2 min read

I Didn’t Survive The Tomb of Horrors

Perhaps knowing the end of the game is not necessarily as important as the shared story you experience.
I Didn’t Survive The Tomb of Horrors
Photo by Łukasz Maźnica / Unsplash

TSR released the Tomb of Horrors in 1978 and it became an instant hit with Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) players. Tomb of Horrors is a game module for high-level characters that was designed by Gary Gygax to be a “thinking player” type of game.

Instead of hacking and slashing your way through an adventure, this game requires critical thinking and careful review of the environment you’re in. It’s filled with traps and riddles that a party of characters needs to solve before coming face to face with the Lich named Acererak.

Note: Spoilers ahead

One of my friends in our DnD group found the Tomb of Horrors in his old files. He asked if we wanted to play it as a one-off adventure and he’d offer to be the Game Master (GM). He suggested that we roll up characters that we didn’t mind having killed off, which we did. I finally got to play a high-level fighter named Thrax - who I’ve written about in two short stories before.

Tomb of Horrors was written using the original rules of DnD and was updated in recent years to the 5th edition. I find the 5th edition of DnD a pain in the ass and I’m not alone. All my friends think the 5th edition is too complicated and we decided to use the Castles and Crusades game mechanics.

Thrax was a kick-ass fighter. He met an untimely death, twice in the game. The first time he was resurrected after being steamrolled by this elephant-looking thing.

(c) Tomb of Horrors by TSR/WoTC

The second time was when he met the Lich Acererak. In a party of 5 players, we lost 4 players in the final encounter with the Lich, now a more powerful Demi-Lich. Considering it was an 80% death rate, the DnD community said we “defied the odds”.

We played that game for about 6 months, meeting once a month, and finishing it in early November. While it was incredibly sad that our characters and my Tharx died, it was a glorious time. It might be the maturity talking but we handled the deaths gracefully.

We all agreed that the deaths our characters experienced were a good deaths and I finally have an end for Thrax, if I ever decide to write more short stories about him.

Perhaps knowing the end of the game is not necessarily as important as the shared story you experience. The important part is how the game evolves as you play it and how the story writes itself. The beer, the pizza, the laughs, and the silly things that happen along the way, are priceless. It’s time well spent with friends and family that’s the real treasure in my opinion.

I didn’t survive the Tomb of Horrors but I loved every minute of it.