Tomb of Horrors, 4E – An Interpretation by R.M. Walker of Initiative or What?

detect, and even more difficult to disarm. Only clever thinking and prudent searching will allow the heroes to successfully find their way to Acererak’s final resting place.

Introduction to the Tomb of Horrors
If the heroes do manage to find Acererak, they will discover that the demi-lich is more than capable of defending his tomb. The fight will be difficult and could possibly result in the death of one or more of the heroes. Prepare your players ahead of time that the adventure will be difficult and that they should take every precaution necessary to insure their survival. Morg the Trader is a Necromancer who’s own failed expedition into the tomb still haunts him. His own thirst for power is driven by the fact that he knows a nearly unlimited source of necromantic energy lies within the very essence of Acererak’s remains. Representing himself as a humble trader in exotic curios (instead of the dangerous Necromancer that he is), Morg asks the heroes to return any fragments of Acererak’s skull to him. Quest XP: 4,000 XP for returning the fragments of Acererak’s skull to Morg the Trader.

HOOK 2: The Skull Fragments of Acererak

The Tomb of Horrors is a classic Dungeons & Dragons® adventure written by Gary Gygax and originally designed as a tournament module for the Origins gaming convention in the 1970s. Published by TSR Hobbies in 1978 for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons®, the Tomb of Horrors has been regularly updated both officially and unofficially as different editions of the game have evolved.

This 4th Edition version of the adventure is my own take on the original classic. It is my understanding that Wizards of the Coast plan to release their own 4th Edition version, but I suspect their release will be a total reimaging of the setting. My intent is to be as completely faithful to the original version as possible, while working within the framework of the 4th Edition rules.

The Tomb of Horrors was originally written so that it could be place in just about any campaign location as long as that location was foreboding and remote. Since the module was written by Gygax, his original choices for locations were (not surprisingly) set in the World of Greyhawk. The list of locations he provided are below:


Tomb of Horrors, 4E – An Interpretation is an adventure designed to take 5 heroes through 12th and th 13 level as they explore the tomb of the demi-lich, Acererak.

Even if the DM is not familiar with these locations, you can glean from the descriptions, what kind of terrain Acererak’s tomb might be found in. If the simple exploration of the famed Tomb isn’t enough to motivate the heroes, you can use one of the following hooks to lure them to the site. While adventure hooks are not a part of the original module, they are a significant part of the 4th Edition, hence their inclusion.

The Tomb of Horrors, 4E – An Interpretation uses the treasure parcel system described in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Because the adventure is designed to take characters through 12th & 13th level, a combined parcel for these two levels is described. Important Note! The treasures described in this adventure are considered part of this list. Where appropriate, the adventure will describe what treasure parcel is required for a particular encounter area. Treasure not account for will be in Acererak’s final resting place, Area 33.

The highest hill on the Plains of luz An island (unmapped) In the Nyr Dyv In the Bright Desert At the western border of the Duchy of Geoff Somewhere in the Vast Swamp south of Sundl On an island beyond the realm of the Sea Barons

Party Level 12 Total Monetary Treasure: 26,000

As the Wizard, Acererak, rose to power, he began to work on extending his life with dangerous necromantic magic. In order to complete the transformation to lich, Acererak’s followers built him a tomb deep inside a hill in a long forgotten region. The tomb was filled with deadly traps and magically bound creatures in order to discourage looters and enemies.

In pursuit of his studies, Acererak’s soul journeyed to strange and otherworldly places. For hundreds of years he traveled, and while doing so, his body decayed into the demi-lich form it holds today.

HOOK 1: The Scepter of Acererak

Rumors persist that if a group of heroes ever manages to defeat Acererak’s traps and thwart the demilich himself, they could be wealthy and powerful beyond all imagining.


The Tomb of Horrors is probably one of the most dangerous adventures your Paragon level heroes will likely face. While the monsters that inhabit the tomb will probably be relatively easy for the heroes to deal with, the traps within the tomb are cleverly hidden, difficult to

Centuries before, when Acererak still walked the land, he ruled his subjects and slaves with a magical scepter. With a simple touch, the scepter was rumored to be able to grant boon or bane at Acererak’s will. At least, this is what the Librarian, Ostomay claims his research has revealed. Old, and eager to lay the rumors to rest, Ostomay wants the heroes to brave the tomb and return Acererak’s scepter to him. Quest XP: 4,000 XP for returning the intact Scepter of Acererak to Ostomay the Librarian.

1 Magic item, level 17 2 Magic item, level 16 3 Magic item, level 16 4 Magic item, level 15 5 Magic item, level 15 6 Magic item, level 14 7 Magic item, level 14 8 Magic item, level 13 9 9,500 gp, or one 7,500 gp art object + 2,000 gp, or three 2,500 gp art objects + two potions of vitality 10 8,500 gp, or three 2,500 gp art objects + 1,000 gp, or eight 1,000 gp gems + one 500 gp gem 11 7,200 gp, or one 5,000 gp gem + two 1,000 gp gems + 200 gp, or seven 1,000 gp gems + 200 gp 12 7,000 gp, or seven 1,000 gp gems, or two 2,500 gp art objects + 2,000 gp 13 5,700 gp, or two 2,500 gp art objects + 700 gp, or one 5,000 gp gem + 700 gp 14 5,700 gp, or three 1,500 gp art objects + 1,200 gp, or five 1,000 gp gems + one 500 gp gem + 200 gp 15 4,400 gp, or two 1,500 gp art objects + 1,400 gp, or four 1,000 gp gems + 400 gp 16 4,400 gp, or one 2,500 gp art object + one 1,500 gp art object + 400 gp, or one potion of vitality + three 1,000 gp gems + 400 gp 17 2,800 gp, or one 2,500 gp art object + 300 gp, or two potions of vitality + 800 gp


Tomb of Horrors, 4E – An Interpretation by R.M. Walker of Initiative or What?
Mezzodemon of Acererak
Medium elemental humanoid
Initiative +9 Senses Perception +13; darkvision HP 113; Bloodied 56 AC 27; Fortitude 25; Reflex 22; Will 23 Resist 10 arcane, 10 necrotic, 20 poison Speed 6 m Trident (standard; at-will) • Weapon Requires trident; reach 2; +18 vs AC; 1d8 + 5 damage M Skewering Tines (standard; sustain standard; at-will) • Weapon Reach 2; +18 vs AC; 1d8 + 5 damage, ongoing 5 damage and the target is restrained (save ends both). While the target is restrained, the mezzodemon can't make trident attacks C Poison Breath (standard; recharge 5 6) • Poison Close blast 3; targets enemies; +16 vs Fortitude; 2d6 + 3 poison damage, and ongoing 5 poison damage (save ends) Alignment Chaotic Evil Languages Abyssal Skills Intimidate +11 Str 20 (+10) Con 17 (+8) Dex 15 (+7) Int 10 (+5) Wis 16 (+8) Cha 13 (+6) © 2009 Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All rights reserved. This monster statistics block has been generated using the D&D Adventure Tools.


Level 11 Soldier
XP 600

18 2,000 gp, or two 1,000 gp gems, or one 1,500 gp art object + 500 gp 19 1,800 gp, or one 1,000 gp gem + 800 gp, or one 1,500 gp art object + 300 gp 20 1,000 gp, or one 1,000 gp gem, or one potion of vitality Use the following table when the heroes determine that they will begin searching for an entrance to the tomb. There are 3 possible tomb entrances, so if the heroes are splitting up, group their skill checks appropriately. Allow a Perception check for every hour of searching. Use the Perception check of the searching hero with the highest score. (all of the checks are active, not passive): Perception (DC 50) To immediately notice sand shifting towards a previously hidden hole. -5 to this DC for every hour spent searching. +2 to this DC for every hero beyond the first that is helping with the search. -10 to this DC if the heroes are using a long pole or pole-arm to probe the sand and gravel. Once an entrance is exposed, it requires 1 hour of 3 people working to dig and remove rubble to expose enough of an entrance to walk through. In a half-hour, enough material can be removed so that a crawl-space is exposed. These times assume that the heroes are using shovels and similar digging instruments. Triple the digging time if the heroes are using items like weapons, shields and bare hands to do the digging. If a ritual of some kind is performed to reveal the digging site, follow the results revealed by the ritual. However, if the ritual fails, a Mezzodemon is summoned that immediately attacks the heroes.

Searching the entire area reveals only that the north side of the hill has a crumbling cliff of sand and gravel about 20' high in about the middle of the whole. A low stone ledge overhangs this eroded area, although shrubs and bushes obscure if from observation at a distance.

Party Level 13 Total Monetary Treasure: 34,000 g


If the heroes do any research into the Tomb of Horrors or the figure known as Acererak, use the following skill checks in order to uncover information:

History (DC 10): The Tomb of Acererak, more commonly called “The Tomb of Horrors” is a popular legend said to have lead more than one hero to his doom. History (DC 15): Acererak was a powerful Wizard who lived centuries ago and was buried in a labyrinth like tomb. History (DC 20): Acererak’s tomb is real, and he became a lich before he sealed his tomb against all intruders. History (DC 25): The Tomb of Acererak is located in <name the region>, is filled with traps & monsters, and has killed or thwarted many heroes. Arcana (DC 30): The Tomb of Acererak almost certainly contains elements of bizarre arcane construction. Simply exploring the tomb would be a boon to just about any Wizard or other arcane spell caster. Religion (DC 25): The name of Acererak is whispered in certain high circles of various religions. He is reviled by those who worship good aligned deities, and revered by those who worship evil ones. Religion (DC 30): Worshippers of the Cult of Vecna mention Acererak or dare to research or explore his tomb, do so only upon pain of death. The reasons for this severe punishment are not clear.

Unless otherwise noted, the corridors within the tomb are 10 foot (2 squares) wide with 10 foot high ceilings. Additionally, the walls are constructed of stone or a combination stone covered with plaster. Rituals that access the following realms for movement are ineffective and summon a Mezzodemon if the ritual is successfully cast while within the tomb: Feywild, Shadowfell, Far Realm, Elemental Chaos, and Astral Sea

This derivative work is based on the original Tomb of Horrors module written by Gary Gygax and property by Wizards of the Coast® For personal use only. Please do not resell or redistribute.

When the heroes get to the site of the Tomb of Horrors, read the following:

Creative Commons License
Original work presented in this document by the author is covered under a Creative Commons License. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

You have arrived at the rumored site of the demilich’s last haunt. Before you is a low, flat topped hill, about 200 yards wide and 300 yards long. Ugly weeds, thorns, and briars grow upon the steep sides and bald top of the 60' high mound. Black rocks set upon the top of the hill, seem to be arranged as if the whole area were shaped as a grinning skull.


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