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Friday, 30th December, 2011, 07:04 PM #631
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
Saturday, 31st December, 2011, 04:37 AM #632
Time Agent (Lvl 24)
In all honesty, I think the high points have been hit here. The art thing certainly makes it stick out in my mind. It was the first module that I saw that came with it's own art book. And (mostly) very cool art as well.
And, let's be honest, despite all the criticisms (and quite valid ones IMO), this is a fun module. It's similar to something like Barrier Peaks or Land Beyond the Magic Mirror in that it's completely nonsensical. It's popular for the same reason that something like Time Bandits or Army of Darkness is popular - cult following. Army of Darkness is a bad movie. But, I still love the heck out of it.
ToH, really, isn't a very good module. But, I still love it to pieces.
Saturday, 31st December, 2011, 06:12 AM #633
Superhero (Lvl 15)
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- Westerville, OH 43081
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° Block amerigoV
I will add to the great analysis above by emphasizing a couple of things:
1. The name and the nature of the module changes both play and expectations of the experience. If you ask people what D&D means to them, many will 1/2 joke 1/2 serious answer "kill monsters and take their stuff." That just does not happen here, and its reputation reinforces it. The module sets that tone by having the 3 "entrances" all being traps (with one of them continuing on the way if you do it right).
This reinforces what other have said - its a different experience. But tied to it is a different expectation of experience, which leads to different approach to play. When I played the 3.x version a couple of years ago, my approach and expectations of the experience were 180 degrees opposite of my normal D&D experience -- and that added to the fun.
2. The poem is key. I posted long ago in this thread that it serves many purposes. It provides hope that the Tomb can be beaten (it may be false hope). It gets players to have their PCs touch stuff they rightly would not do so after the first room or two. It drives PCs/Players to move forward. It also allows everyone to participate, as everyone can provide their interpretation. It also provides the "see, I told ya!" that every player loves to say when their interpretation of something is right (even if it is dumb luck).
I am not sure how conscious Gygax was of what the poem serves in this type of situation, but its clear that he recognized its value. Necropolis by Gygax is the grandchild of ToH. In there, you guessed it, is an obscure riddle/warning to a tomb.
3. The artwork is huge, IMO. That graphic of entrance hall just screams "this is different. Pay attention!"
4. I just like that none of my friends will play it, even as a one-shot. Its rep may be overblown, or it may be spot on as a killer dungeon. But the fact that some refuse to play it based on reputation alone gives the module staying power.
(And I must be right since this is my 666th post on EnWorld....)
Last edited by amerigoV; Saturday, 31st December, 2011 at 06:14 AM. Reason: Just because this was my 666th post.....
Saturday, 31st December, 2011, 06:17 AM #634
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
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- Helsinki, Finland
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° Block jonesy
Saturday, 31st December, 2011, 02:18 PM #635
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
As everyone here has explained, Tomb of Horrors has plenty of legitimate reasons to be legendary in the D&D culture. What really surprises and confuses me is why do so many people hype it as something it is not?
The whole it's the ultimate old school adventure, it's fair and logical with clues, it will be successfully navigated by smart and wise Players/PCs paying attention and thinking and figuring out the clues -- these things it is demonstrably not. So why present it as such?
The last several posts above this one give plenty of good points for its glory, but when ToH is brought up in other discussions, those points are not given. It's like trying to sell a world-class Baja racer dune buggy as a high-priced luxury sedan.
Saturday, 31st December, 2011, 06:22 PM #636
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
And then there's the part where most gamers have only really skimmed when reading thru the module. As we've mentioned more than once, the Tomb's dense text and stream-of-consciousness presentation make it a challenge to really 'get' everything that's going on. I've certainly been surprised by a few things that I'd have sworn worked differently because of this thread. Combine these two things and you get the overall opinion of the Tomb that most people seem to have that, as we've found, differs from the reality.
As for my thoughts on what makes the Tomb great. I'll throw out one more that hasn't been covered in all the excellent points above. For all it's faults and craziness, the Tomb is one of D&D's few examples of a "realistic", true dungeon. It's a deathtrap, pure and simple. It has no monsters because how would they survive in such a place? It makes no illogical provisions for survival because why should a deathtrap be survivable? It's a place designed by a crazy and powerful person to protect something valuable. It's rooms and themes fit the whims of it's creator (Acererack or Gary, take your pick). It's as eccentric as the person who would make such a thing would have to be so it requires no suspension of disbelief to justify it's existence.
Too often published dungeons have logical holes which put them at odds with even a fantastical "reality." Why does the dragon live in a cave with no entrances large enough for it to use? Why is this orc guarding a random collection of powerful items rather than using them to fight? What exactly do all of these monsters eat? Where do they sleep? Or go to the bathroom? Why do they even live in a place filled with pits and deadly traps to begin with? If the PCs can barely survive just walking around there how do the monsters manage?
The Tomb of Horrors has none of these faults. Random, illogical tricks and traps- sure. Radically changing expectations of what works from one room to the next- why not. Arbitrary, unavoidable death- of course! A decent representation of what an actual dungeon in a fantasy setting might actually be like- definitely! And to me, that's a big part of the Tomb's staying power.
Last edited by FoxWander; Saturday, 31st December, 2011 at 06:25 PM.
Monday, 2nd January, 2012, 03:57 PM #637
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
Several folks have already broken down Acererak's riddle. I'm going to break down the Tomb. The following is the quickest, safest walkthrough for the Tomb of Horrors:
First, locate the true entrance to the Tomb. Avoid the two false entrances. All three entrances are hidden behind loose earth on the north side of the burial mound. You'll need to dig to find any of them. The true entrance is between the two false entrances, roughly in the center of the hillside.
The true entrance leads to Area 3, a long, wide corridor. Follow the corridor to the south. There are 5 pit traps in the hallway, but it is possible to avoid crossing them. Note that the red path in Area 3 crosses 3 of the 5 pit traps. Ignore Area 4; it is a pit trap.
Study the red path if you want to learn Acererak's riddle. The clues it provides are in brackets below.
Ignore Area 6, the Face of the Great Green Devil [Shun green if you can,]. It is a lethal trap.
Approach Area 5, the Arch of Mist [Go back to the tormentor or through the arch]. Poke the glowing stones around the edge of Area 5 in the correct order -- Yellow, Blue, Orange. When the mist clears, walk through the arch while standing on the red path. Failure to follow the proper procedure is not immediately lethal, but teleports you either to Area 7 or Area 3.
Arrive in the Area 10, the Great Hall of Spheres [and the second great hall you'll discover]. Ignore Area 10a, the misty arch at the end of the hall, it is a (non-lethal but sucky) trap.
Follow the crawl space behind the Red Sphere. Follow it to the secret door and continue to Area 13, the Chamber of Three Chests. The PC taking point will automaticall fall and take 1d6 points of damage. Inside Area 13, open the Silver Chest. Be aware that it contains a non-lethal dart trap. Take the Ring of Protection+1 and return to Area 10 [If shades of red stand for blood the wise will not need sacrifice aught but a loop of magical metal]. Ignore the other two chests. They are trapped and start dangerous combats.
Back in Area 10, follow the crawlspace behind the Black Sphere [night's good color is for those of great valor.] Find the secret door. You have a 1 in 6 chance. If you cannot find the secret door yourself, you need to get the Gem of Seeing from Area 11. That gem is the only magical way to find the secret door.
Assuming you found the secret door, enter Area 14, the Chapel of Evil. Take the treasure from the first three rows of pews. Do not open the row of pews closest to the altar, it is a non-lethal, strength draining trap. Do not touch the Opalescent Blue Altar, it is a damage dealing trap. Do not enter the Archway of Glowing Orange, it is a gender bending, alignment swappig trap. Carefully inspect the southeast corner of the Chapel. You have a 4 in 6 chance of finding the way forward.
The way forward is Area 15, the Stone Gate. Stick the Ring of Protection+1 from Area 13 into the slot [sacrifice aught but a loop of magical metal -- you're well along your march.] A secret door will open. Follow the hallway beyond down the stairs and to the west. You'll find a door with a pit trap behind it; a second door with a pit trap behind it; and a third door with a pit trap behind it. There's a secret door at the bottom of the third pit trap [Two pits along the way will be found to lead to a fortuitous fall, so check the wall].
Open the secret door in the third pit trap. Another secret door is immediately on your left, to the east -- Area 17, the Magical Secret Door. Area 17 can only be found by using a Gem of Seeing, "a similar spell" (presumably True Seeing), or Detect Magic. It can only be opened by casting Disepl Magic or Remove Curse. Find and open it.
Follow the hallway behind Area 17 to Area 19, the Laboratory and Mummy Preparation Room. There are three stone vats in the room. Ignore the first. The middle vat contains half a golden key submerged in deadly acid. Drain the acid out of the vat, or find a way to safely fish out the half-key. The last vat contains the other half of the golden key and a deadly slime. Fight the slime, and recover the second half of the key. This combat is mandatory. Join the two halves together, and you have the FIRST KEY [These keys and those are most important of all].
Beyond Area 19 is Area 20, the Huge Pit Filled With 200 Spikes. If you try walking across Area 20, you'll take some damage. Cast Fly, Levitate, Teleport, Dimension Door, Jump, Spider Climb or just use a rope to get across.
There's a secret door to the north 60 feet past Area 20. Open it to find Area 21, the Agitated Chamber [beware of trembling hands]. Area 21 is the most dangerous room you have to enter in the Tomb. The floor shakes randomly, and the tapestries will turn to green slime if you damage them. The best way through is to say off the floor. Fly to the northwest corner of the room, carefully move aside the tapestry (possibly using Telekinesis), and find the secret door on the other side.
Follow the hallway east beyond Area 21. Avoid the pit trap in the intersection and go north. Open the false door and find the secret door on the other side [If you find the false, you'll find the true]. Go through the secret door and immediately look down. There is a secret trapdoor set in the floor. Open the secret trapdoor and go down. Do NOT continue north or you will encounter another lethal trap (the Juggernaut).
Continue along until you find Area 24, the Adamantite Door. Shove three swords into the slots in the door and enter Area 25, the Pillared Room [into the columned hall you'll come].
Do not touch the pillars in Area 25 they are a potentially dangerous trap. Ignore the doors to the north and the gem in the southeast corner. Proceed directly to throne set against the southern wall [there is the throne that's key and keyed]. Take the golden crown but do not try to wear it. Touch the silver end of the scepter to the silver crown inlaid on the base of the throne. This will open the way forward.
Proceed to Area 28, the Wondrous Foyer. Pick up the SECOND KEY [These keys and those are most important of all]. Keep in the mind that the SECOND KEY is protected by an Antipathy spell, so picking it up might be a challenge. Area 28 leads directly to Area 29, the Valves of Mithril. Open them by placing the gold end of the scepter into the depression between the two doors. Trying to use either key in the Valves of Mithril will cause damage. Using the wrong end of the scepter will automatically kill you.
Follow the doors to Area 30, the False Treasure Room. Carefully open the bronze urn to obtain the services of an Efreet. Move the statue to the northeast. Doing this requires three people who each have a least a 16 strength. You might need the Efreet's help.
Follow the hallway to the west until it turns north. There is a secret door to the south. Open the secret door with the FIRST KEY and enter Area 33, the Crypt of Acererak the Demilich.
The room looks empty, but there is a small keyhole in the floor. Move the whole party as far north as possible. Have the fastest moving PC put the SECOND in the keyhole and turn it to the right 3 times. (Note that using the FIRST KEY will cause a damaging explosion). As soon as you finish turning the key, run north. Otherwise, you will be squased to jelly as the floor rises up to the ceiling.
Enter the vault and take everything that isn't (a) nailed down or (b) a jewled skull. Ignore the ghostly creature that appears to threaten you, it's harmless. Ask the Efreet to put the Gold Crown from Area 25 onto the skull and to touch the crown with the silver end of the scepter from Area 25. Tell the DM that Gygax himself approved of this course of action, and laugh as Acererak is turned to fetid powder.
Return to town. Buy Ale and Whores.
Note that there is only one mandatory combat in the Tomb (the slime in Area 19) and only
twoone unavoidable death traps (Area 21, the Agitated Chamber, and the risk of being killed trying to open Area 29.). There are also nine covered pit traps to bypass, each of which is potentially fatal.
i]Edit: Upon review, I decided Area 29 is not a mandatory deathtrap[/i]
Last edited by Stoat; Wednesday, 4th January, 2012 at 12:59 PM.
Monday, 2nd January, 2012, 06:10 PM #638
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
Originally Posted by Tomb of Horrors
Tuesday, 3rd January, 2012, 03:46 AM #639
Novice (Lvl 1)
I just wanted to drop in here and mention that I've thoroughly enjoyed this thread. Everyone's contributions have been great.
I've been running the 4e conversion of the Tomb for a group of my friends. Despite losing gear to the arches - shield for the Fighter and complete loss of gear for the Rogue - everyone seems to be enjoying it. If I were in their place, I think I'd find it a frustrating experience, for basically all the reasons spelled out throughout this discussion. Primarily, it's difficult to proceed with any mentality aside from "methodically explore everything. Expect that everything is trapped."
One of my players even said this is exactly how he wants to play D&D. Perhaps it's just been a nice respite from the long combats in 4e. Perhaps it's just nice as a change of pace. Perhaps it's because the module is a bit less deadly in the 4e conversion. Whatever it is, my players are having fun, and really that's all that counts.
Tuesday, 3rd January, 2012, 03:52 AM #640
Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)
- Join Date
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- Portland, Oregon, USA
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° Block TarionzCousin
Hey, is the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth going to get a thread like this? Please...?
Last edited by TarionzCousin; Tuesday, 3rd January, 2012 at 04:04 AM.
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