by Mike Shea on 2 September 2014
At Gencon 2014 James Grummell and I hosted a pickup game of Dungeons of Fate based in the Tomb of Horrors and designed as a multi-table event. Like Vault of the Dracolich we wanted this multi-table event to have a single cohesive story and provide some opportunities for each table to work with one another in some way. Below you will find the full rules James and I wrote up for this hack of Tomb of Horrors. The rules below still require the original Tomb of Horrors adventure which can be picked up used at Amazon or as part of the Dungeons of Dread collector's book.
We're releasing this material under a Creative Commons Attribution license so you can take the material and use it however you want as long as you attribute the results back to this page.
The world crumbles away beneath your very feet. You stand on a precipice overlooking a crevasse so deep it touches the core of the planet and so wide you cannot see the other side. Above you, the black spot in the center of the fading red sun grows as it eats itself from the inside. Looking at it reveals the dark truth of reality. In a few hours, the world will end.
A slight figure stands before you. Though she stands only three feet tall, her deep blue robes of the arch-magi and the stern look in her eye speak to her power.
"You know me as Arianna Angelmaker. I am the last of the Indigo Wizards. As the multiverse's mightiest heroes, I have brought you here in our last attempt to save existence.
"Our worlds are dying yet one chance remains.This destruction began thirty six years ago in an ancient and forgotten tomb known as the Tomb of Horrors. In that tomb the lich Acererak tore a rift between worlds to expand his power beyond one single reality. This tear began the destruction you see around us. With the last of the magic available to the Indigo Wizards, we wish to send you heroes back thirty six years to confront Acererak and close the tear.
"Acererak has spread his power across a number of artifacts left in his tombs across multiple realities. You must enter the tombs and recover as many artifacts as you can before you confront Acererak. His power is vast and every artifact in your possession will aid you in defeating him. Be wary, many of these artifacts are protected by powerful guardians.
"And that is not the only danger. As soon as you enter his tombs, he will begin to become aware of your infiltration. Time will be short, perhaps two and a half hours, before he pulls you from his tombs to him so he may drain your souls.
"Your ability to affect the other worlds will be limited. You may channel your life energy to invoke the magic of the Indigo Wizards and create an advantage for your fellow companions in the other worlds. Death itself may also have strange results in these tombs. Should you fall, you may find yourself ripped from one reality to another. Be wary.
"You are the last hope of our world, our very reality. Fail in this and, literally, all is lost. Go, my friends."
Based on the scenario above, players should feel free to build their PCs using the standard Dungeons of Fate character sheet. Their characters are some of the mightiest champions in the multiverse and players should feel free to build their characters as such. Think of them as epic-level champions. Though powerful, the PCs are still mortal and the dangers of the Tomb of Horrors are just as deadly to them as to any other mortal. They may be the heroes of their realm, but they will still turn into jelly when crushed by a elephant juggernaut.
Each group of PCs begins in a randomly determined location from the following:
The Tomb of Horrors is filled with deathtraps and tricks everywhere. GMs should feel free to run them however they feel will be the most fun for the group. Some traps may be truly and instantly deadly. Others may use the typical resolution system of Fate. It's up to the GMs to determine the difficulty (usually 2 through 6) and up to the players to roll. If you DO choose to make it particularly deadly, make sure this is clear to players up front. DMs may consider going easier on the PCs early on and letting the traps get harder the further into the adventure the PCs get.
There are numerous pieces of treasure scattered throughout the tomb. These pieces of treasure should be handled as aspects with a number of free invocations depending on the power of the item. Low powered items will have no free invocations. High powered items may have up to two. Very powerful items may act as a stunt. For example, a vorpal sword might have "+2 to attack a creature with a neck" along with two free invocations. A holy avenger might have "+2 to attack an undead creature" along with two free invocations.
Acererak has placed parts of his life force within a number of magical artifacts he has hidden throughout his tombs across space and time. The PCs must acquire as many of these artifacts as they can in order to face and defeat the Lich.
The name of each of these artifacts counts as the artifact's aspect. Each of these artifacts includes two free invocations. With enough of these artifacts in hand, the PCs will be able to use the invocations to get past Acererak's powerful defenses and damage the demilich.
Each of Acererak's phylacteries is protected by a powerful guardian. Each guardian is a level 5 monster that acts between every two PCs. Roll randomly or choose from the list below:
The following chambers contain Acererak's phylacteries: 13, 14, 18a, 19, 21, 22, 25, 30, 33.
PCs can attempt to pass a message to other instances of the Tomb with an appropriate Create an Advantage action on a level 4 challenge. On a success, they can pass a three-word message to the other instances. On a success with style, they can pass the message and create an room advantage with two free invocations. On a tie, the message is slightly altered by the GM. On a failure, the message does not make it through.
When a PC dies, they can be resurrected with an applicable level 4 challenge by the remaining PCs. On a failure, they return with a severe consequence related to their death. If they tie, they take on a moderate consequence related to their death. If they succeed, they take on a mild consequence related to their death. This mild consequence will not get restored after a scene. If a character dies again and, after a resurrection roll, would take on the same level of consequence they already have, they instead take on the next highest available consequence.
If a PC already has three full consequences, that PC cannot be resurrected and returns as a spirit. This spirit cannot physically interact with the world or directly communicate with living PCs but can still create advantages within a scene and the player may move from table to table. This ghost receives three new Fate points they can use to create these advantages or to pass messages to the physical world as described in cross-reality interactions.
When Acererak calls all PCs to his lair, all PCs, even dead ones, show up. Dead PCs will still be ethereal but can battle Acererak as normal given the lich's existence between worlds.
Acererak becomes aware of the PCs mucking around in his tombs after two real life hours, the demilich teleports all of the PCs to his extradimensional chamber to take care of them himself. This triggers the final battle against Acererak's multi-dimensional form.
Once time has run out, all of the PCs are teleported to Acererak's demiplane.
You find yourself standing on a floating platform of shattered rock along with your other adventurers from across realities. Two huge glyphed pillars hum with arcane energy while swirling motes of shadow twist across the platform. A massive skull, jewels for eyes, sits off one edge. A voice booms in your head.
"You dare to enter my tombs. You dare to thwart my plans. Yours will be the first souls I devour, the first of all souls across all existences!
"But this does not need to be the fate for all of you. I challenge you with the mortal's dilemma."
"Close your eyes and listen to me. If you choose to face me and fail to defeat me, you will face endless misery as I will devour your soul for the rest of eternity. Instead, you can raise your hand now and I will reward you with your own small demiplane of joy and contentment, a sanctuary where you rule over your own reality while the rest of the multiverse becomes mine. Keep your eyes closed, no peeking, raise your hand now to leave or keep it down to face me."
"Very well. Put your hands down and open your eyes. Time to face your choices."
The Mortal's Dilemma. During the above dialog, some players may raise their hands and choose Acererak's solution. If they do, on their turn, they are teleported away with a look of joy and contentment on their faces as they are sent to one of Acererak's less uncomfortable teeth to spend eternity in their own pocket realm. This happens on their turn and counts towards their actions, thus, even if they are teleported away, Acererak will still act on every third PC.
Aspects Of Acererak's Demiplane
Acererak's level depends on the number of PCs in the game. With 5-10 players Acererak is level 7. With 11 to 18 players, Acererak is level 8. Acererak has one Fate point for each PC. Acererak acts first in combat and then turns take place in clockwise order with Acererak acting after every third PC. For example: Acererak acts, player 1 acts, player 2 acts, player 3 acts, Acererak acts, player 4 acts, player 5 acts, player 1 acts, Acererak acts. Acererak uses his soul-drain on a random PC on his turn, using Fate points to boost the attack two higher than his level as long as he has Fate points. This soul drain requires a Constitution, Dexterity, or Charisma Defend action.
A huge crack echoes across the shattered surface of the platform as Acererak's left eye shatters in its enormous socket.
"NO!!!" shouts the demilich as his other eye explodes outwards. His mouth opens as each of his teeth burst, one after another. The skull splits and you are blown back as it explodes outwards covering you in the dust of ages. As you sit up you look around and realize your fallen companions rise next to you. The multiverse, it seems is saved.
You feel Acererak's beam pierce through into your soul, ripping your spirit from your body and pulling you into his waiting gemmed tooth. There you are greeted to eternal darkness as the flaying of your soul begins. Your last sane thought is one of great remorse. The multiverse is lost. Acererak is all.