WIR S1 Tomb of Horrors [SPOILERS!! SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!!]‏ - Page 63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar
    Votan - to be fair, in AD&D, there are ALL sorts of things like this. You could abuse stuff six ways from Sunday because they hadn't really come to grips yet with legalese rules codification to prevent it.
    Yes, we have to give at least a little slack in our critique of things like this. We have to remember that when Gygax wrote this, (and other things of the very early era), he may have had a relatively very large game group for play testing, but even a few dozen players under one DM doesn't give the vast array of ideas that thousands and thousands of players under hundreds and hundreds of DMs give.

    Just because the Players in one group don't abuse or break something doesn't mean that others won't try. And a designer, especially in the beginning stage of the game, can be forgiven for not thinking of every possible abuse someone else could think of.

    Sure, Gygax's group may not have thought to put effort into something like looting the adamantite and mithril doors from the Tomb; they may have all agreed, (probably passively and unspokenly), that PCs don't deconstruct the dungeons. Heck, I could even imagine Gygax making the excavation work extremely difficult and dangerous just to discourage those who did think of and try it. That was his style, (judging from what I've read of his style). "You didn't have the proper amount of support for the scaffolding around the adamantite door, so it falls, crushing the fighter. No save. He's dead." He admitted in several articles that he made rulings like that to punish tricksy Players. It was his style for keeping control of abuse.

    When I critique the Tomb of Horrors, I try not to judge it by how devious Players could twist and undermine things in ways the designer didn't expect. I try to judge it on things the designer intentionally designed and planned.

    For instance, the scepter and crown and the wishing gem are things that, yes, could be crazy powerful when taken outside the Tomb by Players/PCs. But I think it's apparent that the designer didn't intend or consider that when making this module. Taking non-treasure things out of the Tomb weren't part of the plan, and so the designer shouldn't be too derided for that oversight.

    But, for me, it's the designer's intent within the framework of the Tomb that bothers me. The various arbitrary things stick in my craw.

    In one area, detection spells don't work at all. But the Players/PCs have no way of knowing they don't work there. They cast detect X and get no pings. Does that mean there's no X? Or did the spell just not work at all? Then in another area, detection spells work, but they give false positives. Then in another area, detection spells are required as the only method of finding/discovering something.

    And then you have situations where you must cast specific spells in ways that don't intuitively/thematically/logically fit the spell. Like using remove curse to unlock a door. Can you fault a Player for not making the mental connection that a lock could be a curse? Or the spells useful against the demi-lich's skull. Disintegrate is useless, but shatter does 10 hp damage? A thief using magical sling stones does nothing, but a thief using very expensive gems found in the demi-lich's treasure pile is effective?

    It's these things that Gygax intentionally designed into the Tomb that make the adventure faulty, to me. Requiring the Players/PCs to search everything in one area so they can move forward, but then punishing the Players/PCs for searching in the next area is a fault.

    Rewarding blind leaps in one area, but punishing such in another is a fault.

    Preventing certain actions in one area, but requiring them in another area is a fault.

    Now, I have to admit, that my calling these things "faults" comes from angle of the premise that all the hype about the Tomb is accurate. The hyped premise that the Tomb is fair and gives clues and is logical. That premise is how I like my "thinking person's" adventures.

    But, to be honest, I don't think that Gygax intended the Tomb to be fair and logical. I think he intended it to be a pure madhouse of aggravation with harm and death. I mean, he designs many areas with a spectacle of dungeon dressing and designs and colors, all screaming out to be considered for/as clues. But in the end, nothing there is actually a clue or hint.

    It's like being handed a kaleidoscope and mistaking it for, (and trying to use it as), a telescope. Or being handed Rorschach cards and mistaking them for, (and trying to use them as), clue notes.

    Presuming that the Tomb is designed, (by Acererak), as a logical and "fair" challenge is the first mistake of the Players/PCs. Trying to use any of the presented information as logical and "fair" clues is the second mistake of the Players/PCs. [Going to and into the Tomb at all is Mistake Zero.]

    Tomb of Horrors is to standard D&D what Paranoia is to standard RPGs.

    Bullgrit
    Last edited by Bullgrit; Thursday, 5th January, 2012 at 05:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Heck, how many groups tried to cast "Create Water" inside a target?
    Quite many, I'm thinking. And that's one of those situations that requires a DM who's on top of his game, because the 1E DMG is full of little tidbits of information that the players aren't privy to. Like this one:

    Create Water: It is not possible to create water within living material, i.e.
    it is not possible to cast the spell upon a creature and create liquid in any
    part of its body.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullgrit View Post
    Presuming that the Tomb is designed, (by Acererak), as a logical and "fair" challenge is the first mistake of the Players/PCs. Trying to use any of the presented information as logical and "fair" clues is the second mistake of the Players/PCs. [Going to and into the Tomb at all is Mistake Zero.]

    Tomb of Horrors is to standard D&D what Paranoia is to standard RPGs.

    Bullgrit
    Yes, I think this is an excellent summation of what we've proven in this thread. The Tomb is only a "thinking person's dungeon" in that it is not merely a chain of combats set in a dungeon. So the absence of combat means one must "think" their way through it- even if there is no rhyme or reason to solving some of it's traps and tricks.

    Remember also, the Tomb was designed primarily as a way for Gary to foil his best players...
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Gygax, foreword to Return to the Tomb of Horrors
    There were several very expert players in my campaign, and this was meant as yet another challenge to their skillŚand the persistence of their theretofore-invincible characters. Specifically, I had in mind foiling Rob Kuntz's PC, Robilar, and Ernie Gygax's PC, Tenser.
    Since it was literally meant as DM vs. PC, fair and logical were, I think, the last things Gary was thinking of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Votan - to be fair, in AD&D, there are ALL sorts of things like this. You could abuse stuff six ways from Sunday because they hadn't really come to grips yet with legalese rules codification to prevent it.

    Heck, how many groups tried to cast "Create Water" inside a target?
    I once managed to make the incredibly-hard percentile roll to give one of my characters a psionic power (something like a 4% chance IIRC), and he got the power to transmute small quantities of metal.

    The one use I remember putting it to was to get past a really tough hobgoblin warrior. I transmuted his gold ear-rings and necklaces to mercury, and managed to convince the DM that this would cause him to die of mercury poisoning pretty much instantly.

    We were about 14 at the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FoxWander
    Remember also, the Tomb was designed primarily as a way for Gary to foil his best players...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Gygax, ToH
    There were several very expert players in my campaign, and this was meant as yet another challenge to their skillŚand the persistence of their theretofore-invincible characters. Specifically, I had in mind foiling Rob Kuntz's PC, Robilar, and Ernie Gygax's PC, Tenser.
    Since it was literally meant as DM vs. PC, fair and logical were, I think, the last things Gary was thinking of.
    I can't give you xp again, but you deserve some for posting that relevant quote. Thanks.

    Bullgrit

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullgrit View Post
    I can't give you xp again, but you deserve some for posting that relevant quote.
    I'd cover for you, but the same thing happened to me.
    Last edited by jonesy; Friday, 30th December, 2011 at 07:04 AM.

  7. #627
    Quote Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
    I am simply fascinated by how this thread refuses to go off-topic.

    All of which isn't to deny that it has been an overly hyped module.
    I'd think that’s the general consensus of those who’ve continued to comment in this thread – Tomb of Horrors is overrated and doesn't really reward thinking so much as bomb squad tactics. Most of the dissenters who were participating earlier have stopped joining in the discussion.

    So how do those who feel S1 is overrated account for its legendary status?

    1) The name: “Tomb of Horrors” is a name, really, for the adventure product, not an in-character name for the locale (such as, say, White Plume Mountain or Ghost Tower of Inverness). But as such, it is a challenge to players, right on the cover.

    It’s a badge of honor for DM’s to run the Tomb of Horrors, and a special merit for players to get through it - There are “I survived the Tomb of Horrors” bumper stickers, but none say “I survived Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth”. I think the adventure wouldn’t have quite the reputation it does if it had been named Tomb of Acererak.

    2) The forward: Gygax’s forward to ToH serves the same purpose – it builds up S1 as the ultimate challenge for the best players, and declares that only those who are smart enough will beat it.

    3) Linearity: Earlier in the thread we remarked on the linearity of the dungeon. This has helped make the Tomb a communal experience. Everyone who’s played or DMed in S1 has gone through the Great Hall, puzzled over the Great Green Devil and the Arch of Mist, and then proceeded through the Hall of Spheres, Chapel, Laboratory, Agitated Chamber, Pillared Throne Room, False Treasure Room, and Crypt. In that order.

    Unlike a discussion of playing Ravenloft, or Keep on the Borderlands, or Isle of Dread where play experiences can vary so much from group to group, everyone gets the full Tomb of Horrors experience.

    4) The art: The included art booklet with illustrations to show what the PCs see room-by-room makes to module. I can’t imagine trying to run the adventure without it. A lot of the illustrations are really evocative – especially the Great Hall, GGD, the Chapel, and exploding gem. They make one feel one is exploring an ancient tomb, and often help make sense of the dense text descriptions.

    5) Great encounters: Some of the rooms in the Tomb are really terrific, even if they don’t actually test players ability to think. The Great Hall especially, which everyone (even those who TPK there) encounters in just terrific fun to explore. The pictures for this area have so many details. There is so much going on with the red path, and the pit traps, Area 4, and the Arch of Mist and the Great Green Devil face. The chapel and the pillared throne room are similar (though not as good).
    Last edited by shmoo2; Friday, 30th December, 2011 at 06:23 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by shmoo2 View Post
    So how do those who feel S1 is overrated account for its legendary status?
    Ignorance and nostalgia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua Randall View Post
    Ignorance and nostalgia.
    I take my nostalgia with self-delusion, not ignorance, thank you very much.

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    Good points, @shmoo2.
    Quote Originally Posted by shmoo2
    So how do those who feel S1 is overrated account for its legendary status?
    In the late 70s and early 80s Tomb of Horrors was just another D&D module, with no hype or reputation. I bought it off the shelf at my local book store about the same time I got Against the Giants, Secret of Saltmarsh, Dwellers of the Forbidden City, and Slavepits of the Undercity, and other classic modules.

    ToH was different than the standard D&D adventure, but it wasn’t different! Expedition to Barrier Peaks was different, too. So was Assassin’s Knot, and Land Beyond the Magic Mirror, and Beyond the Crystal Cave, and others – each an AD&D module from the classic era. Being a trap-filled linear dungeon made ToH outside the ordinary standard for D&D adventures of the time, so it’s rather ironic that in these later years it has been held up as sort of the ultimate example of “old school” D&D. It was an outlier, by intention and self admittance; it is not a standard example of classic D&D play. (The standard is more like those examples given in the previous paragraph.)

    I think ToH started getting its hype and reputation as a backlash against what some consider the “new school” style of play. Some consider deep immersive role playing, thespianism, and storytelling to be a terrible bastardization of what D&D should be. Some hold up the Dragonlance series as the epitome* of this “new school” play style. So if that direction is ultimate bad, the exact and extreme opposite direction must be ultimate good, right? What’s the extreme opposite direction? Tomb of Horrors.

    * I also believe Dragonlance has gained a reputation as ultimate new school that it doesn’t really live up to when you actually read the original modules.

    So, even though most D&D players in the classic era didn’t actually play D&D regularly in the play style of ToH, the Tomb started getting this attention and hype as the ultimate example of the golden age and old school of D&D. With that hype came exaggerations and wishes for it to be the grand thing. It came to represent classic D&D to some people, even though it was not a standard example of classic D&D even in its original days. And if something is the ultimate representation for an era, it can’t have flaws or else it reflects badly on its era. It must GLOW!

    And since most people haven’t read ToH, personally, the hype was believed. I have read it, a few times even before this thread, so I was very knowledgeable of what’s actually in the ToH. And every time I read some of the hype about it, it stunned me. “Where are they getting these claims?” I thought.

    Unfortunately, as a side effect of the hype making ToH = old school D&D : old school D&D = ToH, some folks think that saying ToH isn’t the ultimate greatness means that classic D&D wasn’t ultimate greatness. But that connection is mythical. Standard, regular, common classic D&D was not like ToH. ToH was by intention and design outside the norm for classic D&D. It wasn't designed to represent its era; it didn't have to glow.

    Now, whether someone likes ToH or not has more to do with their personal play style preferences than what standard classic D&D was like. In the big picture of classic D&D, Tomb of Horrors is just another example of the varied styles of classic D&D. The hype around ToH does a disservice to it specifically and to classic D&D in general.

    Bullgrit

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