Excerpts Archive | 7/7/2010
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The Tomb of Shadows
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 2: The Tomb of Shadows.

The Tomb of Shadows

An ice-shrouded city of shattered stone spires and decaying arched bridges comes into view from out of the swirling black mist. Gray lightning surges within the clouds, and a boiling sea of black surrounds the base of the towers a hundred feet below. Several other spires connect to the one closest to you, but uncounted hundreds more spread farther in the distance, their shattered bridges out of reach.

When Acererak made his most recent attempt at seizing absolute power, his staging ground was Moil, the City that Waits. A maze of ruined towers extending down to the deepest depths of the Shadowfell, Moil provided a fertile ground for undead experimentation, as well as an access point to the demilich’s great Fortress of Conclusion.

Held within an extra-dimensional space of pure necrotic essence, this fortress served as the site of Acererak’s planned divine apotheosis—a process by which the mastery of undeath would grant him godlike power. However, great heroes destroyed both Acererak’s plans and his sanctum. As with its dread master, though, mere heroes could not forever stop the power of the Fortress of Conclusion.

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