I have been going to Gen Con for some time now and have always seen and heard about True Dungeon. The barrier for entry for me has been two-fold. First is that True Dungeon sells out quickly. The few times I attempted to get a ticket to this event, I was shut out. The other reason is the cost of the event itself. This cost of a ticket into True Dungeon was $52 and it was lower in prior years but still much more than a regular board game or RPG ticket. Without ever having experienced it, this price made it easy to pass on in favor of other things to do.
This year a group of friends that always gets a large block of tickets asked if I would like to join them. They had tickets for a full group to both adventures. The time slot that they had on Thursday was not feasible for me as I would be in line to get into the vendor hall early but I said yes to the Friday morning Sable Gauntlet.
I arrived early, as is my wont. I wandered in to the antechamber where you can purchase tokens and other memorabilia of True Dungeon and watched a short video about what was going to happen. It seemed interesting. I went back out into the hall to await the rest of my party and as they arrived I was introduced to the two new people that would be joining us. We had two slots in the party that came open and my group had been very lucky to meet two cool individuals the day before who decided to join them for the this session as well.
Once we had all gathered, we headed in and began the sign-in process. They had a line for each adventure and each adventure type. We headed over to the Sable Gauntlet Puzzle version and were checked in. The volunteers give you a wrist band indicating your group and bag of tokens to begin your adventure. The party is then whisked off to a preparation room where every one sits down and prepares their character. I chose the ranger as it just required me to be able to use two pucks during the shuffle board combats. The spell casting classes would have to memorize symbols and be able to identify them randomly in order to use their spells.
For a newbie, the gear was the most confusing part of the game. My group had a ton of tokens. They had grouped them together by type. I would be handed a bag full of tokens and have to sort through them quickly to figure out which would be the best for a ranger. As an avid RPGer, There was no way I could make an informed decision in that amount of time. I ended up just waiting until everyone else had chosen their items and took what was left. Our room assistant then wrote down all our stats on the group card and we headed into the dungeon.
The first room was a puzzle. We were greeted by two drow matrons that explained that we had been captured by an illithid and brought to house Sable to be entertainment. We were bound as a group and needed to move an orb from a high pedestal to a low pedestal on the other side of the room while staying four feet away from the orb at all times. There was a treasure box which our thief promptly began unlocking and sticks along the wall. We gathered up the sticks and discovered in the box fabric that would form a hammock in some fashion. As a group we gathered together and used our sticks to pick up the orb from the high pedestal. All went well until we realized there was no support at the back of the ball and it rolled off our sticks and fell to the floor damaging us all. We then picked up the stick with a hook and used it to support the back side of the orb. We moved to the center of the room, spun around, and deposited the orb on the low pedestal.
Huzzah! One room down!
The next room turned out to be a combat room. There was a wall with skulls on which I wandered over to investigate while everyone else stayed on the other side of the room. Someone triggered the monster that appeared upon the wall that I was looking at which was pretty neat! We ended up fighting a water wyrd. It turns out I am not bad at shuffle board. We ended up defeating the monster with little damage to the party.
our next room is another puzzle. There is a spider web on the ceiling with a large spider looking down. There are pictures of demons around the room. There are letters on the floor and in the web and a treasure box. We begin putting the letter into words and discover from the treasure box that we are to read from the spiders point of view. For some reason, we are unable to get all the words to make sense and end up taking damage several times for touching the demons incorrectly.
The next room is another combat room. As we enter, each of us is given either a spider or a grub. The objective of the room is to remove the grub from ourselves before we are taken out. I was lucky in that I had an item that made me immune to normal insects. So, I took no damage if I missed my grub. The wizard and bard were not so lucky. I was able to remove my grub in three tries as was the barbarian. The barbarian then attempted to help the bard remove her spider only to hack her in the chest. It was not looking good for the bard. The barbarian then got better at assisting others and missed both the critter and the party member. We escaped the room but our bard and wizard were bad off.
The next room was another puzzle. In the middle of the room was a light table with blocks on top. There was a sign with a rhyme on it with the word exit in bold. There was also a treasure box in the room. We began trying to spell exit with the blocks while the rogue went to work on the box. The rogue informs us that each letter is a specific color of block and we stop switching blocks around. It takes us a few minutes to get the correct and then we move on.
In our final combat room, we faced a powerful drow matron and several spider egg sacks. Her attacks were poisoned so that each hit did even more damage. The best part about this combat was that there was an NPC that provided commentary throughout the combat and entered the room dramatically. It was neat and her performance was excellent. In the end, we were able to defeat her and drag our barely conscious wizard into the final room.
The final puzzle was a large pool filled with the souls of the last party through. They wanted released but could only provide clues through what they had brought with them. skulls were posted around the pool with numbers. The skulls with he correct numbers had to be turned toward the pool in order for the souls to be freed and our party to escape. It ended up being that each thing had a word in it that also had a number. there were things such as flour, a shield with a dog on it, and other things. Our paladin died to buy us another round of hints from the pool. This allowed us to free his and all the souls that had gone before.
I enjoyed True Dungeon immensely. The puzzles were clever and frustrating while the combat was entertaining. I liked the idea of the tokens, some of which we earned more of by solving the last puzzle. I would like to have a look at the tokens before heading into the hall itself as that would make the process go much smoother. I also have to say that I liked going with a large group of people I knew. It made something that could be easily overwhelming much easier to get into and more enjoyable. My earlier ideas about True Dungeon were incorrect. I loved it and hope I can do both adventures next year!
True Dungeon gets 4 bear paws!