• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is LIVE! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

D&D 5E Advice for running Tomb of Horrors with a twist (+)

pemerton

Legend
I don’t think that’s gonna work for me, since that leaves open the possibility of making the tomb impossible to complete.
In the original, that was when true seeing spells/effects, wands of secret door and trap detection, etc would be brought out!

Of course, if you run out of charges, or have your high-level cleric or illusionist die, then there is the possibility of non-completion. That is an aspect of Gygax-style "competitive"/"skilled player" RPGing.

I don't have think I have much advice on how to make this work in 5e, sorry. I don't think that ToH is a great venue for "rescue the prisoners"-type scenarios (which would make time matter). You could go with no retries, but then if the players run out of options they have to probe the aether for an answer (a type of deus ex machina) which triggers an encounter with demons as per the module, and when they defeat the demons the demons give them the answer/info they need? You'd need to tell the players up-front that probing the aether is a thing, but a potentially dangerous/costly thing.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Weird question: the four-armed statue activates when three large gems are placed - one in each of its still-attached hands, at which point it crushes all three gems. 10 gems must be sacrificed this way to acquire the stone of true seeing from the fourth hand, and conveniently the gargoyle’s collar has 10 appropriately-sized gems on it. Great, cool, love that concept. Just one small problem: 10 isn’t divisible by 3.

Activating the statue 3 times would only result in 9 gems being sacrificed, but activating it a 4th time would bring the total up to 12. So even if the PCs get the gargoyle’s collar, they’ll need to sacrifice two additional gems (which they’ll either need to have brought with them, or backtrack to complete this puzzle after having found more gems deeper in the dungeon) to activate it the 4th time, right? But in that case, why specify that 10 gems need to be sacrificed rather than 12? As far as I can tell, there is no way to sacrifice exactly 10 gems. Unless the PCs are supposed to destroy two of the statue’s arms or something? Can anybody shed some light on this for me?
 
Last edited:

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
If you are going lighthearted, take a page our of Paranoia. The powerful all-knowing computer--I mean lich--that lured the party to the tomb has a practically unlimited number of clones of each character. When a PC dies, the clone is teleported to the same spot to loot the body and continue. Start at a lower than recommend level, but with each cloning the new PC clone has a more XP. Heck, start them all at 1st level. For the first few levels, each clone will be one level higher. But once they get to, say, 5th level, it may take more than one death to before they have enough XP to come back at a higher level.

Have a variety of silly awards to give out to the players at the end of the dungeon. One for the player that used fewest number of clones. One for the player that used the most clones. One for the player who had the first PC death. Etc.

Do your players know anything about the adventure? Are they the type that might look things ups online and read about it? If so, make sure to mix things up a bit.

Some other thoughts...

Don't allow PCs who can fly at low levels.
Consider allowing only races that don't have dark vision.
Don't allow them to have retainers or followers--a classic way the beat the dungeon.
If you want to add a time challenge, but don't like to add to your DM record keeping by having to strictly track time, consider having some negative consequence for taking a short or long rest. Actually, consider not allowing any rest. Any time the PCs try to rest, shadows start attacking the party, but dissipate once the party starts being active again.
Consider doing away with death saves. 0 HP = death. New clone time.

I like the drinking game aspect, but it sounds like you might not have full buy-in for this (and if you DO have full buy in and go this route, make sure designated drivers are arranged). For those who don't want to drink, some other options...

Find items of clothing and wearables that are silly or embarrassing (within the comfort level of your group). Instead of drinking they have to put on one of the items (or exchange an item they are wearing for one of the silly items).

Have a list of strange play rules. Each time their PC dies, a new rule is applied to them. E.g.,
  • instead of rolling a die, they have to roll another die into it (or have to use a dice roller from the game of sorry to roll d 6s), etc.
  • they can only roll dice with their non-dominant hand
  • when they role, the number the die rests on is the number that counts, not the number on top
  • whenever they talk in character they have to talk like Elmer Fud (or Mickey Mouse, etc.)
  • etc.
With carefully thought out rules it can get pretty crazy after a few deaths. Just make sure the rules don't slow things down too much.

When a character dies, they have to pay a dollar (or more or less depending on what your players are comfortable with). The amount collected can be donated to charity or put into a game-day snack pool.

Buy a bag of those jelly beans with disgusting flavors. When a character dies, they have to eat one.

Anyway, sounds like you'll have a fun game however you approach it. Cool idea.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Weird question: the four-armed statue activates when three large gems are placed - one in each of its still-attached hands, at which point it crushes all three gems. 10 gems must be sacrificed this way to acquire the stone of true seeing from the fourth hand, and conveniently the gargoyle’s collar has 10 appropriately-sized gems on it. Great, cool, love that concept. Just one small problem: 10 isn’t divisible by 3.

Activating the statue 3 times would only result in 9 gems being sacrificed, but activating it a 4th time would bring the total up to 12. So even if the PCs get the gargoyle’s collar, they’ll need to sacrifice two additional gems (which they’ll either need to have brought with them, or backtrack to complete this puzzle after having found more gems deeper in the dungeon) to activate it the 4th time, right? But in that case, why specify that 10 gems need to be sacrificed rather than 12? As far as I can tell, there is no way to sacrifice exactly 10 gems. Unless the PCs are supposed to destroy two of the statue’s arms or something? Can anybody shed some light on this for me?
Yeah, not clearly written in either the 1e or 5e version. But the 1st edition reads a bit differently:

1668642681592.png


One meaning could be that after 9 gems are crushed, you can put a 10th gem into just one arm and INSTEAD of crushing it, the magic mouth with manifest. So even if the part has three more gems, as soon as they put one into one hand the mouth talks. If they put two or three in the hands at exactly at the same time, same result. The mouth appears.

But I think the intention is that the 10th will be crushed. I would read it to mean that after 9, you no longer need to place three gems to activate the crushing. A single will do. 10 gems is enough.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Yeah, not clearly written in either the 1e or 5e version. But the 1st edition reads a bit differently:

View attachment 266887

One meaning could be that after 9 gems are crushed, you can put a 10th gem into just one arm and INSTEAD of crushing it, the magic mouth with manifest. So even if the part has three more gems, as soon as they put one into one hand the mouth talks. If they put two or three in the hands at exactly at the same time, same result. The mouth appears.

But I think the intention is that the 10th will be crushed. I would read it to mean that after 9, you no longer need to place three gems to activate the crushing. A single will do. 10 gems is enough.
That is much clearer, thank you. How strange that it would be designed that way.
 

That's not the only logical consistency error in the module. Just remember, you have to try to interpret the intent and not get hung up on the details. At least that is how I ran it.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
That's not the only logical consistency error in the module. Just remember, you have to try to interpret the intent and not get hung up on the details. At least that is how I ran it.
Yeah, this might be one thing I tweak. For the most part I’d like to try to run it as-written, but this isn’t a challenge, it’s a math error.
 

The fun part of Tomb of Horrors is trying to solve the maze, and watching your characters get arbitrarily destroyed for not reading Gary Gygax's mind. Where it falls down for me is that it just does not support the sort of relationship I usually have with my player characters. The character is barely relevant.

The thing I found most disappointing about Tomb of Horrors as a player is that the DM had us roll up three high level characters each (not a quick process) and after all that work the adventure is basically designed around making 95% of character abilities useless. So you invest time, get excited about your high level character build, and then it hardly matters (he didn't tell us it was Tomb of Horrors). And, of course, it provides little opportunity for roleplaying, since the logical "in character" thing for most adventurers to to do is to just leave the place once they realize it's basically a bunch of coin flips with their life on the line.

So with infinite resurrections I would consider bumping it down to level 5 characters or so, or roughly whatever level your players are most accustomed to playing, and encourage them to play familiar character classes. Then they aren't spending a lot of time on character building or figuring out how an 15th level Monk works or whatever. I might make the whole thing some sort of lucid dream for existing characters of theirs. Or maybe everyone should roll up themselves as a D&D character, or their dog or cat, or something. Something that sets an expectation that this character will not function like a typical D&D character, with abilities and personality that actually matter, but rather as just the gamepiece and avatar of a player solving puzzles.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
The fun part of Tomb of Horrors is trying to solve the maze, and watching your characters get arbitrarily destroyed for not reading Gary Gygax's mind. Where it falls down for me is that it just does not support the sort of relationship I usually have with my player characters. The character is barely relevant.

The thing I found most disappointing about Tomb of Horrors as a player is that the DM had us roll up three high level characters each (not a quick process) and after all that work the adventure is basically designed around making 95% of character abilities useless. So you invest time, get excited about your high level character build, and then it hardly matters (he didn't tell us it was Tomb of Horrors). And, of course, it provides little opportunity for roleplaying, since the logical "in character" thing for most adventurers to to do is to just leave the place once they realize it's basically a bunch of coin flips with their life on the line.

So with infinite resurrections I would consider bumping it down to level 5 characters or so, or roughly whatever level your players are most accustomed to playing, and encourage them to play familiar character classes. Then they aren't spending a lot of time on character building or figuring out how an 15th level Monk works or whatever. I might make the whole thing some sort of lucid dream for existing characters of theirs. Or maybe everyone should roll up themselves as a D&D character, or their dog or cat, or something. Something that sets an expectation that this character will not function like a typical D&D character, with abilities and personality that actually matter, but rather as just the gamepiece and avatar of a player solving puzzles.
That’s some excellent input, thank you! I’m hesitant to go lower than level 11 but the point about feeling disappointed your cool high level abilities mostly weren’t of any use I’d a good point. Maybe it would be best to use pretend and make sure to select spells and abilities that are sure to be useful.
 

Peter BOSCO'S

Adventurer
What if it was all just a nightmare, and all the dead PC's wake up fine but their memories of the dungeon still give them XP's? Then it's an easy way to give "free" XP's.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top