Converting Return to the Tomb of Horrors


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Cheer up. At least you have your health...oh wait demilich.


MAJOR progress report: here's what I've managed to finish up until now.

Assuming 4 players, fast xp track, 77.500 starting xp

Sunndi
-Kalstrand
--Defend tavern: [6x CR 6 Evolved Wights]
--See tattoos, find captain, hear captain's story: "Devourer"
--Take "Devourer" to local sage Ahrens: "Desatysso": [1x CR 10 story xp]
-To the Glorioles Mountains
--Random encounter: [2x CR 6 Wyvern]
--Random encounter: [1x CR 8 Ogre Mage + 6x CR 3 Ogre]
-Desatysso's Stronghold
--Giant Sentries: [4x CR 7 Hill Giant]
--Living Fireplace: [1x CR 9 Greater Fire Elemental]
--Rolling Stones: [1x CR 15 Rolling Stone Trap, no xp]
--One Giant Family: [1x CR 8 Stone Giant + 2x CR 7 Young Stone Giant + 1x CR 6 Child Stone Giant]
--Shaman's Entourage: [4x CR 5 Troll]
--Reshaale: [1x CR 10 Reshaale, Stone Giant Shaman]
--Trapped Desk: [1x CR 9 Enhanced Lightning Arc Trap]
--Find ruined journal: "Falon T'selvin": [1x CR 10 story xp]
-Return to Kalstrand
--Forgotten Down Burial Mound: [4x CR 6 Hell Mastiff]
-Kalstrand
--Ahrens sends party to Elmwood Lane, meet Grunther: "Sather": [1x CR 11 story xp]
-To Pitchfield
--Random encounter: [1x CR 10 Daemon Landshark]
--Random encounter: [1x CR 8 Rotting Mound]
--Molnar village empty, find Devourer sign: [1x CR 8 minor story xp]
--Random encounter: [1x CR 8 Dire Rhino]
-Pitchfield
--Besieged Village: [1x CR 12 Zombie Horde]
--Talk to Sather, collect 1/3 Amulet and Desatysso's Tomb journal: [1x CR 11 story xp]
-To the Vast Swamp
--Random encounter: [4x CR 6 Vampiric Hayenodon]
--Random encounter: [1x CR 9 Tyrannosaurus]
--Random encounter: [2x CR 8 Giant Bee Swarm]
-The Vast Swamp
--Random encounter: [3x CR 7 Chuul]
--Random encounter: [1x CR 12 Chraagk, Mature Adult Black Dragon]
--Dim Encounter: [1x CR 10 Blaesing, Dim Triad Warrior, half xp]
-Skull City
--The Quaking Bog: [4x CR 6 Lacedon Horde, underwater combat: encounter CR +1]
--The Bone Portal: [1x CR CR 9 Bone Portal Golem, 2x CR 8 Dark Naga, 1x CR 10 Morrow, Dark Naga Matriarch]
--Enter Skull City: [1x CR 8 minor story xp]
--Talk with Danele about prophetic vision paintings: [1x CR 8 minor story xp]
-The Black Academy
--Entrance: [1x CR 10 Leon, Academy Guard, 4x CR 6 Novice Necromancer]
--Foyer: [3x CR 9 Bone Naga]
--Admittance: [1x CR 13 Iron Golem]
--Anatomy 101: [1x CR 11 Instructor Ngise, 5x CR 4 Initiate Necromancer]
--Animation 101: [3x CR 6 Novice Necromancer, 7x CR 4 Initiate Necromancer, 1x CR 4 raised Burning Girallon Skeleton (no xp)]

IN PROGRESS --Necrohazard I

Took a few liberties here and there - everybody who makes conversions does so at one point or another. I like to think that I did a pretty good job up to this point - a lot better than my older 3.5 attempt, at least.
Rough estimate is that I'm about a quarter through (judging by the length of my notes)... This might take a few more weeks :P


Time for crazy hermit guy's regularly scheduled progress report!

--Necrohazard I: [1x CR 2 Moilian Heart, hidden in darkness: encounter CR +1]
--Necrohazard II: [1x CR 10 Blackfire Skull Trap, no xp]

IN PROGRESS --Drake's Chambers: [1x CR 12 Academician Drake, 1x CR 7 summoned Shadow Demon (no xp)]

Good grief, I abso-freakin'-lutely dislike high-level wizards. Spellbook AND prepared spells means double selection time. I'll finish Drake up tomorrow. Also, having done 4 necromancer-types in a row, it's becoming a challenge not to pick the same spells all the time. To think I still have Ferranifer coming up pretty soon as well...
Why did I start this again?


You're not using Mythic rules, I assume. I'm not a huge fan of them, but they might actually be a good fit here -- and they'd allow you to personalize these necromancers a bit more.

Also, it looks like you're building this first part as a set of mostly level-appropriate encounters. That's totally fine... but you may want to give the players some signal that Things Will Be Different once they try to enter the actual ToH...

Doug M.


Finished up Drake's spells and skills - he's done. Next up: two of the three remaining Dim Triad members and the Headmistress herself. Not looking forward to that. Need a break, before I burn out!

Doug, thanks for the whole Mythic suggestion. But as you pretty much guessed, I'm not using them. I haven't read up on them that much, and I'd rather not upset the balance as it is now.
Yes, I'm building the whole thing as a largely level-appropriate super-adventure (level 10 through 18), but I'm trying to stick with the challenge-the-players-not-the-characters-schtick where I can to keep things... interesting. Things WILL be different once they get to the Tomb proper and beyond...

Silver Crusade

I converted only the tomb itself in conjunction with the 3rd edition free conversion.

What I did:

Spoiler:

* Kept it as close to 1st edition as possible
* Allowed players to use a "backup" character instead of their primary when entering with the understanding the "final loot" would go to the player regardless of whether a backup survived it or not
* Used 3.5 update for the pit traps and some other mechanical traps. For an optimized character, the pits pose no threat other than to prime them to overlook a certain pit...
* Used 3.5 for the gargoyle. It's supposed to punish a party that loads up on rogues; in retrospect I would've made it a construct.
* Changed the "dart" rooms to one that fired magic missiles instead, based on sight. Clever parties found a way around it.
* Kept many of the lethal traps that were discoverable by trial and error only. The big draw to this dungeon was players had to cleverly think their way through many things and not "roll" their way through. And sometimes, a wrong decision gets one killed.
* Provided an early hint from prior adventurers that they had found the means to destroy the ultimate evil and at great sacrifice had gotten the weapons there. Presumably, they failed. This is a hint as to the nature of the teleporters and gives a big hint to the finale battle.
* Added swords in the dungeon because not every party carries them for a certain lock.
* Kept the finale as a "trap" rather than a creature. Players expect a monster that fits the traditional mold, and the finale is more like a trap that requires some extremely special figuring out. I gave it a death attack with a DC 26 Fort save rather than no save but otherwise kept it the same. I modified that if it failed an attempt, it would try again next round. If it succeeded, it would rest as per the original. At 40+ damage (out of 50), I had it attempt every round.
* Added a 1-wish ring at the end for parties to have a chance at restoring lost characters. If this is a 1-shot, there's not much point in counting up the loot at the end.

What worked/didn't work:

Spoiler:

- Still lethal, so the backups definitely worked
- With a skill monkey in the group, any trap that converted per 3.5 is a pushover, automatic find and disarm. This isn't a bad thing but the party enjoyed more the dynamic traps that they had to figure out.
- I know players sometimes read ahead or have heard about certain adventures. They were expecting a demi-lich, CR 14 creature. I gave them the original trap. I trust player creativity.
- Didn't use much of the 3.5 monsters/loot added from Libris Mortis. Seemed more like an advertisement for the supplement and detracted from the dungeon by adding needless multiple combats. Unless you've added a plot device, combat is largely pointless because players can rest as long as they need. The gargoyle served a purpose because it nicely sets up apprehension at the 2nd gargoyle.
- There's no way players figure out (legitimately) to use certain items to fight the finale unless you foreshadow it somewhere. If you're going demi-lich or something of the like, not a big deal.

Anyhow, my conclusion is you can run the original tomb much like the original with very little conversion needed, and I would discourage allowing everything to be solved with a die roll alone. But if you're staying close to the original, accept that whatever characters go in, several will die.


Propsken wrote:

Finished up Drake's spells and skills - he's done. Next up: two of the three remaining Dim Triad members and the Headmistress herself. Not looking forward to that. Need a break, before I burn out!

Have you considered templates? Making someone a half-fiend or a Worm That Walks might liven things up a bit, perhaps.

Doug M.


@Touc: thanks for the info; appreciate the input. I'm looking for a decent middle ground between the role- and roll-playing aspects myself; your feedback gives me some food for thought.

@Doug: Yeah, I considered templates - thing is, I'm trying to keep true to the original module. Drake is kind of "templated" - a few boosts to his stats and a bunch of resistances to pretty much anything an undead is immune to, to emulate his research and experiments into undeath, as noted in his background - call it a pseudo-lich, if you will. I also changed Ngise into a Sorcerer instead of yet another Wizard, if only to get my hands on that juicy Grasp of the Dead somewhere in there. They have different spell and gear loudouts, each warranting a different tactical approach to their individual battles, to keep things a bit less of a boring slough through a series of spellcasters. The Dim Triad and Ferranifer wil be Vampires, of course, but each with a drastically different class and feat/spell selections as well.


A little elaboration on how I've tried to liven up the Academy fights so far.

First Dim Triad member Blaesing, finished before, was a bread-and-butter DPR fighter split evenly between battleaxe and slam attack. He'll likely be the grapple/blood drainer of the three. Harrow will be a high-mobility sneak-attacker (spring, spring, spring attack - hooooooooh!); still need to get started on him. But to get the two of them into position and work their magic even better, I've finished up Absolom, the Dragon Order Cavalier. With teamwork feats like Precise Attack and Coordinated Maneuvers, regular feats like Step Up and Stand Still, and his staple class abilities, he'll be able to set up his allies, give them a boost, and lock down some PC's. He'll truly be the tactical brains of the operation. I didn't get the opportunity to set him up with a reach weapon to abuse his Challenge and Stand Still options, on account of wanting a shield for defense, but I'll live ;)
At any rate, it looks to be a far more interesting encounter than the original three 2nd ed. cookie-cutter copy-pastas...

Ferranifer will be the only non-Necromancer in the Academy. Strange, for a headmistress, I know. But after fighting nothing but Necros, and expecting yet another one, imagine their surprise when Illusion and Enchantment is suddenly back on the menu. I'm also thinking acid spells - most others used cold and some lightning with the occasional fire. Imma need a gimmick, though - but I'll find something by the time I get to it.


Not dead yet! After a short break and some extra radio-silence, your resident crazy old monologue-loving hermit is happy to report that he has begun on the Tomb proper.

--Drake's Chambers: [1x CR 12 Academician Drake, Pseudo-Lich, 1x CR 7 summoned Shadow Demon (no xp)]
--The Dim Triad: [1x CR 10 Blaesing, Dim Triad Warrior, 1x CR 10 Absolom, Dim Triad Knight, 1x CR 10 Harrow, Dim Triad Sneak]
--Ferranifer's study, learn about Tomb of Horrors and Amulet of the Void: [1x CR 9 minor story xp]
--The Headmistress: [1x CR 15 Ferranifer, Black Academy Headmistress, 1x CR 9 summoned Bone Devil (no xp)]
-The Tomb of Horrors
--Find second Amulet part and Tomb entrances: [1x CR 12 story xp]
--First False Entrance: [1x CR 14 Falling Stones Trap]
--Second False Entrance: [1x CR 15 Trapping-Wall Crushing-Ceiling Trap]
--True Entrance: [6x CR 6 Poison-Spiked Pit Trap]
--Forsaken Prison: [1x CR 8 Deep Pit Trap]
--Gargoyle Lair: [1x CR 12 Four-Armed Gargoyle]

IN PROGRESS: --Secret Doors Complex

Ferranifer will be annoying to fight with the spells and tactics I have in mind for her.

I also noticed that from here on, certain traps and creatures will repeat themselves from time to time, and with traps requiring less tinkering than monsters, things should progress at a decent pace.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Have you any defences in place against spells like Detect Secret Doors (Bard 1, Sorerer/Wizard 1), Find Traps (Cleric/Oracle 1), and Find the Path (Bard 6, Cleric/Oracle 6, Druid 6)?

When I ran the 3.5 version of ToH, my players' L 8/9 characters spammed those spells (except Find the Path, to which they had no access, luckily!). That made the ToH a much simpler walk-through, particularly as there was no time constraint.

And for some reason the 3.5 conversion of the original ToH had the most infamous "face" trap detect as Evil. That was a dead (excuse the pun) giveaway, in my opinion. Although, I understand (from a brief, quick skim of the RttToH material) that the destination might explain that in Return.


I believe the original AD&D module stated that if PCs would cast Detect Magic, the entire place would radiate various levels of it, and invalidate the spell. I'm thinking of implementing something along those lines for all divination-type spells. Good subject to bring up though - thanks!


Made some progress yet again.

--Secret Doors Complex: [1x CR 10 Arrow Rain Trap, hard to reach mechanism: encounter CR +1]
--Great Spheres Hall: [2x CR 9 Spear Door Trap]
--Three Chests: [1x CR 6 Viper Swarm, 1x CR 9 Dart Swarm Trap, 1x CR 9 Bone Warrior Golem]
--Evil Chapel: [2x CR 12 Poison Gas Pew Trap, 1x CR 10 Electrified Altar Trap, 1x CR 10 Exploding Altar Trap]
--Trapped Hallways: [3x CR 6 Poison-Spiked Pit Trap, 1x CR 13 Lava Chute Trap]
--Fearsome Corridor: [1x CR 10 Fear Gas Corridor Trap]

IN PROGRESS: --First False Crypt

Yay, another spellcaster to build. Aren't I happy.


I took a long break - didn't feel like crafting yet ANOTHER caster. But I'm back on track! Did a few things - nothing much, but at least I'm back at it again, right?

--First False Crypt: [1x CR 12 Fauxererak, 1x CR 9 Fake Collapse Trap, no xp]
--Laboratory: [1x CR 6 Concentrated Gelatinous Cube]
--Spiked Pit Hallway: [1x CR 10 Spike Launch Trap]

IN PROGRESS: --Shake It: [3x CR 6 Viper Swarm, 1x CR 3-5??? Rumbling Room Trap, no xp, 2x CR 10 Slime Tapistry Trap]

--Trapped Intersection: [2x CR 6 Poison-Spiked Pit Trap, 1x CR 9 Spear Door Trap]

The trapped intersection uses nothing but traps that can be found earlier in the Tomb, so that speeds up things - I consider it a "free encounter" :D

If there's enough interest in this project (if any), I might pour it into a ZIP file and upload it. Or, if I feel REALLY ambitious, I might consider a simple set of HTML files for quick clicking convenience! But that's far off in the future...


--Shake It: [3x CR 6 Viper Swarm, 1x CR 5 Rumbling Room Trap, no xp, 2x CR 14 Slime Tapistry Trap]
--Trapped Intersection: [2x CR 6 Poison-Spiked Pit Trap, 1x CR 9 Spear Door Trap]

IN PROGRESS: --Misty Cavern: [1x CR 11 Demonic Nymph, 1x CR 11 Insanity Mist Trap, no xp]

CR 10 slime tapistries didn't have a lot of "oomph".
Guess what? Nymphs cast spells as druids. That means spell selection. Yaaaaay. I keep running into these... Oh well; I've been looking forward through my notes, I'll be casterless after this one for a while.


Traps are quick to build. So are simple monsters. Tee-hee...

--Misty Cavern: [1x CR 11 Demonic Nymph, 1x CR 11 Insanity Mist Trap (no xp)]
--Crushing Dreams: [1x CR 11 Devourer Juggernaut, 1x CR 9 Sleep Gas Trap (no xp)]
--Throne Room: [5(80)x CR 6 Levitation Pillar Trap, 2x CR 10 Teleporting Face Trap]
--Sarcophagi: [2x CR 13 Evolved Mummy]
--Swords And Boards: [8x CR 5 Floating Armament]
--Mithral Doors: [1x CR 11 Bleeding Mithral Doors Trap]

IN PROGRESS: --Second False Crypt

For those of you who are curious: around this time the PCs should have hit level 14.
I'm closing in on the final stretch of the Tomb, and I'm about halfway through my notes. That's good news; it represents a milestone, and functions as a much-needed morale boost.


Crazy old hermit rant, GO!

--Second False Crypt [1x CR 10 Noble Efreet, 1x CR 6/8/10 Tripple Poison Needle Traps]
--Reach lower levels of Tomb: [1x CR 11 minor story xp]
--Crypt Entrance: [1x CR 7 First Key Trap, 1x CR 17 Second Key Trap]
--The True Crypt: [1x CR 14 Semilich, 2x CR 8 summoned Greater Shadow (no xp)]
--Complete Amulet of the Void: [1x CR 11 minor story xp]
Negative Energy Plane
-The City That Waits
--Arrive at Moil: [1x CR 14 story xp]
--Tower of Morning

IN PROGRESS: ---Cursed Arch

The Semilich was an interesting challenge; rebuilding a Demilich as a construct required some tinkering.
With only Moil and the Fortress remaining, I dare say this truly marks the halfway point. Phew! Time for another short break...

EDIT: as promised, I uploaded the text files in ZIP format; download and remove the .RENAME extention. Feel free to browse through them, make suggestions, offer (constructive) comments ro advice, etc...
EDIT 2: WHAT THE F<censor>!!?!?! The file keeps getting corrupted after I upload it. GAAAAH! I'll fix it some other time.


Propsken wrote:


EDIT: as promised, I uploaded the text files in ZIP format; download and remove the .RENAME extention. Feel free to browse through them, make suggestions, offer (constructive) comments ro advice, etc...
EDIT 2: WHAT THE F<censor>!!?!?! The file keeps getting corrupted after I upload it. GAAAAH! I'll fix it some other time.

Sorry for the Thread Necro...

Did this ever get repaired? The only file I could not access from the .zip was the Vampiric Hayenodon. You don't by chance still have this, do you?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Joseph Bingaman wrote:
Propsken wrote:


EDIT: as promised, I uploaded the text files in ZIP format; download and remove the .RENAME extention. Feel free to browse through them, make suggestions, offer (constructive) comments ro advice, etc...
EDIT 2: WHAT THE F<censor>!!?!?! The file keeps getting corrupted after I upload it. GAAAAH! I'll fix it some other time.

Sorry for the Thread Necro...

Did this ever get repaired? The only file I could not access from the .zip was the Vampiric Hayenodon. You don't by chance still have this, do you?

Joseph there is a Yahoo group dedicated to this adventure that has many downloads that still function:

Welcome to D&D 3e - Return to the Tomb of Horrors !

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