I second, third, and fourth this. I've thoroughly enjoyed this thread!
I somehow doubt it, although for me it's one of the very few 'classic' modules I enjoyed playing. In some ways it's the opposite of the Tomb; little thought has been spent on trying to create a dungeon that 'makes sense' as a whole. I guess I liked it because it was similar to the early adventures I'd written myself.Hey, is the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth going to get a thread like this? Please...?
Agreed. Fantastic thread!
I don't believe it's been mentioned yet in this thread (could be wrong), but the Tomb of Horrors figures very prominently in "Ready Player One", an amazing book by Ernest Cline. Wil Wheaton does the audio book narration, which is how I enjoyed it. Ready Player One
I just wanted to drop in here and mention that I've thoroughly enjoyed this thread. Everyone's contributions have been great.
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.
Definitely. I am sad it is at its end. This was the only thread holding me here. I play Savage Worlds now, and I tire of the "will she or won't she" talk of this board (5e).
The module gives you clues in the form of riddles, and those riddles are, essentially, a "walk through" for the entire module (if you can parse them out carefully). On the other hand, if you fail to notice the first riddle, or if you ignore the clues provided, well, the module can kill you pretty quickly.
I recall one post about a newbie gamer who had never played an rpg before with a first level pc making it to the end, grabbing some loot and fleeing for his life.
Unlike some modules, with traps that have no possible way of being decoded short of painful experience (iirc, Tsocjanth has several of these...there is no clue that one color is good and another bad, that one face on a pedestal is a boon and the other a curse, etc.), ToH presents players with a chance to figure things out.
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 20 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.
Actually, no, not at all. There are much better ways for a high-level cleric/magic-user, (like Acererak), to safeguard his tomb. First off, why does he even need to protect his tomb? There's nothing in it he apparently needs, including the skull. Even the treasure is paltry.terrya said:if you were desiging a horror dungeon to save guard your tomb, would it not look somthing like this?
Actually, no, not at all. There are much better ways for a high-level cleric/magic-user, (like Acererak), to safeguard his tomb. First off, why does he even need to protect his tomb? There's nothing in it he apparently needs, including the skull. Even the treasure is paltry.
The Tomb of Horrors is not a grave protection system, it is a madhouse of sadistic entertainment.
This is exactly right, which is why it ultimately doesn't matter if the riddles and clues aren't fair or are misleading, since they are all designed to torment anyone foolish enough to enter the tomb. If it seems arbitrary and capricious, well, that's exactly what you'd expect and evil mad wizard to concoct. Just because it's said that Acererak plays fair doesn't mean he does, as you note.
See, but that's the heart of what started all of this. No one is saying that ToH is a garbage module. It's not. It's fantastic and lots of fun and all sorts of things.
The issue though is that people hyped (as Bullgrit and others quoted very recently) this module as a "thinking man's module". That the solutions to all or even most of the puzzles in the module were possible to resolve through intelligent play and puzzle solving.
However, that's what's been pretty thoroughly debunked. There are too many encounters where it's basically flipping a coin - you have no real way of going forward based on anything you could do beforehand. No amount of "intelligent play" will allow you to resolve some of the puzzles in this module, such as the secret door in the pit trap. If you fail and don't have the gem, tough, you lose. Go home.
That's what this thread has been all about.
There are too many encounters where it's basically flipping a coin - you have no real way of going forward based on anything you could do beforehand. No amount of "intelligent play" will allow you to resolve some of the puzzles in this module, such as the secret door in the pit trap. If you fail and don't have the gem, tough, you lose. Go home.
When the hireling or retainer touches the skull, it rises and drains the soul of the 14th-level magic-user, (no save), who ordered the action, from back at the doorway.amerigoV said:Hmmm, one can debate that. While not everyone did this, many groups then had hirelings, retainers, and other hangers-on (a posse!). Making someone else "touch the skull" sounds like "intelligent play" to me! That makes the "coin-flips" less frequent.
Yeah, you'd need an NPC 'flunky' who was a mage, and higher level than the PC's to trump Acereraks hierarchy of soul sucking.When the hireling or retainer touches the skull, it rises and drains the soul of the 14th-level magic-user, (no save), who ordered the action, from back at the doorway.
There's at least two examples of intelligent play in handling the last encounter.
Robilar (Rob Kuntz) fled after scooping up as much treasure as possible rather than fight the demi-lich (not sure if he touched it or not, I would guess not).
The tournament winning group that used the scepter and crown solution.