to kit out familiar D&D-type classes (like rogue, paladin, fighter), and then go through a series of 8 challenges. Each challenge takes place in a dressed up room, usually with an NPC character to prompt the action.
When playing True Dungeon, you have the option of going the combat route or the puzzle route. Combat is performed through a modified shuffleboard-type game. Players slide discs (usually with an embedded weapons token) on a table with a depiction of the enemy on it. Where the disc lands determines whether it hits and how much damage is done. There are slight variations according to class; most just throw one disc at a time, but duel-wielding rangers slide two discs sequentially, while monks slide two simultaneously. For the wizardy-types, they get to do wizardy things in the back.
The puzzle route has a few combat challenges, but the rooms are mostly dependent on puzzling out solutions – which can be fiendishly challenging. Last year, my group cleared the adventure even though we failed 3 of the rooms. This year, we solved every puzzle but still lost 4 adventurers on the last room. Sample puzzles are figuring out the correct order to make a potion, derived from clues scattered about the room. Or using teamwork to manhandle a giant egg out of a hollowed out log using giant chopsticks (I dunno, the dryad asked us real nice).
True Dungeon is expensive, with tickets running $44. But it’s a unique experience, and if you have the money to spend on it, I recommend it. Some folks take True Dungeon extremely seriously, with the rarer tokens going for hundreds of dollars, but it’s just as fun for casual people like me.
In the toney environs of the Hyatt, I got to play a zombie boffer LARP. LARP means Live Action Role-Playing (or as RISING would have it, Live Action Survival Horror), whereas the boffer component means instead of rolling dice to resolve conflicts, you tap people with foam swords or shoot ‘em with Nerf guns. It really lets the inner child out. There are character classes – hunters for melee, marksmen for guns, medics for the healing and engineers for the traps. The class dynamics were fantastic.
I was too busy getting into a boffer mindset to really roleplay much, but our group did have a nice scene. One of our hunters had been grievously wounded, to the point where he was unable to defend himself unless he got an antiviral treatment. But the medics had just made a pact to reserve their last remaining antivirals for each other. So, seeing him as a liability, one of medics took the poor suffering soul off to a corner and snuffed him. No time for mercy in a zombie apocalypse. It made me appreciate our other medic who surreptiously hooked me up with antivirals once or twice, and stabilized my hapless self when I was one second away from rising as a zombie (in true action movie fashion).
RISING was tense and incredibly fun. There are certain strictures to the format. Without the resources of True Dungeon, RISING was limited to one room, so we had to wait in the hallway while it got restructured between gameplay segments. But the downtime provided for some role-playing, and the Ozarks Rising crew were able to keep each segment fresh with new wrinkles (zombie trees! Boobie traps! Mind control!). After we pass the first room, people were asking if I was okay, when I was doubled over laughing in exhilaration. If you miss your younger days when they were full of squirt gun fights and sword duels with sticks, check out this sort of adventure for sure.
Getting food is always an adventure at Gen Con. With forty thousand plus new residents in town, downtown Indy can get a little crowded. But having a rotating fleet of pretty much every food truck in Indianapolis helped to alleviate some of the hunger. And they certainly know what crowd they’re catering to. I can attest that Greedo tastes better than he shoots.
Gen Con is crazy, jam-packed, and it’s super easy to spend all your money there. But after my second year there, I know I’ll be coming back for years to come. Plus it helps I live nearby. In the meantime, harangue the rest of the Major Spoilers crew to come out next year so we can cover more of this insanely huge convention. Here’s a dump of my last few photos, and here’s to next year!