Is True Dungeon LARPing? My answer: no, but close!

2008 April 14
by Dante

Yesterday, I covered a topic that had been burning in my brain for quite some time: a discussion on Live Action Roleplaying and its place in our hobby. I feel somewhat vindicated in my stance on the matter after hearing the articulate commentary provided by you all out there in the blogosphere, however there is often another tangent to this discussion that always seems to come up when I talk about this with members of our group.

True Dungeon: The LARP Grey Market

I have had the good fortune to play most (if not all) of the incarnations of True Dungeon over the years. Often, when I discuss the topic of LARPing Vanir readily points out this fact to me and tries to make the argument that True Dungeon is essentially normalized LARPing for the masses.

I respectfully choose to disagree with my good friend on this point, and here’s why. LARPing, by its very definition requires some aspect of roleplaying. Hopefully those of you that have been through True Dungeon can back me up on this point; there is little to no actual roleplaying taking place within the Marriott Ballroom walls by the players.

The non-player staff does a pretty good job of roleplaying, but due to time constraints roleplaying is usually a luxury that dies the moment the sounding carillon chimes to usher you down to the Pits of Doom. Do you get to act out character roles? Yes, but there is a distinct difference between this and actual roleplaying. Actual roleplaying would dictate that you have given your assigned character a background, personality, and motivation… none of this exists in the incarnations of True Dungeon that I have played.

The closest you get to any real personality for the players is when the bard of the group is forced to sing in order to maintain their bardsong effects, and strains of off-key (sorry SR) “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” doesn’t qualify in the range of effective roleplay.

Why I classified this a Grey Market

When you buy your True Dungeon ticket, you are purchasing a dungeon crawling experience. The tavern that they make available and the in-character staff that serves drinks, provides orientation, and adds flavor is very adept at evoking the feeling of Greyhawk and in some cases are very good at playing the roles that they have been assigned (or created, I don’t know how that works).

This makes it a very realistic D&D style experience, and honestly its why I love True Dungeon. I love the look and feel of actually being within a game, as if I am a life sized miniature with stats (please, withhold jokes there guys). It’s like being on the edge of LARPing with a set of opera glasses watching the show, but with this show audience participation in the midst of the Dungeon isn’t possible.

To me, its an in-between experience for us pencil and paper roleplayers and the world of LARP.

One Response leave one →
  1. SirGeekelot permalink
    April 15, 2008

    I don’t think True Dungeon is LARPing at all. I would call it more … LAD&DM … which is Live Action D&D Minis.

    It’s more a game then it is a roleplaying experience. So I would agree with the great Dante.

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