You ever walk into Lucas Oil Stadium and find a box of donuts to eat? Cause I have. And no matter what you do with your life, you can’t take that away from me. This was the second day of setting up for True Dungeon and it would be the longest day of volunteer work. (And they had donuts for us when we showed up.)
For Amanda and I, first things first, we secured a ladder. She warned me they would become a commodity later on. Apparently among the volunteers he who holds the ladder is king. So I tried to avoid being the one holding the ladder later on, but for now would accept the burden, responsibility, and honor. Once we had secured our method of elevation, we were assigned to the “Blue boxes.”
It might be worth noting that “blue boxes” is what I referred to them as because they were boxes and colored blue. The established term was “Borg boxes” which I may be spelling wrong, or had been not hearing correctly the entire time. But those boxes were loaded with electronics that needed placed according to a map. Maps were exclusively the charge of team leaders so we had one for every 3 team or so. Naturally the maps contained critical information to the layout of the electronics within the blue boxes, so everyone needed one. Hopefully next year the maps can be room specific and come with the box. It’d save everyone a ton of time and trouble and people who were trusted with the maps would feel less like smugglers protecting their stash.
Some short time had passed when Ian, the leader for our side of the dividing wall, went around mentioning that a set of large curtains used to cover the Beholders had been missing and that the True Dungeon regulars were looking for the box all morning. He described your normal cardboard box so myself, being your regular day sarcastic jerkass, pointed to the nearest clearly empty cardboard box and asked “is that it?” (it wasn’t.)
“What do I get if I find the curtains?” I asked.
“You get pizza.” he said. Which was what we would all get anyway since True Dungeon gives the volunteers a nice lunch break around noon. To me this meant in the off chance that I found the curtains, I could justify taking an extra piece. (Honestly, I probably would have anyway. After Day 1 there was no way for me to not see Meatballs every time I looked at the Beholders and they were just looming there all delicious like.)
During this second day there was another clever development where some soft presumably foam or Styrofoam rock-like pieces were connected with a cord to a hook which reached through the folded cave walls. The idea being that when you pulled the cord, the stones would assemble suddenly in the shape of a stone golem. Under the lights and with the sounds, it’d be an amazing effect. I actually never saw it happen myself from the side the players would see it, but I did see the tension it took to draw them back was intense and had a hard time imagining the person who’d be operating it could possibly have gone home with an arm that wasn’t terribly sore.
On several occasions I was asked to reach for something just out of arms length or to do something of a kind of questionable safety from atop a ladder. During these moments, because I’m young and dumb and hadn’t injured myself yet, I took the “It’s ok, I signed a waiver” thought process to just about anything of that nature. Even saying the quote out loud on a couple of occasions. Apparently this had spread, or someone else had a similar train of thought because over the next few days I had heard other people say the same thing. So I was in good company.
The “I signed a waiver” mentality hit its peak when I asked one of the main engineers about the giant rock-worm monster at the end of the Deeperdark dungeon.
“Be careful, she bites.” He warned me while I was playing with her teeth. Apparently while working near her storage space in the warehouse before her travel to Indianapolis, he had stood up and knocked his head off a tooth of hers giving him a little “Priscilla scar” on the top of his head. I learned her name was Priscilla when I asked what the monster was supposed to be. I could identify the Spidaurs as Driders and the Beholders were pretty obvious, but I didn’t remember this creature, and actually no one ever told me. Once I learned her name was “Priscilla” that’s all I was interested in calling her, and everyone seemed to know who I meant.
As soon as we stepped into the room Priscilla was based I spotted a cardboard box tucked away under another prop but still sitting on top of a pallet. I asked “Is that Ian’s box?” and had him come check it out. Out of however many people, in however many areas, I happened to be the one who found the box of tall curtains. Immediately after locating it the news spread over the radios and people flocked to get them set up. Apparently it was kind of a big deal, and I was definitely going to take that extra piece of pizza. Lunchtime rolled around shortly after and there were 10 or so pizzas left in front of the dungeon for the install team. I pretended that I alone had earned them by finding the curtains and was very generously sharing my reward with the rest of the team. No one has ever been as humble as I.
During the break I started to appreciate my role as I sat with Troy. I didn’t get to interact with him very much before or after the break that day, but I wish I had. In the couple of moments sitting with him he pulled from his vest a Volcano Scent Oil. That’s a thing that exists, but more importantly, out there in the world is a man with that in his pocket. This world is a magical place.
Anyway listening to his conversation shed a lot of light on why I was the “ladder and wall hanger guy” and not the “important stuff guy” when he mentioned the difference between 800 PSI and 80 PSI and the value of a pneumatic hose with a regulator. I assume that lack of information could have killed or seriously harmed me when the person he was talking to laughed and mimed a heavy whip lashing Any damage a mistake like that caused me wouldn’t be good since I can’t afford to fix it and nobody else was paying for it after I signed that waiver and all…
Returning from the break our group was folded into the Behold Her Majesty dungeon as we had essentially finished the Deeperdark side. Now because we had been working on Deeperdark I was used to all the twists and turns of the area. When we moved to Behold Her Majesty I was lost every 20 seconds or so. Practically every single time I was asked to move to the other side of the wall with the ladder to hang lights, I got lost on the way there. Which really speaks to the size and craftsmanship of the whole thing, so good job Behold Her Majesty teams. Nailed it.
Eventually I managed to find my way around enough to not waste all the time all day long and get back to work. Unfortunately not much else exciting happened that day so I’ll leave you with this short story.
On our way out of the basement we were taking an up escalator. The guy behind us said “Thank god for escalators” and leaned on the handrails, clearly tired. It was one of those things people say to be small-talk starters you know? Something simple and small to break the ice, and there’s not a lot of feelings in the world worse than saying something with the intention of making small talk suitable for an escalator and getting nothing but silence in response. But little did he know, I wasn’t intentionally being standoffish, I was biding my time… waiting for my moment. Finally when we got to the top of the escalator, I quietly responded…
“Well that escalated quickly.”
He laughed a little and we all went home.
The True Dungeon main site can be found here as well as some details about the runs and how to volunteer next year if you want to be a part of something unique and cool.
The Archfossil Patreon can be found here and can also use some love if you like this story and want to help keep RPG a Month and Archfossil alive, that’s the best way to give your love and support.