Pathfinder equivalent module for Tomb Of Horrors?


Advice

Silver Crusade

Since the old AD&D Tomb of Horrors has quite a following, I was wondering if an official Pathfinder version of it (or equivalent) has ever come out?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ugh. Take it from someone who's been playing since the early 1980s: Tomb of Horrors is a terrible adventurre, and has caused more gaming groups to break up than any other module ever!

It's designed to be a huge "F--K YOU!!" to players from GMs who think their players have gotten too big for their britches. It's illogical, it's petty, it's full of "HA! GOTCHA!!" moments, and there are no in-game rewards that are worth the risks. It's designed to be a TPK factory.

It's full of "If you do this, you die, no save" encounters... and written such that "doing this" is the most seemingly logical thing to do from the PC's perspective.

And if, somehow, at least one PC makes it through to the end alive... all of the treasure is cursed.

Honestly Tomb of Horrors is, at best, an interesting historical anomaly and a great example of how big a jerk Gary Gygax could be when he wanted to.

If you must, though, WotC released a free 3.5 conversion of it on their website about a decade ago. It's probably still in the WotC web archives.

TL;DR: Unless the GM is a true sadist, Tomb of Horrors is not fun to run, and is less fun to play. Avoid it.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

In this day and age a publisher would be lambasted for publishing a death trap like the Tomb of Horrors.

Remember, Tomb of Horrors was Gary Gygax's answer to what was basically power-gaming in his day. It was specifically designed as a highly difficult tournament module to be run at conventions. Publishing it was an after-thought. And back then players were proud of how many times they had died; it was like a badge of honor. So something like the Tomb of Horrors became very well received.

That's not how gaming is now.

Having said, that, however, I know you are familiar with PFS, Prethen. The Bone Keep adventures were written with much the same philosophy: up to that point players in PFS had been clamoring for more difficult adventures that would "challenge" them. So, the Bone Keep stuff was introduced, specifically to be run at conventions as a skill-testing adventure for PFS players.

Back to my point about how gaming is now, however, how many people do you know who actually enjoyed playing Bone Keep?

Silver Crusade

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Try This

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm pretty sure there is a Pathfinder conversion of Rappan Athuk out there.

If you need something obscenely hard and impossible (not kidding, the foreword of the adventure warns you that actually finishing the final level is nearly impossible) in the vein of old school D&D it's a solid choice.


Honestly, converting it to 3.p from 3.5 would be simple. You could just run the 3.5 as is.

I've run the original, the 3.5 and the 4th campaign centered around it. ToH itself is just and adventure, like a 1 shot, not really a campaign. There's not even much of a story.

I don't know that I'd even call ToH "challenging" so much as annoying. A moderately optimized 7th level pathfinder party would probably skip most of the "screw you!" stuff only to get dropped by a few of the "boss" situations.

Keep in mind, immunities are commonplace in pathfinder and basically didn't exist in AD&D. Most of ToH's tricks are deadly to:
1.) People who can get diseased.
2.) People who can get poisoned.
3.) People who must walk in order to travel.
4.) Classes with weak saves.

A Ghoran or a duergar, wildshaped into an earth elemental would essentially mock most of the dungeon. However, to finish the dungeon, you still have to fight a demi-lich, and that's the problem.

The 3.5 and 4th both have reasonable treasures.

I'm currently playing RA. It's a hoot, but it's like a multi-year commitment. It has ALL the content.


Emerald Spire probably comes close to an enormous multi-leveled dungeon designed to test experienced players from levels 1 all the way up to 14.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

AD&D module S1: Tomb of Horrors is actually a very short module. It's like 16 pages long, as was typical for AD&D 1st Edition modules. However, it did have one truly innovative part: A separate book of illustrations to show that PCs. (Dungeon module S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks had a similar illustration book.)

It has all of the annoying bits of Old School gaming, but few of the benefits.

If you're looking for a deadly Old School-style megadungeon for contemporary game systems, then Frog God Games' Rappan Athuk is for you.


There is an actual full adventure path for ToH called "Return to the Tomb of Horrors" (shocker!).

It actually retcons a lot of the dungeon's worst aspects and gives good clues on how to get through it.

Seriously check it out, it is a fun conversion.

Silver Crusade

Drogon wrote:
Back to my point about how gaming is now, however, how many people do you know who actually enjoyed playing Bone Keep?

As far as Bonekeep goes, it has a pretty bad rap for sure. For some, they think it's an enormous amount of fun to tell others how they died. I'm none too thrilled going into a dungeon that has a good chance (and known likelihood) of forcing my society character to spend a huge amount of limited resources to play again.

I've heard a wide range of responses to people that have played various levels. I ended up playing the first one but I was fortunate in that I was a high tier character playing the lower tier version.


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Heh...it's déjà vu all over again (meaning the complaints not the OP). I guess I shouldn't be surprised how often the Tomb comes up (or the stock standard assertions that come up with it). I won't dive into a discussion on the merits other than to say that the Tomb of Horrors was originally written by Gygax for use with his original home group (Rob Kuntz with his PC Robilar and his son Ernie...playing Tenser iirc... in particular) and it was eventually adapted for the Convention players. The original in its Con format is used unbridled in Bruce Cordell's Return to the Tomb of Horrors as a side note (and more than a few threads out there detailing the fairness of the Tomb).

I am a bit curious if there is something like the Tomb for Pathfinder (or even 3.x) as well. The mega-dungeons are far too long, the original Tomb of Horrors might seem short on page count but 1e modules have virtually nonexistent stat blocks and other governing text compared to a Pathfinder adventure. Written today, it would probably weigh in at the 28-32 page range. You could still probably finish it successfully in a single 4 to 6 hour session as well.

The real gem imo in the original Tomb was atmosphere, and most of that I felt was really boosted by the illustration book. So in line with Prethen, is there anything with the Tomb's feel with a set of illustrations to use along with the encounters\puzzles?


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Just do a google search and you'll find a PDF of a conversion to 3 different systems (in 1 document). I cut out only the Pathfinder stuff and tinkered with it a bit to run our group of 8 7th level characters (may have been 9, I can't remember, all very overpowered). That was my first GMing experience. I got my ass kicked, but I learned a lot. We had fun. 4 9th level characters (standard party) would probably have been a challenge and much more fun.

The conversion is a bit flaky since not all of the Gygaxian mysterious stuff translates to the much more comprehensive rule system of Pathfinder. Don't get me wrong, the author did a great job, IMO, just some of the content doesn't translate well and ToH is not a really good introductory module for a noob GM.

Oh, the guy called it "The Tomb of Horrors Unofficial Ultimate Revised Edition." I don't have his name, unfortunately, just his unsigned PDF.


taks wrote:

Just do a google search and you'll find a PDF of a conversion to 3 different systems (in 1 document). I cut out only the Pathfinder stuff and tinkered with it a bit to run our group of 8 7th level characters (may have been 9, I can't remember, all very overpowered). That was my first GMing experience. I got my ass kicked, but I learned a lot. We had fun. 4 9th level characters (standard party) would probably have been a challenge and much more fun.

The conversion is a bit flaky since not all of the Gygaxian mysterious stuff translates to the much more comprehensive rule system of Pathfinder. Don't get me wrong, the author did a great job, IMO, just some of the content doesn't translate well and ToH is not a really good introductory module for a noob GM.

Oh, the guy called it "The Tomb of Horrors Unofficial Ultimate Revised Edition." I don't have his name, unfortunately, just his unsigned PDF.

I'm not looking for a conversion of the original Tomb (already have those with my own tweaks)...I'm just interested if there is something like it that was written for Pathfinder (heck even something I can convert) that I don't know about.

2e's Labyrinth of Madness (Monte Cook iirc) is a definite homage (but parts of it are a hot mess). Eh...Dungeon magazine had The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb and one for Keraptis (of White Plume Mountain fame) from what I remember.

I'm just wondering if there is a product out there (3PP or otherwise) that has an illustration book and a similar vibe that is not a 'S' series module or something I haven't mentioned.

Dark Archive

A well made modern Pathfinder party could make it pretty easy, as a cheeky smirk to Mr Gygax.

Assuming you know you are going there...

-Archaologist Bard for traps and knowledge.

-Master Summoner to send mooks down the trap filled corridors.

-Paladin for the rare melee and less rare status buffs.

-Cleric (Sarenrae?) to kill all the undead and buff and heal from the silly inescapable traps.

No matter how good the party is, it's still best not to put your hand in the demon sculpture's mouth.


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Captain K. wrote:
No matter how good the party is, it's still best not to put your hand in the demon sculpture's mouth.

No, you should jump in, that is where Acerack hid all of the best loot! Trust me, just jump in! When I run the Tomb, the paladin did just that and got his just rewards...


I forget who said it first, but:

"The Tomb of Horrors is less an adventure than an intelligence test.

If you go in, YOU FAILED."


No, there is nothing really close to it because setting an adventure on auto-lose will not go over well. However if you run it, or try to make an adventure that emulates it make sure your players are ok with this type of thing or tell them up front that they are not likely to be successful.

I almost got to play in it once, and I was told to bring multiple characters. I already knew what the adventure was about so I did not mind, but everyone is not me.


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Rappan Athuk is what you are looking for.

Dont go down the well!


Grue wrote:

I am a bit curious if there is something like the Tomb for Pathfinder (or even 3.x) as well. The mega-dungeons are far too long, the original Tomb of Horrors might seem short on page count but 1e modules have virtually nonexistent stat blocks and other governing text compared to a Pathfinder adventure. Written today, it would probably weigh in at the 28-32 page range. You could still probably finish it successfully in a single 4 to 6 hour session as well.

One of the challenges of writing 1-shot adventures for modern systems is that the systems are much more complex and geared towards extended, planned story telling. AD&D was geared towards unplanned story telling.

ToH is at it's heart an unplanned story telling extravaganza about puzzles and deaths.

While I enjoy both RA and ToH, they are a false equivalency. RA is a supercampaign with many resolvable stories and a plot. It takes years to play through. ToH is a one-shot deathtrap, puzzlefest.

When I ran the 4th ToH stuff, I split it all up, changed the nature of the original ToH (tomb fully resets every night, massive necromancer city outside runs gambling on adventurer success, everyone worships the endboss). It worked well as a stage transition between "modules".


I second Secrets of Bonekeep.

1st encounter is immune to magic and breaks all weapons. I guess you can go ranged/natural attack though.

Liberty's Edge

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On the one hand, Tomb of Horrors is a s@&*ty adventure.

On the other hand, it's a gaming rite-of-passage, isn't it? "See how close you get to Acererak before something bends, folds, spindles, and mutilates your character."

Fun fact: John Wick, the creator of Legend of the Five Rings, is probably the smartest person to ever play through the Tomb of Horrors. The DM gave each character in Wick's party 70,000 gold to buy gear, and said to Wick that if he knew what a trap in the Tomb was (he played through it once already) he was allowed to tell the rest of the group what it was.

In John Wick's own words:
"Wait a minute," I replied. "Seventy thousand?!"

"Yes."

"One gold piece feeds a family of four for a year. And we have seventy thousand of them?"

The GM nodded again. "That's right."

I told the other players, "F$~@ this dungeon! Let's go home, live like kings. We don't need to go in there! We each have seventy thousand gold pieces! Let's buy a tavern... no, let's buy a city and be done with this."

To their credit, each of the other players considered that notion for a moment... then they decided they wanted to play the adventure anyway.

"Okay," I said, and I bought the one and only magical item I would need.

Shenanigans:
He bought a Bag of Holding.

He then convinced the rest of the party, one at a time, to leave all their stuff behind and crawl into the gaping demon's maw in the first room of the Tomb.

You know. The one with the Sphere of Annihilation in its mouth.

He then said "F%!# this dungeon," sold the magic items, and proceeded to live like a king.

Why didn't John tell the rest of the group about the Sphere of Annihilation?

Because it's an artifact. Not a trap. =p


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Atmosphere??? Seriously??? The entire place is painted in pastel colours. I suppose that is evil...


Snorb wrote:

On the one hand, Tomb of Horrors is a s@@~ty adventure.

On the other hand, it's a gaming rite-of-passage, isn't it? "See how close you get to Acererak before something bends, folds, spindles, and mutilates your character."

Fun fact: John Wick, the creator of Legend of the Five Rings, is probably the smartest person to ever play through the Tomb of Horrors. The DM gave each character in Wick's party 70,000 gold to buy gear, and said to Wick that if he knew what a trap in the Tomb was (he played through it once already) he was allowed to tell the rest of the group what it was.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

That's nice. I'd hardly say that makes John Wick the smartest person to ever play in the Tomb. It just makes him a guy that broke the standard expectations when you sit down at a gaming table for a FRPG...you are there to have fun with your friends (GP economics for peasants notwithstanding). I'd think it would be smarter to sit down and have a few good laughs playing a game than pulling off a (Knights of the Dinner Table) Brian-esque scam;-).

As far as smartest play I've ever heard regarding the Tomb, that would be a group that dropped a certain crown on the quiescent demi-lich skull and deliberately touched the wrong end of it's matching scepter to it (insta-kill). It has been a while since I looked at the adventure, but I'm reasonably certain a 1e 5th level Thief can complete it successfully if they follow the clues (defining success as reaching the vault and making off with the swag there). If you are a bash the door down, kick the monster in the junk, take it's wallet type of player, clearly adventures of this type are not for you.

Anyway, the OP was looking for adventures like the Tomb of Horrors published for pathfinder. My interest is along that line but especially if there is a 3PP module out there with an illustration booklet or even a generous side of CoC style handouts (my players love handouts). I like to adapt these types of adventures to campaigns for use as side-treks\alternatives to 'Retrieve the McGuffin' quests. When similar things pop up in an AP for example, the McGuffin locale is usually pretty bland...maybe 3 set encounters (and no puzzle solving beyond combat tactics) and a linear almost flow-chart type map that is dull as dirt.

So far the only suggestion that might meet the criteria (partially) is Bonekeep (though it's PFS, and I haven't been exactly impressed with their quality...notably compared to a similar page count old Dungeon adventure). Rappan Athuk is just too much an all-consuming slog to be of use. Anything else that hasn't been mentioned?


Sissyl wrote:
Atmosphere??? Seriously??? The entire place is painted in pastel colours. I suppose that is evil...

That would be Erol Otus' influence and there is something about his artwork that requires a SAN check. The only colored bit was the outside covers, and I thought it was rather muted compared to his other work.

And atmosphere, seriously. An adventure like the Tomb creates a bit of tension with the players, the handouts set the mood (and Acerak taunts them throughout), and when they 'win' it is a sense of accomplishment rather than just another 'ho-hum we touched base here, let's go onto the next encounter zone until we hit the major BBEG of the campaign'.


Gambit wrote:

Rappan Athuk is what you are looking for.

Dont go down the well!

Rappan Athuk is great, running the 3.5e version of it in pathfinder right now on the boards, best thing I've done in a while.

That said, I've also played ToH, and the two are nothing alike. Not even a little bit.

Anyway, to answer OP's question, a 3.5e version of ToH can be found with a quick Google search, and with another Google search, you can find a PDF that converts the 3.5e thing to pathfinder. There you go.


Grue wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
Atmosphere??? Seriously??? The entire place is painted in pastel colours. I suppose that is evil...

That would be Erol Otus' influence and there is something about his artwork that requires a SAN check. The only colored bit was the outside covers, and I thought it was rather muted compared to his other work.

And atmosphere, seriously. An adventure like the Tomb creates a bit of tension with the players, the handouts set the mood (and Acerak taunts them throughout), and when they 'win' it is a sense of accomplishment rather than just another 'ho-hum we touched base here, let's go onto the next encounter zone until we hit the major BBEG of the campaign'.

Not the illustrations. The descriptions. I ran it, and time and time again I was surprised by the completely awful colour setups. Erol Otus didn't even come into it.


wraithstrike wrote:

No, there is nothing really close to it because setting an adventure on auto-lose will not go over well. However if you run it, or try to make an adventure that emulates it make sure your players are ok with this type of thing or tell them up front that they are not likely to be successful.

I almost got to play in it once, and I was told to bring multiple characters. I already knew what the adventure was about so I did not mind, but everyone is not me.

Not necessarily a bad deal as a one off/oneshot if you all decide to bring plenty of adult beverages and several character sheets and just see how many ways there are to die. Reminds me of the 1 time we played Car Wars in college, basically an hour to design our vehicles, and it was supposed to be something like a 3 lap race, and only went about 1 lap because we'd all succeeded in either killing ourselves by failing control checks and flipping down the front stretch or being wrecked by a buddy. good laughs, but not something you want to do over and over.


I also recommend Rappan Athuk, if you want a tricky dungeon crawl.

ToH was well liked by my players back in the day. Those old modules required a little more tact and effort by the DM to work properly, they contain only the bare minimum information.
And while the treasure isn't great at the first look, my players found some uses for cursed stuff...you can use them against NPCs, if you go about it creatively.

The 3.5 conversion is a bit overdone in my opinion. But I wrote a larger version myself at some point, so I'm guilty as well :)

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

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For the purpose you describe, Grue, Bonekeep is pretty good. If you get all three levels and put them together you can get a pretty solid adventure out of them. And it has a very "old school" non-linear feel to it (despite, ultimately, being mostly linear). A little bit of tweaking and it turns into a very memorable adventure location that fits easily into just about any story. My Kingmaker players *still* talk about it, and that campaign ended a year ago.


Rappan Athuk is great. But it's nothing like tomb of horrors. The only similarities are that they're both dungeons.


Even as a tournament module, surviving wasn't the point of the Tomb. The team that died furthest in won.

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