Excerpts Archive | 6/30/2010
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Garden of Graves
Tomb of Horrors Excerpts

Warning: The following material introduces a new section of the Tomb of Horrors, and is meant for the eyes of the Dungeon Master. If you are planning to play through this adventure in the role of a hero, you are strongly advised to stop reading now!

Few villains throughout the history of the Dungeons & Dragons game have a legacy as daunting as that of Acererak the demilich. From the earliest days of the game, tales of his lair have spread throughout populations of bold characters and fascinated players alike. It was a short adventure that first introduced Acererak and his penchant for fiendish traps, but that adventure’s name has lived on throughout every incarnation of the game. You know it, of course, as Gary Gygax’s original Tomb of Horrors.

It’s time to bring Acererak’s legacy to today’s gamers.

The 4th Edition Tomb of Horrors is not a simple conversion of the original adventure. Why not? In addition to the fact that many players are familiar with the original adventure in one way or another, the game play and design aesthetics of the game have evolved over the various editions; it would be doing both the 4th Edition game and the original adventure a disservice for us to simply convert the latter to the former and call it a day.

Instead, this adventure involves the characters in Acererak’s ongoing schemes, exploring not one but three other “tombs of horror,” created by the demilich for his own inscrutable purposes. Like the 2nd Edition game’s boxed set Return to the Tomb of Horrors by Bruce R. Cordell, this adventure builds on Acererak’s legacy and finds inspiration in the original.

We hope we’ve done a good enough job that you, your players, and their characters—those who survive—will agree that we’ve created something worthy of the "Tomb of Horrors" title.

Over the coming weeks, we'll showcase an encounter from each of the adventure's chapters. This week, Chapter 1: The Garden of Graves.


The Garden of Graves

The sounds of the forest begin to shift around you, subtly at first but then with increasing intensity. You can almost hear words in the songs of the birds and whispers in the rustling leaves of the trees. Ahead of you, a number of trees grow together in a single clump, as though shunning the company of the rest of the forest. Their branches cross and meld overhead, forming a perfect arch, wide enough for two horses side by side.

For Acererak’s schemes, it is not enough to draw upon the strength of the dead deities whose power he plans to usurp, or to focus upon the necrotic energy that empower his own unliving form. To fully absorb and control these powers that will allow him to manipulate reality, the demilich must also tap into the energy of nature and life—the essence of the world.

For this reason, Acererak came to the Feywild, and it is there that the characters—albeit accidentally and unknowingly—will interfere with the machinations of this most ancient foe.

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