History of True Dungeon

"This is nuts!!  How did this all come about?", you may be asking yourself. Well, it all started with a DM named Jeff Martin and a cool stick...

The True Dungeon module that you will be running through at GenCon has a long evolutionary track that started in 1997, when Dungeon Master Jeff Martin decided to host an all weekend game-a-thon with five of his gamer buddies.

This gaming group, consisting primarily of 1st Edition AD&D purists who favored combat tactics, problem solving and puzzles over role-playing and character development, were promised the best D&D adventure they had ever experienced.

Unfortunately, the host had no idea how he was going to deliver this incredible adventure!  After countless hours of brainstorming and teeth gnashing, Jeff had come up with nothing that was even the least bit cool or incredible.  Desperate to come up with something that would keep his gaming group from being disappointed, the DM went for a hike around a wooded lake.  He thought the fresh air would do him some good... and he was right.

On this fateful jaunt Jeff found a curious stick floating near the water's edge. After sacrificing a dry shoe and sock, Jeff was amazed at the 3' long piece of twisted sassafras limb that he finally held in his dice-calloused fingers.  No ordinary twig, the stick had recently been stripped of its bark by a beaver, and his teeth marks looked really cool all around the rod.  In a flash of inspiration, Jeff decided then and there to make the "beaver stick" into a prop for his upcoming D&D adventure.  Eureka!  This was his cool idea...have actual props for his players!

Jeff went straight home and promptly forgot about the beaver stick for a few weeks. But later, after deciding to clean up his screened in porch after his dog mistook artificial grass for the real thing, Jeff decided to carry out his plan.  In the end he decided to make it a Staff of Healing, staining it a deep mahogany and encrusting several red plastic gems.  The cool part of the new staff was in the bottom, where Jeff drilled out a secret compartment and capped it with another gem held in place with a bit of cork.  Inside this secret compartment was a tiny scroll that told the command word and function description of the staff.

Well pleased with his cool staff, Jeff decided to make even more props.  He even got so bold as to make actual physical puzzles for his players -- the hard part being the conjuration of original puzzles. To end this riveting tale, Jeff's first annual "JefCON" was a success, as the players thought his props and puzzles were very cool indeed. And as each year's JefCON took place, Jeff's wife saw less and less of her husband as he spent more and more time trying to top the previous year's D&D adventure.

Things must have gone well, as the ranks of invited JefCON attendees grew to a maxed out number of 24 gamers.  One of these gamers, to which this tale will now shift its focus, is the owner of Dwarven Forge -- Stefan Porkorny. (He makes really cool 3D dungeon tiles).

Stefan was attending a very important gaming venture in Europe that winter, where he happened to find himself sharing some margaritas with a friend of his, Peter Adkison.  Peter had recently purchased GenCon from WOTC, and mentioned to Stefan how much he wanted this year's GenCon to have some different and cool events now that they had so much more room in their new digs in Indy.  He went so far as to mention a walk-through maze idea, which set off some bells in Stefan's head.

Stefan told Peter about this crazy friend of his that hosts this annual, invitation-only game con that features this cool D&D tournament.  He told Peter that it was really fun because he makes all these props and puzzles, and he even makes up a grand finale room. The final room from last year, Stefan explained, was a giant checkerboard puzzle complete with cool ground-hugging fog and colored lights.

Peter was intrigued and, after a few emails, was promptly invited to the next JefCON with an ancient and innocent-looking scroll tube.  After missing his Search check for the trap that lay inside (it was a DC of 25 after all), Peter set off a pull-string firecracker that not only dazed him...but also hooked him.

To make this long tale find its happy end, GenCon LLC showed its vision and utter coolness by giving a large budget to a bunch of crazy gamers. Through a lot of hard work and heated debates (interrupted by soda runs, of course), these gamers fashioned a set of cool D&D rules. True Dungeon was born, and its first run in 2003 had 500 enthusiastic gamers.  As with JefCon, DM Jeff and a horde of friends/volunteers/minions strive every year to top the previous year's adventure.

The year 2016 will be the 14th True Dungeon event at Gen Con, and it is housed in a huge 40,000 s.f. Exhibit Hall inside the Convention Center.  Expected attendance should be easily over 8,000 tickets sold.

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