Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Adventure Remake Sketch: Tomb of Horrors

Free Candy in the Mouth
Inspired by the works of John Wick I had come determined to offer something a little different today. I won't puff my chest and talk about how I arrogantly saved Tomb of Horrors from being a meatgrinder only dungeon. Rather, I would talk about how I made the Tomb of Horrors in my image: different and story-based. Let's get our story element using elements presented to us in the original module: The Tomb of Horrors.

Adventure Focus: Acererak of <CITY>

The plot's crux focuses on the ruler and prisoner of the Tomb, Acererak. His full title is Acererak of <CITY> in this meaning that he hails from a city that is prominent in the GM's world. By all accounts when he was alive, Acererak should have been counted as one of the greats. He was both a powerful magician and scholar, sitting on the board of great universities among men of thought. His rotes in the world of magic to this day are used by many magicians. Necrotic Rays? Drain Life? Animate Dead- he didn't create these powers, but he knew the best ways to harness them and write them down for others to use. Many a necromancer burn on small black alters an offering to the grim professor. His work, specifically in the power of necromancy, was all to one goal: stave off his eventual death. He was both a male and a Human at that. The shortest lived of all the races of the world, second only to perhaps Ratfolk. Even with all of the magic he could find, he knew that his doom was approaching and yet, felt he had so much to do and needed more time to do it.

Offers such as vampirism and lichdom had appeared and tempted the magician. Both had their positives, but also their drawbacks. Vampires are most vulnerable during the day, for many of them, they must rest and revert to the corpses they are. Liches must use precious magical energy to create their phylacteries. They could of course spend time recovering it, however, during that time they can also be vulnerable to blades or spells of adventurers looking to make a name by cleaning up a lich. Acererak had pondered and researched, knowing that any day his death was approaching but wanting to maintain his power.

He gambled by linking his power into a geographic location. A place where he'd never lose power, so long as the building remained. To do this he built an underground lair far from the city. He spent university money, he sold artifacts from the museum, he spurned friends and loved ones so that his money could be used to build his fortress. Believing his body was giving out at any day he entered his finished complex and to the has yet to show himself. That is because he is no longer a man, but a creature trapped in his gilt cage. A demi-lich: a floating skull that cannot leave the premises of the Tomb as all of his power is maintained by the very stones of the building. It is believed that the area where the Tomb might be located, that his anguished cries at his gamble... the cost of existing beyond means while he is stuck echoes in the shrieking valley.

Why the Players would deal with him? Acererak had stolen a number of artifacts from the university that he served with distinction up until he began his mad quest to staving off oblivion. While some of the items he sold, he also carried with him several items into the Tomb so that he could continue to research the items could include:

-A Plot Mcguffin to the player's adventure that the player's need. He has it, he might part with it for the player's help or might deny it to players as he is denied freedom to go out into the world again.

-Riches that the player's would like to take. He is happy tempt them and then torture them by throwing them into illusionary limbo or binding their souls to magical armor- something to make the players suffer.

-He controls the Green Face Devil. Which is not a sphere of annihilation. Instead it is a portal into another realm. The players need to get to that realm in order to do something and must bargain with the demi-lich to gain access to it.

How can the Players deal with him?

-The Players can always try to fight him. Besides his own considerable magical abilities his arsenal also includes magically imbued armors, gargoyles, and bone golems who are happy to break the players and throw them to pits.

-The Players might wish to out maneuver him by sneaking in and stealing what they wish. Be warned! Polished stones, specifically rubies, serve as extra eyes for Acererak. What they see, he sees as well.

-Deal with him by offering him some magical object, news from around the world, or an exotic creature. The player's might be able to secure passage for a brief window from Acererak in exchange for work. He loves magical items to study, even better if they can be manipulated by his telekinesis rather than his hands. News he likes to focus on when he can get it is on other wizards who are active in the world.

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