Will it be trick, treat, or both for your gaming group this Halloween? Get ready for some classic adventuring in the Tomb of Horrors by downloading this v.3.5 revision of the classic Tomb of Horrors adventure by Gary Gygax, and see how well your PCs survive!
The legend of the tomb is an old story with many parts, some of which may be lost or obscured. Characters attempting to glean special information by consulting sages or through legend lore spells may still have difficulty obtaining as much background as they desire, for the scraps of information are often minimal and mystical.
These bits of information are available as clues, and characters can make of them what they wish: Ancient Burial Places; Ancient Tombs; Sorcerous Kings; Challenges, Surpassing (Certain Death); Soul Eaters; Treasure, Great . . .
The other parts of the legend can be furnished by the Dungeon Master from the description that follows.
The Legend of the Tomb of Horrors
Somewhere under a lost and lonely hill of grim and foreboding aspect lies a labyrinthine crypt filled with terrible traps and not a few strong and ferocious monsters to slay the unwary. Rich treasures both precious and magical fill the crypt, but in addition to the aforementioned guardians, some say a demilich still wards his final haunt. (Be warned that tales told have it that this being possesses powers that make him nearly undefeatable!) Accounts relate that adventurers have an extremely low probability of ever finding the chamber where the demilich Acererak lingers, for the passages and rooms of the tomb are fraught with terrible traps, poison gases, and magical protections. Furthermore, the demilich has hidden his lair so well, that even those who avoid the pitfalls likely will not locate their true goal. So only large and well-prepared parties of the bravest and strongest should even consider the attempt, and if they do locate the tomb, they must be prepared to fail. Any expedition must be composed of characters of high level and varied class. They must have magical protections and weapons, and they should equip themselves with every sort of device possible to ensure their survival.
Possible Locale of the Tomb
1) In the Bright Desert
2) Somewhere in the Vast Swamp south of Sundi
3) In the Vast Swamp of Cormyr
4) On a small islet, one of many of the Nethlanther Isles
5) In the Crawling Swamp in the Shadow Marches
6) Submerged in the Basura Swamp of Q'Barra
What about Return to the Tomb of Horrors?
It is an utterly viable option to use this update with the information provided in the Return to the Tomb of Horrors. In that adventure, the passage of time saw the lonely hill become the foci interest for the necromantically inclined. Those drawn to the area had less interest in exploring the depths of the tomb. Instead, the legend of Acererak himself drew them, and by all accounts Acererak was a being of surpassing power, holding secrets over Death itself. As time wore on, a community of the like-minded grew up around the mound of the tomb. This was neither a city of pure-hearted seekers of knowledge nor a collection of mere tomb robbers. Instead, those who gathered in this new city of grim aspect sought to understand the forbidden arts of unlife. They were, in fact, almost all practitioners of the foul dark arts: necromancy. Thus was Skull City born.
The inhabitants of Skull City were obsessed with the power that the dark arts can bring them. Following this philosophy, their reverence for Acererak and his achievements developed into a nearly theological worship of the powerful lich in his aspect as "The Devourer." They have built a massive academy into the no-longer lonely hill over Acererak's tomb and engage in weekly ceremonies to garner the attention and favor of the demilich below. However, for all their evil rituals and dark knowledge, and in spite of their professions of communion with the spirit of the demilich, not a single resident of Skull City possesses a glimmer of the truth. Acererak's true guise, the location of his final stronghold, and his ultimate sinister goal remain utterly unknown -- a black mystery to all.
As in Return to the Tomb of Horrors, the original tomb remains sacrosanct -- those who built up Skull City and the Academy around it revere the tomb. Thus, the information in this update can be used as is, whether or not the DM has access to Return to the Tomb of Horrors or prefers not to use it (especially since that product is not updated to 3rd edition rules, but yet lingers in 2nd edition status).