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JeenLeen
2009-01-31, 01:53 AM
NOTE: contains spoilers about what happens inside the module.


I'm planning on running the Tomb of Horrors and was wondering for any advice on it. My friends have some idea as to how it goes, i.e., lots of traps and some tough foes.

Since the 3.5 version says it's for a group of 4-6 Lv. 9 characters, I'm allowing my three friends to make 2 Lv. 9 characters a piece. I expect to see:
1. a broken character from the Nine Swords book
2. a tiny Sidhe sorcerer (from the Races 4 supplement)
3. a standard rogue
4. a standard cleric, somewhat offensive built
5. another rogue or spellcaster
6. some sort of fighter
The player for characters 1 and 2 is seeing this as a challenge to beat the game, so he is trying to make utterly broken characters; but he doesn't know if traps or monsters will be the hardest thing.

Questions:
1. I'm reading through the module, but any advice as to setting the ethos or managing the group?

2. Could someone give me some clarification on the part where you count to 10 after defeating the fake boss? Does it happen only if you defeat him with the special mace or with any victory? Does interacting with it automatically allow you to discern, or is it a Will save? If they run, do they have to avoid all the traps to get to the surface or just make it out?

3. Should any sort of divining spell allow the player to learn how the "Command" spell using "Forget" effects the final boss?

Sholos
2009-01-31, 06:28 AM
My first piece of advise is to make some houserules about trapfinding. A broken trapfinder could ruin a lot of ToH.

Grommen
2009-01-31, 11:46 AM
Keep a few extra pre-generated toons on hand. Just in case.

O and encourage them to go poke their heads into nearly everything they can. At least the DM will have fun with this adventure.

Just make sure they have a good sense of humor and you'll be just fine.

Assassin89
2009-01-31, 11:54 AM
Let me warn you one thing that happened in such a campaign. A levitating wizard was better at detecting traps than the rogue.

expirement10K14
2009-01-31, 12:04 PM
Make sure no one is a trapsmith or combat trapsmith. Both could stand to make the game a lot less fun, especially if they are a kobold.

Curmudgeon
2009-01-31, 12:29 PM
An optimized, core-only trapfinding Rogue will be able to make every single Search and Disable Device check required by the game. This changes the dynamic of this trap-centric module a fair bit; it means that most other characters spend all their time just hanging around waiting for the Rogue to do all the point work.

Tool, Masterwork: This well-made item is the perfect tool for the job. It grants a +2 circumstance bonus on a related skill check (if any). Bonuses provided by multiple masterwork items used toward the same skill check do not stack.
Goggles of Minute Seeing +5 competence to Search
Lens of Detection +5 unnamed to Search

Skill Focus [General]

Choose a skill.
Benefit: You get a +3 bonus on all checks involving that skill.

Investigator [General]

Benefit: You get a +2 bonus on all Gather Information checks and Search checks. So, at level 9:
12 ranks Search
+2 INT 14
+10 magic items
+2 masterwork tool
+5 feats
+10 "take 10" outside of combat
----
41 on all Search checks

Since all of this is entirely reasonable -- after all, it's a core competency of the class, and the Tomb of Horrors is legendary (in both the D&D and player worlds) for its many traps -- you should not try to nerf the Rogue. Just be prepared to quickly draw out the parts of the module that are merely filled with traps, marking them as "done", and move on from there. There are enough unavoidable ("presence triggered") traps and puzzles to keep the module playable, but you'll be whipping through a lot of the real estate faster than the writers expected.

Seffbasilisk
2009-01-31, 04:08 PM
I recently ran a modifed Tomb of Horrors, with fairly paranoid players (They'd played in my regular games.)

Make a note of all the little things, and for gods sake don't let the fighter with greatcleave open the chests.

One thing I did, that made for a cruel twist was I made the orb of annihilation be cold and numbing to the touch, so when the barbarian stuck a finger in, he just felt cold, and numbing, before the cleric whapped his elbow, and cost him his entire hand.

ericgrau
2009-01-31, 04:49 PM
An optimized, core-only trapfinding Rogue will be able to make every single Search and Disable Device check required by the game. This changes the dynamic of this trap-centric module a fair bit; it means that most other characters spend all their time just hanging around waiting for the Rogue to do all the point work.

Goggles of Minute Seeing +5 competence to Search
Lens of Detection +5 unnamed to Search
So, at level 9:
12 ranks Search
+2 INT 14
+10 magic items
+2 masterwork tool
+5 feats
+10 "take 10" outside of combat
----
41 on all Search checks

Since all of this is entirely reasonable -- after all, it's a core competency of the class, and the Tomb of Horrors is legendary (in both the D&D and player worlds) for its many traps -- you should not try to nerf the Rogue. Just be prepared to quickly draw out the parts of the module that are merely filled with traps, marking them as "done", and move on from there. There are enough unavoidable ("presence triggered") traps and puzzles to keep the module playable, but you'll be whipping through a lot of the real estate faster than the writers expected.

What masterwork tool, exactly, is related to searching? What does it look like, how does it work? And are you looking through your goggles of minute seeing to see tiny objects then using your lens of detection to...? Also see tiny objects? The stacking rules don't just say that the same bonus types don't stack, they also say that bonuses from similar sources don't stack either. Either way can screw up stacking, you can't look at only one or the other. That leaves 34. OTOH there's no reason you can't take a 20 on all search checks, time permitting, for 44. But that's not always the case; sometimes you might not even be able to take a 10. Then there's the matter of your disable device check, which is pretty much limited to thieve's tools and grabbing even more feats. At level 9 you only have 4-5 feats. And that's assuming the trap can even be disabled, or even found with a search check. Just because you find a chute in the wall doesn't mean you're clear on what to do. But that's what makes the adventure so friggin' fun. It's gonna take clever application of all kinds of abilities, not just a min-maxed modifier.

As for the counting to 10, I went through the module and couldn't find a clear answer. I'd say it should still happen even if he's defeated without the mace, otherwise it seems to give the maceless players and advantage for no good reason. And you should really post a link to where the module can be downloaded. If I didn't already have a copy saved on my computer I wouldn't have helped.

Darrin
2009-01-31, 05:40 PM
Are you using the original or the updated 3.5 version from the WotC website?

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/oa/20051031a



Questions:
1. I'm reading through the module, but any advice as to setting the ethos or managing the group?


Tell them not to get too attached to their PCs, and have several backup PCs rolled up and ready to go. If they don't have backup PCs, then make a few on your own, just to have some handy.



2. Could someone give me some clarification on the part where you count to 10 after defeating the fake boss? Does it happen only if you defeat him with the special mace or with any victory? Does interacting with it automatically allow you to discern, or is it a Will save? If they run, do they have to avoid all the traps to get to the surface or just make it out?


My advice is to ignore the 10-second count stuff. There's no real fair way to do this. Use the 3.5 version if you have to, this has more details on how the traps work with specific DCs and whatnot.

The 3.5 version has you count down out loud, slowly but deliberately. This is a verbal indication to all the PCs that something bad is going to happen and they need to act quickly.

The fake boss is set up to fool a group into thinking they've defeated Acererak. It's up to the DM how hard you "sell" the fake ending. Interacting with an illusion, which usually means touching or attacking, means they can make a will save. Make these saves secretly behind the screen for all the PCs. If you have some that made the save and some that didn't, treat the collapse and combat as real as you can, and pass notes to the PCs that saved that they see things a little differently... no falling rocks, but there is an undead creature attacking them.

If the PCs run out before anything touches them, then no will save.



3. Should any sort of divining spell allow the player to learn how the "Command" spell using "Forget" effects the final boss?

Huh? You lost me.

infinitypanda
2009-01-31, 08:38 PM
Don't let any of them take a Bag of Tricks. That lets them find more than half the traps without rolling, and for only 900g.

Curmudgeon
2009-01-31, 09:09 PM
What masterwork tool, exactly, is related to searching? What does it look like, how does it work? The D&D rules don't require details on this tool, so why should I? It's there, it's only a +2 bonus, and the stacking rules say whether you can combine multiple things for a single job. That's enough. I don't require details on skill uses any more than I require details on D&D damage (cuts, bruises, abrasions, or just diminishing luck).

If you want the details, play Rolemaster. If you're playing D&D you've decided that you don't need all these details to make a FRPG enjoyable.

monty
2009-01-31, 10:11 PM
Don't let any of them take a Bag of Tricks. That lets them find more than half the traps without rolling, and for only 900g.

And whatever you do, DON'T let the casters take Elemental Summoning.

RS14
2009-01-31, 10:13 PM
The D&D rules don't require details on this tool, so why should I? It's there, it's only a +2 bonus, and the stacking rules say whether you can combine multiple things for a single job. That's enough. I don't require details on skill uses any more than I require details on D&D damage (cuts, bruises, abrasions, or just diminishing luck).

If you want the details, play Rolemaster. If you're playing D&D you've decided that you don't need all these details to make a FRPG enjoyable.

I don't think the rules ever state explicitly that there is a masterwork tool (or even a tool) for every skill. I personally would rule that there is not. As there is not a masterwork tool listed for search checks, it doesn't exist.

It's still a minimum 39; your original point still stands.

TheLogman
2009-01-31, 10:14 PM
It really depends what kinda game you want to play. My group is fairly silly, so we played it a little silly. They rolled well and guessed well, and I gave very very few hints, and they made it all right and we had a great time.

I even helped the Sorcerer chose his spells (It was his first time playing a spellcaster), and I suggested some items to help them out. I distinctivly remember one door where it only opened if you put a weapon in it. My one player threw a Shuriken at anything he saw, so he solved that puzzle fairly easily. Of course, the next door was the bleeding door, and he almost drowned from the blood.

The Rouge was screwing around when I was counting down, so they were in the room when it "collapsed". They made it to the very end, and I ruled that a high Knowledge Religion check would reveal spells that would kill the thing. I told them when they made the roll, and finished it with "Or a biting of it's eye (Eyebite)"

My players, the awesome dudes they are, decided to actually bite the final boss in the eye. I ruled it took an attack roll, had a higher save, and did less damage than the spell, but they made it through in the end.

Of course, I am one to forgo the rules often in exchange for fun, we don't take the game seriously, it's just a good way to spend a night.

Also, RS, from the SRD on "Tool, Masterwork"

Tool, Masterwork

This well-made item is the perfect tool for the job. It grants a +2 circumstance bonus on a related skill check (if any). Bonuses provided by multiple masterwork items used toward the same skill check do not stack.

Basically it can give a +2 to whatever skill you want. We usually replace "Tool" with whatever. In this case, maybe a Magnifying Glass, or a book on details or something.

Curmudgeon
2009-01-31, 10:40 PM
I don't think the rules ever state explicitly that there is a masterwork tool (or even a tool) for every skill. I don't think the rules need to state that explicitly.
Thievesí Tools, Masterwork: This kit contains extra tools and tools of better make, which grant a +2 circumstance bonus on Disable Device and Open Lock checks.

Tool, Masterwork: This well-made item is the perfect tool for the job. It grants a +2 circumstance bonus on a related skill check (if any). Bonuses provided by multiple masterwork items used toward the same skill check do not stack. There are specific masterwork tools listed for various jobs. MW Thievesí Tools (2 skills, 100 gp) are just an example. The intent of the generic MW tool (1 skill, 50 gp) seems clear to me: just fill in the other skills that haven't explicitly had such an item listed.

Anyway, that's my take on it. As I said, it's only a +2 bonus, so not a big deal.

Canadian
2009-01-31, 10:42 PM
Tomb of horrors is awesome. I played it when it first came out. One of the most memorable sessions ever. Classic.

Jack_Simth
2009-02-01, 01:48 PM
Are you using the original or the updated 3.5 version from the WotC website?

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/oa/20051031a

He specified the party was using 3.5 rules, so I strongly suspect he's using the 3.5 version.


Tell them not to get too attached to their PCs, and have several backup PCs rolled up and ready to go. If they don't have backup PCs, then make a few on your own, just to have some handy.

Good advice.


My advice is to ignore the 10-second count stuff. There's no real fair way to do this. Use the 3.5 version if you have to, this has more details on how the traps work with specific DCs and whatnot.

The 3.5 version has you count down out loud, slowly but deliberately. This is a verbal indication to all the PCs that something bad is going to happen and they need to act quickly.

The fake boss is set up to fool a group into thinking they've defeated Acererak. It's up to the DM how hard you "sell" the fake ending. Interacting with an illusion, which usually means touching or attacking, means they can make a will save. Make these saves secretly behind the screen for all the PCs. If you have some that made the save and some that didn't, treat the collapse and combat as real as you can, and pass notes to the PCs that saved that they see things a little differently... no falling rocks, but there is an undead creature attacking them.

If the PCs run out before anything touches them, then no will save.

Unless someone has the brains to use Permanency on Detect Magic and/or Arcane Sight (or just prepare a lot of castings of Arcane Sight), as they are two VERY useful spells in the Tomb.


Huh? You lost me.
The actual end boss of The Tomb of Horrors is a construct with Magic Immunity. Command(Forget) is one of the things that bypasses it ... but it requires the specific command, which isn't even on the 3.5 list of things Command can do. Basically, the only way to know it is to have read the module, or found a spoiler somewhere.


And whatever you do, DON'T let the casters take Elemental Summoning.
Well... that depends. If you want them to succeed, let them. If you don't want them to succeed, don't let them. There's equivalent ways to do it, though - Elemental Summoning is just the easiest.

Elemental Summoning will permit someone who uses it a LOT to detect around 90% of the traps. To get through all the traps with no roll required, a Wizard (or Cleric, but that's a bit harder) will need:

1) Elemental Summoning (can also do this with a wand (or Sorcerer) of Unseen Servant, and several sacks, which you fill with 100 pounds of rocks, and a tied-up live chicken - bring LOTS of chickens, and something you can use to turn walls into rocks; likewise, a Ring of Telekinesis can replace the Unseen Servant quite effectively) to detect the mechanical traps, and to demonstrate consequences on something you don't really care about. Additionally, it's good for manipulating your environment - you don't want to touch anything in the Tomb. At all. Ever.
2) Ranks in Knoweledge(Nature) or Knoweledge(The Planes) depending on whether you're going with the Chicken or the Elemental Summoning. You need to be able to tell if something relatively subtle happens to your disposable minion.
3) Detect Magic, Arcane Sight, or similar (either make it Permanent, or have a lot of copies). If it's magic, you zap it until it isn't.
4) A way to damage objects at range with no particular limit (a reserve feat, or a lot of adamantine arrows). This combines with 2, above - if it's magic, you zap it until it isn't.
5) A way to survive with out air, when it comes on you suddenly and unexpectedly. There's one or two traps that you're probably not going to dodge, and this is what they do.
6) A way to teleport - a lot. There's a couple of doorways you don't want to go through, where you can't see the results of passing. Avoid the issue by teleporting to the other side - you don't go through them, you don't suffer their effects.
7) Paranoia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Paranoia's obvious. OCD is so that you do the same thing over & over & over & over, and don't stop on the paranoid preparations.

If you've got all seven, you'll get through just about all the *traps* in the Tomb. There's a couple of critters that'll still have a good chance of killing you, but they're a little more straightforward. That's what the rest of the party is for.

------------------------------------------

The biggest problem with the Tomb:
It's a large series of "puzzles" where anything other than the "correct" answer is punished. This is a problem - sure, there are clues... but unless you think in the exact same way the designer thinks, you don't really have much of a chance of coming up with the "correct" solution. The steps above are designed to bypass the "correct" solution while staying within the description of the Tomb, and avoiding the consequences of the traps.

Behold_the_Void
2009-02-01, 02:43 PM
Run it as a Paranoia campaign with unlimited back-up clones. Rule an extra tick for every clone after #6.

JeenLeen
2009-02-04, 11:05 AM
He specified the party was using 3.5 rules, so I strongly suspect he's using the 3.5 version.

Yes, the 3.5 version downloadable at the link someone gave above. Sorry that I didn't say that explicitly or give the link.



6) A way to teleport - a lot. There's a couple of doorways you don't want to go through, where you can't see the results of passing. Avoid the issue by teleporting to the other side - you don't go through them, you don't suffer their effects.


In the opening pages, the module states that any travel through the Etheral Plane will cause random fiends to attack. I'm going to house-rule, though I think I read this in some sourcebook, that any inter-planar travel or physical dislocation goes through the Etheral Plane, that it is a sort of 'space' between the other planes. Maybe I'm confusing it with the Astral Plane, but it should cause some fun when one person teleports and fiends attack.

Thanks for the advice. I'm most worried about a thief getting through everything, but I can see the enemies being told to focus on rogues and I told the party to try to beat the system. Fortunately, although they know it is traps, it seems most think it will be a balance of fighting and trapfinding. The min-maxer in my friends is not making a rogue, so I'm not too worried.

Khatoblepas
2009-02-04, 11:29 AM
I think the guidelines on that module are a bit high.

I ran Tomb of Horrors with four level 3 characters (whom had been rolled for just before the session) with a necklace of True Ressurrection (3 charges) while a friend of mine was staying.

Needless to say, we had an absolute blast, and everyone loved that session. Run it with NOONE who has Search and Trapfinding, and it becomes even better - you go back to 1e style checking every detail.

Of course, they all died horribly, but it was their own fault, really, since

I ruled that objects changed symbolic gender too in one of the portals. Flaming oil flask > stick of dynamite. How Fruedian. They threw it right in. After obtaining a Chaotic Evil wooden cup.

Tomb of Horrors was the BEST ADVENTURE EVER. But it has to be run with nachos and soda, and tongues planted in cheek.