Tour Status:
Tour Completed – this tour description is provided for historical/archival purposes, and to show you what you've missed!
Chicago and Lake Geneva, Illinois
Departure Date:
November 5, 2019 (Tuesday)
Return Date:
November 10, 2019 (Sunday)
Tour Length:
6 Days
Departs From:
Tour Limit:
15 Participants
Tour Price: $2,999.00 USD

See full price details.

Special Notice:

The “Classic RPG Retreat” Tour will have a maximum guest space of 15 passengers, so space is VERY limited. Book now to secure your spot. 

About the Tour

A journey to mecca, and an adventure to the heart of the very creation of the game we all love – Dungeons and Dragons. We go not only to game and to seek out adventure, but also to discover its roots and reconnect with our own pasts. To roll dice and to take on roles of wizard, thief, cleric or warrior. To visit and make merry with a new band of adventurers, to meet elves, dwarves, halflings and orcs… To gain friends as well as gold. Come with us to adventure… come with us on a Geek Nation Tours of epic proportions where you will battle dragons, delve into the deepest dungeons, collect the treasure, meet at the tavern, visit sacred places of power, study ancient texts, listen to tales of lore from wise sages and forge your own path of destiny!

Close up of multicolored Dice with dice bag and Pencils on top of three BooksWe will travel to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the birthplace of Dungeons & Dragons and all roleplaying games that have come in the time since. We will play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st ed.) in the very house where it was first summoned, the immortal lair of Gary Gygax. We will be joined by Gary’s son Ernie Gygax, who (along with his sister Elise) was one of the first two people to ever play D&D. Ernie was the wizard Tenser of “Tenser’s Floating Disk” fame. What’s more, Ernie will be behind the DM screen to run a very special “everybody in” massive group session of one of his father’s best known (and most feared) modules…The Tomb of Horrors (module S1)! But that is not all, he will be sharing at least one module of his own creation – The Marmoreal Tomb. Other former TSR creators will also be on hand running some of their own classic modules in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, including Jeff Leason, who was the co-designer of The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (C1). Mr. Leason will also be running playtest games of a sequel to The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan: C2 The Hauntings End! But that is not all! James M. Ward who worked on many things AD&D (Deities and Demigods to mention but one) and is the creator of Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World, will be running us through not only an adventure of Metamorphosis Alpha but also a tour of one of his new games Dragonscales or The Lost 77 Worlds (the group decides by vote in destination!)

Everyone will have a chance to play with these legends throughout the tour and achieve the exalted status of a Gygax Number of 2! What’s a Gygax Number you ask? Why, it’s the degrees of separation between yourself and Gary Gygax. Since it is no longer possible to play with the father of RPGs himself (granting you a Gygax Number of 1), playing with those who have played alongside him (Ernie Gygax, for example) will earn you a Gygax Number of 2.

Kick back by the fire in the tavern and hear stories from the early days of Dungeons & Dragons and TSR from the people who were there. Be sure to bring your books and modules to have the creators make their mark upon them for all to see when you return home to regale your family, friends and fellow gamers with your tales of high adventure.

This tour will also feature trips to historical locations within the Lake Geneva area where Gary Gygax’s imagination was fed by his childhood exploration. We will also visit the original home of GenCon, former TSR locations and the fountain where a memorial for Gary Gygax has become a sacred location and pilgrimage destination for gamers. Be sure to bring your favorite D20 to roll on the memorial and perhaps receive a blessing (or a curse depending on the roll)!

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 - Chicago and Lake Geneva (Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019)

Today you will arrive from all over the map of the known world to Chicago, Illinois (at O’Hare International Airport) and meet the rest of the adventuring party and your Geek Nation Tours tour leader. Don’t know how to get to Lake Geneva from O’Hare?  Don’t worry – we have you covered with Private Transfers, riding in style all the way to our lovely accommodations. (We’ve got you covered for the return to O’Hare as well, but there’s much adventuring to do before you think about that). You will then make the journey to Lake Geneva where you will gather at the inn (staying in one of two houses next door and one block away from the Gygax house) for a Welcome Dinner of fine meats, greens, cheeses and ale. You will then visit the sacred temple of Gygax where you will explore its chambers of wonder, including the legendary basement where D&D sprang forth from the minds of the masters. The night will end with a gathering to build – right in the Gygax home – your characters for the coming adventures. 

Please note though your characters will be used no matter who you are gaming with so expect your alternate identities to be transported from the AD&D universe to the Metamorphosis Alpha universe and beyond…

Throughout the tour we will be will be staying in comfort right next door to the old Gygax home at the Center Street Loft and The Nautical bed and breakfasts…

Overnight Location: Lake Geneva

Day 2 - Lake Geneva (Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019)

Today you will enjoy a hearty breakfast before setting out for a time travel adventure where you will journey back to the early days of yore when Dungeons & Dragons was new. Your Geek Nation Tours guide will take you on a walking tour of the Lake Geneva area, stopping at locations of great importance to the history of D&D and TSR such as the original offices, the location of The Dungeon (TSR’s first gaming store), the Gygax memorial at the Riviera Fountain and several other locations of note. Ernie Gygax will be leading the way riding his trusty steed and regaling you with stories and insight into the history of D&D, TSR and more. You will have lunch at a tavern that was frequented by Gary Gygax, the Next Door Pub and then, once refreshed, the final stop of the day will be the Horticultural Hall, home of the very first GenCon gaming convention. Here your characters will begin their adventures with the first RPG session in the tour as Ernie Gygax leads the way into his dad’s equally lethal and famous Tomb of Horrors (module S1)!Following a break for dinner at the Hall, the second RPG session will get underway and take us into the night as our celebrity DMs weave their tales of adventure and intrigue.  Ernie will again be on hand to lead us through his Marmoreal Tomb, while Jeff R. Leason will start us off down Memory Lane with The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan…  Also joining us tonight will be James M. Ward to run us through a Metamorphosis Alpha game….

Overnight Location: Lake Geneva

Day 3 - Lake Geneva (Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019)

On this day after breakfast we will hire a local wagonmaster to carry the adventuring party to two more locations of legendary importance. You will visit the location of TSR’s larger office buildings from the time when Dungeons & Dragons had grown from a fledgling drake to a strong and powerful force to be reckoned with. Also, on this day you will see the Oak Hill Cemetery, the final resting place for several people important in the creation of D&D and TSR as well as those closest to Gary Gygax. A memorial stone for Gary rests here as well, though he himself does not.

“Oak Hill Cemetery in the near distance. This was the final resting place of many of the most important people of his life: his father, Ernest; TSR co-founder Don Kaye; and most recently, his beloved mother, Posey.”

— From Empire of Imagination by Michael Witwer

From there it is back to the Temple of Gygax for another RPG gaming session with the celebrity DMs, followed by a barbecue dinner at the inn and then more RPG gaming into the night as our legendary DMs continue to weave their grand adventures. We hope to see even more module goodness from Ernie via Dungeon Hobby Shop, and of course Jeff will pull out the sequel to Tamoahan – The Hauntings End!  But add to this we will continue to offer up James M. Ward style gaming in which you exchange your dice for cards in an exploration of his new games Dragonscales and The Lost 77 Worlds

Overnight Location: Lake Geneva

Day 4 - Lake Geneva (Friday, Nov. 8, 2019)

On this day you are free to sleep in and then explore the area. Perhaps enjoy the Lake Geneva beach or play some mini golf. Your Geek Nation Tours guide will be happy to help you find entertainment. After lunch, the adventuring party will gather at one of the inns for some D&D inspired board games such as Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate and Lords of Waterdeep, but don’t worry we will be sure to include 1975 boardgame Dungeon! Tonight, you will then enjoy dinner at one of Gary Gygax’s favorite local restaurants, Anthony’s Steakhouse and then from there it’s back to the Temple of Gygax for an evening of open gaming.

Overnight Location: Lake Geneva

Day 5 - Lake Geneva (Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019)

Enjoy a relaxing morning where you are free to adventure in the area on your own or stay close to base camp and get in even more gaming. The party will once again gather at the Temple of Gygax following lunch for an RPG session where you as the tour guest can run a homebrew adventure, one of your favorite modules from the past or just play alongside the former TSR legends as they trade their pointed DM hats for adventuring gear to explore dungeons with you. Be sure to bring what you want to run from your homelands as preparation is key when Dungeon Mastering… There will be a final barbecue dinner at the inn in the evening and then one last hurrah with an open gaming session into the night as you play more games and swap stories of heroics and hilarity from the tour.

Overnight Location: Lake Geneva

Day 6 - Returning (Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019)

On this day the adventuring band will bid farewell to one another as you part company to return to your home villages and hamlets across the map. We’ve got your return to O’Hare International Airport covered with a private transfer as you once again ride in style. But fear not, the adventures you had, enemies you slew, treasures you won and above all the friendships you forged will live on with you through the echoes of time.

Tour Notes

Ernie Gygax

First son of E. Gary Gygax of Dungeons & Dragons fame, Ernie the Barbarian has been a gamer nearly as long as he lived. One of the very first players, along with Robert J. Kuntz and his sister Elise, of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, Ernest is better known as the player behind the very first magic-user, Tenser. You can blame Ernie for such game features as: Cone of Cold being 5th, not 3rd level, Haste spells aging their targets, different hit dice for different character types and classes, as well as multiple attacks for fighters in order to keep Tenser focused on his proper spell-slinging role in the game.

Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. became part of the TSR company and wore many hats at there. Of late, along with his brother Lucion and David Moore, Ernie co-authored The Lost City of Gaxmoor, and more recently the Marmoreal Tomb of Garn Pat’uul. Ernie also gave his grandchildren a very special Christmas gift one year by writing them into a fantastical tale with a Samurai flavor entitled Sammi-Zowa versus the Dueling Dragons.  Currently, when not entertaining his Service Hound KC, Ernie can be found with his sweetheart Donna Jovani, running games at their respective homes or at major conventions.

Jeff R. Leason

Jeff “Duck” Leason started playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1975 and bought his first copy of D&D right out of the Gygax family basement. Jeff worked in the shipping department at TSR after high school thanks to his friend Ernie G Gygax, Jr. Jeff would go on to write and edit for TSR, beginning with the “Gateway to Adventure” catalog. His most noted TSR product was as co-author (with Harold Johnson) on the legendary CI module “The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.”

In 1986 Jeff joined Mayfair Games and advanced to Productline Coordinator for both the Role-Aids and Chill role-playing game lines. Jeff also worked with Grenadier Miniatures on projects with Mayfair. Jeff moved to Wisconsin and left the gaming industry behind, but continues to stay active at gaming conventions and is working on a project called “The Forgotten Dungeon” from Fireside Games as well as a future Kickstarter adventure “The Hauntings’ End”.

James M. Ward (on James M. Ward)

He married his high school sweetheart and she’s put up with him for 48 years. He has three unusually charming sons, Breck, James, and Theon. They in turn have given him six startlingly charming grandchildren, Keely, Miriam, Sophia, Preston, Teagan, and Noah.

In that same stretch of time he managed to write the first science fiction role-playing game, Metamorphosis Alpha in 1975; the first apocalypse role-playing game in Gamma World in 1978; he worked for TSR for over 20 years and did lots of D&D and AD&D things; and designed the best selling Spellfire and Dragon Ball CCGs. Recently he has designed major products for Troll Lords, Goodman Games, and Fireside Creations, including: Of Gods and Monsters, Storyteller’s Thesaurus, The Lost 77 Worlds & Dragonscales RPG games…

Note: Attendance of special guests and celebrities is subject to change due to scheduling conflicts and conflicting professional or personal obligations.

Gaming while on tour: Make sure you bring your lucky dice… the whole point of the tour is to game as much as possible…

What's Included

All accommodations, all transfers excluding transfers to and from airports, private tour costs, most breakfasts, dinners and some lunches, and more fun than you can shake a plus one sword at…

What's Not Included

Some small transfers and entrance fees will need to be paid for locally.

Tour Price

Tour Price:
$2,999.00 USD + $329.89 Taxes & Fees
Single-Occupancy Upgrade: $500.00 USD
$1,000.00 USD
Final Payment Due:
July 1, 2019
Final Payment Note:
Bookings can be made up until the departure date; however, payment in full is required at booking if booking is made after July 1, 2019.

Rooms will be assigned on a first come first served basis.  We have limited space so please book soon…

Additional Options: Want a few extra days in the United States to chill out? Geek Nation Tours will be more than happy to arrange it for you. Simply email us at or put a quick note in the “Special Requests” box when you book.

Additional Options

Want a few extra days in the United States to chill out? Geek Nation Tours will be more than happy to arrange it for you. Simply email us at or put a quick note in the “Special Requests” box when you book.

Non-Geek Spouse Argument

“We will be rolling dice right in the home of Gary Gygax where D&D was born…”

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